Doctor Who The Power of the Daleks animation

The BBC has announced that The Power of the Daleks is to be released as an animated story.

The story was Patrick Troghton’s first as the Doctor and was broadcast as a six-part serial back in 1966. The BBC in their wisdom did away with their copies of the episodes in the 1970s and they are not known to survive. So for the last fifty years the story has only existed as an audio recording.

Well I’ve listened to the audio, read the script book and also read the novel version and it’s always been my most wanted Doctor Who story to be found.

Here’s the next best thing. All six episodes have been animated, something we have been told could never happen for budgetary reasons. The story will debut on the BBC Store service on 5 November 2016, exactly fifty years after the first broadcast. Then it will be out on DVD from 21 November.

Here’s the temporary DVD image from Amazon.

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This is a nice bit of news to brighten up what has been a pretty crappy few months for me.

Doctor Who Hell Bent Review

Ok, this is it, the grand finale. The Doctor has escaped his imprisonment in the confession dial and is back on Gallifrey.

It turns out that Gallifrey has been hiding in the far future near the end of the universe. Rassilon is still in charge but he doesn’t look like Timothy Dalton any more.

The Doctor goes to that barn that we saw in the 50th anniversary story The Day of the Doctor and last year’s episode Listen. He gets some Gallifreyean bods to side with him and ousts Rassilon.

He then tells the Gallireayan bods that Clara knows about the hybrid. They are so keen to learn about the hybrid that they use a little time door thing to extract Clara out of her time stream just at the moment before her death. This is only a temporary situation as they intend to put Clara back again so they time stream doesn’t get messed up because her death is a fixed point in time.

But of course the whole thing is a ploy by the Doctor to save Clara. It’s why he spent 4.5 billion years in the confession dial. At one point she asks why he wanted to save her so badly. “I had a duty of care,” growls Capladi.

The Doctor and Clara escape the Time Lords in a stolen Tardis. The lovely thing is that the interior of the Tardis is an accurate replica of the William Hartnell Tardis interior. And it looks smashing. It was a real pleasure to spend a good chunk of the episode in that old Tardis console room. Apparently it was repurposed from the one in An Adventure in Space and Time.

It occurs to me that this episode is basically Doctor Who does Star Trek III The Search for Spock. In that movie the crew of the Enterprise were willing to go to any lengths to save their friend from death and so does the Doctor here.

Eventually the Doctor realises that his friendship for Clara has caused him to go to extremely unwise lengths and resolves to wipe her memories of himself. But then he decides to make it more fair and programs the little memory wiping device so it has a 50% chance of wiping his own memory instead.

And that’s what happens. He forgets Clara.

The episode is book-ended with scenes in a diner where Clara is posing as a waitress. She’s doesn’t let on she knows the Doctor and he explains to this apparent stranger that he knows he had adventures with a friend called Clara but not what she looked like or sounded like.

At the end of the episode it is revealed that the diner is the other stolen Tardis and Clara and Arya from Game of Thrones head off for their own adventures.

In a strange way nothing much actually happened in this episode. But it’s not a bad episode at all. It’s fun to finally return to Gallifrey after all this time with the added irony with the Doctor stealing yet another Tardis and running away once again.

I was convinced that Clara would be back.

Added bonus: no Missy.

Doctor Who Heaven Sent Review

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Ok, that was an interesting episode.

Spoilers follow

The previous episode ended with the Doctor being teleported away by Me (Arya from Game of Thrones). Now we discover his destination is a mysterious clockwork castle with shifting corridors. A menacing shrouded figure follows the Doctor through the castle and the only way to temporally stop the creature is for the Doctor to “confess” something. So it would appear that whoever built the structure wants information from the Doctor.

The Doctor also discovers a skull hooked up to the teleport machine and written in sand the word “bird”. Later we see the skull fall into the water around the castle and it joins countless other identical skulls.

The Doctor sees the stars in the night sky and realises he is 7000 years from the time period he was teleported from. But he’s convinced that he has not time travelled. How is this possible?

