The Power of the Doctor

The Power of the Doctor: Not So Power After All

Dept. of Whovian Harangues


So, here we are. After three average-ish seasons, and two very questionable specials, Jodie Whittaker’s time as the Thirteenth Doctor has finally come to a close with this last and extremely significant special. Needless to say, her tenure as the Doctor has been shaky and controversial, and The Power of the Doctor… ah screw it… this was not the regeneration episode Jodie deserved.

I’m going to skip past trying to explain what this episode is simply because I’m still unsure what actually happened. The Power of the Doctor hits the ground running in a way that left me incredibly confused. Did I miss an episode? Did I miss a part of the story? Was there a speech I may have forgotten? Nope. That’s just how we’re starting this thing. And it doesn’t stop. The action just kept going, and going, and going, leaving me with no chance to catch my breath. Everything happened at such a frenetic pace that it was over before I could process anything that had happened.

I think I speak for most Whovians when I say that regeneration episodes are something we hold close to our hearts. It’s a time for us to say goodbye to our favourite faces and have a moment to reflect on the entire journey we’ve had with that particular iteration of The Doctor. It’s an event that is bound to make us smile, fill our hearts with joy, and ultimately break us. But after the disaster that was the last two specials, I was incredibly worried. And after watching this, I had every right to be. This is everything I could have expected, and not in a good way. This was not a regeneration episode. This is at best, Chris Chibnall’s mediocre attempt at making his own 60th anniversary special.

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

The Power of the Doctor

This finale was slightly better than the last two specials, but not by much. Ever since the first season was unleashed upon the Whoniverse, many, many questions were thrust upon us, with the hope they might eventually get answered. Bad news, they don’t. There was no way they could have ever wrapped any of her arcs in just 90 minutes. It’s almost like they didn’t have twelve other regenerations to study and work towards… oh wait… they did! So how did they get this all so wrong? I guess that’s another question that will remain unanswered.

To give Chibnal some credit, The Power of the Doctor did have some (a few) fun moments. We got some old friends back, some familiar faces, and some extra groovy dancing. But other than that, all we were left with was an utter mess of a story that failed to tie up any of the loose ends that have been scattered over the last four years. Timeless Child? Tim Shaw? That random Jack Harkness type fella from the first season who swore to us we hadn’t seen the last of him? Nope. None of them ever returned. What about the last two specials? None of them even remotely tie into this episode. Not even the whole (and totally unearned) Doctor/Yaz shipping.


The Power of the Doctor

Speaking of The Doctor and Yaz, I get what they were trying to do, but it was all just a little too late. Now I’m not against The Doctor and a companion having a little bit of a love connection. Rose Tyler, Clara Oswald, and Amy Pond all had little dreamy moments with The Doctor, so having some sort of a romance arc was never off the table. The difference with them was that their journey was evident throughout their time as companions. They built it up so that when the finale did come, the showrunners could break our hearts by giving The Doctor a more personal and intimate end.

Yaz’s inkling of “liking” The Doctor only came about in the first special… THAT CAME OUT THIS YEAR. When it happened, I found myself screaming at the screen, “THIS ISN’T NEEDED!” It could have worked, given more time. Hell, it could have even been great. But that’s not what we got. Instead, we got some mess of a pseudo-romance that was totally unearned and honestly felt as if Chibnall was trying to shoehorn yet another storyline in order to incite some sort of an emotional response from the audience. It didn’t work. What’s worse, none of it is ever mentioned again in this special.

Extra credit has to be given to Sacha Dhawan and his portrayal of The Master. Not to downplay Michelle Gomez’s impeccable run as The Mistress, but I’ve missed the sheer insanity and playfulness of The Master. Dhawan truly pulled out all the stops with this finale. He was honestly such a joy to watch that, for a moment, I forgot how terrible the rest of this episode was. From manic chaos, to desperate pleading, Dhawan gave us a performance that John Simm would be proud of. If anything, I pray we get more of Dhawan’s Master in the future.

“Spoilers Sweetie”

The Power of the Doctor

Now I need to talk to you about the last 10 minutes of this special. So in the words of the great River Song, I must warn you… “Spoilers Sweetie.”

With each iteration of The Doctor, there is always some awareness, on some level, that their time is running out. And that’s what makes the finale so heartbreaking. We watch as The Doctor goes on their final adventure, knowing full well, this it will be their last. And so, as this episode went on, I was left wondering, “Does she not know? How could she not?” And even when The Master blatantly tells her that “The Doctor will be erased,” and begins to explain how he knows, that The Doctor knows, that he’s not lying, it still felt like she had no idea this was her last adventure.

That moment of realization does come. But it’s 10 minutes from the end of the episode. TEN FREAKING MINUTES. We barely had any time to process with what was going on. Which, again, was a massive setback to this entire story. No tears were shed. I was never given any time at all to emotionally connect with this Doctor. This is not the ending that Jodie deserved.

And don’t even get me started on that final line of hers. “Tag, you’re it!” Really Chibnall? REALLY??? With every final Doctor speech, there is this moment where you feel the character disappear, and the actor take over to bid their final goodbyes to the audience and their beloved Time Lord. This, unsurprisingly, did not happen with Jodie. And that’s the biggest disservice to Jodie herself. Throughout her entire tenure, she was never truly given a moment to deliver even one infamous Doctor speech.

I Bet It’s Going to Be Great

The Power of the Doctor

Anger was the first emotion I had towards The Power of the Doctor. But disappointment ended up prevailing. I hate that this will be the legacy that Whittaker leaves behind. She was a great fucking doctor. Screw the Internet trolls and toxic fanboys. Jodie wasn’t just a “female Doctor.” She was “The Doctor.” And she did the best she could given the mediocre material she was given. She’s not the one at fault here. Shoddy writing and piss poor planning was always the real problem.

I could go on and on at my many disappointments of this episode, and with the whole run in general, but at the end of the day, I’m relieved that Chibnall’s era is done. I’m ready for Russell T. Davies to take over and hopefully restore Doctor Who to its former glory. It’s going to be an uphill battle, but I have faith that we’re in for a fantastic ride.

So looking forward, I only have one word to say, which is now more apt than ever. Allons-y!!!

The Power of the Doctor is now streaming on BBC iPlayer.

Nick Dorian spent most of his childhood dreaming of being a plumber, mainly because he loved watching Super Mario go on adventures. When he heartbreakingly discovered actual plumbers don't go on great adventures in real life, he went on to sit in front of a TV or movie screen, watching more people go on adventures, and then talk to anybody around him about what he's seen, whether they liked it or not. Fast forward to today, he somehow managed to make watching movies and TV shows, and discussing them, an actual living. Which goes to show, dreams do come true. Except when you dream of being an Italian plumber who fights mushrooms and toads.

Acapulco Podcast
Previous Story

The Goggler Podcast #285: Acapulco, Season 2

The Peripheral
Next Story

The Goggler Podcast #286: The Peripheral

Latest from TV