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    tardigrade @replies


    I never REALLY understand the diff between the specific theory of Relativity versus the general theory

    As a mnemonic, remember G for General and also for Gravity. It’s the general theory that incorporates gravity.

    tardigrade @replies

    @thane15 et al – yes, by continuity, I didn’t mean the long-term show continuity, just what is traditionally called a continuity error- a production error in having things change inconsistently between shots- perhaps someone was meant to set the left clock in the second shot to 10:46:00 rather than 10:45:00 and that escaped notice in editing. I was much more focused on the right-side myself when watching, to see how much time had based in Bill’s timeline.

    And as I alluded to, it is Doctor Who, and the writers are free to depart from established science as they wish, particularly in regards to time phenomena, but I think it would be much cleaner, if they’ve set up a hard science general relativity scenario, to follow through on that and stay consistent within that framework. And I think that was the intention. Things are already tricky enough without having time running in reverse 🙂

    On spaghettification, I’ve heard that calculations suggest it’s possible for large objects to escape spaghettification, even to the point of passing beyond the event horizon of a black hole, provided that the black hole is large enough (a supermassive black hole). On a ship that size, the forces would be very substantial though, since the two ends of the ship are feeling significantly different gravity from the black hole, as evidenced by the large time differential. The ship does seem to have it’s own internal artificial gravity (the ship is under strong reverse thrust and people aren’t being thrown to the ceiling), so that might also provide some protection, though won’t be able to stand up to a black hole at some point.

    tardigrade @replies

    @missrori Thanks for the detailed explanation of the canonicity of the expanded universe materials. That’s pretty much how I thought it would be, but the added details are very informative.

    On your comment that the story has a theme of privilege, at least in the eyes of some- I’ve heard similar comments before, and I’m always a bit wary that an interpretation like that stems in part from the Doctor’s people identifying themselves as “Time Lords”, rather than “Time Masters” or “Time Mavens”, or something that doesn’t set off the “class” alarm so much. The Doctor obviously does give Missy a fair bit of slack, but I really don’t think you could make much of a case that it’s because of her position as a Time Lady, but instead it’s due to their long personal history. He does consult with Bill before testing Missy, so it’s not a unilateral decision (not so sure about Nardole though- the Doctor does seem willing to override his opinions and treat him more like a trusted servant than friend – the line about Missy being more intelligent that Nardole, while doubtless true, is also not very empathetically expressed). And you can see the Doctor’s level of regard for the hierarchy on Gallifrey from his last visit. The Doctor doesn’t appear comfortable with the “Time Lord” moniker- I sometimes think he should describe himself as “Gallifreyan” and distance himself more from what the TL name entails. While you can certainly make a case that the Doctor is in a relatively privileged position, and is prone to treating his own opinions above those of others, I really don’t see a strong theme of privilege in this episode.

    tardigrade @replies

    @ichabod @thane15 @wolfweed On the Level 1 clock going backwards, general relativity means that the rate of the passage of time differs, not the direction. So the clock can’t go backwards from relativistic effects. The direction of time shouldn’t be different at the two levels, unless something in addition to relativity is in play- it is Doctor Who we’re talking about, so other time effects aren’t completely infeasible :-). I’d be inclined to call this as a continuity error. Or possibly it’s not the same clock, and they’re out of sync, or it’s been adjusted in the intervening year, if you really need to explain it away. I doubt it’s meaningful, but well spotted regardless.

    tardigrade @replies


    Now the Master’s taken poor Bill’s body and ultimately turned it into a near-helpless robot slave….
    But the Doctor can find a way to fix her like he fixed up Nardole.  It wouldn’t be quite the same, it wouldn’t be perfect, but she could be happy again as a cyborg or otherwise.

    You’ve given me an image of the Doctor taking off Nardole’s head (which can survive on its own) and putting Bill’s head on Nardole’s body. When she realises what has happened, Bill then starts hunting for a keyboard so that she can tap on the “Kill Me” button repeatedly 🙂

    Thanks- I understand your reasons for taking issue with the TLs appearing in BG Who much better now. However, as @nick suggested, I actually think that it was the early AG Who that ramped up the chumminess much more. BG Who TLs were non-interventionist and largely unknown to the wider universe. It was the Time War storyline that demanded that they were known across the universe. And it’s also the time when the stories had the Doctor telling aliens to look him up and find out who they were dealing with.


    Titan comics did a miniseries, Supremacy of the Cybermen, specifically about Rassilon trying to get vengeance on the Doctor for the events of “Hell Bent”…

    I’ve never really gotten into the side material like comics / audiobooks, but have thought about it from time to time. As it’s presumably non-canon, some of it, like the series you mention, essentially seem to explore “What If” scenarios. Although, some sources seem to treat some of the side materials as canon (is there actually “official” word on their canonicity?). I’m a bit iffy about those side materials working so close to the timeline of the main series, if they have the potential to affect the freedom of writers working after them.

    tardigrade @replies

    @thane15 I’ve interpreted that to mean that TLs tend to recognise each other when directly talking to each other- a skill that would be handy when friends can regenerate into completely new bodies, and I think that is the context in which that particular skill was introduced. I don’t take that as meaning they have a Jedi-like sense of other TLs in the vicinity. Saxon didn’t immediately recognise his later incarnation over the slowed down B&W monitor for example. In any case, even if the Doctor did somehow get a sense that his old “friend” was in the vicinity, that wouldn’t trigger alarm bells, since he brought Missy there himself.


    You know what – A new show runner might decide to pick up the Hybrid idea all over again and I wouldn’t be very surprised to see that.

    Although I wasn’t one who was enthused about the resolution of the identity of the Hybrid, I do think the given answer(s) were intended to settle it. I’d be happier not to see this revisited. A “hybrid”, when it can be interpreted metaphorically, is so general that I think it qualifies as a Barnum statement, so is pretty much useless as a prophecy.

    tardigrade @replies

    @nerys I didn’t notice the explanation by @geoffers, but it’s not simply time perception, it is the actual passage of time, measured by any means, that is affected. The really short explanation is high gravity = slow time. The difference of hundred of kilometres from the top to the bottom of the ship affects the relative gravity felt at the two ends when really close to the black hole, so time is slowed a lot more at the end closer to the black hole.


    This is all great bonkerising and long may it continue but previous experience should still teach us that series finales are always less complex and in need of far less resolution than our theorising has led them to be.

