Rate & Discuss: The Pilot

April 15th, 2017
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...


Two worlds collide when the Doctor meets Bill, and a chance encounter with a girl with a star in her eye leads to a terrifying chase across time and space. Bill’s mind is opened to a Universe that is bigger and more exciting than she could possibly have imagined – but who is the Doctor, and what is his secret mission with Nardole on Earth?

Well, there you have it. After months of build up and anticipation, the moment has finally arrived. Welcome to the post-Pilot world, everybody! But was it worth all the waiting for?

Let’s face it, there was an awful lot to cram into these 50 minutes. Not only was tonight’s adventure kicking off Peter Capaldi’s final series as the Twelfth Doctor, it was also officially introducing Pearl Mackie as his brand new companion, Bill Potts. We’ve known about her for nearly a year, but now she’s stepped on board the TARDIS to see the universe anew…

So, what did you think of Bill’s entrée into the Whoniverse? Her days serving chips in the university canteen are over, but her life as an honorary, bonafide Earth defender are only just beginning. What are your first impressions of the Doctor’s new BFF, and was she what you were hoping for/expecting? And what did you make of the episode in general? Steven Moffat managed to reference the past, establish the present and look to the future in his last ever series opener, but will it go down as one of his best? Our discussion is now open…

You can read what WhovianNet thought of tonight’s episode in our advanced preview here.

NOTE: This discussion will NOT be spoiler monitored so please do not read the comments section if you haven’t seen The Pilot. You have been warned!

Rate this episode
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(21 Votes, Average: 4.14/5)
17 comments on this article
  1. Lyria
    April 15th, 2017 at 8.17pm | #1

    Bill is amazing and I can’t wait for the next episode!

  2. David
    April 15th, 2017 at 8.26pm | #2

    I had a nagging feeling I wasn’t going to like Bill. I was wrong.

  3. JoshRrr
    April 15th, 2017 at 8.46pm | #3

    That was… Surprisingly a really great episode! I was dreading a repeat of all the things I disliked from last two seasons and the terrible christmas special that I forgot how fun the show is and that I just adore the Doctor no matter what he does and who plays him, although Capaldi was as terrific as ever. Shocked to hear he’s already filmed his death scene. And there’s no official announcements but News like Mirror and The Sun keep saying the Kris Marshall will be the next Doctor.

    A solid story opener, I think I can grow to like Bill and Nardole. The story was nothing epic but that’s fine it was very entertaining and launches some intriguing stuff, like what is it the Doctor is hiding in the vault, why the interest in Bill and what’s with all the shots focused on Susan’s Picture? My theory; Bill is related to Susan, maybe an old Susan is inside the Vault…

    And I’ve finally thrown away my worries and realised this season looks great and OMG John Simms is in the trailer!After a year long absence i’m so glad that Doctor Who is back!

  4. Steve
    April 15th, 2017 at 9.36pm | #4

    There was a time, the Doctor would turn up, get into trouble, meet someone along the way and end up with them, not always by choice. Now it is the other way round and tonights episode was no different. Thankfully, so far anyway, Bill has not turned into Amy mark 3.
    The story was not great and dragged a little but overall was a marked improvement over rest of Moffat’s era.
    One grip – the Dalek/Movellan war (depending on which time line you subscribe to) had the wrong Daleks!!!

    @JoshRrr Yep, you saw the regeneration tonight in the coming up section…..

  5. Jay
    April 15th, 2017 at 9.51pm | #5

    One of the best openings to the series of all times !

  6. Richard Lloyd
    April 15th, 2017 at 10.02pm | #6

    A really REALLY fantastic story. Can’t wait to see more of Bill Potts!

  7. JoshRrr
    April 15th, 2017 at 11.13pm | #7

    @Steve
    I figured it would be a fake out regeneration, like in The Stolen Earth.

  8. JC
    April 15th, 2017 at 11.26pm | #8

    When I watch a new series of Doctor Who, I’m always looking for that feeling I used to get, right back to Series 1 with Christopher Eccleston. It’s a mixture of the familiar, the brand new and the exciting that makes you want the episode to go on forever. Will the new Series be able to do that? In this case, will the new Companion?

