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This list was a slightly different experience for me because I was watching two of the Twelfth Doctor's seasons for the first time whereas all the other season before now were re-watches. I think Peter Capaldi did a fantastic job and I do like Twelve; however, his seasons are probably my least favourites of the show so far so I was happy to find a few gems that I loved a lot and think deserve to be seen and appreciated.
Prior to this list I also wrote my top 5 episodes of the Ninth Doctor's era, my top 10 episodes of the Tenth Doctor's era, and most recently my top 10 episodes of the Eleventh Doctor's era. This list, like the others, doesn't include special episodes. In the past, any time there was a part one and part two those episodes would be grouped as one; however, I'm not applying that this time around as a lot of episodes in Twelve's seasons bled into each other but aren't technically classed as two-parters.
Regardless, these are my top 10 episodes of the Twelfth Doctor's era and be warned, this post may contain spoilers.
10. "The Eaters of Light" [10x10] — 8/10
"A long time ago, the Roman legion of the ninth vanished into the mists of Scotland. Bill has a theory about what happened, and the Doctor has a time machine. But when they arrive in ancient Aberdeenshire, what they find is a far greater threat than any army. In a cairn, on a hillside, is a doorway leading to the end of the world." - IMDb
This one earns a place on my top 10 because I really loved Bill and Nardole in it. They're fantastic companions and it was really great to see them on their own for a little bit. The Roman soldiers and the Farmers were also interesting characters and I like that we got to know the former through Bill and the latter through Nardole (and the Doctor).
I knew Matt Lucas was in Doctor Who but prior to my recent re-watch/catch-up I had only seen the Twelfth Doctor’s first season and I had no idea that Nardole was going to be in the show as much as he was. I especially didn’t know he was going to be a companion. Seeing him and Bill travel with the Doctor was really awesome but a great thing about this particular episode is that we saw them handle some things on their own as well. I liked seeing Nardole embrace what was going on around him and get to know the Farmers just as we saw Bill get to know the Roman soldiers and was a big voice of reason in the episode.
9. "Oxygen" [10x05] — 8/10
"When the Doctor, Bill and Nardole become trapped on a space station without oxygen, they discover the spacesuits are trying to kill them." - IMDb
This episode takes the ninth place because it was Bill's first episode in space. She had traveled in the TARDIS before now and had seen some of the things that the Doctor goes up against but this was the first time she had actually gone into space and I loved it! Bill is so different to most companions in the sense that she is often more excited and incredibly chill when discovering certain things. Like, "oh, we're in space? cool." I love her personality and her outlook on a lot of things so it was nice to see her experiencing another side to traveling with the Doctor.
I really loved that this episode was also quite intense with the zombie people in the spacesuits, Bill constantly having close calls, and the Doctor going blind in order to save her life. Considering we only got her for one season I'm glad the show didn't waste time on getting the Doctor and Bill to become close so we could spend every second of her time on the show getting to know her and seeing that beautiful relationship.
8. "Smile" [10x02] — 8/10
"In the far future, at the edge of the galaxy, there is a gleaming, perfect city. This brand new human settlement is said to hold the secret of human happiness - but the only smiles the Doctor and Bill can find are on a pile of grinning skulls. Something is alive in the walls, and the emojibots are watching from the shadows, as the Doctor and Bill try to unravel a terrifying mystery..." - IMDb
Something I noticed with Twelve's third season (series 10) is that there were a handful of episodes that felt like the early seasons of revived Doctor Who, episodes in which there's a simple case and the Doctor and his companions just have fun. It doesn't necessarily add to the overall story of the season (or of that Doctor's era) but it's fun. That's what Smile was. Sure, what was going on was quite horrific and kind of dark but it felt stripped back in the best ways possible. I also loved the way the robots worked. It felt futuristic but also like it was something that might happen in the next few years which adds to the creep factor.
7. "Face The Raven" [9x10] — 8/10
"The Doctor and Clara are called back to earth when Rigsy discovers a strange tattoo on the back of his neck that appears to be counting down to zero. Their investigation leads them to a hidden street in the middle of London, the discovery that Rigsy has been issued a death sentence, and one of them facing the choice of having to make the ultimate sacrifice; to face the Raven!" - IMDb
I think my favourite thing about this episode is that it felt like an old episode of revived Doctor Who and it wasn't necessarily just one thing. The mystery and how they solved it felt simple yet fun and although it did lead on to something much bigger in the following episodes, the actual contents of this episode felt intense but not piled on. It was enough to keep your interest without overloading you. I also liked the street it was set on. It felt otherworldly while actually being in present time and in London. I actually quite enjoyed Clara's goodbye in this episode too. It was really well done and I found myself getting quite emotional as it built up to her facing the raven.
6. "Flatline" [8x09] — 8/10
"A problem happens with the Tardis, trapping the Doctor inside and leaving Clara to fend for herself against a two-dimensional enemy." - IMDb
This one makes it onto the list for similar reasons to Smile but I put it slightly higher because I laughed a lot at this episode. It was also nice to see Clara be leading the charge and it's the first time we meet Rigsy who I really like. It was also interesting to see the idea of an alien species that lives in a 2-D space and what would happen if it came into a 3-D world.
