The 12th Doctor – Series 2, Episode 12 – “Death in Heaven” – Of Lies, Consequences and an Impressive Finale

Doctor Who Death in Heaven

This was a great episode. The episode had consequences which changed circumstances for everyone and an emotional depth to it, in any of the scenes that had named characters. Suffice, to say it has been a while I’ve been this impressed by a finale in the new series of Doctor Who.

“Death in Heaven,” like “Dark Water” was written by Steven Moffat and directed by Rachel Talalay.

SPOILERS ahead

The episode picks up with the Cybermen in the middle of London before UNIT arrives on the scene causing them to each go to a different city. From here the story unfolds as the Doctor is made President of the Human Race and must work to figure out Missy’s plan with the Cybermen before it is too late.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: UNIT – It is great seeing UNIT back! Especially Osgood and Kate Stewart. It is here we learn that they had a plan put in place to make the Doctor the President of the Human Race since he was the best at facing alien threats. This was cool and showed how UNIT and Torchwood mistakes had been learned from of treating the Doctor like a prisoner or threat.

Kate Stewart – She is only in the first half of the episode but she’s there helping the Doctor figure things out before the Cybermen attack their plan where they are holding Missy. she falls but is saved by her father who was resurrected as a Cybermen along with the rest of the dead. Jemma Redgrave is fantastic.

Osgood – A small part which ends up being a sad part, as her brains draw the Doctor in and he promises her to be a companion for her bucket list. Missy, not liking this kills Osgood shortly after, having broken out of her restraints. RIP Osgood. This episode had consequences out the door. Ingrid Oliver really was a great character. In this episode she had a bow tie to replace the large scarf and tells the Doctor, “Bow ties are cool.”

The Cybermen – The Cybermen are tools of the Master and only function as tools, but they are horrifying. All the dead throughout time made slaves by her manipulations and used to force the Doctor to make a choice. Use them to conquer in order to save Earth or surrender. The Doctor in the end chooses neither when he realizes he isn’t a good man, he’s just an idiot passing through and throws the Cyber Control device to Danny who is a Cyberman with emotions who than uses it to have all the Cybermen explode, destroying the rain that would have turned the living into Cybermen. They were a great threat this episode and they only failed as a weapon because of the Master’s need to prove a point to the Doctor.

Danny Pink – Danny makes amends, he saves Clara as a Cyberman and after his sacrifice he sends in the child he accidentally killed during the war. His ending was perfect as he didn’t get happily ever after and used the Master Cyber Control device to help someone he’d killed and someone who had much longer to live. His good bye to Clara is touching as well as when he is asking her to turn off his emotion because the pain of being a Cyberman who is undead and being second to the Doctor is too much. He calls out the Doctor though on the Doctor refusing to make a choice…the Doctor is an officer still even though he denies it for being the man who runs and tries and helps.

Clara Oswald – We see her be super clever here and learn Missy is the one who kept them together because Clara’s the control freak and the Doctor resists it and Missy thought it’d be perfect for making the Doctor like her. Clara shows the depths of her rage after Danny’s sacrifice when she almost kills Missy before the Doctor takes the weapon. She says good bye to Danny and realizes that she wasn’t the best partner. It is sad and it ends with lying as the Doctor believes her and Danny are together and she allows him to live that illusion, just as he lies to her in turn.

Missy / The Master – Missy wants her friend back, conquering the world is boring and it takes a Good Man to conquer the world. She tells the Doctor about prisoners in Dalek Camps and other things and tells him the Cybermen army is his so they can save the Universe together. It is a brilliant mind game. We also learn she left Gallifrey during the 50th Anniversary since the Doctor’s had left a brief window open. She than teases Gallifrey still being around but Gallifrey is in fact gone or she was lying about it being back in it’s original location. This Master is the greatest threat, as she kills Osgood, Danny by putting him in the situation, a lot of UNIT and hurts the Doctor and Clara before Cyberman Brig kills her. I’m hoping she isn’t gone…this is probably my favorite version of the Master. She’s crazy, fun and dangerous and plays up the emotional connection to the Doctor better than many before. She wants to prove that he is like her and in the process have her childhood friend back. It is terrifying, beautiful and sad and really goes into the psychological makeup of what makes the Master the Master. Michelle Gomez truly owns this role.

