Doctor Who: “The Power of the Doctor” ends Jodie Whittaker’s tenure as the Thirteenth Doctor on the ongoing series. Considering show runner Chris Chibnall ignored the show’s history when he started and then made a terrible decision altering the canon as it progressed, he did a very good job embracing its past in the writing, which are the moments where the episode excels.
“Power” opens with the Doctor and companions Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) interfering with but ultimately failing to stop the Cyberman from robbing a space train. Dan gets shot in his helmet’s face plate. Although uninjured, he is concerned his luck will run out and stops traveling with the Doctor. While understandable for the character, it’s disappointing for the audience to lose him so early in the episode.
Former companions Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) notice strange goings-on, such as the disappearance of seismologists and works of art from museums, respectively, and head to UNIT. There they have an awkward encounter with the new Doctor, disappointed about not hearing anything over the decades, a similar complaint Sarah Jane Smith expressed to the Tenth Doctor. It was heartwarming seeing Tegan as feisty as ever and Ace back with a bat back in her hands.
The Master (Sacha Dhawan) has a convoluted plan to destroy the Earth and the Doctor’s reputation. His plan for the former is grandiose but causing a number of volcanoes to erupt simultaneously makes sense. His plan for the latter doesn’t as he forces the Doctor’s body to regenerate into the Master so he can ruin the Doctor’s good name yet a disguise, which the Master frequently uses, or even telling people he was the Doctor would suffice. But then the Doctor’s soul wouldn’t have ended up in Timelord Purgatory and been given a pep talk by former Doctors to get back into the fight.
Yaz, somehow, controls the TARDIS and travels around, picking up and dropping off companions to stop the enemies, and eventually, with the help of the Doctor, by way of an AI program, un-generates the Doctor back from the Master. This AI program also allows Tegan and Ace to have sweet moments reconnecting with their Doctors.
The Doctor is able to stop the destruction of the Earth yet the Master is able to force her to regenerate a second time. However, this one is a slow burn so the Doctor and Yaz can have a final ice cream together and the Doctor can enjoy a moment alone. When this regeneration, which somehow incorrectly includes clothing this time, occurs, it proves the Curator correct when he told the Eleventh Doctor in “The Day of the Doctor,” that he would be “revisiting…the old favorites.”
Although the writing frequently let her down, Whittaker was a wonderful Doctor over the years, an inspiring hero in a universe that needs one. She gets a memorable last episode here, packed with enough familiar faces to warm any fan’s heart, and it’s a good thing publicity didn’t spoil all the surprises. At least, they didn’t for me. Hopefully, Whittaker will return for an anniversary special. If there’s someone smart at the BBC, there should already be a companion series spinoff in the works based on the delightful support-group scene because as any fan knows and this episode illustrates, the real power of the Doctor are the show’s characters and the actors who portray them.
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