As always, DO NOT READ unless you're caught up on Series 8 of Doctor Who! As River would say: *spoilers*
It's the end of Series 8, and I think they were trying to go out with a bang, but it ended with more of a "wut?" for me. Like most of this series, there were a few things I enjoyed, and a whole lot of things I found either confusing or downright frustrating. Now, I try to avoid reading other reviews before I've written mine (I like for my thoughts to be my own), but I have noticed many of the fan reactions on social media seem to be pretty mixed. I think I can understand why. There were a lot of things going on in this episode, and many of them were both amazing and awful at the same time. It made it difficult to come away from the finale with a clear reaction. Here are 5 things that made my head spin from 'Death in Heaven':
The Bad: I loathe that this is The Master. It still doesn't feel right to me. Especially once she reveals that this whole plan was concocted to convince The Doctor that they're alike so they can be friends again. Nope. Don't like that one, little bit. They spent so much time establishing that she's the "Queen of Evil" and this is her end game? This was yet another episode in which The Doctor didn't save the day at all. If she was just going to hand over the CyberZombie army, then there never was any real threat to begin with. Weak.
The Good: We got a Cybermen storyline again! Yay! The Cybermen are some of my favorite Doctor Who bad guys. They're both terrifying and depressing at the same time. Going through life without any emotion sounds both dull and terribly sad, and the way in which they convert people is just horrific. The idea of having your brain literally ripped from your body by cold, metal instruments and then implanted into a suit with no identity and no soul is... horrifying. Then to take into account the cold calculation with which they choose who is or is not "compatible" as a means to determine if you're going to be converted or simply killed and tossed aside as biological waste gives them an even more sinister twist.
The Bad: Moffat got his grubby hands on the Cybermen, and made them completely and utterly not scary. First off, there is absolutely no explanation as to how Missy got her hands on Cyber technology to even fabricate these CyberZombies. Where did they come from? How did she make them? Where did the "dark water" come from? However it was that she managed to get the tech, it's clearly been upgraded several times. All of a sudden, Cybermen can fly (because unaided flight isn't overused as a means of escape from an impossible situation - maybe Missy managed to get ahold of Tony Stark's phone number). Plus, thanks to exactly 91 exploding Cybermen that manage to rain down enough (what I assume are) nanoparticles that they're able to construct a fully functioning Cybersuit around thousands and thousands of corpses (many of whom would have been relegated to little more than dust by now), they no longer require living material, or a brain, in order to convert someone. All they need is a consciousness (even though our consciousness is pretty much what they had previously been deleting because that's where one finds pesky things like personality and emotion). Oh, but don't worry! All you need to defeat the Cyber technology your dead body is now encased in is the power of love. Aw! Isn't that just the sweetest thing you've ever heard?! (This is roughly the point where I threw up a little in my mouth.) I could go on, but let's just say that the logistics are not even remotely in the CyberZombies' favor.
3. The Return of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart and U.N.I.T
The Good: It's always interesting when U.N.I.T. shows up. It reminds us that yes, the inhabitants of Earth do know that craziness seems to happen on the regular, and that our likely response would, in fact, be the creation of a highly specialized and covert military operation dedicated to all things extra-terrestrial. This time, we got to see U.N.I.T. agents romping around in plain clothes, taking selfies with Cybermen, and completely taking Missy off-guard. It was brilliant (especially with the return of Osgood, but I'll get to that later). This is an all out invasion, and a finale episode after all, so it stands to reason that The Doctor could use some support. We even got a reference to Kate's father, Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart!
The Bad: Once U.N.I.T. pops in, rescues The Doctor and captures Missy (using some swanky, new tranquilizer dart tuned to Time Lord), the entire military organization specialized in threats just like the one the Earth is currently facing becomes completely useless. There are huge Cyber clouds covering the major cities around the world, raining down Cyber pollen to convert the dead, so what do they do? Put everyone of importance on a plane and fly into the clouds. They have tranquilizer darts capable of effecting Time Lords and Missy in custody, so what do they do? Use a single pair of regulation handcuffs to secure her to a dolly, station what must have been cardboard cutouts of soldiers behind her as guards, put her in the same room with her disintegrating device and the least soldier-like member of the team, and let her wake up. Best plan evar!