The Doctor / The 12th Doctor – The Doctor is powerless for much of this episode and it is when he gives up power to Danny and the Brig (his companions) that he wins. I don’t think he realizes that part Missy’s point about him having an army was his companions, but I think he might have realized it too. After Missy’s death by the Brigadier he goes to the location that Missy mentions and finds nothing even as he is lying to Clara about finding it so visits will be less. It’s powerful and is illustrated when they are hugging and he explains why he doesn’t like hugs, “Hugs are a chance to hide your face.” Capaldi owns this role and I’m glad his run isn’t over. I just hope Missy can come back, as death has never stopped the Master before.

The Ending – Danny gets closure with the child he killed, Clara and the Doctor live a lie and pretend everything is alright but are finally about to hold and comfort each other, Missy is stopped and Gallifrey is gone or Missy lied, we learn that Missy was the mysterious woman who brought the Doctor and Clara together (and gave Clara the Doctor’s number), people died (named characters at that) and weren’t magicked back to life. I loved this finale. It had consequences and explored relationships deeply. This is the best Moffat final since Series 5, lets see if he can keep this up.

The Cons: 3W – 3W is kind of left on the wayside, we just learn the first Cybermen were probably rich who’d feared dying who had chosen to become Cybermen. How they’re used isn’t bad, but they’re gone because they aren’t really brought up again in any meaningful way.

Death of Missy – Not sure if it’s permanent or not (this is Doctor Who) but I want this Master back. I get the poetic justice in the Brig staying the Doctor’s hand from killing her and the Doctor being willing to kill her to save Clara’s soul…but his attachment to the Master? Why didn’t he go more into his own thoughts? That was what I’d have liked to see more. Missy spoke her thoughts far more than the Doctor in regards to their relationship. She is the Master, so she might be back though, death has never stopped the Master before.

Like I said before, this is my favorite finale of the Moffat years since Series 5 and I’d rate it on part or better than Davies’s Master Arc…I’ll have re-watch it though before I can say that for certain though. Regardless, it is worth watching for the companion drama, UNIT drama and of course Missy and the Master. It was these things that made this episode shine. I just hope the Christmas special doesn’t take away the consequences we experienced…Danny should stay dead as should Osgood, they are human and not Time Lords who have broken the laws of death before.

Final score for “Death in Heaven”: 9.8 – Solidly amazing.

Final Score for “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven” and finale as a whole: 9.5, weaker but great start and an amazing and powerful finish.

The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 11 – “Dark Water” – The Missy Reveal

Doctor Who Dark Water

I’m just going to say it now, Michelle Gomez makes a great Missy, what I mean by that will be revealed in the assessment as it is nearly impossible to review this episode without giving spoilers as who Missy is, is the entire point of this episode really. The other relationships are side compared to her manipulations that she’s had set in motion since this series started.

This episode was written by Steven Moffat and directed by Rachel Talalay.

SPOILERS

Clara calls Danny to confess all the things she’s lied about to confess her love for him, and he gets hit by a car. This kicks off the episode as Clara shows how far she is willing to go to get Danny back which leads the Doctor to use her and Danny’s psychic link to get them to the Nethersphere/Heaven. It is here they meet Missy and the story unfolds as they learn about 3Ws and their agenda in regards to the dead and some of what Missy has in store for her overall plan.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Clara and Danny – These two are secondary in the episode and really the lesser plot at this point so I will cover them first. These two have trust issues, especially Clara. There is one point in the Nethersphere where she is talking to Danny through a Skype-like contraption and we see how Danny doesn’t know her that well (he isn’t able to answer the question about Clara about something only he knows about her…this is partially because of Clara’s lack of sharing. Their relationship is a bit one sided at times), and her willingness to create a Paradox to bring Danny back to life even if means destroying the TARDIS and Doctor. It’s a very River Song “Wedding of River Song” thing to do. I thought it was great as it revealed their flaws and failure to see the big picture going on around them (A Cybermen is being revealed as they talk and Clara isn’t aware of it until it’s too late).

