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

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 3rd Doctor – Season 7, Episode 2 – “Doctor Who and the Silurians” – The Vices of Conflict

Doctor_Who_and_the_Silurians_DVD_US_cover

         “Doctor Who and the Silurians” is a great episode of “Classic Doctor Who” and one I’d recommend. It is good at exploring the different factions that are at play and each of the characters gets exploration in their slow descent to become the worst of themselves. This is something the current version of “Doctor Who” has never been able to do as well, partially because it doesn’t have the 7 Part format of this era that the new era lacks.

     The episode was directed by Timothy Combe, written by Malcolm Hulke and produced by Barry Letts.

     The story involves the awakening of the Silurians from their hibernation from the energy that is being used by the Wenly Moor Nuclear Research Facility. It is up to the Doctor and Liz to discover what is going on as they work with UNIT and the Brig and soon find themselves pulled into a conflict where Silurians and Humans work to destroy one another as the Doctor strives for peace and the survival of both species.

The Pros: Building Tension – This is a 7 Part story and it does a great job at building tension. We don’t see the Silurian for sometime but we do see the world through it’s eyes and the fear it feels and fear it makes other feel as it is running away wounded, this perspective lends the story power and shows the fear and confusion on both sides of the conflict while also presenting some good B Grade Horror tricks.

The Research Facility – The Wenley Moor Nuclear Research Facility is a place of drama, mysterious things keep pulling the power and making the reactor unstable which leads to the government and leader of the facility always at odds. Eventually his paranoia gets the better of him and we see just how much fear has destroyed everyone. The facility is also used to trick the Silurians who are attempting to destroy the humans after a Warmonger Silurian takes over after killing the Peaceful leader. The Doctor uses the facility to force them into hibernation and ends up preventing it from exploding.

UNIT – UNIT is on top of things this episode, for better and for worse. We see them dealing with the Silurian threat, stopping the Silurian bacteria that is infecting the population with the help of Liz and the Doctor and later they mount a counterattack and commit genocide on the Silurian population, fearing another attack after having being held hostage at the research facility.

The Brig – The Brigadier is a great character! We see him dealing with government politics and ethics as the Doctor does things like talk to the Silurians that put him in a compromised position. He trusts the Doctor up until he sees how humanity is turning on itself from Silurian threat so the Silurians must be destroyed…also after nearly being killed by the Warmonger Silurian he had had enough and decided to wipe out the population. He isn’t a good guy as we know all Silurians were not bad but all he had was his experience to go off and that was witnessing two attempts by the Silurians to wipe out the Species of humanity. Nicholas Courtney is great as always.

The Silurians – The Silurians are complicated and we see a rich culture in the times we meet them. We also see that there are those with superiority comlexes ruled by fear who want the Earth back and not to coexist. This political dilemma leads to a coup and the disposal of the peaceful Leader, which spells the end of the Silurians as the attack by Morka and K’to leads to a UNIT counterattack which leads to the wiping out of their species and any chance for peace. We know they aren’t all bad as shown by their leader it was simply the few awake were ruled by fear because every interaction with humans had been hostile…showing the tragedy of the Silurian experience after their awakening.

Liz – Liz is a great companion and Caroline John is fantastic as her! She is an active companion who doesn’t take crap from the Doctor. We see her in scientist mode and she discovers that the Silurians are reptiles and large and from their helps the Doctor discover their possible origin. She is the only one not to die of fright when she sees a Silurian and we see her on the side of peace the entire time and against the actions of fear by UNIT and the government.

The Doctor – Jon Pertwee is wonderful as the 3rd Incarnation of the Doctor! In this we see him fixing his car Bessie and later using it to get around in investigating the attacks in the mine and around the countryside. He is the only one who truly understands the Silurian experience and wants peace and coexistence. He is willing to go to any lengths to do so, showing just how alien he is…where humans react with fear he reacts with understanding and asking questions and it is at the end where the sadness of humanity wiping out an entire species is only felt by him and the failures of all his attempts to reach a peaceful solution as his last regard of reasoning with the Silurians one at at time after awakening them from hibernation was ignored as UNIT destroyed the Silurians instead. Pertwee is the gruff and gentlemenly Doctor who defines himself in how he is not like humanity, even if at times he helps them.

