Greetings, Whovians! I hope you’re all surviving the hiatus so far. The wait from now until Christmas couldn’t be any longer, but season 10 gave us plenty to talk about for the next 163 days. While we wait, and since I’m still reeling from that season finale, let’s take some time to look back and assess season 10, especially because we get our first look at the new Doctor tomorrow! Here is our go at grading season 10 of Doctor Who.
Season 10 had a glaring lack of opportunities for Peter Capaldi to shine. One of the best things about season 9 was Capaldi’s acting. Season 10 just lacked those huge, breath-taking acting chops we know he’s capable of. But it’s not his fault. The writing just didn’t allow for it.
The writing of the season largely stuck to the Doctor Who formula: The TARDIS lands somewhere with two parties in conflict, the companion gets in trouble, and The Doctor keeps the peace and the companion gets saved. While there is something largely comforting about sticking to this basic plotline, it doesn’t quite bring the excitement we know is possible from the show.
Basically, Steven Moffat and his band of writers gave us exactly what we’ve grown to expect from Doctor Who.
New companion: A+
It’s no secret that I love Bill Potts. After Clara left, the introduction of a new companion, especially this close to a regeneration, could have been disastrous. Bill was the absolute perfect choice, as she reminds us of everything we love about the show. She is a relatable companion, just as curious as we are. She embodies everything that got us into Doctor Who to begin with. Bill looks at everything from a fresh viewpoint, reminding us of the feeling we got when we watched our first episode of the show. Bill was absolutely one of the highlights of the season.
Huge kudos to Pearl Mackie on a wonderful portrayal.
Balance of darkness and comic relief: A
Being Doctor Who, of course, season 10 had its fair share of darkness. There was sacrifice, death, inner turmoil, and mountains of feels. However, one thing this show is very good at is balancing the darkness with some light. Take, for instance, Kar’s sacrifice in “The Eaters of Light.” That was quite the powerful, heavy moment, and it was followed by the unification of the Romans and the Picts, and also the extremely touching moment when Nardole realizes the crows are remembering her for her sacrifice. The writers gave us a satisfying resolution.
I could have written this entire section on Missy alone. Especially in this season, she embodies this battle between darkness and feelings and humor. In season 10, we had her wonderful one-liners, as usual, but we saw a brand new side of Missy. She showed that she is capable of a full range of emotions. She can change, even if it is too late. Basically, Missy gave us a roller coaster of feels.
What kind of comic relief section would this be without a brief paragraph dedicated to Nardole? Early in the season, I remember thinking how underused he was. Matt Lucas can be a comedic genius if he’s written well, and Nardole was the perfect role for him in the Whoniverse. Most of what came out of his mouth was funny, and he was a breath of fresh air from all the tension from the stressful situations The Doctor got himself (and Bill) into. Normally I’d be mad at a character with virtually no development, but Nardole changing over time just wouldn’t be Nardole anymore.
Season 10 stuck with the Moffat special – make people afraid of things they encounter in their daily lives. We opened the season being trained to fear water and puddles, and we learn to fear the dark even further than we already do. The writers try to get us to analyze our own lives, questioning the real-life implications of being under control of some space monks (and not having a clue).
I think the one-off episodes were highly improved from where they were last season, and I generally enjoyed this season. However, I wasn’t quite as hyped this season as I had been in the past. But my enjoyment made up for the lack of excitement.
It’s easy for plotlines in Who to be completely out of left field, but I think the writers managed to keep things within the realm of interest to us Whovians. I’m not sure this season had any plotlines that I consider pure genius, but I didn’t despise any either. Generally, the plot was there, though we were left with a few loose ends. But hey, it’s Who.
Overall grade: B+
Generally, the season was solid. I wasn’t absolutely pumped for the entire week leading up to each new episode, but I definitely enjoyed the episodes when they aired. I wasn’t caught horribly off guard by some ridiculous plotline, and I found myself really caring for Bill, Nardole, and Missy.
Though I’m disappointed there weren’t any stand-out, shining moments (think back to “Heaven Sent” and The Doctor’s speech to Bonnie in “The Zygon Inversion”), Doctor Who season 10 gave me exactly what I expected (plus one Master).- I will say this, that finale was absolutely insane, and I am super pumped for the Christmas episode.
There’s some closure on season 10 of Doctor Who.
What did you think of the season? Let us know at @PureFandom on Twitter!