Spyfall (Doctor Who)
|288 – "Spyfall"|
|Doctor Who episodes|
|Written by||Chris Chibnall|
|Script editor||Fiona McAllister|
|Incidental music composer||Segun Akinola|
|Length||2 episodes, 59 and 60 minutes|
|First broadcast||1 January 2020|
|Last broadcast||5 January 2020|
"Spyfall" is the two-part premiere of the twelfth series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, first broadcast on BBC One on 1 January 2020, and concluded on 5 January 2020. It was written by showrunner and executive producer Chris Chibnall. The first episode was directed by Jamie Magnus Stone, and the second by Lee Haven Jones.
The episode stars Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, alongside Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, and Mandip Gill as her companions, playing Graham O'Brien, Ryan Sinclair and Yasmin Khan respectively and marks the first return of the Master since "The Doctor Falls" (2017).
Following the executions of intelligence agents around the world, the Doctor, Yaz, Graham, and Ryan are called in by the head of MI6, C, to investigate. The victims' DNA has been altered into something extraterrestrial. Their only lead is Daniel Barton, the CEO of the search engine media company, VOR. Additionally, the Doctor contacts Agent O, who was tasked with monitoring extraterrestrial activities before being struck off by C. C is killed by mysterious lifeforms, while the Doctor and her companions manage to escape.
While Yaz and Ryan investigate Barton (whose DNA they discover to be 93% human), who invites them to his birthday party the following day, Graham and the Doctor find O in the Australian outback. In their separate investigations, both groups encounter the same luminescent alien entities, who appear to be cooperating with Barton. In Australia, the Doctor is able to capture one of the lifeforms, who reveals their intent to occupy the universe. While sneaking into VOR's headquarters with Ryan, Yaz is attacked by one such entity and transported to a strange environment. The captured alien frees itself by swapping with Yaz, leaving her in O's base. Ryan is brought to Australia and regroups with Yaz, Graham and the Doctor.
Joined by O, the four investigate Barton at his birthday party. After being confronted by the Doctor, Barton denies all accusations put to him and angrily leaves in his car. The Doctor and her companions pursue Barton on motorbikes to his private jet. Leaping aboard said jet, O reveals he is actually the Master – having been in control of Barton and the aliens, a race known as the Kasaavins, the whole time. Barton then disappears from the pilot seat, leaving a bomb in his place. The Master says to the Doctor, "One thing I should tell you in the seconds before you die: Everything that you think you know, is a lie". The device detonates, shattering the nose of the plane and sending it into a nose dive. The Master teleports to his waiting TARDIS and two of the Kasaavins cause the Doctor to disappear from the plane, reappearing in the same environment Yaz was in earlier; leaving the others in the falling plane.
In the Kasaavins' dimension, the Doctor meets computer pioneer Ada Lovelace and grabs her hand when a Kasaavin appears, transporting them to an invention exhibition in 1834, where they encounter the Master. Though the Master knows the aliens' name and intentions, the Doctor realizes he does not fully understand them when he asks her how she escaped their dimension. Ada takes her to the residence of polymath Charles Babbage, where the Doctor summons a Kasaavin via a figurine identical to the one in Barton's office, hoping to return to the 21st century. Ada suddenly grabs the Doctor's hand as she fades and they accidentally travel to Paris during World War II instead. They are rescued by British spy Noor Inayat Khan, though the Master continues to pursue them, posing as a Nazi officer through the use of a perception filter. The Doctor meets with the Master atop the Eiffel Tower, where the latter reveals that he had the Kasaavins kill spies in order to get the former's attention and claim that Gallifrey has been destroyed. With help from Ada and Noor, the Doctor destroys the Master's filter and turns the Nazis on him while her group uses his TARDIS to return to the present.
Back in the present, Ryan finds instructions to safely land the plane with help from a recording of the Doctor. By the time the companions land, Barton has branded them persons of interest. Despite this, they manage to steal one of Barton's cars, which takes them to a warehouse containing the figurine. Speaking at a conference, Barton reveals that the Kasaavin will rewrite humanity's DNA to utilize its storage capacity as hard drives. The Master, forced to live through the 20th century without his TARDIS, arrives in time to see the figurine device activate, only for it to fail after the Doctor planted a virus in it in the past. Just before the Kasaavins are forced back to their dimension, the Doctor exposes the Master's treachery and they take him with them while Barton escapes from the conference.
After setting up the means for her companions to survive the plane crash, the Doctor returns Ada and Noor to their respective time periods and wipes herself from their memories. She also visits Gallifrey's ruins to confirm the Master's claim, where she discovers a recording of him confessing to destroying their home planet after realizing their understanding of Time Lord history was a lie based on the "Timeless Child." Afterwards, her companions bluntly request the Doctor explain who she is, so she tells them of what she believes to be her backstory.
The episode sees the return of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor for her second full series. Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill also reprise their roles as Graham O'Brien, Ryan Sinclair and Yasmin Khan, respectively.
Sacha Dhawan made an unannounced appearance as The Master, who had supplanted an MI6 agent codenamed O, who he posed as. Dhawan previously portrayed Waris Hussein, the director of the very first Doctor Who serial, in the 2013 docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time. Dhawan said he had been notified of the role in January 2019 about a week prior before filming in South Africa, at the time when he was working with Peter Capaldi, the actor that had played the previous incarnation of the Doctor, on a scripted play. Dhawan had found it hard to keep a straight face in front of Capaldi since he had to keep his role secret.
Jamie Magnus Stone, who previously directed the fiftieth-anniversary minisode "The Last Day", directed the first block, which comprised the first and fifth episodes of the series. Filming commenced on 23 January 2019. Lee Haven Jones directed the second block, which comprised the second and third episodes. Multiple countries were portrayed whilst filming in South Africa.
Broadcast and reception
|Rotten Tomatoes (Average Score)||7.58|
|Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer)||92%|
|The A.V. Club||B+|
|Rotten Tomatoes (Average Score)||7.2|
|Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer)||80%|
|The A.V. Club||B+|
The first part of "Spyfall" aired on 1 January 2020, with the second part moving to Doctor Who's regular Sunday timeslot on 5 January 2020.
The "Spyfall" two-part episode was released in cinemas in the United States on 5 January 2020.
"Spyfall, Part 1" was watched by 4.88 million viewers overnight, making it the second most watched programme for the day in the United Kingdom. The first episode had an Audience Appreciation Index score of 82. "Spyfall, Part 2" was watched by 4.60 million viewers overnight, making it the fifth most watched programme for the day in the United Kingdom. The second episode also had an Audience Appreciation Index score of 82.
The two episodes received an official total of 6.89 and 6.07 million viewers across all UK channels respectively.
The first episode holds an approval rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an average of 7.58/10 based on 26 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "A fresh suit, new faces, and some exciting espionage are fun enough, but the Spyfall, Part 1's final moments inspire hope for an absolutely epic new season of Doctor Who."
The second episode holds an approval rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an average of 7.2/10 based on 15 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "While definitely a welcome showcase of all that Whittaker's Doctor has to offer, Spyfall, Part 2's descent into well-trodden Doctor Who lore can't help but feel like a step back." Dan Martin of The Guardian criticised the episode for a perceived lack of internal logic. He writes that "Spyfall part two collapsed under the weight of its own bombast”, and described it as a "befuddling instalment.”
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