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Recap / Doctor Who 2022 CEN The Power Of The Doctor

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After several TARDIS-crashing regenerations, 13 decided to step outside for a change.

"Oh, the blossomiest blossom..."
The Thirteenth Doctor, during the final moments of her lifetime.
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The one where Doctor Who celebrates Auntie's hundredth birthday with a cake, topped with candles, and baked by a mouth on legs. It's such a big deal, even the Doctor got dressed up in an old outfit for the occasion.


The episode starts with the Doctor, Yaz, and Dan receiving an emergency call from a space train owned by the Toraji Transport Network. When they arrived, they discover it's being attacked by CyberMasters, who are trying to capture what appears to be a little girl. Afterwards, Dan decides to leave the TARDIS because he decides adventures in space and time are too dangerous for him.


Tropes:

  • Action Insurance Gag: The new UNIT headquarters gets blown up, leading Kate to lament that she only just signed the lease.
  • Afterlife Antechamber: After her body undergoes a forced regeneration, the Thirteenth Doctor finds herself on a barren, surreal plateau. There, she meets vestiges of past incarnations, describing themselves as "guardians of the edge of existence."
    Fifth Doctor: This is the place you pass through during the process of regeneration. Go past here, there's no way back.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: While trapped in the invaded UNIT Base, Tegan is visited by the Hologram!Doctor, who has taken the form of the Fifth Doctor, assuring her that the Doctor remembers everything. Tegan snappily asks what being surrounded by all of these Cybermen reminds her of, with the Hologram Doctor sadly responding with "Adric". This instantly causes Tegan to rapidly deflate.
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  • Back for the Finale: Graham, Vinder, Ashad, the Spy Master and the Fugitive Doctor all return to close out both the Thirteenth Doctor's run and the end of the Chibnall era.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: When UNIT has captured the Master in his lecture hall, The Doctor demands that one of the soldiers give Yaz his sidearm so that there's that much more firepower covering him.
  • BBC Quarry: The Master has cyber-converted an entire planet. Funnily enough, the only bit that the Doctor sees looks like a quarry pit with a blue filter over everything.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The Master is revealed to have been (or at least impersonated) Grigori Rasputin. Either way, while it's not explicitly stated, the Master's alien technology and Gallifreyan physiology could easily be used to explain Rasputin's 'magical powers' and how he survived so many assassination attempts.
    • The script on the BBC website outright states that he is Rasputin because there's a deleted scene where he gets thrown into a bag by a Prince who historically did that.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Fugitive Doctor (or rather, a hologram AI of her) arrives just in time to distract the Master from committing a murder and assist with undoing his regeneration takeover of the Doctor.
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  • Big "WHAT?!": The Fourteenth Doctor can only react to the realization that he has retaken the form of his tenth incarnation by yelling three successively louder "WHAT?!"s.
  • Book Ends:
    • The Thirteenth Doctor's first and last appearances both feature David Bradley filling in for William Hartnell as the First Doctor. Also, her first and last full episodes both feature her dropping onto a moving train.
    • Both the Twelfth Doctor's regeneration into the Thirteenth Doctor and the Thirteenth Doctor's own regeneration are caused by something the Master did, which notably both involved the Cybermen. Likewise, the Master is last seen in both episodes blasting a Time Lady with a laser and eventually expiring themself.
  • Breaking Old Trends:
    • For the first time since the Ninth Doctor's regeneration, the Doctor manages to regenerate without blowing up or crashing the TARDIS.
    • The Doctor regenerates outside of the TARDIS for the first time since the Eighth Doctor's regeneration.
    • The Doctor regenerates into a previous incarnation's form for the first time rather than a new, previously-announced actor's form.
    • This is the first time that the Doctor's clothes changed during the regeneration since the very first one from William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton (unless you count the Fourth Doctor's footwear changing into the Fifth's).
    • For the first time in the main series since the TV movie, all the departing companions of the incumbent incarnation left on their own terms, without any of them being separated by outside forces.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Tegan and Ace, for the first time since "Resurrection of the Daleks" and "Survival" respectively. Likewise, they both are forced to deal with the Master again, who recognizes them.
    • The Master, for the first time since "The Timeless Children", with his henchman being a clone of Ashad, the Lone Cyberman, who last appeared in the same episode. The corpse of the original Ashad is also used to summon the clone and an army of Cybermen.
    • UNIT has been reestablished, with Kate Stewart at the head, since her last appearance in "The Vanquishers". Vinder also makes his first appearance since that episode, but without Bel, their child or Karvanista this time.
