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.