In The World Enough and Time, clever, old, Steven Moffat has delivered both a sequel and a prequel to the first ever Cyberman story, The Tenth Planet.
At the end of that first Cyberman story, which aired in October, 1966, first Doctor William Hartnell regenerated into Patrick Troughton. The World Enough and Time is a prequel, because it shows the genesis of the Cybermen, while being a sequel, because the 12th Doctor is there to witness it.
Who, except for clever old show runner Steven Moffat who wrote this episode, could ever have imagined that the 12th Doctor, and his companions, could ever have played such an integral part in their creation? It’s 1975’s Genesis of the Daleks, ala Tom Baker, all over again!
We’ve known Series 10 would be Capaldi’s last for a long time, so including what appears to be his regeneration ahead of the title sequence this week only serves to remind us of this Doctor’s walk to the gallows. Now it’s coming, every moment with 12 seems bittersweet. One wonders whether we’ll see the 12th Doctor (Peter Capaldi) regenerated at the end of this story, or whether we’ll have to wait until the 2017 Christmas Special.
Moffat’s script, under the skilful direction of Rachel Talalay, hooked the viewer from its opening moments, exploring the narrative like a TARDIS that has jumped a time track.
The TARDIS crew, and Missy (Michelle Gomez), arrive on a mysterious generational spaceship stuck on the event horizon of a black hole. Bill (Peal Mackie) is seemingly killed on the top deck of the ship, before we flash back further to a conversation between her and the Doctor in which he cannot guarantee her safety.
It was lovely to hear reimagined strains of composer Murray Gold’s This is Gallifrey strike up as the Doctor describes the Master/Missy as the person most like him in the universe. After all, they were young Time Lords together. Here, we learn, the Doctor wishes to discover if Missy is truly reformed by sending her on a mission of his choosing with Bill and Nardole (Matt Lucas).
Back to the generational ship, and Bill has been taken below decks by mysteriously bandaged humanoids serving a battle axe of a nurse and a skittish, yet familiar, little man. They’ve repaired Bill, and revived her, after inserting a mechanical heart, but she must stay within the confines of the hospital if she is to survive.
It’s pretty clear, at this point, that there’s more to the skittish man than meets the eye, and all will soon be revealed. Bill, as predicted, is well on her way to becoming a Mondassian cyberman or woman.
The penultimate episode of Doctor Who: Series 10 is an instant classic and next week’s episode looks set to be heart breaking.