He finds a diamond wall in one room and he decides it’s the way out. He starts punching the wall while reciting part of a Brothers Grimm story about a bird that wore away a diamond mountain with its beak. The shrouded creature catches the Doctor and fatally injures him. The Doctor crawls back to the teleporter and uses his body as the energy to rematerialse his younger self as he first appeared in the castle.

And then we discover that this process has been repeating for 7000 years. Indeed we get a montage of the Doctor repeating the loop into the future for thousands, millions, even billions of years. Each time we see him he’s worn away a little more of the diamond wall until eventually he breaks through. On the other side is Gallifrey.

OK, so, wow.

I have to say I picked up on the loop nature of the story early on when the Doctor changed his wet clothes for dry copies of the exact same clothes in front of a fire. He then leaves his wet clothes to dry in the same position as the ones he found. But it still fun seeing the nature of the loop unfold.

Also the montage at the end reveals that the Doctor had become aware of the loop thanks to the “bird” clue he left himself and he will keep wearing away at that diamond wall for as long as it takes.

At one point the Doctor says “I will never ever stop”. I guess he meant it literally.

It’s worth pointing out that the episode features the Doctor totally alone in that castle. There is no one else to talk to or interact with. Well, there’s the shrouded creature but it never speaks. At some points we join the Doctor in an imagined Tardis console room and we do see Clara with her back turned writing on a blackboard. At one point the imagined Clara does speak to the Doctor. But otherwise it’s Peter Capaldi by himself being mesmerising and amazing.

But from a storytelling point of view what’s going on?

It looks like the Doctor has been trapped in his confession dial, an item that we have seen in previous episodes this series. By its design we can see it is obviously Gallifreyan in origin and now we observe it’s clearly bigger on the inside. It would appear that the dial ends up on Gallifrey when the Doctor escapes. But is it before or after the Time War?

There’s also been some guff this series about a “hybrid”. Apparently it’s supposed to be a Time Lord-Dalek hybrid. But at the end of this episode the Doctor dismisses that. Instead he says the hybrid is actually “me”. But does he mean himself?

Keep in mind the uncomfortable line in the 1996 TV move when the Eighth Doctor (played by Paul McGann) claimed he was half human (on his mother’s side).

Or perhaps the Doctor mean’s the character Me, i.e. Arya from Game of Thrones?

Either way we will find out next week in a Gallifrey-flavoured climax.

And I bet Clara is back.

Doctor Who Face the Raven Review

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Be warned, Big Spoilers follow.

Very quick plot summary. The graffiti artist Rigsy from last year’s Flatline phones up the Tardis to ask for help with this mysterious tattoo he found on his neck which is counting down to zero. The doctor helps him find a secret street in the middle of London where aliens live in disguise. And guess what, Arya from Game of Thrones is in charge of things.

Apparently Rigsy killed some alien woman and the countdown is to his death as a punishment. Along with some contrived memory loss.

It turns out that it’s a trap for the Doctor and Arya was somehow coerced into doing it for someone yet to be revealed. I guess we find out in the next episode and it may or may not be Missy. Yawn.

At one point Clara transfers the tattoo from Rigsy to herself as she’s convinced that Arya won’t let her die.

So basically this is the episode where Clara is toast.

Jenna and Peter were acting their little hearts out over Clara’s impending demise. She made the Doctor promise not to take revenge on the secret alien folk, etc. And then she goes out to die in slow motion. Death by Raven flying into her chest. In slow motion. It took about 23 minutes. Ok, so I exaggerate but it did take ages.

But the point is I didn’t feel any emotion. Because I just was not convinced that she is dead and gone. There are two more episodes left of the season and her departure just felt a bit forced. I’m convinced she will be back in a not-dead capacity.

Now maybe I’m totally wrong. But my point is that while I was watching the episode it’s what I thought. So I felt no emotion. At all.

Otherwise not a bad episode to be sure.

Doctor Who Sleep No More Review

I really don’t have too much to say about this episode.

The story (such as it is) involves the Doctor and Clara arriving on a space station in orbit around Neptune. They encounter some soldiers on a rescue mission who are investigating… something or other.

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The episode was made in that dreadful gimmicky “found footage” format. Which I pretty much despise. And unusually there were no opening credits.