    I’m working on that assumption too, having gotten a little too much into the bonkerising at the end of last season. In the end there are always things left open, and that’s OK – it’s preferable in fact if it leads to speculation and leaves room for new stories. I still expect a fair amount of resolution though- the writers have to finish the story they start.

    I think the introduction of the Time Lords and Gallifrey was one of the worst things the BG team ever did.

    I’m not sure why you’re so down on the TLs. I think it was an important piece of exposition for the Doctor’s roots to be shown over the course of many seasons of BG Who, though I’ll admit that the execution of showing the TLs in BG Who wasn’t always that great. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of the TLs someday. The Doctor made a powerful enemy in Rassilon, so to my mind, that’s an open thread that could very easily be revisited. Interesting that it was revisited in audiobook form- that may indicate that it’s not planned for the main series- though I assume audio content isn’t necessarily tightly approved or regarded as canon). Agreed that the TLs shouldn’t be a well that’s visited too often though.

    @nick I didn’t feel that the conclusion to The Pilot was such that it demanded any further exposition. Having said that though, there would be a satisfying symmetry in Bill’s first story connecting with her last. If the alien ship were to come for her and absorb her, regardless of her form, then I can see that being a satisfying resolution.

    tardigrade @replies

    @lisa @nerys Yes- why Saxon is on the ship, and has no recollection as Missy of ever having been there previously, is obviously a key question. The suggestion of the TLs (well Rassilon) being involved is an interesting one, and may explain Missy not remembering it, if Saxon’s memory was wiped, or he was pulled out of his timeline for this mission. But it seems it would be difficult to wrap that all up in 40 minutes, if that was the case.

    It did appear that Saxon wasn’t expecting Missy, but you’d imagine the Doctor might be very concerned and suspicious at the possibly-trying-to-be-good Missy getting together with the definitely-not-good Saxon.

    tardigrade @replies

    A bit late to put together my thoughts on this one and read through comments, so I’ll try not to cover too much old ground.

    I thought this was an excellent episode and the pick of the season for me.

    Mr Razor was a character I was enjoying a lot, even without the revelation as to his identity, which I didn’t pick at all before the final moments prior to the reveal.

    On Bill’s position all being the Doctor’s fault, I thought the script really sought to address that. In their discussion, the Doctor is quite frank that he cannot promise to protect her – he’s not making that mistake again – and instead that he will do his best. Bill has gone into danger with her eyes open, so it’s not all the Doctor’s fault, even if he does bear some responsibility.

    On Bill’s fate- hers is a character I’d be sorry to see killed off after such a short period, but the cyber-conversion process hasn’t, I think, been reversible in the past. This is a very early version of the process though, so maybe that’s not 100%. Certainly Bill’s emotions don’t seem fully inhibited. I made the comment last season that there’s a very strong pattern of regular companions coming back from death throughout AG Who (a product, in part I think, of the family-friendly ideals of the show), so that makes it very difficult to write Bill off. She’s come back from being apparently dead already. I’m on record as saying that it’s OK to kill off a companion without having to present them with a more palatable, if not necessarily exactly happy, fate. Association with the Doctor can definitely be destructive, and the price for that can be total.

    I’ve lost track of who said it now, but I’ve got to agree that the initial scene with Missy was the weakest part. Much as I enjoy Michelle Gomez’s portrayal of Missy, this felt like she was channeling Captain Jack Sparrow, or was straight-up drunk (the distinction is slight). So a little too over the top for me, even allowing for Missy being cooped up for decades, glad to be out, and engaged in a test she feels is beneath her.

    On the comment that the Doctor took his time in going down after Bill, that irked me a little also. The Doctor knows there’s a substantial relative time dilation between the ends of the ship, even if he doesn’t know quite how much (you’d think he’d have a good idea though- general relativity must be an important curriculum element at the Time Lord Academy). So he knows any delay will leave Bill abandoned for a correspondingly much longer time. It’s true that rushing down would probably not have achieved much though- due to the relative flow of time, the lower levels would get plenty of warning he was coming. From the point of view of the story, Moffat obviously wanted Bill to spend a substantial amount of time with Mr Razor/Saxon.

    tardigrade @replies

    Another well put together standalone episode (with a nice sequence with Missy added on the end). I won’t comment on the historic elements, since others clearly know much more about than I do. @soundworld Agreed that this felt a little longer than usual- the pace wasn’t rushed as the story didn’t demand too much to be completed.

    I know it’s traditional for the Doctor to offer to sacrifice himself to protect the Earth, but I didn’t quite get the logic of him feeling his long life made him particularly well-suited to hold the Eaters from coming through (at least for the billions of years he suggested). It seems that a human with a sword can go through and hold off the Eaters for long enough to buy some decades on the other side of the rift. The Doctor might be a little harder to kill, and if he’s lucky might get a few regenerations in before being finished off, but it doesn’t seem like it’s really a very long term solution. It’s not like his potential to live for millennia is likely to be realised if he goes through. I suppose if he could keep regenerating, then the Eaters might be attracted to that- they do go after light and the light show of a TL regeneration might keep them interested instead of going through the rift.

    tardigrade @replies


    If you watch from the start of the series (The Pilot), then you’ll know who the bald guy is (Nardole- he did appear previously in the last two Xmas specials) and why the Doctor is staying on Earth. I don’t want to say more for reasons of spoilers. You’re posting on an month-old episode. More is known at the currently aired point in the series.

    tardigrade @replies

    @blenkinsopthebrave Babylon 5 is another good example to raise. It did maintain a multi-series arc pretty well, but again I think the less arc-heavy stories were often the best ones, and where there were a series of consecutive arc stories, that was where things trailed off a bit- that might have been due in part to JMS having too much on his plate, as you suggest. That arc was strung out and kept the viewer hungry- I think it was 3 seasons before you saw a Vorlon, something that was teased from the pilot.