    So far, yes.

    I liked the character of Bill Potts a lot more than I thought I would and I was surprised by how quickly I warmed to her. I also like the change in music she’s brought with her, much more distinctive already than Series 8 and 9.

    Even though I haven’t liked Nardole in the previous Christmas Special, I like that he’s taken on the role of the Doctor’s Assistant. Having an Assistant and a Companion at the same time is quite a novelty.

    As a Revived Era fan, I loved that the 12th Doctor kept pictures of Susan and River on his desk. I can’t remember any of the Revived Era Doctors ever thinking about Susan before and he should. The Doctor promised he’d be back one day and hundreds of years later, 12 incarnations later, he still hasn’t. It’s interesting to see the Doctor consciously or subconsciously thinking about his Wife and Grandaughter.

    The vault is intriguing. What does it contain? Where did it come from? Why must the Doctor protect it and who did he make his promise to?

    Finally, the episode ended with a look ahead, including the alluded to glimpse of The Master and even that raised questions. He has a beard, which suggests that he either survived a while after the events of The End of Time or perhaps he is aged by being brought out of his time, similar to the 5th Doctor in Time Crash. Personally, I can’t wait to see him again.

    Overall, a great start to the series. Not the most complex and involved of episodes, but it was a light, introductory start to Bill and to the Series. Most importantly for me, it passed my test. I could feel it was the Doctor Who I know and love. I only hope it continues. Roll on Episode 2.

  9. MrMarmalade
    April 16th, 2017 at 11.10am | #9

    The first episode was written fantastically! I loved having the quiet start, although you can never go wrong by starting with the Doctor running away from explosions. Now I’m also extremely curious to what’s inside that vault.

  10. RobMcCoy1
    April 16th, 2017 at 5.31pm | #10

    1. The Monster

    I thought it was going to be piss poor based on the previews. One of them said something about “you’ll never look at puddles the same way again!!!” and it sounded like such bullshit I came in expecting to eyeroll through the whole episode. Then we saw her face in the water for the first time, and I got legit spooked. I found puddle girl properly creepy and disturbing at times – there was an eeriness about the concept and the performance, but also the tone of the episode as a whole. She reminded me very much of Japanese horror icons like Kayako and Sadako, and it struck me that the Pilot was essentially a ghost story in the same vein as Dark Water or Shutter. I was genuinely affected by Heather’s story – we knew so little, but for me, it seemed to say so much. Maybe I’m alone in this, but did anybody else think her transformation was a metaphor for suicide? She always wanted to “leave”, she struck me as somebody haunted and afraid.

    2. The Atmosphere

    It was really weird, but I loved it. It was the first time in a long time that Moffat’s Who has tapped into any emotion except smug self-congratulation, and it struck me as a really left-field choice – wistfulness, a sense of yearning and melancholy. That could have been me alone, though, and something I brought to the episode, but to me it was about a sense of absence, rather than loss – something missing from life that you’d never had. A sense of meaning, or purpose, or importance – love, acceptance, intimacy – the fact that Bill has a mother she’s never known, and lost a woman she never knew, suggests this was intentional rather than accidental. Bill built her mother in her imagination.Her crush struck me as one those rare, strange moments of connection, of promise, of potential – catching a beautiful boy/ girl’s eye, a smile, a look – and you -know- it means nothing, but in your head you’re still imagining some ethereal romance.

    3. Bill

    It struck me (and concerned me) that Moffat seemed to be trying to ape RTD in this episode. Working-class companion in dead-end job wants more from life. Promiscuous, critical mother figure with a string of bad boyfriends. A monster who mimics its victims before becoming them – all finished off with a dash of Moffat’s pseudo-Whedonesque glib quippery (I’m not a fan). Bill, to me, seemed sporadically inconsistent – one minute it’s “lol chips i fatted her” and the next she’s saying some big, poetic, wordy, lyrical speech. It’s a bad habit I hope Moffat breaks. For all that, though, I liked her. Maybe that’s just Mackie’s performance, but she seemed to give her a vulnerability, a self-consciousness, a sense of self-doubt and lack of confidence that sold the inconsistencies – maybe she’s talking plain because she’s scared if she talks clever she’ll get judged or called out or criticised for being wrong. Maybe she only starts owning her intelligence as her confidence grows over the year – she shares more and risks more. And Bill being an orphan (another dead/ disappearing mother from Moffat raised an eyebrow) at least seemed to be owned with some kind of emotional verisimilitude. She’s never felt like she belongs, and she’s looking for something, or someone, to fill the hole – as opposed to Amy Pond, who seems spectacularly unconcerned about her lack of parents, nor seems to acknowledge them past her wedding day, whereafter they’ve apparently expended their usefulness.