It was initially quite moody. And it looked like it was going to get interesting when Clara somehow “fell” into a sleep pod thing. There was a nifty little hologram of some girls singing that “Mister Sandman” song that I’ve heard in Back to the Future if my memory is correct.

But that’s as interesting as things got.

So. Get this. Users of the sleep pod things will have the “sleepy dust” (that gathers in the eye) eventually turning into a monster.

Yeah. Right. Seriously.

As the episode went on it just became more boring. I was looking at my watch constantly.

Some people love the episode. Some people hate it. I’m very much in the middle as I really don’t feel strongly enough about it to either love it or hate it. I just don’t particularly care about it.

At least I know that last year’s In the Forest of the Night is an episode that I hate.

This one, I just don’t care. It’s a bit of a mess frankly.

Oh well. At least it was not a two-part episode and hopefully next week’s will be more…. Good.

Doctor Who The Zygon Invasion/Inversion (and That Scene)

I’m not going to go into too much detail about this two parter, The Zygon Invasion and The Zygon Inversion. But it is worth discussing if only for one scene in particular.

Spoilers below.

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As far as the plot goes this two parter was ok. Basically it worked as a follow-up to a sub plot from the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor where the Doctor(s) helped broker a peace treaty between Earth and some shape-shifting Zygons.

Now two years on there are 20 million Zygons living peacefully on Earth in human disguise. A faction of Zygons don’t want to live under the conditions dictated by the peace treaty and are trying to start a conflict that will drag in all Zygons with the objective of taking over the earth.

Episode 1 had a bit of shape-shifting paranoia. It wasn’t a bad episode at all but there was a lot of faffing around and I felt strangely detached from it. There was a nice reveal at the end where it transpired that Clara had been replaced by the Zygon rebel commander.

But episode 2 on the other hand…

Initially there’s lots of guff featuring the “Osgoods”. Apparently the Osgood character is a “fan favourite”. Whatever.

And then there was some guff about some mysterious “Osgood Box”.

And then we get to the pivotal scene of the episode which was basically Mr Peter Capaldi showing what he can do.

And it was stunning.

INVERSION OF THE ZYGONS (By Peter Harness and Steven Moffat)

In a long ten minute scene that is largely a monologue Capaldi’s Doctor pleads with the Clara Zygon (whom he calls Zygella) and Kate Stewart of UNIT not to start a war. It’s amazing stuff. He’s on fire.

On a table in UNIT’s Black Archive are the Osgood Boxes, two super weapons that Zygella and Kate Stewart are considering activating. At one point Capaldi indicates the weapons and says “this is a scale model of war.” So for me this is forever the “Scale Model of War Speech”.

And it all ties into The Day of the Doctor where during the a Time War the Doctor almost activated The Moment, a Time Lord super weapon that would have wiped out both Gallifrey and the Daleks.

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My words can’t do justice to Mr Capaldi doing The Acting. It has to be seen.

Simply stunning.

It’s probably the most exciting scene in Doctor Who since the show came back.

Additionally the scene is more powerful because the makers don’t bother playing any music over the top. It’s Capaldi’s performance and the words that make it work. Then they loose their courage and they stick a bit of music in towards the end. But it doesn’t need it.

Mention must also be made of Jenna Coleman who plays the Zygon rebel commander Zygella. The scene also depends on her reactions to Capladi’s performance as he pleads for her to think, “a fancy word for changing your mind.”

Doctor Who The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived review

I didn’t get around to reviewing last week’s episode The Girl Who Died so I’m going to do both parts of the story now.

Actually I found last week’s instalment, The Girl Who Died, a fairly slight but still agreeable story. Basically some aliens called the Mire are attacking a Viking village. The Doctor has to help save them in a Magnificent Seven kind of way. He gets help from a young girl called Ashildr who is played by Maisie Williams, who of course is well known for playing Arya on Game of Thrones.

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Long story short, she dies. The Doctor initially is going to let her die but then there’s An Important Flashback to the Pompeii episode from the Tenth Doctors time. In that episode Capaldi played the father of the Roman family that Donna convinces the Tenth Doctor to save. So apparently that is the reason for the Twelfth Doctor choosing the Capaldi face.

