Monday, November 02, 2015

My Review of Doctor Who's 9x07: "The Zygon Invasion"

Written by Peter Harness
Directed by Daniel Nettheim

Osgood: "Any race is capable of the best and the worst."

Doctor Who and polemic themed episodes are not that uncommon but it's arguably been a while since we've last really had one and you can't get anymore topical than this one as writer Peter Harness uses the fragile peace treaty between the human and Zygon races as a means of shining a not particularly subtle commentary on our own current political system and attitudes towards those different from us.

Acting as a direct sequel to the events of The Day Of The Doctor, this episode opened with a brief recap of that story and then continued with both Osgood and her Zygon 'sister' narrating about the best and worst of every race while setting up the tone for the treaty being broken and a nightmare scenerio to be unleashed. When Osgood then got kidnapped by some rogue Zygons in New Mexico, it was time for the Doctor to step in, go to UNIT and try to stop things from getting spectacularly bad, which was easier said that done.

UNIT do have something of a history of wanting to bomb things without thinking it through at times and for the second time we've met her, Kate seemed to share her father's desire for doing that, leading to a conflict of opinion between her and the Doctor as the Zygons killed their own commanders and decided to declare war on the human race.

While the episode was far from subtle about it, I do like that the Doctor was able to distinguish between a splinter group of Zygons and the whole lot of them, even if it did seem at times that both sides were a little too war happy for their own good. It wasn't Kate happy to blow the crap out of the Zygons as Rebecca Front's Colonel Walsh also seemed more than enthused for doing the same thing too.

I do like though that most of the characters were split into groups. Kate headed to the town of Truth Or Consequences in New Mexico (which actually exists) and was fooled by a Zygon posing as a policewoman named Lisa while the Doctor met up with Walsh at a UNIT HQ in Turmezistan (actually a made up place) where a group of Zygons easily overpowered Walsh's soldiers while the Doctor and Osgood themselves were reunited.

I thought during the previous series finale that Peter Capaldi and Ingrid Oliver shared some good chemistry with each other and this episode confirmed it again for me. There's such a natural chemistry between the pair of them that regardless of Osgood's outcome, I wouldn't mind her becoming the companion for next series.

The nature as to whether or not, the Doctor rescued the real Osgood or her Zygon sister is left a little ambiguous. Osgood herself refused to answer the question, though alluded to be both, which kept with the ongoing hybrid theme of the series so far. I am hoping though that the next episode will give a more definitive answer but at least the Doctor and Osgood managed to get a Zygon on board the presidential plane in order to get more information about the shape shifting race's plan.

As for Clara - this kind of wasn't her episode, was it? The reveal at the end with the Zygon taking her form and calling herself Bonnie was probably the most predictable thing about the whole episode and while 'Bonnie' took some great pleasure in killing off poor Jac, I kind of felt that evil Clara was on par with Clone Martha from the Sontaran story in Series 4.

However the final few minutes of this episode were truly something else. It really did look like the Zygons had totally won everything and the moment where Bonnie herself decided to blow the Doctor's plane out of the sky was definitely a tantalising moment to end this episode on.

Also in "The Zygon Invasion"

Is it me or have the Doctor and Clara spent more time apart than actually together this series?

Osgood 1: "I am Osgood."
Osgood 2: "I am also Osgood."

The scenes in Clara's apartment block with the family and the little boy really did feel like something out of a horror movie.

Osgood: "There will be truth or there will be consequences."

Clara: "Did you just call yourself Doctor Disco?"

Osgood's video was a little harrowing in parts and she did mention that Zygons no longer need people alive in order to maintain the copy - something previously covered in a Big Finish story.

Kate: "You left us with an impossible situation."
The Doctor: "Yeah, I know. It's called peace."

Clara: "Who took it?"
Kate: Somebody with a TARDIS."

Harry Sullivan was alluded to in this episode and we saw a picture of the First Doctor at the training camp. Osgood also showed some Seventh Doctor love with her outfit this week.

Walsh (to the Doctor): "It's not paranoia when it's real."

Jac (to Clara): "Doesn't it feel sometimes that everything's coming to an end?"

Standout music: The Doctor's guitar version of "Amazing Grace" was actually pretty good. Still not too keen on the guitar though.

Zygon (to the Doctor/Osgood): "We want the world."

Bonnie (to the Zygons): "Kill the traitors."

Chronology: I assume it's 2015 London/New Mexico/Turmezistan, right?

Easily one of the most topical episodes in recent history and while The Zygon Invasion wasn't subtle about it at all, it was however gripping. One of the most taut and tense of episodes and easily providing one of the best uses for the Zygons, I'd even go as far as to say, this was also one of UNIT's most interesting stories too. Here's hoping the second part only elevates the story though.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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