The Timeless Children


Well, that was a wild ride. To be honest, I think the tension was right, but the number of questions left unanswered still leave me uneasy. I think the start of the episode with the Doctor following the Master was a powerful opening and the Graham and Yaz interaction as well as Graham continuing to be the expert idea man was awesome. Hiding in the Cybermen armor was genius and had a wonderful payoff.

My only nit there was that the Cyberman ship seemed to enter the portal right after they were seen being examined by the half-Cyberman with no ship showing the four of them descending or appearing on the planet. This made it seem, cinematographically, that the four of them were still on the ship when it got to Gallifrey. While the payoff of surprise when they show up and rescue Ethan. Kind of like when Chewbacca from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Not so much Deus Ex Machina, but cinematic misdirection. Not that I per se approve, but like I said, the payoff was kind of cool.

Meanwhile, the end of the half-cyberman was kind of anti-climatic. Using the Tissue-Compression Eliminator to defeat him was very dissatisfactory and I feel the drama and difficulty could have been played out more.

The Matrix was a nice throwback but the whole Time Lord origin story was just weird. What’s more, having the Shobogans be native Gallifreyans and Time Lords be a hybrid with another, non-Gallifreyan race was a bit peculiar. Will this form a quest for the Doctor to look for the origin of that race in future episodes?

More confusing was the use of the idea of the Timeless Child name. Who was the Timeless Child. Was she Tecteun, or was she the orphan that Tecteun tested on and discovered Regeneration from? We are told the Doctor is the Timeless Child, but does that make the Doctor Tecteun or the unnamed orphan? And what happened to Tecteun? Overall, this aspect of the story could have been clearer and more direct in terms of the conclusions we’re expected to draw.

What’s more, we’re left with so many unanswered clues and questions. Why does the Master call himself O in Spyfall when clearly Omega was the Time Lord with the most O in his name? And why did the aliens in that episode look like the monsters from The Three Doctors and Arc of Infinity? And why did the aliens from that episode come from a place that looked kind of like The Matrix? Where was Rassilon when Gallifrey fell to the Master, and how did Captain Jack Harkness know about the lone Cyberman?

The resolution was rather predictable. Obviously someone besides the Doctor would pull the trigger on the Cyber-Time Lords destruction. It could have happened inside that TARDIS or outside, but overall the fact that the Doctor escapes is natural, and that the Master isn’t seen in the destruction in the final scene is also quite expected. He will be back. It’s still unclear if he still has the Cyberium though.

The Cyber-Time Lords were cool, though. Those costumes were awesome!

Overall, I enjoyed the episode, despite its unanswered questions and inconsistencies. It just seems weird to end with the Jadoon invading the TARDIS and putting the Doctor in prison. What’s up with that!?

Next time, Revolution of the Daleks. Thus begins the long wait.

Guess I’ll just watch Steven Universe Future

Ascension of the Cybermen


The Cybermen are back and they mean business! So, who’s that orphan then?

Tonight’s episode was quite a wallop with non-stop danger interspersed with a tranquil orphan story in a quaintly Georgian or Edwardian, Northern Irish village where the only jobs seem to be farmer (appropriate when following CountryFile and tonight’s series [season for the Yanks] finale of Call the Midwife) and the Garda, the local constabulary.

I’ll get back to the farm boy constable in a moment but first this episode immediately follows The Haunting of Villa Diodati. The half-man, half-Cyberman is back, the Doctor having traced his position from the data left in the previous episode. There, they meet the last seven humans in that part of the Universe.

At this I want to stop. I mean, we got that at the Utopia, one of my all-time favourite Doctor Who serials! In that story, Captain Jack Harkness grabs the TARDIS as it’s taking off from Cardiff. They land on a planet trillions of years in the future, where the last of humanity is protected from total annihilation from lack of resources by a Professor Yana—You Are Not Alone—who turns out to be… the Master.

But I’ll return to that in a moment.