The Vices of War and Destruction – The reason humans die from the Silurian bacteria and the Silurian species is destroyed is because of the vices of fear, anger and greed. It is greed that makes the members of the facility want nothing to do with the Silurians or the conflict only running the machine, it is fear that leads to the peaceful Silurian leader being killed in a coup and anger and fear that lead to the bombs being placed that destroy the Silurians. In this way peace was a lost cause the moment the cycle started with the Silurian injuring the miners and being injured in turn (unknown who started it though, both were in self defense most likely)..and this fed the conflict that could only have one resolution since no one wanted to listen or understand except the Doctor and Liz. The desire for control of land by the humans and Silurians is another major problem that fed the conflict. There was no sharing involved, it was all or nothing for the war parties.

The Ending – The ending is sad and powerful. It is true to reality as well as many cultures are no longer around today because of conflict and war that was started from the need for land and the people who do work for peace in conflict today are usually on the losing side since war breeds war and hate breeds hate, resolution only happens after enough people have died to get one faction to surrender. This ending illustrated that the Doctor isn’t a superhero either. He won’t always save the day because the choices of humans and Silurians are not his to make.

Okay: The Human and Silurian Antagonists – The antagonists are alright, I would have liked more on why they felt so strongly on things though. The men at the research station wanted money and knowledge and losing that drove them mad and the Silurians wanted their old home back (a good drive) but they also never experienced harm from humans first hand. If K’to or Morka had I would have put them as a pro since their fear would have greater reason behind it and not simply look cruel or for political ends.

    This was an episode that showed that there isn’t always a happy ending and the Doctor can’t always save everyone…sometimes people will act whether he wants them to or not and they may or may not be right depending on the situation. This is something the New Series of “Doctor Who” lacks. It is still a favorite show but I think the longer format of the episodes of the past allowed for great exploration of the different factions and worlds and provided great rising tension rather than having everything at a break neck pace. Sometimes a story wants you to get to know the characters first before they are put in mortal danger. This is a huge reason this episode works and why it would not have worked if it had only had an hour to tell the story. This is also a story that is true to reality and just how difficult it is to make peace as well as showing us the Doctor is not a Superhero and he cannot always save the day since it is the choices of everyone that affect a conflict and it’s resolution, not just one person.

Final Score: 9.2 / 10

Avatar: The Last Airbender – Book 1 “Water,” Retrospect – The Losses That Drive Us

 Book_1_-_Volume_2

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” had a great Book 1. There was only one episode that I considered weak was “The Great Divide.” The rest of the episodes were at the very least good even if there were some things that could have been explored more. What made Book 1 “Water,” so great were the characters and their arcs and the themes that certain episodes explored as well as the overarching theme of the Book.

Zuko_begs

The Pros: The Soundtrack – The Track Team did a fantastic job with the soundtrack to the series of Book 1. From the ending theme, to the haunting sound whenever loss or death was faced or the drum beats during chase sequences…the music only ever added to the story.

The Animation – I really liked the animation for this show, it was one of the first things that drew me in as each character has a distinct style and the world is all the richer because of it. Bryan Konietzko and his team really did a great job on this series and Book 1 highlights this.

The Action – From the first fight with Zuko and Aang to the Siege of the North and all the smaller fights and duels inbetween. Every fight Zuko was in was one to see and seeing Katara become a Master Waterbender was great too as she continued to get the point of besting her enemies.

The Writing – The writing was amazing, this is a kids show and the characters were real as well as whether they were complex or static…the reasons behind what they did or believed were mostly explained. There was also so much showing rather than telling which made it so great.

The Characters – The characters of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” are amazing and we see that all of them are complex in different ways or at the very least compelling on their own. Whether it’s the strength of Suki, the wisdom of Iroh or the pride of Zhao we see characters who may not change but who give us so much in how they interact with Team Avatar. This even goes for the minor characters as well like Jet, Chief Amook and Master Pakku as well.

The Character Arcs – The character arcs of Book 1 are powerful and mean something. So much of it is dealing with trauma and growing from the loss. Whether it’s Aang’s abandoning his role to embracing it over the course of the Book and his learning responsibility, Sokka learning compassion, Zuko learning to depend on more than anger and Katara learning humility. These are just some of the changes that happen in our characters and their arcs.

The Themes – There are quite a few themes that Book 1 covers, genocide in the destruction of the Air Nation, colonization Earth Nation’s relationship to Fire Nation cities upon their land, equality and justice and the fight for it in relationship to Kanna and Katara in regards to the Northern Water Tribe and countless others in regards to justice and war and what it means to be good. This themes go throughout the series but are introduced really strongly here.

