I chose to wait for both episodes of ‘Doctor Who – Spyfall’ to air before reviewing them. I didn’t want to engage in the speculation that comes with a cliffhanger. Based on some of the guessing flying around the internet, I think I made the right choice. So what does the start of Jodie Whittaker’s second season in the role bring us? A pretty big surprise and the return of the season-long arc.
Good Old ‘Doctor Who’
Somehow, at least with this first two-episode story, the feel of ‘Doctor Who’ of old has returned. I’m not saying that it was utterly missing last season. I thought most of the episodes were good if not instant classics. I think the show suffered because of so much change. With the shift from Tennant/Davies to Smith/Moffat, the tone and feel of the show remained pretty similar. With Moffat being responsible for some of the classics of the Davies era, we knew what to expect. Chris Chibnall also had written episodes for both showrunners. His scripts were all right but not particularly era-defining moments. They were, however, very different from the ten years of ‘Doctor Who’ that had come before. With the jitters removed from making all of those changes, the show feels a bit more confident now.
A Skilled Return
Considering the official BBC page has let this information go, I guess so can I. Sacha Dhawan brings a new Master back to life for the two episodes. His incarnation is along the lines of the John Simm Master, though perhaps a bit more mindful of Roger Delgado’s original. I’m sure we’ll get to see more of him as the season progresses. Since he is responsible for the destruction of Gallifrey, a feat even the Daleks couldn’t achieve, it seems assured he’ll be back. As we see more of his Master, I hope that we get to see a few more layers. They may be progressing toward that with the complicated introduction of his reasons for blowing up his homeworld. It’s difficult to tell since we know so little about what the lie his and the Doctor’s lives hinge on is.
The Lonely Life Of A Companion
The companions in this episode, though. They have some fun moments but are generally underserved. I think that will continue to be a problem if the show continues to stick to having three companions. Last season saw Yaz (Mandip Gill) given very little to do under the weight of Ryan’s (Tosin Cole) coming to terms with the death of his grandmother and the acceptance of Graham (Bradley Walsh) as what remained of his family. Chibnall has promised that we’ll see more of her this season, buy ‘Spyfall’ doesn’t deliver. Two episodes are too early to tell, but hopefully, I’ll be proven wrong.
I’m not sure how I feel about the return of Gallifrey. I was kind of hoping we’d seen the last of the planet during the Capaldi years because Russell T. Davies was right. It isn’t effortless to tell an exciting story about the place anymore. The big lie that the Master brings up is intriguing, and hopefully sets into place the abandonment of Gallifrey once this story plays out. At least for a little while. Next week, it’s off to Tranquility Spa with ‘Orphan 55’. Now, why is that giving me a ‘Children of Earth’ feel?