Last week on Doctor Who, the show headed into rather choppy political waters with a story line that reflects the current crisis in Europe regarding immigration. You've got people who just want a new chance at a peaceful life and other people ready to welcome them and give them that chance. But on each side, there are forces at work that undermines these reasonable and noble goals, forces of fear, hatred and ignorance among both the immigrants and the natives that will only mess things up for everybody. It is quite the political minefield with desires to show compassion to those in need running against the limits on resources to act on that compassion. It is the desire to help those who truly need help pushed against the threat of those with less kind regards to their new home away from home. There are no easy answers.
So Doctor Who decided to go there.
Last week revealed what became of the Zygons in the years since the events of Day of the Doctor. The Zygons, 20 million of them, have been living among us as humans. It is a delicately woven arrangement that is fraught with the peril of becoming unravelled. In fact the possibility of that happening is referred to as The Nightmare Scenario.
And unravelled it becomes with part of the Zygon community deciding that we should let Zygons be Zygons (no, that pun will never, ever grow old). The activities of these radical Zygons really stirs up paranoia among the humans aware of their existence and their potential threat. It's bad enough you can't tell a human from a disguised Zygon. Now you can't tell if a Zygon is a good one or a bad one. So human leadership decides to do what humans sadly do best: shoot things.
Unfortunately, if you can't tell one Zygon from another, you're basically at war with all of them. Which just adds fire to the growing influence of the radicalized Zygons.
Yeah, if you watch the news at all, this sounds familiar.
So here's where things left off at the end of The Zygon Invasion.
- Head of UNIT Kate Stewart is in New Mexico where she appears to have been compromised by a Zygon.
- Clara Oswald has been replaced by a Zygon who calls herself Bonnie for some reason. Oh, she has a shoulder mounted anti-aircraft missile.
- The Doctor and Osgood (the one not killed by Missy last season) are on the President of Earth plane with a captured Zygon (a bad one, he cleared that up for us) and an anti-aircraft missile heading their way.
Yikes! How will all this get resolved? We'll find out after the spoiler caution.
And we begin in 5...
and Steven Moffat
After setting up a bit of the status quo from last episode (Clara's a bad Zygon named Bonnie firing a missile at the Doctor's plane), we check in with Clara who's waking up inside of a dream state where she catches Doctor Who on the telly....ok, it's a TV that let's her see what Bonnie sees. Clara actually is able to reach across the connection between her and Bonnie to influence Bonnie enough that she pulls her shot and the missile misses the plane. Not so good with the 2nd shot which blows up the plane. (Those "President of Earth" planes don't come cheap, you know.)
Don't worry about the Doctor and Osgood; they parachuted off the plane so everyone's safe. Well, except for the pilots, any other crew who may have been on board and, for good measure, the bad Zygon strapped to a hand cart.
Clara experiments a bit more with her influence over Bonnie, manipulating her hand to send a text to the Doctor. The Doctor gets into a video chat with Bonnie but it's Clara he's really talking to. The Doctor and Osgood get info where the Zygons are. (They're in London; they're always in London.)
But Bonnie is on to what Clara's up so Bonnie goes back to the Zygon pod where Clara is kept. Clara, stuck in a pod in a dream state, seems to actually have the upper hand over Bonnie, seeing as how Clara is a notorious liar. But Bonnie points out they are linked; Clara's heartbeat will give her away when she's lying. So Clara has to spill the beans on what Bonnie is looking for: the Osgood Box.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Osgood meet up with a Zygon who was perfectly happy being a human and wants no part of this revolution. But he has been exposed to the world as an alien. He feels he has no where to turn and so takes his own life.
After that, the Doctor and Osgood meet up with Kate Stewart and some UNIT troops. Of course, we were led to believe that Kate had been Zygonized last episode. Let's just say something that never, ever worked for her dad actually worked for her.
At the Black Archive where we find Bonnie, a couple of Zygons and Clara in a pod on wheels. (Clara keeps finding herself inside mobile alien devices this season.) Clara is extricated from the pod when Bonnie finds the Osgood Box....and is very ticked off by what she discovers.
