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The second part of the ‘Doctor Who’ season premiere sees the Doctor reunited with her archenemy. (Photo provided via @bbcdoctorwho on Twitter)

TV Review: ‘Doctor Who’ reunites with her archenemy in a chase through time and space

In the first part of “Spyfall,” Doctor Who’s feature-length season premiere, lead writer Chris Chibnall created an exciting and intriguing setup with a startling reveal at the end. In the hour-long second part, “Spyfall” runs with that setup and never lets go, carrying its story forward while building off Doctor Who’s rich history and setting up even more mysteries for the future.

As revealed in part one, the former MI6 agent, codenamed “O” (Sacha Dhawan), is actually the Master, a Time Lord just like the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her archenemy, who similarly has the ability to regenerate his or her body. There is no attempt to explain how his previous iteration, Missy (Michelle Gomez), was able to regenerate following her apparent death in season 10, but hopefully this will be revealed later.

Following right where part one left off, the Doctor’s companions are left on the crashing airplane while the Doctor herself is transported to an 1834 invention exhibition and then again to Paris under attack by the Nazis in 1943. She meets mathematician Ada Lovelace (Sylvie Briggs) and British spy Noor Inayet Khan (Aurora Marion) in each respective time and place, who serve as her temporary companions for the rest of the episode as the Master chases them through time and space.

Back in present-day Britain, the Doctor’s main companions, Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh), Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill) and Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), remain on the run from Daniel Barton (Lenny Henry), the CEO of VOR, an equivalent to Google. Barton’s speeches on how VOR rules the world through data collection is heavy-handed, and his ultimate plan is a bit too silly, even for Doctor Who. Fortunately, he and the Kasaavins, the alien creatures discovered in part one, become secondary villains to the Master, who appears to be pulling all the strings.

Much more emphasis is given to the Doctor and her new companions’ fight against the Master, who takes the guise of a Nazi officer in 1943 Paris. Whittaker and Dhawan play off each other’s characters brilliantly, bringing out the history between the characters despite it being the first time these two actors have played them together. Even individually, Dhawan’s performance as the Master is delightfully deranged yet charismatic when needed, making him an excellent successor to Gomez.

With so many plot threads and settings, both in time and place, it would be easy for “Spyfall” to feel bloated or simply confusing. Although some parts are more interesting than others, the movie-length story manages to remain engaging throughout, adding even more shocking revelations that are sure to interest long-time Whovians.

Doctor Who’s previous season had a great cast and some standout episodes, but overall felt distant from the elements that gave the show its identity. With the return of the series’ most iconic villain and a compelling mystery for future episodes to explore, “Spyfall” is a promising start to what will hopefully be a fantastic new season.

Doctor Who airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on BBC America.


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