WiC Watches: Doctor Who season 12

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BBC Studios/BBC America

Episode 1201: “Spyfall, Part 1”

Doctor Who meets James Bond in the series’ season 12 premiere, and boy, was it one hell of an episode. I can’t think of a better way to start a new year and a new decade. Classic Who fans will be very satisfied with what the season 12 premiere had to offer. Between the James Bond references, the “Skyfall” song playing in the background, and the suited-up team, there was so much to adore and love about this episode.

The Doctor and her team are gearing up to get back together again when this episode kicks off, but are each greeted by mysterious men waiting to drive them to a mysterious location. What’s with all the secrecy? Well, first off, it brings us to Stephen Fry and the MI6. Fry’s character is full of questions involving some secret alien race.

This alien race is rather odd because it appears in human form but as a glowing, bright light. If you recall, we once saw the Cybermen presented in the same manner. Coincidence? I think not, but we’ll have to wait it out to see what the connection could be here.

What’s peculiar about these aliens however is that they’re targeting only spies and somehow erasing and rewriting their DNA. What ties these spies together is that their common point of interest is a technology executive named Daniel Barton who owns this massive search engine company by the name of Vor.

This all makes for a rather great mystery, especially for a season premiere. I was engaged from the get-go, and I remained engaged through to the episode’s final moments. Season 12 already seems like a step up from season 11, which had all the right ingredients for a stellar season but fell short of expectations.

I think the Doctor Who team went all-in for this season, and it’s already beginning to show with just one episode, and we haven’t even talked about the big reveal yet!

Yaz and Ryan are sent off to learn more about Barton while Graham and the Doctor venture off to the Great Outback to meet up with a friend of the Doctor’s named O. She met him years back, but that’s about all we know. Oh, and that they’ve been keeping in touch over WhatsApp.

After meeting this O character, I certainly had my doubts. Something felt off, but at the same time, it was hard to say if that feeling was warranted or not. Luckily, as we came to find out at the end of the episode, I was right to have my doubts.

As the Doctor and her companions infiltrate Barton’s fancy birthday party, they channel their inner James Bonds to figure out who the heck Barton really is. All we know is that he’s only 93% human and he’s in cahoots with these bright aliens.

The chase soon takes the group to Barton’s plane, where the episode truly takes flight (ha!). As they all run towards the plane, the Doctor catches O in a lie when he claims that he’s not a sprinter. He is very much a sprinter; it says so in his MI6 file.

And it’s at this moment that the episode falls into place. O isn’t who he says he is. In fact, he’s not O at all; he’s…THE MASTER. That’s right, Whovians, The Master from Gallifrey. Does this mean the Doctor has been communicating with the Master this entire time? Yup, most likely, because O became The Master’s victim on his very first day at MI6. Talk about your long con.

The episode was working up to this reveal the whole time. For example, the Doctor refers to O as her old mate, despite having only met him once. Also, O/The Master was eager to show Graham just how little he knew about the Doctor. He even showed off his collection of books about the Doctor. Isn’t that classic Master behavior? I’d say so.

Sacha Dawan does a phenomenal job here revealing that he is the Master. A devious grin overtakes his facial expressions in a way that was quite frightening.

In the midst of this big twist, we find out that Barton isn’t on the plane, there’s a sonic-proof bomb on it (the sonic screwdriver is useless here), and the Master manages to disappear just moments before the plane is about to crash.

In the episode’s final moments, the Doctor finds herself in another realm, likely one belonging to the alien race, and the one that Yaz was whisked away to earlier in the episode. It’s a rather gloomy place, one that feels devoid of any emotions at all. It’s no wonder Yaz returns so disturbed!

And as for what happened to the real O, well, the Master shrunk him down and put him away in a matchbox. If you’re a classic Doctor Who fan, then you’ve seen the O.G. Master pull this trick many times.

I think all of us have many, many questions after this episode, and luckily, we don’t have to wait very long to get some answers. What happens to the companions? How will the Doctor get out of this unknown realm? And what the heck is this alien race?! “Spyfall, Part 2” airs on Sunday.

All in all, the Doctor Who season 12 premiere was awesome and had everything we’ve come to associate with this franchise. It’s been a long time since we’ve had such an epic reveal, and I think it’s one we’ll remember.