Warning: Possible spoilers ahead on Doctor Who episode, World Enough and Time.
By the time you read this, some of you will probably already know the answers to questions posited. I won't have my answer until tonight. Until then, here are some thoughts, tempered by several days of waiting...
Last week's episode of Doctor Who was a killer. Literally. We've known all season this is Peter Capaldi's last set of adventures as the Doctor. He will be sorely missed - a great actor, bringing complex layers to the part. But there was some doubt on the timing of Pearl Mackie's departure: would she leave at the end of the season, or continue as companion with the next, as yet un-named, Doctor? Kill Bill rumours circulated up til last Sunday. Then nothing.
Then came World Enough and Time. The episodes title is a line from the poem, To My Coy Mistress, by Andrew Marvell (1621–1678), full of death imagery. It has been alternatively considered a solemn poem of regret, an apparent epitaph for a loved one, or an ironic statement on seduction. - a possible epitaph for the Doctor, but is it for Bill as well?
At the end of the episode, it seems we are losing both. I say 'seem', because Moffat does not have a great track record when it comes to letting go, having resurrected Amy, Rory and Clara (multiple times).
Not since Adric (5th Doctor), has a character truly died (once), never to return. His death (whether you liked him or not) was even made more poignant by the first time we ever had a silent credit role, giving the viewer time to digest the sudden loss.
In World Enough and Time, the horror of Bill's fate is drawn out over the entire episode, unveiling the process of her fate via the conversion of others. For Bill it was ten years of waiting for the Doctor to save her - so when the moment came, we were shocked.
But moments that should have garnered the biggest feels - the camera lingering on the hole in Bill's chest, The Master's betrayal leading to Bill's conversion, and the close up of a tear in the converted Bill's eye behind her Cyberman mask - all lost most of their gravitas due to the many (many) cries of wolf by Moffat. These moments that should (and did intially) shock quickly dissolved into niggling thoughts of 'is this a dream sequence', 'how is he going to bring back the companion this time' and 'here we go again'.
The devices used for ramping up the creepy factor, such as the silent cries of pain by the Cybermen and the growing realisation Bill was facing a fate worse than death, were brilliant. Unfortunately all were wasted. Was it just another of Moffat's teases? Would he weedle out of it all again? Why should this be any different? I'd become inoculated against his shock tactics.
I spent the rest of the episode second-guessing Moffat's motives and not appreciating some great acting, clever one-liners and foreshadowing of events to come.
There were two options:
- Bill is dead. Not a preferred option, as I really liked Bill's character and consider her the best companion since Donna (and River).
- A Moffat miracle to return Bill to the (new) Doctor's side (possibly with mechanical heart?). And, while I don't want to lose Bill as a companion just yet, this is even more annoying than option #1, for the reasons stated above.
I should have loved this episode. It had the feel of old Doctor Who, with many nods to The Tenth Planet, and presented the return of the Mondasian Cybermen. The Doctor's old nemesis - and friend - The Master, also returned - patiently waiting and savouring his final moment of victory over the Doctor. This was a return of the old Master: patient, calculating and pure evil.
But Moffat has does this all before. He's cried wolf so many times. When the moment finally arrived, Bill's moment seemed destined to go the way of Clara in Face The Raven.
I will miss Peter Capaldi's Doctor, and Bill Potts - if tonight proves me wrong - but I won't miss Moffat. I'm looking forward to a new showrunner and new stories to surprise us.