Jodie Whittaker bids farewell as the Doctor with the richly nostalgic The Power of the Doctor
“Goodbyes only hurt because what came before was so special”
The Power of the Doctor marks the end of an era for Doctor Who as both Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall leave the show as the 13th Doctor and showrunner respectively. It’s been an interesting time and perhaps an uneven one – who knows what might have been if COVID-19 hadn’t intervened? You could, not unreasonably, be wondering what about the Timeless Child, the fate of Gallifrey, the Fugitive Doctor or indeed the consequences of the Flux having apparently destroyed half the universe.
As it turns out, this proves not to be the place for those answers and that is probably for the best, Chibnall clearly recognising that whatever his plans might have been to expand the mythos of the Whoniverse, Time stops for no man. Wafting away those dangling plot strands is this glorious nostalgia-fest which somehow manages to balance an extraordinary number of elements. Multiple villains in the Master, the Daleks and the Cybermen; multiple companions in Yaz and Dan (plus Vinder) and also Tegan and Ace from ye olde Classic Who; and the small matter of an impending regeneration looming over events – it shouldn’t work.
And yet, it does, it really does. It is extravagant to be sure but arguably that’s what finales are for, to luxuriate in the realms of possibilities, to give us an all-out rollercoaster of a ride. And if the result is that Jodie Whittaker ends up ceding a little of the limelight in her swansong, the emotional payoff is more than worth it as it turns out that the power of the Doctor is her companions.
John Bishop’s Dan ducks out early but honourably, and Janet Fielding and Sophie Aldred are achingly good as Tegan and Ace fall back into companion mode with great ease and crucially, both get beautifully judged moments to wrestle with their pasts and their own Doctors (for someone who grew up watching 7 and Ace, this was nigh on perfection). And at the end, Mandip Gill’s Yaz gets a proper goodbye which, for me, neatly sidestepped the challenges of blurring those emotional boundaries.
Sacha Dhawan has great fun as a properly unhinged version of the Master, his plan feeling up to the mark. I’m not so sure the use of both Cybermen and Daleks alongside him stacked up quite as well, neither of their threats feeling as apocalyptic as it should have done. But the use of previous Doctors is very well done and the upshot of the regeneration is certainly interest-piquing as the show looks ahead to its 60th anniversary next week and the arrival of the 14th and indeed 15th Doctor.