The Nethersphere – The idea behind the place was cool and when we see it in action (Danny talking to a child he killed during war) and the dead who are revealed when the Dark Water goes away that they are Cybermen…the dead chose to give up their trauma and embraced becoming Cybermen because living was too hard is what the episode implies. All their minds are in a Gallifreyan device called the Matrix Data Slice, which than downloads the memories of the modified dead into the Cybermen giving Missy an amazing army. This is the first time we’ve seen the Cybermen used as tools of a higher power, and I love it since it captures the tragedy which is made all the more tragic as the dead chose their fate.

The Doctor – The Doctor is much like Clara and Danny and when Clara shows she’s willing to betray and destroy the Doctor to bring Danny back he still helps her. He doesn’t trust her anymore but he clearly still loves her. This speaks depths in regards to the question of the Doctor being a good man. He clearly is and Capaldi owns his scenes. This comes to the head in the end when Missy makes out with him making him completely vulnerable as he doesn’t like being touched and becomes worse when Missy reveals her identity and the Doctor realizes he helped create this situation. What it means fully remains to be seen as he is powerless to warn the people as the Cybermen invade. We’ll know more of their relationship in the next episode.

Missy / Mistress / The Master – Michelle Gomez is wonderful and I love the implications of her kissing the Doctor. The Master has always felt affection for the Doctor and this confirms it. The kiss shows that their relationship did have an unspoken other dimension and it adds a lot to both their characters (the Doctor and the Master). We also see the just how brilliant the Master is for creating the Nethersphere and tricking the dead into becoming slaves by forcing them to face the pain they experienced in life. She’s brilliant and deadly and I hope she survives this series. Much of the after scenes make more sense now, like her hope the solar flare would destroy Earth…now all that’s left is why she chose Clara and what Clara’s connection is to the Mistress. The wonderfully deadly Time Lady. Also I love how this episode sets up the potential for a female Doctor further down the line.

The Cons: Nethersphere Human Minions – These guys are just there and don’t really do much but give exposition. When Missy kills one of them it doesn’t really establish anything except her cruelty, which we already knew from the implication of the Cybermen being the dead who chose slavery.

Slow in Parts – The episode does lag in parts, for example the Clara and Danny conversation is the same thing stated again and again. “Prove you’re Danny.” “I love you.” This cycle just goes on and on, a few of the scenes of this could have been cut out. Danny doesn’t know Clara and Clara doesn’t trust…just like the Doctor.

Can’t wait to see where this episode goes as the Master Arc from Series 3 is one of my all time favorite arcs in the New Doctor Who Series and the Missy Arc could end up being just as good if it’s handled right. It all depends on the next episode as I usually don’t count the Christmas Specials in the arc, just like Davies Specials they are more often than not their own thing that focus more on character stories…with sometimes some pretty great baddies. Moffat, please don’t mess up Missy. I thought she might be the Master, now is the time to fully explore what her relationship to the Doctor and Clara is and what she has in plan with her invasion and the Matrix Data Slice. “Death in Heaven” could still save things by being good, but a lot is at stake now as the Cliffhanger has raised my expectations for how Missy is handled as she and the Doctor are far more interesting than the Clara and Danny arc going on currently.

Side Note: I had hoped Missy might be Romana or the Rani but the Mistress being the Master is still very good if predictable reveal in my book and shows so much more potential for future exploration of what it means to be a Time Lord and the relationships between Time Lords. “The Doctor’s Wife” had left this open as an option (Time Lords changing Gender via mention of The Corsair) but it’s great to finally see it happen!

I’ll do a score of the arc together before I talk about the series as a whole at the end of the next episode (as well as giving “Death in Heaven” it’s own score as a single episode). But this episode was a favorite.

Final Score: 9 / 10. Solidly great and setting up some great potential for the Mistress.

The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 10 – “In the Forest of the Night” – Too Much Fantasy

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Since Moffat has become showrunner of “Doctor Who” after Russell T. Davies left there has always been an element of fantasy in his series. The strongest of this and the best version of it was Series 5 when Matt Smith was the 11th Doctor, and weakest was the series 7…Smith’s final season and one of the most inconsistent seasons that gave us a lot of the worst of Moffat’s writing and themes. This episode is not as bad as the worst of series 7 and would have been good if not for the ending, but because of the ending I can only call it okay. I’ll get into what I mean in the assessment.

The episode was directed by Sheree Folkson and written by Frank Cottrell Boyce.

