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YMMV / Doctor Who S36 E12 "The Doctor Falls"

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  • Author's Saving Throw: The Twelfth Doctor mentions how Cybermen always show up wherever humanity and humanoids in general go — "parallel evolution" he calls it, which not only means that the Big Finish Cybermen origin story "Spare Parts" is still canon, but also amends the gigantic continuity error that was the Expanded Universe comic "The World Shapers" (in which the Cybermen are depicted as originating from the Voord on Marinus).
    • Also, if you wonder how Mondasian Cybermen can look like Cybus Cybermen (in episodes like Closing Time, where Word of God declared unaltered new series Cybermen to actually be the Mondasian ones; Steven Moffat wanted to use the originals but the budget to make a bunch of old-school Cyberman costumes wasn't there, but that left us without an In-Universe explanation.) This episode sheds light on it - apparently, Cybermen originate in way more than just two places and usually end up looking quite similar; every origin will create every variant given enough time. This explains pretty much any instance of any sort of Cybermen being where they're not supposed to throughout the series in any era.
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    • And, of course, if that still isn't good enough for an old-school Cyber-fan, say hello to every variant ever seen!
  • Broken Base: Bill coming Back from Inevitable Death due to Heather converting her into the same ship fuel like the latter, and heading off to new adventures. It also includes the possibility of Heather restoring Bill back to human form when she wants to leave, meaning her foster mother, friends, etc. don't have to become a case of What Happened to the Mouse? The reactions from the viewers?
    • One group felt this is the happiest ending a companion could ever get, and that it was well deserved after all the heavy shit she went through. Also, it subverted Stuffed into the Fridge and avoided Bury Your Gays, which both would have been played straight had she died.
    • One group wished she remained a Cyberman and from there died, and hate this ending due to all its lost gravitas, seeing it as further proof that Moffat cannot kill off major characters.
    • One group liked that Bill left the TARDIS happy, but felt that the means of her restoration and departure were 1) a copy of Clara Oswald's ending the previous season, and 2) a Deus ex Machina since Heather hadn't been brought up by anyone since "The Pilot" and had to have New Powers as the Plot Demands (specifically regaining her original identity and mastering her Pilot abilities) to save Bill.
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    • There's also debate as to whether this was a fitting sendoff for Bill with regards to her Character Development over Series 10. As discussed at the Regeneration Who 4 convention in Baltimore, MD in 2018, in "World Enough and Time" she's a plot device to get the Doctor and company to the other end of the colony ship, and has virtually no agency beyond her decision to help the Doctor with his test for Missy at the beginning. In this episode she has to hold back on fully expressing her agony due to You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry and though she does choose to help the Doctor trap and destroy the other Cybermen, she clearly doesn't have better options besides a Heroic Sacrifice since the Doctor can't restore her original form under the circumstances and she will eventually succumb to the Cyber hive mind. Finally, her choice to leave the seemingly dead Doctor and travel with Heather isn't fully informed because she never was shown to truly understand the concept of regeneration. If she'd known he would come to in a new form, would she have stayed? Some of this could have been discussed in "Twice Upon a Time", but the Bill in that story isn't the Bill of this one. All this, along with the fact that Bill never had a true Character Focus episode (the closest, "The Lie of the Land", is hamstrung by the Doctor and Nardole's out-of-character manipulation of her) reflects the unfortunate situation that Bill was a one-season-and-done companion who happened to come along just as the Twelfth Doctor's Myth Arc with Missy was being wrapped up, meaning Bill and the Doctor's personal denouement couldn't be central to the Season Finale as it usually is for departing companions.
  • Fanfic Fuel:
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    • Bill embarks on a new series of adventures with Heather, much like Clara and Me from the previous season, which opens the possibility of them encountering each other.
    • Also, the popular Who fanfic subgenre of the Twelfth Doctor regaining his memories of Clara Oswald was given an extra boost by her appearance in the Continuity Cavalcade montage of past companions in the denouement, suggesting that he now remembers her. While Twelve had only one more official story and it starts precisely where "The Doctor Falls" leaves off, the almost six-month gap between the two episodes left a lot of room for fanfic writers to brainstorm ideas for where that story would go, or just to imagine reunions for a future Doctor and Clara down the line.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: The return of the First Doctor, who is played by David Bradley. Bradley played William Hartnell, the actor who originally portrayed the First Doctor, in the 50th Anniversary Docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time, which chronicled the creation and very first years of the show back in The '60s.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The Master and the Doctor's exchange about the future being "all girl" is either this or foreshadowing for the Thirteenth Doctor.. Same can be said to Missy's line "Welcome to the sisterhood!". Moffat has said he knew full well Chibnall was going to cast a female Doctor, and it was indeed later revealed that this was originally intended to feature the regeneration, until the vagaries of BBC funding meant the show would never have another Christmas special if Moffat couldn't put one out this season..
