Category Archives: Series 9

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 8 – “The Zygon Inversion” – The Doctor’s Case for Peace

The-Zygon-Inversion-promo-pics

  Capaldi’s monologue in this episode is what “Day of the Doctor” could have been if it hadn’t had such a clash in tone and turned the Zygons into a joke. In this, because they are a serious threat and they have stakes in the War that the Doctor completely understands. It’s powerful, even though I do think the last episode was better.

The episode was directed by Daniel Nettheim and written by Peter Harness and Steven Moffat.

The story picks up where we left off with the Doctor and Osgood escaping as we learn that Clara is facing off against her Zygon counterpart Bonnie who she can influence in limited ways. This leads to faceoff as Bonnie seeks the Osgood Box to bring the War in full force as Osgood and the Doctor race to rescue Clara and stop the War before it fully begins.

The Pros: The World – The Zygon Pods underneath the ground are organic and amazing and feel really alien. This is part of what “Day of the Doctor” missed as the Zygons felt like an afterthought.

Kate Stewart – Kate has fully come into her own as we see her take out multiple Zygon attempts on her life but also show the wisdom to be the first to stand down when Bonnie is attempting to push them to war and using the Osgood Boxes. We very much see why she is the leader of UNIT and protector of humanity.

Bonnie – The Zygon who takes Clara’s form is a good threat as we see her stare down the Doctor multiple times, nearly kill him at least once and fear Clara into submission so that she find the Osgood Boxes. She is also wise enough that in the end she does stand down when she hears about the Time War from the Doctor and how Zygon domination won’t solve anything. She becomes the new Osgood after so there are two again, which was a nice touch. Her arc is complete from Nationalist to Peacekeeper.

Clara – Clara is not a victim at any point in the episode and she holds her own against Bonnie, protects the Doctor and Osgood and shows why she is the Doctor’s companion. Her scenes are small but powerful.

The Doctor – The Doctor’s trauma from the war will never go away, and that’s why he will do anything for peace including tricking the fanatics from different factions that they have the power to commit genocide when they don’t (The Osgood Boxes are empty and only have buttons) and it is through his advocacy for the value of all life (Human or Zygon) and his knowledge of the trauma from War that really sell the episode. Capaldi’s monologue is easily the best in the series and his trauma as the Doctor is deep.

The Osgoods – The Osgoods truly show that whether they are Human or Zygon doesn’t matter and are fully devoted to peace and their role as Peacekeepers. We never learn if the surviving Osgood was a human or Zygon and Bonnie becoming the new Osgood shows it doesn’t matter. It was the Osgood perspective that helps make peace possible and why the Osgood Boxes exist which again prevented war. Their perspective is powerful and key because it looks beyond Species and only to intelligence and sentience. They are full formed characters.

The Choice of War – The choice of War is the nature of the Osgood Box and what makes this episode work. Unlike “Kill the Moon” which I liked but got worse with each viewing because the Moon being a Space Dragon is stupid the choice of war is not and the reasons behind war (tied to identity, politics, resources) are not stupid either and just as there are reasons to fight it is all the more important to know when to stand down and stop the war before it begins.

The Osgood Boxes – How the Doctor articulated it is one choice kills the Zygons, another reveals them and on the human side and Kate is told she has the same choice. In the end the choice is the illusion as either player in the game can make the weapons again or start the conflict, which was the point of the Boxes. They were an illusion to reveal how pointless the conflict between them was.

The Cons: The Doctor Moffat-splains – The Moffat has a lot of condescension in this episode mostly to women (Kate and Bonnie) and that is annoying. This is sad because the Doctor’s monologue is really powerful, it is just that condescension that brings it down. Bonnie and Kate were called Sweetie way too many times and it felt out of character.

This was a great episode that I’d highly recommend. It accomplishes what “Day of the Doctor” couldn’t and gives full justice to what a conflict between Zygons and Humans would mean. Doesn’t mean there won’t be conflict later (I hope there will, I like the Zygons as enemies and friends) but at least between our factions on Earth, there is peace again as the Rebel Leader is now an Osgood working for Peace. What a fantastic exploration this was.

