Saturday’s Doctor Who finale isn’t quite the end of Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi’s time on the show but it does herald a break of six months before they bow out for good. So after all the questions raised by last week’s stunning episode, fans are going to need some answers – as well as enough big moments to tide them over until the Christmas special and the Twelfth Doctor’s final farewell. And – spoiler alert! – that’s exactly what they get.
Some key loose ends are less tied up, others are left trailing invitingly and there’s a massive cliffhanger that sets up a mouthwatering Christmas special of a kind we’ve never seen before.
The extra running time – this is a juicy 60 minutes long rather than the usual 45 – allows Moffat to cram in all these set pieces without things feeling too rushed and there’s even a story of sorts to hang them on, about homesteaders defending their farm against invading Cybermen (even if it’s never really made clear what the point of the Master’s Cyber army is).
There are lots of meaty scenes between Missy and John Simm’s Master, who seem to have far too much sexual chemistry for two characters who are basically the same person (but then he always was an egotist). Certainly, Simm gives the Master a bit more personality than in his earlier appearances, even if the script does at times make him seem like a slightly dense child in comparison with his other half, and especially with the Doctor.
And what about CyberBill? Whether her fate will be decided in this episode, you’ll have to wait to find out, but she’s the focus of a nice analogy about how we treat those who are outwardly different to us, and some moments that I can only think deliberately recall Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It’s artful stuff at times and Pearl Mackie is fantastic, as she has been all series. What a great companion Bill is, Cyberised or not.
Speaking of companions, Nardole becomes rather heroic too, stepping up to take charge in a way that does not go unnoticed by at least one female character.
And so to that cliffhanger. I can’t give you any details, of course, but here are some adjectives: tantalising, thrilling, nostalgic and, yes, more than a little Christmassy.
Doctor Who: The Doctor Falls is on Saturday 1st July at 6:30pm on BBC1