BBC One – 7:35pm – Saturday 24th June 2017
Written by: Steven Moffat
Directed by: Rachel Talalay
OUR USUAL SATURDAY
“Positive attitude will help with the horror to come.”
After a regeneration tease in a blustery cold open, we return to ‘Earlier’ where Missy (Michelle Gomez), Bill (Pearl Mackie) and Nardole (Matt Lucas) board a 400-mile-long colony ship teetering in the gravity well of a black hole. We learn through extensive, largely banterful, dialogue that this is a “test” of Missy’s progress, to see how far she has moved away from her nefarious past, overseen by the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) from the comfort of the TARDIS.
“Promise you won’t get me killed?”
When the ship’s sole pilot, Jorj (Oliver Lansley), holds the interplanetary travellers at gunpoint, he shoots a hole straight through companion Bill’s chest, before she is taken away by a contingent of mysterious bandage-headed humanoids. When Bill awakes she is concerned to find herself in a dank and gloomy CONVERSION THEATRE, where bandage-headed patients use voice boxes to cry out in agony.
“Pain. Pain. Pain. Pain. Pain…”
As a recuperating Bill befriends lackey “Mister Razor,” she comes to learn her predicament: with her new ‘mechanical heart’ she is trapped in these lower decks of the colony ship, watching the Doctor, Missy and Nardole’s experiences on the upper levels play out on a screen. The catch? Owing to the “Superman gravity” of the black hole, the bottom of the ship is running much faster than the slower top decks; ten minutes for the Doctor equates to years for poor Bill, who is buoyed by a subconscious message from the Doctor telling her to “wait for me.”
Tonally, “World Enough and Time” is spectacular. The lower deck wards are truly creepy in a dank gothic, almost steampunk style, while the mystery of the time dilation is drip-fed at a perfect pace. I was confident Who was returning to its 5-star best. The only flaw of the episode (aside from the awkwardness of the poem-cribbed title) is that it feels incomplete. Not only because it is part one of series ten’s two-part finale, but because – in light of the abrupt cliffhanger conclusion – the entire jaunt feels like nothing more than an extended teaser.
It opens with a brief look at an upcoming regeneration because we know Capaldi is leaving; the Doctor drops in massive hints about the gender-swapping abilities of the Time Lords because bets are on that the next Doctor could be female; Bill is ‘killed’ because the audience have come to learn that Pearl Mackie has only been signed up for one series… and then the episode concludes with the reveal that the bag-heads are prototype Cybermen and that Mister Razor is in fact the Master (John Simm) in disguise! Amazing, except both of these tidbits were revealed to the fanbase long before the episode aired.
“World Enough and Time” (urgh! Seriously hate that title) is a quality production which will only improve when viewed back-to-back with 10.12, “The Doctor Falls.” As a standalone episode, however, I have to detract a rating owing to the frustration that the moment the truth to the dramatic scenario is laid bare – the end credits roll!
CR@B’s Claw Score: