|Written by||Steven Moffat|
|Directed by||Rachel Talalay|
|Produced by||Peter Bennett|
“Without hope, without witness, without reward.”
The Mondasian Cybermen are on the rise. Its time for the Doctors final battle…
The episode opens to a group of farmers on Floor 0507 facing against the prototypes from Floor 1056, shooting them down by night to then restrain on wooden crosses by day. A school child is out in the field one morning when a shuttlepod blasts through the ground.
From the rubble, a Cyberman walks out carrying an unconscious Doctor.
Sometime earlier, the Doctor awakes on top of the hospital, soon recalling how he was subdued by Missy and the Master. The Doctor, now restrained in a wheelchair, watches the two incarnations of the Master taunt him on the many deaths the Doctor has had and wanting to find out new ways to kill him. The Master and Missy dance and flirt with each other and gloat of their plan of the Cybermen converting all the humans on the ship. However the Master is stunned to find that the Cybermen are heading towards the building that they are perched on. The Doctor explains that when he was knocked down by Missy, he altered the signal of the Cybermen so they would convert two-hearted beings as well, hence why they are now focusing on the Time Lord’s presence. The Masters panic, Missy frantically using her sonic umbrella to lock a metal door to hold back advancing Cybermen while the Master uses his laser screwdriver to destroy advancing Cybermen. The Doctor brags that he is the only one who is has able to stop so many Cybermen at once. Realising this, a conflicted Missy knocks the Master out and frees the Doctor from his restraints.
The Doctor starts wondering which side she is on to which she admits her indecisiveness as she is confused and her other half is unconscious.
Nardole, who had commandeered a shuttlecraft, lands near the roof to help escape, but the Doctor is grabbed and electrified by a Cyberman before he boards. Bill, in her cyber form, intervenes, destroying the Cyberman with a blaster based on her head. Missy and the Master try to convince Nardole to abandon the Doctor, but Bill prevents the shuttle from leaving, grabbing the ladders until they rescue him.
They escape to a higher floor on the ship, where time moves slower. They find themselves on a solar farm, where some of the humans and a large number of children protect themselves from the early Cybermen prototypes from Operation Exodus. They spend two weeks there while the Doctor recovers from his injuries. Bill awakes, in the barn, unsure why the villagers are scared on her. When given a mirror by a child, she becomes horrified to discover she was converted into a Cyberman. The girl goes to run but bumps into the Doctor who thanks her for being kind to Bill, offering her a jelly baby as she leaves. The Doctor has somewhat recovered from his injuries, though he still ha a scar from where he was hit by the Master.
Trying to console Bill, she gradually realises that though she thinks she is human, she is still a Mondasian Cyberman in appearance, created by a perception filter, according to the Doctor. She grows angry, the Doctor backing away as Bill accidentally triggers the blaster on her head, igniting the door on the barn, causing an explosion. Nardole, who has been preparing the town for the oncoming Cybermen, passively tells the farmers not to worry.
Bill sheds a tear when she realises the humans are frightened of her, and the Doctor wipes it away, noting it unusual. The Master tells the Doctor that he and Missy have been working on something, and pauses briefly to mock Bill, chastising the Doctor for still referring to her as a female and taunts how he hated the time he had to spend with Bill as "Razor". He stops because Bill claims he is not upsetting her, though she cries beneath her mask when he leaves. The Doctor finds it odd she is still able to shed tears. While traversing after the Master, the Doctor struggles to walk, limping heavily.
He briefly stumbles against a tree, regeneration energy attempting to trickle from his hand. Wanting to not worry Bill, he draws up a stick and carries onwards but Bill is still distraught that the Doctor can’t fix her current condition, the Doctor remarking there is still hope as she is strangely able to cry.
They soon reach the middle of a forest where Missy has discovered a camouflaged lift in the nearby forest, which she suggests they can escape to the bridge, using her sonic umbrella to call it. However, the Doctor declares that there will no doubt be a Cyberman in the lift waiting to find their floor, as the lift was taken to the bottom by them previously. Understanding this, Bill orders them to stand aside, the Doctor convincing the two Masters to do so. The three Time Lords prepare behind Bill, drawing their respective devices. As guessed, the lift brings up an advanced Cyberman from the lower floor, Bill speedily firing on it with her cyber blaster, the Master following likewise with his laser screwdriver as the Doctor and Missy use their sonic devices to slow its advance with a barrier. After several seconds, they disable it.
The Doctor warns that (through the Cybernet) they will now have much more time to plan, given they now know what floor they reside on, so they must prepare for a battle. While Nardole discovers that the floor below this one has many fuel pipes that he can detonate as weaponry against the Cybermen, the Doctor finds a conduit to another solar on a higher floor that can be used to evacuate the children, knowing this is a fight they will likely lose. The Master and Missy decide to leave and plan to find the Master’s TARDIS at the lowest floor. The Doctor runs after the two Masters, pleading for them to be by his side to help, as doing so would just be kind. The Master ridicules the idea, saying that he didn’t listen to a word the Doctor said. However Missy was somewhat moved by the Doctor’s speech. However she sides with her predecessor.
At the lift, Missy tricks the Master into dancing with her and fatally stabs him, forcing his next regeneration. She announces she will return to help the Doctor, but when she turns her back, he fires his laser screwdriver at full blast, also fatally wounding her and disabling her regeneration. The Master comments that it is the perfect ending, with them both shooting themselves in the back. They both laugh as they die; the Master descends in the lift as Missy seemingly dies from the blast.
An initial wave of Cybermen arrive, but using Nardole’s tricks with the explosives, they are able to make the humans appear more powerful, forcing the Cybermen to retreat and develop a new plan, giving the humans more time. Against Nardole’s protests, the Doctor downloads the plans for the floor into his sonic screwdriver and sends him to help evacuate the children, intending to stay alone to fight the Cybermen. Nardole resists, the pair arguing over who really should die, the Doctor eventually convincing him helping the children will be his penance for his crimes he committed before meeting him. Bill also insists on staying with the Doctor despite Nardole trying to tell her otherwise. With all the humans evacuated, the Doctor ignites all the pipes below the floor, engulfing it all in a wave of destruction. All the Cybermen are killed, but the Doctor is severally wounded. Bill, still as a Cyberman, comes to mourn over the Doctor’s body, but suddenly she finds herself out of the Cyberman suit, seemingly human, thanks to Heather (from The Pilot) who found her by her tear and restored her to be like she is now.
They take to the Doctor’s body to the TARDIS, and Heather, as the Pilot, directs the TARDIS to a new location, while offering Bill to live out a different life, and Bill accepts. Before leaving, Bill sheds a tear on the Doctor, but does not wipe it away, saying "Where there’s tears, there’s hope."
The TARDIS lands in an icy planet. The Doctor wakes up and starts regenerating. He tries fighting it off, in his confusion he starts recalling the last words of some of his previous incarnations. He also hallucinates several of his past companions. He controls the regeneration, angrily stating that he does not want to change again, hating the fact he becomes someone else. He steps outside into the snow and yet again his regeneration starts. The Doctor screams no and stops the regeneration by shoving his fists into the snow, again stating he will not change.
Suddenly in the distance he hears a voice mocking his words. The stranger asks for the Doctor’s identity. The stranger states that while the Doctor may be a Doctor, he "is the Doctor, the original you may say". Much to the Doctor’s shock and surprise the stranger is revealed to be his own first incarnation.
- The read through for The Doctor Falls took place on Tuesday, 21 February, 2017. It premiered on the 11th anniversary of The Army of Ghosts – appropriate as the events of The Army of Ghosts / Doomsday are referenced when the Doctor taunts the Cybermen about Canary Wharf.
- Missy tells the Master, ‘I loved being you…’ The Tenth Doctor says the exact same thing to the Fifth Doctor when they meet in Time Crash, also written by Steven Moffat.
- ‘Without hope. Without witness. Without reward.’ If those words sound familiar it’s because the Doctor spoke them earlier this series, in Extremis.
- When ‘Cyber Bill’ weeps, the single tear leaking from her mesh eye forms a visual echo of the ‘teardrop’ in the corner of the traditional Cyber-eye.
- The Doctor’s jelly babies are back! Although most commonly associated with the Fourth Doctor, the Second Doctor and the Seventh Doctor enjoyed jelly babies and the Eighth Doctor went a step further, using them as a distraction whilst battling the Master in San Francisco. Much later, in Mummy on the Orient Express, we saw the Twelfth Doctor carrying jelly babies around in a very fancy case – much smarter than the old paper bag he’s now reverted to! Maybe they’re a Time Lord thing – in The Sound of Drums it was revealed the Master carried a bag of jelly babies around and he even offered one to his wife before tucking into one himself!
- The Doctor resists the idea of change and presumably believes this is the final end, declaring that wherever the TARDIS has brought him, he’s staying. The last episode of Evil of the Daleks was broadcast exactly 50 years to the day before The Doctor Falls was first shown. In that early episode, half a century ago, the Doctor’s closing words were, ‘The end. The final end…’
The first actor to play the Doctor, William Hartnell, was known to his friends as Bill. His partner was called Heather. Coincidence
- Whilst discussing ways in which the Doctor has ‘died’ – in other words, events that have triggered a regeneration – Missy states, ‘I know you’ve fallen.’ She knows because she was there and saw it happen! In Logopolis, whilst derailing the Master’s plan to gain dominion over the entire cosmos, the Fourth Doctor tumbled from a radio telescope. He plummeted to the ground where, moments later, the plunge resulted in his transformation into the Fifth Doctor. So, it’s not only in recent episodes that the Doctor falls!
- Logopolis was also the first adventure where the Cloister Bell was heard to chime. It tolls again towards the end of this episode – an ominous sign as the Doctor once described it as, ‘…a sort of communications device reserved for wild catastrophes and sudden calls to man the battle stations!’
- ‘Where there’s tears, there’s hope.’ This comment brings to mind another line spoken in a regeneration episode – the final part of Planet of the Spiders. In that adventure, the frail and damaged Third Doctor sees one of Sarah Jane’s tears as she weeps, thinking he’s about to die. Poignantly, he murmurs, ‘A tear, Sarah Jane? No, don’t cry. While there’s life there’s…’ But he doesn’t have the strength to finish the sentence with the word ‘hope’ and moments later he becomes the Fourth Doctor.
- In this episode Bill quotes the Twelfth Doctor’s ‘where there’s tears’ line back to him. In Planet of the Spiders, the original line becomes the last thing the Doctor says to his companion whereas in The Doctor Falls it’s the last thing his companion says to him.
- ‘You may be a Doctor, but I am the Doctor… The original you might say!’ This comment is a mash up of two lines previously spoken by the Time Lord. Shortly after regenerating the Fourth Doctor told Harry, ‘You may be a Doctor, but I am the Doctor. The definite article, you might say!’ And in The Five Doctors, when Tegan asks who the First Doctor ‘might be’ he replies tetchily, ‘I might be any number of things, young lady. As it happens, I am the Doctor. The original, you might say!’
- And finally (almost) let’s look at all those references to places and planets mentioned in The Doctor Falls that relate to previous Cyberman stories…
a) Mondas first appeared in the Cybermen’s debut adventure, The Tenth Planet, where its similarity to our planet was so great, observers could scarcely believe it, initially claiming, ‘There must be some reflection off Earth!’ The Cybermen revealed the name of their home world and one of the humans spluttered, ‘Mondas? But isn’t that one of the ancient names of Earth?’ The Cybermen from Mondas, as seen in The Tenth Planet, were strikingly similar to those in The Doctor Falls.
Telos, another planet referenced in The Doctor Falls, has sometimes been called ‘the home of the Cybermen’. This world held a slumbering ‘colony’ of Cybermen which was awoken – and later defeated by the Second Doctor – in The Tomb of the Cybermen.
b) A more unexpected reference is the Doctor’s mention of Marinus. The planet has only been visited once onscreen, in the fifth ever Doctor Who adventure, 1964’s The Keys of Marinus. Curiously, that story made no mention of the Cybermen. Indeed, the ‘tin men’ from Mondas wouldn’t make their debut until over two years later!
c) Less is known about Planet 14, another world the Doctor mentions in this episode. Way back in 1968, during The Invasion, the Cyber Planner stated that the Doctor and his companion had ‘…been recognised on Planet 14!’ adding, ‘They are dangerous and must be destroyed!’
d) In the forest, the Time Lord also namechecks Voga – the so-called ‘Planet of Gold’ where the Fourth Doctor faced the Cybermen in the distant future in Revenge of the Cybermen. In that adventure he defeated his old foes by using gold (which is deadly to some Cybermen) and later, ordering the Vogans to crash a rocket into the Cyber Ship.
d) Canary Wharf was the London location where the Doctor engineered the defeat of the Daleks and Cybermen when the two sides fought during the events of Army of Ghosts/Doomsday. The Doctor used the ‘void stuff’ (a kind of background radiation) which contaminated the invading Cybermen as a kind of magnet, enabling him to drag them and the Daleks into the void itself. Or, as Mickey Smith put it when summarizing the ingenious plan: ‘So, you’re sending the Daleks and Cybermen to Hell!’
e) ‘Even on the moon…’ In the 1967 story The Moonbase, the Doctor foiled an invasion by organising for the ‘Gravitron’ (a device that manipulated gravity and the weather on Earth) to be activated in such a way as to send the Cybermen helplessly into space. The action of this story took place on the lunar surface in the year 2070.
- ‘Sontarans! Perverting the course of human history!’ These were almost the first words spoken by the Fourth Doctor, seconds after he regenerated. The Twelfth Doctor has also said them before – immediately after waking up, apparently in a state of confusion, in Listen.
The words, ‘when the Doctor was me’ are a fragment of the last thing the Eleventh Doctor ever said to Clara. Aboard the TARDIS, about to become the Twelfth Doctor, he promised his ‘Impossible Girl’, ‘I will not forget one line of this. Not one day. I swear, I will always remember when the Doctor was me.’
- ‘I don’t want to go…’ These were the final words, spoken sorrowfully by the Tenth Doctor before he regenerated. They were also the last comment he made to the Eleventh Doctor before leaving him in The Day Of The Doctor and coincidentally, David Bradley, playing William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time, utters the line when his character is contemplating stepping away from Doctor Who, which in the show itself, resulted in the very first regeneration.
And finally…David Bradley has appeared in Doctor Who before, playing the sinister Solomon in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. He also provided the voice of the Shansheeth in The Sarah Jane Adventures story which featured the Eleventh Doctor and Jo Jones (nee Grant) – The Death of the Doctor. But in the world of Doctor Who he’s better known for his peerless portrayal of William Hartnell. Here he plays the First Doctor, complete with the character’s familiar cloak, hat and habit of gripping his lapels. But where in his timeline do we join him and what will happen when these two Doctors collide? Find out in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special!
- The Doctor reiterates his dislike of guns, (The Sontaran Stratagem, The Doctor’s Daughter, The Impossible Astronaut, The Curse Of The Black Spot) despite having once willingly used one. (Hell Bent)
- Missy is able to provide the Master with a dematerialization circuit by telling him to always carry a spare, similar to how the Tenth Doctor told the Fifth how he could stop the TARDIS exploding (Time Crash).
- The Doctor reiterates River’s words that Nardole once spoke to him from her diary. (Extremis)
- Bill is reunited with Heather in the form of sentient oil. (The Pilot)
- Missy uses her sonic umbrella. (World Enough and Time)
- The Master uses a modified laser screwdriver. (Last of the Time Lords)
- The Master moves the Doctor around in a wheelchair. (Last of the Time Lords)
- The Doctor has a brief recall of some of his past companions from his ninth incarnation onwards, just before his body attempts to regenerate. The Fourth and Fifth Doctor similarly had this occur to him. Likewise, the last face he sees is the Master’s. (The Caves of Androzani, Logopolis)
- He recalls Rose Tyler from Bad Wolf, Martha Jones from Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks, Donna Noble from Partners in Crime, Jack Harkness from Utopia, Vastra from The Name of the Doctor, Jenny Flint from The Crimson Horror, Sarah Jane Smith from The Stolen Earth, Amy Pond from The Impossible Astronaut, River Song from The Pandorica Opens, and even Clara Oswald from Last Christmas.
- Nardole implies he is a cyborg.
- Filmed in Caerwent, Wales forFloor 0507 farmland
- When waking up after his pre-regeneration flashbacks, the Doctor says “Sontarans! Perverting the course of human history!”. They were the first words of the Fourth Doctor after regenerating. (Robot). He said the same statement after he woke up in the TARDIS during Listen.
- As he begins regenerating, the Doctor says “I don’t want to go”, the exact same words his tenth incarnation said before regenerating. (The End of Time) He also reiterates the last lines of his eleventh incarnation, (The Time of the Doctor) as well as the final words the Tenth Doctor stated before his aborted regeneration. (The Stolen Earth)
- The Doctor resists regenerating. He has previously done this when nearing the end of his fifth (The Caves of Androzani) and tenth incarnations. (The End of Time)
- It was revealed Heather gave her tears to track Bill, explaining how Bill was still able to cry despite being a Cyberman. (World Enough and Time)
- The Doctor meets his first incarnation. He has met this version of himself on numerous previous occasions. (The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors, The Day Of The Doctor)
- The Doctor recalls last seeing Missy’s predecessor heading to Gallifrey, deducing that the Time Lords cured his "little condition" before kicking him out. (The End of Time)
- The Master refers to the Doctor as “Doc”. The Doctor‘s first incarnation had previously taken umbrage at being addressed like that (The Time Meddler, The Five Doctors), as did his sixth (The Twin Dilemma, The Ultimate Foe) and tenth (Dreamland)
- The Master calls the Doctor Granddad (The The Day Of The Doctor)
- Bill and Heather begin their own travels through time and space, Bill leaving the Doctor behind in the TARDIS.
- Nardole stays behind on the Mondasian ship to help Hazran and her children escape the Cybermen.
- The Master is forced to regenerate by Missy after she stabs him. Both agree that he then regenerates into Missy, in his own TARDIS, and he forgets the whole adventure.
- Missy is killed by her previous incarnation, left unable to regenerate. In their own words, they were stabbed in the back by themselves.
- The Master being stranded by a malfunction, or by his TARDIS otherwise being unavailable to him, was a feature of several past stories, especially The Claws of Axos and Sympathy for the Devil.
- Craig Owens had previously been able to resist a Cyber-conversion due to his strong love for his son overpowering a damaged cyber-ship’s conversion equipment. (Closing Time)
- Missy severely injures one of her previous incarnations. The Master previously did this to himself in The Two Masters.
- The song heard when Missy and The Master are dancing on the rooftop is "Midnight, the Stars and You" by Al Bowlly.