Gan_Jin_vs._Zhang

The Cons: Simplifying Cultures or Characters – “The Great Divide” was the worst at this which is why I used the image from it above, though the non-existent Northern Water Tribe politics and the existence of the character Hahn also fit this description. This was the only thing that really brought down this season.

ATLA 1 19

        The first season of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” ends strong and is solid all the way through. Throughout the drive from loss humanizes the characters as we see Aang deal with the loss of his people, Katara and Sokka with the loss of their mother and so much of their tribe and Zuko with the loss of his Nation. All of them are driven by these losses to try and write the wrongs as best they see fit, all the while striving towards good. They lose more in the process and all the while grow. The ending of Book 1 is one of the more tragic endings in any animated series and really captures what makes this series so great. Loss is never seen as something to be avoided when it is tackled and the important themes like genocide are at the forefront of the series and the First Book. If you like great animated shows, you won’t be disappointed by “Water.”

Final Score: 9 / 10. Solidly great even with the weaker episodes.

The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 7 – “Kill the Moon” – The Doctor’s Cruelty

Kill the Moon

“Kill the Moon” is an episode that really shows how cold the Doctor can be, and just how much he can take his companions, and humanity for granted. If he faced no consequences for that this episode I’d be rating it pretty low, but thankfully Clara calls him out on what he puts her and others through this time around. This episode he’s up there with the cruelty of the 9th and 10th Doctor though thankfully not up there with the 6th Doctor, or I’d stop watching the show.

The episode was written by Peter Harness and directed by Paul Wilmhurst. Both do a pretty good job this episode.

The premise is Clara is angry at the Doctor for telling Courtney she wasn’t special so the Doctor decides to make Courtney special by taking her to the Moon in 2049. The three of them are there with the last astronauts who are going to destroy it after a Mexican mining base was completely wiped out. From here the story unfolds as the creatures begin picking off the crew one by one and the truth of the Moon is revealed presenting humanity with a dilemma. From here the story unfolds.

SPOILERS ahead

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Courtney Woods – She is a a student and acts like it, from posting pics on tumblr of her adventure on the moon, to her fear in the face of the Moon Spiders. She holds her own though and is the one who accidentally finds out how to kill them with Windex. She is grateful to the Doctor in the end and doesn’t realize just how badly they were used and put into a situation that they never asked to be put in. In that way she offers the naive companion perspective which Clara discards by the end of the episode.

Lundvik – Played by Hermione Norris, she’s the military astronaut coming with the nukes to destroy the Moon. It is realizing the truth of the moon and Courtney and Clara who help her change her mind. She also doesn’t put up with the Doctor’s crap and ignores him at the end. She adds humanity to a difficult role and her loss of her crew is huge as she recites the reality of the grandson that one of them just had before the mission. She feels what the Doctor is unable to feel.

Danny Pink – Appears briefly at the end to comfort Clara and be there for her after the using the Doctor did. He also asks her to find a calm place in first to make the final decision and tell him about it as he knew from his own experience that being angry at someone means you are still thinking of them.

The Premise – The premise really is amazing, and pretty well executed. An innocent creature that has destroyed lives is hatching with unintended consequences and humanity has to decide what it wants to be. This is a great idea that we saw in “Torchwood: Children of Earth” and “Fire’s of Pompeii” in “Doctor Who,” and a few others. It’s an idea that deserves constant exploration as new dilemmas are presented.

The Doctor – I hated the Doctor this episode, and I think I was supposed to. He transports Clara and Courtney to a life and death situation and leaves them there to decide the moral fate of human kind on weather an innocent baby whose parasites have been killing all humans on the moon should live or die…not knowing if it will cost humanity. He tells them it isn’t his Moon, it his Earth…it’s theirs so their choice. This is wrong given he put them in the situation in the first place and this moral choice is one he’s ignored on countless occasions. I got the feeling he did it a lot this episode to teach a lesson when the lesson was never asked for. This is the most selfish we’ve seen this Doctor and pays the price for it when Clara leaves him at episodes end. He is as cold as the 10th Doctor taking away Donna’s choice to die or 9th torturing a Dalek. He doesn’t get it in the end either which means before he finds Gallifrey, he’s got to find himself and be a good man or at least try to be like he was prior in the season. He uses people and is their officer in battlefields he chooses. He’s cold and distant, the oncoming storm for both the people he cares about and his enemies. He’s the Doctor.