Remembering this he resolves to save Ashildr by using some alien medical technology from a Mire helmet. This saves the girl but later the Doctor confesses to Clara that Ashildr will be pretty much immortal now as the alien technology will keep repairing her.

So overall it was an entertaining episode with the added bonus of seeing why the Doctor chose the face. But it’s pretty much just a set up for the second part of the story, The Woman Who Lived.

Here the Doctor arrives in the seventeenth century and encounters Ashildr again, only now she is a highwayman and goes by the name “Me”. She says she can hardly remember being Ashildr as she has lived so long. Indeed she has a library full of diaries which are her “memories”. Some have pages ripped out and says they are too painful to “remember”. She tries to convince the Doctor to take her with him on his travels but he refuses.

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Much of the story deals with Ashildr and the Doctor trying to retrieve an amulet of alien origin but it’s really just a backdrop for them to discuss immortality. Ashildr seems dismissive of ordinary humans as their mayfly lifespans make them little more than smoke to her. The doctor has to try to convince her otherwise. So it’s an interesting dynamic to have with the Doctor talking to someone much like himself for once.

One of my favourite scenes had Rufus Hound as a rival highwayman Sam Swift who is about to be hanged. He’s practicing some (literally) gallows humour to keep the crowd entertained in order to delay the inevitable moment of his execution. The doctor is trying to save Sam’s life as well so there’s an impromptu double-act even down to some doctor-doctor jokes. Capaldi makes the unlikely premise work.

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At the climax of the episode there’s some guff about the alien amulet opening a portal to another world to allow some lion aliens to attack. This eventually makes Ashildr realise that she cares for mere mortals after all.

Later she and the Doctor talk some more and he says he can’t take her with him as they both need the company of ordinary people to makes them appreciate life. Ashildr promises to keep an eye on the Doctor throughout history. He’s not quite sure if it’s a threat or not.

Later the Doctor is back in the Tardis and Clara arrives. She shows him a photo of herself with a pupil. The Doctor notices a contemporary Ashildr in the background looking into the camera. Apparently she has been keeping her promise to keep her eye on the Doctor.

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So overall I quite enjoyed these two episodes. Some of the Doctor/Ashildr dialog was very good. And Capaldi is on top form.

Plus no Missy.

Doctor Who Before the Flood Review

Normally when I write my reviews I always end up regurgitating what happened in the episode. And actually that’s not really what I want to do. I want to focus more on the stuff I did or didn’t like in an episode. So I’m going to try to do that with this review.

So in summary. This is part two of a two part story. Last time the Doctor traveled back in time without Clara, following which his “ghost” appeared to Clara implying that he had died. In this episode we see the events in the past (the 1980s I believe) and the future (22nd century) unfolding in tandem with the Doctor able to talk to Clara in the other time period. He gets a shock with the discovery that he has a “ghost” and eventually he faces the Fisher King whose technology was responsible.

At the start of the episode before the credits there was a scene with the Doctor talking directly to the audience. He’s describing the Bootstrap Paradox where s time-traveler goes back in time to meet Beethoven only to discover that the composer never existed. The time-traveler then has to copy out Beethoven’s music so it is not missing from history. So the paradox is, who composed the music?

While lots of Internet people were upset with this talking-to-audience development I kind of liked that sequence. At first I actually thought he was talking to the two guest companions who were with him and it was from their point of view. It also reminded me a bit of the start of the episode Listen where he does something similar. So I didn’t mind it at all.

The episode also incorporates a time loop with the Tardis going back in time about thirty minutes or so. I do love time loop stuff. I loved that the Doctor and the two “guests” had rematerialised just around the corner from their first iterations and we can see both sets of people at the same time. Also the second set get to observe the actions of the first set. I actually wish they did more of that kind of thing. I kind of hoped there would be more material with the second group following the events of the first group than there actually was.

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Later the Doctor meets and confronts the mysterious Fisher King who had been in the alien spaceship. At one point there was a moment where the Doctor was backing away from the alien towards the opened suspended animation pod thing. And I thought, “hang on a second…” I thought it would be fun if the doctor was in the pod in the future. And that is exactly what happened. So the Doctor ended up in the life pod thing and was under the water for a century and a bit until the crew of the base recover it.

