Discussing Doctor Who: World Enough and Time

Doctor Who World Enough and Time

It seems like only yesterday Kevin and I started this season of Doctor Who (and maybe it was yesterday for those on the top of the ship), but here we are with only one episode left. Let’s talk “World Enough and Time.”

Kevin Harvey is the author of All You Want to Know About The Bible in Pop Culture and a fellow Whovian who enjoys watching and breaking down the latest adventures of the Doctor. You can follow him on Twitter at @PopCultureKevin.

Previously this season, we devoured “The Eaters of Light,” rebelled against “The Empress of Mars” rebuffed “The Lie of the Land,” felt fine at “The Pyramids at the End of the World,” went to the extreme in “Extremis,” breathed in “Oxygen,” opened the door of “Knock Knock,” stepped out on “Thin Ice,” emoted about “Smile,” and navigated “The Pilot.”

The penultimate episode of the season takes us to the brink of a black hole and pulls out some shocking moments. What did you think of “World Enough and Time”?

Aaron: “Extremis” has made me cautious about stellar episodes that begin a multipart story, but man, this was a great episode of Doctor Who. It literally had everything you could want.

There’s the absolute shock of Bill’s “death,” the reestablishment of the Cybermen as horrific foils for the Doctor, the Master’s return, outstanding wit, a story with real stakes, interesting philosophical questions, and a burning desire to find out what happens next week (which we will probably touch more on most of these things later).

Since I loved this episode and we’ll talk about some of the better things later, there are a couple of nits to pick that could have made it even better. First, the cold (literally) opening of a potential Doctor regeneration scene would have carried much more weight had they not already done a fake regeneration earlier this season.

Second, this episode seemed to have undone so much of the work they did in establishing Bill as someone who could stand on her own two feet. Ironically, waiting has often been a theme of the time traveling show (“The Girl Who Waited,” “Girl in the Fireplace,” etc.), but Bill’s waiting this week seemed as if she was incapable of doing anything on her own without the Doctor.

She’s shown all season how resourceful she is, but in this moment, she just waits? It served the point of the story, but it made her character digress and seem weaker.

One huge positive before I’m done: Missy pretending to be “Doctor Who” responding to the distress call. That whole scene allowed Steven Moffat to play with the metanarrative of the show he’s been a part of for years. It was brilliant and hilarious—perfect for Missy.

I’m curious to see how the final episode wraps up this immediate story and the season as a whole, but this week was absolutely what the show needed heading into the finale.

Kevin: I have to start with the after-credits scene with Missy getting off the TARDIS and pretending to be “Doctor Who.” Michelle Gomez is absolutely wonderful in this moment, exactly what we have come to expect from her.

In fact, the scene was so good, and she was so laugh-out-loud perfect, that it gets me worried that Gomez’s time is coming to an end on the show and we are being given her last hoorah. I suppose we’ll learn more on that next week.

I agree, so far, this episode was near perfect, and I pray that the finale doesn’t spoil it some. My only complaint would be the ridiculous preachiness from the Doctor (read: the writers) about humans’ silly fascination with gender roles.

Because we believe that God created us man and woman that makes us archaic and unadvanced in our beliefs? Okay, so what does that make the writers and showrunners of a science-fiction show that has the freedom to choose any actor or actress it wants to play its “Doctor” and “companion” roles, yet 100% of the time it chooses a male for the Doctor and a female for the companion?

Talk about being fascinated with gender roles. Go take your preaching to someone who doesn’t have the ability to use common sense, please.

But that was just two lines in an otherwise perfect episode. I am on the edge of my seat to see how this leads to the Doctor’s regeneration, what will happen with Bill, and most importantly—will Missy be the hero we are praying she will be, and foil her/his own plans?

The Cybermen are back and more retro than ever. Did this episode make the perennial runner-up in the Doctor Who villain contest more fearsome and creepy?

Kevin: I suppose that technically it’s the Cybermen’s creators who are the fearsome and creepy villains, right? These Cybermen appear to just be puppets of a highly deceived group who believe they are upgrading the human race. Which brings us back to the overall villain theme of the season—humans.