Clara – Clara is one of my favorite companions after this episode. She stands up to the Doctor and leaves him and if they travel again before she officially leaves she has got to set up boundaries. The Doctor has always taken advantage of his companions and that has got to stop. They aren’t his soldiers, they’re supposed to be his friends. Clara’s calling him out was the best scene of the film as well as her decision to ignore Earth along with Lundvik and Courtney to let the creature live. I wish we could have had this happen more with Smith’s 11th Doctor as he never got called out on much at all. The only other person who did this was Donna, it is good to know Clara has Donna-like qualities in facing the Doctor’s using of people and taking her and humanity for granted.

The Cons: Execution of Premise – The moon being an egg is an interesting idea, but the Moon Spiders as parasites felt lazy. They were never fully dealing  with the creature being born as a threat until the very end with the moon breaking apart so it could hatch. The parasites were just there. It gave an “Alien” feel to it that clashed at the end with the creature is good, which we’ve gotten a lot now. When are we going to see a bad complex alien that isn’t one of the Classics like Daleks or Cybermen?

This was a great episode that I highly recommend. It gives a moral dilemma and has consequences come from it as the Doctor finally has to face how much of a sociopath he is being to those around him and that his using people without their consent has consequences. I can’t wait to see what those consequences will be so he can grow up. If Clara did what needed to be done and stood up for herself, which we haven’t seen a companion do in a long time. Even with the premise not as well executed as it could be, it is still a favorite.

Final Score: 8.6 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 4 – “Listen” – The Power of Fear

Listen

“Fear doesn’t have to make you cruel and cowardly. Fear can make you kind.” – The Doctor

“Listen,” is a great episode, I’m just going to say that now. It has some of the best Moffat writing and really shows the potential and promise for the rest of the season. Speaking of which, Steven Moffat was the writer of this episode and Douglas Mackinnin directed. They did fantastic.

The story shows us the Doctor’s curiosity as it begins with the Doctor wondering if there is someone or something there under the bed and just out of sight as he’s read about the dream throughout time and experienced it for himself. This also happens when Clara is going on her first date with Danny Pink, and the story unfolds from there.

SPOILERS

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Tone – The tone is one of reflecting and fear. The Doctor is thinking about fear and trying to discover if there is a creature it is tied too. This leads to his usual recklenessness (Clara tapping into the Psychic link to the TARDIS to find her first memory of it) and his actions on the last planet in the Universe.

The Cinematography – The cinematography captures the epic scale of what the episode covers and shows us the personal and universalness of the emotion of fear. Mackinnon did a great job directing.

Danny Pink – Danny is in this episode briefly at the end where he and Clara make up, and during the date where there is romantic tension, but where they both aren’t very socially aware. Fear has paralyzed them rather than forcing them to action. This is sorted by the end as they both learn kindness from their fears of failing each other. We also meet Danny as a child as Clara has a link to him from the date and she and the Doctor help him face the mysterious creature under the covers and letting it leave the room. It’s a great scene and we learn Danny was an orphan.

Clara – We see her awkwardness here in her first date with Danny, her connecting with the their descendant who is also a time traveler who gives her the soldier without a gun that she gave to Danny as a child and that she later gives to the Doctor as a child. She is active in this and reminds the Doctor that fear is important, as his lack of fear and curiosity almost gets him killed on the last planet in the Universe. This is another great Clara episode as she is connected to the Doctor but still her own person, she isn’t the Doctor’s McGuffin like in “Name of the Doctor.”

The Doctor – I’m saying the Doctor as a whole cause though Capaldi is amazing, this story is bigger than him. We get a glimpse into his childhood as he is afraid of the dark and his own fears and demons that haunt him so he chooses to sleep in a barn. The young Doctor is always in shadow, but he has long hair like the 1st Doctor. It is similar to when we saw the young Master, and just as if not more powerful as he chooses later to return to the barn as the War Doctor to make his big choice. We see his curiosity as we visit a young Danny Pink and his ancestor who it implies is related to Clara. The Doctor is the soldier so brave, he fights without a gun. He faces his fears armed only with his mind and in that succeeds.

The Message – Like the quote above, fear can make us kind as we realize what it is that is making us vulnerable and afraid. Fear can make us fight for the ones we love and fear can make us superheroes and make us run and fight faster and harder than we would (as expressed by the Doctor to a young Danny).

The Mystery – Something was under Danny’s bed, so there is a creature or creatures most likely still out there. Not knowing in this case serves the story, like in Series 4 and “Midnight” where we never find out what creature was haunting the train and possessing people and the Doctor.