There are two boxes. Then the Doctor, Osgood and Kate Stewart show up. Bonnie is really upset, decides enough is enough and opens a box...which is a panel with two buttons, one marked "truth", the other "consequences". The other box has the same thing. Kate steps up to one of the boxes while Bonnie claims the other. Apparently each button can produce a rather drastic effect: Zygons will be exposed or Zygons will be locked in their human forms forever; the atom bomb under London will go off or a gas lethal to Zygons will be released.
This is when the Doctor goes into full on Doctor mode, pulling out every word he can say to appeal to logic, sanity, thinking. But Bonnie seems determined she wants war even if she's not sure what she and her movement will actually gain from that war. Then the Doctor brings the hammer down. What Bonnie is threatening is not war compared with what the Doctor has seen and done during the Time War. He too faced a decision, his hand over a button, a single push of that button that would send his own people...men, women, children...screaming into the void. The Doctor had a chance to do something different and it's the same reason Bonnie is reconsidering her actions.
Clara Oswald gets in your head.
Kate closes the lid to her box and so does Bonnie. Even though Bonnie realizes both boxes were actually empty. She's thinking like the Doctor now.
Things wrap up with the Doctor saying farewell to Osgood...and Osgood? Seems Bonnie has decided to take up the role of Osgood's fallen "sister" and continue to work to maintain the peace.
After the dramatic but not unsurprising reveal that Clara was really a Zygon, I was wondering how much we would see of our Clara. Would she be pulled groggy and disoriented from her Zygon pod at episode's end? No, Clara is there from the beginning, affecting the action of the story in a very clever way.
However, the real world parallels of this whole Zygon revolution are a bit too messy for Doctor Who to handle. Yes, the answer to widespread hatred and mistrust is...think. Think about the truth of what you want. Think about the consequences of what will happen if you don't get what you want...or even if you do.
But Doctor Who is not the real world, it's a science fiction fantasy and here, the 2,000 year old time traveller can pull back the barriers of hatred and mistrust with words, words to make people think. And when people think, there is peace. The Doctor talks Bonnie into thinking and when she starts thinking, she backs away from the box.
But even with the "why can't it be like that in the real world?" ending, there are questions that still nag. Is the price for peace sublimating your culture to another? Hiding under the guise of being something different from who you truly are?
Peace, it seems, is never simple. Which is why it must always be maintained.
Some brief thoughts:
- The Doctor has a Union Jack parachute. So very James Bond.
- The Doctor calls the anti-Zygon gas "the imbecile's gas". The 4th Doctor called former companion Harry Sullivan an imbecile, the same person who developed the gas back in the Zygon's first appearance.
- Kate Stewart actually solves an alien attack with "5 rounds, rapid". Her dad used to order that countermeasure on alien attackers but it never worked.
- Jenna Coleman does outstanding work as Clara and Bonnie. The scene where the two jockey for position with threats and counter threats would be the absolute best acting in this episode....
- Except Peter Capaldi owns eveything in his passionate pleas for people and Zygons to think, just think, and avoid facing the same decision he made centuries before when he thought the only way to stop the Daleks and end the Time War was to destroy his own people. Capaldi's Doctor is a whirlwind of cleverness and earnestness with a bit of American accent tossed in for good measure.
After all is said and done, there is one last bit in the TARDIS before the final credits. Clara noting the Doctor thought she was dead asked how that was for him.
The Doctor replies it was a very long month.
But Clara points out it was a matter of minutes between Bonnie telling the Doctor that Clara was dead and Clara's message proving she wasn't.
The Doctor's answer to that? "I'll be the judge of time."
OK, that is that for today. Just a check in on the news about Doctor Who's immediate future. The tabloids are bleating the news that the episode order for Series 10 has been reduced; Steven Moffat is saying that's rubbish, they're prepping for a full season of 12 episodes and a Christmas special. Click here for yesterday's post where I basically say they're both right.
There's a new post on this blog tomorrow and I'll be back here next Sunday for a recap/review of next week's new episode. Until then, remember to be good to one another, human and Zygon alike.
I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You
“The only way any one can live in peace is if they're prepared to forgive."