Darkness never sustains.
Doctor Who continues with the conclusion to “Spyfall,” and the introduction to this season’s larger arc. Certain spoilers, avoided last week, will appear in this week’s review. You have been warned.
Title: “Spyfall – Part Two”
Directed by Lee Haven Jones
Written by Chris Chibnall
Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor
Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair
Mandip Gill as Yasmin Khan
Bradley Walsh as Graham O’Brien
Sacha Dhawan as the Master
Lenny Henry as Daniel Barton
Sylvie Briggs as Ada Lovelace
Mark Dexter as Charles Babbage
Aurora Marion as Noor Inayat Khan / “Madelaine”
Blanche Williams as Barton’s Mother
Andrew Pipe as Inventor
Sundry others as thugs, Nazis, and extras.
Struan Rodger as Voice of the Kasaavin
The Doctor skips like a stone through history, tangling with the Master, while her companions try to evade capture and stop Daniel Barton.
This episodes continues the spy-thriller pacing, and features strong performances by its human and humanoid villains.
I know they’re playing with tropes, but, really? Ryan, on the run, loudly announces his plan to the people who just tried to arrest them? And man, those agents give in very easily to one armed (footed?) man.
Originality: 1/6 It’s Doctor Who Bingo time! Who has…. The Doctor skips through time and meets historical figures everywhere she lands? How about, aliens want to take over the earth? Some plot highlights some issue of current concern? The Master is unbridled, cackling evil? The Doctor saves the day through a clever plan? The season begins by dropping a hint regarding a larger story arc that strikes at the heart of all we think we know?
Bonus: who, when the Master gets thrown to the Nazis, recalled the Daleks turning on Davros?
Effects: 5/6 The effects remain low-key, but solid.
Story: 5/6 The story feels disjointed in places, but it holds together.
Emotional Response: 5/6
Production: 5/6 The episode does a good job of moving between places and times on a budget. We don’t get anything like movie-quality recreations, but the settings work. The show simply lacks the budget of an American prestige series; it even, seemingly, lacks the budget Doctor Who has had in recent years. Of course, the quality remains light-years ahead of the original series.
In total, “Spyfall- Part Two” receives 31/42
The Doctor bemoans her fate, marooned in nineteenth-century London without a Tardis. Seriously, how long would she have to wait before she could just hop a lift with one of her other incarnations?
I’m all for diverse casting, but it seems odd– and the script’s lampshade doesn’t help– that why do the Gestapo just accept the current incarnation of the Master as one of them? Historical note: the Nazi Party is noted for their wild-eyed racism.
See comment: apparently, I missed / misunderstood a line of dialogue.
Once again, the Doctor has (apparently) been made the Last of her Race (excluding the Master). Granted, we don’t know how long this situation will remain in continuity, and we don’t know where the Dark SecretTM of the Time Lords will lead this story. Is anyone else put off by the development, or is it just me? The Doctor has never required Last of the Race Syndrome to work. The Time Lords have always functioned fine as characters who can become involved in the story, or be ignored for years, as the writers desire.