Title: Doctor Who Christmas Special “Twice Upon A Time”
Genre: Science fiction, Drama
Platform: TV – BBC America
Director: Rachel Talalay
Writer: Steven Moffat
Release: December 25, 2017
Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, David Bradley
Feature image: Source
“We have a choice. Either we change and go on or we die as we are…” Twelfth Doctor – Doctor Who
The episode begins 709 episodes ago, from the black and white scenes from the 10th Planet episode. The scene switches from the original First Doctor (William Hartnell) to One (David Bradley). One wanders out of his TARDIS into the snowy environment of the South Pole, he runs into the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi). Twelve: “This is it, the very first time that I, well, you, we, regenerated.” Twelve is confused why One is trying to keep from regenerating and asks him. One tells him he has the courage to live or die as himself. Twelve realizes the problems this could cause, “We have a choice. Either we change and go on or we die as we are… If your future never happens, if you don’t do the things that you are supposed to do, the consequences could be…” Suddenly the snowflakes freeze in motion. A British Captain (Mark Gatiss) wanders out of the dark confused and disorientated and asks, “I don’t suppose either of you is a Doctor?”
“World War I… What do you mean, ‘One’?” Captain Lethbridge-Stewart – Doctor Who
In Ypres, 1914, the British Captain we just met and his German counterpart are in a crater pointing pistols at each other; neither soldier wants to shoot the other, but both are afraid the other will shoot first. Just as both are prepared to shoot, a time wave blasts through, freezing everything except the British Captain. A glass figure appears and takes the Captain away into an alien craft. The glass figure says “A timeline error.” Suddenly he appears in the South Pole with the Doctors. They see the glass figure and decide to go into Twelve’s TARDIS. One is surprised how big Twelve’s TARDIS is. Twelve: “It’s all those years of bigger on the inside. You try sucking your tummy in that long.” Once they enter, One is shocked on how the TARDIS looks in the inside, and the Captain is confused that it is larger in the inside. The Captain wonders if he is going mad. Twelve: “You’re an officer from World War One on the South Pole being pursued by an alien through frozen time. Madness was never this good” “World War I,” the Captain says. “What do you mean, ‘One’?” Twelve apologizes for saying too much. One still doesn’t want to recognize that Twelve is him until Twelve shows him he is regenerating too. One is disappointed, he thought he’d get younger. The Captain is confused by all of this and One explains that he is the Doctor and Twelve is his nurse, “Older men, like women, can be put to use!” “You can’t say things like that,” Twelve replies. One continues his old fashioned ramblings, “This whole place could use a good dusting. Obviously Polly isn’t around anymore.” “Please, please stop saying things like that,” an embarrassed Twelve pleads. They are interrupted when the TARDIS is hijacked by the Testimony, “Exit your capsule, the chamber of the dead awaits you.”
One walks outside into the Chamber of the Dead, they tell him that if he gives them the Captain, they will give him Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie). Twelve rushes out to greet her, but he is skeptical. Twelve: “My friend Bill Potts was turned into a Cyberman. She gave her life so that people she barely knew could live. Nobody imitates Bill Potts. Nobody mocks Bill Potts.” She assures him she is Bill Potts. He asks her how she is alive. She tells him that Heather came back for her. When he asks where Heather is, Bill isn’t sure. She also doesn’t remember how she ended up here. The Doctor determines that she is a duplicate. The glass figure appears and tells them they are the Testimony. They come from the distant future. The Captain bravely offers to take Bill’s place. Twelve tells them they are going to escape. One is confused by all of this, the glass figure shows him who he will become and shows the other Doctors and name some of the Doctor’s greatest battles, and tells him he is the Doctor of War. One can’t believe it.
Twelve uses his sonic screwdriver to get the chains holding his TARDIS to lower. He and the others jump on the chains to escape. They land atop the TARDIS and jump to the ground. The Testimony pull the TARDIS back into their ship. Twelve had a plan the whole time, the Testimony could take his TARDIS because they have another one waiting for them. When they enter One’s TARDIS he tells Bill that Twelve’s TARDIS needs a good spring cleaning. After One points out that the glass lady’s face is asymmetrical, Twelve wants to find out whose face the glass lady’s face was modeled after. One jokes that aren’t all women made of glass. The Captain laughs with him, their expressions change when Bill tells them she has experience with the ladies too. They land on a planet where Twelve can get some information. The only problem is the being who can get him the information wants to kill him. He asks Bill to stay in the TARDIS to take care of the Captain. She knows he is lying and thinks it’s because he doesn’t believe who she is, “You’re a stupid bloody arse!” One hears this rough language from a young lady and reprimands her, “You’re in for a jolly good smacked bottom!” That breaks the ice between Bill and Twelve and he asks her to stay because he doesn’t want to put her in danger again. She agrees to stay behind and asks him to come back alive.
“By any analysis, evil should always win… And so, why does good prevail? What keeps the balance between good and evil?” The First Doctor – Doctor Who
One joins Twelve on his mission. They discuss why One hasn’t regenerated. One admits that he hasn’t because of fear. They are under attack. Twelve meets the attacker, it is Rusty the Dalek, the Dalek from Series eight episode, “Into the Dalek”. He tells Rusty to scan him, he is dying. He is there because Rusty can link into the Dalek’s mainframe. Back on the TARDIS Bill talks to the Captain. He wasn’t afraid when he was in the crater, but he is scared about going back. The Captain: “That’s the trouble with hope, makes one awfully frightened.” Bill shows her true form to him. Bill goes out to talk to One. Instead of asking him what he was running away from when he left Gallifrey, what was he running to? “By any analysis, evil should always win,” One replies. “Good is not a practical survival strategy. It requires loyalty and self-sacrifice and love. And so, why does good prevail? What keeps the balance between good and evil?” Bill says that it might be some bloke who wonders around and maintains it. She hugs One and tells him he is amazing. She reveals her true form, she is Bill Potts, but she is a member of Testimony. Twelve gets his answer from the Dalek data base. Testimony takes people before they die, it gets and stores their memories and returns them to the place where they will die without their knowledge. It is like heaven in New Earth for them. “Not an evil plan,” Twelve says. “I don’t really know what to do when it isn’t an evil plan.” One and Bill join him and she reveals herself to Twelve, “Not everything’s evil, Doctor. You’re not the only kind one in the universe.” Twelve tells her she isn’t Bill. Bill: “What is anyone supposed to be except a bunch of memories? I’m Bill Potts and I’m back.” Twelve ask her if he and One can return the Captain since this was their fault.
