Doctor Who: “World Enough and Time”

***MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD***

A friend of mine wrote on Twitter about this episode, “Holy $#!^. Doctor Who is off the chain.” And she was right! This episode is insane, but in a very, very good way. From Missy’s opening test to the final reveals — and there are like three cliffhanger reveals happening at once — “World Enough and Time” delivers the goods. This is probably the best Missy episode we’ve had since the character was introduced back in season eight, and her jokes about the Doctor’s real name being “Doctor Who” are surprisingly funny for such a touchy subject among fans. The 400-mile long spaceship where, thanks the proximity of a black hole, the ends of the ship are moving through time at different speeds, is a great idea and very well executed. The hospital where Bill winds up after she’s nearly killed is superbly creepy, and the design of the other patients is a sneaky treat to those of us who remember classic Doctor Who, in particular the very first appearance of the Cybermen in the 1966 First Doctor serial “The Tenth Planet.” When the episode ended, I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what happens next.

My only wish is that the BBC hadn’t hyped the return of both the Mondasian Cybermen from “The Tenth Planet” and the John Simm Master. The news that they were returning in this episode left me waiting for both, and as a result I didn’t feel as surprised as I wish I had. In particular, I found myself guessing correctly that Razor was the Master in disguise, which left me not as excited by the reveal as I should have been. Also, I have to admit I didn’t fully understand why the Master bothered with a disguise. If the ship is from Mondas, they wouldn’t have recognized him as Harold Saxon, former Prime Minister of the UK. If the disguise is solely for Bill’s benefit, why did the hospital nurse show no surprise at “Razor’s” sudden appearance. Like the Doctor’s fake regeneration in “The Lie of the Land,” I suspect this was done solely for the audience, rather than for any story purpose, and when that happens it never feels quite authentic. On the other hand, the Master always did have a propensity for disguising himself, especially during the 1980s when he was played by Anthony Ainley. He disguises himself as the weird, alien mystic Kalid in the 1982 Fifth Doctor serial “Time Flight,” and the redheaded Frenchman Sir Gilles in the court of King John in the 1983 Fifth Doctor serial “The King’s Demons,” and he does both without knowing the Doctor would show up. He simply likes disguises, and I suppose I shouldn’t look for a reason he disguises himself as Razor in “World Enough and Time.” It’s just something the Master does.

Anyway, what’s going to happen to Bill now that she’s been turned into a Cyberman (Cyberperson?)? What’s going to happen now that Missy and the Master seem to have joined forces? Where has the Master been and how did he survive the cataclysmic events of the 2010 episode “The End of Time”? How will the Doctor stop the Cybermen, and will doing so lead to his regeneration, which is teased in the first few minutes of the episode? I want part two right now!

But since we have to wait, how about some good old-fashioned Doctor Who neepery? According to the classic series, Mondas, the planet where the Cybermen originated, is Earth’s twin planet, the tenth planet of our solar system (they were still counting Pluto back then!), which broke out of orbit somehow long ago. The inhabitants began to replace their organic body parts with mechanical ones in order to survive, which eventually led to them losing their emotions as well. They learned to pilot their planet like a spaceship and attacked Earth in the distant future of 1986, but the First Doctor defeated them in a taxing battle that, afterward, saw him regenerate for the very first time. The show seems to be playing with the origin a bit here, indicating the Cybermen were initially created on the lower decks of the spaceship in order to survive “Operation Exodus,” the journey back to the top of the ship. The Doctor knocks out the blue man on the bridge of the ship using Venusian Aikido, which is a martial art the Third Doctor used quite often back in the 1970s. But of course the best callback of all was John Simm wearing a goatee as the Master, the facial hair style employed by both Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainley in the role before him!

Can I have part two now, please?

Doctor Who: “The Eaters of Light”

I thought this episode was so-so. I enjoyed the monster movie angle of it, the mysterious creature from another dimension that’s out there in the wilderness killing anyone it finds, and I liked the ancient setting of Romans vs. Picts. There’s a fun part where the Doctor says he once lived as a Roman, which is a nice callback to the 1965 First Doctor serial “The Romans,” in which the Doctor hangs out in Nero’s court after being mistaken for a famous lyre player. But that’s about it. The stuff with the talking crows was garbage, and a lot of the emotions in “The Eaters of Light” felt forced and unearned, especially at the end. Bringing together two warring sides to fight for their mutual survival is a theme that was just explored in the previous episode, “Empress of Mars,” and as a result I found it lacked the appropriate weight here. There’s some more interesting interplay between Missy and the Doctor at the end of the episode, but that plot is starting to feel like wheel-spinning, like it’s not really going anywhere.

Luckily, the two-part season finale is up next, so it will definitely be going somewhere (I hope). The much-teased return of John Simm as the Master’s previous incarnation looks like it’s about to happen, and I’m psyched to see where it goes. (I was a big fan of Simm as the Master back in the Doctor Who revival’s third season, plus I thought he was great in Life on Mars.) The return of the Mondasian Cybermen has me equally intrigued, although less excited because I always thought they looked silly with those socks over their heads. Also, since Steven Moffat is writing these final episodes, I half expect some timey-wimey nonsense where the Twelfth Doctor’s encounter with the Mondasians now inspires them to invade earth, where he initially encounters them as the First Doctor in the 1966 serial “The Tenth Planet.”