So, our intrepid time travellers, the Doctor, Yaz, Graham, and Ryan, arrive on the planet with the last humans and proceed to totally fail in their rescue attempt. When the Doctor tries to cover everyone so they can escape, Ryan is separated from Yaz and Graham, and he, the Doctor, and one of the human wunderkinds, who is able to hack cyber-ships and able to save the Doctor and Ryan.

Meanwhile, Graham, Yaz, and three more humans—three of the original seven having died—blow out their escape ships engines. But as luck would have it (can you say Deus Ex Machina) they’re in a cyber-war graveyard. They are able to pilot the ship into a Cyberman Troop ship and instead of doing the intelligent thing, knowing that the ship is full of Cybermen, of piloting it back to the planet with the TARDIS, they go and take it to the gateway to try and bring their problems for her to solve.

Screaming Cybermen? What’s that about. It’s mentioned once and then never again? But again, I digress.

Anyway, so the Doctor, Ryan, and the Wonderkind make it to the gateway and meet the last guardian of the gateway. He shows them the portal and the Doctor is aghast to see her ruined home Gallifrey beyond.

At the same time, Yaz, Graham, and a about a million Cybermen have arrived.

To add insult to injury—I told you I’d get back to him—The Master is back, stepping though the portal to Gallifrey.

Meanwhile, remember that orphan Garda? Well, it turns out, he has the same power as Captain Jack Harkness: he cannot die. He’s shot and falls off a cliff. He dies for a moment, and then he gasps, and recovers. On his body is no sign of his injury.

And does a Garda have to have his mind erased when he retires? Are they a cyber-nursery?

So many questions! How does the orphan relate to Captain Jack? How did Jack know about the lone Cyberman? How are the orphan and the half-Cyberman connected? Why was the half-Cyberman rejected for upgrade? Who is the Doctor from The Fugitive of Jadoon? Where is Omega? What happened to Gallifrey? And what was the Master doing there?

Next week, the series finale, Timeless Children!

The Haunting of Villa Diodati


The Doctor lands in 1816 on the coast of Lake Geneva and makes the welcome aquaitence of Lord Byron, Mary Godwin [Shelley] and Dr. Polidori—author of The Vampyre.

The story starts out with a lovely play on a ghost story with the surprising appearance of the Doctor, Ryan, Yasmin, and Graham at the door in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm. The gothic horror is increased by the arrival of mysterious apparitions, deepening the mystery. And then, the question begs, where is Percy Shelley, Mary’s husband to be and the muse to her magnum opus, the story of The Modern Prometheus?

The story continues into a wonderful MC Escher like play on architectural configuration that would have made the Logopolins proud. The Doctor and companions deftly solve the confoundment of the ever changing rooms by shutting their eyes and walking through walls. But when they’re all together, quite convenient to the plot, that’s when the mysterious lady of the lake appears and turns out to be a half-built Cyberman!

On the run, we finally find Percy Shelley, sulking in the basement, a mysterious air about him. Here, the plot runs into high gear as we build to Captain Jack Harkness‘s prophecy about the lone Cybermen. It tuns out, Percy has taken upon himself a Quicksilver containing the entire database of Cybermen defeats (shaded of Genesis of the Daleks). After a threat to history by Ryan, the Doctor instead takes the cyber-computer from Percy and into herself only to face down the lone Cyberman. When the Cyberman threatens the Earth and history, though, the Doctor must capitulate and gives the cyber-computer to the lone Cyberman, fulfilling the most disastrous prophecy.

Overall, I think my main nit is that the final act relied too much on deus ex machina elements to bring the story to its logical conclusion. Also, I didn’t like Ryan so easily suggesting the Doctor kill Percy Shelley. And the Doctor could have used the knowledge from the cyber-computer to do more than simply capitulate when the world of the past was threatened, thus threatening the world of the future. Would a fallen Earth before the beginning of the modern era have been an even greater boon to the Cybermen? With no humans to destroy Voga or defeat Mondas, wouldn’t the Cybermen have fared even better?

I guess the Doctor made the right decision after all. But, what will the consequences be?

Next week, Ascension of the Cybermen!