Whovians rejoice! That oh, so comforting whirr of the Tardis engine is kicking into gear again as season 10 is finally upon us. Give yourself a pat on the back for surviving the long wait. You deserve it. After all, in a year and a half we’ve only had the sugary morsel of The Return of Doctor Mysterio this past Christmas to sate our appetite. Definitely not enough substance there, enjoyable though it was.
So what can we expect as we once again return to the exhilaration of time and space? From the trailers, it looks like a whole lot more old than new. We do have Bill Potts arriving as a companion, thankfully providing us a wholly different sort of traveler than Clara- and that’s the last time you’ll read her name in these recaps. So glad we’re finally past her. And while Nardole is still a bit new to us, the rest of what we’re looking at is familiar foes, classic throwbacks, and good ol’ wibbly wobbly weirdness.
It’s worth noting that this is the final season for infamous showrunner Steven Moffatt. That likely means one of two things- he will give it his all and produce some of his best work resulting in a memorable season in a good way. Or, he will pull out all stops, overloading the season with textbook Moffatting, resulting in a memorable season in a bad way.
We’ll see. For now, let’s break down the good and bad of our goodies and baddies as we prep for Twelve’s final run.
In Doctor Who, even the oldest and cheesiest villains are never off the table for a return. That’s okay because a race of shape shifting squids covered in suckers called Zygons gave us our best episodes last season. But this season they’re throwing it back so hard we’re going to see the original Mondas Cybermen. Yes, those are the guys that were wearing, essentially gray body socks in their original 1966 debut against the first Doctor. I can’t fathom how this will work in our modern incarnation, but I’m up for the disbelief challenge. If a Dalek can scare you with a toilet plunger and an egg beater, anything can work.
Speaking of, I’m guessing with it being Moffatt’s last season that the Daleks will be our big bad. If you’re going to have one last crack at Doctor Who, it’d be hard to do it without the most iconic of villains. You wouldn’t send off Batman without Joker. To hammer home the old school further, the much-fabled Ice Warriors return, and we’re getting not one, but two versions of the Master. That’s right, not only is the delightful Missy back, but somehow the Tenth Doctor-era Master played by John Simms is coming back. Hopefully without the drums this time.
Finally, we don’t know much about the new monsters that will wreak havoc on the universe but it’s hard to not be intrigued by the colloquially named Emoji Bots. Maybe Apple will be terrifying future generations with something more sinister than over priced Facebook machines (I’m a Mac guy, I can poke fun). The trailers show everything from tree-like people to decaying monks, so flip the Tardis switch, I’m ready to get going!
From the first moment we saw Pearl Mackie as Bill, it seemed like she was going to be a different companion than we’d seen before. But is she really different, or an amalgamation of previous companions? I rather think, and hope, it’s the latter. Different for the sake of different isn’t always good, and a great companion needs to bring out the best in the Doctor. Bill seems poised to do that, showing the best of signs of previous companions like Rose’s eager curiosity, and Donna’s keen skepticism. She seems sprinkled with a little of Clara’s bravery and Amy’s tenacity but with a style all her own. This could work, but could also take time to find footing.
Nardole, on the other hand, seems frivolous. I think Matt Lucas is a brilliant oddball comedian and the character certainly could work as a solo companion. But coupling together two off kilter companions seems Moffatty. You know, something cool that’s there just to be cool. After two episodes with Nardole I still don’t know why he’s there. He had his head lobbed off in his first appearance, which further proves Moffatt can’t kill his darlings. So call me a Donna if you must but I’m skeptical, though hoping for the best.
“The first time you meet him, he’s funny. The second time, he’s amazing. The third time, you realize he’s the most dangerous man in the universe. He says he’s a man of peace, but he walks in war.” – Bill
I can’t think of a better way to sum up the Twelfth Doctor. I already like Bill’s intuition. Twelve is a bit of a mixed bag. He started as a humanity-hating curmudgeon. Bad move, Moffatt. But last season they abruptly shifted gears and Twelve came into his own. The recovery was thanks to showing us a Doctor that needed to remember why he does what he does. He saves people, but that takes a toll. For a being who has regenerated for over a thousand years, you can hardly blame him for forgetting.
There’s still something missing, though, and it’s hard to say what will make Twelve’s run feel truly complete. It seemingly must end where all of the modern era Doctors have ended, with sacrifice. But to what end? Ten and Eleven had unfinished business in their storylines. Twelve seems listless. We need something that feels like his own. We got close with last season’s two-part finale Heaven Sent and Hell Bent. A grudge against the Time Lords would make sense. But the conclusion to that felt rounded. Perhaps he will burn out, running (literally) as Twelve does so much to satiate his ferocious curiosity. Bill could bring that about. But really, there’s no telling where the Doctor will head just yet.
A Doctor’s final season is always an important one. I’m a creature of habit and tradition, so I really don’t like moving on from Doctors. But Who will next Doctor is part of the magic of Doctor Who. Capaldi has been wonderful, yet his first season seemed a waste with poor writing and the whole Doctor hating humanity idea. Seems like we’re short a season. All the more reason we can be hopeful that this one will be his magnum opus.
What are you most looking forward to this season?
I know I’m eager to follow the journey with you week to week, fellow Whovians. Keep your eyes peeled for our Who-ology recaps all season long.