Well it finally arrived. The moment we’d all been waiting for (well I don’t know about you, but I’ve most certainly been waiting for it); The return of Simm!Master!
**Spoilers ahead, Sweetie**
A Brief Overview of What Happened
The episode starts with a cold opening; a flash forward where we see the Doctor exit the TARDIS, collapsing on the snow-covered ground as he begins to regenerate.
We are then taken back to the present as the Doctor lands the TARDIS onto a 400 mile long colony ship that’s reversing away from a blackhole and has sent a distress call. The purpose of this trip is for the Doctor to test Missy, and therefore he watches from the TARDIS and she answers the distress call along with Bill and Nardole.
They are met by one of the crew, Jorgi, who holds them at gunpoint, demanding to know which of one them is human. Something is coming up towards them in the lifts, and they only come after humans. Bill admits that she is the only one there that is human, and he shoots her, stating they’ll stop coming if she’s dead. However, they still arrive. A group of humanoid figures wearing hospital gowns with their faces covered in cloth arrive. They take Bill, telling the Doctor they can repair her, but they won’t be bringing her back. As they leave with Bill in the lift, the Doctor leaves a message for her in her subconscious, telling her to wait for him.
Jorgi then tells The Doctor, Missy, and Nardole that 2 days ago that they had been on their way to pick up a colony, working with just a skeleton crew when they encountered the blackhole. Some of the human members of the crew had gone down to the bottom of the ship to start the engine reversal, but hadn’t come back. Nardole then reveals that there is actually a lot more than just a skeleton crew on the ship, and actually there are thousands of life forms at the bottom of the ship.
Due to time dilation from the blackhole, time is moving faster at the bottom of the ship than at the top. Therefore a couple of days at the top of the ship, equates to generations for the bottom of the ship, the thousands of lifeforms at the bottom are actually decedents from Jorgi’s human crewmembers. Realising there is no time to waste, the Doctor incapacitates Jorgi and heads down to the bottom of the ship in the lifts with Missy and Nardole.
Meanwhile at the bottom of the ship, Bill had been “repaired” at the hospital after being fitted with some machinery that acts as her replacement heart. After discovering other patients that look the same as the humanoids before, screaming out in pain, she befriends a man named Razor who explains what is happening is called “Operation Exodus”. After generations of living in the ships lower levels, the air has become polluted, and the humans are waiting to be “upgraded” in order to survive this. As she waits for the Doctor, she watches him on a live feed that Razor has set up for her. After the years pass, she notices the Doctor is finally coming to find her in the lifts. But before the Doctor can reach her, Razor tricks her into becoming one of the patients for the next stage of upgrading.
After reaching the bottom of the ship, the Doctor takes Nardole with him to investigate the hospital while he leaves Missy to work out the ships origin. As she discovers the ship is from the planet Mondas, Razor approaches her. He tells her how he’s been excited to meet her and almost didn’t recognise her at first. He insists that she’s been here before, and that the Doctor will never forgive her for what she did to Bill. Missy insists that she didn’t do anything to Bill, but Razor insists that she did a long time ago. He then removes his disguise to reveal that he is actually the Master, her previous incarnation, and tells her that he’s worried about his future.
Meanwhile in the conversion theatre, the Doctor and Nardole discover a fully converted Mondasian Cyberman. The Doctor asks it if it can locate where Bill is for him, and it complies, only to tell the Doctor that the it is Bill herself, with Nardole realising that she must have been put through “Operation Exodus”. The Master and Missy then enter the conversion theatre, stating to the Doctor that’s not really an Exodus but more like a gensis, the genesis of the Cybermen. The cyberman then tells the Doctor it had been waiting for him, and Bill sheds a tear underneath the casing.
Who Knew Mondasian Cybermen Could be THAT Scary?
I cannot stress how much I LOVED this episode. I really did. But at the same time, I am furious with the BBC’s marketing team for thinking that giving us these big spoilers would be a good idea. At first, the fact the humans are being converted into Mondasian Cybermen isn’t completely obvious as we don’t see them in their final form until the end. For most of the episode they are just in hospital gowns with cloth covering their face, and a keypad and speaker to help them communicate. While the robotic voices may be a good indicator for long term fans, but newcomers it would have been such a good reveal for them hadn’t it already been spoiled by the marketing team.
And dear God how bloody shocking would the Master’s reveal have been?! I won’t deny, I’d been eagerly waiting for him to appear for the whole episode, and didn’t really realise he was hiding as Razor until moments before his reveal when he said to Missy she would “never be to self-destructive” to kill him. So, in a way I was shocked, but in no way as shocked as I would have been had his return been kept a secret. Honestly, if that had been the case I wouldn’t gave realised until he did reveal himself.
The Mondasian Cybermen haven’t been seen since 1966 when they were first introduced onto the show. And to be honest, I had always thought that was a good thing. To me they had always looked so low-budget and not scary. But I’m going to have to eat my words here, because they seriously creeped me out in this episode. I’ve been watching this show since I was 7. Naturally back then I was easily scared, but the last time an episode ever truly scared me was “The Silence in the Library” with the Vastra Nerada. And I’ve never been scared by the cybermen until now. Seeing them before they had their emotional inhibitors, screaming “pain” and “kill me” over and over until their volume is turned down was truly chilling and haunted be for the rest of the night.
There was all sorts of flashbacks and flashforwards in this episode. And usually I criticise Moffat for using this trick to just try to complicate things. But this time, I think it was done well. Watching the Doctor try and convince Bill to joining Missy in her test and promising to keep her alive right after seeing her get shot just added to the sadness and shock of it all. We also saw him talk to Bill about Missy and their history, and how desperately he wants her to go back to the way she was before they became enemies. Sometimes it can be quite easy to forget that the two of them were ever friends once, so the reminder was good. And it made the betrayal (even it was in a previous incarnation), especially after watching the Doctor put all his trust in her, even more heart-breaking. The Master’s right, it might be hard for Missy to come back from that one in terms of the Doctor wanting to be friends with her.
While I loved the episode, I’m still mad about what they did to Bill. It was a shocking reveal, but it doesn’t seem all that long ago since the same thing happened to Danny Pink in season 8. Bill has been such a great character, so the least she deserved was an original ending to her story. Is this the end for her, though? Moffat said in a live Q&A right after the episode aired that it was. From now on she’s going to be a Cyberman and is going to be killing people. Then again, Moffat is known for lying, so I’m taking what he says with a pinch of salt.
If this is the end for Bill, though, then I’m going to be sad to see her go. She’s the first companion I’ve become so fond off since Rory Williams, and I had half expected her to stay on for a second series after how popular she had become. But equally there’s no harm in the show getting a brand new Doctor and companion when Chibnall finally takes over.
One thing is for certain is I can not wait for the finale.
Johanna an avid writer and lifelong Doctor Who fan living in the UK. By day she is a student, studying Media and Film Production, and by night she fangirls about all things TV/Film related on Twitter and writes posts for a variety of blogs as well as her own lifestyle blog.