The final season with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor begins with him in semi-retirement as a university professor who has been around so long that if his physics lectures turn into poetry discussions, nobody complains. “Same thing,” he explains.
We also get the introduction to the newest companion Bill Pearl (Mackie). She works the fryer in the cafeteria and in her spare time audits the Doctor’s classes. She is immediately likable. Her innate curiosity and just plain exuberant niceness make her so relatable. The companion as audience surrogate is once again in the hands of a talented actor and so far she is written with great nuance. I hope she is still around for 13 and the next showrunner, she’s made that much of an impression on me.
I can’t say the same for Nardole (Matt Lucas), I like the character and the actor, but for now, he’s behaving like a servant which was funny with Strax the Sontaran (Dan Starkey), but just seems weird here.
Through the seasons of New Who, most of my favorite episodes were written by Steven Moffat and this is another to add to that list. Tender and bittersweet with menace exhibited in a mundane thing such as a puddle, all around satisfying at every level. Even visually it works with iconic details in the mise en scène of the academic office containing framed photos of River Song and Susan Foreman as well as a cup full of various sonic screwdrivers.
With any luck, this is indicative of the care dedicated to the rest of the season. Let’s see our aging punk rocker off with dignity.