The premise is that the world has become overgrown by a forest that grew in a day. The Doctor doesn’t know why it happened and is left with Clara and Danny as they find that one of the Coal Hill Students Maehb maybe tied to the events and are left facing this new mystery and whether it is something good and temporary or a the signs of an invasion. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Premise – The idea of a forest overgrowing the world is a great idea! Especially since it adds a lot of mystery and in this instance plays into the human fear of the woods. Which we see in fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood both of which are made visual illusions to in the episode. There is a sense of danger and a sense of loss too given the events of the fairy tales.

Danny Pink – Danny is good at being the one grounded on being in the moment and looking after the kids to make sure they are connected. We see how this appeals to Clara even though she is so drawn to the excitement, mystery and adventure of the current circumstances. She assumes the Doctor can sort things out, Danny assumes nothing. We learn that this was due to his experiences as a soldier and he has no desire to repeat it given what he wants most is right in front of him (Clara). It’s a sweet moment and I liked how he was handled in this episode. Even with Clara lying about adventures with the Doctor and them even happening he is there until she can figure things out.

Clara Oswald – Clara is very much the companion in this episode, and she loves it. We see her separate herself from the Doctor at the end though when she asks him to run since if humanity will go extinct they will do so together and she doesn’t want to be the last of her kind. We see her attachment to Earth in this episode and her love of Danny even if she doesn’t know how to fully communicate her situation with the Doctor and being straight with them both. But she grows some in this episode which leaves things curious in regards to how her leaving will be handled at the end of this series.

The 12th Doctor / The Twelfth Doctor – The Doctor is interesting in this episode. We see him not being very good with children in that he isn’t very aware of them and is drawn in the most to the mystery. It takes a student being connected to the events for him to truly care and though he says he will stay with humanity he is rejected like he rejected helping humanity in “Kill the Moon.” I liked him in this episode but he couldn’t save it as there were other things bringing it down.

The Cons: Child Actors – Having one is bad enough, but this one had a bunch. They weren’t bad all the time but it make the threat seem so much less since it’s a family show…they aren’t going to kill a kid. This made the episode feel G when it was dealing with mortality, which was a shame.

Everything is Okay Again – I really don’t like how this series, especially when the episode has a kid (“Kill the Moon” again, and “The Caretaker”) try to keep consequences from occuring. The Earth doesn’t change and the Doctor talks about people forgetting. There was no point for the episode beyond it advancing the character arcs, which is a waste of a premise. “Kill the Moon” at least gave Clara reason to doubt and for a while was actually a great thriller so the concept was handled better. This one, not so much.

Everybody Lives – There are aliens that predate the Doctor in this episode and apparently they saved Maehb’s sister. “The Doctor Dances” did this so much better, because it was a war, there was consequences going on, there was despair and death so people living meant something. This corny ending gave nothing to the Whoverse and made Moffat going dark feel like a lie. Well, we’ll see how the final goes. Most episodes have been good but this ending is part of what’s wrong with Moffat. It’s too much fantasy, and not the good kind where magic is an element but not a magic reset button of entire character situations.

This episode could have been worse, the mystery was better than “Robot of Sherwood” at least and the character moments did improve the story. But they got to stop using child actors…I know this is a kids show but the original Star Wars didn’t have any child actors and was better for it. Kids can take dark, and some of the darkest Doctor Who (Series 1-3 on “Doctor Who”) were actually quite amazing. Fantasy writing shouldn’t be an excuse for not having stories without consequences. Happy endings should have a cost, or better yet be bittersweet.

Final Score: 6.5 / 10. Would be lower if not for Clara, Danny and the Doctor.

The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 9 – “Flatline” – A Slow First Half But Powerful Finish…How the Doctor Sees People

Doctor Who Flatline

This episode was really boring at first, I mean I was watching it and couldn’t find myself interested in anyone…and I like the Doctor and Clara. What changed it though was what they did in the Second half when the action started happening and we saw the Doctor as more honest than he’s been in a long time. It was refreshing. I’ll get into what I mean in the assessment.

“Flatline” was written by Jamie Mathieson and directed by Paul Wilmshurst. It is also the 9th episode of Series 8.

