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Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 11, “World Enough and Time”

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 11, “World Enough and Time”

Simon Ridgway

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 11, “World Enough and Time”

After a run of well-made, entertaining, but hardly top-tier Doctor Who episodes, this week's “World Enough and Time” sees showrunner Steven Moffat return to form, beginning the wind-up of his last season with a bang. What must surely be the shortest teaser ever for a Doctor Who episode delivers a jolt of adrenaline immediately as we see the TARDIS land in an unknown snow-covered location and the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) stumble out, surrounded by the glow of regeneration energy but holding the process back by force of will. Rather than provide a conventional pre-titles prologue to the story of this particular episode, Moffat instead opts to insert a flash-forward to Capaldi's imminent departure from the series, leaving an aura of impending doom hanging over the Doctor from the outset.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 10, “The Eaters of Light”

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 10, “The Eaters of Light”

Simon Ridgway

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 10, “The Eaters of Light”

In 1989, near the start of what has since become a long and successful career of writing for stage, film, and television, Rona Munro penned what turned out to be the very last episodes of Doctor Who’s original 26-year run. With this week’s episode, “The Eaters of Light,” she becomes the first classic series writer to contribute to the show’s 21st-century incarnation. The episode establishes an ominous atmosphere right from the start of the present-day framing sequence, with a couple of children playing among ancient standing stones on a windswept Scottish hillside, from which “ghosts” can be heard playing strange music. After the opening titles, we see the same hillside, with the markings on the stones now fresh and new as the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Bill (Pearl Mackie), and Nardole (Matt Lucas) arrive in 120 A.D.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 9, “Empress of Mars”

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 9, “Empress of Mars”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 9, “Empress of Mars”

Mark Gatiss can usually be counted on to write Doctor Who episodes that are reliably suspenseful but don’t often stretch the show’s boundaries. He does it again with this week’s “Empress of Mars,” a successful standalone adventure which combines elements from two of his better past efforts, both from 2013. From “Cold War” comes the Ice Warriors, a race of reptilian Martians, who first appeared in Doctor Who 40 years ago, with their honor-bound militaristic outlook. They’re cleverly juxtaposed with the Victorian milieu of “The Crimson Horror”—though this isn’t apparent at first from the light-hearted teaser, which has the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Bill (Pearl Mackie), and Nardole (Matt Lucas) turning up in the control room of a present-day NASA Mars mission whose robot probe has just landed on the red planet. To everyone’s consternation, the pictures show that, under the Martian polar ice cap, rocks have been arranged to spell out GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 8, “The Lie of the Land”

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 8, “The Lie of the Land”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 8, “The Lie of the Land”

In the latest installment of Doctor Who, “The Lie of the Land,” the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Bill (Pearl Mackie), and Nardole (Matt Lucas) finally manage to end the threat to Earth from the alien monks introduced in “Extremis.” It completes a trilogy of episodes that strongly calls to mind another Doctor Who three-part story from almost exactly a decade ago. In both stories, the second episode ends with an unstoppable alien takeover of the world, and the third opens with an unexpected jump forward in time (a full year in 2007’s “Last of the Time Lords,” a more modest six months in this case) to a point where humanity has been totally subjugated. In both, the Doctor begins the third episode in the power of the oppressors, and his companions bear the burden of leading the resistance until he can fight back. Finally, both feature the Doctor’s complex relationship with his fellow Time Lord, the Master. After being the main antagonist in the earlier story, the Master—now in the form of Missy (Michelle Gomez)—is actually now an ally (of sorts).

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 7, “The Pyramid at the End of the World”

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 7, “The Pyramid at the End of the World”

Simon Ridgway

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 7, “The Pyramid at the End of the World”

In last week’s episode of Doctor Who, “Extremis,” the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) discovered that a group of macabre, monk-like aliens had been running a simulation of all human history to gather information and find the best point at which to launch an invasion of Earth. And in tonight’s episode, “The Pyramid at the End of the World,” we learn more about the threat as the Doctor, Bill (Pearl Mackie), and Nardole (Matt Lucas), along with the UNIT military organization, encounter the creatures at their base: a giant stone pyramid, which is five thousand years old but (impossibly) has only just appeared, in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Turmezistan.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 6, "Extremis"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 6, “Extremis”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 6, “Extremis”

Tonight’s Doctor Who is a turning point for the season. After a run of standalone adventures for the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Bill (Pearl Mackie), by the end of “Extremis” we’re suddenly in the middle of a big multi-part tale. It feels quite similar to the way 2011’s mid-season finale, “A Good Man Goes to War,” finally resolved the long-running mystery of River Song’s identity, only for that resolution to send the season’s plot arc off in a whole new direction. Ever since “The Pilot,” we’ve been teased with the riddle of who or what is in the secret vault that the Doctor and Nardole (Matt Lucas) have been guarding, and why the Doctor took up this duty. “Extremis” fills in the answers to those questions, but it’s clearly only the prologue to a much larger story.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 5, "Oxygen"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 5, “Oxygen”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 5, “Oxygen”

Writer Jamie Mathieson’s “Oxygen” is a taut, gripping thrill ride. As in his previous three Doctor Who episodes, he shows a particular flair for coming up with both snappy dialogue and creepy monsters. This time he has the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Bill (Pearl Mackie), and Nardole (Matt Lucas) facing what amounts to a zombie plague when the Doctor, once again chafing at his ongoing task of guarding the vault on Earth, receives a distress call in the TARDIS and promptly takes all three of them to a deep-space asteroid mining station whose crew of 40 has been reduced to four. As the episode’s bleak opening teaser makes clear, the dead are still walking or floating around the station, intent on killing the remaining personnel.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 4, "Knock Knock"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 4, “Knock Knock”

Simon Ridgway

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 4, “Knock Knock”

“Knock Knock” is the only episode from this season of Doctor Who to be written by someone new to the show’s universe. Playwright Mike Bartlett, creator of the acclaimed 2015 drama series Doctor Foster, contributes an atmospheric haunted-house story which builds up the tension nicely before, unfortunately, dissipating it a little too easily at the climax. Along the way, Bartlett provides further development of the relationship between the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Bill (Pearl Mackie): This time, it’s as if the Doctor finds himself getting drawn into Bill’s life rather than the other way around.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 3, "Thin Ice"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 3, “Thin Ice”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 3, “Thin Ice”

With “Thin Ice,” writer Sarah Dollard follows up last season’s “Face the Raven” with another successful episode whose central focus is the relationship between the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his companion—in this case, Bill (Pearl Mackie). As we saw at the end of last week’s episode, they’ve arrived at the end of the last London frost fair in 1814. This event had been mentioned in passing in 2011’s “A Good Man Goes to War,” where River Song said the Doctor had taken her there as a birthday present. There’s no hint of any timestream-crossing plotting here though: This episode sticks to the more straightforward storytelling style that’s characterized this season so far.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 2, "Smile"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 2, “Smile”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 2, “Smile”

“Smile” is the second Doctor Who episode from screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell-Boyce. It’s a distinct improvement over the misfire of 2014’s “In the Forest of the Night,” which made the mistake of reducing the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) to a passive bystander, with no role to play in the resolution of that episode’s crisis. Here, the Doctor and Bill (Pearl Mackie) are at the center of the action throughout, and there’s a feeling of accomplishment for them at the end that was missing from “In the Forest of the Night.” Even so, there are points where the logic of the plot is rather strained, with a final ethical quandary that comes out of nowhere.