Christmas would have been the perfect cover for making Twice upon a Time an over-indulgent and unashamed celebration of the outgoing producer’s greatest hits, but there wasn’t even a single Weeping Angel in sight. Instead, Steven Moffat closed the curtain on his and Peter Capaldi’s stint with the most reflective Doctor Who story to date.
By eschewing artificial distinctions of classic versus modern with the 709 episodes later caption, and by foreshadowing throughout the innovations to come under Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker, Twice upon a Time is a self-effacing exercise in continuity.
There had been rumours that the episode might tie in directly to Moffat’s tour de force adventure, The Day of the Doctor, in which Capaldi had made his eye catching and fleeting debut. Instead inspiration came from one of Moffat’s least talked about episodes, Into the Dalek, in the form of the only good Dalek. Rusty was an unexpected, left of field addition but fitted in perfectly with the introspective nature of this story.
Once again we encounter the Twelfth Doctor wrestling with questions of identity and purpose, as his era ends in the same way in which it had begun in series eight. Such is the Doctor’s malaise following the horrific events of The Doctor Falls that he is quite prepared to die by refusing to regenerate. The entire plot focuses on the Doctor learning to embrace his place in the universe, even if rather ominously he chooses to regenerate for just ‘one more time’.