After 4 years we are reaching the end of Peter Capaldi’s tenure as The Doctor and he was fantastic, he brought an old school feel to the character that has not been present for any incarnation of The Doctor since the series returned in 2005. He has been up there as my favourite Doctor bar Matt Smith since the shows resurrection, or should that be regeneration? This past Saturday night saw the final episode of the current series, teasingly titled The Doctor Falls, so did it really mark the departure of Mr Capaldi?
Unsurprisingly no, of course it didn’t, there is still a Christmas special to go this year and no official announcement of Peter’s replacement has been made as in previous years so it was always a safe bet that this wasn’t going to be the last we’d see of this incarnation of The Doctor. That’s not to say that The Doctor Fall’s didn’t yield some unexpected surprises for us to savour until our Yuletide farewell.
Firstly, there was no easy reset of Bill’s predicament from the prior episode, she remains a converted Cyberman and in a way, Im glad. Too many times the show has copped out on cliffhangers in prior episodes making everything ok again within minute of the next episode starting, not this time. The use of Bill still perceiving herself as human was a nice touch to still give the excellent Pearl Mackie some screen-time. The door has been left open thankfully by Steven Moffat for a possible return for Bill if new showrunner Chris Chibnal would like to utilise her which was a classy move of respect for a character the audience have grown to love over the course of this season.
John Simm’s return as The Master was excellent also, as machiavellian and literally moustache twitching as i could have hoped him to have been. The show has also found a way to keep this story arch for the character interesting in that he is ultimately dispatched by……himself, or should that be herself in the guise of Michelle Gomez’s Missy, his future self, changed and burdened it seems finally with a conscience to stand with The Doctor and face certain death, literally stabbing herself in the back to achieve this. It is then that the truly great decision to have Simm’s Master kill Missy and indeed by extension himself rather than allowing himself in the indignity of helping his nemesis, it was the most Master-like action to be carried out by any incarnation of the character since his return in Series 3 and was a perfect way to write out both Simm & Gomez even though I doubt very much that this is the last we’ll see of the character.
Finally the handling of Capaldi’s impending regeneration, the beginning of the process is teased early in the episode and carried along for its duration right up to the final minutes where the Doctor stubbornly refuses to allow himself to regenerate alone on the surface of Mondas, no crying, no whimpering like Tennant’s Doctor, he is willing himself to hold on to this life for a little longer, brief moments of delirium in the Tardis with The Doctor quoting past last words was a beautifully inspired touch before his encounter with a familiar face on the planets surface, it certainly promises an exciting prospect for Peter’s last story proper this Christmas.