They head back to Ypres 1914. The Captain asks the Doctors to look in on his family. His name is Archibald Hamish Lethbridge-Stewart, he is the grandfather of the Brigadier, Alison Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. So it turns out he wasn’t just some random person. This gives Twelve an idea. When he reenters the crater, time starts up again. Before the two soldiers can shoot each other, they hear troops on both sides singing Silent Night. Twelve confides to One that by getting the timing right, he was able to drop the Captain in front of the 1914 Christmas Armistice. “Never happened again, any war, anywhere,” Twelve says. “But for one day, one Christmas, a very long time ago, everybody just put down their weapons, and started to sing.” As the troops start singing Auld Lang Syne, One and Twelve warmly say goodbye. One leaves in his TARDIS to regenerate. The scene switches back to the original black and white scene and the First Doctor regenerates to the Second Doctor.
“Letting go of the Doctor is so, so hard, isn’t it?” Bill Potts – Doctor Who
Bill joins the Twelfth Doctor. The Doctor: “Shall we go for one last stroll Ms. Potts.” Bill: “Letting go of the Doctor is so, so hard, isn’t it?” They discuss if having Bill’s memories makes her Bill, and she proves to the Doctor how important memories are. Clara (Jenna Coleman) appears and his memories of Clara are back in his head. Clara: “And don’t go forgetting me again, because quite frankly, that was offensive.” After Clara leaves, Nardole (Matt Lucas) appears. Nardole: “Don’t die, because if you do, I think everybody in the universe might just go cold.” The Doctor asks, “Can’t I have peace? Can’t I rest?” He continues about his memories, “My testimony would shatter all of you. A life this long, do you understand what it is? It’s a battlefield like this one and it’s empty because everyone else has fallen.” He thanks them and they have a group hug. He tells them he has to be alone for this part and they disappear. The Doctor reenters the TARDIS and decides to regenerate. The Doctor: “Well, I suppose….one more lifetime won’t kill anyone. Well, except me.” Before he regenerates he has some advice for the next Doctor. The Doctor: “Never be cruel, never be cowardly, and never ever eat pears…Remember hate is always foolish and love is always wise….And never tell anyone your name. No one would understand it anyway. Except, children. Children can hear it. Sometimes – if their hearts are in the right place, and the stars are too. Children can hear your name…Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.” His last words, “Doctor — I let you go.” The regeneration starts and the Doctor’s eyes change. His ring slips off her finger. The Thirteenth Doctor (Jodi Whittaker) looks around the TARDIS and sees her reflection. She smiles and says, “Oh brilliant!” The TARDIS goes out of control and she flies out the TARDIS. As she’s falling towards the ground, she watches the TARDIS disappear. To Be Continued!
“Oh brilliant!” The Thirteenth Doctor – Doctor Who
Goodbye Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat, and hello Jodi Whittaker and Chris Chibnall. The episode picks up with the Twelfth Doctor meeting the First Doctor. Both men don’t want to regenerate, and their decision has screwed up time. This causes a British Captain from World War I, Captain Lethbridge-Stewart to join them. The Testimony hijacks the TARDIS, they are a group from the distant future who grab people just before they die and get their memories. The memories are put in glass containers so that they can live on. One of those glass people is Bill Potts, the Doctor doesn’t believe it’s her, but he is glad to see her. The Testimony turn out not to be evil, so the Doctors are basically fighting their own demises. Both don’t want to become someone else, but realize it’s best for the universe if they do. The episode was a fitting ending for Peter Capaldi. It was funny, but the humor wasn’t out of place. Capaldi got to make a fine speech to end his reign. David Bradley was very good as the First Doctor. He was able to remind you of William Hartnell without trying to make it an impersonation. Bradley and Capaldi made a fine team. It was very sentimental in the end when Clara showed up and the Doctor said goodbye to Bill and Nardole. It was sentimental without being sappy. It was very clever of Moffat using the Christmas Armistice as a background for the story. It is a true story and a Christmas miracle.
I’m going to really miss Peter Capaldi as the Doctor but I’m looking forward to Jodi Whittaker. It’s nice that they are shaking it up, and anyone who has watched Broadchurch knows how great an actress she is. I just hope that Chris Chibnall is a good showrunner for the series. For some people anyone but Moffat would be an improvement, but I liked Moffat’s run as showrunner. His major faults were making some of the storylines too convoluted, and he had a habit of making all of the major women characters a puzzle the Doctor had to solve. One of the good things about Bill was that she wasn’t a mystery for the Doctor to solve. She was an inquisitive, brave, good hearted woman that the Doctor liked. It was simple as that, and it allowed the last season to breathe. Moffat was creative and he took chances. Some didn’t pan out, but many did. He casted well, and when his companions weren’t being mysteries, and allowed just to be people, they did quite well. His two best seasons was the first one with Matt Smith and the past season. His weakest was his first season with Capaldi. It was probably time for him to go, but he leaves with a stellar record.