Final Score: 9 / 10

The Zygon Arc: 9.3 / 10

Advertisements

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 7 – “The Zygon Invasion” – The Zygons are Amazing Again!

The Zygon Invasion

         The Zygons are great again! After their introductory episode in “Terror of the Zygons” (one of my favorite episodes) and sadly being turned into jokes in “Day of the Doctor” it’s nice to see them back in form as a worthy and complex enemy of the Doctor and humanity. The Zygons are one of my favorite enemies so I really hated how they were played as a joke in “Day of the Doctor.” This was an episode that did a lot right and is easily one of my favorite for the season.

      “The Zygon Invasion” was directed by Daniel Nettheim and written by Peter Harness.

       The story involves the peace treaty established in “Day of the Doctor” falling apart after the death of Osgood by Missy as a fanatical group of Zygons seek to establish a world where they can live as Zygons and no longer have to deal with humanity as a threat.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Introduction  and the Osgoods – The episode begins with the Osgoods (who we later learn have now become hybrids of one another as part of the treaty) are keeping a box safe that the Doctor gave them that is only to be used if one of them dies. It’s powerful as we see just how fragile the peace is even though the Osgoods are friends and their friendship was the basis for the treaty.

The Tone – The tone is wonderful! It is a high stakes political chase where tension is built over the course of the entire episode and we see how deep the Zygon manipulations go. It pulls you in and doesn’t let go.

UNIT – UNIT is competent again and we see soldiers emotions being manipulated by the Zygons taking the formed of their loved ones (like one of their’s mother) and Kate Stewart is back in action investigating the plot and searching for the missing Osgood (as they were core to the treaty).

Kate Stewart – We get to see why she is in charge of UNIT as she keeps the operation small and seeks to isolate the radical Zygons and figure out their plan. In the end she is ambushed by one pretending to be a human survivor but my guess is she survives and we see her patience in dealing with the Zygons even with all the secrets.

Clara – Clara is great in this as we see her playing an active role that eventually leads to her capture and replacement by a Zygone named Bonnie.

The Zygons – The Zygons are wonderful! It’s great to see one of my favorite aliens from “Doctor Who” back in form again. They are a huge threat and have a bigger kill count of their own people (the fanatical faction that has taken the good idea of living openly to the extreme of targeting those working with humans in cooperation). In the end they have the faction working with humans to keep the treaty either dead or on the run and UNIT in the United States and the U.K. annihilated or destroyed. They are fantastic threat and show that there should be reason to fear them.

The Doctor – The Doctor kicks things off rocking on his air guitar, which is wonderful and we see that he loves to fly around in a Jet even if he doesn’t want to be President. In this we see that he is willing to do anything to keep the peace and doesn’t realize that the folks he are dealing with don’t want peace until a rocket is being fired at his airplane. Really curious how he and the surviving Osgood are going to get out of this one.

Okay: The Good Zygons – I would have liked to see them and their motivations explored more. Do they take on the memories of those they shape shift into or is it something else all together? Is it out of fear or do they respect humanity? I hope Part 2 answers why there are those who still want peace given humanity’s track record with aliens in “Doctor Who.”

  This is one of my favorite episodes and I really enjoyed seeing the Zygons as a threat again. If you are a fan of Classic “Doctor Who” or any good political thriller where each side has motivations that can at least be explored in a good way, this is the episode for you.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 6 – “The Woman Who Lived” – The Cost of Immortality

The Woman Who Lived Doctor Who

    “The Woman Who Lived” is my favorite episode this season. It blends humor and message together beautifully and manages to explore immortality in way that we see the consequences of it rather than being told the consequences of it like with Harkness earlier in the series. This is easily one of the best episodes of “Doctor Who” and there are many reasons why.

    The episode was directed by Ed Bazalgette and written by Catherine Tregenna.