5. "In the Forest of the Night" [8x10] — 8/10
"One morning in London, and every city and town in the world, the human race wakes up to the most surprising invasion yet: the trees have moved back in. Everywhere, in every land, a forest has grown and taken back the Earth." - IMDb
I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of mother nature taking over the Earth resulting in greenery popping up everywhere and growing on things like buildings. You can see it in movies like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and shows like The 100. A setting like this makes Earth seem like a completely new place and one of those Doctor Who episodes where he travels to somewhere completely new and different. It’s a homegrown mystery that feels extra special in every possible way. There’s also the fact that every threat is pretty plausible thanks to the forest. The wolves, and other animals, for example would be a strange sight in London except with a giant forest popping up, it makes sense that they might have a means of escape. The forest is mostly dormant in the sense that it doesn’t move. It’s huge, you can’t miss it, and we know it’s up to something but until we discover what that is we get to enjoy other mysteries. It’s also another case of something appearing like it might the enemy when in fact it’s there to help.
4. "World Enough and Time" [10x11] — 9/10
"Trapped on a giant spaceship, caught in the event horizon of a black hole, he witnesses the death of someone he is pledged to protect. Are events already out of control?" - IMDb
Honestly, what's not to love about an episode that starts off being a tame day out to introduce Missy to the team and to see how well she does only for it to end in utter disaster? Also, that reveal of the Master at the end was pretty fantastic too. I did, like with The Eaters of Light, enjoy seeing Bill work on her own. She was left completely to her own means, trying to figure out how to survive and it was awesome. Of course, she was turned into a Cyberman this episode; however, she was still kickass and this episode really highlighted why she is such a fantastic companion. I did also enjoy how the whole thing was set on a spaceship where the settings were different and time passed at different speeds.
3. "Mummy on the Orient Express" [8x08] — 9/10
"On the most beautiful train in history, speeding amongst the stars of the future, a deadly and immortal creature is stalking the passengers." - IMDb
I actually liked this one more than I was expecting to. There was a mystery that wasn’t overly complicated and didn’t necessarily have some spectacular conclusion but it was interesting from start to finish. I loved not only the conclusion but also how the Doctor reached it and the journey along the way. The other passengers on the train was really great as well. I particularly loved Perkins and how he figured a lot of things out, even before the Doctor. Speaking of, I quite preferred Twelve in this episode. He seemed to be having at least a little bit of fun trying to figure out this new mystery and it was one of the first times where he didn’t appear to be completely heartless. This felt to me like quite a simple storyline but was by far one of the most interesting ones I’ve seen.
2. "Time Heist" [8x05] — 9/10
"The Doctor and Clara must break into the most secure bank in the universe." - IMDb
This episode was a ton of fun! I’m a sucker for storylines that involve heists and bank robberies so this was already going to be an entertaining episode for me but for the most part it was genuinely really good. My only complaint about the episode is that I found the Twelfth Doctor to be a little bit one dimensional and slightly bland in his first season and with a mysterious episode like this one, I kind of expected him to have a bit more fun. However, the episode was still really enjoyable. It was really great that we have no idea what was happening and neither do the characters. The other two characters in their little group, Psi and Saibra, were really lovable and I’m really happy with their outcomes for the episode as well as the conclusion to the mystery.
1. "The Doctor Falls" [10x12] — 9/10
"The Doctor makes a final stand against an army of Cybermen to protect a tiny band of humans from destruction." - IMDb
I’m going to be perfectly honest and say what put this onto the top ten was seeing Missy and the Master interact. Michelle Gomez and John Simms were as fantastic as ever in their roles and it was so much fun to see them act together! They’re both playing the same character but at very different stages of their lives which worked particularly well because we got to see the more chaotic side to the Master one more time and it helped to really shine how much the character has grown as Missy. You can see the good or at least the potential within them a lot more when you compare her now to who she was back then. Their interactions were by far the best thing about the episode and it made it a favourite for me but there were some other great things too!
While I’m sad Bill was turned into a Cyberman in the previous episode, I did appreciate that we still saw Pearl Mackie for most of this episode with some shots of the Cyberman version. I also appreciate that Bill was still herself. She was such a fantastic companion and I do wish we had more of her but this episode was a prime example of what an amazing person she is. Nardole was also really great too! I felt like we really got to see another side of him which I appreciated and this episode was by far my favourite with him. Overall, this one makes it onto the top list mostly for character but then character has always been one of my favourite things about this show!
There we have my top 10 episodes! I was really unsure about Twelve when we first met him but he definitely grew on me and I'm really going to miss seeing him in new episodes.
In terms of these lists, I do have to say that I won't be doing one of these for Thirteen until she regenerates. I want to be able to take every episode into account in order to be fair considering I've done that for the Doctors who came before and I want to see Jodie Whittaker's full range as Thirteen. That being said, I'm really looking forward to seeing her run and writing one of these for her as well when the time comes.