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‘Doctor Who’ Christmas special 2017 recap: “Twice Upon a Time”

Doctor Who Christmas special 2017 recap: “Twice Upon a Time” Aired Dec 25, 2017

Merry Christmas, Whovians! It’s so nice to have Doctor Who back on our screens. This is one bittersweet episode, as we have Peter Capaldi’s swan song, but also the beginning of a new era. And we can’t forget, this is also Steven Moffat’s last go as showrunner.
Hop onto the TARDIS and join me on this trip through frozen time, old friends, and even more insanely powerful Capaldi speeches – oh, and a Regeneration.

Keep in mind: “Everything’s got to end sometime. Otherwise nothing would ever get started.”

Deja vu

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2017 Twice Upon a Time Day of the Doctor flashbacks

Immediately, I got “Day of the Doctor” vibes. I mean, multiple Doctors in one TARDIS, something wrong with time, and the TARDIS getting lifted off by a crane. Sound familiar? Then, there was the bubble lookback at all the Doctor’s forms. It’s almost like this is a follow-up to “Day of the Doctor,” and I absolutely didn’t mind. I’m also not sure I’ll ever tire of multiple Doctors meeting and disapproving of each other’s decisions. It’s a goofy little idea that could only work on Doctor Who.

Bill Potts defense squad

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2017 Twice Upon a Time Bill Potts Pearl Mackie

Looks like the Doctor and I lead the Bill Potts defense squad. And we are accepting new members.
When the Doctor sees Bill again, he immediately thinks that she isn’t real. His speech about not mocking Bill had me actually cheering as I watched. And while the moment was short, it absolutely deserved its own spot on this list. Plus, he does continue protecting her at all costs.

And, of course, Bill is her awesome self, scandalizing the older folks on the TARDIS. Except…

IT’S NOT THE SAME BILL! She’s actually just a collection of Bill’s memories put into a body. So Bill isn’t actually alive. Ugh. She claims that she’s real, as she is all of Bill’s memories, but it’s still not Bill.

“I am not a good dalek”

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2017 Twice Upon a Time Rusty the Dalek is back Into the Dalek

I’ll be honest, I didn’t immediately think of daleks when the Doctor went on about his old friends coming out of their shells, but I would have been disappointed if the enemies did not make an appearance. Even better, the Twelfth Doctor knows the dalek trying to kill him.

Rusty’s back! Remember the “good dalek” from “Into the Dalek”? Well, he’s back, and true to his word, he is not a good dalek. He spends his first moments of the reunion trying to kill the Doctor, and only puts down his weapon when the Doctor offers to let Rusty watch him die. All for access to the dalek Hivemind. Not a bad deal, really.

“Everybody’s important to somebody somewhere”

I had been thinking the entire episode, “but why this captain? Why is he immune to the time freeze?” And while the Twelfth Doctor’s answer is amazing, it’s not terribly satisfying. So it could have been any captain?

Doctor Who Christmas Special Mark Gatiss The Captain Lethbridge-Stewart The Brigadier

Well, no. This captain is a Lethbridge-Stewart! Steven Moffat has just written the moment that leads to the Doctor’s friendship with the Brigadier. Rumor has it Mark Gatiss cried when he found out who his character really was, and we’re right there with him!

The Christmas Armistice

Oh, so that’s how they’re going to work in Christmas. It began with Christmas carols from both sides of the battlefield, and moved to the disarming of both sides – even just for one night.  What a moment.

And this provided the perfect opportunity to show the First Doctor who gives the world its fairytale endings. Bill-But-Not-Bill tried to tell him earlier, but now he’s seen it for himself. The Doctor is the reason good triumphs over evil.

“You stupid old man”

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2018 Clara Oswald Jenna Coleman

This is the moment I know lots of Whovians were waiting for. It’s Clara! Not-Bill turns into Clara. Well, she’s not real either, but it’s still her! Even better: The Doctor remembers her again!
And then in comes Nardole for comic relief right as we were all getting emotional over Clara. But the Doctor is quick to turn things back to emotional, setting the mood before his Regeneration.

Doctor Who Christmas Special Twice Upon a Time Peter Capaldi Telfth Doctor regeneration

“Ah, brilliant”

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2018 Twice Upon a Time Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker

The Thirteenth Doctor joins us in a similar way to the Eleventh. Good to see Moffat coming and going in similar fashion. Jodie Whittaker is officially in control of the TARDIS… or not.

She was in control until the TARDIS overpowered her and sent her flying to the ground. But the episode ends before we can see what happened.

So do you think we’ve got another Doctor confined to Earth (hey, Pertwee!), or are we getting a brand new TARDIS when Doctor Who returns? I can’t wait to see.



My first thought was that it felt like not that much happened in that long episode, which would normally leave me bored. However, I think it worked with the whole time freezing thing. Kudos to Moffat for giving both himself and Capaldi a proper sendoff.

The connection between the First and Twelfth Doctors have been pointed out time and time again, so it was nice to see the two interact. David Bradley always amazes as the First Doctor.

And, wow. That twist with Mark Gatiss’ Captain is still blowing my mind.


Well, that about closes out this era of Doctor Who.
“Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.” It is time to let the Twelfth Doctor go.

PS – Remember to never, ever eat pears (Tennant fans, did you catch the line?).


What did you think of “Twice Upon a Time?” Let us know at @PureFandom on Twitter!

Doctor Who will return to BBC America Saturdays at 9/8c.

(Image: BBC)


Jordan Alperstein

Jordy has a degree in English literature and communication studies. When she isn't attending concerts, she's watching way too much TV for her own good and fangirling over fictional characters. Jordy is a self-proclaimed optimist and bookworm, and she's a sucker for fantasy, superheroes, and good old-fashioned villains.

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