Saturday, 8 November 2014

Doctor Who- Death in Heaven

"Typical officer. Got to keep those hands clean."

Wow. That was quite possibly the best season finale ever. Looking over the season, in fact, it's possibly the best treatment of season-long plot threads in Doctor Who, in terms of both plot and themes. And yes, I'm calling it: this is the best season since Philip Hinchcliffe left, a time when Jim Callaghan was prime minister, I was just about to be born and Elvis was alive. Basically, expect a positive review. 

We begin with a clever feint- Clara trying to convince the Cybermen that "Clara Oswald" never existed and she's really the Doctor. This is clever; we've been primed, by a female Master, for a female Doctor, and there's been a season-long theme of Clara being Doctorish; think Flatline. Still... the Doctor is four times married, and has multiple children and grandchildren, all presumed dead. Interesting.

Still, back to the actual plot, UNIT appears, in the form of Kate Stewart, Osgood ("Bow ties are cool!") and a nice reference, via a version of Handles from the late '60s, to The Invasion, later to be echoed with the plane as HQ. It's good to see the Doctor, like Sulla, being appointed dictator of Earth; this is such a great bit of plot economy and is a great way of avoiding so much tiresomeness.

The scene with Clara in a graveyard about to erupt with zombie Cybermen is terrifying, but this is immediately eclipsed with an awesomely scripted and heartbreaking scene between Clara and a Cybernised Danny that brings home the true body horror of Cyber conversion in a way which, for me, eclipses all previous attempts. Wow. Again, wow.

I like the revelations- as expected, it was Missy who rang Clara in The Bells of Saint John and brought her and the Doctor together in Deep Breath. But Michelle Gomez is a brilliantly insane Master, and gets a fantastic showcase scene in which she, sob, kills Osgood! Moffat, YOU BASTARD! Yes, Kate lives, and yes, it's a touching scene with the Brig, but let's be honest, who really likes Kate, and Jemma Redgrave's utter lack of charisma? It's Ingrid Oliver's Osgood who makes UNIT cool, and she's dead!!!

Just as good is the debate between the Doctor and Danny, which pays off another theme of this season- is the Doctor like a military officer, getting others to kill and die for him? Here, he fails to see the humanity present in Danny, seeing him again as a pawn.

Then Missy arrives, all Mary Poppins with her flying umbrella, and reveals a plan which underlines the same theme; the Cyber army is to be put at the Doctor's disposal for him to put to universe-saving purposes. This is for him to realise that the two of them are not so different. And here we get the expected flashbacks to "Am I a good man?" and "You are a good Dalek!" And the Doctor's epiphany; he is not a good man, a bad man, a hero, a president or an officer- just a traveller who helps people out. And, with that, he steps back and let's Danny save the world like the hero he is. And then seems to actually kill Missy. Hmm. Not sure I like that. It's awfully close to endorsing capital punishment.

The story ends with the Doctor and Clara parting, each misunderstanding and lying to each other; she thinks he's found Gallifrey, but he hasn't, and he's devastated, while he thinks that she's found Danny when, in fact, he gave up his one shot at resurrection to the child he killed in Afghanistan, like a true hero. Wow.

And then, tragically, it ends there. The end credits start... and are interrupted. By Father Christmas. Played by Nick Frost.

What? What? WHAT???!!!

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