    And I was thinking of the earlier seasons of X-Files, since it definitely ran too long. I gave up before it did.

    tardigrade @replies


    you should probably try the OED definition, which has ‘complete trust or confidence’ as the first definition

    I have a problem with a “complete trust of confidence” definition as applied to science. If a scientist says that have faith in the process of science, the meaning would typically be something along the lines of meaning that they have a high degree of confidence that it can achieve better understanding in a reliable way, over a sufficient period of time. While scientists have good reason to trust the process of science, based on a track record of increasing returns from following that method over hundreds of years, there is generally a good understanding also that it has limits, and that it can’t, even in principle, answer everything. Trust really doesn’t come into it- the process depends on treating every result as suspicious- not taking anything “on faith”- and a rigourous attempt to disprove every result. Confidence in the process of science depends on not having greater confidence in any result than is justified by the evidence, and that comes from repeated failure to disprove it. That definitely isn’t the case when applied to a hypothesis. “I hold my hypothesis in the tips of my fingers, ready to let it go at the slightest breeze.” is something I’ve heard repeated (but can’t find an attribution at the moment, so the quote is doubtless paraphrased also). Scientists have to be scrupulous in avoiding getting invested in hypotheses, and to make every effort to prove themselves wrong (in part, because if they don’t, someone else will).

    To take an example, quantum physics and general relativity are two of the cornerstones of “modern” physics. They both make predictions that are exquisitely accurate, and as a result both fully warrant the label “theory”, in the scientific sense of something that has a high degree of confidence, rather than the perjorative sense of a guess. However, these two theories are, at their base, fundamentally incompatible. Physicists know that they don’t – *can’t* – make up a full description of reality, and have confidence that the scientific method will one day help to come up with a theory of quantum gravity that resolves this. Empirical science doesn’t deal in absolutes.

    I actually think that a modern definition of “faith”, when used divorced from any religious meaning, is closer to “optimistic confidence”. I think the absolutist definition pretty much only applies in a religious context. A phrase like “have some faith” wouldn’t be meaningful if faith is an absolute. That’s really a call to optimism (or trust if referring to a person).

    I don’t think you would say that your bus example shows absolute trust either- if you were to allow the stranger to blindfold you, put earplugs in and stand you on the edge of the road with the promise of giving you a hearty shove when the doors of the bus are open in front of you, you might be closer to absolute trust 🙂

    tardigrade @replies


    One idea being floated is one giant storyline running through a season, ala Broadchurch. Who thinks that might work?

    If that means a story arc across a season, but not involving every episode in the season- yes. I don’t think many would argue against that- it’s pretty much an expectation really. If it’s one long story across the whole season, then that’s seeming like a risk that may not be worthwhile.

    I’m thinking of something like X-Files here. Although the story arc kept people engaged, it was really mostly the standalone episodes that were the most memorable, and I’d say the same for this series of Doctor Who in particular, at least to this point.

    In Doctor Who, you might be going back as far as the Key to Time series to have something like a full series devoted to an arc. The Doctor plus Missy working together for a series-spanning mission like that though… I’m interesting myself now 🙂

    tardigrade @replies

    I’ll just note that I’ve seen this and I appreciate where you’re coming from here, and although I’d be happy to discuss further, I’d prefer to avoid an extended off-topic philosophical discussion on an episode thread. The point I was attempting to make was about deliberately using the word “faith” to refer to science, which I perceive as often being a cynical attempt to delegitimize the evidential basis of science and put scientific conclusions on an equal footing with uninformed opinion, and hence dismissible out of hand without needing to counter with contradictory evidence. To be clear, I mean this usage of faith:
    Faith: Belief that is not based on proof
    Take something on faith: to accept or believe something on the basis of little or no evidence

    I think that’s obviously the major usage intended when referring to scientists (although I think it’s reasonable to say that religious overtones are also intended – it suits some to allude to the “cult of science”). So I shouldn’t have described this as the religious meaning of “faith”, which can obviously be broader and much more nuanced. Faith, in my intended sense, being equated with belief without evidence, isn’t some “meme”, just using the word according to its established meaning. I certainly didn’t intend to imply that religious belief is baseless.

    I wasn’t commenting on the Monks and any religious symbolism. By themselves, I don’t think robes are overtly religious- if anything I tend to think they’re often used in limited budget Sci-Fi for very pragmatic reasons- so that creature bodies don’t need to be designed 🙂 . And given how well the Monks did with their faces, I’m happy enough to leave the rest to the imagination. However, when the Monks were introduced right next to Vatican priests, a religious comparison is inevitable, although I’m not at all sure that was intentional. I didn’t feel that was offensive, but equally, I can’t make that call for someone else.

    tardigrade @replies

    I liked this episode, fairly light-weight though it might have been.

    The best line for me: “Don’t belong? We’re British! [indignantly]”

    I wasn’t quite sure why Bill in particular was blank-faced upon being told the Ice Warrior had been dubbed “Friday”. It wasn’t clear whether that was amazement at the colonial assumption of automatic superiority, or just a literary reference that meant nothing to Bill, who was dropping movie references throughout.

    The main question for me is: why did the Tardis behave as it did? Is this the Tardis doing this of its own accord? If so, it’s hard for me to see why it would choose to take Nardole off-world and keep him there, stranding the Doctor and Bill. So perhaps it is Missy’s influence, as several have suggested? Was this somehow a ploy of hers to get Nardole to come to her for help, and allow her to build trust with the Doctor.

    The pointed “Are you all right?”, from Missy at the end seemed to be out of genuine concern. It’s tempting to tie that to a coming regeneration, as he really didn’t seem outwardly excessively troubled at seeing Missy out of the vault.

    tardigrade @replies

    In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have followed my call for bathroom facilities in the vault, with @wolfweed‘s “Ta for the wipe!”. Not an intention juxtaposition 🙂

    tardigrade @replies


    All that’s certain is that the execution that wasn’t was “A long time ago” — at least from the Doctor’s perspective.

    Unfortunately “A long time ago” doesn’t mean a lot for a time traveller. It seems to have been at least 70 years, which by itself would be a long time for Missy to be in solitary confinement- not the best way to foster sanity I would have thought 🙂


    The stated combined ages for each regeneration don’t really tally in any sensible way imo. Worse there has always been unexplained gaps and big increases, as he has gradually aged over the last 50 years.

    It’s always going to be a bit arbitrary what the Doctor gives as his age. I don’t have a problem with gaps in his timeline. We’re not seeing everything he’s getting up to, particularly when he’s between companions. It also would seem a pity if, as a TL, he potentially could have a lifespan of many thousands of years, but burned through regenerations at one every handful of years.


    I wonder if Moffat has been in discussion with Chibnall about the transfer? Would it be likely that he is setting the stage in some way for the next iteration of the Doctor and the show?

