The episode begins with the Doctor stumbling out of the TARDIS and falling onto the snow covered ground. Regeneration energy starts to flow from his hands and then his face as he yells ‘no.’ I’m right there with you, Doctor. Let’s put all of that energy back inside till Christmas. Give me a few more months of denial.
We’ve gotten bits and pieces of Missy all season. This episode was like a Missy buffet. She pretends to be the Doctor, calling herself “Doctor Who” and introducing Bill and Nardole as Thing One and the Other One. She and the Doctor work together instead of trying to kill each other. She has so many good lines in this.
Missy, Nardole, and Bill, with the Doctor at first monitoring in the TARDIS, respond to a distress call from an enormous ship that is in the process of reversing away from a black hole. For the people at the top of the ship, where our group is, only two days have passed. For the people in the bottom of the ship, those two days have been decades. The original twelve crew members sent down there have spawned generations of colonists. I want to thank Interstellar for making how black holes affect time easy for me to understand.
There’s the time problem and the problem with the bandage covered, IV dragging, scary looking people who come from the bottom of the ship. They’ve been taking the human crew members and now they’re after Bill. The remaining crew member is afraid of them enough to shoot Bill in the hope of stopping them from coming back. They come anyway and take Bill back to the bottom of the ship to ‘repair her’ but not before the Doctor leaves a message in her subconscious to wait for him.
Remember that time problem? The ten minutes it took for the Doctor to figure out and then explain the situation was years for Bill. Bill, who now has a machine for her heart, is living with a weird dude who reminds me of Zathras from Babylon 5. She’s been watching the camera footage of the Doctor from the top of the ship. Due to the time dilation, he’s barely moving but that doesn’t stop her enjoyment. It doesn’t seem like the ship was ready to support so many people for this long because the environment is slowly killing them. The people are being converted to a form that can better survive and take control of the ship. That conversion turns them into the bandage people.
In a flashback earlier in the episode, we see the Doctor trying to convince Bill to go on a test mission with Missy. Watching them interact outside of adventures is what I’ve most wanted to see this season. Bill brings out a different side to the Doctor. He respects and trusts her enough to reveal parts of himself like his relationship with the Master before everything went to hell. The Master was his ‘mancrush’ and they had plans to travel the stars together. The Doctor has to believe she can be saved and he needs Bill to help with that. This leads to the first heartbreaking moment in this episode. Bill tells the Doctor that Missy scares her before saying “Promise you won’t get me killed.” The scene flashes to her standing on the bridge with a hole in her chest after being shot.
The Doctor, Missy, and Nardole take the elevator down to the bottom of the ship. Bill gets faux Zathras to lead her to the elevator to meet him. Finally, after all of these years her wait is over. Except it’s all a lie. Faux Zathras delivers her to the conversion theater where she will be upgraded into one of the bandage people except she will get the special add-on that prevents her from caring about all the pain she will be in. The Doctor left Missy to find out about the ship while he and Nardole try to find Bill.
In a not so unexpected twist, now that we know what a jerk he is, Faux Zathras knows Missy though she doesn’t remember him. He reveals himself to be the Master. The Master who became the Prime Minister and tried his best to destroy Earth. This reveal would have been more shocking without all the promotional material telling us he would be in this episode. The Master tells Missy that the Doctor will never forgive her once he finds out what she did to Bill. In the second heartbreaking moment of the episode, the Doctor realizes Bill is now a Mondasian Cyberman. “I waited for you,” Cyber-Bill says as the camera goes behind the mask to reveal she’s crying.
There have been companions who have done foolish things, dangerous things, thoughtless things, but the Doctor, for the most part, has jumped in to save them or at least make the attempt. The most dangerous thing Bill has done this season was teaming up with the Doctor. The Doctor tried to talk the crew member from shooting Bill but was ultimately unsuccessful. This is the second spaceship that Bill has mostly died on. This time there was no Doctor to save this Girl Who Waited. She trusted the Doctor, put her faith in him and ended up being turned into a Cyberman.
We have one episode left. Let’s hope this show didn’t kill off the Black lesbian companion during Pride Month.
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Writer. Podcast contributor. Costume design enthusiast. Lover of fantasy movies from the 1980s and bizarre deep sea creatures. Can be found tweeting about comics, Yuri on Ice, Doctor Who or Star Wars at @jane_anon or on the Nerds of Prey podcast.