Doo-wee-ooh! Okay, now that I’ve got that out of my system, let’s start our Doctor Who Series 10 recap. Sadly, this is also Peter Capaldi’s last season as the Twelfth Doctor.
For those new to the show, Doctor Who is about the Doctor (Yep, he chose the name himself). He belongs to a humanoid alien race that calls themselves Time Lords/Ladies. The Doctor travels through time and space where he has adventures with old and new friends. He also saves the universe from various enemies.
If you’re wondering where to start watching the show, check out this handy guide. I’ve only watched the revival, but I plan on getting round to the older episodes. (Cue my TV show backlog laughing at me.)
The Doctor has companions who often act as audience surrogates. Companions usually come from different eras, but in the newer episodes, they’re usually from the 2000s.
While the Doctor is often the star of the show, his companions also save him, mostly from himself. The Doctor is almost never seen without a companion who help reign in his crazy antics. Companions also help him empathize with whatever race he is currently trying to save.
Don’t get too attached to the Doctor. Whenever he is too old, gravely wounded, or near death, he will regenerate into a whole new body with a slightly different personality. The show’s producers came up with the concept of regeneration to allow them to recast the character.
Episode 1 – The Pilot
The Pilot is Bill’s (Pearl Mackie) first episode, and she is the Doctor’s first companion after Clara. Clara was his previous companion who “died” in the Series 9 episode Face the Raven.
In this episode, it is revealed that the Doctor has been teaching at a university. He is accompanied by Nardole, who was previously River Song’s assistant (River’s the Doctor’s wife, but it’s also complicated.).
Bill works at the university canteen but sneaks in to listen to the Doctor’s classes. He takes a liking to her and I do too. Bill is a plucky character, and she’s incredibly genre savvy. The pilot in question is a sentient body of water that targets Heather. Bill and Heather develop a mutual attraction throughout the episode.
Realizing that the alien ship has now assimilated Heather, the Doctor protects Bill. He then takes her with him to the TARDIS, his time-travelling spaceship. After they defeat the “Heather” ship by trapping it between some battling Daleks and Movellans, Bill tells her to “move on.” Surprisingly, Heather-ship listens, showing that the real Heather might have retained a little bit of her former self.
As the episode ends, the Doctor tries to erase Bill’s memories because he “has promises to keep.” Bill realizes what he plans to do to her. She begs him to let her remember him so she can have happier memories. Throughout the episode, it’s revealed that Bill’s mother died when she was young and her father seems to be out of the picture.
The Doctor relents, and Bills begins her journey as his current companion along with the long-suffering Nardole, who keeps nagging the Doctor. Nardole is adamant that the Doctor has to stop traveling because he promised to guard an ominous vault.
Episode 2 – Smile
Smile was one of the series’ weaker episodes, and it felt like it was created to appeal to the emoji-loving younger viewers. Bill and the Doctor arrive in Gliese 581d, which is devoid of human and alien life. The planet only contains swarm robots called Vardies and sentient emojibots (Yep. You read that right. They’re robots with emoji faces.).
The Doctor tells Bill that the Vardies and the emojibots were preparing the planet for colonists. They both spend the episode trying to figure out what happened to the set-up crew for Gliese 581d. Interspersed are short clips of a flashback, which eventually reveals what happened to the missing crew.
The first time one of the crew died from old age, the emojibots misunderstood the crew’s grief as a disease that must be rooted out. The lack of human life on the planet is then explained as the emojibots kept killing and the crew kept getting sad because of the deaths until no one was left.
As the Doctor and the Bill find the slowly waking colonists, they both race to prevent the Vardies from killing again. The Doctor resets the Vardies and he offers his services as an intermediary between the swarm robots, who have now become sentient. The colonists who have now awoken from cryo-sleep must now learn to forgive and live alongside the Vardies.
Episode 3 – Thin Ice
In Thin Ice, Bill and the Doctor travel back to Earth, but they land in 1814 on the frozen River Thames. While they are both excited to explore a fair on top of the river, they see “fairy lights” that inexplicably captures people who are entranced by their beauty.
In this episode Bill sees a darker side to the Doctor, and she is shocked to see him brush off the death of a young boy. He tells her that there’s no time to waste on grieving. After all, they still need to find out exactly what those strange lights are underneath the ice.
Through his cleverness and charm, the Doctor finds out that Lord Sutcliffe has trapped an enormous serpent-like creature under the ice. Sutcliffe has also been using the creature’s poop as fuel for his factories because it burns much longer than coal. (It’s okay, you can laugh. I did too.)
As the Doctor’s plan to free the creature succeeds, Bill realized that despite his cold exterior, he is a defrosting ice king/tsundere.
Episode 4 – Knock Knock
Knock Knock is Series 10’s attempt at making a horror-themed episode with a sci-fi twist. In Bill’s own timeline, the Doctor hilariously uses the TARDIS to help Bill move her stuff to a new apartment because “it’s bigger on the inside.”
But even after Bill tells him he can leave, the Doctor insists on staying behind to inspect the creepy old house Bill now shares with her six other roommates. Bill is exasperated and acts like an embarrassed teenager with an overly clingy father. Neither Bill nor her friends bother asking why the rent is so cheap even though the arrangement seems incredibly fishy.