     The story involves The Doctor running into Ashildr as they seek the same item, the Eyes of Hades as the Doctor is forced to deal with what happens when he leaves people behind. From here Ashildr and the Doctor are at odds as a 3rd Faction manipulates them both.

The Pros: The Time Period – The episode takes place in the 1600s, which is smart as it gives us an idea of how much time has past since the Doctor saved Ashildr and granted her immortality. It’s also a good use of the period too since it’s not quite our period but not Medieval either.

Leandro – Is a lion-like alien who manipulates Ashildr into opening the Portal so his species can invade. He was pretending to be the last of his kind but it was all a ruse as he was scouting ahead for the Leonine. I liked his design and I wouldn’t mind seeing his people again.

Sam Swift – This guy is a thief who loves puns, so I enjoyed the character a lot as I also greatly enjoy the use of puns and the character was someone who was a crook but had a heart and quite a good memory. His life is used to open the portal and he is later saved when Ashildr gives him the final Pill to reverse it.

Ashildr/The Knightmare/Me – Ashildr has grown bitter and no longer remembers who she was as she can’t remember her past so she writes it down. She no longer goes by Ashildr and just calls herself Me and is the thief known as the “Knightmare” in her current time period. Her story is a tragedy as she has lost husbands and children throughout time and is forever alone. This is how Leandro is able to take advantage of her and her perspective and distance from everyone is why the Doctor can’t have her as a companion. We learn this is the reason he’s never gone back for Harkness. Their perspectives are to similar so they’d bring out the worst in one another. In the end she decides become the Patron Saint of the Doctor for those who are left behind so she can heal the damage he causes from saving the world. It’s powerful and we see her core good again as much of the episode showed how detached she was from humanity and life as a whole. Maisie Williams put in an amazing performance again. Her character has been through so much, but endures it all and even finds hope again.

The Doctor – The Doctor shows us just how deeply he cares about humanity in this. “The Mayflies remind us of how important life is.” In that quote we see why he has companions and why he fights for humanity. They give a perspective his people lacked and a mentality he knows that he can fall into…he is so much like Ashildr when he’s detached and it scares him. She reveals his darker side as well as that he does forget about those he leaves behind because he is the man who always runs away. He owns up to that though and we see his sadness at not being able to take Ashildr with him. Capaldi’s performance is utterly amazing, especially his mayfly monologue on why humans and life matters.

  This was the perfect episode of the season and I’ll be surprised if there is one that tops it. It stands alone like the let episode and there is no Clara until the end so we get to fully know Ashildr and see how her relationship develops with the Doctor, as well as their clashing of philosophies initially. I have a feeling we will see her again in the future and I hope we will see  Harkness too as the Doctor talks about he was the other Immortal he traveled with at one point and that Ashildr is bound to meet him at some point. Suffice to say, this is one of the best stories to come out of “Doctor Who.”

Final Score: 10 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 5 – “The Girl Who Died” – The Doctor Creates a Tidal Wave

The Girl Who Died

 “The Girl Who Died” could have easily been “Robot of Sherwood” bad but where that didn’t take the drama or characters seriously…this one did and elevated what could have easily been a joke script into a high concept Time Travel drama that is bigger than the sum of all it’s parts.

    The episode was directed by Ed Bazalgette and written by Steven Moffat and Jamie Mathieson.

SPOILERS ahead.

     The story involves the Doctor protecting a Viking village from a race called the Mire whose leader eats Viking Testosterone. It is up to the Shield-maiden Ashildr (Maisie Williams) Clara and the Doctor to stop them before the Mire make war on the village and destroy it.

The Pros: The Viking Village – The vikings are actually humanized! There is one character who is a father and a blacksmith and it is his child that makes the Doctor aware that he has the face he does so that he will always remember to save people…that he’ll always find a way (the man Caecilius the Doctor saved in “Fires of Pompeii”). The characters are all humanized and even though are played for laughs sometimes, never feel like jokes.

The Mire – The Mire are pretty cool. You have species who feed off of testosterone and are highly armored since their faces are giant mouths…I really liked their design and it’s wonderful seeing a new Warrior Race. I hope we see them again.