    • Graham, for the first time since "Revolution of the Daleks".
    • The First, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Doctors appear as visions to Thirteen after her forced regeneration.
    • The Fifth, Seventh, and Fugitive Doctors also appear as talking AI holograms.
    • Jo Grant, Mel Bush, and Ian Chesterton are among the members of Graham's society of former companions. For Mel, it's her first TV appearance since "Dragonfire"; for Jo, it's her first TV appearance since The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Death of the Doctor"; and for Ian it's his first since "The Chase", back in 1965, with a 57 year gap between appearances.note 
    • David Tennant as... The Fourteenth Doctor...
  • Call-Back:
  • The Cameo: At the ending of the episode Jo Jones (née Grant), Mel Bush and Ian Chesterton appear at the companion support group.
  • Character Aged with the Actor:
    • Tegan, Ace, Mel, and Ian all appear to have aged naturally in the time periods since they stopped travelling with the Doctor. Despite the rumor that Sarah Jane once told Clyde and Rani, Ian and (presumably) Barbara have not become The Ageless.
    • No explanation is given for why the mental and hologrammatic images of the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Doctors look much older than they did at the time of their canon regenerations.
    • Of course, the Fourteenth Doctor looks slightly older than the Tenth Doctor for this reason.
  • Chekhov's Gun: One that took almost a decade to fire: in "The Day of the Doctor", the Eleventh Doctor meets the Curator, who's heavily implied to be a future incarnation who regenerated back into Tom Baker, and is told that he'll find himself revisiting some of "the old favorites" in the coming years. Come this story, and the Thirteenth Doctor regenerates back into David Tennant, one of the most popular Doctors since Baker himself.
  • Complexity Addiction: The Master's infiltration of the Czar's palace as Rasputin, and indeed anything that he does specifically in 1916, seems to have no bearing on his plan beyond his dance number and because he can.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • UNIT's guns are loaded with gold bullets when fighting the Cybermen, nodding back to both the gold allergy introduced in "Revenge of the Cybermen" and a scene in "Battlefield" where the Brigadier explains how UNIT started investing in ammo specifically designed to combat the Doctor's foes. Unfortunately, these Cybermen are more advanced and totally immune to both the gold ''and'' the bullets.
    • When the Master takes over the Doctor's body, he assumes a costume including several iconic clothing items from past Doctors' costumes, including Four's scarf, Five's celery buttonhole, Seven's question-mark sweater, and Ten's tie. He even plays Two's recorder!
    • Both Tegan and Ace are shocked to see the Master again. The Master, when he sees Tegan, asks her how her Aunty Vanessa is doing, while Ace tells him that the last time she saw him he was half-cat.
    • The Master also got into plenty of scrapes with Bridgadier Lethbridge-Stewart, which leads him to spitefully tell Kate that her father was an idiot (getting punched in the face and shot in the back didn't help his opinion).
    • Ace retrieves her jacket, backpack, and baseball bat from a storage area in the new UNIT HQ.
    • The Dhawan Master continues the Simm and Gomez versions' enthusiasm for cheesy pop music, dancing to Boney M.'s "Rasputin".
    • To empathize with and comfort Tegan, the Fifth Doctor correctly guesses her sadness was due to Adric's death and tells her "Brave heart".
    • The Master's plan centers on triggering a forced regeneration, and he mentions this having happened to the Doctor before.
    • The Master says he has "dressed for the occasion" before attempting to steal the Doctor's body. The scene of the body swap itself is even shot similarly to the TV Movie's climax and uses a similar face-switching visual effect as the Master takes over the Doctor's body.
    • Tegan, on receiving the shrunken corpse of the Lone Cyberman (which is supposedly a present from the Doctor), says that the Cybermen are "not a fond memory" as far as she's concerned, alluding to how they were responsible for Adric's death. The Fifth Doctor later consoles her over it when appearing via hologram.
    • This was not (or will not be?) the only time that the Daleks try to drill into the Earth.
    • The Master is convinced that a companion would never shoot him. A while back, he thought a companion was planning to shoot him, but it turned out to be a ruse.
    • An emergency hologram of the Doctor appears in the TARDIS again, as in "The Parting of the Ways", "Blink", and "Let's Kill Hitler".
    • At the end of the adventure, all the extra companions are dropped off in Croydon, which is where the Doctor (tried to) drop Sarah Jane Smith off when she left the TARDIS in "The Hand of Fear".
