Doctor Who #1026: The Best of Days

"Not all Cybermen have handles on their heads, let's put it that way."
TECHNICAL SPECS: Released on YouTube 7 June 2020.

IN THIS ONE... Nardole and Bill keep in touch.

REVIEW: For those who wonder about the fate of Bill and Nardole, there's The Best of Days, crafted for the global rewatch party for World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls, delayed because of the equally global Black Lives Matter protests, which gave Steven Moffat (with acknowledged help from Pearl Mackie) the time to write a bit - and probably the best bit - about those events into the minisode. Director Rachel Talalay gets a creative supervisor credit because the visuals are essentially effects sequences created for her episodes - the black hole, the Mondasian ship, Earth and the TARDIS, beautiful stuff, with voice-over on top.

The conceit is that Nardole and Bill have a way to communicate over space-time and have kept touch since The Doctor Falls. Don't ask tech questions, but if you must, see Theories. As you might expect from Nardole's half of the episode, he's mostly silly. They've agreed to keep things positive (been there, friends), but he's still fighting waves of Cybermen on a ship falling into a black hole. So his message is all about putting a smile on such things as the admittedly pretty singularity and almost very nearly not breaking his leg. It's amusing, but fluff, and I was afraid The Best of Days wasn't going to achieve much more than that.

But then we get Bill's side of the conversation, and we find that she has left Heather, made herself human again, and is living a "normal" life on Earth (which doesn't exclude more trips with the Pilot ship, if Heather's prediction is indeed omniscient). I'm kind of happy with this. Bill was such a real person, I don't think it was necessarily the best ending for her to become "sentient oil" or whatever you want to call Heather. It worked for the moment, and I certainly didn't want her to die, but this better connects with her appearance in Twice Upon a Time. She's back at St. Luke's, falling in love with a pretty face - well, eyes, everyone's wearing a mask - being heroic in everyday ways like taking part in marches for Black Lives Matter. She filters the experience, and current events, through the filter of Doctor Who, happy (keep it positive!) that despite the justified anger and outrage, people at her demonstration kept their cool and remembered to be kind (a Doctorish lesson). The line about Cybermen among us is particularly potent. We're always a day away from being Mondas and losing out humanity. (Keep it positive!) But amidst the chaos, she has hope, and that's touching.

And then there's a cute bit about wondering if she would recognize the Doctor even with his new face. That she would snog his face off, and catching herself, saying "well, if he weren't a man". Oh Bill. If you only knew.

THEORIES: How DO Nardole and Bill communicate? Can even a space-time telegraph send messages that can escape a black hole's pull? First off, it's "space-time", so we assume Nardole isn't actually in 2020 AD. Given the time distortions, he would be completely out of phase with the rest of the universe. But time machines have had trouble getting out of that ship, so can a makeshift telegraph really send and receive anything? My theory is that when Bill was a puddle, she and Heather bent the laws of physics locally to allow such a thing, perhaps a thin corridor through which information packets could be transmitted. No matter how "god-like" Heather was, she didn't have the power to actually free the ship from the black hole, and though Nardole could have been rescued (and may yet), he no doubt chose to stay to protect the Mondasians there.

REWATCHABILITY: Nardole's bit, Medium-Low; Bill's bit, Medium-High - Starts off as fluff and ends on several touching, resonant high notes.

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