    I’d certainly assume so. The writers should have been working on a new series before this one finished filming. A new regeneration gives a fair bit of freedom in setting a new direction though.


    I previously suggested that Missy should get a TV in the “vault”…

    Without putting it too coarsely, if she was locked in the containment area for 6 months at a stretch, toilet facilities would be more important, assuming that TLs need those- I don’t know if that’s a matter of canon though 🙂


    Ta for the wipe!

    The mods living up to the TL title and going back and changing history.

    tardigrade @replies

    I’ve seen some comments on this thread suggesting that it might have been nearly 1000 years since Missy went into the vault. Is there anything to support that?

    I wouldn’t have though that the Doctor or Missy would last that long on one regeneration- Matt Smith’s Doctor was decidedly worse for wear after a few hundred years, and probably would have regenerated sooner if he’d been able. Possibly the Doctor’s off the hook on his promise early (on a technicality) if Missy regenerates- he promised to guard her body- that body would be gone.

    Also, that wouldn’t seem to fit with the 2000 year old age he gave earlier in the series (although the Doctor’s reporting of his age is always a bit suspect).

    The only reference I can recall is this (from The Pilot):
    BILL: You’ve been lecturing here for a long time. Like, fifty years, some people say. Nabeela in the office says over seventy.
    He might not have been in the same place the whole time of course, and it could have been longer than 70 (though surely not 1000).

    On the other hand, if this regeneration is that old, then it would explain some odd behaviour 🙂

    tardigrade @replies


    Perhaps he didn’t use his regenerative powers to cure his blindness, because he didn’t think it important enough to waste them?

    He was stuck on the wrong side of the door for long enough to use them in the previous episode- at a crisis point. And the (sim-)Doctor was prepared to use an experimental machine to temporarily restore his sight instead, at significant risk, in Extremis. For some reason, it seems they just weren’t on the cards.

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    And that is why I feel rather uneasy about the Doctor manipulating Bill into shooting him and and then the Doctor laugh about it back at Bill. That just didn’t seem right. At all.

    I wonder whether the Doctor’s feigned regen might have been intended in part to soften this a little for the audience, in order to show that he wasn’t going to be killed, even if shot. Those new to the series may not be aware of regeneration, so it also serves as an introduction. I’ll certainly agree that it doesn’t sit comfortably though.

    tardigrade @replies


    Practical joke ? The Doctor made it into one, but I’m not convinced that was what actually happened.

    In practical terms, I think the joke was more one by the writer and targeted at the audience, not really the Doctor pranking Bill- that’s certainly how it felt to me. That may be why it feels “off” as an in-universe event.

    tardigrade @replies

    A couple of other points I didn’t noticed being raised yet:
    * Again the Doctor’s plan consisted largely of taking the pyramid by force, which isn’t a particularly inspired solution, and force has been an increasing tactic of late. If the Monks had simply closed the door, it’s not clear there was a backup plan- pile into the Tardis, I suppose.
    * I found the Doctor addressing the student at the end as “appalling hair girl” an interesting choice, particularly on what was a “bad hair day” for both Bill and Missy. I momentarily thought he was addressing Bill 🙂


    Can he just *start* a regeneration at will when he’s unhurt, and then stop it midway?

    He has shown he can summon regeneration energy to heal another in the past. This seemed to go further than that, though probably shy of actual regeneration. Conceivably it was just faked in some way anyway- he was planning for this after all. I didn’t think there was a suggestion he was actually injured – the soldiers were all smiles immediately after the reveal. In checking it’s not a test, there’s not really any point in carrying on after the trigger is pulled, so the Doctor’s acting and fake regeneration are part of a practical joke then.

    I do wonder sometimes if Moffart is being intentionally misleading in trailers

    I get the feeling that some trailers may be put together by marketers, rather than the main creative team. Having said that, I’d expect some misdirection- I generally avoid trailers though.


    This has been the oddest loose trilogy of stories and I’ve not really been sold on it

    Similar here- I found the connections between the parts here to be a bit too loose and in terms of characterisation there was too big a shift between the 2nd and 3rd parts- the Doctor and Bill were on very tense terms, then their next contact is joking, and the Monks go from very powerful to pretty ineffectual.

    tardigrade @replies

    @missy FWIW I thought this was probably the best of the 3 parts, but of course make up your own mind- I know some thought it the weakest. You can of course watch on iView (link earlier in this thread) if you want to watch on Sunday morning in Oz and not be stranded in spoiler purgatory.

    tardigrade @replies

    @serahni The method of breaking the link that was considered was the “Missy method”- expedient and without concern for the person embodying the link. I can see why you would think a broader set of tools, other than Missy’s blunt instrument, might have been considered.

    tardigrade @replies

    @serahni From memory, I think the Doctor does explain that simply breaking the link isn’t ideal, since it will take time for the Monks influence to fade away. I would have thought they might also be in a position to establish a new link- they’d surely then be a in a better position to find someone who feels trust/dependence/love for them than they were originally, though perhaps when people are already under their influence, that wouldn’t work- it wouldn’t be “pure”.

    tardigrade @replies


    I’m not sure but if anyone is in need of a site that doesn’t require login and, thus, might allow sneaky access, our Australian broadcasts are online.

    This will be geoblocked also methinks- though won’t require a login.

    I’m not entirely certain where the TARDIS was for those 6 months

    With Nardole it would seem, at least until he tracked down the Doctor. The Doctor might have kept it out of sight then- it would be a giveaway that he wasn’t loyal to the Monks. Not sure why they came in on the ship though, rather than the Tardis – that would seem to be pretty slow and liable to set off alarm bells and ruin the element of surprise.

    tardigrade @replies

    I wasn’t a fan at all of the previous episode, and while this wasn’t one of the greatest episodes of all time, there was more to enjoy here and fewer niggles, at least for me, so I enjoyed this more.

    My favourite line: “Your future is taken care of”. On the surface it’s reassuring, but also very literal in that it also means that any self-determination is also gone. A real 1984 vibe just in that one line.

