Doctor Who The Power of the Doctor Review: Goodbye, Jodie, we hardly knew ye

This is it. Jodie Whittaker's swan song. Thirteen has never gotten a fair shake, and it's unfortunate that her last chance to wow us is in her final episode, her regeneration looming at the end of the 1 and half hour runtime. But as it turns out, The Power of the Doctor may surprise even the most hardened critics of Chris Chibnall's era as showrunner.

It starts off with Cybermen kidnapping a mysterious alien child. Then it moves on to UNIT asking the Doctor for help solving the mystery of why fifteen of the most famous paintings of the world and twelve seismologists have gone missing. Then a giant Cyber-fied planet is seen near Earth in 1916. Then a Dalek defector asks the Doctor to help it destroy the Daleks once and for all. And in the middle of it all is The Master (Sacha Dhawan), cackling maniacally at his evil genius.

If that all sounds like a lot for an hour and a half episode, then you'd be right. This is like Flux or Spyfall or Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos all over again, which in a nutshell is Chibnall at his most overindulgent. He throws everything he can onto the screen hoping to overwhelm you into submission. Daleks! Cybermen! The Master! Alien planets! Historical characters! Ace! Tegan! Kate Lethbridge-Stewart! Vinder for some reason!

And you know what? I'd hate to admit that it works. No, the overstuffed plot makes no sense whatsoever, but Chibnall seems to have found some hitherto unseen font of inspiration and wrote an engaging episode full of exciting twists and nostalgic fanservice fit for a celebratory episode of the BBC's centenary. Even with all the plot points rushing by you every minute, The Power of the Doctor is just fun, more fun than I've ever had in a Chibnall episode, and that in itself is a goddamn achievement.

A lot of the episode's strengths lie in its cast. Sophie Aldred as Ace and Janet Fielding as Tegan Jovanka, both Classic Who companions who haven't been seen in the show since their exits, are amazing and haven't lost a step. They're not given much beyond the full fanservice package (yes, the bomber jacket makes an appearance), but to see them interact with Jodie's Doctor is a delight. And speaking of Jodie, she knocks it out of the park in this episode. Her vulnerabilities, her brilliance, are in full display, and she leaves nothing on the table but the tears of missed potential. "I need more time. I want more time!" Thirteen laments, and for once I agree with her.

That's why it pains me to see her so underused, especially in her very own regeneration episode. Thirteen actually disappears halfway through, replaced by The Master in a bit of "de-generation" wackiness in a plot to sully her good name as the Doctor across the universe (why did he do that when he can just steal the TARDIS and do it himself?). Most of the plot is pushed to their conclusion not by Jodie but by her companions. All that was left for Jodie to do was to breathlessly describe things happening in front of our eyes. What a way to end her tenure!

But sometimes, it's not about the journey, but the destination. At the very least, we got to see the first female Doctor in the show's history go out on her own terms. I'd like to judge The Power of the Doctor not by how I feel about the showrunner behind it, but by how it's making me wish the Thirteenth Doctor had more time, better companions, better writers, better everything.

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