Actually I really enjoyed how the events on the two different time periods linked together. The Doctor being in the pod for over a century sort of reminds me a little of the DeLorean in Back to the Future III, sitting in that abandoned mine from 1885 until 1955 waiting to be dug out.

(I think I once worked out that the DeLorean is in four different places at the same time in 1955 across all three BTTF movies. But that’s a topic for another post. Perhaps one to be written on 21 October 2015 perhaps…)

Some of the sequences set on the underwater base were very tense. I think my favourite bit was when the deaf crew-member Cass was walking down the corridor and we saw her point of view with a silent soundtrack. And behind her one of the ghosts appeared with an axe… And she can’t hear him! That was tense. I figured she might feel the vibrations of the axe dragging on the decking. This is what happened and the makers of the show depicted it with a little Daredevil homage, the outline of the axe appearing in negative. Although some internet people are annoyed with this as it implied that she had “superpowers”. Calm down, Internet people, it’s just a way to portray the vibrations.

And for once I cared a bit about the guest star folk and wanted them to survive. Must be good casting or good acting or both.

At the end of the episode we discover that the Doctor Ghost was not actually a ghost at all. Instead it was a clever hologram he created with the fore-knowledge of what it needed to do in the future.

I don’t think I worked out the Doctor Ghost was a hologram but I was pretty sure it was some alien transmission that the Doctor worked out how to send to Clara, like hacking into the Fisher King’s technology that created the ghosts. I guess hologram is easier to explain.

Anyway, it tied in nicely to the whole Bootstrap Paradox that they had gong on.

Yes, I really enjoyed those two episodes. And the added bonus of absolutely no Missy.

There. I’m not convinced that’s any more successful of describing the events of the episode. We’ll see if I do that again.

Doctor Who Under the Lake Review

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After all the Dalek-Davros-Missy shenanigans which probably stretched continuity to breaking point last week it’s nice to have a standalone adventure. And pleasingly this one harks back to the well-established Base Under Siege template that became a staple of the show back in the 1960s mainly during the Patrick Troughton years.

The crew of a twenty-second century underwater base located under a lake on the site of a flooded village have recovered something that looks like an alien spacecraft. As they investigate it a ghostly figure appears. It activates the engines of the ship which kills the base commander. Then the base commander appears as a second ghost.

The Tardis materialises on the base and the Doctor and Clara encounter the ghosts. There’s a nice bit of business with the ghosts attacking the Doctor and Clara with an axe and a harpoon gun that they can just about manage to hold despite being mostly incorporeal.

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The Doctor finds the other members of the base crew hiding out in a faraday cage, a room with electromagnetic interference. For some reason it prevents the ghosts from getting inside. Another interesting fact is that the ghosts only come out at night. “Night” being an artificial night from the day-night rhythm the base uses.

And somehow these ghosts are interacting with the technology of the base. They manage to turn “day” to “night” early and make an unexpected appearance which increases their number. Later the stakes are raised by the ghosts summoning a rescue sub to the base using morse code.

The Doctor notices that the ghosts appear to be trying to say something. He wants to catch them and there’s a pretty exciting sequence with the ghosts chasing different members of the crew through the corridors until they are cornered in the faraday cage room.

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There the doctor gets the lip-reading member of the crew to work out what the ghosts are saying. That clue leads him to recovering a life support pod that had been in the alien ship.

Towards the end of the episode the power fails and part of the base is flooded. The Doctor and Clara get cut off from each other. The Doctor decides to take the Tardis back in time to before the village was flooded to find out what happened with the alien ship and promises to come back for Clara.

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As the Tardifs dematerialises Clara sees a new ghost appears outside the base. It is of course the Doctor. It’s a great cliff-hanger, although it is slightly reminiscent of the one from series 4 in the Library two-parter. You know, “Donna Nobel has been saved.” That one.

Still, this was a very entertaining and gripping episode. Capaldi is on good form as a Doctor that is fascinated that ghosts might actually exist. Clara has to remind him not to say inappropriate things by producing a set of prompt cards so he can read “sorry for your loss” unconvincingly.