    • The Toraji Transport Network who operate the bullet train appears to be named after the Torajii sun fron Chris Chibnall's first televised Doctor Who story, "42".
    • The TARDIS' Cloister Bell rings to signal the Doctor's impending regeneration.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • This episode and Sophie Aldred's novel At Childhood's End are incompatible as both depict Ace meeting Thirteen, Yaz, and Graham for the first time. That said, At Childhood's End does acknowledge that Ace's personal timeline had multiple potential futures, including dying young in the comic story "Ground Zero".
    • The special also contradicts Tegan's fate in Big Finish's audio drama The Gathering, as she was in her mid-40s at the time of that drama, which took place in 2005, and was said to be suffering from a terminal illness. Here, she's in her early 60s and there's no mention of her ever having been ill, much less terminally ill. As for her being in a same-sex relationship with fellow companion Nyssa, as stated in the lockdown special "Farewell, Sarah Jane", this too is contradicted. Tegan is single when the events of "The Power of the Doctor" take place, but is said to have been married twice, both times to men.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Several characters, including ordinary humans Ace and Graham, travel into a volcano. There is running lava only a few feet away, but nobody spontaneously combusts.
  • Cool Train: The beginning of the episode features the CyberMasters attacking a passenger train in space. It's not the first time that the series has featured a space train, either.
  • Crazy-Prepared: UNIT have guns hidden in the floors of all their buildings, just in case it gets attacked. Doesn't do them any good, though. Ace also found them, and secretly hid her stuff there, which ends up being slightly more useful.
  • Double Take: Unsurprisingly, Ian is the one who shows the most visible surprise at the Doctor having become a woman.
  • Embarrassing First Name: The Master calls Ace "Dorothy" to get a rise out of her. In her debut story, "Dragonfire", Ace makes it clear that she considers Dorothy to be "a naff name".
  • Energy Being: The "cargo" from the space train turns out to be a jellyfish-like energy being that the Master imprisons and drains to power his Cyberplanet.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Daleks and the Cybermen are just as taken aback by the Master's spontaneous dancing as anyone, silently staring at each other in confusion.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Ace, having a lot of bi subtext already, is appreciative of her Professor's female regeneration.
  • Evil Costume Switch: After becoming the Doctor, the Master raids their closet and dresses up in a menagerie of incarnations' clothes, wearing the Tenth Doctor's shirt and tie, the Seventh Doctor's question mark pullover and tie, the Fourth Doctor's scarf, the Fifth Doctor's celery stick, and the Thirteenth Doctor's coat. He also has the Second Doctor's recorder. All of this is a clear mockery of the Doctor.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Master has always been this, but he's never taken this trope so literally before. He becomes an evil version of the Doctor.
  • Excuse Plot: Seemingly in-universe, everything occurring in 1916 seems to be the Master setting up his dance number.
  • Extra-Long Episode: The story clocks in at 87 minutes, making it the longest single episode of the Revival Series and the third-longest single episode in the show's history overall (behind the 89-minute TV movie and the 90-minute "The Five Doctors").
  • Eye Take: A Dalek and a Cyberman glance at each other in disbelief when the Master starts disco-dancing.
  • Flirting Under Fire: Ace and Graham take time to flirt while fighting Daleks inside an active volcano.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Ashad slaughters his way through UNIT troops with no difficulty whatsoever.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: The TARDIS' Cloister Bell rings when the Master forces the Doctor to undergo regeneration and again when her actual regeneration begins.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With:
    • The energy being that the Master captures from the space train initially appears to be a human child, making itself appear to be something that the viewer would consider vulnerable and in need of protection.
    • Tegan and Ace's holograms of the Doctor change from Thirteen to their respective Doctors, Five and Seven.
  • Genetic Memory: Appears to be taken to the extreme with the Master's clone of Ashad; not only does he have the same personality as the original, aside from newly added loyalty to the Master, but also the exact same makeshift cybernetic components.
  • Grand Theft Me: The Master uses a "forced regeneration" to take over the Doctor's body, intending to then discredit their memory forever by committing atrocities under their identity.
  • Handwave: Graham makes a return, but not Ryan (who is apparently also dealing with the various crises that the Master has unleashed, but in Patagonia).
  • Historical In-Joke: Rasputin reportedly had mind control powers and was very difficult to kill. The Master's presence seems to explain why.
  • Hope Spot: The day is saved, the Master thwarted. All the Doctor has to do is get back to the TARDIS and everything'll be fine... then the Master grabs her attention, keeping her still just long enough for the alien that she let loose to inadvertently blast her with enough energy to kill her.