Clara – Clara is there to remind the Doctor of his role as a protector again as after they help save a species that a greater species was trying to kill they are put into the situation again when Ashilder declares war on the Mire for the destruction of her warriors. It is from here she is always pulling the Doctor back from his detachment and need to run. She is the one who reminds him he can stand and fight and think of a plan.

Ashildr – Ashildr is our new Harkness! She is the storyteller and Shield-maiden of the village who is the outsider even among her people and it is her taking advantage of the Mire’s hacked technology that turns the village’s puppets into Dragons that force them to run in fear. She dies in the process though and it is the Doctor using Mire tech. that brings her back to life, making her a hybrid immortal as the Mire are self-repairing and cannot die. It’s a powerful scene as at the end we see the world changing around her as she stays the same and goes from joy to pain at living. She is also most likely the Hybrid Warrior that Davros spoke of in the prophecy.

The Doctor – The Doctor warns about creating waves and ripples and it is implied that saving Ashildr was the right thing to do but he may have created a ripple that’s out of his control (Like Jack Harkness) and it is implied we will feel the consequences of saving Ashildr later. It’s powerful as the Doctor is questioning his power and the choices to make…that sometimes it is right to run and other times the most you can do is save one person…be it Caecilius or Ashildr and deal with the consequences of those choices later.

The Doctor created a wave in this with giving us another immortal and I really hope we see the full consequences of it as this time the show is really analyzing what it means to give someone immortality and how seeing the ones they love die can change a person and make them hard, like the Doctor. Being immortal be it as a Time Lord or a hybrid is shown to be a responsibility which the New Series hasn’t really fully dealt with until now. For these reasons and more I highly recommend this episode that may end up being the best this season.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 4 – “Before the Flood” – A Great Villain, Bootstrap Paradox and Loss

Doctor Who Before the Flood

     “Before the Flood” has a lot of great things going for it, but the ending in regards to our minor characters don’t quite work all the way…at least I didn’t believe the setup and found it contrived…everything else mostly works though making for a great ending to the story and showing us how Clara is changing.

    The episode was directed by Daniel O’Hara and written by Toby Whithouse.

SPOILERS ahead.

      The story picks up where we left off where Clara is with Clara, Cass and Lunn facing the Doctor’s ghost while the Doctor goes back in time to stop the ghosts and find their source as he soon does in the Alien Warlord known as The Fisher King.

The Pros: The Opening – The opening of this episode is great where the Doctor expains the Bootstrap Paradox as someone who goes back in time, finds the person they loved before doesn’t exist so they create the history of that person before returning to the present which than leaves the question of how did the thing they created(Beethoven as the person missing and Beethoven’s 5th as the created piece as an example)  come about in the first place? He then opens playing Beethoven on his electric guitar before it does the “Doctor Who” theme from it in the style of rock.

The Format – I like that it jumps between 1980 and the small town the Fisher King kills in and the future with the underwater base plagued by the threat of ghosts under the Fisher King’s control.

Clara – Clara is great in this! We see her willingness to use others to solve problems that she can’t solve herself as well as her growing detachment from others and her love of adventure and the rush of it all being the core part of her personality. She’s becoming a lot like the Doctor and the side characters point out how that can end up being bad since she is starting to think in a way that doesn’t consider the lives fully of those around her.

The Doctor – The Doctor is wonderful in this and he isn’t able to save everyone! (those who died are dead and his ghost was just a hologram). We also see that not wanting to lose Clara has become a primary motivation, she’s his only real human connection who somewhat gets him and he is a sadder Doctor than before. We see this when he morns the former UNIT person who the Fisher King killed and the fact that the Ghosts are forever unable to die.

Okay: The Crew – The crew is alright. Cassie got some development when she called out Clara and the UNIT individual gave us backstory, they still weren’t super memorable though, they just weren’t bad.

