Sunday, November 9, 2014

Doctor Who Is NEW!: Death In Heaven




OK, Saturday saw the conclusion of the two part Series 8 finale of Doctor Who. Last week, I reasserted the claim so many Whovians have been heard to utter over the last 5 years: 

Steven Moffat is evil!

After Death In Heaven, I now will retract that statement and replace it with this one:

Steven Moffat is really, really, really freaking EVIL!!!!

Let's delve into this episode and see what made it tick, what made it tock and what it made it.....AAAARRRRGHH!  Evil, I tells ya! THE MOFF IS EVIL!!!!


But before we get going, let's put up the Spoiler Warning.

Uh, I'm kind of scared to do this. Those angry eyes have gotten, well, angrier. 


Here goes.

Oh. OH! 

Well, that's nice. Just a nice pic of the Doctor and Clara in happier days, gently reminding us that there are spoilers coming up. 

Well, that's a nice change of pace. We don't need to be frightened out of our minds to get a


OK, OK! Spoilers! We've been warned already! Geez!

On with the review already. 


Death In Heaven
by Steven Moffat  

Things pick up where they left off, when Cybermen marching out of St. Paul's Cathedral,, the Master taunting the Doctor and the populace of London...busy taking selfies with the Cybermen? OK, that's weird. The tables get turned on the Cyberman army and their maniacal Time Lord leader when the crowd is revealed to be undercover UNIT operatives and Chief Science Officer Kate Stewart shows up with Osgood (ooh, look who's sporting a bow tie!). Somehow UNIT has the jump on these shenanigans but the Cybermen have apparently been upgraded by Tony Stark; look who all have rocket boots now and can fly away.  

Meanwhile Clara Oswald is still inside the Nethersphere and in the sights of the Cybermen. But Clara says that Clara Oswald is not real, never was. No, she is...The Doctor! (And if you don't believe her, check out the opening credits.)  It's that whole illogic messing with logic thing that Capt. Kirk use to do all the time on Star Trek and works well enough on the Cybermen to keep Clara alive. But for how long? 

Meanwhile the flying Cybermen have exploded into...clouds? Yes, clouds and are now raining down on Earth. And in the Nethersphere, the lights start going out. Nethersphere administrative assistant Seb tells Danny he appears to be going home. With an upgrade.
Then we see inside of a morgue where the Cyber-rain has washed and a Cyberman arises where once was the body of (you know this is coming) Danny Pink.   

By this point, the Doctor has become the President of Earth. Really. Seems there are protocols in place that in the event of an alien incursion, the nations of the Earth will give absolute power to one person to oversee Earth's defense. And that person is the Doctor. So the Doctor and UNIT are on a tricked out jet airliner called Boat One (because UNIT's PICOCUPWCNFT* was out that day) while Missy Master is locked up with an armed guard and Osgood does sciency stuff.  

*Person In Charge Of Coming Up With Cool Names For Things

Back on the Nethersphere....where Clara Oswald is, the Cybermen have had enough of this crap: she is NOT the Doctor, she is Clara Oswald and there are files and records and things to prove it. Then another Cyberman shows up and shows the other Cybermen whose boss by blowing them up. And he knocks out Clara for good measure too.  

Back on (sigh) Boat One, the Doctor has figured out that the Cyber-rain falling from the Cyber-cloud is causing dead people to turn into Cybermen. Used to be Cybermen were made from capatable living beings. If the dead can be converted into Cybermen, that right there is a major tactical advantage. 

Seemingly at a disadvantage what with the handcuffs and the armed guards, the Master Missy threatens to kill Osgood in 1 minute. Then one pair of popped handcuffs and two dead armed guards later, she makes good on that threat and does what is the absolute worst thing ever done to anybody ever on Doctor Who (don't talk to me right now, Donna Noble fans).  

Clara wakes up in a cemetery and is surrounded by the chilling sight of Cybermen staggering from the graves. There is one Cyberman standing at attention, watching Clara. Clara approaches and makes it known that the Doctor is going to stop this, he is her best friend and she trusts him more than anyone else in the world. 

Yeah, the guy in the Cybersuit is Danny Pink. 

Stuff is going down badly on board (oh brother) Boat One. Cybermen are crawling all over the fuselage breaking the plane apart; Kate Stewart gets sucked out of the plane which ticks off even more Whovians. Meanwhile the Doctor confronts the Master Who Is Called Missy with a terrifying realization of just how insanely crazy his old foe is. Oh, in case you were wondering, Missy was the woman in the shop who gave Clara the phone number to call the TARDIS in the first place (and cue up a quick Matt Smith flashback clip for all you fangirls who've missed him.) Well, she may be crazy but she's not stupid and teleports from the exploding plane, leaving the Doctor plummeting through the air towards...his TARDIS! Oh what a James Bond moment! Seb has to squee and Missy Master has to kill him for it. 

