Executive producer Chris Chibnall teases a 'seismic' episode.

By Clark Collis
February 19, 2020 at 09:00 AM EST
Ben Blackall/BBC Studios/BBC America

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The current season of Doctor Who will conclude in a two-part finale, with the first half, “Ascension of the Cybermen,” premiering Feb. 23 on BBC America and the second, “The Timeless Children,” screening a week later. Those episode titles alone should be enough to get fans excited, teasing, as they do, the full-fledged return of those mechanical monstrosities the Cybermen and a possible resolution of the Timeless Child story line that has shadowed Jodie Whittaker’s time-traveling Doctor almost since the actress took over the role.

“We’re not just going big on the finale in episode 10,” Doctor Who executive producer Chris Chibnall tells EW. “Episode 9, ‘Ascension of the Cybermen,’ obviously sees the return of iconic monsters. It’s the first time Jodie’s Doctor, the Thirteenth Doctor, has squared off against them. We have both old and new designs of the Cybermen, there’s more than one Cyber-variant in the story. And it’s a big, space-spanning, spaceship-lasery, Cybermanny sci-fi story. Properly epic. It’s set in the aftermath of a Cyber war, and a large band of human refugees are on the run from a very determined, zealous Cyberman who’s determined to hunt down and eliminate the very last of humanity and finally win the war. Enter the Doctor and her friends.”

“Ascension of the Cybermen” guest-stars British actress Julie Graham, who plays a character called Ravio.

“You might know her from The Bletchley Circle and also a show called Shetland,” says Chibnall. “She’s one of the U.K.’s most-loved actors. She plays one of the human refugees. She’s great. If you are one of the last human refugees, you want Julie Graham on your side to help you evade Cybermen.”

Ben Blackall/BBC Studios/BBC America

Chibnall is more tight-lipped about “The Timeless Children.”

“We’ve been playing out this mystery for a while now,” he says. “Obviously the Timeless Child was first mentioned in Jodie’s second episode and then came back in force when the Master returned at the beginning of this season and told her that everything she knows is a lie. ‘The Timeless Children’ — plural! — will pay off a lot of the strands that we’ve set running both last year and this year. I’m going to do classic British understatement here: It’s a relatively seismic episode for the Doctor, and for the show. You will get some answers, but you will also be left with a whole load of new questions in true Doctor Who style.”

How does Chibnall think fans will be left feeling once the episode is over?

“It is an emotional and narrative roller coaster — for the characters, for the audience,” he says. “I think you’re going to need a very strong drink. It’s a 65-minute finale, so on BBC America that will go longer, obviously. It’s big, it’s action-packed, it’s very, very epic and very, very emotional, and there is a blistering performance from Jodie Whittaker in that final episode. People, I think, are going to feel wrung-out and possibly a little bit open-mouthed.”

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