Sunday , March 7 2021

Doctor Who finale recap: series 38, episode ten – The Timeless Children – The Guardian, Theguardian.com

Wait, what ?! In a thrilling conclusion to Chris Chibnall’s second series at the reins, the identity of the Timeless Child was finally revealed – but did you guess who it was?

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() ‘Destruction and domination’ … will the Master’s plan come to fruition? Photograph: James Pardon / BBC

‘You can be a pacifist tomorrow. Today you just need to survive ‘

Way to rip up the rule book, while also respecting it more than ever! This series finale takes audacious flights, rewriting Doctor Who lore to extravagant degrees, creating an alternative backstory for the creation of Gallifrey and a (completely) new backstory for the Doctor, that reveals her as the fabled Timeless Child: not the last of the Timelords, but the first. Jodie Whittaker gives one of her most visceral performances, as the Doctor learns the truth about her origins – and her part in the much-storied malevolence of the Timelords. Everything changes … and yet as is always the case with this show, nothing (really) changes. The Doctor is still an unknowable force of nature with a shady past. And, just when it looks like things might really get shaken up, the Doctor is once again prevented from purchase genocide by kindly terrorist Ko Shamur.

Because a finale needs pace as well as tension, there’s an amusing subplot by the Cybermen advance back on the ship, as Yaz, Graham and the rest of the humans come up with the ruse of disguising themselves in Cyber armor (human remains and all). It’s a pretty dim Cyber-army that falls for that if you ask me, but it works, reuniting Team Tardis on Gallifrey. All setting up a zinger of a cliffhanger, which sees the Doctor’s past lives come home to roost as she’s carted off as a fugitive by the Judoon to spend forever on a prison ship. Well that, as several of you say, was no Robot of Sherwood.

‘It’s red because it’s drenched in the blood of our people ‘

Hot Camp Master does at least have dialogue that almost stands up to Steven Moffat’s divine writing of Missy. I especially appreciated the Apprentice reference. Sacha Dhawan also gets more to do this time, the leaping around dialled down just a tickle to convey a deeply damaged character with some gravitas. It has made the character even madder to discover that his nemesis, the Doctor, is intrinsically bound up in his DNA. And all the more deliciously horrible to take such delight in her being indirectly culpable for genocide. I’m going to say it out loud – this could be the most malevolent Master the show has yet seen. Fittingly, the guy has not only a wet room but a torture chamber in the basement. As ever with this character, his intention is little more than destruction and dominion, but we’ve learned to live with that over the years.

life aboard the Tardis

Here’s a knotty one. The hot gossip all series was that Team Tardis were going to be ripped apart. Which is half true – the Doctor does send them home to save them and (she thinks) sacrifice herself. So presumably they have to believe that that’s the end of it. But there’s no big exit storyline for anyone – and it’s been confirmed that Bradley, Mandip and Tosin will all at least be back for the festive special. But the elephant in the publicity department remains Tosin’s casting in that (big US drama) . No announcements yet, but it’s surely impossible for him to commit to both.

(Fear factor) ()

I mentioned last week that the Cybermen had got their groove back, even though they’re somewhat sidelined this week. But it needs to be said, those Cyber-Timelord hybrid creations of the Master were daft. If you’re going for ultimate dominion of the universe, at least do it with some elegance.

Mysteries and questions

As predicted, there’s no explanation offered as to how Missy survived the events of the doctor falls and became hot camp master. But previous showrunner Steven Moffat has suggested that that’s no bad thing.

“I don’t necessarily want all the gaps to be plugged,” he told the radio times . “Kids out there are making up their own stories about how Missy escaped that place and regenerated into Sacha. They’re doing their own version of it. And that’s much more exciting ”. What we do know is that the Master (always) survives, so don’t expect to have seen the last of him.

Deeper into the vortex

Fan service: It’s nice to see some working chameleon circuits. This time, a tree and a suburban Sheffield house. But is anyone else preferring the retro-fit Tardis interior to the current iteration?

    “Have you ever been limited by who you were before?” All the time, pet.

      The original inhabitants of Gallifrey are named as the Shabogans. I wonder whether we’ll find out more. And what of the division? Chibnall has set so much up, and promises that answers will only lead in turn to more questions.

          Now they’re in present-day Sheffield, could Julie Graham and the gang be on their way to becoming series regulars?

            (Next time)

            We’ve got a wait on our hands for another series, but the good news is that Doctor Who will return during the festive season (presumably on New Year’s Day again) in the classically titled Revolution of the Daleks . As ever, thank you so much for all your comments, you crazy lot. Until we meet again …

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