And so we come to a story about beginnings as we are faced with sad endings. Here, finally, Mr. Moffat gives us the origin story of the Cybermen, his gift to fandom. As usual, the craft involved in both the plot and the words that tell it are brilliant and emotional. I love Steven Moffat’s writing. After watching one of his episodes, I almost always feel as if he wrote it just for me. No delusions here, I just mean to say that his writing fits my brain. World Enough and Time is no exception.
Mirroring the Doctor’s peril in Pyramid At The End of the World, Bill is a goner this time. However, as Liz Myles helpfully pointed out in this week’s Verity Podcast, Moffat never leaves us in despair; he will save Bill, just as he saved Amy, Rory, and Clara, (though I suspect he will do so at the cost of the Doctor’s current incarnation). Moffat has been building an inevitability to the Doctor’s sacrifice all season. Or, maybe not. Maybe Missy will sacrifice herself for Bill in an attempt to finally get the Doctor’s approval (thanks to Caroline Symcox, also on this week’s Verity for this outrageously juicy possibility).
I do wish that Moffat had not made Bill a Cyberman. If we include Torchwood, three out of the five New Who, on screen, complete cyber conversions were on people of color- Lisa, Danny Pink and Bill Potts. (Jackie Tyler was essentially resurrected by transplanting our universes’ Jackie into the parallel universe, so I don’t count her). This is problematic. By repeatedly converting people of color into bad guys, terrible stereotypes about the evil/animalistic/uncivilized nature of people of color are reinforced. It also demonstrates that they are more disposable/less valuable than other characters. Finally, their Cyberconversions weren’t evolutions or outcomes of their own story lines, rather they served as plot points for the journies of other, whiter characters. (For a thorough and thoughtful discussion of this, see Alyssa Franke’s -aka Whovian Feminism– fabulous review.)
On many levels and for many reasons, it is imperative that Bill be saved from Cyberdom and I am keeping the faith that is exactly what Moffat will do. Regardless of how Bill is returned humanity, an era (the era of my heart!) is coming to an end and I just can’t help but feel a bittersweet sadness. Which, I believe, is exactly what Moffat is going for. While Nine got me to watch Series Two, and I fell for Ten, it was Moffat’s writing of Eleven, Amy, River, Vastra, Jenny, the Angels and the Headless Monks that seduced me into the amazing fandom of Doctor Who.
While Twelve competes, but never takes, my heart from Eleven, Moffat’s writing over the last three series has been the best in New Who. Moffat and Capaldi brought greater meaning to the show as they crafted such a complex heart(s) for Twelve, exploring the light, dark and grey in relationships, morality, roles and responsibilities over the last 40 stories. I’m going to miss this. Very much.
And yet, how can we not delight in Missy and her disposables? In Gomez and Sim playing off each other in what I can only pray continues with a significant amount of airtime in The Doctor Falls? In finally witnessing the genesis of the Cybermen played out on screen? Delight, I fear, is irresistible.