The Cons: Couples – Apparently every male character liked every female character (and it was who they were trapped with too) leading to a contrive loved lost moment (I never believed that the folks who went with the Doctor had feelings for each other or the ones who stayed with Clara). It was stupid and brought down the story. Losing friends is hard enough, you don’t need to add having a contrived crush or love to it as well.

 This was a really good episode overall and a solid arc, though not a favorite. I thought the last 2 episodes were better even with the Doctor playing a long game. The Fisher King was an awesome villain and I hope we see his people again (his people against the Ice Warriors would be awesome) and the episode taking place in two time periods lead to a greater sense of mystery.

Final Score: 8.4

Final Score for Arc: 8.2 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 3 – “Under the Lake” – A Ghost Story With Potential

Doctor_Who_Under_the_Lake_Ghosts

    “Under the Lake” is a story with a lot of potential that really depends on how well the second part of the story can pull off the first half. It is a story with “Doctor Who” tropes but still manages to have some pretty interesting minor characters and gives us a fascinating mystery that I am looking forward to being answered in the next episode.

    The story was directed by Daniel O’Hara and written by Toby Whithouse.

     The episode begins with the TARDIS transporting the Doctor to an underwater base and reacting with fear as something isn’t right on the base. We soon learn that the thing is ghosts which reject the concept of Time as they exist when death is what keeps time flowing and is an essential part of existence. From here the Doctor, Clara and the crew must catch one of the ghosts and find out why they are trying to kill them and what their purpose is.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Tone – The tone has an era of danger and darkness that keeps the episode going, and the final scene completes this payoff as we see the Doctor having been turned into one of the ghosts.

The Mystery – The mystery is fascinating as we are left wondering why there is a ship with no pilot, how the crew are coming back as ghosts and where the ship was originally going, which we soon learn was coordinates to a Temple. This leads the Doctor to go back in time with a few members of the crew while Clara is with the others in the present. The ghosts are attempting to bring more to boost the signal too as each dead person boosts the coordinates.

The Ghost – The Mole Man in Victorian garb creates a very threatening image and him being the jump scare works well given how much the one we met before was a total coward (they were last in “The God Complex.” So it being one of the villains is a nice change of pace.

Cass and Crew – Cass takes over and is their deaf leader and her and the crew have a great relationship where they look out for one another. She chooses to stay when she realizes that they need to find out what’s going on so one else goes through what they did. Her crew is great too as they are all young and are new to it all.

Clara – Clara is reckless in this and it is pretty wonderful as we see her fully embrace the discovering mentality. She is very much like the Doctor and it is a nice contrast to the crew as she like the Doctor is the outsider and notices for the first time. She also has a mystery to solve as in the present the Doctor is a ghost after he goes back in time.

The Doctor – The Doctor is fully driven to solve everything and we see an element of recklessness too as he eggs on the crew to stay feeding their responsibility, all because he wants to solve the mystery. It is this driven factor that shows his selfishness even as he protects them and uses them. This episode really illustrates his detachment and willingness to go to any ends to discover something new.

The Cons: The Corrupt Businessman – Name isn’t important, wanted oil at the bottom of the ocean. Probably dug up the Temple in the coordinates is a selfish git who ends up dead. He is a weak “Doctor Who” trope that has yet to be pulled off in an interesting ways. We want characters not caricatures.

This was a good episode but not great as the ensemble cast made it feel unfocused at times and the corrupt businessman was a major detriment to the story. The story is very much unfinished too so it can’t get a higher score as the mystery is unsolved and we get a cliffhanger at the end with the Doctor going back in time and being in the present as a ghost. It could be a great two-parter though depending on how the next part plays out.

Final Score: 8 / 10. Solidly good.

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 2 – “The Witch’s Familiar” – Compassion and Complicated Relationships

DoctorWho-TheWitchsFamiliar-Missy

       “The Witch’s Familiar” gets a lot of things right, though I found the first part of this arc superior since it felt like more was at stake, there are some things that happen at the end that take away the tension and a lot of the really cool actions that had happened before…not to the extent that it completely does away with those great conversations and character moments, but it does detract from them creating a lesser story in regards to this episode.

