DOCTOR WHO (2015- ) S12E02 “Spyfall (Part 2) review

Doctor Who (BBC)

Doctor Who airs new episodes Sundays on BBC One in the UK and internationally via BBC America.

Synopsis

In part two of this epic spy thriller, a terrifying plan to destroy humanity is about to reach fruition. Can The Doctor and her friends escape multiple traps and defeat a deadly alliance?

Review

When Doctor Who returned for the second part of “Spyfall” (Part One reviewed here) I expected an equally fast paced conclusion to the story, pitting The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) against the latest incarnation of The Master (Sacha Dhawan).

Instead what we were presented with was a whirlwind of disjointed plot points which could only loosely be referred to as a story. Whilst the episode was still enjoyable to watch and featured some great acting from Whittaker, Dhawan and Lenny Henry, it felt like an entirely different story to the first part.

The lack of sufficient connective tissue between the episodes left this feeling more like the next chapter of a much longer running arc than the second half of a self-contained story. I would hasten to add that watching the episodes back-to-back would feel more like binge watching a normal series and not seeing the sum total of the product.

Firstly: the positives. Whittaker is so at home in the role that she just exudes Doctor whenever she is on screen. Her chemistry with the other leads – Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole – is some of the best that we’ve ever had on Doctor Who is certainly what keeps me coming back when the stories are less well executed.

Even her complex relationship with The Master is worthy of more screen time. It was great to see executive producer Chris Chibnall bringing the show back around to the lore of Time Lords and taking a visit to Gallifrey in this episode.

Finally Whittaker has a huge Doctor sized, seasonal mystery to solve and that is exactly what I have been waiting for with her Doctor.

Sacha Dhawan also seems to be a great choice to take on The Master. Though his louder moments come off a tad brash, when he is more cold and calculated there are echoes of The Joker in his characterisation and that is truly chilling. Hopefully there will be more to come from him in the future.

The production values surrounding this latest incarnation of The Doctor also remain excellent. I commented last episode on the costume and set design. Give than this episode visits war era Paris and 19th Century London there’s plenty more opportunities for both to shine here and they truly do.

Reflecting less positively on part two is sidelining the companions. It’s a double-edged sword for Doctor Who. On the one hand their interpersonal relationships are given more screen time and are able to be developed more. But it also leads to scenes of Bradley Walsh’s Graham firing “laser shoes”.

Doctor Who is a show which prides itself on its ability to tell dramatic yet hopeful stories within a sci-fi setting. That setting allows for a modicum of suspending ones disbelief but when it reaches the levels of Graham tap dancing to fire laser shoes, the series has gone one step (bad pun) too far.

In the end the story surrounding the aliens, the Kasaavin, feeling secondary to everything else which is going on. What 1834? Why Ada Lovelace? Why Noor Inayat Khan? Why Nazis?

There was just a little too much going to that is overshadowed the reasons why The Master had teamed with a tech boss (Henry) and the Kasaavin to spy on history. I’m sure the episode explained it but I’ll be damned if I can remember why.

Verdict

The second part of “Spyfall” suffers from a frenetic plot which, whilst thrilling to watch, feels contrived and never quite sticks its landing.

6/10

Doctor Whostars Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, Mandip Gill as Yasmin Khan, Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair and Bradley Walsh as Graham O’Brien.


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By Neil Vagg

Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & TV and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG