World Enough and Time is the penultimate episode of this season. This means that we potentially only have one more episode with our beloved Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, especially given that the season finale is entitled The Doctor Falls. There's also some tension regarding the fate of Bill, given that Pearl Mackie only signed on to be a companion for one season. Are we going to lose the first LGBT companion and second Black companion after only one season? It's all a bit too much to take my fellow Whovians.
As much as this season has been about Missy's redemption, it's also been a sort of look back at previous Doctors and previous adventures. This is why the The Mondasian Cybermen are the prefect adversary in World Enough and Time. Unlike the present incarnation which is completely metal, the cybermen are still being established and they still have cloth faces, like they did in the original Doctor Who.
The upgrade is terribly painful and the cybermen scream in pain and one even begs to die. It's why the next upgrade is to make it so that the cybermen don't care about the pain. We finally know the purpose of the iconic handles. It made me think quite a bit about when Danny Pink became a cyberman and the pain he complained about. We know that Mondas is pretty much a twin to earth and that when faced with the possibility of the extinction of indigenous people of the occurred, everyone went cyber and now they no longer resembled the beings they used to be. This is a necessary explanation because until now, we had no idea why anyone would willingly choose to become a cyberman.
The Doctor told us in The Eaters of Light how scary hope is and yet, he couldn't give up on the chance of Missy being redeemed, despite the reservations that Bill has about the process. Bill asks for assurances that she will live and be okay and interestingly enough, the Doctor doesn't exactly promise her much. He knows better that anyone that the moment you step on board of the Tardis, duty of care or not, it's a dangerous proposition. The Doctor explains to Bill how important to him Missy's redemption is and that he knew her as a small boy. This is huge to Bill, who until this time didn't know that Time Lords change their gender.
The Doctor initially remains on the Tardis when they land on a ship trying to pull away from a black hole, leaving it up to Missy to figure out what is going on. For much of this season, it's felt as though Missy has been on a leash so we haven't seen her at her campy best. I have so missed this side of Missy and Michelle Gomez doesn't miss a beat.
We knew before the season even started that John Simm would be making a return as The Master. It seems the very idea that Missy would leave the dark side behind and turn good is enough to cause concern throughout the Master/Missy's timeline. The Master says, "he's worried about his future." The Master is at his cunning best when he tricks Bill into trusting him before betraying her and leading her to the final transition into a cyberman.
Bill's demise was absolutely so sudden that not even the Doctor seemed to realise that this was the end. He allowed Bill to be taken away by aliens, who he didn't know because they claimed that they were going to fix her. By the time that The Doctor sees Bill again, she's already become a cyberman, with only the vaguest of memories about who she is. It's an ending that clearly invokes Danny Pink and I find it telling that yet another Black character is potentially meeting their end at the hands of the cybermen and the Master.
Yes, Bill is new to the Tardis but her possible ending is absolutely overshadowed by the regeneration of the Doctor which is looming. The companion is always secondary to the Doctor but there's no way that Bill's demise can be taken seriously given that we know that Capaldi is leaving the show. The Doctor learned last season when he struggled to bring Clara back that there is such a thing as going to far and so I doubt that we will see him taking extraordinary measures, no matter how saddened Bill's passing may make him.
The Master warns Missy that the Doctor will never forgive her for what she's done to Bill. The Doctor's rage as we've come to see is a terrifying thing. It does however make me wonder exactly why it is that Missy doesn't remember being on the ship, or tricking Bill into becoming a cyberman. For ten years, the Master pretended to be Bill's friend and it's only when the possibility of rescue became apparent that The Master decided to trick Bill. Bill knew enough to be scared of Missy but because of the limited time she has spent with the Doctor, she had no idea of exactly how cruel, cunning and patient the Master could be - only The Doctor knew that.
I suspect that the final episode will deal with the fact that Missy cannot be redeemed, no matter how much the Doctor wants this to happen. It calls to mind the story of the Tortoise and the Scorpion. The 12th Doctor spent the first season trying to figure out what kind of man he is and it seems that he will spend the last season learning that the person whom he has shared his life with intermittently is exactly who they've always been - irredeemable. Missy/The Master and The Doctor cannot be anything other than what they are. Despite everything that they have shared and the battles that they have fought, they are destined to be mirrors to each other and never aligned in any meaningful way.
At the end of the day, I do also think that there's going to be some reflection on the Doctor's role in Bill's death because she warned him regarding her suspicions of Missy and still the Doctor actively put her in harms way. Sure, some of it comes down to the Doctor's arrogance and his belief that he can solve any problem and some of it comes down to wanting a companion who can travel through time with him. The saddest part about all of the Doctor's companions is that while they can spend the rest of their lives with him, he cannot spend the rest of his life with them.