This is perfect Moffat. He does the tone and mystery and making you scared of what you don’t see and having a bigger purpose. He turns associations of fear on it’s head and show how fear can be a positive. We also get amazing Clara, Doctor and Danny development. I highly recommend this episode.

10 / 10. Moffat at his best and in his element.

The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 2 – “Into the Dalek” – Of Soldiers and the Soul of the Doctor

Into the Dalek

 

“Into the Dalek” feels the like the sequel to “Dalek,” one of my favorite episodes back in Series 1 where a Dalek was changed by Rose’s DNA and the Doctor is forced to confront his PTSD from the Time War and his Dalek prejudice. I’ll get into more details in the assessment, suffice to say I was impressed though with this episode.

The episode was written by Steven Moffat and Phil Ford, and directed by Ben Wheatley.

The story involves the Doctor and Clara going inside a Dalek in order to help it, since it is the only good Dalek in the Universe. From here the story unfolds as more of Clara’s life at school is revealed and the story of the rebels fight against the Daleks and the Doctor’s relationship to his past and the Daleks.

WARNING – Spoilers ahead 

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The New Intro – Lots of clocks and time…the music also fits the theme of the show during the introductory credits. Also introducing us to Journey Blue (our face in the Resistance against the Daleks) by the Doctor saving her after she loses her brother and takes him to the injured Dalek is a great hook.

Danny Pink – I’m glad this guy is going to be a reoccurring character and possibly a new companion. The man is a soldier who is dealing with PSTD from the war he fought in and is Clara’s colleague. He loves reading and dislikes how everyone judges him before getting to know him. He has an awkward relationship with Clara as she brings up his past and jokes about him crying after killing people. Samuel Anderson brings a lot of depth to this role and I can’t wait to see more.

The Rebels – Whether it’s Uncle, Journey Blue or Gretchen, none of the named resistance get wasted. Uncle is there to help Journey through helping heal the Dalek (Rusty) and fighting the enemy Daleks when they board the ship. Gretchen sacrafices herself to help the Rusty find his soul through Clara and the Doctor’s help and Journey Blue defends and fights for them all the way, as well as making the choice to trust the Doctor. They are a great group of characters.

Inside Rusty – From the anti-bodies that are like tiny Dalek eye sockets, to the mixture of metal and organic…the inside of the Dalek is done well and really creatively. It’s a shame “Journey to the Center of the TARDIS” didn’t receive this much effort and creative thought.

Rusty – Rusty is the Dalek who Clara, Gretchen, Journey Blue and the Doctor are shrunk to go inside of in order to help it heal. He is the Dalek who found beauty in life and with it an extreme hatred for the Daleks. After he is healed he represses his memories and summons the Daleks to aid him until Clara, Gretchen, The Doctor and Journey help it get the memories it repressed back. The Doctor than tries to get it beyond hatred of it’s own kind but cannot find anything but hate for the Daleks in the Doctor’s mind so embraces it to defend the rebels before going back to continue the hunt against the Daleks.

Missy – Appears again in “Heaven: after Gretchen sacrifices herself. I’m curious where this is going, so far she’s collecting characters…for what purpose remains to be seen.

Clara – Get’s fleshed out as a person…we see her relationship to her colleagues and students and why she is a teacher. She helps teach the Doctor to look beyond his ego and his limited scope of physical healing and is the one who gives the Doctor the idea of trying to change Rusty back to good through his memories and to make him truly good. She’s honest with the Doctor and more than a plot device, I love it. Why couldn’t we have got this Clara last season? Jenna Coleman deserved this great level of writing much earlier.

The 12th Doctor / The Twelfth Doctor – The 12th Doctor is once again fantastic. We see how his ego and prejudice blind him to the fact that Rusty (the name he gives the Dalek) beauty and he scoffed at it…and when he does get over his assumption it is too late as he has held hatred for all Daleks for so long that Rusty once more latches on to that and becomes the War Doctor of old. He is now a weapon against his people living in self hatred…much like the Tenth Doctor, the War Doctor and the Ninth Doctor to different degrees. It is tragic and fits the theme of the season. Because of this the Doctor doesn’t want soldiers with him, he realized he still carries the war still so close and doesn’t want to have to kill again. Capaldi shows the layers of this, and still having a sense of humor along the way.

Okay: The Daleks – The Daleks are there as a force of nature, but there is nothing to show them as unique, you can’t even tell command positions…they are all just golden. Still an awesome threat in this episode but rank is part of what made the Daleks unique. There wasn’t enough, “I OBEY.”

