Tag Archives: Favorite Doctor Who Episodes

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 6 – “Extremis” – Hope in the World of Illusion

   “Extremis” is a great episode. It is easily up there with “Listen” and “Heaven Sent” for meditative explorations of who the Doctor is and what it means to be him, and it manages to pose bigger questions in regards to sentience too, which strengthens it further. Before I get into spoilers, this is a favorite that is well worth your time.

    The episode was directed by Daniel Nettheim and written by Steven Moffat, showing that when it comes to episodes that really should be individual bottle episodes, he can still do great.

   The story involves the Doctor (blind after last episode) is sent an email through his sonic glasses about the Vatican text “Veritas” a text that leads it’s readers to commit suicide. From here the Doctor works with Bill and Nardole to find out the mystery surrounding the text.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is very horror movie esque with the text that kills anyone who reads it and it quickly takes the richer turn where it questions reality. The episode begins with a jump down the rabbit hole and doesn’t stop until it is explored.

The Monks – The Monks are the main threat as they are the ones running the simulation that our characters (who are programs) exist in. They look like giant bats and seem to speak through their minds which is a great aesthetic. My only worry is that they’ll end up being as underwhelming as the Angels and Silents as both of them had really strong introductions but progressively had worse payoff down the line.

Whatever Happened to Missy – The episode begins with a flashback where we see Missy (the Master) being executed for her crimes. In the end she is saved by the Doctor who keeps her trapped for her time for her crimes as he knows she is still a threat. The scenes before he saves her are powerful as River sends Nardole to remind him of his goodness and Missy reminds him of their friendship as we learn that Missy is the one being held in the Vault.

The Nature of Reality and Sentience – Our characters exist in a simulation run by the Monks so that they can best learn how to conquer Earth. The programs are exist recreations of those on Earth and so are real and do exist, even though they are only programs. This is the core point of the Episode and exploring the horror of that knowledge.

What it Means to be the Doctor – The final reveal is the Doctor sending an email to himself through the psychic link in the glasses. This is great as it captures that the Doctor is the fighter and his point is resistance and defense of others and with that hope, even in death. This Program Doctor was amazing as in the end he became the Doctor. The Doctor is hope and in his last act of existence the program gave the Doctor and hope a chance.

Okay: The Vatican – The Vatican is okay, they are played for jokes a bit at the beginning but feel like another player in the threat of the unknown after we arrive at their Archive. I still think they could have been handled better though.

   This is an episode well worth your time that humanizes Nardole and Bill a lot (showing their flaws, courage) even though they and the Doctor are programs…at this point the programs are people showing just how powerful the threat of the Monks is as they have been killing sentient beings over and over again so that they can figure out how to best conquer Earth. I’m intrigued at where the story goes and if we will ever see the simulation our world in this episode exists in, come up again.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10. The Vatican bits can be hit or miss but the overall story is great.

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 5 – “Oxygen” – A Heavy Handed Enjoyable Space Thriller

   “Oxygen” is a flawed and amazing episode that is heavy handed with it’s message but is powerful in how it tells it’s story. This is one of my favorite episodes of the new series, even with all of the flaws. It changes things in a way that looks like it may last and we get to see more of the negative in humanity which we largely only got with the 9th and 10th Doctor. Suffice to say, before I get into spoilers…I recommend this episode.

  The episode was directed by Charles Palmer and directed by Jamie Mathieson.

   The story involves the Doctor, Bill and Nardole becoming trapped on a mining space station where they have limited oxygen and are being hunted by A.I. suits as they rush to save the survivors and themselves.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Premise -The idea of a space station run off oxygen workers by is so wonderfully dsytopian I can’t help but appreciate it. It also gives tension and consequence immediately as the limited oxygen creates a ticking clock.

The Tension – The station expels all excess oxygen added to the station, which forces our heroes to get the suits where they only have a certain amount of breaths, on top of this the suits are controlling the dead who died from lack of oxygen and the survivors are fearful and angry. If any one of these goes over the edge, everything is over for our heroes.