4. Osgood Returns
The Good: Since her introduction in the 50th special, Osgood has rocketed into the ranks of fan favorites. The character is the literal embodiment of Doctor Who fans. She knows all about The Doctor and when we first meet her, she's wearing a replica of the 4th Doctor's iconic scarf, and is beside herself when she finally gets to meet The Doctor. She may be a bit awkward, but she's also smart as a whip and proves that she can handle her own when need be. Since the 50th special, she's come into her own, and is now sporting the 11th Doctor's bowtie and the 10th Doctor's shoes. This go round, she's even more confident and even has a hint of badassery: She strolls right up to Missy and plucks the device out of her hand without the slightest bit of hesitation, she figures out who Missy is without so much as a hint, and she's the one who points out to The Doctor that the clouds are hovering and expanding, "We're all looking at the graveyards; maybe we should be looking up."
The Bad: Everyone loves her, the character showed more development in the two episodes she appeared in than Danny did this whole series, and she's been used very well in this episode, so clearly she needs to die for absolutely no reason. I'm sorry, there was a reason. It's a very old and trite plot device that is now commonly referred to as "putting women in refrigerators." Essentially, the writer kills off a character (almost always a woman) in order to both give the hero (almost always a man) something to mourn/impetus to rally into action and as an example of just how evil the villain of the story is. Not only is Osgood killed off by falling for one of the oldest and most simple captured villain tricks in the book ("come closer, I have a secret for you"), and while two armed guards just stand there and watch (maybe they were napping?), but Moffat himself admitted that this is exactly why he killed her off: "One thing I was very determined about was that the Master/Missy would have to kill somebody we liked in the most cruel, heartless and terrible way to absolutely say that this person is shockingly evil. Osgood was the one we flung on the fire to make the Master burn brighter."
The Good: Ok, I'll admit that the only good thing I can think of to say about CyberDanny is that they didn't think of some stupid way to bring him back from the dead. Well, technically they did, he just chose to send a years dead kid back to the land of the living instead of coming back himself, so I guess that doesn't even count. Um... The makeup looked good?
The Bad: I suppose that I could be persuaded to accept that at first CyberDanny was capable of not being a Cyberman because his emotional inhibitor wasn't activated (somehow). It's a stretch, but I could be persuaded to let that go. However, if he loved Clara that much, there is no way that he would have taken her to a bloody graveyard with CyberZombies popping up all over the place, or asked her to turn his inhibitor on. The inhibitor is supposed to be the only thing keeping him from full conversion, and therefore the only thing keeping him from killing Clara. Sure, the whole power-of-love crap came into play, but no one knew that was going to be a thing until it suddenly was. All of it made no sense and was just... boring.
- Apparently we've completely abandoned the concept of the TARDIS doors opening with a snap of the fingers, or The Doctor's name.
- We've also abandoned the idea of a Doctor who refuses to sacrifice the one for the many.
- Why didn't The Doctor just command the CyberZombies to go explode themselves when he had control of them?
- Why did Missy stick around during CyberDanny's little speech when it was the most convenient distraction during which she could have made her escape after discovering her plan backfired?
- If love was all that was needed to resist the Cyber programming, does that mean that Danny and the Brigadier were the only dead people who loved someone?
- Clara: I'm gonna murder Missy. Doctor: No, I am. CyberBrigadier: Haha, beat you to it! Seriously?! They should have left it to the mention on the plane.
- Why did the bracelet suddenly only have enough power for one trip back to the really real world?
- What the hell did Clara do with the no-longer-dead kid from the Middle East??? The most logical thing would have been to have The Doctor pop them into the past so it could be as if he never died, but since The Doctor thinks Danny came back, that obviously didn't happen. So what the hell did she do with that little logistical nightmare??
- So, is Clara pregnant, or did Danny have a kid with some other chick before he met Clara, or are we just going to completely abandon the whole Orson Pink storyline?
- Nick Frost? Yea!! Santa Claus? Ugh.