Con: The Doctor’s Pep Talk to Rusty – It was a great pep talk but how it was directed was kind of awkward. The Doctor is staring right at us, which was meant to be dramatic, but after a time kind of comes off as funny.

Boyfriend – Once again annoying. Stop telling us that Clara has a crush on Danny and that it might be mutual and let it unfold on it’s own. Good God, The Tenth Doctor and Rose had more subtlety.

This episode is worth watching for sure. One of the better Dalek Episodes and a good exploration of the Doctor and Clara’s characters. I’m hoping we see more of the Daleks and Rusty and that Missy isn’t just dropped. Stop having the myseterious woman appear unless she actually gets fleshed out. Madam Kovarian didn’t get any fleshing out and could have been an amazing antagonist because of the mysterious set-up. Moffat you need more than mystery, please deliver this season. This was an amazing episode though and one of my favorites.

Final Score is 9.6 / 10

 

 

12 Days of Doctors – The 7th Doctor – Season 24, Episode 1 – “Time and the Rani” – The Rani is Awesome

time_and_the_rani

“Time and the Rani” is the next episode on the 12 Days of Doctors and the count up to 12th’s first Adventure. This episode is the 7th Doctor’s first adventure and our introduction to Sylvester McCoy. The episode is the first episode in Season 24.

“Time and the Rani” was directed by Andrew Morgan and written by Jane and Pip Baker…and they all do an awesome job! This isn’t the best story, but it is one of the best of the pilots, it is very entertaining to say the least. I’ll get into more details in the assessment.

The story begins with the Doctor’s TARDIS being attacked by the Rani’s TARDIS, which forces him to regenerate. The Rani than pretends to be the Doctor’s companion Mel and to manipulate him to achieve her goals. He is unaware of her identity because of her disguise and Mel is unaware of the Doctor’s regeneration because she was knocked out during the attack as well. From here the story unfolds as the Rani’s plans are set in motion and the politics between her minions the Tetraps and the colonized Lakertyans who are her willing and unwilling slaves.

Tetrap

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Alien Civilizations – The Aliens are awesome! The Lektrayan’s design is reptalian with long golden hair and they have a society ruled by a single ruler and his elite. There are also the Rani’s Tetraps who look like giant humanoid bats who have eyes on three sides. They are similar to orcs in that their goals are only for themselves and their species as seen by what happens to the Rani later.

The Rani – The Rani is a fantastic villain and is awesome! Her end goal is to create a universe that is logical by using the Brain (created from geniuses around the world and universe, she wants the Doctor’s mind in it too to solve the equation of how to make the Time Manipulator faster) on the Lektrayan Home World to create a Time Manipulator to shape time anywhere in the Universe. It is perfect, brilliant and so in character. In the end it is her lack of empathy that destroys her, in that her minions turn on her when they learn she intends to let them be destroyed on the planet and when the leader of the Lektrayan’s who has been a collaborator realizes what is at stake he makes the sacrifice to stop the rocket that would turn his planet into the Time Manipulator. Kate O’Mara is fantastic, and I hope the Rani returns in the newest series at some point. She is one of the best and most interesting of the Doctor’s enemies.

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Mel – Mel is a great companion. She is spunky and doesn’t put up with crap from the Doctor…I can see why she leaves later. The 7th Doctor is detached and you see he functions like a chess master, even in this episode. Everyone is a tool, even if he treats said tools with respect. Mel is the counter to that, she is blunt and honest. Kind of like Donna was to the 10th Doctor.

The 7th Doctor / The Seventh Doctor – Sylvester McCoy is brilliant. His Doctor is like a wizard, both in his manipulation and in his strange turns of phrases. Such phrases like “Tom, Dick and Harriet.” etc. He is also empathetic too, even in his distance. I think he probably became the chess master because of the Rani manipulating him right when he had first regenerated. She did a number on him and him being so easily manipulated in the first two parts made her plan almost succeed, that probably gave this Doctor trust issues. I really like McCoy and his Doctor is a pleasure to watch. He is quite worthy of the title and a much needed change from Colin Baker and the 6th.

I would highly recommend this episode. Once again, a favorite episode, largely because of the Rani, the Doctor, Mel and the Tetraps and Lektrayans…an interesting species and villain really help to elevate any science fiction story. This story also really captures the sense of adventure and the characters feel human, you can empathize with them, and the ones you can’t are fascinating in their own right, both as a species and in the Rani’s case as a fantastic antagonist. This episode was worth it just to see her plan unfold.

My final score for this episode is 9.2 / 10.

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