  • I Just Want to Be You: The Master attempts to possess the Doctor and steal her identity (albeit with the same face that he had before). He even begs not to be forced to go back to being himself when this is reversed, and ultimately kills the Doctor because he's not allowed to be her.
  • Instant Costume Change: Thirteen's regeneration into Fourteen includes a full costume change which is notable since the show has previously established (including earlier in this episode) that it doesn't typically cause this.
  • Kick the Dog: The Master sneers to Kate that her father was an idiot and reminds Tegan that he killed her Aunt Vanessa, tauntingly asking if she keeps her shrunken corpse in a dollhouse.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The Doctor's complaint about being forced to regenerate into the Master instead of being allowed to regenerate naturally doubles as a comment about the role of regeneration episodes in the real world: "This is supposed to be handed over, you can't ruin it for the next one." The fact that Six says this is doubly significant, given that Colin Baker was fired and he declined coming back to "hand over" the role to Sylvester McCoy (who instead Fake Shemped as Six for the regeneration scene at the start of "Time and the Rani").
  • Lured Into a Trap: The Doctor is understandably dubious that a Dalek wants to turn on the other Daleks, and figures that it might be a trap. It is, but not the one that she thinks. The Dalek in question was genuinely trying to help, but the other Daleks knew they had turned on them, and were using them as bait to trap the Doctor.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: A Dalek, believing that the current plans of its species deviate too much from their purpose of protecting the Kaled race, betrays them and comes to the Doctor with information on how to wipe them out for good. The Doctor is naturally suspicious of its intentions, seeing as Daleks are Always Chaotic Evil, and is surprised when the betrayal turns out to be genuine... just in time for it to get exterminated by the other Daleks for said betrayal.
  • Mythology Gag: The Master dubs his plan to take over the Doctor's body "The Master's Dalek Plan".
  • Noodle Incident:
    • How Ace and the Seventh Doctor departed is only mildly alluded to, since her departure was never squared away in the televised canon and has received contradictory answers through the Expanded Universe. All that's stated is that she and the Doctor had a serious ethical disagreement that led her to leave and that she's regretted it ever since, which echoes how she departed (temporarily, before coming back as her "New Ace" characterization) in the Doctor Who New Adventures continuity.
    • Tegan mentions that she's "seen off" two husbands and has an adopted son, but we aren't given any details about how her marriages ended (the wording can mean her husbands both passed away, but Janet Fielding referred to divorces in an interview), nor the circumstances of her son's adoption.
    • Apparently Mel at some point returned to present-day Earth after travelling with Sabalom Glitz.
    • Tegan and Ace already know each other by the start of the episode, well enough to keep each other updated on their separate investigations into missing seismologists and paintings.
  • Not What I Signed on For: Dan previously set up plans to go on a date, and put off his plans to keep exploring with the Doctor. When he almost gets shot in the face, the scare rattles him enough to reconsider his priorities, leave the TARDIS and resume his normal life.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Thirteen thinks the Master is so dangerous that she tells Yaz to get a gun. The Master himself is suspicious of this.
  • Other Me Annoys Me: Thirteen's visions of her past selves all wear Gallifreyan robes, except for...
    Thirteenth Doctor: Sorry, why are you not wearing...
    Eighth Doctor: I don't do robes.
    Seventh Doctor: (rolls his eyes) There's always one. Has to be "different".
    Eighth Doctor: I am a manifestation of our consciousness. I can wear what I like.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: In one of the ads for the episode, Yaz is shown holding the mortally wounded Doctor in her arms.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Dan decides to leave the crew near the beginning of the episode, having been spooked by the Near-Death Experience that he underwent whilst on the passenger train.
    • Thirteen drops Yaz back home for good just before she regenerates, although they do have a final moment together.
  • Quotes Fit for a Trailer: The teaser for the specials starring the new David Tennant Doctor ends with Ncuti Gatwa, quite understandably, asking "Could someone tell me what the hell is going on here?"
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Ian Chesterton appears alone without his wife and fellow companion Barbara Wright, due to her actress Jacqueline Hill having passed away in 1993.