I’m not saying that I can look upon the season’s human villains and have more grace for not giving us some classic Doctor Who monsters, but I can at least appreciate how it all ties together around the total depravity of man.

I’m still always disappointed with each season that passes that didn’t give us any Weeping Angels. With the finale of Class that I mentioned a few weeks ago, I had hopes that Doctor Who was heading in that direction this season, but that definitely does not seem to be the case.

I’ll take John Simm returning as the Master as a nice consolation prize, though. But please, Moffat, writers, BBC, etc. stop leaking spoilers. Let us be blown away in the moment, not already know that Simm is coming back somehow.

Aaron: But were the humans the villain this week? I took it as the Master worked behind the scenes to convince these humans living in depressing conditions that becoming Cybermen was their only chance at survival. They’ve been convinced this is for their good.

And you’re right that the Cybermen didn’t do much terrorizing of anyone else this episode, but this episode more than any other in the New Who era captured just how horrifying they are.

They aren’t disposable robots. The Cybermen are creepy amalgamations of robot and human. The suits aren’t empty. They have people inside there. That was drilled home by Bill’s tear dripping through the metal casing.

And how gut wrenching was that scene where the Cyberman kept repeating “Pain. Pain. Pain.” over and over again, until the nurse comes over and, we think, helps him. But in reality, she merely turned down the volume, erasing his voice and dismissing his agony. Now that’s a sermon illustration if there ever was one.

Yes, I’m disappointed at what might have been with Weeping Angels and even a proper Dalek episode, but this episode helped repair the image of the Cybermen as a foe worthy of the Doctor.

Let’s talk about the twists of the episode. Which was more surprising to you: opening shot of the Doctor regenerating, Bill having a hole blown through her chest, the Master’s big return, or Bill’s return as a full Cyberman?

Aaron: I know why BBC got ahead of the news to announce Simm would be returning as the Master and the Mondasian Cybermen would make an appearance, but those twists would have been even better had viewers had no clue they were coming.

Even with the head’s up, I still didn’t deduce that Bill’s “friend” was the Master until he started interacting with Missy. It was a brilliant job by Simm.

I already noted how the Doctor’s regeneration lost some punch because of the earlier head fake. Even Bill becoming a Cyberman seemed like it was the eventual part of the story. But the one thing I did not see coming at all was her being shot. That drew some definite gasps from our living room.

Kevin: I read that the role of Bill’s friend, Mr. Razor, wasn’t actually Simm until the moment of the reveal, but it was actually Mark Gatiss in an uncredited role. So that was really cool, even though we knew Simm was coming back somehow.

But I’ll agree that the biggest surprise was the hole in Bill’s chest. Especially since it came right at the moment when the Doctor usually is able to work his magic with a great speech about how he can save everyone if you just trust him … then bam!—down with Bill.

In second place is her as a Cyberman, only because once it became obvious what was going on with the patients there, it was only inevitable that she was heading that way herself.

If she remains as a Cyberman, and that stays the fate of our latest companion, now that would be the biggest surprise of all. I’d be okay if her storyline ends this week, though.

Not because I dislike her, but my favorite Doctor/companion team of all time was the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond, whose stories began at the same time. So perhaps we could get that magic back again next year with an all-new Doctor and companion beginning a journey together.

This episode was about the future, but not in the normal sense. We had the humans in the bottom of the ship and the Master responding in one way to their future and the Doctor and Bill responding another. What can we learn from those divergent responses?

Kevin: Uh … next question please. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around Missy crossing paths with herself without even remembering doing so in her life as the Master. I know that she has lived a long time, but don’t you think you’d remember if long ago you stumbled upon your future self?

I’m expecting next week to bring up some really thought-provoking discussions on free will. Will the Missy who is trying to be good turn against her/himself and save the Doctor?

And if so, is that what she remembers doing when she was in the moment as the Master? Will Missy choose a different path than what she did the first time? Can she even do so? (My head is exploding even now!)

