I always said I wanted to finish out Peter Capaldi’s run as the Twelfth Doctor–and I’m proud to announce I finally worked up the courage to do the thing: I’ve seen Doctor Who: Series 10*. And yes, my emotions felt like they’d been run through one of those old-timey laundry wringers by the end–BUT IT WAS WORTH IT.
Personally, I didn’t think Series 10 was as good as Series 9. Series 9 had everything going for it, from strong, adventurous plots (“Sleep No More” being the major exception) to the Doctor’s love story with Clara Oswald. But I did like Series 10 better than Series 8, if only because 1) I didn’t have to deal with any maddening love triangles, and 2) Twelve is finally very comfortable in his own skin. OH, and he’s in Dad Mode™ too. And guess what happens every time you put my favorite male characters in Dad Mode™? I become a basket case of feelings and I will love that character forever and ever, world without end, amen.
I’m just sayin’.
There were definitely some weak episodes. “Smile” and “Empress of Mars” fell a bit flat for me, while “Oxygen” and “Extremis” both creeped me out. But “The Pyramid at the End of the World”/”The Lie of the Land” two-parter was fantastic with its dystopian overtones and its startlingly beautiful conclusion. My favorite one, “The Eaters of Light,” contained a perfect blend of science fiction and historical detail–a truly good time travel story.
One big surprise for me? The character of Bill Potts, the new companion. In spite of major objections to her lifestyle choices, I love her. She’s got a great sense of humor, a clear head, and a kind heart–and she and the Doctor are hilarious. He becomes the affirming father figure she never had, while she (like Clara) keeps him fairly grounded. They are so adorable together.
And let’s not forget Nardole, the hobbit-esque chap charged by the Doctor’s late wife River Song to look after him…and keep him in line. Nardole pretty much qualifies as a second companion: he’s a voice of reason and caution, but remains intensely loyal to the Doctor and Bill even when he thinks they’ve both lost their minds.
But what of the Doctor? What’s he like in Series 10?
I remember transitioning from Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi and wondering if I’d even like the Doctor anymore. Twelve was just so abrasive and pragmatic. But he didn’t stay that way, and that’s the point. In my personal opinion, his development is one of the most amazing and well-written I’ve ever watched or read in anything, ever. Thanks to Clara Oswald’s love and loyalty, Bill’s infectious optimism, and his own honest introspection, he ends up being a truly kind and truly joy-filled character with core beliefs and a willingness to die for people he doesn’t even know. Twelve of Series 8 probably wouldn’t have given this speech, for example, at the end of Series 10:
Winning? Is that what you think it’s about? I’m not trying to win. I’m not doing this because I want to beat someone, or because I hate someone, or because I want to blame someone. It’s not because it’s fun and God knows it’s not because it’s easy. It’s not even because it works, because it hardly ever does. I do what I do, because it’s right! Because it’s decent! And above all, it’s kind!
If I run away today, good people will die. If I stand and fight, some of them might live. Maybe not many, maybe not for long. Hey, you know, maybe there’s no point in any of this at all, but it’s the best I can do, so I’m going to do it. And I will stand here doing it till it kills me. (“The Doctor Falls”)
Twelve of Series 8 probably would be too busy trying to win to think about the consequences of his actions–or the feelings he might crush along the way (see: “Kill the Moon”). Twelve of Series 10, however, knows that it’s far more important to save a few precious lives than to claim a clever victory. And more than once (“The Lie of the Land,” “The Eaters of Light,” “The Doctor Falls”) he’s willing to lay down his life in order to save others.
My biggest complaint with Series 10, story/character wise? NOT. ENOUGH. MISSY. Only Yzma in The Emperor’s New Groove surpasses Missy as my Favorite Villainess of All Time. Missy infuriates me. Missy makes me almost roll out of my chair laughing. Missy confuses, frustrates, and bewilders me–and I want Missy to be good–and they could make an entire 45-minute episode of Twelve and Missy doing nothing but eating Mexican take-out in the Vault and it’d be high-quality comedy.
Missy is Doctor Who‘s Loki. She’s bad, you can’t trust her, but deep down she wants to be good–if only because she loves the person who’s the embodiment of Good.
Did I cry at the end? Almost. Because for all intents and purpose, Twelve dies at the end of Series 10 saving little children from the Cybermen, only to come back long enough for 2017’s Christmas Special and his regeneration. But his final speech is one that I think about a lot–one that impressed me even at Christmas before I ever started watching his episodes. “Laugh hard, run fast, and be kind.” Not only does that sum up all that this character learned from the beginning of his story to the end, but it’s a good reminder for the rest of us to live our lives with joy, enthusiasm, and compassion.