December 11-12, 2021
Written by Mark Halyday
These are the episodes to binge before Melbourne (21-22 April) and Gold Coast (28-29 April).
12. The Pilot
The Pilot ranks a mention for finding an inventive way to do the companion-meets-the-Doctor dance, setting up the season without losing sight of its own story and looking stylish doing it. Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie always look so effortless together, the university setting is smart and there’s even a Dalek cameo. What’s not to love?
11. Time Heist
The Doctor, Clara and some redshirts with well-written backstories awake in a bank with their recent memory erased by a worm, instructed to retrieve something priceless from the most secure level. The heist episode is the right balance of fun, drama and action with a lovely twist at the end.
10. Hell Bent
The choice to make the milestone of the Doctor returning to Gallifrey auxiliary to the quest for the technology was bold but was it right? Years later it’s still unclear. There are lots of finale fireworks to be had and the season arcs all pay off accordingly. Despite being upstaged by its prologue, there’s a lot to like about Hell Bent.
9. The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion
A spiritual sequel to Day Of The Doctor, this two-parter proves how horrifying the Zygons can be. The twist that Clara has been replaced with a Zygon is executed far more brilliantly than it sounds on paper, pushing together the Doctor and Osgood for an adventure half James Bond and half Blair Witch Project. And wow… that monologue!
8. The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar
After a tour around Moffat’s favourite Doctor Who hangouts and a cool red herring with planes, Clara finds Missy. Their double act gives Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor room to explore the mind of a bigger enemy, Davros, who plays the long game to steal regeneration energy. Excellent concept once more courtesy of Mr Moffat.
7. The Doctor Falls
The opening scene with two Masters and an incapacitated Doctor is altogether menacing, and the final moments where the Doctor rejects his regeneration and finds his younger self is extraordinarily epic. Bill as a Cybermen is heartbreaking but the signoff of the Master/Missy plot was perfection. Lots of excellent moments in the most recent episode.
6. Heaven Sent
The bottle episode broke the mould on what a Doctor Who episode could be as the Doctor talks to himself, imprisoned in both a prison and a time loop because he refuses to surrender information. Directed by Doctor Who alum Rachel Talalay, it’s certainly a bold direction the fans adored.
5. Face The Raven
Clara’s swansong slams together Riggsy from Flatline with season nine recurring character Ashildr, played wonderfully by Maisie Williams. A thrilling mystery brimming with easter eggs and general sci-fi cool bits pull our heroes into Ashildr’s world but in the end, a wrong choice is made and there’s no technobabble or last-minute fix that can save Clara. It’s heartbreaking and brutal but also tender and great, so basically, Doctor Who at its best.
The TARDIS is shrunk and the Doctor is trapped, but it’s mostly played for laughs in this absurd and original turn of events. Inside the Doctor’s curiosity and mercy are on display – always a good sign – as Clara battles menacing migrants from another dimension. It also features a badass ‘hero moment’ that will give any Whovian goosebumps.
3. Husbands Of River Song
The Doctor and River are perfect, and this is the perfect end to their epic arc. Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston knocked it out of the park. The story is crazy without being convoluted, and it features a beautiful ‘love moment’ even bigger than Flatline‘s hero moment. And it’s side-splitting hilarious when you’re not crying into your fish fingers and custard.
2. Mummy On The Orient Express
Outside of the premieres, finales and specials, the middle episodes still need to be fantastic. This is the best example of that. After Clara quits the TARDIS there is one last hurrah where coincidentally (or not, which is deviously on-character) there is a mystery. Yes, there’s a murder and yes there’s an Orient Express, but other than that Doctor Who does its own thing and is better for it.
1. World Enough And Time
And finally, the best of the best. The Doctor, Bill, Nardole and Missy on a spaceship backing away from a black hole, which means when Bill is kidnapped, the Doctor is essentially frozen in time and unable to help. It’s meta in a good way and plays fast and loose with audience expectations before the big reveal – Bill has been converted to a Cyberman by Missy’s younger self the Master. Missy and the Master instantly unite – is she still on Team TARDIS or thrown away her seasons-long character progression?
Honourable Mention: The Day Of The Doctor
The Day Of The Doctor is incredible. How does the Twelfth Doctor factor into this extravaganza? As all the Doctors fly into Gallifrey’s atmosphere to transport it to safety a pair of eyebrows fills the screen. The scene was filmed months after principal photography wrapped, after the following episodes’ post-regeneration scenes. It was a gobsmacking unprecedented look into the show’s history and it blew the fans’ minds away.