    A few thoughts – positive, negative and observational:

    * Obviously not a lot of resolution of any issues left open in the opening two episodes of this 3-parter. And no wins for any bonkerising. A fairly straightforward plot really, which may have actually worked in its favour.
    * Did the Doctor really waste regeneration energy on what was essentially a practical joke by that point? Bill seemingly doesn’t know about TL regeneration, so wouldn’t know what that was about anyway. So really not for her, but instead a fake-out for fans. The Doctor was so far out of character though, that this was still pretty much expected.
    * I liked the idea of the Monk statues being critical to their control- statues of “loved” leaders being a common feature of real societies, past and present, that repress individual thinking.
    * In the previous episode, the Monks demonstrated basically god-like powers. Now they leave the door to the pyramid open and are vulnerable to a small group with small arms and walkmen (where did they find those? 🙂 ). Not much menace at all left in them.
    * If the Monks didn’t trust the Doctor completely (and why would they- they can run a few simulations to see how that would turn out), then I would have thought that they would have been watching him closely- he seems to have gone rogue and caught them completely off-guard.
    * I’d have liked to have had some explanation of what the Monks gained by being in control- simply having control isn’t an end it itself.
    * The resolution was simplistic in some ways, but worked reasonably well- possibly saved by the expected self-sacrifice by Bill. I’m usually not a fan of the “power of love” as a resolution, and not sure of the logic of Bill’s “memory” of her mother being pure- it’s purity comes from it being purely a false memory maybe?
    * I don’t see “fake news” as a particularly contemporary or political reference- that particular phrasing is perhaps contemporary, but it was a big theme in 1984 (written in 1948), and obviously during WW2 and earlier. It’s used more in the 1984 sense than its more contemporary sense here.
    * Missy seems to be pretty beaten down, and resigned to staying in the vault at least semi-voluntarily. She didn’t even have an interest in sparring with Bill, who comes in calling her “some woman”. And Missy seemingly feeling remorse for her past actions- that’s new. I say “seemingly”- a reversal could come very quickly one feels 🙂
    * Why does the Doctor refer to Missy as “the other last of the Time Lords”, with the others returned, even if laying low?
    * Clearly a number of derivative elements from various sources (1984, Star Wars, Star Trek)- I know that the 1984 themes are so well embedded in the culture that to avoid comparison is impossible, and that in some cases they’re obviously meant to be winking references- Nardole’s neck pinch for example – but a few overtly meta references go a long way. They inherently take the watcher out of immersion and flag what you’re watching as a work of fiction.
    * Again, memory was used as a theme- something that’s been done many times now under Moffat.

    @thane15 I understand the fun in your post. I think there’s truth in there though – it’s fair to say that this one wasn’t going to win over those who aren’t Moffat fans.

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    A “spoiler-free review” is a chimera. It cannot be.

    As long as it’s opinion unsupported by facts, then I suppose it could exist. It would be of little interest though. It would be like looking at a Rotten Tomatoes score and nothing else. I don’t see the point of getting others’ opinions on something I’m definitely going to see (and only a little more for something I may want to see).

    I was actually struggling more with the mentioned “spoiler-free preview” concept. That’s the one that seems oxymoronic to me.


    Fortunately, I have little trouble in disregarding such opinions- of course, if I were to adopt the position of every opinion I heard espoused on the internet, then my brain would implode. If I were being cynical, I might even suggest that much of the internet is purpose-built to train people to disregard opinions differing from their own (not suggesting that about here of course).

    tardigrade @replies


    the Doctor requesting a coordinated military attack on the pyramid. It’s both un-Doctor-y and, the Doctor must know, doomed to failure, given the alien tech he’s already seen the Monks deploy. Like Bill and Nardole, I’d like to know what that was about!

    I don’t think the Doctor was very invested in the attack- it wasn’t his idea and he didn’t rate it much chance of scratching the pyramid (although there might be something tucked away in the Black Archive that could). The Monks hadn’t show that much tech at that point, but the capacity to show up in a pyramid-sized ship is a good hint. Plus they’d hardly drop it down in front of military forces if that made them vulnerable.

    I think the Doctor does actually explain it though as a co-ordinated attack to show unity from the different factions (and perhaps also a way to foster than unity- it does come when WW3 is a possibility for the disaster).

    When someone comes and says they can save you from imminent disaster, of course it’s not that logical to go blowing them up without even finding out what the disaster is. That’s not addressing the root of the problem. 🙂

    In terms of the story, it does give the opportunity to show what the Monks can do and add a little action. In this episode in particular, the playing out of the story had priority over strict logic at multiple points- this was one point I personally was willing to give it a pass on.

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    @wolfweed Thanks for that info. IMO this script clearly needed work and we now understand better why it couldn’t get it. It’s a pity that schedules couldn’t have been moved to allow Moffat to take time away from the pressures of work. I guess this came at a really bad time (not that there is ever a good time for this to happen of course), coming as it did partway through a 3-parter, so the schedule couldn’t be changed to reorder episodes and bring forward one he was less critical to. I realised the intensity of work during a season, but sometimes that can come at personal cost.

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    @steffstaff @missrori- Despite his description of what he was creating as an explosion (and that wouldn’t have been of much use anyway- that may simply have released the pathogen), it was really closer to an ethanol fire- the depiction I think was actually fairly accurate- more of a “whoosh” than an explosive blast- and it would go out basically immediately without an oxygen supply. He wasn’t going to be blown to pieces- at the very worst he may have been horrifically burnt (as @missrori graphically describes), but not beyond a condition where regeneration would likely have been impossible. If he remembered not to breathe in during the short conflagration (or preferably covered his head in a wet cloth- it’s a plant lab- there’s water and he has a minute to prepare), then I’d expect it even to be survivable in the short term – if he did that and wet himself thoroughly all over (with water I mean 🙂 ) and curled up in the foetal position on the floor away from the immediate flashpoint, then he might not even need to regenerate to survive, assuming her or Erica could get oxygen to him afterwards (and as we’ve seen the Doctor can survive quite a while without oxygen)- I’d think his sonic would make short work on a pane of glass- hit the resonant frequency and watch it shatter. Remember the previous episode and the conditions that had to be met to execute a Time Lord and it’s not a simple matter- it’s hard to see all three of his brainstems getting fried, even if he took no particular precautions. Certainly he (and the Master) have regenerated from worse trauma.

    The Doctor telling Bill her about his ability to regenerate right at the decision point may well not have worked- as @thane15 suggests, she might have felt she was being deceived. But if he’d told her previously about his ability, he may well have been able to reassure her that he’d survive (even if that wasn’t a sure thing).


    How much has he learned, I often wonder

    I guess you get a bit set in your ways when your age is measured in millenia.

