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
Paul Driscoll is a freelance writer and author across a range of subjects from Cult TV to religion and social policy. He is a passionate Doctor Who fan and January 2017 will see the publication of his first extended study of the series (based on Toby Whithouse's series six episode, The God Complex) in the critically acclaimed Black Archive range by Obverse Books. He is a regular writer for the fan site Doctor Who Worldwide and has contributed several essays to Watching Books' You and Who range. Recently he has branched out into fiction writing, with two short stories in the charity Doctor Who anthology Seasons of War (Chinbeard Books). Paul's work will also feature in the forthcoming Iris Wildthyme collection (A Clockwork Iris, Obverse Books) and Chinbeard Books' collection of drabbles, A Time Lord for Change.