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.