Monday, November 10, 2014

My Review of Doctor Who's 8x12: "Death In Heaven"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay

The Doctor: “Why are you doing this?”
The Master/Missy: “I need you to know we’re not so different. I need my friend back.”

There are so many quotes I could’ve used because let’s be honest, Moffat gave his version of the Master practically all the best dialogue of the episode and if you thought Michelle Gomez was a little unhinged in the previous episode, then this one allowed her to go well and truly maximum crazy here.

Of course the Master would dedicate all that time and energy into pollinating a whole army of the dead as Cybermen just to hand over control to the Doctor. I saw people criticise the plot but when has the Master ever came up with a plan that actually made any sense? This one was no more bonkers than the Master race or the Toclafane but it was certainly as enjoyable even if corrupting the Doctor with an army predictably went to shit really.

While I’m still not overly in favour of the idea of a female Doctor someday and would’ve preferred that Moffat had brought the Master back as a male character, I cannot heap enough praise on Michelle Gomez. Everything she did in this episode was the Master. The glee she took over knowing where Gallifrey was and giving the Doctor false coordinates? That’s the Master for you.

The fact that she simply kept the Doctor and Clara together (yes, she was the woman in the shop), just cos the latter’s a control freak – that’s the Master. The utter joy she took in bumping off Osgood and nearly killing Kate – again, the very thing the Master would do. The whole confrontation at the graveyard scene with the taunting, the tempting and even the offer of going with the Doctor to find their home – also the Master. Basically, Gomez and Moffat know the character and nailed her brilliantly with this whole episode.

Which leads to the bum deal – did she really have to die and more importantly, by a Cyberman version of the Brigadier? I get the intention was meant to be good but that sort of left a bad taste really and I don’t feel the episode needed to honour the Brigadier in that way. However, I also didn’t like the idea of the Master being killed off yet again, when she simply could’ve escaped or been held in UNIT captivity. I’m going to wager though the next time we see the Master, it’ll be when the Doctor actually does find Gallifrey and that will probably be sooner than later.

As for the rest of this episode – the Cybermen were certainly creepy enough and while they were better used here than previous stories, they still played second fiddle to the Master. Aside from that cameo scene, the only other significant Cyberman was the recently uploaded/converted Danny who ended up mucking the Master’s scheme, getting an emotional goodbye with Clara and righting a previous misdeed from his history.

I have to admit, I did think that Moffat was actually going to undo Danny’s death at the very last minute so the fact that it stuck was kind of surprising. I liked the character but I don’t think Clara and Danny worked as well as Amy and Rory did but at the same time, at least he got a dignified and somewhat heroic exit.

As for the Doctor and Clara themselves – their relationship seems to be a weird place. Clara’s convinced that the Doctor’s going back to Gallifrey and the Doctor’s convinced that Danny’s alive. However it does look like with the help of Santa Claus (am I allowed to say I’m not a big fan of Nick Frost?), that things between this Doctor/companion won’t end on the strained note quite so soon.

Also in “Death In Heaven”

I assume putting Jenna Coleman’s name in the opening credits first with her eyes was a dig at certain fans complaining about Clara’s screen time this series.

Clara (to Cybermen): “Clara Oswald has never existed.”

Clara’s birthday was confirmed as November 23rd 1986 and while pretending to be the Doctor, she mentioned he had been married four times and mentioned Jenny as well.

Kate: “He’s on the payroll.”
The Doctor: “Am I?”

Clara: “I am an incredible liar.”
Danny: “Correct.”

People in the street taking selfies with Cybermen? They weren’t doing that in 2006, were they? Osgood also got the companion offer before being killed off as well.

The Master/Missy (to the Doctor): “Do you know what’s the best part of knowing? Not telling you!”

Osgood: “If it was that important, why would you tell us?”
The Master/Missy: “Well, look at me, I’m bananas.”

She’s not wrong – we had ‘oh, Missy, you’re so fine’ and the dodgiest Cockney accent when explaining about Clara too. Plus that umbrella scene and randomly bumping off Seb too because he wanted to squee.

The Master/Missy (to the Doctor, re Osgood): “Have you got any more friends I can play with?”

Clara: “Danny?”
Danny: “Danny Pink is dead. Help me.”

The funeral home was called Chaplet. As someone pointed out to me on Twitter, the Master actually killed Dodo Chaplet in a novel once.

The Doctor (to Danny): “Pain is a gift. Without the capacity of pain, we can’t feel the hurt we inflict.”

Clara: “I wasn’t very good at it but I did love you.”
Danny: “Loved you too.”

The scene where the Doctor started smashing the console in anger over the Master tricking him about Gallifrey was a stunning moment – possibly Peter Capaldi’s best one in this series.

The Master/Missy: “Say something nice. Please.”
The Doctor: “You win.”
The Master/Missy: “I know.”

Clara (to the Doctor): “Travelling with you made me feel really special. Thank you for that. Thank you for making me feel special.”

Chronology: Still present day London 2014, but also the Doctor’s birthday as well, according to the Master.

I know a certain cameo scene might have divided viewers and you can make the argument about the Cybermen plotline not making too much sense but fuck it, I actually really loved “Death In Heaven”. Not only was it an impressive and satisfying first series finale for the Twelfth Doctor but it was a brilliant return to form for the Master, had some wonderful character moments, bits of horror and great scenes. Overall, a brilliant wrap up to an impressive debut series for Peter Capaldi.

Rating: 10 out of 10

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