As with most of the stories in series 9 this is a two-parter and works well for having the cliff-hanger and the continuing mystery of what happened in the village before the flood.

Doctor Who The Witch’s Familiar Review

And so on to part two of the season opener. To recap in the last episode lots of stuff happened that had very little to do with anything. And a dying Davros wanted to see the doctor.

The cliffhanger of course had Missy, Clara and the Tardis zapped by the Daleks. This episode wastes no time with any misdirection. Missy and Clara are safe and well outside the Dalek city. Missy explains that she programmed their time jumper bracelets to absorb Dalek weapons fire energy and teleport them away. Or something daft.

Missy and Clara make their way back into the Dalek City by going through the Dalek sewers, which are basically tunnels with lots of old used-up Dalek innards. I mean the actual living creature that lives in a Dalek machine. This will prove to be A Very Important Plot Point.

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Meanwhile the bulk of the episode deals with the Doctor and Davros. The Doctor is a bit miffed that Clara has been exterminated. For a while he is so miffed that he actually extracts Davros from his chair and drives around it in. Seriously. It’s in the episode.

But later when a recaptured Doctor reveals that Gallifrey wasn’t actually destroyed and is still out there somewhere Davros says he’s pleased for the Doctor because it means he’s no longer alone.

Huh?

And Davros uses his own eyes to see the Doctor. Yes, there are actually eyes in there somewhere which was kind of cool. And then the next thing you know the Doctor and Davros are all best buddies and sharing a joke. Well, Davros is dying, isn’t he? But it would be so nice to see the sunrise again with his own eyes…

The performances by Capaldi and whoever is in the Davros makeup do sell this very well, that these two old enemies could be possibly becoming friends.

The Doctor gives Davros a bit of his regeneration energy to help Davros see the sunrise. But it’s a trap! It’s all a trick and Davros is stealing the renegeration energy to feed his Daleks and turn them into some sort of regenerated Daleks.

But there’s a double-bluff type of thing going on. The Doctor is aware it’s a trick and he allows it to happen because he knows his regeneration energy will make the sewer Dalek creatures (remember the Important Plot Point) regenerate, and that will cause a Dalek sewer earthquake, or rather skaroquake.

Some of the stuff between the Doctor and Davros is actually very good but the highlight of the episode for me were a couple of very powerful scenes with Clara being convinced by Missy to get inside a Dalek shell in order to escort Missy as a “prisoner” through the Dalek city. I seem to recall this being done way back in the original Dalek serial so there’s a nice symmetry there. And of course the first time we met Clara (or “Oswin”) she turned out to have been turned into a Dalek without realising it.

Once Clara is inside the machine and connected up telepathically to the controls Missy puts Dalek Clara through her paces. She gets Clara to say “my name is Clara”. It comes out as “I am a Dalek”. And “I love you” becomes “exterminate”. It’s initially amusing and then becomes increasingly disturbing.

Near the end of the episode Dalek Clara and the Doctor meet. Of course he doesn’t know it’s Clara inside and Missy tells him it is actually the Dalek that killed Clara. The Doctor understandably wants to destroy this Dalek. A desperate Clara is trying to tell the Doctor it’s her inside the Dalek but ends up repeating “I am a Dalek, I am a Dalek”. Eventually Clara’s pleadings are translated as “mercy” which lets the Doctor know something is amiss. He helps extract Clara from the machine and with a full on Capaldi glower he tells Missy to run.

Of course it’s not wise to leave the Master on a planet full of Daleks. I’m sure this will come back to haunt him.

Oh, by the way the Tardis wasn’t destroyed in the last episode, it was just “dispersed” and the Doctor reassembles it using his sonic…. sunglasses…. Seriously. Face palm. Don’t go there.

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The Doctor muses about Clara’s Dalek being able to ask for mercy. How did that get in there? The Doctor then goes back in time and saves Kid Davros from the hand mines, telling him the importance of mercy.

So in summary this was a very strong episode that I enjoyed very much. Indeed much more than the messy shenanigans of the introductory part. The scenes with Clara in the Dalek are the stand-out scenes for me combining great writing and dramatic tension.

As a final note I keep reading that Missy is a “fan favourite”.

Really?

Ok, I’ll take your word for it…

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