The Doctor catches up to Clara and Cyber-Danny; the once and former Mr. Pink tells Clara his inhibitor is offline and he needs it connected so his pain...his physical and emotional pain will stop. The Doctor doesn't want her to do this; once that inhibitor is online, Danny becomes a full on Cyberman. But Danny tells the Doctor there is information the Doctor needs that Danny can only give once he is fully online as a Cyberman.  As much as the Doctor needs the tactical advantage of that information, the man known as Danny Pink will be lost forever which will break Clara's heart assuming the Cyberman he becomes doesn't break her in half. 

Clara demands the Doctor's sonic screwdriver and does the job herself. She then hugs Danny the Cyberman who in turn...does not break her in half. 

Then Miss Missy Master Miss shows up and reveals her intentions to the Doctor: she created this Cyber-army to give it to the Doctor. She thinks the Doctor and her are not that different and she misses her friend. So she places the Cyberman controlling bracelet on his arm. 

But the Doctor has other ideas and tosses the bracelet to Cyber-Danny who takes control over the Cybermen. Danny, back in control as his old self, rallies the Cybermen to take out the threat to the Earth. So an armada of silver plated figures take to the skies as Danny Pink dies a 2nd time.  

Clara is not at all happy with the Master Missy and is ready to kill her. The Doctor is prepared to do anything to keep Clara from doing that, up to and include promising to kill his Time Lord enemy himself. Before the Doctor is forced to take that action, the Misty, Missy Master gets zapped by a lone Cyberman.  At this moment, Clara and the Doctor discover a decidedly not dead Kate Stewart lying in the graveyard, apparently saved by this remaining Cyberman. Who among the dead would have such an interest in saving Kate? The Doctor knows and gives a salute to an old friend who flies up into the sky and out of sight. 

Two weeks later, Clara Oswald gets one last message from Danny Pink. He's using the bracelet to open a rift back to Earth and the land of the living. Danny tells Clara there can only be one journey one way and he as a promise to keep. Then through the rift appears the young Afghan boy he had killed during the war.  

Two weeks after that, the Doctor and Clara meet in a cafe where they lie to each other: the Doctor tells Clara he's found Gallifrey (he hasn't) and Clara lets the Doctor believe Danny used the bracelet to get himself back to Clara and that she and Danny are going to be just fine.  

But back in the TARDIS, the Doctor gets called out on this. No, Clara is not all right and neither is the Doctor, says a mysterious visitor in a familiar red and white ensemble. 

But we'll have to wait until Christmas for what happens next. 

Let me say this again: Steven Moffat is really, really, really freaking evil!

What an amazing episode! There's so much stuff going on...where to start? 

The concept of Clara becoming more like the Doctor gets revisited here. She declares to the Cybermen that she is the Doctor then the cheekily revised credits go and back her up. As we saw in Flatline, Clara makes a very good Doctor. But as we saw last week in Dark Water, she can't out Doctor the actual Doctor. But here we see her make a very Doctor-like hard choice, to activate Danny's Cyber inhibitor herslef. But then she takes a very Clara like action in hugging Cyber-Danny, trusting the man she loves to overcome the machine he has been transformed into. 

The Doctor's question of "Am I a good man?" gets answered. The Doctor is not a good man but he is also not a bad man. He idiot. (But he means that in a good way.)  Maybe the Doctor is selling himself short, especially when compared to the truly evil people in the universe. And speaking of evil....

No, I'm not going to say "Steven Moffat is really, really, really freaking evil!" again (although he is) but Missy...the Master is so devastatingly psychotic as to defy belief. Trading man parts for female parts has done nothing to temper the Master's madness.*

*OK, I went through this whole post trying to wrap my head around what to call this character: Missy or Master. I really think that gender conventions aside, the Master should still be called the Master. 

The issue of lies and deception that has popped over the course of the series comes to a head in this episode. Missy lying to the Doctor, Clara lying to the Cybermen, Clara and the Doctor lying to each other. We even find out the Doctor's aversion to hugging: letting someone get close to you but you can't see their face. So hugging is a breeding ground for deception and secrets? Gee, thanks, Moff! 

This is an interesting concept: the leaders of the world are genre savvy enough to actually develop procedures designed for the Doctor to take over the world during an alien invasion. I wished there had been more time to explore this protocol; it is an amazing idea that got reduced to a plot point. Maybe the Doctor as President of Earth can be explored more fully in a forthcoming episode. 

In theory I liked seeing UNIT being crazy prepared on a Batman like scale at the scene of the Cybermen emerging from St. Paul's. However this has the unintended consequence of making UNIT look particularly more flat footed in later scenes. I mean, two armed guards can't stop a handcuffed Master from escaping, taking a weapon and use it against them? Does UNIT not understand how to guard a prisoner? Or why was Osgood working on the Master's weapon thingy in the same room anyway? Oh poor Osgood, the hapless victim of the Master's off the hook insanity. And Osgood with her scarf in Day of the Doctor and now with her bowtie (and yes, blast it, bow ties ARE still cool!), Osgood was the fans' avatar in the Whoniverse and Moffat has her killed? Oh, this is going to give rise to a whole wave of "Moffat hates the fans" hysteria. I don't think that; I think Moffat knew that the Master was going to have to take out someone we really cared about to underscore her evil insanity. Well, it worked, Moffat. The murder of Osgood is probably the most infuriating thing the Master did in both parts of this finale. Trying to convert the world into Cyberman? Bad, really bad. Killing Osgood? Oh NOW I'm ticked off! 

