It seems appropriate that the final episode of Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall’s era of Doctor Who was aired during Diwali because this episode truly was the guiding light to move us away from the darkness.
The last four years has been a truly low point in the history of Doctor Who. Everyone talks about the keys to the TARDIS being handed over to Jodie Whittaker and how it signals the decline of one of the BBC’s tentpole shows as it reaches its centenary. Those people are leaving out the other key change that took place: Chris Chibnall replaced Steven Moffat as showrunner, ringing the death knells of the viewing figures. So please, do not blame Jodie Whittaker for the downfall of this beloved show! Blame Chris Chibnall and the staggeringly poor writing, confused plot threads and dropped storylines that have been the recurring motif throughout his reign.
Nevertheless, we are here to rejoice, for Chibnall delivered a final episode that was full of fun, camp and people talking fast to skip over plot holes; the three main ingredients to all great Doctor Who episodes. Is the plot still incomprehensible? Does it rely on cameos? Do they still not wrap up the key character development explored over the entirety of Whittaker’s era? Of course! But at the very least, I watched the entire train wreck with a smile that I could not wipe away.
So, what is the plot? I honestly couldn’t tell you. The Master is being evil because they’re the Master. Sasha Dhawan is one of the gleaming gems from this era and delivers an iconic performance as he assumes the identity of Rasputin to bring together the Cyber-Masters (don’t ask) and the Daleks to do something evil for evil reasons. Teagen and ACE are also back alongside cameos from classic Doctors but frankly, that doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. Not the Doctor, not Yaz, not Teagen, don’t even mention Kate Stewart. I don’t care about Daleks, Cyber-whatevers, Chibnall. I maybe care about Dan as he joins the rest of the Whittaker’s companions who still want to have adventures… they just don’t want to have them with the Doctor anymore. I don’t care about social awkwardness, Graham’s cancer, a big dog, Greyworm or Ryan.
I care about one thing. The best scene in all of Whittaker’s era and possibly one of my favourites from Doctor Who as a whole. The moment has been building since Rasputin came on screen. The song. They must use the song. Ra-Ra-Rasputin! Memories of John Simm and Voodoo Child raced through my brain, all my synapses filled with ideas of how this could be executed, how they could fumble the bag. Sasha Dhawan’s Master, dressed as Rasputin, has the Doctor trapped in the shell of a Dalek with a mega weapon above his head, delivering his evil monologue where he reveals his evil plan that he is carrying out for evil reasons. The tension builds. Surely! This is it! The Master places a hand on his hip, gracefully raises his arm to the sky to press the evil button and there it is! The greatest scene of Doctor Who unfolds as Sasha Dhawan sensually dances to Boney M’s classic song, alongside a montage of his evil plan coming to its evil fruition!
This scene only lasts a single minute out of an entire 90-minute episode, a truly minute portion of the runtime, yet as I move further and further away from my original watch, this scene seems to be growing longer and longer. Already it is the only thing I remember of the entire episode. In a year, perhaps this scene will be my only memory of this era of Doctor Who. My memories of the Doctor using the Master’s race to defeat him by outing him to Nazis will be replaced by Rasputin; my recollection of the episode where the Doctor supports Kablam, space’s equivalent of Amazon, as she blames the workers for their mistreatment will instead be the awkward glance between a Dalek and a Cyberman; the Doctor’s genocide of multiple races will be eradicated, much like those races, to instead contain the Master’s gyrating hips and personally I’ll be fine it.
Then there is the other main thing everyone is talking about following this episode. The return of an iconic actor taking up the mantle of the Doctor once more to the wild cheers of the audience. An actor who has grown since leaving the role, returning with a new mature approach but dripping with the same charm that made everyone fall in love with him. The singular exhalation erupted from all of the fandom’s mouths as he appeared, morphing from the face of another Doctor. That’s right… you guessed it… Paul McGann’s back as the eighth Doctor!
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