The premise of the episode is that aliens from another dimension are taking people away and sucking out the energy of the TARDIS. This shrinks the outer dimensions of the TARDIS while the Doctor is still on board leaving Clara in the Doctor role as she works with some folks doing community service work to make up for their crimes as people continue to be sucked away and the intentions of the new aliens are slowly revealed.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Premise – Aliens from the Second Dimension causing chaos is a great idea! The idea of Clara having to take the role of the Doctor is a great idea! These two main points do eventually payoff but initially do not.

The Boneless – These aliens are great (We’ve had a lot of great aliens this series) and I like how they eventually made themselves 3 dimensional after stealing the energy and matter from others. They built themselves up and we didn’t know their intentions and still don’t fully except that they are destructive. It’s nice seeing a monster for the Doctor to face for once. Most of his enemies this season have had redeemable qualities, even a Dalek. They feel like a good threat too and get defeated very creatively.

Clara – Clara is still lying to Danny and is very much like the Doctor in personality (much to his dismay). We see this in action as she says that to give them hope she needs to lie to them so they’ll be more likely to survive and to weigh each situation and so that the least harm takes place. Clara has no place for warmth an empathy in this episode and we see it in her lying and brushing off of Danny and how she talks the people around her and the Doctor as her companion. She calls herself “Doctor Clara” and mocks him to comedic affect throughout the episode. This is really her giving him his own medicine and he gets the message it looks like at the end.

The 12th Doctor – This episode started out boring, but once it got into the meat and bones of the Doctor’s character gave us some great character moments and exploration. Him having to fully depend on another because he was stuck in the TARDIS is a good illustration of how the Doctor/Companion relationship can sometimes be at it’s core. He saw himself through Clara’s eyes and realized just how far from being a good man he is. He weighs everything logically and doesn’t allow himself to get fully invested in people beyond bringing about balance. He saves people, though some die. He stops Monsters (his speech to the Boneless about this dimension being protected and them being monsters even though the Doctor tried to communicate was brilliant) though many times though becoming one…He takes people for granted and lies and he realized that in the process he destroys those who try to be him. We don’t know how things will end with Clara but Missy feels she chose right at the end of the episode and the Doctor leaves in sorrow.

“You were a exceptional Doctor…it had nothing to do with good.” The Doctor realizes that about himself and what that does in regards to others. I like that as Capaldi’s Doctor started out as one of the more unaware Doctors, though that has always been a thing which is why there have always been companions.

The Cons: The First Half – The first half was boring even as the aliens were introduced. I didn’t care about anyone because nothing happened. There was no action that felt like it advanced the plot and even though the TARDIS was shrinking and it was intriguing I felt as detached as the Doctor.

The Minor Characters – The folks doing community service and the guy in charge of them were tropes. The kid down on his luck trying to get his life back together  and the dickish leader of them. I didn’t care about all of them.

This was a good episode but in no way great. The first half could have been a lot better and given us more of Danny and Clara and the lies as well as the Doctor’s reaction to it or we could have got more of the aliens reeking havoc or some of the minor characters. Because it started out detached it gave us nothing to invest in initially. I personally did think it was still good but you have to have patience to get to the second half where there is actual payoff.

Final Score: 8 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 8 – “Mummy on the Orient Express” – The Doctor’s Motivation

Mummy on the Orient Express

This is one of the better episodes exploring if the Doctor is a good man. What are his motivations? What drives him to make his decisions? This episode really captures the alien parts of that and pushes us closer to Clara’s leaving. It also provides a good mystery that keeps with the soldier theme of this series.

“Mummy on the Orient Express” was written by Jamie Mathieson, directed by Paul Wilmshurst and produced by Peter Bennett.

The premise is the Doctor is taking Clara on a last adventure for her to say good-bye, which also gives him a chance to explore why the mysterious “Gus” has kept offering him free tickets as far back as “The Big Bang” on the Orient Express. We soon learn that they are test subjects as the mummy kills them in a pattern. From here the story unfolds as Clara considers whether this should be good bye for good and the Doctor’s reasons for the things he does are revealed.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Orient Express – I really like the setting in the episode, it is classy and at the same time a prison. We see this when Gus drops all illusions on the train to have them appear in a lab and begins killing customers because they aren’t figuring out how to stop the Mummy, who kills people once they see it, in 66 seconds. For this reason there is constant tension throughout the episode as the Doctor and other doctors work to figure out how to stop it.