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    The phrase “Clueless of regeneration” from @thane15 has reminded me of a point I was going to raise. I’m not sure whether @thane15 intended this, and this was alluded to earlier by a couple of people in passing, but I’ll make it explicitly…

    The Doctor was actually keeping two secrets from Bill- his blindness was only one. He also deliberately declined to tell her about his ability to regenerate when asked- he should have been able to survive the conflagration in the lab by regenerating. If she knew that, then she wouldn’t have needed to ask for the Monks’ help. His inability to confide in her may literally have cost the Earth.

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    I think you’re also onto something about budget issues — some of the special effects were quite poor (especially the withering plants).

    I was also thinking that budget might have meant a more realistic airlock system wasn’t implementable. Even some sort of token effort like a decontamination spray would have been better than doing nothing meaningful. The physical design of the lock mechanism was also clunky- it looked like something lifted from the first Doctor’s Tardis. Budget (and time) constraints don’t only show up in the CGI.


    Loved the comment by Bill, that she wouldn’t have voted for the president – “he’s orange.”

    She was only chided a couple of weeks ago for colour-consciousness towards the blue-skinned. Now she’s exhibiting bias against the orange-skinned :). I guess the other myriad reasons she might not have voted for this (purely fictitious I’m sure 🙂 ) president might not have played so well though.

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    Thanks to those encouraging me to continue commenting- to be clear I don’t feel ostracised in the slightest due to making negative comments on an episode- my reluctance to make further negative comments was my own, though a preference not to add too much negativity to the thread, since there are doubtless positive things to be said. I don’t want to be the one who comes and tells someone who enjoyed something that they shouldn’t have enjoyed it, and here are the reasons why…

    Just to unpack one of my earlier comments- there are random effects that led to events playing out as they did (the broken glasses being a major one). But perhaps the Monks simulated a number of possible futures and found a likelihood of disaster regardless of how things play out- perhaps if the lab tech doesn’t break her glasses then, they could break later on the bus, or she isn’t delayed and accidentally steps in front of that bus. The Monks have shown they can simulate the Doctor, so even the actual scenario of him intervening and needing himself to be saved might have been amongst those possible threads. That could potentially make it very difficult for the Doctor to do anything to save the situation, as his possible moves could have been foreseen. That might be a reason to release Missy- to add her special brand of chaos 🙂


    would it be safe to say that this is so far the most-poorly-received episode so far in Series 10?

    For me personally, I’d be struggling to find an episode in the Capaldi run that I felt was weaker. I didn’t take issue with the acting by the way- Peter and Pearl, in particular, were up to their normal excellent standards, but they were let down by the writing, and perhaps some budgetary constraints that left holes in the plot & logic. I’m aware of the intensity of effort that goes into making a season and that corners sometimes need to be cut, and unfortunately that can sometimes become obvious. For myself, when there are issues like the ones in this episode, it takes me right out of the experience and the emotional notes of the story are largely lost on me too.

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    But when re-watching an episode I simply ignore those bits I had an issue with or see them differently and overall like the episode!

    I’d usually be the same- I think this one might be a bit too dense with issues for me to rewatch.


    And yet they were successful.

    Successful at earning “love”- no. Successful at gaining anything like genuine consent- no. Successful at fooling themselves that they have- apparently. Successful at some deeper plan that will come out- maybe.

    Ooh, harsh! “A shambles” 🙂

    Strictly I said “not much above a shambles”- admittedly that distinction is slight though. I think I’ll decline to comment further on this episode. I’m acutely aware this is a fan site, not really a platform for critique. I’ll continue to read comments though and am interested in the theories that have been posited. I hope the writers live up to the inventiveness of the commenters.

    tardigrade @replies

    Another challenging episode for me to comment on. In the end, I enjoyed some elements of the episode, but there were a awful lot of misses in there too and I’m afraid I can’t rate the plot much above a shambles.

    @jimthefish made some good points and @blenkinsopthebrave hit some of my issues here:

    OK, bear with me, because you know how much I love this show.
    This week we have cast aside the whole simulation thing and instead we have the world teetering on the brink of WWIII, the sudden appearance of a pyramid (and why a pyramid exactly?) and the monks demanding submission for the ‘right’ reason, which turns out to be love. Now, it seems to me that this is for the sole purpose of having Bill submit the entire Earth to alien subjugation because of her love for the Doctor.

    The Monks show up, apparently intent on earning credit (“love”) for averting a disaster, then apparently do their best to conceal what the disaster actually is. So, they hope to get credit, in advance, for averting a disaster that, as far as anyone might have known, was purely their own invention.

    They deliberate make themselves appear like corpses, essentially make threats and refuse to accept capitulations to those threats, which is surely the best they could ever hope for, unless those in power (in this case very limited power) are loving enough in accepting their “help”, in what is essentially a protection racket. If they’ve been studying humanity extensively in their simulations, they show a remarkably slight grasp of human psychology.

    Bill then acts out of “love”- well not out of self-interest anyway, but the interest of someone else. But surely possibly also out of guilt, since she may feel some responsibility for the Doctor being blind. And she’s also probably angry with the Doctor for not telling her his secret and possibly screwing things up completely. And seemingly panicked. The Monks then decide that she, of all the people there, is “pure” in her motives (which is odd at best), her love is for them (which it clearly isn’t), that she is in a position of power (which she isn’t), and represents the Doctor (which she doesn’t, since he is clearly saying that he doesn’t consent). If any of this makes much sense, then I’m failing to see it.

    Then there’s the behaviour in the biolab. Apparently, as long as you go through two separate doors labelled “airlock”, then you’re magically decontaminated. So you’re free to just run back and forth into the contaminated area. Which is fairly moot, as apparently your biolab also vents air to the atmosphere, and you can’t even stop that (I would have though cutting the power would work for a start- and if the response to that is that doors might open in that case, then that is not the way that failsafes should be in any vaguely sensibly designed biolab).

    If you’re the Doctor and Nardole, and travelling in a time machine, and hence able to take whatever time you need to prepare, regardless, you simply just jump straight out of the Tardis into a biohazard that threatens all life on the planet, assuming that you’re immune, which seems to be 50% right.
    Then, faced with a situation in which he *really* needed his sight, the Doctor doesn’t use the device he’s been carrying around specifically for use in emergencies, which he previously showed willingness to use, seemingly out of little more than curiosity.

