The Doctor Falls ticked all the relevant boxes when it comes
to what makes a great Doctor Who finale. The stakes were higher than ever, with
the usual ratcheting up of explosions and emotions to keep the audience on the
edge of their seats.
As expected a number of threads from earlier in series 10 were neatly rounded off, such as Missy’s rehabilitation and the inevitable return of the Pilot to whisk Bill Potts away. Some however were completely ignored, with Bill’s imaginary mother being the most notable absentee, while others were intentionally left open-ended, such as the identity of Nardole, which remains a mystery even after Hazran’s gentle questioning.
The limitations of some of the clever plot devices - Bill still being Bill despite appearing like a fully converted Cyberman (with the audience’s point of view continuously shifting from Bill as she sees herself and Bill as others see her), time passing at different speeds across the ship, and the two Masters meeting, may have resulted in a story that would've been hard to get completely lost in, but for the fact that the cast were all at the top of their game constantly pulled us back into the moment.
If we were looking for closure, then like the Doctor himself we probably haven’t quite found it, and there are several outstanding questions to consider as we gear ourselves up to Moffat and Capaldi’s swansong.
7. So Was This The Genesis Of The Cybermen?
Last week the Master proudly welcomed the Doctor to the
genesis of the Cybermen, but it was never going to be that simple. Even if
Moffat presented the finale as such, unlike the 1975 Daleks origins story
Genesis of the Daleks, his version could never be treated as definitive. We
already have a number of competing Cybermen origin tales within Doctor Who’s
official canon, rendering pointless any attempt to be ‘the’ official narrative.
So was this confident declaration just another example of the John Simm Master’s self-aggrandisement? At first this looks like this is indeed a bold reboot with the Cybermen evolving into their most recent models, but Moffat has a neat trick up his sleeve that will establish continuity between all the existing origins tales and even allow for new ones to come.
The Doctor reveals that Cybermen will rise up wherever there is human life. Be it Mondas, Telos, Planet 14 or Pete’s World humanity will inevitably turn to technology, ‘bettering’ themselves in order to survive. In reality these versions of upgraded humans shouldn’t really look or evolve in almost identical ways. In fact whilst some fans scoff at the idea of the Mondasian-like Cybermen now using their helmets rather than their chest plates as weapons, they ought to be defined by difference as much as similarity.
To the delight of the most invested of fans, The Tenth Planet, The Rise of the Cybermen, the Big Finish audio Spare Parts and even the little known Sixth Doctor 1987 comic strip The World Shapers which identified Planet 14 (The Invasion) as Marinus are all referenced as the Doctor goes on his kamikaze suicide mission.