Captain Quell – He is the first soldier we meet on the train (this is a theme of the season and the episode) and we see that experiences PTSD when he was the only survivor of an attack. This leads to his lack of action until 3 crewmembers die. He goes down fighting and alive though, when the Mummy targets him for his PTSD and he dies whole. David Bamber was good in this role, as it takes a lot for him to come around to the Doctor. The Doctor has to earn his trust.

Perkins – Is the engineer who it hints at, may no more than he leads on. He targets the Doctor when the Doctor dismisses the deaths of the captain, the mythologist and others as he’s told they don’t have time to morn, they need action to find out how to stop the Mummy so their death’s weren’t in vain. Perkins eventually gets this and is on the TARDIS at the end and realizes the nature of the TARDIS forces a person to change, which leads to the Doctor mentioning how it has changed him, many times. He was a good minor character and Frank Skinner did a good job.

Professor Moorhouse – This is the character who is all about data, which the Doctor uses to his advantage to learn about the myths surrounding the Mummy, and to get information from him when the Mummy is about to end his life. He is serious about his work and is up until the end, though he does start trying to make deals and reason with the Mummy as others tried to do in the myths, which doesn’t save him. Christopher VIlliers was good for playing this gentleman.

Clara – A major part of this episode is exploring Clara’s relationship with the Doctor. They hinted at her  not being in this episode, which I wouldn’t have minded…but her being there did advance her arc with the Doctor. In this one she is his soldier lying to Maisie to get her to the room with all the equipment. The Doctor does save her when he tries an experiment and we are shown the Doctor is like Maisie’s grandmother…sometimes well intentioned, but cold and cruel. She calls him out on doing that, but he mentions that it was the only way to try to save her and she calls him a good man at the core…until the Doctor foreboding brings up the other part. He was as detached when he risked his life for Maisie as he was when Moorhouse and the Captain were killed. This is going to play a part later though Clara embraces the adventure now, knowing the Doctor will always try to do the right thing even if it isn’t coming from the right reasons.

The Mummy – Is a soldier from a future war. The reason it isn’t seen is because of cloaking technology, and it targeted them one by one to destroy the weak first so there wouldn’t be distractions and so it could take their energy. It had no choice to stop fighting until the Doctor surrenders. It was a really cool concept, and like Captain Quell’s PTSD showed another dimension to war. It dies saluting the Doctor and it’s core is used to beam everyone into the TARDIS before Gus destroys the train.

The Doctor – This episode is Capaldi in his element. We truly see the Doctor more fully and can better understand his motivations. He does the right thing or tries too, but it’s with detachment and he isn’t attached to caring about people beyond the present moment. We also see his investigative side in action as he solves the mystery of the Mummy and risks his life to find out the truth. He’s calculating, but also willing to take a chance on a whim if it will help someone and help him solve the case. He tries to find out who Gus is too but Gus destroys the train, which also put folks at risk when he did that from inside the train. The Doctor and Clara decide to take the next adventure together but the Doctor is questioning now since Clara was ready to say good bye and her change of heart has him confused since he knows he’s still the same person who made and makes her angry. For this reason, we are that much closer to Clara leaving, even if she isn’t aware of it.

The Cons: Maisie – Couldn’t get into her character. She was mostly there to draw illusions to the Doctor and Clara’s relationship through the relationship she lost and to give us a new perspective on the Doctor. She was a plot device.

This was a great episode and another one of my favorites this season. It was better than “Deep Breath” and a lot of fun. My only issue would be how much we don’t know about Gus and if he is connected to the Missy arc or not. I’m also waiting for an enemy that is generally bad and evil and isn’t a Dalek. Most enemies this season have just been misunderstood slaves or soldiers….or really cheezy villains like in “Robot of Sherwood.” I definitly recommend this episode and think that when Clara leaves, we’re going to feel it.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

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 5 – “Time Heist” – The Reasons to Rob a Bank

Time Heist

“Time Heist,” was a really fun episode. It gave us the chance to know the Doctor better, introduced a fascinating alien and gave us some great guest stars and characters. The episode itself is the 5th one of Series 8 and was directed by Douglas Mackinnon and written by Steven Moffat and Stephen Thompson (this is Thompson’s best episode so far).

