Doctor Who Season Finale Recap: The Doctor Falls (But Won’t Stay Down)

Time besting a Time Lord. That’s where the first half of the season finale of Doctor Who left us last week, and that’s where it leaves us this week, too, with a cliffhanger of an ending that won’t be resolved until Christmas—six months from now. Don’t get worked up: time is a flat circle. No, sorry. Wrong show.

Anyway, an episode packed with Time Lords (four, count ‘em) should be gift enough from Steven Moffat to get you through to the Christmas Special. Especially that (brief) treat of a moment where we thought we might get to see three of them work together. Would the Cybermen have stood a chance?

Instead, following the heartbreak of watching a wavering Missy walk away from the fight with her previous incarnation (how perfect was Missy clocking the Master after the Doctor tells her to “knock yourself out”?), the Doctor is left to defend his human charges “without hope, without witness, without reward.” And without much of a chance of making it out of there alive.

An exploding apple buys them some time (guess no one had a Galaxy Note 7 handy) but the whole giant ship + black hole thing means that evacuation is the only option. Nardole crams the settlement’s children into the lift and heads five floors up (any further, and time and space would make the Cybermen’s victory a mathematical certainty).

Bill, who’s been in denial about her Cyber-ification all episode, stays behind with the Doctor, certain there’s no hope of ever returning to her old self. As the battle begins, Missy lingers by the lift, telling the Master that she won’t be travelling to the bottom of the ship with him, where his TARDIS waits.

Instead, in what might have been the episode’s biggest twist (and that’s saying something in an instalment where we get reacquainted with the First Doctor), Missy turns on herself. Her knife leaves the Master with just enough time to get back to his TARDIS to regenerate… into her. But that, it turns out, will be her final regeneration. “It’s time to stand with the Doctor,” she says. Instead, she falls for him. A last-minute blast from the Master’s sonic ends her. If there’s anyone will miss as much as Peter Capaldi, it’s Michelle Gomez.

The Doctor’s most recent companion gets a happier ending when her soggy girlfriend Heather returns, alerted to Bill’s whereabouts in the universe by her impossible Cyber-tears. Her ability to un-Cyber Bill is chocked up to the fact that Heather is so completely evolved that she can do anything (including fly the TARDIS, which is where they leave the Doctor to RIP before taking off to explore time and space together).

But unlike Missy, this Time Lord still has some life left in him. Peter Capaldi’s Twelve is as adverse to the whole regeneration routine as his fans are, fighting his glowing hands by burying them in the snow at whatever destination his TARDIS has decided to take him. Of course, the TARDIS knows best. It’s delivered him directly to himself, or less confusingly, to David Bradley, playing William Hartnell’s First Doctor. See you in December.

5 questions about this week’s episode

1. After the dig the Doctor got in at the current US president in the finale, what are the chances that Trump will be angrily tweeting about the FAKE & FRAUDULENT Doctor Who this week? (We can see it now: “Not even a REAL DOCTOR!”)

2. Will Bill be back (for the Christmas Special, or any future episodes, or a spin-off show with Heather)?

3. Does anyone else get dizzy trying to sort out the timelines of two Time Lords meeting in one space/time location?

4. How many parents and grandparents found themselves explaining to their kids what “that guy from Harry Potter” was doing on Who when Bradley showed up at the end of the episode?

5. Since no one’s thought to ask yet (hah), who’s playing the next Doctor?