    • Russell T. Davies remarked in an interview that the Doctor's costume changed into a gender-appropriate wardrobe during the regeneration sequence because of the UK's rise in mainstream transphobia since the late 2010s; consequently, Davies felt that putting David Tennant in Jodie Whittaker's outfit would be interpreted by the press as him mocking Doctor Who. Ultimately, this is also a Double Standard, because Whittaker got to wear Peter Capaldi's outfit since a cisgender woman could be seen in it without raising much alarm.note 
  • Ret-Canon: The scene between Ace and the hologrammatic Seventh Doctor in the Daleks' cavern indicates, without describing the details, that she stopped travelling with him after a serious ethical disagreement between them. This echoes her first, temporary, departure in the Doctor Who New Adventures continuity.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Subverted in regards to how Mel got back to Earth after the events of Dragonfire, as she was last seen leaving with Sabalom Glitz in the far future. Expanded Universe material such as books and audios gave different explanations, but all show that she eventually met the Doctor and Ace again before returning home.
  • Series Fauxnale: The future of Doctor Who was in doubt at the time of Chris Chibnall's exit as showrunner, with no confirmed successor or direction in place, so this was written under the impression it might be the last Doctor Who story in the event of a potential third hiatus. It shows, tying up not only many of Thirteen's loose ends, but also connecting more of the modern series to the classic era and providing closure for Doctor and companion arcs dating back to the 1980s, as well as bringing back many fan favourite companions (including one from the very first episode) and giving them one last day in the limelight, with the episode itself originally rolling the credits before the Doctor's regeneration finished. Eventually, Russell T. Davies was announced to be returning as showrunner and the series would continue on well beyond this point for the foreseeable future.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Master's TARDIS assumes the form of a police box identical to the Thirteenth Doctor's, but with the usual writing on the phone compartment door replaced by deranged laughter. This is highly reminiscent of the way the Joker has defaced various items in Batman comics and other artwork during the 21st century.
    • When Ace retrieves her baseball bat, she jokingly claims that Beyoncé copied her moves, a nod to the musician wielding a baseball bat in the music video for "Hold Up".
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Cybermen. Not just with the return of the CyberMasters, who can regenerate and stand right back up after being killed, but even the regular Cybermen reveal that they've evolved and adapted past their historical weakness to gold. Even being delivered in the form of bullets doesn't seem to faze them much.
  • Trash the Set: Outright Defied. Instead of regenerating within the TARDIS, the Doctor steps outside to take in "one last sunrise" before she regenerates.
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: By the end of the episode, Graham has set up a support group for all the Doctor's "contemporary-Earth" companions.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Par for the course, there's no explanation of how the Master survived being right next to an explosion that was supposed to destroy all of what little life remained on Gallifrey. Of course, even that episode implied he escaped and he was likely within running distance of a TARDIS.
  • Unflinching Walk: Yaz is unfazed by the crumbling planet as she carries the Doctor to safety.
  • Villain Team-Up: The Master works together with the Daleks and the Cybermen as part of a plot to erase the Doctor from existence and kill humanity.
  • Wham Episode: The Thirteenth Doctor regenerates into.. David Tennant?!
  • Wham Line: "I know these teeth..." (rapidly checks self in shock) "What?" "What?!" "What!"
  • Wham Shot:
    • The Thirteenth Doctor wakes up in a void and meets someone in Gallifreyan robes. The camera pans up to reveal... the First Doctor (as played by David Bradley)!
    • As the Doctor has her big regeneration scene, the energy fades. And standing there is... David Tennant, who looks as shocked as the audience is, because he's had this face before!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It is unclear how the Master masquerading as Rasputin affected the real one. It is unlikely that Rasputin was subject to Kill and Replace, considering his infamous death in December 1916 (though the script implied he was the real Rasputin and barely survived the execution). Similarly, the clean-shaven Master in UNIT custody simply vanishes from the plot (though it's implied he travels back in time to become the Rasputin Master).
  • While Rome Burns: After Yaz takes the TARDIS and does a runner, leaving the Master stranded on an asteroid, he calmly sits down and pulls out the Second Doctor's recorder, playing it while the two planets that he's just ruined burn in front of him.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The Master claims that a companion of the Doctor's would never shoot people. Clearly, he's forgotten Leela and Captain Jack (and Vinder isn't a companion, anyway).
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: The Master drops this almost verbatim when Vinder has his gun on him, reasoning that the Doctor wouldn't have a companion who would go around shooting people. One laser in the shoulder later, and Vinder helpfully informs him that he's not a companion.

 
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The 13th Doctor Regenerates

Soon after being mortally wounded by the Master, the Thirteenth Doctor proceeds to regenerate into her fourteenth incarnation, played by David Tennant, who was previously the Tenth Doctor. The Fourteenth Doctor can only react with utter confusion as he slowly recognizes his old incarnation.

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