The story involves the architect who convinces The Doctor, Clara, Psi (a hacker) and Saibra (a shapeshifter) to rob the most dangerous bank in the universe, The Bank of Karabraxos. It begins with the four in a room together with the mysterious architect speaking to them from a device as Karabraxos security is trying to reach them. From here the story unfolds as they figure out if they can trust one another and what reason they would rob the most dangerous bank, as their minds have been wiped to protect them from the Teller who senses and feeds of guilt.

SPOILERS ahead

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Premise – We’ve never seen the Doctor rob a bank before, in any of his incarnations…so this was something new that gave a great reason to explore the Universe of Doctor who more and his motivations that would drive him to do something this risky and dangerous.

The Bank of Karabraxos – The Bank of Karabraxos was done really well and creatively. From the Teller who hunts and feeds off of guilt and memories, to Ms. Delphin and Madam Karabraxos and all the security agents who are dressed in pretty cool space marine uniforms. It feels like a place that would be difficult to break into, which serves the plot really well.

The Characters

Psi – Jonathan Baily is fantastic in this role, from his critique of the Doctor to Clara (“I can tell you’ve been traveling with him for some time. You keep making excuses for him”). Who is a hacker and whose motivation is to reclaim the memories he deleted as he’s an augmented human who is part computer (glad we have one of these in “Doctor Who” now). He’s arrogant and selfish at times but cares a lot for Saibra and Clara, and eventually comes around to the Doctor after the reveal of how intricate the Architect’s plans were.

Saibra – Pippa Bennett-Warner plays a character who becomes the thing she touches. She is unable to form connections with people because they always see themselves staring right back at them. She is really good in this role and adds a lot of depth to the role and relates to the Doctor’s detachment from others as that is all she’s known all her life. Saibra is robbing the bank to have something to suppress the mutant gene so she can have the possibility of romantic relationships with others.

Clara – Clara feels like more of a minor character this time around, but we do see that she is pretty selfish as when her life flashes before her eyes when the Teller is hunting her she sees only herself. This is interesting in regards to her relationship and her empathy she has for other characters. She’s very much like the Doctor that way.

Ms. Delphin/Madam Karabraxos – These characters are clones who hate themselves. Karabraxos is the main clone but she’s destroyed herself so many times and is so detached from everyone she’s hurt that she makes a great villain. She is changed later though as her conversation with the Doctor at the end pricks her regret and leads her to make a call on the day the Solar Storm destroys the Bank of Karabraxos…as she wants to atone for one of the greatest wrongs she’s done. Keeley Hawes does a good job in the role.

The Teller

The Teller – The Teller is a fascinating species, that I hope we see again. It preys off memories and guilt like a Dementor but is also a prisoner to the Bank, and as we learn, serving the bank to protect it’s mate they have trapped in the private vault. This was the reason the architect robbed the bank in the end, to save a species that was the last of it’s kind. It was imprisoning the Tellers that prompts Madam Karabraxos to call the Doctor in her old age and set the story in motion. I hope we see this species again, in a complicated role of antagonist and victim like this episode, antagonist or protagonist. They have a great design and concept.

The Doctor – The Doctor is the architect and we see the reason behind his professional detachment as doing so protected the victim (the Teller) from making them victims and allowed them to save the species and get Saibra and Psi what they wanted more than anything else. The Doctor is the Architect and it ends with us seeing him lay the briefcases that open up the different doors, and how the devices he used and lied about were transporters to get Psi and Saibra out but believing themselves to be dead when they were being assaulted by the Teller. He really is detached in this but the reason he is is driven for the greater good of saving a species and helping the members of his team. The biggest issue I had was his childishness at the end when he’s grumbling to himself, “Robbing a bank, beat that for a date.” Also he makes a great quote about his eyebrows being the reason everybody follows him. They got to make some Capaldi Detachable eyebrows for “Doctor Who” conventions at some point.

Okay: The “Don’t” Moffat Meme – This is a bit overdone and began with “Blink” and “Don’t blink.” This episode had, “Don’t think.” It’s an idea he tends to use a lot and I was kind of hoping for something different, especially after “Listen” used the concept with “Don’t look.” Considering this came right after “Listen” it’s an okay that’s going to be counted against the episode.