We’ll see. Onward to the finale!

The Scariest Part: Billy Lyons Talks About BLOOD AND NEEDLES

This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is author Billy Lyons, whose debut novel is Blood and Needles. Here is the publisher’s description:

The last person 25-year-old junkie, Steven Jameson, expected to meet was Anna Marie, an alluring stranger who turns out to be a fellow junkie . . . and a vampire. Anna Marie senses an inner steel deep inside Steven, and offers him a membership in the seductive world of The Morphia Clan, a group of vampires as devoted to using narcotics as they are to drinking blood. Steven soon falls in love with Anna Marie, whose vampire throne is threatened from outside forces and from within. There are hidden dangers everywhere, and treachery and betrayal lie just around every corner. Soon Steven finds himself not only in a fight to save his own life but also the life of the vampire he loves.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Billy Lyons:

Blood and Needles is the story of Steven Jameson, a junkie who lives on the streets of Orlando and finances his habit by robbing tourists. One Saturday night he’s preparing to do this very thing when he runs into Anna Marie Jennsen. It turns out that Anna Marie isn’t just a fellow addict, but the leader of a family of vampires who love shooting up as much as drinking blood.

Steven joins the ranks of the undead degenerates, and while he’s sleeping away his first day as a vampire, he has a very unsettling dream. It begins pleasantly enough, with him floating languidly along a waterway of blood. As he drifts along, he dips his head into it from time to time and takes a sip, but it isn’t long before things turn ugly. The blood begins to congeal, and its smell changes from savory to sickening. In a matter of minutes, the blood clots completely, and he’s trapped. That’s when things get ugly.

The naked, bloated bodies of his deceased family members emerge from the blood. They point lifeless fingers at Steven, and make accusations that that cut him to the quick.

Steven, you stole pain medication from me. My cancer hurt so bad.” Grandma.

Before Steven can reply, his relatives are joined by hundreds more of the undead, each one a victim of Steven’s addiction. They rush forward and begin to chew away his flesh.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, Steven’s twin brother Allen (the person he loved most during his human existence) rips off one of Steven’s fingers and throws it high in the air. Buster, the family border collie, catches the finger in his mouth. Allen casts an evil grin at Steven, and with a wink says “Good boy, Buster!” Steven loses it completely, and screams himself awake.

When I first wrote this scene, I had to wonder if I wasn’t more than a little bit disturbed, and the fear it invoked stayed with me longer than anything else I’d written. I’d recently lost my older brother to a sudden heart attack, and my beloved miniature dachshund, Theodore, died around the same time from old age. The similarities between Steven’s grief and my own, combined with the fact that it’s just a scary freaking dream, made the experience of writing it quite terrifying. I did notice, however, that my grief had lessened somewhat afterwards, as crazy as that may sound. Call it catharsis through cannibalism.

Steven’s dream is brutal, frightening, and disturbing, but so is the world of the hardcore addict. As a vampire, Steven might find inner peace, but he must first deal with this little bit of leftover baggage from his human life. As a writer, creating the dream helped me deal with my own.

Blood and Needles: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Powell’s / IndieBound

Billy Lyons: Facebook / Twitter

Billy Lyons is the author of two published short stories. “Cell 334” was featured in the November 2014 edition of Another Realm magazine. “Black-Eyed Children, Blue-Eyed Child” was published in High Strange Horror, a 2015 horror anthology from Muzzleland Press. His latest, “Sheep and Snakes,” will be featured in Two Eyes Open, a horror anthology due to be released in August by MacKenzie Publishing. Blood and Needles is Billy’s debut novel. Follow Billy on Facebook for giveaways, personal appearances, and current writing projects.

CHASING THE DRAGON On Sale for $1.99!

Want to get the ebook of my Shirley Jackson Award-nominated and Thriller Award-nominated novel Chasing the Dragon for a mere $1.99? How about the ebook of any ChiZine Publications title? Well now you can, for a limited time only! Here’s how:

  1. Click this link to take you to the ChiZine Publications website.
  2. Scroll down through the list of ChiZine Publications titles.
  3. Send the titles of the book(s) you want in an email to savory@cogeco.ca (any book that has a “Buy the eBook” link at the bottom of its page—which is nearly everything—is fair game!).
  4. You’ll receive a PayPal invoice for the total amount.
  5. Pay it, and they will send you the book(s).
  6. If you’d prefer to pay by eTransfer, they can do that, too. Let them know in your email, and they’ll send you a PDF invoice instead.

This sale will end Wednesday, June 21st at midnight, Eastern Time, so act fast, spread the word, and get any CZP ebook you want (*cough* Chasing the Dragon *cough*) for just $1.99!

 

 

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