And Kate's explanation that UNIT has had its eye on 3W for some time now brought some questions to mind. How much did people on Earth know about 3W? Apparently it was a known quantity among at least a select few people on Earth. Still, UNIT knew about it and the Doctor didn't? Seems odd to me. 

In the end, the Doctor and Clara are off on their separate ways but it's based on lies they've told each other. Clara let's the Doctor believe that Danny is back among the living and she never tells him the thing she was going to tell him. (I'm guessing she's was going to tell the Doctor she's pregnant.) And the Doctor lies to Clara that he's found Gallifrey, that it was exactly where the Master said it was. But even as the Doctor tells Clara this, we see in flashbacks that the space where Gallifrey was is still empty. And even as the Doctor gives Clara a smile, telling her of his intentions of going back home, those dang flashbacks show a very, very angry Doctor pounding away at his console in a fury of rage and frustration. 

Then the two hug. Yes, the Doctor consents to this farewell hug even as he reveals why he doesn't like hugging. And as the expressions of his own face and that of Clara's reveal, he's right. Two people hugging can't see the truth on the other's face and the truth is these are two really shattered people in the wake of all that has occurred. 

It takes a very wise person to observe that Clara is NOT all right and neither is the Doctor, that the story just can't end this way. 

So how will it end? We will have to wait until Christmas Day when Santa Claus shows us how. 

Yes, Santa Claus. 

Overall this was a season finale packed with action, drama, humor and, in its own odd way, hope. Thumbs up to Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman for bringing the Doctor and Clara to life in magnificent fashion for this and the preceding 11 episodes of Series 8. It was great seeing Jemma Redgrave (Kate Stewart) again as well as Ingrid Oliver. (Alas, poor Osgood. Rest in peace.) And Michelle Gomez? Her Master was insane and sadistic and did I mention insane? Michelle, you have GOT to come back! Awesome work! 

And Steven Moffat? Yeah, you are really, really, really freaking evil. Keep up the good work!


And that brings us to the end of Doctor Who Series 8 and my latest series of Doctor Who Is NEW! posts.  Before I wrap this up, a few shout outs: 

Joe Scott and the gang at Geeksboro Coffeehouse and Cinema. Of all the ways we could've watched these episodes, the El family chose to be in the company of fellow Whovians for 12 exciting weeks. Thanks, Geeksboro, for setting this up week after week. And y'all make a really good peach smoothie!

Rich Johnston and Bleeding Cool. Your "Ten Thoughts" follow up to each episode has been very helpful in focusing my thoughts and remembering details I may have otherwise forgotten. 

Entertainment Weekly. Thanks for staying on top of Doctor Who and exposing this wonderful show to a larger audience.  

Steven Moffat. The Moff does it again with a job well done, overseeing another awesome series of Doctor Who. Yes, you are evil but it's in the very good cause of delivering exciting Doctor Who episodes. Steven, the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, you just gotta shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake it off, shake it off! And yes, I just channelled Taylor Swift and no, you may not judge me. 

Jenna Coleman. Wow! With Clara at the center of a lot of episodes, Jenna really stepped up her game this year with one marvelous performance after another. 

Peter Capaldi. In the months prior to August, we kept getting told, "Oh, Peter Capaldi's going to be good. He is good. He is very, very good as the Doctor!" Then the episodes began arriving and, simply put, Peter Capaldi is very, very good as the Doctor.  

You know, I...kind of missed Angry Eyes this week. Angry Eyes has been doing such a good job warning us of spoilers for the previous 11 weeks. It's a shame really to not have him out here for the Series 8 finale. 

C'mon on out here, Angry Eyes! 

Angry Eyes, everybody!


So what's up next for Doctor Who Weekend

Next Saturday, a look back at the last six episodes of Doctor Who Series 8. And beyond that...

  • A review of Series 8 as a whole. 
  • The return of fan fiction. In the aftermath of my last story, Time of the Dominion, I have my own 12th Doctor vs. Master story to tell. Why is the head of the previous incarnation of the Master in a jar? We'll find out starting in a couple of weeks. 
  • More fiction but in the form of a proper short story: The 12th Doctor tells a Christmas story. And Strax is involved! 
  • And of course, the countdown to the Doctor Who Christmas Special
  • And more random stuff 'n' junk as it tumbles out of my brain.
It's been fun, this 12 week ride through Series 8. I can't wait to see what happens next!

In the meantime, be good to one another. 

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