What I Like About Who: No. 3

This is the third column in a weekly series from Rob Hull, Figures and More. Check back Mondays for a weekly journey through time and space, or read all of our adventures here

The Thirteenth Doctor is nearly here, and it seems only appropriate to spend the last column before her arrival revisiting the end of the era of the Twelfth Doctor. Let’s travel back in time and recap Doctor Who Season 10—Peter Capaldi’s final series as the Twelfth Doctor—and the Christmas Special Twice Upon a Time, which featured the Twelfth Doctor’s Regeneration into the Thirteenth Doctor.

Episode 1 – The PilotBill Potts (Pearl Mackie), enters the show as the second black companion in Doctor Who history, and the first openly gay one. Bill meets the Doctor and Nardole at the University where she works. After an encounter with a puddle of living water, the Doctor takes Bill on her first adventure, to discover the true nature of the living water and in the process we meet Heather, who will become very important later on….just you wait and see. In the end, the Doctor offers Bill the companion job, and she accepts. Also, the mysterious vault is introduced. Again, later.

Episode 2 – Smile – Bill’s first trip to the future lands her on a colony planet where robots communicate by emoji and sentient nanobots built the colony. When a sinister secret is discovered, it’s revealed that the emojibots were never programmed to understand grief. The Doctor saves the day and reboots the program.

Episode 3 – Thin Ice – Bill’s first trip to the past lands her and the Doctor at a frost fair on the Thames, where an evil Lord is using a creature in the Thames to drag people under the ice.

Episode 4 – Knock Knock – Bill and five students sign a lease with a mysterious Landlord to live in his manor house. After students start disappearing, the Doctor gets involved and uncovers the landlord’s terrible secret.

Episode 5 – Oxygen – Nardole accompanies the Doctor and Bill to a space station to answer a distress call. On this station, spacesuit helmets provide the only source of Oxygen, but they are controlled by a corporation who charges for their use, which results in the death of most of the crew. When Bill’s suit malfunctions, the Doctor gives her his helmet, exposing him to the vacuum of space. This blinds the Doctor. After forcing the corporation to give up the remaining suits’ oxygen, the Doctor reveals at the end of the episode that despite the promise of treatment, he is still blind.

Episode 6 – Extremis – This is part one of a three-part story. We finally find out who’s in the vault, and, lo and behold, it’s MISSY! It seems the Doctor saved her from execution a long time ago, and promised to guard her for 1,000 years. Meanwhile, the Pope (yes, THAT Pope) arrives at Bill’s flat looking for the Doctor. It seems he needs the Doctor to translate a book called the Veritas, because everyone else who has read it has committed suicide. So, it’s off to the Vatican they go. The Doctor uses Time Lord technology to read the Veritas, while Nardole and Bill discover mysterious portals that lead to other locations, such as the Pentagon. The Doctor discovers an alien threat, and it is revealed that they are all part of an elaborate simulation designed to mask an invasion, information the simulated Doctor is able to send to the real one.

Episode 7 – The Pyramid at the End of the World – Part two. When a pyramid appears in a desert out of nowhere, the Doctor is called in. He discovers the Monks, who warn that they have foreseen a catastrophe and can save humanity, if they will submit to their rule. The danger comes from a biological lab accident that releases deadly bacteria. The Doctor finds the lab and decides to blow it up, but due to his blindness, he cannot operate the lock to escape. In order to save the Doctor, Bill surrenders to the Monks on behalf of the planet.

Episode 8 – The Lie of the Land – Part three! The Monks now rule the planet, but Bill, Nardole, and the Doctor know the truth. The Doctor seeks advice from Missy, who reveals that Bill is the key. If she dies, the link will be broken. The Doctor looks for another way, invading the pyramid, but fails to break the link. Bill herself breaks the link, using her memories of her mother. In the vault, Missy expresses regret for her past, leading the Doctor to wonder if she can be redeemed.

Episode 9 – The Empress of Mars – The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole go to Mars and discover Victorian soldiers. They also discover a dormant colony of Ice Warriors and their empress Iraxxa. The Doctor must present a massacre by cooling tensions between the two factions, even as an overly ambitious captain stokes the flames. Also, Nardole must turn to Missy for help when the TARDIS won’t return to Mars.

Episode 10 – The Eaters of Light – The Doctor and Bill—disagreeing about the fate of the Ninth Legion of the Imperial Roman army—travel in the TARDIS to the 2nd century in Scotland. They discover a creature, drawn to any light source, menacing both the Ninth Legion and a native tribe of Pict. The Picts and the Ninth Legion sacrifice themselves to trap the creature. The Doctor is surprised to find Missy waiting in the TARDIS for them to return. The Doctor tells her he hopes she will turn good.

