Well, folks, Doctor Who‘s tenth season is upon us, and that means the return of my Doctor Who reviews! I’ve got to admit; I missed writing these last year. The only new episode we had was “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” at Christmas, so it’s nice to get back into the swing of things. As always, spoilers await those who venture further.
“The Pilot” sees Peter Capaldi return as the Doctor (for the last time, unfortunately) and Matt Lucas return as Nardole, and we finally get a proper introduction to Pearl Mackie’s new companion Bill Potts. Bill is a university canteen worker with an unrelenting thirst for knowledge, which leads her to sneak into the Doctor’s lectures. The Doctor admires her passion for learning and offers to tutor her. Bill’s not quite sure what to make of him, but she jumps at the chance to indulge in the learning she loves so much. But when her friend Heather turns into a watery apparition that starts stalking her night and day, Bill quickly learns that the Doctor is the only one who is able to help both of them.
I’ll be honest–this was surprisingly low-key for a season premiere. I was expecting it to be energetic and manic in true Moffat fashion, but instead it was very quiet and kind of subdued. If this was supposed to be a brand-new jumping on point for new viewers, I’m not sure if they would have found anything to get them excited and wanting to see more–expect maybe Capaldi, who gets some excellent Doctor-y lines in this episode (things like poetry is the same as physics because of the rhyming and that awesome dissertation on Time and Relative Dimension in Space). The more I see of Capaldi, the more I’m going to miss Twelve.
I was a little bit disappointed with Bill as well. There wasn’t really anything about her that reached out and grabbed me, but I’m going to wait a bit before passing judgement on her. After all, I didn’t really start to like Clara until season 8, but I hope it won’t take me as long to like Bill, especially considering the rumors that she’ll only be around for one season. I will say one thing I like about her, though–they’re setting her up to be a pupil-style companion like Ace, and I am excited to see how that turns out. I think some of the Doctor’s best interactions with his companions have been with him in the role of teacher. Seeing Capaldi in the role of teacher-Doctor will be the perfect way to end his run on the show.
And I’m just going to get this out of the way now–Bill lives with her foster-mother Moira since her birth mother is dead. We don’t know who her father is, which means he’s either not important or the Master, who we already know is returning in the persona of John Simm. I have literally nothing to base this on except the fact that this is Moffat’s last season, and after seven years of him as showrunner, I put nothing past him anymore. Nothing.
We did get to see the Movellans from “Destiny of the Daleks” again, but it wasn’t nearly as long as I would have liked. Perhaps they’ll be back for a longer period of time later in the season. I don’t think they would have hyped the Movellans’ return so much if they were only going to be back for ten seconds.
Next week, “Smile” takes us to a human colony that has emoji robots. Not being a fan of emojis myself, I hope this doesn’t turn out too stupid.