    And then the Doctor’s sight is restored remotely, using essentially godlike powers. I’ll avoid using that three-letter acronym, to avoid raising hackles, and just settle for the innuendo in calling it “godlike”.

    Even the concept of the Monks predicting the events playing out as they did through their simulation is undermined by having random events (glasses breaking, slipped decimal place) critical to the event. These are butterfly effect stuff, inherently chaotic and unpredictable. I’ll accept though, based on my above comments, that the lab was an accident waiting to happen.

    And the Doctor weirdly is flirting with the criminally negligent lab technician.

    I haven’t covered all my issues and I hate being so negative on an episode, but I’m really struggling to find much positive to comment on. I can only hope that part 3 rescues something from a disappointing setup.

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    I realise now that I said “I don’t think the BBC would allow a suicide in a program with a younger audience base in any case” in comment on an episode where there were multiple suicides (and a feigned execution). So I’d better try to justify that a little better.

    Those suicides were of course off-screen and justified somewhat as not being real people- an on-screen suicide of a main (role model) character even if he (or she) then gets back up again would be much higher impact, and if the reason were an inability to cope with a physical disability, then that’s not a story that would be at all family-friendly, and would rightly earn criticism for the BBC. I suspect that even what was shown in this episode would have required additional signoff at the BBC.

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    I like the idea but I wonder if a suicide-regeneration might be too dark even for Moffat.

    I don’t think the BBC would allow a “suicide” in a program with a younger audience base in any case (nor do I think that would be an appropriate way to handle it). The Doctor could voluntarily regenerate without self-harm though.

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    The custodians of the Execution world reminded me heavily of the Jaffa from Stargate, with their ornamental robes and elaborate staffs and neckpieces.

    Oh yes- I can see that now that you mention it. I think I was a little distracted by recognizing the actor from Humans, so that slipped by me at the time.

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    Goodness, I have been blagging on.

    Apologies for that! I just really enjoyed the meaty episode – totally understand how others might not.

    No apology needed. TBH I’ve probably enjoyed the discussion, your self-described “blagging” included, more than the episode itself. As always, I’m glad to see that there are still places where there can be a respectful exchange of ideas.

    And as you alude to, in the current climate, I don’t think the LHC would ever have been funded. And I really don’t think the rather silly “God Particle” moniker for the Higgs did them any favours at all. Those at CERN must be having their faith tested 🙂

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    The CERN scientist, when asked what they were doing, said, “Saving the world”. That suggests that it wasn’t escape, but foiling the plans of the simulators, that was the goal. Presumably also true for the clerics, as that goal might be viewed of being worth going to hell for, and a president who thought he was helping his people.

    I don’t see why they would think that taking themselves out of the simulation has any positive effect. If they genuinely wanted to screw up the simulation, perhaps the CERN folks would be better off announcing to the world that we’re all living in a simulation, and provide the proof. CERN would perhaps be the only place that could get away with that without being treated as complete nutters. (You’d actually think that they’d have independent evidence that something is awry, as their job is largely sifting through vast amounts of data created from random events, and there would have to be obvious problems).

    In fact, if the aliens were looking for a way to take over, what they have learnt is that if you can convince the population that they are living in a simulation that they will kill themselves out of spite. So doing just that might be very counterproductive.

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    I suppose he just HAD to know! He’s a stubborn old fish is our Doctor!

    I’m fine with him wanting to know what’s in the message. It’s just a perverse way he goes about trying to read it. At the end of the episode he “emails” a message to himself that is shown to him via his glasses. Earlier he’s actually trying to read an email– surely it’s much more obvious then to forward it to the device that will show it to him, rather than employing an experimental, possibly fatal, method of trying to read it. Seeing that, I was ready to kick his butt, let alone Nardole (or River).

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    I don’t really have too much of a problem with CERN being used in terms of the story- it’s showing two ends of a worldview spectrum, in CERN and Vatican, being shaken by the same thing. But the combination of the two really took me out of the story as I battled with the parallels to Angels & Demons (where the two were used for similar reasons). Plus the depiction of CERN was very half-hearted- a couple of dozen people in a nondescript room. There may be thousands of people at the LHC when it’s operating. And killing themselves with big bundles of red explosives was cartoonish (and added another A&D parallel, as the threat there was of a big explosion too).

    You really won’t find scientists using the word “faith” related to scientific work, and least in anything like the sense that it’s used in religion. In religion it is used to mean “belief” without evidence, and scientists of course gain confidence in their conclusions through evidence. Where scientists use the word “faith” it tends to be faith in the scientific method as the best known methodology to come to reliable conclusions as to how things are. And if scientists use “belief”, it means a high level of confidence based on confirming evidence, and not a resistance to changing that conclusion based on better evidence. Where the terms “faith” and “belief” are applied to science, it is often from outside and as an attempt to portray expert opinion based on the balance of hard evidence to be a belief based on dogma, and hence dismissible based on alternative dogma, so it’s a favoured tactic of the anti-expert crowd.

    it was worth going to hell for

    If the Vatican priests really did believe they were simulated, then they would probably not think they had an eternal soul, so would not be in fear of damnation. And if it were an accurate simulation, then there is presumably another version of themselves in the real world acting as custodian of their soul.

    Then taking it away from them and showing them that their life’s dedication was utterly worthless… There is no God… There is no answer to the nature of the universe…

    I don’t think the priests would be denying God, or the scientists the possibility of answers- but those things lie in the real world, not their simulation. Their consciousness would be cut off from those.

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    Firstly to clarify something- some commenters are describing the episode as playing out in a VR world- VR implies real people in a simulated world. From the point of view of the Doctor, Nardole and humans, it was purely a simulation, i.e. simulated people in a simulated world. For the aliens it would be VR, as they would be real-world entities entering a virtual world. Sorry if that’s splitting hairs, but this isn’t a Matrix-like simulation for the Doctor and co.

    Now to my issues:

    (1) It seems that the scope of the simulation was quite limited. Why include CERN in that simulation? Their relevance in an alien invasion is hard to imagine. Paired with the Vatican, it just came across to me as a rather distracting Dan Brown reference. As one justification, I guess those who are probing the fundamental nature of the universe might be rather peeved if they found they weren’t actually in the real universe – that’s bound to screw up your data 🙂

    For that matter, the Vatican’s relevance is doubtful. I would have thought that simulating the black archive would have been far more useful. Perhaps the aliens don’t know about that though. It’s hardly public knowledge (though nor is the Doctor).