     The episode was directed by Hettie MacDonald and written by Steven Moffat.

Spoilers ahead

      The story involves Davros telling the Doctor he is dying and the Doctor being alone and being given the choice to end the Daleks once and for all. From here is given another choice as he and Davros talk of themselves and their relationship. Elsewhere Missy and Clara go undercover to rescue the Doctor from the Daleks.

The Pros: Missy’s Story – Missy gives a backstory on how the Doctor escapes immortal androids by using their own tech against them. It’s cool and explains how the Doctor always wins because he expects to win and it is when he believes himself in a corner that he begins playing all his cleverness to the fullest.

The Sewers – The sewers are the Dalek Graveyard as they can’t die so they just rot there for an eternity filled with hate. It’s creepy and wonderful and it’s interesting how the Doctor uses these dying Daleks against the ones above as Davros had forgotten about them and that regeneration would affect them too.

Davros –  Julian Bleach does a fantastic job as Davros, lending him humanity as he admires the Doctor’s courage for looking out for his people and takes advantage of the Doctor’s compassion to get regeneration for himself and the Daleks, though in the end he misses the details such as the sewers and the rotting Daleks there who have no loyalty to those above at all. He is the most human Davros so far and this is the only time Davros has felt like a good villain outside of “Genesis of the Daleks.”

Missy – Missy is wonderful in this and is a twisted Doctor with Clara as they work together and she uses Clara as a canary in a pit, a Dalek to kill Daleks and finally attempts to trick the Doctor into killing her until after when the Doctor tells her to run she approaches the Daleks from a place of power showing that they’ll probably work with her. Michelle Gomez owns the Master role and I’d watch an entire series of just her plots and adventures at this point. So glad she’s sticking around.

The Doctor – The Doctor is shown to be both compassionate (refuses to kill the Daleks and describes compassion as the greatest disease) and shares his isolation with Davros as they are both cut off from their people. In the end he does what the Doctor does too as he uses Davros’s own plan against him turning the undead Daleks in the sewers against those on the surface and his anger when Missy almost tricks him into killing Clara who is once again inside a Dalek (“Asylum of the Daleks” being the first time). In the end he is able to teach the Daleks the inkling of compassion too after he saves a young Davros on the battlefield and tells him of the importance of mercy and that sides don’t matter. This pays off as Daleks do have mercy as part of their vocabulary.

Okay: Clara – Clara is just kind of there, Michelle Gomez devours most of her scenes as Missy is a much more interesting character and Clara is never able to really compete. She if anything feels like an audience surrogate in the episode.

Okay/Con: Questions – Do the Daleks have regeneration now? What’s going to happen to Missy? What will happen to Davros? If the Daleks have regeneration how will they change? Will the prophecy of the Hybrid warrior go anywhere? Will the Daleks hunt for Gallifrey since the Doctor told Davros it is back? Why did the Doctor think he was going to die if all along he was playing the Daleks? I’m doing con because if these questions are dropped this season as has happened in regards to Moffat before, this overall season will go down.

The Cons: Knew It All Along – The weakest part of the episode was that the Doctor and Davros were just playing each other, this took away from the amazing conversations they had and how they found humanity in one another. In the end Davros just wanted regeneration for the Daleks and the Doctor used this to turn the undead Daleks in the sewer rotting against their counterparts above…these two things took away from the moments as it was one long con on both their parts similar to the Doctor in “Time Heist.”

   This was still a really good episode, largely for the conversations and the Missy and Clara Team-up and really any scene with Missy…but it did fall apart at the end and there are a lot of questions, which Moffat does not have a good track record of answering well. This is still a really good Dalek episode and a favorite “Doctor Who” episode, but it doesn’t reach it’s full potential in regards to Davros and the Doctor, which brings it down.

Final Score: 8.7 / 10

Final Score for the “Davros Arc”: 9 / 10. Solidly great but brought down by the final reveals.