The Miners – The miners are great, we get to see the politics and relationships between them and how they are survivors. They are the characters ready to do anything to get off the station which adds another level of tension to our main characters predicament.

The Doctor, Nardole and Bill – The dynamic between these 3 is wonderful. Nardole is the responsible worry wort holding the Doctor to his promise that he made Nardole make of keeping an eye of the Vault, Bill is the new adventurer who doesn’t have the Doctor’s recklessness the Doctor is the wizard, manipulating and planning his way through every situation even when it looks like he’s lost his mind and lost everything.

Consequences – The Doctor saves Bill but goes blind in the process from the vacuum of space. This is still true at the end of the episode and we see how powerless he feels as so much of what he does it tied to his ability to read what something by seeing it. I hope we have him this way for a while as even TARDIS tech could not heal his eyes.

Okay/Con – Execution of the Message – The message of the episode is that capitalism is bad and eventually people will be exploited for the very oxygen they breathe. I put this as okay because “Doctor Who” has always been a message show, the problem was this wasn’t done with enough “show” there was a good amount of “tell” even though we were witnessing the very premise and didn’t need to be told it. I won’t put it as a complete con but it was the weakest part of the episode.

  This is a flawed and amazing episode that is worth checking out. The tension is strong throughout the entire episode, Nardole and Bill clash with the Doctor while the Doctor has moments where even he loses hope. We also have minor characters we care about and perfect tension through the entire episode. This is an episode that I highly recommend. Can’t wait to see how the consequences of the Doctor’s blindness unfold.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 1 – “The Pilot” – Horror Meets Wonder With a Great New Companion

   I’m worried about how the rest of the Series 10 and Capaldi’s run as 12 will go. Moffat and Gatiss ran “Sherlock” into the ground and there is enough time for him to do the same for “Doctor Who,” as for “Sherlock” it only took about 1 1/2 Seasons to do so. Right now he’s starting out strong though! I really enjoyed “The Pilot,” it captures all the beautiful adventure, horror and wonder that comes with the best of “Doctor Who” and sci. fi. time travel exploration. So, before I get into further depth, this one is worth checking out.

   The episode was directed by Lawrence Gough and written by Steven Moffat.

    The episode involves the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) lecturing at a college as a Professor until Bill (Pearl Mackie) a fish and chips cook is pulled into his life when he notices her at all of his lectures listening. She is soon thrown into the unknown though when her crush is taken over by a mysterious puddle, pulling her and the Doctor together as they try and stop the alien from taking away Bill.

The Pros: The World – The world is fantastic as we get to see the Doctor take up the role of professor, a role he clearly enjoys as both 1 and 10 have both done it at different times in the human world as have other incarnations in the extended universe of the Doctor. This love of knowledge and sharing it is part of what makes the series so inspiring and great and it is on display by having it all take place a college with a woman (Bill) who is not even a student sitting on lectures because of her desire to learn.

Nardole – Nardole is still with us after we picked him up at “The Husbands of River Song,” and through the last special too. Matt Lucas is great at being the awkward loaf who is fearful but can find courage (helps the Doctor trap some Daleks in the episode) and calls out the Doctor on his blind spots. He’s very much the Doctor’s assistant in this so I’m curious to see if his role will be explored further, I’m not quite sure why he’s sticking around.

Bill – Bill is an amazing companion (don’t mess this up Moffat!). She is down to Earth, has a desire to learn and doesn’t let lack of money stop her, she is alone in many ways and that loneliness ties to the Doctor in how they connect as their desire to learn and for connection is key. It is her reaching out to her crush that leads to the alien targeting her. She is strong and stands her ground too when the Doctor attempts to wipe her mind as she helps realize how messed up that is and that the adventure was her first happy memory in a long time.