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient: Many, many things, from Bill and Heather reuniting, to Missy betraying her past incarnation, to Mr. Saxon betraying his future incarnation, all generations of Cybermen, archival footage of most revival-era companions (including Clara, implying that the memory block Twelve put on himself at the end of "Hell Bent" was lifted, but barring Mickey and Rory... and Adam),note  and the return of the First Doctor, now played by David Bradley.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: While many fans were happy for Bill Potts's Earn Your Happy Ending fate, it was dinged for being too similar to Clara Oswald's. The main difference is that Clara will eventually have to go back to Trap Street and meet her fate, while Heather can make Bill human again when the time comes. During the gap between this and "Twice Upon a Time", once it was confirmed that Pearl Mackie would be appearing in it, there were hopes raised that Bill's ending would turn out to be different after all — but the Bill seen in that episode is actually a Testimony avatar of her who has no memories of events beyond Heather's arrival on Floor 507, so her fate in this episode still stands as Clara redux.
  • It Was His Sled: The First Doctor appears at the end. It helps that the promotional material for "Twice Upon A Time" heavily featured the First Doctor.
  • Like You Would Really Do It:
    • The Master is shot, does not regenerate, and is likely burned to ash... Like that's ever stopped him before.
    • Poor Bill just dying as a Cyberman, making her the only revival-era companion to be Killed Off for Real without wiggle room? No — enter Chekhov's Gunman.
    • Oh, we're really killing off the Doctor this time? Ending the series for good? Of course not. "Where there's tears, there's hope."
    • Would they really write out Twelve in a Season Finale rather than a Christmas Episode, breaking the tradition since Ten? Well, actually they WOULD have done that, if not for the fact that this plan would have entailed there being no Christmas Special for 2017 due to new showrunner Chris Chibnall and Doctor Jodie Whittaker not being available to make one... until the BBC told the outgoing Steven Moffat that if they did that, Doctor Who would lose its Christmas Day slot permanently, resulting in Twelve's depature being delayed by an episode.note 
  • Memetic Mutation: Near-instantaneously, the moment where the Saxon Master cockily says, "See this face? Take a good... long... look at it. This is the face that didn't listen to a word you just said!" exploded online in both video clip and GIF form, because many people surmised right away it could be used as one hell of a forum weapon.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The First Doctor appears only at the very end, but he's easily one of the most talked-about aspects of this episode.
  • Only the Author Can Save Them Now: The Doctor is already Powerful and Helpless to find a way to restore Bill's humanity under the circumstances, but this trope doesn't kick in until he falls on the battlefield in a way that precludes regeneration. If not for Heather, who's regained her personality and gained new abilities since last seen, arriving as Bill weeps over the Doctor's body, Killed Off for Real would be the only fate left for the Doctor and Bill. This trope will also likely apply to the Master down the line — Missy is last seen dying and unable to regenerate in the woods before Floor 507 is blown to bits, but the Master is the show's most popular standalone villain and has Joker Immunity on their side.
  • Special Effects Failure: Some of the explosions, particularly the barn door being blown out, left something to be desired.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • Mainly, the original-model Cybermen having the same Stompy Mooks ability like the Cybus ones did not go over well with fans.
    • Similarly, their having the "Death in Heaven" breed's rocket powers. In an episode showing off the different portrayals of the Cybermen over the decades, right down to "The Tenth Planet" breed's speech pattern, all of them take too much from the most recent brand. (Somehow, though, no one minded when the same was true of the Dalek variants in series 9's premiere episodes; of course, nobody really misses the days trying to go off the carpet was enough to stop a Dalek). The fact that the Master had some involvement in these Cybermen's development possibly justifies this, especially if Missy got the idea for flying Cybermen in Series 8 from lingering memories of her previous self having seen them.
    • Some aren't too keen on the idea that the Cybermen evolved naturally on several different planets besides Mondas, retconning the long-standing assumption that the Cybermen's presence on other planets was the result of colonization and conversion of the natives by the Mondasian Cybermen.
  • Unexpected Character: The First Doctor, as past Doctors usually only come back for multi-Doctor anniversary specials. And in the revival, the only vintage Doctors to have an actual, non-stock footage onscreen role up to this point were the Fifth and Eighth ones, whose original actors were both still alive and in good enough physical shape to act (Tom Baker is suffering from arthritis and Colin Baker has gained significant amounts of weight due to diabetes; Sylvester McCoy could potentially return at some point, though he is in his 70s as of 2018).
  • Win Back the Crowd: Due to the critical acclaim that the first part of the Series 10 finale received, many were expecting this episode wouldn't be able to to capitalise on the previous episode's potential, with finale last-parters like "Last of the Time Lords", "Journey's End", "Death in Heaven" and "Hell Bent" being the most noted examples. However, this episode broke the trend and received comparable acclaim in spite of a few issues, Bill managing to get a Bittersweet Ending after all and the two Masters not getting as much to do as expected being the big ones — and these still didn't get nearly so much the anger that such things as the "Tinkerbell Jesus" Tenth Doctor, Donna's mind wipe, the Cyber-Brigadier, and the They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot issues of "Hell Bent" did. General consensus seems to be that this ranks up with "The Parting of the Ways", "Doomsday" and "The Big Bang" as the best Season Finales of the revival.
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