Episode 11 – World Enough and Time – This is part one of the two-part season finale. To test Missy, the Doctor lets her, Bill, and Nardole answer a distress call. They discover they are on a colony ship reversing away from a black hole. After Bill is shot, she awakens in a hospital with a replacement heart, cared for by a mysterious figure called Razor. The Doctor discovers that time at the top of the ship moves slower than time at the bottom. Investigating further, Missy discovers that the ship is from the planet Mondas. Razor finds Missy and introduces himself to her as The Master, her previous incarnation. The Doctor is trapped by both Masters as it is revealed that Bill has been converted into a Cyberman.

Episode 12 – The Doctor Falls – The Doctor and Bill escape to a higher floor, and the Doctor tries to comfort Bill, who has retained her humanity despite the conversion. He discovers survivors posing as villagers. He attempts to persuade Missy and the Master to help fight off the Cybermen. The Master refuses, but Missy seems conflicted. The Doctor orders Nardole to take the villagers to another floor, while he sacrifices himself to save them. Bill decides to stay with him. The Master and Missy have a difference of opinion which leads to her stabbing him and, in what can only be described as poetic justice, him shooting her in the back, preventing her regeneration. Meanwhile, the Doctor manages to blow up all of the Cybermen, but not before being gravely wounded. His body is taken to the TARDIS by Bill and Heather (Remember? The girl who made out of “water” from Episode 1? I told you she’d be important.). Heather turns Bill into the same species as her, reversing the Cyberman conversion. As Bill and Heather leave to see the universe, The Doctor awakens and begins the regeneration process. But, the Doctor refuses to change as the TARDIS lands at the South Pole. As the Doctor leaves the TARDIS, again stopping the regeneration process, he encounters the First Doctor, who is also refusing to regenerate.

Christmas Special – Twice Upon a TIme – The Twelfth Doctor and the First Doctor meet at the South Pole, each of them refusing the regenerate. They are met by a displaced Army Captain, and taken to a spaceship where the Doctor meets Bill again, but is immediately skeptical. The Doctors and Bill investigate the mystery of the Captain’s identity, traveling to a planet where the Twelfth Doctor meets with Rusty (The “good” Dalek from Into the Dalek). They discover the aliens are called Testimony and they are a memory archive. They were returning the Captain to his time, when the Doctors’ arrival caused a malfunction. The Bill that the Doctors have encountered is a duplicate with all of the real Bill’s memories. The Doctors agree to return the Captain to his time, which happens to be just before the “Christmas truce” during World War I. As the Doctors watch the truce play out, the First Doctor announces that he is ready, and leaves to regenerate. As “Bill” says goodbye to the Doctor, she gives him a going away present by restoring his memories of Clara. The Twelfth Doctor returns to the TARDIS and decides to regenerate. The regeneration energy fades, and the Thirteenth Doctor makes her first appearance. And then, the TARDIS Console Room EXPLODES. The TARDIS ejects the Doctor, and as it dematerializes, the Console Room in flames, she is seen falling to Earth.

And, that’s where we stand. What kind of landing will the Thirteenth Doctor have? It won’t be long now until we find out.


  • Peter Capaldi selected his own jumpers for the Doctor. He went into a shop, saw them, and bought them. Since they were to be used in the show, the BBC Costume Department had to go to the store and buy multiples of each one. And they weren’t cheap.
  • The Doctor playing guitar is not just for the sake of the story. Peter Capaldi plays the guitar in real life, and it was really him playing when the Doctor plays guitar in the show.
  • Bill Potts was Pearl Mackie’s first TV role. She previously played the lead in the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.
  • World Enough and Time/ The Doctor Falls is the first-ever televised multi-Master story.
  • John Simm’s Master was last seen in David Tennant’s final episode The End of Time.
  • There are similarities between the Twelfth Doctor’s regeneration and some of the prior ones. Like the Tenth Doctor’s, the Twelfth Doctor’s regeneration is very violent, and it causes the explosion of the TARDIS Console Room. And, like the Eleventh Doctor, the Twelfth Doctor sees his first companion, in this case, Clara, before he regenerates. Also the scene in which the Twelfth Doctor’s ring falls to the floor is reminiscent of the scene where the Eleventh Doctor takes off and drops his bow tie before his regeneration.

About the author

Rob Hull

Rob Hull

Rob Hull is a huge geek and a massive Whovian. He can recognize different components on the TARDIS console, and has an impressive collection of Sonic Screwdrivers. When not traveling through time and space, he can be found creating contact for his own site Figures and More, and recording his podcast, Geeks4Ever.