Here we are, nearing the end of series 8 with “Dark Water,” the first part of this series two part finale. I don’t know where to begin so let’s jump right in.

SPOILERS AHEAD

There are many things I want to cover about “Dark Water,” so let’s start small. Essentially, the story can be summed up that when you die your mind is uploaded into a computer mainframe (or the Gallifreyan equivalent) and your mind can live out the rest of its life, or rather death, there. In the meantime, your body is stored in a tank of dark water. Dark doctor who cybermenwater is a type of liquid that makes inorganic material invisible, so you can only see the organic material beneath or around it. This is used to hide the fact that each dead body is stored inside a Cyberman. Why this is being hid I don’t exactly know, since the great big complex they are being held in is apparently under a cathedral in England, where there must be a ton of room not paid attention to by the city council of the city they are in. Nobody really goes down there, ever it seems, so why hide anything? Aren’t dead bodies sitting on chairs in a water tank strange enough? Who knows, I’m assuming it’s just a convenient way to draw out the plot until the Doctor (and viewers) figure out what is going on. Which occurs towards the end as the water in the tanks is drained and the Cybermen make their way to the city streets, whereupon all the civilians walking don’t seem to care much and forget this happened not to long ago in series 2.

Honestly, it’s not the worst setup for a Cybermen invasion since the episode didn’t waste too much time on the actual Cybermen part of it and if it weren’t for the BBC releasing the final scene from the episode about a week before it aired it would have been a better reveal. But as it stands the BBC released a hefty spoiler.

But wait, how did we even end up at the dead people tanks in the first place? Well, Clara’s talking to Danny in the beginning of the episode, tells him she loves him and then Danny gets hit by a car and dies and goes to the Nethersphere (aka, is uploaded to the computer). So she and the Doctor go and search for Danny. Not before Clara tries to knock out the Doctor and bring him to a volcano and threaten to destroy the TARDIS keys if he doesn’t change Danny’s fate and rescue him. This actually happened and she actually threw the keys into the volcano, except instead of sleeping patches she picks up waking dream patches and the Doctor made sure she would use them on herself. This whole scene was very out of character for Clara. Sure, she was grieving, I get that. But to want to completely hold the Doctor in that position and believe she was destroying the TARDIS keys felt forced and awkward. Yes, there was a nice scene after that in which the Doctor told her he cares for her so much that he would not just leave her even after she wanted to betray him, but the lead up to it was out of place. So then they go off to find Danny.

We finally get Danny’s back story, and it’s actually not bad. He ended up accidentally killing a child when he was a soldier, and it makes more sense now why he’s so protective of the kids at school. Still, he’s not exactly the most dynamic character, and his death in the beginning didn’t affect me on an emotional level and was a clear setup for the rest of the episode. Right, let’s get to the elephant in the room: Missy.

doctor who promoMissy, as we know, has been an arc through series 8. She occasionally shows up to collect dead people, spy on the Doctor, and spy on Clara. Nothing overly exciting, but she’s there and Moffat wanted us to know she’s important. Cool, I was digging it. Sure, putting her in the first episode was a little rushed, but it got the ball rolling. Then the ball must have ran out of air toward the halfway mark and somewhere toward the end found an air pump, leading us to now. Missy is in charge of the Nethersphere and the catacombs under the cathedral. She’s the one building a massive army of Cybermen, which is pretty cool and makes more sense than some previous Cybermen stories. When the Doctor and Clara first meet Missy she pretends to be a robot programmed to attend to the dead and the catacombs. She gives the Doctor the initial greeting for being in the catacombs (I forget the words she used to describe it) which amounted to pinning the Doctor to the wall, making out with him, and kissing him on the nose three times. Strange, but at the time she was supposedly a robot, so perhaps a malfunctioning one. Once the Doctor confronts Missy again he finds out she’s in charge of everything. She’s the Time Lady he left behind years ago. Then, in the final minutes we find out who she is.

Missy, short for Mistress, is the Master.

Yes, Missy is the Master. I have a major issue with this: the only reason the Master is a woman is because they could show her throughout the series and not have everyone know it’s the Master. The only problem is, the Doctor just met Missy, so it’s not like the main character was also trying to figure it out all along, it was just us. The Master being female doesn’t do anything for the actual story other than to create a reveal for the sake of having a reveal and saying how clever the writing was. Now, I understand the Master was a snake before and took over a human body, had a Terminator-esque chase scene, and did a bunch of campy things in the TV movie during the 90s, but this isn’t supposed to be that, except it feels like it.

First, apparently the Master is in love with the Doctor, which is news to me. I’m sorry, I don’t see Roger Delgado (the original Master) being in love with the Doctor, wanting to pin him against a wall and make out. Nor do I see John Simm’s Master doing that either. Second, the Doctor did not leave the Master for dead last they met, but Moffat apparently forgot that. I’m all for strong women characters, which is why I’ve been wanting Romana to return since 2005 and why my favorite shows include Orphan Black, Downton Abbey, and Once Upon a Time. My issue here is Missy doesn’t serve any purpose other than shock value. This could have easily been a male Master and the exact same story could have occurred. In Classic Who (note, they love to say how long the show has been going for) there were Time Lords and Time Ladies. Now they can be either, which makes it all very confusing and without an entire series dedicated to it, Moffat is flying off the top of his head with how the Master should act now that he’s a woman.

I didn’t have high hopes for the Missy reveal because Moffat has a track record of being awful at his reveals, but this has a lifelong fan of the show questioning whether or not he will continue to watch after series 8 if Moffat is still around. It just picks up 50 years of canon, and with no care in the world, throws it on its head. I was all set to get a new doctor claracharacter, but no, it’s the same old Master except now a woman.

So after 40+ minutes of “Dark Water” all I was left with was thinking a) why did they need all that time for what could have essentially been 15 minutes of setup and b) why can’t Moffat just write a story without trying to prove how clever he is? You may also be thinking I haven’t talked much about the Doctor. Well, unfortunately he was about as useless as can be the majority of the time. He literally existed to bring the viewer from point to point. I wouldn’t be surprised if after all was said and done, Clara and Danny, again, had more airtime than the Doctor.

I just want to note, if you’ve been reading my reviews throughout series 8 you’ll know I really enjoyed the first half and most of the second half of the series, which is why it’s so disappointing to write another Moffat finale is starting to disappoint me.

Next week we have the final episode of series 8, “Death in Heaven.” I’m really hoping I can watch it, look back on this review and go “why was I so down and out about ‘Dark Water,’ it set up an awesome finale.” At least that’s what I can hope for, until then here’s a little trailer that seems to have the clips from the “Dark Water” trailer in a different order:

 

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