by Paul Kelly
Well, that was bleak beyond belief. With finales you expect a modicum of carnage. What you don't expect is for the effects to be permanent, nor the victims to be soft targets. If Santa hadn't turned up at the end, I dare say I'd have burst into tears. Let's hope they don't kill him at Christmas.
Was this whole season really about Missy trying to win back the affections of the Doctor, or has the whole thing been a con from beginning to end? Missy did 'die' awfully easily. (See Josie's Rule #10.) Zombifying the entire human race as a birthday present for the Doctor was an audacious move. The Doctor refusing to accept her gift was less of a surprise. When an army comes at the cost of all you've sworn to protect, what's the point? I'm not sure I bought Missy's 'you and I are the same' speech any more than when Davros gave it back in 'Journey's End'. Missy kills for fun and without remorse. The Doctor kills out of necessity and spends a lifetime regretting it. It's not the same at all.
Despite being a fan of Michelle Gomez, I cooled a little towards her interpretation of the Master this week. I was hoping that regeneration would freshen the character up, but all it seems to have done is change his gender. At least Derek Jacobi made the role his own. That's not to say Missy didn't spit out some genuinely hilarious zingers, but she sometimes took the humour too far. There's a fine line between dastardly and absurd, and I thought Missy occasionally overstepped the mark. Goodness knows whose idea it was to have her float down on that Mary Poppins-style umbrella. I laughed, but immediately felt as though I'd disgraced myself.
Making the Cybermen less stompy and more zombie-Iron-Man totally worked for me. I loved Missy hiding the Cybermen in plain sight outside St. Paul's while charging a quid for photos. The Doctor's Mission Impossible-esqe dive into his TARDIS, and the Cybermen attacking Airbus A330, were also spectacularly done. (Despite being tonally incongruous.) I was less happy with the Cybermen being defeated by love, however. The concept of non-tangible touchy-feely solutions saving the day is a lovely idea, but it makes for appalling television. What made Danny's love for Clara any more powerful than that of the other victims? Or the Brigadier's for that matter?
Clara claiming to be the Doctor in the cold open was so unexpected, so completely improbable, that I wished they'd run with it. They even changed the opening graphics to accommodate the ruse. Sadly, it was only there to illustrate Clara's resourcefulness in a crisis and how adept she's become at deceit. I loved that the Doctor and Clara ended the episode by lying to each other. Them hugging was the most poignant part of the episode. Neither wanted the other to see their true face -- which, although terribly noble, was also desperately sad. We're all imperfect creatures, trying to show our love in the most inept ways imaginable. It felt right to end the season on a low point. They've all lost so much.
Clara's speech to Cyber-Danny about the Doctor being the only man she would never lie to, confirmed what we've suspected all season. Despite her love for Danny, Clara would always have chosen the Doctor. She'd tried to love Danny, but couldn't go back to living a normal life. Them exchanging their last goodbyes did bring a tear to my eye, as did the frankly bizarre appearance of the Brigadier. I'm so glad they didn't kill Kate. Not after seeing Osgood die. Rule number one of any-TV-show-ever: when face to face with the show's arch-nemesis, don't fall for the old 'I want to whisper something in your ear' ploy. Wasn't Osgood supposed to be smart? Didn't the Doctor hint that there was a place aboard the TARDIS for her? Falling for the Master's obvious ploy felt like the final humiliation for Osgood. I liked Osgood!
Danny's call-to-arms speech didn't quite work for me, either. Heroic it may have been, but Danny Pink's no Aragorn, Son of Arathorn. And Danny sending back the boy he killed instead of coming back himself felt like a real kick in the throat for Clara. It's like she can't catch a break. But you have to give the show props for seeing through the story they set up in 'Dark Water'. This was a grim, somewhat gloomy conclusion to a story which has already had the public complaining to the BBC about its dark themes. There was no happy ending here. This was a story about death, what happens after, and the sometimes destructive nature of friendship. Yes, the earth was saved, but it came at the cost of virtually everyone's happiness. Let's hope Father Nick Frost-mas can make some sense of this mess in December.
Bits and Pieces:
-- So Missy lied about the location of Gallifrey? I wonder what else she lied about.
-- In hindsight, Danny was poorly used for the back half of the season. He started off strong, turned somewhat passive-aggressive, before withering into a whiny voice on the end of the phone.
-- What was all that nonsense about Clara never lying to the Doctor? She's been doing it all season! She even did it at the end. That whole speech, although lovely, felt so contrived. It was there purely to create drama between her and Danny.
-- So the answer to 'Am I a good man?' was 'No, I'm an idiot with a box and a screwdriver'? Well, that was worth slogging through 12 episodes for.
-- Why didn't the guards realise that Missy's hands were loose? How did Missy move so quickly? Was her father Jor-El?
Doctor: "Nice bow tie."
Osgood: "Bow ties are cool."
Doctor: "Love your outfit, Colonel Ahmed. Are you in the scouts? Are you a man-scout? I didn't know they had those."
Doctor: "Hang on a second -- the president? We don't want Americans bombing around the place. They'll only start praying."
Missy: "Hey Missy you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind. Hey Missy! Hey Missy!"
Seb: "Permission to squeeee!"
Doctor: "Pain is a gift. Without the capacity for pain, we can't feel the hurt that we inflict."
Clara: "It feels like I'm killing you."
Danny: "I'm already dead. You're here this time at least."
Clara: "Goodbye, Danny."
Danny: "Goodbye, Clara."
Clara: "Why don't you like hugging, Doctor?"
Doctor: "Never trust a hug. It's just a way to hide your face."
Clara: "Thank you for making me feel special."
Doctor: "Thank you for exactly the same."