Doctor Who – Death in Heaven review

Death in Heaven is the final episode of season 8 and completes the story started in the previous episode Dark Water.

I did find the episode to be slightly messy but there was some good stuff in it. Spoilers follow.

The previous episode ended with a few Cybermen marching out of St Pauls Cathedral and the revelation that Missy is apparently the newest incarnation of the Master. This episode picks up the action at that point with the appearance of some UNIT agents led by Kate Stewart and accompanied by the Osgood girl who was in The Day of the Doctor.

The Cybermen blast off and Missy is captured by UNIT. She and the Doctor are taken to the UNIT airplane base which seems to have been added to the story as a location because it can provide a dramatic crash later. However it does allow for some funny lines about Gerry Anderson TV shows when the Doctor inquires after the Valiant cloud base from a previous Master story where John Simm became prime minister and turned the Tenth Doctor into Dobby from Harry Potter.

(Sorry I brought that up. I had hoped to have forgotten that episode but it just came flooding back. Sigh.)

Also on the plane is a portrait of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Kate Stewart tells the Doctor her father had always wanted the Doctor to salute him. THIS IS FORSHADOWING.

Oh, and the Doctor has been made World President.

The Cybermen attack the plane. Missy manages to kill Osgood and escape. The Doctor and Kate are thrown out of the plane. The Doctor manages to freefall into his Tardis as if he is in a Roger Moore Bond movie (specifically Moonraker). It all is reminiscent of the Russel T Davis era.

Cyber-rain is falling across the globe and turning the dead into Cyber(dead)men who are coming out of graves and stuff. Danny Pink is now a Cyber(dead)man and he wants Clara to deactivate his emotion chip. This all takes place in a graveyard for DRAMATIC EFFECT.

The Doctor arrives at the graveyard. Missy arrives at the graveyard. Missy gives the Doctor her Cyber(dead)men Controller Bracelet so he can use his Cyber(dead)men army and go and conquer Daleks and so on. He refuses and gives the bracelet to CyberDanny who orders the Cyber(dead)men to go and self-destruct in the Cyber-rain clouds thus SAVING EARTH with one line of dialog.

Missy tells the doctor that Gallifrey is back at the coordinates where it originally was. Clara wants to kill Missy and the doctor says he will do it to save Clara from killing someone. Missy teleports away just as he presses the disintegrate button.

Another Cyber(dead)man appears and points at Kate Stewart who lies unharmed on the ground. The Doctor salutes the Cyber(dead)man. Across the land TV viewers suddenly blub: ”OMG! The Brigadier! The Cyber-Brig! BLUB!”

Except I didn’t for I discovered my heart is made of stone.

So far so “meh”, but there is a good epilogue coming up.

Oh wait, there’s more “meh” before the epilogue.

Clara wakes up one night and says Danny’s name. She goes out of her bedroom and there is a magical CGI effect from which Danny’s voice emanates. Apparently the Missy bracelet will let one dead person return from the dead. But Danny has given his place to a boy he apparently killed in the wars.

Now, that’s all very noble and everything but from a story telling point of view IT MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL. We have to accept a magic bracelet that can return you from the dead. (This might well be the Doctor Who equivalent of Khan’s Magic Blood as seen in Star Trek Into Darkness.)

So now we finally get to the neat epilogue.

The Doctor meets Clara in a cafe. He sees the bracelet and wrongly assumes Danny returned from the dead and that he and Clara will live happy every after. Clara does not contradict the Doctor and lets him infer that that is what happened.

In turn the Doctor tells Clara he found Gallifrey at the coordinates Missy supplied. As he tells her this we see what really happened. The Doctor arrives at the coordinates and opens the Tardis doors. No Gallifrey. With a fair amount of despair and rage he punches the Tardis console in full on Capaldi mode. All the while his voiceover is telling Clara untruths about finding Gallifrey and how he’s going back there. So they are both lying to each other and parting when they need each other the most.

The doctor leaves.

Credits role.

And then there’s a “hilarious” preview of the Christmas special with Santa Claus knocking on the door of the Tardis. Oh. joy.

Overall I found the final two-parter to be a bit muddled and not quite at the standard of some of the earlier episodes in the season. I know I’m in a minority with that. Still, the season did present standout episode like Deep Breath, Listen, Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline so I won’t complain too hard.

All being well Capaldi will survive his encounter with Santa and return for season 9.

Doctor Who – grumpy “Dark Water” review

There now follows a review of the Doctor Who episode “Dark Water”, being the first part of a two-part series finale…

Spoilers follow.

To be honest I was left a little underwhelmed by Dark Water. It did feel like a lot of set up where not much actually happened. This is in stark contrast to the responses I have read on the Doctor Who forum I follow where reaction has been extremely positive. Some individuals there are saying things like it’s the best episode since the show returned in 2005. Comments like that make me feel like I was watching a different episode.

The episode does start with the shock death of Clara’s boyfriend Danny Pink. Well, I wasn’t expecting that and it was a brave twist. Clara of course wants to get the Doctor to save Danny and knows he’ll refuse, so she steals his Tardis keys and threatens to throw them into a volcano if he refuses. He does refuse and she does carry out her threat. Suffice it to say that the Doctor has anticipated her key hostage taking and no keys were harmed. He agrees to try and help her. Clara is shocked as she has betrayed him. The Doctor has a nice line that goes something like “do you think betraying me would make me care any less?”

The Tardis brings them to a big mausoleum type place where skeletons sit in tanks of water. They meet Missy who has being popping up occasionally in the earlier episodes of the season. Some science bod explains that apparently the consciousness of the dead stay in the body after death. Meanwhile Danny Pink is in the “afterlife” which turns out to be a Matrix type of deal. There’s lots of talking for the rest of the episode until the two big “shock” reveals…

1 – The water tanks actually contain Cybermen.

2 – Missy = Mistress = Master.

Neither of these are actually shocks though. The Cybermen were shown in the “next time” trailer last week and I would have been surprised if Missy turned out to be anyone else.

My problem with the episode was about how little actually happened. Also in the end I’m just not emotionally invested in the Clara/Danny relationship and when he died I just sort of mentally shrugged.

Also nothing makes any sense. The mausoleum place turns out to be inside St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, mainly so they can replicate the shot of the Cybermen marching in front of St. Paul’s from the 1968 Patrick Troughton story The Invasion.

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But when is it? 2014? The whole point of the very science-fictiony and futuristic mausoleum is that it’s there for people visit the dead, but there are no visitors there, and the dead turn out to be Cybermen. Are all the dead of Earth turned into Cybermen? And are they all in St. Paul’s? Hopefully there are some actual answers next week.

The stuff with the “afterlife” Matrix was very flat and I don’t think it added very much to the story. It turns out that the brain patterns of the newly dead are being uploaded into the Matrix so they can be convinced to delete their emotions and then downloaded back into the Cybermen bodies.

I think.

It’s all very over-complicated. Whatever happened to a good old-fashioned cyber-conversion process?

There was one little bit I did like. At one point the Doctor says something like “I’m missing something very obvious here.” Just then the doors swing closed behind him to reveal a pair of logos that together look like the trademark Cybermen “teardrop” eyes. It’s a fun reveal.

So I’m very much in the minority here. Everyone else seems to love this episode and that makes me feel like I’m missing the party with my “oh, it’s all right I suppose” attitude.