Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *
Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Michelle Gomez, John Simm, Briana Shann, Rosie Boore, Samantha Spiro, Simon Coombs, Stephanie Hyam, David Bradley.
“Without hope, without witness, without reward…” except for fan and casual viewer of Doctor Who alike, The Doctor Falls is an episode that gives that last part of the speech cause to contradict itself, with reward, the great return of a series that always seems under attack from a section of society that doesn’t know how to handle well made science fiction without denigrating it to the base offence, that somehow by striking a cord with its fans it somehow means it has to be assaulted and confronted on all sides.
With hope, the surprise of the programme that keeps giving, and in The Doctor Falls, the final episode of the tenth series since its return to the screens in 2005, hope is its own reward, the sense that Peter Capaldi will have done much to show that an older established actor can bring much gravitas to a role that has been harboured, beautifully, by the younger and just as talented. It is in Peter Capaldi’s penultimate outing as the man from Gallifrey that all can finally bear witness to what makes a show like Doctor Who tick, just how exceptional each character has to be, to feel redemption and pain in equal measure.
Reward: in the end, the story itself has been its own repayment of the last seven years of Stephen Moffat’s tenure at the helm of the popular series, almost fifty episode’s written, arguably one of the greatest stories ever in the long history of the show in Blink and now the parting of the ways almost complete in the previous episode and in the beauty of The Doctor Falls.
The praise should not only fall upon the writer for this episode but to the production staff in general and the editing suite in particular. The genius and spot on timing of alternating between Bill Potts, the very admirable Pearl Mackie, and the Cyberman she became is to be seen as exceptional.
In the end, we all lose the Doctor, for a fan it is painful, for the possibly uneducated, it is sadness that they don’t understand the metaphor and ethos of life, that to be kind is to be its own reward, too much of life is expected to have compensation, the perpetual prize for doing something that is of forced sympathy and it never quite works out the way you want it.
The Doctor Falls, but not for long; kindness, hope and excellent writing will always see to that.
Ian D. Hall