This is definitely a jumping-in episode for casual viewers (made very obvious with the name), which is great, because the plotlines with Clara were getting a bit tangled. I’m curious how much the Doctor remembers about the relevant Gallifrey things that happened while he was with Clara. Namely, the 50th Anniversary Special, and the series 9 finale. I assume, from him jumping into the Time War half-way though this episode, that he knows enough to be aware that his people aren’t extinct/lost to him forever.
As for the episode itself, it was a lot of fun. I don’t think the plot is up to any serious inspection, but then, this episode isn’t about the plot, it’s about the characters and introducing who they are. There are call-backs, but they're subtle enough to slip under the radar if someone isn't watching for them. So subtle in some cases, I'm not certain they're there at all, but I am a little bit convinced that the alarm clock at the beginning is a direct callback to Rose in series 1.
I adore how straight-forward Bill is, and how she says exactly what’s on her mind. Virtually everything she says is quotable, though I particularly love, “It’s like a kitchen!” "It's like a knock-through!" "It's a lift!" (“Is it just me, or is this taking longer than usual?”) and “Why do you run like that?” “Like a penguin with it’s arse on fire.” (It’s so, so true. I’ve noticed it in other things Mr. Capaldi has been in too.) Her quips on the TARDIS’s name and how it doesn’t make sense because wouldn’t those words only work in English (and the Doctor’s response to that). Her whole exchange with the Doctor about where he comes from. “Are you from Space?” “Don’t be silly, no one’s from space. I’m from a planet.” “This planet?” “Not specifically.”
I love how she talks about her face making expressions when she’s trying to be enigmatic, and that she asks to use the toilet. I honestly cannot think of a single other Who companion who has asked about the toilet, which, okay, it doesn’t usually come up in TV dramas, but it adds an endearing realism. Also, a nerdy scifi-loving woman who flirts with extra servings of chips is a woman after my own heart.
Nardole had a few good lines too. I'm especially fond of. "Imagine a bigger box inside of a smaller box. Next make one."
I like how the Doctor has grown as a person. He’s not as insulting as he used to be. He listens (for whole seconds at a time). He isn’t running from his past anymore. In fact, he runs right into the Time War and uses it as a tool to solve the problems of his present, which I though was a great metaphor for how he’s changed. The past is important. The pictures on the Doctor’s desk attest to that.
When Bill tells him not to take her memories, Clara’s theme plays, and he stops. More than that, he offers her a chance to search for a better life and the woman she likes (I won’t say love, because it’s explicitly labelled as a crush, and the pair of them barely spoke five words), and the implication is that the Doctor isn’t doing this because he’s lonely, but because he actually, unselfishly, wants to help out and show Bill the wonders of the universe.
This is amazing. The Doctor isn’t broken anymore. And the universe had better watch out.
THE MASTER HAS A PROPER BEARD.
Has there ever been a two Master episode outside of the audio adventures? This is going to be extra exciting.
Series predictions (ranging from the probable to the highly speculative):
· - The vault in the university basement is going to be a key plot point (I don’t think I’m getting any gold stars for this observation)
· - The Doctor didn’t just ask Bill around to his office because he found her a bit interesting. He made a promise to her late mother, or something similar. (I'm hoping that this one doesn't come true because there's been a bit too much pre-destination in NuWho so far)
- The Doctor who asks Bill to travel with him is from further ahead in the timeline than the Doctor Bill was talking to in the office (and who is still in the office working things out when Bill climbs on board)
· - Nardole is hanging around less because he wants to and more because the robot the Doctor has attached his head to is powered by the TARDIS, kind of like roboMaster in Scream of the Shalka
· - This will lead to Nardole becoming a resentful sleeper villain who only shows his feelings in the finale. 50/50 chance that this is a fake out and he sacrifices himself to save the Doctor/TARDIS/Bill/the universe in general
· - Simm!Master and Missy are going to be directly related to why Twelve regenerates -> possibly the Master attempting to steal regenerations again, or something similar
· - Bill is going to end up living happily-ever-after with Heather Star Eyes, who is now some kind of humanoilTARDIS
· - She'll get to meet her mother at some point