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‘The Doctor Falls’ was a great finale to an above-average season – with one key problem.
“The Doctor Falls” was an intense finale for the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi), and for the Master’s long tenure on Doctor Who. It also completely abandoned the season 10 companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie), turning her into a passive victim and sidelining any real conclusion to her journey.
Season 10 was a big improvement on the last few years of Who, tackling many of Steven Moffat‘s recurring problems as showrunner, and avoiding the overly complicated nature of recent seasons. Bill gave us a fresh perspective on the Twelfth Doctor, with more solid characterization than Clara’s uneven role. The show even did a good job of casually addressing Bill’s sexuality, something I’d been wary about after Moffat’s wince-inducing treatment of queer characters in his other work. Still, after all these improvements, the last few episodes seemed to forgot the cardinal rule of New Who: The companion should have equal protagonist status to the Doctor.
Season 10 was the most coherent since Moffat’s takeover in season 5. The finale sets an interesting tone for Capaldi’s final appearance in the Christmas special, and Missy got a compelling redemption arc that ended with a clever death scene for her and the Master, building on years of characterization. Unfortunately, that ate up all of Bill’s screentime, leaving her story unfinished. She might reappear in the Christmas special, but since that episode will focus on the Doctor’s next regeneration, it’s hard to imagine her getting the conclusion she deserves.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested.