Monday, 6 January 2020

Spyfall Part 2 - Review

An episode of two halves this one. First of all we have to look at it as the conclusion to Part 1, and then we need to look at the whole story arc element that was introduced by the Master.
As the continuation / conclusion to the first episode I don't think it was a particularly satisfying one. It took an age to see the relevance of the Doctor's adventures in history, then the alien plan still didn't seem all that clear, and it all seemed rather rushed at the end, with Barton simply running away. Did the aliens intend to kill everyone or to take their places? If the former, couldn't they have just, like, killed everyone. Why rewrite DNA if just to leave billions of empty shells. Ada Lovelace's role was at least relevant, as a pioneer of computing, but Noor could have been any SOE operative, or a member of the French Resistance.
The companions didn't really have all that much to do after they had escaped from the most leisurely air crash in history. They just when on the run and hid out for a bit. They didn't really move the plot on that much - just biding their time until the Doctor had caught up with them. That escape from the crashing plane was a bit of a cheat. Why can't the Doctor just go back at the end of every adventure and leave a get out for herself and her companions?
One other thing I  wasn't happy about was the Doctor's bald assertion that she is a pacifist. Talk about setting up some fairly dull conclusions to future episodes. Enemies are obviously going to be talked out of universal domination from now on, when what we want to see is a few of them getting blown up from time to time. It's one thing for the Doctor to abhor violence and use it only as a last resort, but to go wholesale down the pacifist line is going to lead to some bland storytelling.
The thing that this episode will be remembered for is the confrontation between the Doctor and the Master stop the Eiffel Tower,  where he reveals that Gallifrey has been  destroyed. This is confirmed when the Doctor returns home to see the Capitol in ruins. We then find out that it was the Master who was responsible, because of something he found out about the foundation of Time Lord civilisation. This brings up the Timeless Child reference from Series 11, and obviously hints at more than just the Doctor having something unknown about her background. A game changer of a sequence if ever there was one.
One last thing I should mention is the glaring continuity error from that Eiffel Tower sequence. The Master asked if he'd ever apologised for Jodrell Bank - which was clearly supposed to be a reference to Logopolis but that wasn't set at Jodrell Bank. It was supposed to be filmed there, but wasn't,  although it was use for the special edition  Bluray release of that story. Jodrell Bank is in Cheshire,  but the ambulance that is seen in that story isn't a Cheshire one, so the Pharos Project wasn't based at Jodrell Bank.
Overall, a slight disappointment after the breathless opener, but made memorable by that shocking revelation.


  1. Jodie really sold this episode to me. The froze camera shot in the blue TARDIS... so subtle, yet breath-taking. She really feels like the Doctor for me now. But that massive retcon, though, rings some bells. Especially the language employed, very Cartmel Masterplan and Lungbarrow-y. A red flag to all things Doctor Who lore to me if realized to its furthest extent; there may be no get away from this.

  2. She is certainly getting better material to work with this series, if the quality can be maintained. Chibnall seems to be going way beyond Cartmell / Platt.

  3. " Enemies are obviously going to be talked out of universal domination from now on, when what we want to see is a few of them getting blown up from time to time."

    well i have yet to see it tho. this incarnation has already her share of too morally ambiguous and callous choices while defeating her enemies (literally weaponized the master's race here to hand him to the nazis and make sure he would be persecuted),, and its seens like everyone forgot what she did to tooth face guy in her very first episode like imploding him with a few dna bombs and senting him god knows where?? 13th is anything but a (pratical) pacifist. but so has he/she/they ever been, so its not an aspect i personally would worry about.

  4. The Doctor as pacifist has been touched on before, but like much else with the show, there's been no continuity on this point. Tom Baker doubted his right to destroy the Daleks in "Genesis" and Jon Pertwee had his run-ins with the Brigadier over the military's penchant for blowing things up in general. However Mat Smith destroyed a Cyber fleet just to get the Cybermen's attention and as we now know, and Paul McGann chose to regenerate into the War Doctor, who wiped out the Time Lords and the Daleks. And then didn't. I doubt that the Doctor's latest stand on pacifism will last beyond the current showrunner and writers. It's just too constricting on plot lines.

  5. Does this episode mean that Sacha Dawan's Master lived on Earth from WW2 until the present day, after being stranded by the Doctor? This would mean he was around while his Roger Delgado incarnation was hatching his plots to enslave or destroy the Earth, and again while his John Simm incarnation was ruling the world as Harold Saxon. Oh actually he wasn't, was he, Mr Moffat? There was that thing with the reset button which meant that didn't happen. However the Sacha Dawan Master was certainly around when Harold Saxon became Prime Minister and would have still been around when John Simm turned everyone into himself. Why didn't either of them notice?