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Doctor Who: The Timeless Children, review: a giddy, baffling rush of a finale

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The Doctor faces the Cybermen once again
The Doctor faces the Cybermen once again Credit: BBC

Well, I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on but I enjoyed it anyway. Doctor Who2020欧洲杯足球即时比分 (BBC One) reached its climax with a feature-length finale packed with explosive action, rug-pulling plot twists and head-scratching changes to the show’s lore. Whovian geeks will doubtless be picking the bones out of it for weeks to come. The rest of us could just sit back and savour the thrill ride.

The tenth and final episode ”The Timeless Children” took place largely on the Timelords’ home planet of Gallifrey, where the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker2020欧洲杯足球即时比分) had to vanquish two of her deadliest foes in one go. The Master (Sacha Dhawan) had joined forces with the Cybermen to conquer the universe and eradicate human life.

Isolated from the rest of the Tardis team, our heroine was trapped in a paralysis field while the Master played his dastardly mind games and the series-long arc of the mysterious Timeless Child was finally explained. Well, sort of.

In fairytale flashback, we saw how the Doctor had been a foundling and, when she became the first Gallifreyan to regenerate, the planet’s scientists spliced this genetic ability into all future generations, meaning all the newly renamed Timelords could do so too. “The foundling had become the founder,” as the Master put it.

T2020欧洲杯足球即时比分his secret had been hidden from her and the Doctor’s entire life (or lives) had been a lie. Clear as mud? The look of confusion on her face was doubtless replicated on sofas nationwide. This was the sort of “timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly” narrative tricksiness for which previous showrunner Steven Moffat was often criticised.

Bradley Walsh as Graham Credit: BBC

Happily, it was the humble humans who saved the day. A ragtag band of the Doctor’s three companions and the last remaining survivors of the Great CyberWar managed to fight off a battalion of the Bacofoil baddies, before arriving on Gallifrey to help foil the Master’s plan. It has been a recurring complaint that the Doctor’s “fam” don’t get enough to do, but here they played a pleasingly pivotal role.

Ryan (Tosin Cole) lobbed a bomb at the Cybermen, exclaiming “In the hoop!” when it hit its target. Graham (Bradley Walsh) made a poignant speech to Yaz (Mandip Gill) about her impressive pluck: “You’re doing your family proud. In fact, you’re doing the whole human race proud.” She couldn’t return the compliment, phlegmatically explaining: “Mate, I’m from Yorkshire.”

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分This seemed to be setting us up for one of them to die – or at least be converted into a Cyberman. There had been rumours that all three companions wouldn’t make it to the end of the series alive, but they lived to fight another day. Or at least repeatedly run down corridors while sparks fly.

Credit: BBC

Bradley Walsh got to flex his comedy chops in flashes and remains the most endearing of the sidekick trio. After he and Yaz disguised themselves as Cybermen to escape, he got momentarily stuck in his armour, squawking in panic: “I can’t get this hat off!”

A2020欧洲杯足球即时比分ll wolfish grins and scenery-chewing speeches, Dhawan delivered some witty one-liners, including a riff on BBC stablemate The Apprentice. “I deserve to be your business partner because I’ve performed well in all the tasks,” he told the nonplussed Cyber leader. “You’re fired!” was the answer this deserved.

After a series dominated by Earth-bound adventures (blame BBC budgets), this was space opera on a sweeping scale. It felt like classic Who again, with high stakes, doomed spaceships and Cyber armies on the march. It packed so much into its extended running time that 70 minutes felt like longer.

Bradley Walsh and Mandip Gill Credit: BBC

A wobbly start to this year’s run had raised fears about the future of the sci-fi franchise, but the stories grew in stature during the home stretch. Clumsy PC preaching and muddled plots were put aside in favour of old-fashioned romps. Showrunner Chris Chibnall seemed to loosen the reins and remember why he (and we) fell in love with Doctor Who in the first place. In the process, the show rediscovered its capacity for flair and scares.

This was another exciting and ambitious adventure, if a frequently baffling one. The Timeless Child reveal felt gratuitously portentous rather than profound. The script became bogged down with jargon about death particles, Cyberium and memory matrices. Last week’s sub-plot about a bulletproof policeman in rural Ireland turned out to be a red herring. The Master created a race of indestructible Cyber-Timelord hybrids, but this development was rather rushed and they were too easily defeated, as was the villainous Lone Cyberman.

Mandip Gill as Yaz Credit: BBC

Throughout it all, there were fan-pleasing nods to the show’s history. We saw multiple Tardises with retro interiors and, for a change, functioning chameleon circuits (ie high-tech camouflage). Recently introduced incarnation Doctor Ruth (Jo Martin) popped up to give a vital pep talk. When the Doctor tapped into the power of her memories, a brief montage of her past faces and former foes whizzed past. Expect devotees to judiciously use the pause button to pore over the details.

There was still time for two late twists. Wise old wizard Ko Sharmus (Ian McElhinney, bringing twinkling gravitas to the role) nobly sacrificed himself in the Doctor’s place, telling her: “My journey ends here but the universe still needs you. So I suggest you run.” He promptly blew up the Master, his metallic henchmen and everything else on Gallifrey.

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Back in her own Tardis – “Hello mate,” she said, giving the dear old blue box an affectionate pat – the Doctor was just catching her breath when intergalactic police rhinos The Judoon materialised and sentenced her to life imprisonment. They unceremoniously zapped her to a high-security prison cell on what looked like a floating rock in space. “What?” was the episode’s last word. Well, quite.

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分A closing caption informed us that the Doctor will be back to battle her oldest enemy in a festive episode titled “Revolution of the Daleks”. A mere 10 months to wait. Just enough time to work out what was going on in this giddy rush of a finale. Timey-wimey and wibbly-wobbly indeed.

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