The Doctor Falls
Written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay. Guest star: Michelle Gomez
“Without hope, without witness, without reward.”
The Mondasian Cybermen are on the rise. It’s time for the Doctor’s final battle…
The episode opens to a group of farmers on Floor 0507 facing against the prototypes from Floor 1056, shooting them down by night to then restrain on wooden crosses by day. A school child is out in the field one morning when a shuttlepod blasts through the ground. From the rubble, a Cyberman walks out carrying an unconscious Doctor.
Sometime earlier, the Doctor awakes on top of the hospital, soon recalling how he was subdued by Missy and the Master. The Doctor, now restrained in a wheelchair, watches the two incarnations of the Master taunt him on the many deaths the Doctor has had and wanting to find out new ways to kill him. The Master and Missy dance and flirt with each other and gloat of their plan of the Cybermen converting all the humans on the ship. However the Master is stunned to find that the Cybermen are heading towards the building that they are perched on. The Doctor explains that when he was knocked down by Missy, he altered the signal of the Cybermen so they would convert two-hearted beings as well, hence why they are now focusing on the Time Lord’s presence. The Masters panic, Missy frantically using her sonic umbrella to lock a metal door to hold back advancing Cybermen while the Master uses his laser screwdriver to destroy advancing Cybermen. The Doctor brags that he is the only one who is has able to stop so many Cybermen at once. Realising this, a conflicted Missy knocks the Master out and frees the Doctor from his restraints. The Doctor starts wondering which side she is on to which she admits her indecisiveness as she is confused and her other half is unconscious.
Nardole, who had commandeered a shuttlecraft, lands near the roof to help escape, but the Doctor is grabbed and electrified by a Cyberman before he boards. Bill, in her cyber form, intervenes, destroying the Cyberman with a blaster based on her head. Missy and the Master try to convince Nardole to abandon the Doctor, but Bill prevents the shuttle from leaving, grabbing the ladders until they rescue him.
They escape to a higher floor on the ship, where time moves slower. They find themselves on a solar farm, where some of the humans and a large number of children protect themselves from the early Cybermen prototypes from Operation Exodus. They spend two weeks there while the Doctor recovers from his injuries. Bill awakes, in the barn, unsure why the villagers are scared on her. When given a mirror by a child, she becomes horrified to discover she was converted into a Cyberman. The girl goes to run but bumps into the Doctor who thanks her for being kind to Bill, offering her a jelly baby as she leaves. The Doctor has somewhat recovered from his injuries, though he still ha a scar from where he was hit by the Master.
Trying to console Bill, she gradually realizes that though she thinks she is human, she is still a Mondasian Cyberman in appearance, created by a perception filter, according to the Doctor. She grows angry, the Doctor backing away as Bill accidentally triggers the blaster on her head, igniting the door on the barn, causing an explosion. Nardole, who has been preparing the town for the oncoming Cybermen, passively tells the farmers not to worry.
Bill sheds a tear when she realizes the humans are frightened of her, and the Doctor wipes it away, noting it unusual. The Master tells the Doctor that he and Missy have been working on something, and pauses briefly to mock Bill, chastising the Doctor for still referring to her as a female and taunts how he hated the time he had to spend with Bill as “Razor”. He stops because Bill claims he is not upsetting her, though she cries beneath her mask when he leaves. The Doctor finds it odd she is still able to shed tears. While traversing after the Master, the Doctor struggles to walk, limping heavily. He briefly stumbles against a tree, regeneration energy attempting to trickle from his hand. Wanting to not worry Bill, he draws up a stick and carries onward but Bill is still distraught that the Doctor can’t fix her current condition, the Doctor remarking there is still hope as she is strangely able to cry.
They soon reach the middle of a forest where Missy has discovered a camouflaged lift in the nearby forest, which she suggests they can escape to the bridge, using her sonic umbrella to call it. However, the Doctor declares that there will no doubt be a Cyberman in the lift waiting to find their floor, as the lift was taken to the bottom by them previously. Understanding this, Bill orders them to stand aside, the Doctor convincing the two Masters to do so. The three Time Lords prepare behind Bill, drawing their respective devices. As guessed, the lift brings up an advanced Cyberman from the lower floor, Bill speedily firing on it with her cyber blaster, the Master following likewise with his laser screwdriver as the Doctor and Missy use their sonic devices to slow its advance with a barrier. After several seconds, they disable it.
The Doctor warns that (through the Cybernet) they will now have much more time to plan, given they now know what floor they reside on, so they must prepare for a battle. While Nardole discovers that the floor below this one has many fuel pipes that he can detonate as weaponry against the Cybermen, the Doctor finds a conduit to another solar on a higher floor that can be used to evacuate the children, knowing this is a fight they will likely lose. The Master and Missy decide to leave and plan to find the Master’s TARDIS at the lowest floor. The Doctor runs after the two Masters, pleading for them to be by his side to help, as doing so would just be kind. The Master ridicules the idea, saying that he didn’t listen to a word the Doctor said. However Missy was somewhat moved by the Doctor’s speech. However she sides with her predecessor.
At the lift, Missy tricks the Master into dancing with her and fatally stabs him, forcing his next regeneration. She announces she will return to help the Doctor, but when she turns her back, he fires his laser screwdriver at full blast, also fatally wounding her and disabling her regeneration. The Master comments that it is the perfect ending, with them both shooting themselves in the back. They both laugh as they die; the Master descends in the lift as Missy seemingly dies from the blast.
An initial wave of Cybermen arrive, but using Nardole’s tricks with the explosives, they are able to make the humans appear more powerful, forcing the Cybermen to retreat and develop a new plan, giving the humans more time. Against Nardole’s protests, the Doctor downloads the plans for the floor into his sonic screwdriver and sends him to help evacuate the children, intending to stay alone to fight the Cybermen. Nardole resists, the pair arguing over who really should die, the Doctor eventually convincing him helping the children will be his penance for his crimes he committed before meeting him. Bill also insists on staying with the Doctor despite Nardole trying to tell her otherwise. With all the humans evacuated, the Doctor ignites all the pipes below the floor, engulfing it all in a wave of destruction. All the Cybermen are killed, but the Doctor is severally wounded. Bill, still as a Cyberman, comes to mourn over the Doctor’s body, but suddenly she finds herself out of the Cyberman suit, seemingly human, thanks to Heather (from The Pilot) who found her by her tear and restored her to be like she is now. They take to the Doctor’s body to the TARDIS, and Heather, as the Pilot, directs the TARDIS to a new location, while offering Bill to live out a different life, and Bill accepts. Before leaving, Bill sheds a tear on the Doctor, but does not wipe it away, saying “Where there’s tears, there’s hope.”
The TARDIS lands in an icy location, which turns out to be Antarctica. The Doctor wakes up and starts regenerating. He tries fighting it off, in his confusion he starts recalling the last words of some of his previous incarnations. He also hallucinates several of his past companions. He controls the regeneration, angrily stating that he does not want to change again, hating the fact he becomes someone else. He steps outside into the snow and yet again his regeneration starts. The Doctor screams no and stops the regeneration by shoving his fists into the snow, again stating he will not change. Suddenly in the distance he hears a voice mocking his words. The stranger asks for the Doctor’s identity. The stranger states that while the Doctor may be a Doctor, he “is the Doctor, the original you may say”. Much to the Doctor’s shock and surprise the stranger is revealed to be his own first incarnation, also about to regenerate.