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‘Doctor Who’ recap: “The Power of the Doctor”

Doctor Who recap: “The Power of the Doctor,” Aired Oct. 23, 2022

Chris Chibnall really pulled out all the stops for Jodie Whittaker’s last adventure – Cybermen (Cybermasters, actually), the Master, Ace and Tegan, Kate Stewart, Vinder, daleks, Ashad, other past companions, past Doctors!!

In true Chris Chibnall form, the episode jumps throughout time and all over over the universe. It’s a lot to keep up with, and I spent most of the episode hoping Chibnall would find a way to connect all these plot points. So here’s my best shot at trying to make sense of what we all just watched in “The Power of the Doctor.”

“I think I handled that quite well.”

We get to the goodbyes early on, with current companion Dan realizing after yet another life-and-death adventure that he wants to go back to his life on Earth. The Doctor barely says goodbye, and Dan almost doesn’t return the rest of the episode. 

Meanwhile, a dozen seismologists go missing, plus 15 of the world’s most famous paintings are removed from view. Add a gift of a Cyberman toy to a previous companion – time for Tegan and Ace to team up and investigate, which leads them eventually to UNIT, with Kate Stewart and a rocky reunion with the Doctor after decades of no contact. 

Those seismologists – killed by the Master. The paintings – defaced with the Master’s face (as Rasputin). The Doctor followed his breadcrumbs, as she put it, to confront him and have him arrested by UNIT. The Master’s digs at the Brigadier, Tegan, and Ace – low blows, but good callbacks. And he kicks Tegan while she’s down. The “toy” Cyberman was a gift from the Master, and she accidentally brought it into UNIT, where the Cyberman broke the Master out. Not sure why he bothered getting himself arrested to begin with – maybe just to allow for the facetime with the former companions.

Oh, and Yaz learns the long-term situation for the Doctor’s companions – living on Earth, going years without any contact from the Time Lord. I think this gives her some time to process before her Doctor’s inevitable regeneration.

“Welcome to the end of your existence.”

Two very scary words to Time Lords – forced regeneration. The Master intends to force the Doctor to regenerate into him, and he succeeds. And seeing Sacha Dhawan in Jodie’s costume made it all worth it. He would’ve made a fun Doctor. And then he wears other Doctors’ iconic outfit pieces – Fourth Doctor’s scarf, Fifth Doctor’s coat (including the celery!), Seventh Doctor’s vest, to name a few.

As the Doctor, the Master taps Yaz as his companion, and he sets out to destroy the Doctor’s reputation. How many other villains have tried this and failed? 

While the Cybermasters are busy taking over UNIT, the Master’s recruited daleks set off all Earth’s volcanoes in 2022. Back in 1916, he’s got an entire conversion planet, powered by a creature he captured and imprisoned. Of course there’s a connection, and leave it to the Doctor to put the pieces together long before I would’ve. 

“There’s always a way. Things always work out.”

In the Doctor’s absence, her companions, past and present, have things under control. With some guidance from her (in hologram form and in some of her past faces), Kate, Tegan, Ace, and Graham (so good to see him!) take care of things on Earth, while Yaz and Vinder bring the Master in Doctor form back to the site of forced regeneration for a reversal. With a cameo from the Fugitive Doctor, they get the job done, and the Thirteenth Doctor is back in her own body. 

In a move reminiscent of “Journey’s End” (which feels very appropriate considering the next regeneration), it’s all hands on deck in the TARDIS while the Doctor works with her companions to save the Earth… again. 

“Tag, you’re it.”

With his body failing after what he put it through, the Master makes one last attempt for a victory. The Doctor helped free the creature powering the Master’s conversion planet, and the Master ensures she’s hit with a beam of the creature’s energy, setting off her regeneration. The Master is down for the count (at least for now), and the Doctor’s time as number Thirteen is coming to an end. Cue the tears.

“I know these teeth.”

Most of us knew this was coming, but there was a bit of a thrill seeing David Tennant with the TARDIS again. 

To conclude…

Well, that is certainly a lot to digest. I think a rewatch may be in order to truly understand the plot. But the cameos and callbacks were epic!

Standout performance – Sacha Dhawan as The Master.

Seeing Ace put on the jacket, use her baseball bat, and break out the Nitro-9 was a highlight of the special. Ace is one of my all-time favorite companions, and this made me so happy. Also, her moment with the Seventh Doctor (“we’re Ace”) was so, so important for her. I’m glad she got to have that. 

The Thirteenth Doctor chatting with the First, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Doctors (talking to herself, technically) – what a surprise!

And companion support group! Good on Graham for starting it. It’s definitely needed. I’d love to sit in on some of those sessions, hear the stories from their points of view. (But no Ryan sightings at all??)

“The Power of the Doctor” may be worth a watch for the Easter eggs and cameos alone. For the plot – it’s typical Chibnall, and if you followed what was going on, good on you! What a jam-packed, nostalgic farewell to number Thirteen.

Next time:

I’ll see you (and many more familiar faces – and writers) in just over a year for a few specials to celebrate Doctor Who‘s 60th! And we get a brand-new Doctor at the end of next year! 2023 is going to be an exciting year for Whovians!

What did you think of “The Power of the Doctor”? Let us know at @PureFandom on Twitter!


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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