10.11 World Enough And Time
I really liked that a lot.
The penultimate episode of Doctor Who series 10, World Enough And Time, kicks off with a pre-credits sequence that was cut from very early previews of the episode, but was reinstated for the version I saw. I won’t spoil it, I just thought it was the least interesting bit of the episode. It’s telling, though, that the spoilers come fast and furious in this one. Just a quick reiteration that I don’t write little hints or subtexts or teases into these reviews. Anything you pick up on along those lines is purely accidental.
What isn’t accidental is Steven Moffat – and this is the first of his three final scripts for Doctor Who – leaving his mark on the show. At one stage, it felt like he was an outgoing head of state, putting in some last minute legislation before the new regime comes in to do with certain facets of the show. World Enough And Time bears a few of his writing hallmarks and recurring ideas. What it also is, happily, is quite slow and steady. This is the opening part of a story that gradually builds and builds and builds. If you’ve followed the assorted publicity, you’ll have some idea of where it’s headed, and it’s a pity there are things we didn’t get to discover in the context of the episode itself. But still, there’s some really, really nice stuff in here, and a few turns as well.
In tone, it reminded me at one stage of The Empty Child, as well as one or two episodes whose name if I dropped I may hint a little too much for a spoiler-free review.
I was thoroughly, thoroughly knocked out by the direction of Rachel Talalay, too. This is really, really creepy television in places, and I wonder if Talalay – appreciating she’s no slouch when it comes to horror – has been playing her fair share of survival horror videogames as well. Her sense of pace, light and being able to pick the right camera angle to unsettle the viewer is acute. Murray Gold, too, puts in place another score here that instantly makes the eventual soundtrack release a corker. There are some cracking lines in the midst of it all too, as well as one near the end which sticks out that did nothing for me. That’s all for the spoiler review, though.
I guess if there’s a concern, it’s that World Enough And Time is willing to invest so much time in slowly laying out its story and its cards that it suggests the finale will have to cram an awful lot in. That, though, is a discussion for next week. For the purposes of here and now, I really thought this was strong.
I reiterate, though: to have been able to have seen it completely cold, with nothing revealed in promotional materials, would have made it even better. The episode invests time in reveals that have long been spoiled, and that certainly lessens their dramatic impact when they happen, especially considering how skillful the build-up is.
Even knowing a few bits going in though, I came out instantly wanting to watch it again. And I’ve not felt like that for a few weeks now. World Enough And Time is a thoroughly, thoroughly impressive piece of work.