    (2) If the aliens have sufficient knowledge to construct a useful simulation, they need to know how people will react, so building the simulation to determine that seems a rather circular exercise.

    (3) I don’t buy people (simulated or other) deciding that “suicide” is the answer when confronted by their status as simulations. I just don’t buy that people would be convinced of that in the first place. Particularly if they are quantum physicists, who daily deal with a world in which objectively reality is a rather fuzzy concept, or politicians, who by necessity have a innate ability to deny external facts and create their own preferred reality, or priests who doubtless would have a preferred supernatural cause for the “miracle of the numbers” that doesn’t rely on being a computer simulation. In the real world, people rarely change their views much on learning that they’ve been living under a delusion. The justification of suicide as an “escape” is no different to any suicide might be viewed as such- this isn’t escaping the Matrix, it is “escaping” into non-existence.

    (4) I thought the shadow test of reciting random numbers rather unconvincing in any case. If the simulation really is so weak that the agents all come up with the same sequence given radically different starting conditions (different life histories), then the simulation wouldn’t be of much value anyway.

    (5) Why does the Doctor choose to take the risk he does to read the Veritas? In the end he simply gets the laptop to read it to him, so even if he’d momentarily forgotten about that possibility, could he not have “emailed” the text to the Tardis and had it read aloud or psychically transferred it to him? You’d have thought he could have installed some OCR software on his glasses for that matter- it seems a smarter solution than this one by a long shot. Admittedly it is the sim-Doctor taking that risk, but presumably it is an accurate simulation of what the real Doctor would have done.

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    Overall I quite liked this episode, despite having some reservations about some elements.

    The sequences with Missy were the highlights of the episode. The initial setup that had it potentially the Doctor being terminated initially was nicely done and momentarily confusing. However, in the end it was so hard to see the Doctor actually going through killing Missy, that it wasn’t much of a surprise to set her getting up a little later. I wasn’t too sure why the Doctor felt the need to vow to guard Missy’s body for 1000 years, even if he would likely get off the hook rather sooner if Missy regenerated and changed bodies. Perhaps that will allow him to get away with not executing her though, if she’s instead incarcerated for a millennium instead.

    If the executioners were scattering at mention of the Doctor’s record, then I would have thought that Missy’s would have been rather concerning also, and presumably they did read that one in advance. I was a little surprised to see her rather meekly complying, although perhaps she really was relying on the Doctor as her best hope.

    It does seem that it should be Missy in the vault, though that hasn’t been 100% established, so there’s still significant room for a surprise. I’m aware that Missy and the Doctor were left together unarmed, and Missy’s (likely very short-lived) stated intent to do good probably wouldn’t have extended to voluntarily stepping into the vault.

    I’ll address the other component of the story (simulation/VR) in another post. That’s where most of my issues lie.

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    I’m still hoping against hope it’s The Hybrid in the Vault. You know, the REAL one Twelve just couldn’t spill the beans on, not just to save Clara but to keep it and the universe safe.

    I can sympathize with that- I never found the Doctor + Clara to be a satisfactory hybrid. We all have our own loose ends that we’d like tied up.

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    I don’t think he’s out of energy/regenerations, because Moffat already spent that penny with Eleven’s finale and it would be really weird for the Time Lords to restore his energy two regeneration stories in a row. We know there’s going to be a Thirteenth Doctor, too.

    If the Doctor were on his last regeneration again (admittedly unlikely, but that’s why it would be a left-field twist), I wouldn’t expect the resolution to be the Time Lords restoring his regeneration energy again- there would need to be something else going on. Conceivably, there could be a new actor playing the Doctor without a regeneration also, weird as that might seem, eg have the Doctor’s brain transferred into a cybernetic body, or his consciousness transferred to another person (is Pearl Mackie the new Doctor?). I’m getting into very unlikely territory then though, obviously enough 🙂

    I haven’t looked at trailers/info for upcoming episodes, apart from the series preview, in any case- so any bonkerising of mine is unconstrained by having too much information :). The fun isn’t so much in predicting what will happen, but more in constructing alternative futures, hence my description of such bonkerising as closer to fan fiction than a theory of to what’s actually going on. If it’s not crazier than what actually happens, then we’re really not trying hard enough 🙂

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    So it becomes a question of ‘Why can’t the Doctor use regeneration energy to heal his sight?’

    Indeed- maybe we’re all missing something- perhaps he doesn’t have any regeneration energy remaining. Something that has gone on has meant he has used it all- perhaps used to heal whatever is in the vault? That would certainly explain some touchiness on the subject. He does say that he will “never see anyone ever again”. That’s pretty categorical, so perhaps he does think he’s now on his last regeneration. Nardole was specifically worried that the Doctor might be injured and not be able to guard the vault properly, which fits with him being more vulnerable than normal also.

    Or, a little less dramatically, perhaps the Doctor fears that the use of regeneration energy would be detected by the vault-dweller and trigger the vault to open. He does seem not to want to show any weakness and that would be a dead give-away that something is wrong. In fact it may require a full regeneration for him to repair the damage, and he can’t risk that, as he might be even more vulnerable at that point, so it’s preferable to feign that nothing is wrong.

    I suspect medicine on Gallifrey isn’t that good – except for possibly stuff like obstetrics. Why have complex medicine when you can regenerate for everything – including a broken wrist? 🙂

    Yes- I’d expect that Gallifreyan medicine might consist largely of the application of regeneration energy :-). They would have access to the medical expertise of all of time and space though, if something more subtle was called for.

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    Another theory I’ve seen floated as to why the Doctor can’t find a good surgeon by the time of “Extremis” is that his eyes are actually functioning, but his brain is damaged thanks to the lack of oxygen and that’s why he’s blind.

    It did appear that his eyes could be restored (though maybe not his retinas, which would be likely candidates for being affected by oxygen starvation). So a neurological issue might well be in play. You’d think that sufficiently advanced medicine could provide a bridge around the damage- eg prosthetic eyes and a “psychic” interface bypassing any neurological damage. Probably resolvable on Gallifrey as you note, but of course that may not be an option. The Doctor did seem resolved to remaining blind, so it doesn’t seem there are easy solutions.

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