The end has come; the witch is dead. The most divisive and destructive era in Doctor Who ends with “The Power of The Doctor.” This episode is still as poorly written as this era’s norm, but it also does its best to leave a mark on the fans, digging in further and destroying as much as possible before it ends. “The Power of The Doctor” is vitriolic nostalgia bait, taking every opportunity to reference past events and bring back classic characters to debase them and prop up the current regime. Some fans may find perverse enjoyment in this episode, apathy leading to laughter. However, most will lose interest around the halfway mark as “The Power of The Doctor” begins its final insult. Nevertheless, this era is over, the witch is dead, and all the fans have endured this travesty.
“The Power of The Doctor’s” plot makes no sense, so a recap of the story seems pointless. Regardless, this episode follows The Master’s convoluted plan to forcibly regenerate The Doctor into The Master, for some reason. The Daleks and Cybermen are around just because. Countless cameos appear throughout the episode, dragging its runtime to over 90 minutes. Yaz uses contrived nonsense to master piloting the Tardis and degenerate The Doctor from The Master. They all escape and thwart the villains’ plans, but not before The Doctor is hit with a planet-destroying laser beam that knocks her over but leads to her ultimate death. The Doctor abandons Yaz to regenerate into David Tennant on her own. If that sounds convoluted and nonsensical, it’s because it is.
The Master’s plan is idiotic and complicated to the degree that the pieces don’t fit together. The Master wants to force The Doctor to regenerate into him so he can go about the universe murdering and destroying at will, besmirching The Doctor’s good name. This would only make sense if he kept Jodie’s face after the regeneration. However, he keeps his original face on her body, so there’s no need to do this. He could have killed The Doctor, taken her Tardis, and pretended to be her. That’s what ends up happening anyway with his crazy plan. So, this convoluted plan of taking Time Lord technology powered by a cyber planet to force The Doctor to regenerate, a la the 2nd Doctor’s regeneration, is utterly pointless.
Even if The Master’s goal made sense, his plan still wouldn’t. Both The Doctor and The Master mention that he can’t have the Daleks and the Cybermen working for him, but the writers move right on past that. They seem to think they can mention that something doesn’t make sense, and that’ll excuse the fact that it doesn’t; sounds very much like the She-Hulk writers’ room. The Daleks have absolutely no reason to be involved in this story. The part they supposedly play forces the volcanoes around the Earth to erupt and destroy the planet. However, the Daleks have more than enough firepower to destroy the world if that was their end goal. They neither have motivation nor provide a worthwhile contribution in “The Power of The Doctor.” Additionally, the Daleks planned to have a traitor in their midst to lure The Doctor into a trap. There have only been two known instances of Daleks turning against their species, both of which include the Dalek getting influenced by an outside force that drives them insane. Counting on a traitorous Dalek is insane, especially considering that the Daleks are incapable of believing something like that is possible because of their supremacist ideals.
It would take several hours to properly dissect the levels of stupidity that exemplify The Master’s scheme. There are countless things to explore, such as the 2022 Master just disappearing from the episode, the point of bringing back The Lone Cybermen, and so much more. Suffice it to say that the episode’s conflict, which defines its plot, is nonsensical and broken at every opportunity.
Despite this nonsensical plan, it isn’t the worst part of “The Power of The Doctor.” That title goes to an event roughly halfway through the episode, destroying and driving it near “The Timeless Children” levels of depravity. While The Master controls The Doctor’s body, her consciousness is sent deep into her mind, where she’s approached by 5 classic Doctors. With The Doctor that Jodie regenerates into, the final Doctor count of the episode is 7, the most ever seen. “The Power of The Doctor” sees the return of Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, and Peter Davidson in a mainline episode for the first time in decades. These classic Doctors are paraded across the screen to affirm Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, calling her the strongest and best of them, brought back and mocked to prop this terrible era up.
How dare you, Chris Chibnall? After your constant hatred and belittling of Doctor Who’s past, you don’t have the right to parade beloved Doctors — and later companions — to destroy this show on your way out. After you stripped William Hartnell of the title of 1st Doctor, you cannot resurrect his character in some vain attempt to pull nostalgia from the fans you’ve so alienated.
The treatment of these classic Doctors and companions is horrific. They’re shallow at best, but at worst, they’re mocked, their original versions insulted. However, the only moment of relative quality in this episode comes more from the performance of one of these classic Doctors, Sylvester McCoy. For the first time since the 80s, the 7th Doctor is on screen with Ace again, and their interaction is surprisingly compelling. But for every good 7th Doctor and Ace interaction, there are a dozen moments like Tegan casually committing mass murder by blowing up a building without a second thought.
Funnily enough, the regeneration at the end of “The Power of The Doctor” is not the most controversial part of the episode. After giving a terrible speech and ditching Yaz, The Doctor finds a cliff face to regenerate into David Tennant. This is an admission of failure. Bringing back David is a Hail Mary in hopes of resurrecting this dead show. Doctor Who died with “The Timeless Children,” and “The Power of The Doctor” does nothing to change that. This episode doesn’t have good dialogue, acting, or competent CGI. It’s broken on nearly every level. Coincidences abound, and abandoned plotlines appear everywhere. Long gone are the complicated and compelling stories that once made Doctor Who a worldwide phenomenon.