The rest of Bill’s friends disappear one by one, and it looks like they are consumed by strange insects that seem to be made of wood and disappear among the woodwork. Once again the Doctor laments that his spiffy new sonic screwdriver (basically his high-tech wand), “doesn’t do wood” and proves useless against whatever is killing off Bill’s friends.
It’s a race against time as the Doctor identifies the creatures as Dryads. The Dryads trap people in various rooms in the house, and the landlord reveals that he is using them to keep his daughter Eliza alive in the tower of the house.
After further investigation (and an intense game of cat and alien insects), the Doctor gets the Landlord to admit that he is actually Eliza’s son and that he unknowingly brought the Dryads to his sickly mother when he was much younger. Sensing her illness, the Dryads turned her into wood but her transformation came at a price: the Landlord must “feed” the dryads with new tenants every twenty years.
Once she realizes what happened, Eliza convinces the Landlord to stop and they are both consumed by the Dryads. Bill’s friends all emerge unscathed, and they all escape the house before it collapses. Before the episode ends, the Doctor offers to trade places with Nardole, who is watching the vault. Piano music is then heard from the vault they are guarding.
Episode 5 – Oxygen
Oxygen is a “zombies in space”-themed episode. The Doctor, who’s getting really bored with watching the mysterious vault, suggests that they go on a camping trip.
Bill, the Doctor, and Nardole then answer a distress call from a space station called the Chasm Forge. The three of them are immediately sent on the run by its undead inhabitants. Unfortunately, the ship traps the trio in a separate room from the TARDIS so they can’t escape.
All of the crew members were murdered by their “smartsuits.” In this timeline, oxygen is the most valuable commodity. It is cheaper to kill off the Charm Forge’s crew instead of supplying them with air.
As the trio and the survivors move to a safer part of the space station, Bill’s suit malfunctions and she is forced to remove her helmet while they are outside the Chasm Forge. We cut to Bill being rescued, and as she comes to, she is now in another room with the survivors. It is also revealed that the Doctor saved her by giving her his helmet and that he is now blind.
However, the Doctor is faced with a dilemma when Bill’s smartsuit malfunctions again just as they are being chased by a large group of space zombies. In true Doctor fashion, he asks Bill to trust him without explaining his plan. Bill is terrified but she goes along with him, and it looks like she is also killed by their pursuers.
Even while blind, the razor-sharp (but still obnoxious) Doctor manages to reprogram the Chasm Forge’s system to self-destruct should he and the others run out of air. The corporation is forced to reprogram the smartsuits of those who died, and they hand over their remaining air to the survivors.
The Doctor reveals that after six months, the survivors have successfully lead a rebellion against the company. Nardole helps him get his eyesight back. But as the episode ends, the Doctor reveals that he still can’t see. Dun dun dun…
Episode 6 – Extremis
Extremis kicks of Steven Moffat’s “Monks Trilogy.” The Doctor copes with his blindness by bringing back his sonic eyeglasses, which help him see (sort of). Bill is still unaware of his condition.
In the A story of Extremis, the Pope asks the Doctor for help with the Veritas, a newly-translated text that somehow causes its readers to kill themselves. At a secret library hidden deep beneath the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo tells them that someone has emailed the translated text to CERN.
The Doctor remains with the Veritas text under the pretense that he will wait for them. Bill suspects that he will try to read the text while they are looking for the culprit. Since Nardole knows the Doctor is blind, he coaxes Bill to go with him. While chasing after the culprit, Bill and Nardole discover a portal from the Vatican to CERN. It even connects them to the White House.
They both go through the portal and at CERN, where they encounter scientists drinking as they wait for a countdown. As Nardole tells Bill that all the scientists plan to kill themselves with explosives, they both escape back to the portal. He is also the first to realize that they are all in a simulation.
At the White House portal, Bill finds an injured Doctor. He tells her that a “demon” is studying simulations before actually taking over Earth. The Doctor adds that Veritas reveals the true nature of the false world. Those who read it “kill” themselves to escape it.
A Monk shows up, and Bill disappears just like Nardole. The Doctor tells the Monk that while he may be a simulation, he can still warn the “real” Doctor. The simulation Doctor buys just enough time to “email” his video recording from his sonic sunglasses to the real Doctor.
The Thing in the Vault
In the B story of Extremis, flashbacks reveal that the Doctor is once again faced with a difficult choice. He must either execute Missy (aka the Mistress) as punishment for her misdeeds or keep her alive but doom the Universe to her nefarious schemes. Missy is the latest (female) incarnation of his former friend-turned-archenemy, the Master.
The Doctor is torn between his duty as a Time Lord and his belief that Missy can change. A priest arrives, but the Doctor insists that he didn’t call for one.
The priest is actually Nardole, who reads a passage from River’s diary (remember, River is the Doctor’s wife). He pretends that he is reading from holy text. Nardole then reminds the Doctor that he must stay true to what his wife loved about him: his hope in the good in people. Maybe even someone like Missy.
The Doctor agrees to execute Missy, but as he pulls the switch, she only loses consciousness. The rules state that after her execution the Doctor must keep watch over her body for 1,000 years to prevent regeneration.
He tells the executioners that in a way, he’ll keep his end of the bargain. The Doctor keeps his promise of watching over Missy, who is still locked in the Vault.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 of our Doctor Who Series 10 recap! Get your tissues ready because I will need them. (Oh, my hearts, I don’t want Twelve to go.)
Did you like Series 10? Are you ready to meet the new Doctor? Let us know in the comments!
For part 2 of this post, click here.