Clara’s Reason for Coming – We don’t fully see Clara’s motivation for coming along, she likes to help others, but I get that…but she never put her motivations to words the way the Doctor did at the end when the reason for the heist was revealed.

The Time Loop – The reason behind the heist was okay, I was kind of hoping the Doctor wouldn’t have been the Architect though, the closed loop (see the River Song arc) with the Doctor knowing everything that will happen can kill suspense. It didn’t quite kill suspense this episode, but thinking on it later, I would’ve liked if it was revealed another Time Lord was involved in some way, especially since there was so much we didn’t know about the Bank of Karabraxos.

This was a solidly good episode. It was great in how it did characters, and the reveal wasn’t bad even if I wish Moffat had gotten a little bit more out of his comfort zone. This is the best Thompson episode though he’s done on “Doctor Who.” I recommend this episode for sure and I do hope we see more of The Teller species. Also, Capaldi is owning this role and I really love him as the 12th Doctor.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 3 – “Robot of Sherwood” – Doesn’t Hit The Mark

DoctorWhoS8E3

“Robot of Sherwood” isn’t some of Mark Gatiss’s best writing. It has good moments, great moments in fact…but the bad moments really bring it down. I’ll get into the details in the assessment.

“Robot of Sherwood” as stated above was written by Mark Gatiss and Directed by Paul Murphy. It aired today, September 6th, 2014 and is the 3rd episode of the 8th Series.

The story begins with Clara wanting to see Robin Hood to see if the legend exists as the Doctor does not believe in him. When they arrive in Sherwood Forest they find him and are taken in by him and his Merry Men. We are soon introduced to the threat of the Sheriff of Nottingham who is using Robots to steal all gold from the populace and kill the King. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Clara – This is a great Clara episode, again I ask why we couldn’t have got this in Series 7. We learn that Clara loves Robin Hood and has since she was little, which makes sense we see her reading before the Doctor asks her where she wants to go, and being a teacher she’d be sharing this story with her students. Her relationship to Robin in this is fantastic and we see her put her trust in him when she tells him the Doctor’s backstory. She is also the one who believes in the Legend as folks like Amy believed in the legend of the Doctor. The parallels are great when they are revealed through Clara.

Okay/Good: Robin Hood – Tom Riley does okay as Robin Hood, much better than say Russell Crowe, but not as great as some of the others. He has some good moments with the Doctor and Clara though which make up for it. Part of it is I’m unsure if some of the awkward scenes are from bad writing on Gatiss’s part or Riley not being completely cut out for the part. It’s for this reason I have the okay part.

The 12th Doctor / The Twelfth Doctor – We get the backstory of the Doctor and see him use his mind to defeat the Robots, but he isn’t given much to do and his rivalry with Robin Hood over Clara is childish. I hated it actually, he isn’t supposed to be the 11th Doctor who would pull crap like that, he’s supposed to be more mature. Worth it for the end though which was good and when we learn the Doctor’s motivations were much like Robin’s as he ran away from the wealthy corrupt Time Lord society to help the people of the Universe.

Con: The Robots and the Sheriff – The Sheriff’s motivations are only killing the King and becoming ruler, and the Robots have no motivation at all but to serve the Sheriff. The Doctor references the Robots being similar to the Half-Face Man and Clockwork droids who got sent back in time, but those guys got motivation even it was from doing their purpose of collecting parts and from it finding the idea of “Paradise.” The Sheriff is evil for the sake of evil and the actor who plays him isn’t good. These are the first dud baddies of the season.

Would I recommend this episode? It doesn’t do anything for the overall arc, but the reveal of the Doctor’s past which we’ve got from past Doctors was good, since I think a lot of people don’t realize why the Doctor first started running from Gallifrey in the first place. Jenna Coleman is amazing and this is her episode. The guest actor Tom Riley is okay, as is Capaldi but for Capaldi…this is his worst episode so far. He’s far too childish and Riley’s Robin Hood is far too idealistic. He doesn’t feel human at times even if he does have some good in how he’s played. I’d leave it up to you to watch it. If you don’t mind dud villains and want to know more about Clara, watch the episode. If not, you aren’t missing much here.

Final score for this episode is 6 / 10. Would be an average episode if not for the ending and Jenna Coleman carrying it.

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