The Doctor – The Doctor has gone from not just the protector of humanity but also helping them learn about time travel as the lecture we see him doing at the beginning is him teaching about the meaning of TARDIS. In this way he is helping humanity thrive and become the force they are in the future. His arc is realizing that his past mind wipes were him being selfish, leading to him not wiping Bill’s mind and choosing her to be his companion as she helps him see things differently and realize and correct his older bad habits.

Okay: The Antagonist – The antagonist is the weakest part. It is sentient oil puddle that is also a space ship as it takes Bill’s crush as the Pilot and tries to take Bill as the passenger. It can some how warp through time and track the TARDIS and what it actually is is never fully explained. I liked the play on Ring type horror it did with anything it mimicked being wet and dripping water but felt it needed to be explored more. It could have easily been tied to the Waters of Mars, which would have really made it a horror story.

  This is a strong start to Series 10 and I’m really hoping it stays that way as Gallifrey and Clara being ruined last season almost made me stop watching the show. Gallifrey needed a good story tied to it and Clara’s choice to die should have been respected. She had so many great good-byes that got canceled out. I don’t want Bill or the 12th Doctor to suffer the same fate. They deserve better and hopefully Moffat can end as strong as he started.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10 Antagonist is the weakest part.

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 11 – “Heaven Sent” – The Doctor’s Secrets and his Vengeance

HEAVEN SENT (By Steven Moffat)

  Capaldi is one of my favorite Doctor’s at this point. He is amazing when he is alone and we see everything he brings to this character. This episode is living proof of why as we get to explore all the depths and layers of what makes the Doctor the Doctor as he we see the torment of him facing himself and just how far he’s willing to go to keep some things secret. This is one of my all time favorite episodes and easily the strongest for this season.

      “Heaven Sent” was directed by Rachel Talalay and written by Steven Moffat.

SPOILERS ahead

      The story involves the Doctor being trapped in a mysterious castle that changes whenever he confesses. It is up to him to find a way out without revealing too many of his secrets as his present loss of Clara haunts him.

The Pros: The Soundtrack – Murray Gold’s soundtrack really sells this film. It adds layers to events and helps us get even deeper into the mind of the Doctor. Moments of tension are made greater and sadness pervades the entire piece. He truly is one of my favorite composers and this episode helps capture why.

The Castle – The Castle is in the middle of water with millions of skulls underneath. It’s haunting and is full of videos recording the Veil’s tracking of the Doctor. It is a masterful prison that changes with each of the Doctor’s confessions. In the end we see that it is what is inside the Doctor’s Confession Dial.

The Veil – This creature is wonderfully scary. We never see it’s face but we hear it slither and see the flies flow from it. It also kills the Doctor in one strike. It is creepy and a great threat as it can kill the Doctor in a single strike. His only way to survive is resetting things back to the beginning leaving his body behind, where each time his skulls fall into the water and he is returned with none of the knowledge of past events and has to figure things out again.

The Doctor’s Secrets – The Doctor left Gallifrey because he was afraid, We learn this relates partially the the prophecy and from it him wanting to protect Gallifrey. By episodes end we learn what that means. There are more stories too, the Doctor dies again and again to hide his secrets…showing us all the more stories the show can explore.

The Doctor – The Doctor is awesome! I felt so bad for him in this, not only is in a hell, trapped alone and hunted mourning the loss of his friend and companion Clara but we see him rise and face it. He doesn’t mope around like 11, he does something about it and in the end through pecking away at the diamond he takes the long way out of the Confession Dial to appear and Gallifrey and he’s angry. This is “Family of Blood” and “Human Nature” Doctor level anger. His Mind Palace is also him in the TARDIS, which makes complete sense. It is great visualizing the conversations with himself as they lend depth to how he thinks and how he mourns Clara.

The Reveal – The Doctor is the hybrid who will conquer Gallifrey. This could mean he’s the hybrid because he left Gallifrey and is more human from all the time spent on Earth, or maybe he is half human. At the end of the day what it means is up to interpretation. The reality is though the Doctor is Gallifrey’s greatest enemy right now because of what the Time Lords pulled with Clara’s death.

