After an extended layoff, Doctor Who finally returned to the small screen with new episodes. This season of the long running British sci-fi classic will be the last ride for Peter Capaldi as the title character, and for Steven Moffat as the show runner/head writer. Capaldi has portrayed the Doctor with much more bite than his predecessors, but in my opinion has been a victim of the writing and direction of the show. Last season was his strongest, dealing with the repercussions of his actions with making Ashildr (Maisie Williams) immortal, the death of his friend and companion Clara (Jenna Coleman), and his return to the long lost Gallifrey. It was, in this writer’s opinion, the best writing in Moffat’s tenure as well.
In the episode “The Pilot,” we are introduced to the newest companion, Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie). Bill is a university food service worker who catches the Doctor’s eye by attending his lectures even though she is not a student. The Doc is taking a time travel sabbatical, posing as a professor. He persuades Bill to take private lessons in his office on a nightly basis, but when a mystery involving a girl Bill is attracted to and a strange puddle arises, the game is afoot and the TARDIS is put back in service. Bill discovers the solution on her own in a melancholy narrative that impresses the Doctor. A universe of adventure is now laid at Bill’s feet, and she jumps at the chance to escape her humdrum life and travel alongside the Time Lord.
Pearl Mackie breathes life into Bill, giving a riveting performance and instantly giving her the greatest gift a character can get, making the audience care. She is brilliant, funny, vulnerable, and absolutely gorgeous. She came from meager beginnings that left her without parents and with little future. She has a sadness vibe that exists just below her effervescent persona, which is on display when nothing seems to work out with her crush, Heather. The tenderness that Bill exudes when saying goodbye to her got me hooked. It has only been one episode, but I now have high expectations of the character and the actress that makes her real. While it is the swan song for some, it is happy salutations for others.
What did you think about the newest member of Gallifrey University? Will Bill become a beloved compatriot of Who, or just a footnote lost to time and space?