12 – Series Twelve – Jodie Whittaker

Spyfall, Part 1

Doctor Who meets James Bond! The team are kidnapped by MI6 agents and taken to meet the boss “C”, played by Stephen Fry. Apparently intelligence agents around the world are getting murdered, and he wants the Doctor’s help in finding out why. But in the meeting he is suddenly killed by a gunshot. The team goes on to investigate the leads they have. The Doctor and Graham go in search of an agent “O”, while Ryan and Yaz investigate Daniel Barton, a tech magnate who owns a major search engine. They have found that the murdered intelligence agents have had altered DNA that is partly alien, and Barton turns out to have some alien DNA as well. “O” was looking into all of this before being fired by “C”, and when they find him, aliens show up. Look for everyone to dress up in tuxes, another James Bond touch. And there is a huge plot twist at the end when “O” is revealed to be The Master.


Spyfall, Part 2

In Part 2, The Master’s plan progresses. The alien Kasaavins, who the Master has enlisted to murder the agents, among other things, grab the Doctor from a plane that is crashing and take her to their dimension, where she meets up with Ada Lovelace (of course she does). This leads to a couple a very nice historical vignettes, the first with Charles Babbage, the second in Nazi-occupied Paris during WWII. The Doctor manages to steal The Master’s TARDIS, so he has to live through the rest of the 20th century waiting to get back to the present time where his plans are maturing. The Master then shows Gallifrey to the Doctor, but it is ruins, which the Master did because he discovered that everything about the Time Lords was lie, and that the Doctor is actually the Timeless Child. And this is not the end of the story here, it will come back again. Chris Chibnall obviously had this plot twist in mind early on, as the first mention was planted in The Ghost Monument in the first season (Series Eleven), and it will come back again.

I thought Spyfall was a fantastic two-parter, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The action just kept going from first to last.


Orphan 55

This is not one of the better episodes. It has some interesting moments, such as Ryan getting friendly with a young lady (though that comes to nothing in the end.) But there is an extremely annoying older couple (Benni!) that may have been intended as comic relief, but instead makes you want them to die. And when they die, you don’t feel any sadness at all, just relief that you don’t need to listen to them any longer. And then at the end you get a heavy-handed preachy message from the Doctor that verges on breaking the fourth wall. I think if you talk to any Doctor Who fans and ask them what is the worst episode of the Jodie Whittaker years, this is the one that will come up.


Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror

This is a nice historical episode that features both Tesla and Thomas Edison, his rival and opponent. Tesla is trying to get financing for his wireless power scheme, but Edison succeeds in creating FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) that Tesla’s idea is dangerous. But of course an Alien Menace has to be a part of the plot, and the Skithra are there to provide the real danger. They are supposed to be scorpion-like, though for the life I me kept thinking of the spider mother from The Runaway Bride. This is not a great episode, but a perfectly good average episode.


Fugitive of the Judoon

This is the best episode of the twelfth series, no doubt about it. First, Captain Jack Harkness makes an appearance. He snatches Graham, mistaking him for the Doctor, then Yaz and Ryan. But he cannot grab the Doctor, so he tells them to give her message not trust the “lone Cyberman”, and definitely not to give him what he wants. Meanwhile the Judoon, seen in Smith and Jones at the beginning of the third series, have invaded Gloucester looking for someone. And it looks like this may involve a couple Les and Ruth Clayton. There is a killer plot twist when it turns out Ruth (played by Jo Martin) is The Doctor. This has inspired countless speculations on just where she appears in the list of Doctor incarnations, with possibilities including pre-Hartnell, post-Whittaker, or somewhere buried in the middle. We know from The Brain of Morbius that there were Doctors before Hartnell’s Doctor, though we don’t know anything about them at this time. And there is a gap between the War Doctor (portrayed by John Hurt) and Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor. We never saw the regeneration between these two, so maybe they didn’t follow one another. I know a lot of fans were hoping that Jo Martin would be back because she made such a strong impression in this episode. Lots of plot points are placed here that will come up in future stories.



This is another environmental story, but less heavy-handed than Orphan 55. Mysterious events are happening, and people are getting covered in scales before dying. When they investigate, they discover that a bacterium called Praxeus is somehow involved, and that an alien race that was attacked by Praxeus has come to Earth to try and find an antidote. The Doctor succeeds in developing one, but it only works on humans, not on the alien race. They try to load it on a rocket and set it to explode in the stratosphere to deliver it world-wide, but the auto-pilot on the ship malfunctions. The pilot elects to stay on the ship and sacrifice himself to make sure the missions succeeds, but at the very last second the Doctor makes the TARDIS materialize on board and save him. This makes you wonder why Adric had to die in Earthshock. A decent average story.


Can You Hear Me?

This is a story involving Graham, Ryan, and Yaz getting nightmares, and the Doctor traces the source to a ship caught between two planets. A person is trapped inside this ship, and has been sending out the message “Can you hear me?”. The Doctor manages to unlock the way to the ship, only to discover that she has unleashed an Immortal God, who along her partner (another immortal god) thrives on people’s nightmares and loves chaos. Eventually the Doctor traps them again. The Immortal Zellin mentions others from the Doctor’s past, such as The Celestial Toymaker, the Guardians, and the Eternals. He is implying perhaps that they are all of the same race.


The Haunting of Villa Diodati

The Doctor decides it is time to visit Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein. The story is that a group including Shelley, Lord Byron, and several others were staying at a villa in Switzerland when on a rainy day they stayed inside and read ghost stories, and then Byron suggested they should each write a horror story, and Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein as a result. So this is all history, and the Dcotor thinks it would be fun to visit them all . But then things get weird. The inhabitants think they are being haunted by a ghost, but the Doctor realizes it is a being moving through time, and it is revealed to be a half-converted Cyberman. This was of course foreshadowed by Captain Jack’s warning in Fugitive Of The Judoon, and Graham, Yaz, and Ryan remind the Doctor of his warning. But in the end she gives what he wants to save Percy Shelley’s life. This won’t end well, but we have to get ot the next episode to see what happens. In effect, this series ends with three-part finale, and this is just part one.


Ascension of the Cybermen

The opening is puzzling, and won’t make sense until we see the following episode, The Timeless Children. A couple in Ireland find a baby, which they adopt, and he grows up to be a police officer. Then he is shot and falls off a cliff, but miraculously is unhurt. Then his memory is wiped. This is significant.

Since the Doctor gave the lone Cyberman the cyberium (containing all of the Cybermen knowledge), he has resurrected the Cybermen, and in the future they are busy wiping out humanity. There is a legend of Ko Sharmus, which is believed to be a haven for humans that is home to the Boundary, a portal that sends human to the other side of the universe, where the Cybermen cannot follow them. But Ko Sharmus turns out to be a person, who stays behind to help people through the Boundary. Then the Master shows up, the Boundary opens to show a ruined Gallifrey, and the Master tells the Doctor to be afraid because everything is going to change. So endeth part two of the three part finale.


The Timeless Children

OK, this is supposed to tie up all of the loose ends, but gives us as many questions as answers. The Master persuades the Doctor to come through the Boundary and join him in a ruined Gallifrey, and forces her to enter The Matrix. There she learns that the inhabitants of Gallifrey were not originally Time Lords, but that one of them, a woman named Tecteun, found a child on another planet, brought her back, and discovered that this child could not die. Tecteun experiments and finds the secret of regeneration and gives it to the people who now become the Time Lords. And the Doctor is that child, with all of her childhood memories wiped. And she was the Irish police officer who didn’t die and got his memory wiped.

This episode overturns a lot of continuity from previous seasons of Doctor Who, and thus has been very controversial among Doctor Who fans. On the one hand, the Time Lords and Gallifrey were not introduced until the very end of Patrick Troughton’s run as the Doctor, and there have been some previous attempts to change the direction of the show, and given that we are coming up on the 60th anniversary of the first story as I write this, there is some merit in shaking things up a bit. Remember that Russell T. Davies had Gallifrey destroyed from the very beginning of the revival with Christopher Eccleston. On the other hand, making the Doctor “the one unique person” goes against some of the best features of the original Doctor Who. There was something appealing about the rebel Time Lord who just saw things somewhat differently from other Time Lords, but was not otherwise special. We will have to see how this plays out in the future.


Series Twelve Review

This series had some fantastic episodes (Spyfall 1 & 2, Fugitive of the Judoon), one stinker (Orphan 55), and finally a very controversial ending with The Timeless Children. Overall, though, I think it was a good season. How it will be viewed in the future we’ll have to see, but as I write this Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall have both announced that they are leaving after three series and a few specials, which is about an average run for a Doctor, Russell T. Davies is returning as show runner, and a new Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa, has been announced. So things are moving forward.

Holiday Special: Revolution of the Daleks

This is an episode that inspires mixed feelings when I look around the social media, and I can see why. There are many positives, such as the return of Captain Jack, and he is really in this story unlike Fugitive of the Judoon. Yaz takes more of a prominent role, while Ryan and Graham fade into the background. By the end they decide to leave the Doctor, and it is telegraphed through the episode. The return of John Robertson brings back a character people love to hate, there are Daleks, and they even have a small Dalek Civil War. All of this is good. And there is character development of Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor. Her decades in prison may have done her some good in helping her to see how much she missed the “Fam”, and she can now relate to them a bit more as people, something she previously said she was not good at.

I do think that the script could have been tighter, and the Robertson character is pretty one dimensional, and I would have been happier if they had left him on the Dalek ship before it blew up. And the overt political messaging will be a turn-off for some, thought it didn’t bother me that much. Robertson is clearly a “Trump” analog, and the British PM embracing fascism doesn’t seem so far fetched these days. So while it was a little heavy-handed, it comes at a time when political leaders in both the UK and the US have been so awful that it is hard to overdo the critique. I just hope we have seen the last of Robertson.


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