Or will it turn out that she has faked this repentance of hers all along because she knew it would bring her and the Doctor to this very moment, and this has all been the Master/Missy’s plan for who knows how long in killing the Doctor?

Aaron: Wibbly-woobly heady-hurty. This show will do that to you.

But I was interested in how the Master and the people he’s convinced to become Cybermen are so worried about their future fate they will do almost anything to stop it. He’s apparently staged an elaborate real-world disaster to prevent his future self from becoming good and with that antagonizing the one person who can defeat him.

The people feel as if they have no hope on the bottom of the ship, so they will mortgage their present in an attempt to have a more secure future.

Meanwhile, Bill has gone exploring with the Doctor in death-defying adventures in an attempt to cease the moments she has been given. She expressed her hesitancy to trust Missy, but she still trusted the Doctor.

He has his own issues with the future. Despite having a time traveling ship, the Doctor still cannot escape time. Prior to the resolution of the War Doctor, he always seemed haunted by the past, but now he seems to be wary of an impending future.

Yet, he, like Bill, faces it head on and continues to live his life by the same principles that have guided him for centuries.

Favorite quotes or one-liners?

Aaron: So many of the quips come from that extraordinary opening scene with Missy as the Doctor, but there were a few others sprinkled in elsewhere.

I’m going to save the best one for you because I know you’ll use it.

“Only Time Lords can be friends. The rest is cradle-robbing.” — Missy

“Nardole agreed.” — Doctor
“No, I didn’t.” — Nardole
“Well, you did in my head and that’s good enough for me.” — Doctor

“I’ve got hidden talents … as well as arms.” — Doctor

“I have burgling skills. They don’t just let anyone get mask like this.” — Master as Razor

Kevin: We really could just cut and paste the entire scene here as Missy pretending to be the Doctor.

“Hello, I’m Doctor Who. And these are my plucky assistants, Thing One and the other one.” – Missy

“You’re probably handsome, aren’t you? Well, congratulations on your relative symmetry.” – Missy

“I am that mysterious adventurer of all time and space known only as Doctor Who, and these are my disposables, Exposition and Comic Relief.” – Missy [Aaron: Yep, that’s the one. Such a perfect line that lets Moffat go meta to the extreme.]

What are some spiritual takeaways from this episode?

Kevin: I agree with your earlier point about it feeling out of character for Bill to wait all this time without trying to get back on that elevator. I’m sorry, but I’m not believing blindly an evil nurse who tells me if I leave the hospital my new chest piece will stop working.

But I think waiting was an important theme for the episode and worked well for its purposes. How often do we believe that God should be moving faster than he is in our lives, and we feel that we’re just waiting, waiting, waiting for him?

Just like the Doctor knew he needed to pass along to Bill’s subconscious to wait for him, God also has told us in his eternal Word to wait on him, such as Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Even the operation name mentioned in the show, “Operation: Exodus,” is a reminder of the Israelites in the book of Exodus, who waited 400 years for God to free them from slavery. Rarely does God move in our lives exactly when we want him to, but he always comes when we need him to.

Aaron: Yep, as usual the biblical allusions were fairly frequent. It’s hard not to talk about spiritual takeaways when a show references Exodus and Genesis.

I want to go back to my earlier comment about the nurse merely turning down the volume of the suffering Cyberman. I think that is such an apt image for the way we often want to address those hurting around us.

We know that listening to their pain will be messy, inconvenient and challenging, so often instead of taking that time, we merely do something to avoid hearing their plight. Like avoiding eye contact with the homeless person asking for money, we can act as if the problem disappears if we don’t actively acknowledge it.

Our temptation is to be the priest and the Levite who walk on the other side of the road to avoid hearing the cries of the one beaten and bruised. But Christ has called us to be a neighbor, to love our neighbor as ourselves.

To do that, we cannot turn down the volume of those who are in pain, as easy as that may seem. We have to confront the problems that are causing pain and work to bring healing, especially by pointing others to Christ—the great Physician.

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Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.