  This was the perfect episode and with “Listen” is the best episode of Capaldi’s run. Regardless of how Moffat ends it, this episode stands strong on it’s own and is a must see for any Capaldi fan. This is him in his element where his full experience and talent as an actor is on display and from that all the complexity that makes the Doctor compelling.

Final Score: 10 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 10 – “Face the Raven” – A Great World and Decent Good Bye

Doctor Who Face the Raven

     This is an episode of Spoilers so I’m not going to talk about the details of what happens until I get further into the review. Suffice to say I do think this episode was great, even though I would have done things differently in regards to the ending…it’s an episode that had an idea that was explored really well and the idea of a bunch of alien refugees living in London was actually really cool.

        “Face the Raven” was directed by Justin Molotnikov and written by Sarah Dollard.

SPOILERS ahead

     The  story involves the return of Rigsy who calls for Clara for help after he’s been infected by an alien curse that has him on a countdown until he dies. It is up to Clara and the Doctor to rescue him and trace the origin of the curse as they discover the street that is ruled by Ashilder/Me who is the Mayor looking after her people, an assortment of alien refugees hiding out in London as Rigsy is accused of having killed their most loved member.

The Pros: The Missing Street – A world of alien refugees who live by a strict code where any breaking of the code leads to Ashildr killing them with the Raven who is possessed by a Quantam Shade that kills the members who have been cursed/Chronolocked. It’s powerful and you see how much the peace is valued and also how easy it is to break it.

 The Janus – The Janus are a 2 headed alien who can see into the past and the future. Anah was the one who made everyone at peace when she talked and we see that they are one of the vulnerable species as their abilities are one anyone threatening could take advantage of.

Rigsy – Rigsy is a father! We learn about his wife and child in this when he is living with the countdown and see him make comfort with his death until Clara convinces him to pass the Chronolock onto her. He helps a lot in this and has some great dialogue and nickname as the Doctor calls him Local Knowledge…only calling him his name when he’s about to tell that the countdown is for his death leading him to have the Doctor to please just call him nicknames.

Ashilder/Mayor Me -Ashildr continues to be a great complicated character. She is very much in the same vein as Jack Harkness and River Song as we see her antagonistic relationship with the Doctor leading her to make a deal with his enemies (my Money is on Missy and Davros) in order to protect her people. If she’ll do something to make up for it remains to be seen, I did enjoy how much she respects Clara though and that she didn’t want her death.

The Doctor – The Doctor is wonderful in this as we see him advocate for the life of Rigsy and also admire Ashildr for keeping the peace on the Street, even though he disagrees with the methods. We also see his anger too as he would have done worse than kill Ashildr if Clara hadn’t forced him to promise to be a Doctor. Before he leaves we see his sadness in Clara’s good bye and his rage as he is transported to an unknown place at episodes end.

Clara Oswald – This is a good episode that shows how Clara has become like the Doctor (risking herself for others) but also what sets her apart as she reminds the Doctor to be a doctor and not a warrior at episodes end. She also takes on the curse of her own free will since she sees all that Rigsy has to live for, while she is living each moment to the fullest in adventure.

Okay/Good: Clara’s Death – Clara faces the raven. It was an okay/good death but not the best exit. I thought Season 8 with her and the Doctor lying to one another was better as was the “Peter Pan” ending with Clara dying as an old woman in the Christmas Special. This was a decent good bye but because the better ones had already occurred it was always going to be less. Now here is to her remaining dead.

      I can’t really state it anymore than I did above, this was not Clara’s strongest death but it still meant something and I do like the Doctor being alone and i hope he stays that way until he gets a new companion. She had her arc and now that it’s done the story can continue to move forward as we see what the Doctor’s enemies have in store. Hopefully we will return to the Missing Street again someday. I really enjoyed that world and could have easily spent 2 episodes there.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

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

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