Here we are at the raggedy end and I have to say that this was the most tense, seat gripping hour of Doctor Who I’ve seen in years. It might even surpass the fiftieth as one of my favorite episodes. It also solidifies season eight as my second favorite season of the show (I don’t really talk about old Doctor Who as I never watched it).
I’m still floored and I think this episode will need more examining in the days to come, I might have to rewatch it even, which will be a first for this season, but I can say with a certainty that this is one of the best finales the show has had since the reboot. Only outdone by series five’s.
Clara did some amazing acting and I think it’s been impressive the kind of range we’re getting out her this season. There’s more for her to work with and there’s been more ups and downs for her character and the relationship with the Doctor. I know she wasn’t planned to be with this Doctor originally, but I think that forcing them together has kind of pulled something out of her that she didn’t really get the draw on with Matt Smith (and I loved her with Smith, so that says something).
It seems that a lot of people hate her, but really a lot of people hated Amy and Donna and I think they’re probably two of the best written companions. I don’t think people actually know what they want and a lot of fan base is mad that Tennant’s not there.
An Aside: people still gracing message boards and comment sections of articles with comments about bring back Tennant and the like. Get over yourself. He’s gone, he’s not coming back and the show has always been about change. If you’re eager to revisit him there are books and fan fiction. Leave the rest of the fans alone.
Capaldi has been incredible this season and he’s finally starting to really solidify his place as an amazing Doctor. His acting opposite the Mistress has been very refreshing. When they were choosing the new Doctor I can’t say he’s the direction I wanted or expected, but he’s what we needed.
For the episode itself I think there’s something to be said about the tone and the overall darkness of what we saw taking place here. The Mistress really poured it on and she planned and plotted very well. Her plot kind of hit back on the things Danny said earlier this season and the things we learned about the Doctor over the course of the show. His past as a soldier and his past with Unit and all of that really come into play and it just made for a good thematic end.
The themes of love and of what the Cybermen are kind of remind me of Asylum of the Dalek and the Cybermen two parter for season two—the only difference is that this seemed more native and grounded in the show because we’ve built up to it well. Framing this episode in Clara telling Danny she loved him and ending with the reveal that despite emotions being gone love wasn’t felt more realistic than cybermen exploding when they get emotions or even exploding because a dad loves his son.
It’s funny, but in some way every Cyberman episode except Nightmare in Silver took a hit when this completed.
Though this episode wasn’t about the Cybermen or the Master—it was another episode about the Doctor, who he is and what he is and this season was framed with the question “Am I a good man?”.
I would say this is the thesis statement of the series itself, the Doctor has struggled over the years to be good and to do the right thing and we’ve seen pieces of his defeated self after the Time War and him recovering as Ten and then him going on to become the inflated ego that was the idea of the Time Lord Victorious as Eleven.
Now we’ve come to this. The Doctor is neither good nor bad. He’s ultimately a little more like the average person. He just is. The Mistress revealed himself to himself and gave him what she thought he wanted and he knew well enough to resist the power. He’s grown over the years, the hundreds of years the series takes place over and I think it’s safe to say it’s for the better.
There is one thing I would like to say. The preview-review done on this episode spoke of something the Master does that will shake the fan base to the core. I’m guessing it was the killing of Osgood. I really, really liked Osgood and I kind of suspected that she might be our next Companion, so it was sad to see her die so early in.
But I feel like death needs to be a part of Doctor Who and it needs to hit us harder than it typically does. Moffat used to be mister “Everybody Lives” and I think it’s nice to see him stepping back from that and trying something a little less popular, but necessary.
I have to say that when I promised to write these reviews this whole season I didn’t think I would make it. But I’m glad I did. Until Christmas!