    4. The Doctor

    Loved Capaldi. I appreciated spiky, edgy, callous Doctor as a necessary result of his long life and many losses – he can either be Time Lord Victorious, or somehow find a way to protect himself from the sacrifices and the pain in order to keep going and doing what he does – but I liked that we got a Doctor who seemed to have been looking for something himself, just like Heather, and Bill. He’s trying to be responsible, to do the right thing, to honour his debts, and be a good man. He’s someone who’s created a robot butler because he’s so lonely, because for once he’s living with the losses and the pain, not running away or moving on, but owning them and working through it.

    The dynamic between him and Nardole is fantastic. It’s got a real Sancho Panza, Don Quixote feel to it that I like. Nardole’s down-to-earth cynicism really marries well with the Doctor’s whimsy and romanticism – if the Doctor gets lost in his ideas, in his own head, Nardole remains sensitive to the heart, and to the humanity of the moment – “He never notices the tears.” It’s a great way of keeping the Doctor grounded and human and real and relatable, rather than having him be a one-dimensional caricature or a messianic figure of mass worship and adoration.

    In conclusion, I think Capaldi’s Doctor is going to win a lot more fans in this season, and it’s going to cement him as a universally beloved figure. Nardole is unironically the key.

    Oh, and I think that the Doctor becoming a lecturer is inspired, as was the span of time the story encompassed.

  11. NinjaFossil
    April 16th, 2017 at 10.29pm | #11

    My theory for episode 3 (shown in the trailer); the Master unleashes ancient cybermen on Mars, causing the Ice Warriors to attack the human explorers on an orbiting space station that’s being converted by the cybermen, into which the doctor enters and regenerates/uses his last spare regen energy to stop the master. Then he does the whole ‘evac the surviving characters’ thing he does and crashes the station on Mars so the cybermen get burnt up

  12. Dan Peters
    April 17th, 2017 at 6.44am | #12

    A great episode of Doctor Who. The freshest the show has felt for a while. A promising start to the rest of the series!

  13. Daniel
    April 17th, 2017 at 8.49am | #13

    Loved it! Bill feels so new and normal. The show needs a reboot now and again and I hope this will bring in a new audience.

  14. Jack Walrath
    April 17th, 2017 at 11.04pm | #14

    Definitely shows more promise than the last two series. Some of the old humor and lightheartedness is brought back while maintaining an edge of darkness.

    Already loving Pearl, especially all the curveballs she threw when she encountered the Tardis for the first time. (We finally find out about the toilet!) Still liking Nardole. I like how he’s spent a lot of time with the Doctor offscreen and they have a different relationship with each other.

    Though the villain was a repeat of the Flood, I found it interesting and sympathetic.

    Liking the big mystery and the Doctor working at a college. Let’s just hope the series will keep up the momentum.

  15. Barbara
    April 18th, 2017 at 1.21am | #15

    I loved every fast paced, hilarious, frightening moment and that partial “echo” guitar riff in the background was brilliant.

    Saved it to watch again. Cannot wait for the next episode.

  16. Michael
    April 21st, 2017 at 5.44pm | #16

    i loved the doctor and his crew

  17. Anne Burner
    April 21st, 2017 at 6.25pm | #17

    I was quite happy with the episode. Nardole seeems like a real person and not just a throw-away character. I love that we’re still seeing the Doctor that we had throughout season nine, and not season 8 is a plus. And then there’s Bill. I REALLY like Bill. She’s a bit offbeat, but really fantastic. So looking forward to the next episode.

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