Here we are, the finale of Peter Capaldi’s first run as the Doctor, and we end it with “Death in Heaven,” an episode that, for the most part, works despite following the less than inspiring “Dark Water.”

SPOILERS AHEAD

We start off where “Dark Water” left off, and UNIT comes in to grab the Doctor and Missy. Missy’s left in holding on an airplane and the Doctor becomes president of the world (it’s protocol to have him be in charge during an alien invasion). With UNIT we get the return of Kate Stewart and Osgood, both of which were good in the 50th anniversary and continue to be good here. The best part about Kate is how they continue to tie in her father, which, at least for a person such as myself who was raised on PBS re-runs of Tom Baker stories, is a nice connection to the classic series. My only issue is back then, the Doctor worked with UNIT and while he wasn’t a soldier, he never went around telling soldiers how much he hates them, which really, was never explained at all in series 8, despite the Doctor saying it to literally every current or past soldier. The only thing that made sense was it led up to Cybermen, and even then it only kind of makes sense since in the finale the Cybermen are no longer their own race going through the universe, but instead are made by Missy for the Doctor. Wait. What?

Yes, Missy’s master plan (pun fully intended) was to give the Doctor an army of Cybermen to take across the galaxy, ridding planets of evil. Ultimately, he doesn’t do it and gives Danny, who, by the way, as we learned in “Dark Water” was being stored to become a Cyberman. Except he kept his emotions, and as a result was able to save Clara and

The gang is all back together, at least for now

The gang is all back together, at least for now

ultimately help the Doctor, Clara, and essentially save the planet. I understand the point of having Danny do this. Danny’s able to redeem himself for what he did in the war (more on that later) and the Doctor is faced with who he is. See, this whole series has been about the Doctor figuring out if he’s a good man or not. A big part of Danny’s existence was to constantly lecture to Clara how he knew men like the Doctor when he was in the war. The Doctor doesn’t get his hands dirty, instead he recruits companions to fight his fight as he sits in the background. How true this is I don’t really know, but Moffat loves to have the Doctor be this massive figure/legend who got too big for the universe and is constantly questioning what type of person he is, so in that case I’ll deal with this arc, which actually has some interesting points, they’re just never executed that well.

So the Doctor gives Danny the army Missy just gave to him (can be controlled via a bracelet aka sci-fi tech) and after a nice speech about being a soldier and protecting people, Danny brings all the Cybermen to self destruct and destroy the clouds Missy unleashed over the planet. The clouds basically emit “rain” to turn the dead into Cybermen, which somehow creates a Cyberman suit around a dead body (kind of a cheap way to explain how everyone got a Cyberman suit, but it works).

After this, the Doctor tells Missy she won. Now, maybe I need to watch it again, which I will, but I’m not quite sure how she won. Perhaps it’s because she showed the Doctor who he is, always letting others do his work for him. After all, when Clara grabs Missy’s weapon, the Doctor won’t let Clara kill her. Not because she won’t be killed, but because he won’t let Clara do it. This is a turning point for the Doctor, when he realizes he has to take responsibility for his actions, and that his companions have lives outside of the one with him. It turns out neither of them get to kill Missy. Instead, a rogue Cyberman, who we later find out is none other than the Brigadier, steps in and fires on her. It’s a little bit of a stretch, but one I’m willing to accept.

What I’m not as willing to accept is Missy literally killed Osgood. Yes, Osgood, with all her fangirl-ness and campy-ness, was killed by Missy. This was surprisingly dark for a show with a big marketing campaign directed towards children. I can’t admit to being a huge fan of Osgood, but I think her death was more emotionally impact-full than Danny’s. Danny never existed to be more than a plot device, whereas Osgood was kind of a symbolism of the fan base (or at least what Moffat believes the fan girls are like).

Then there’s the ending, oh the ending. after all the Danny stuff we get Clara and the Doctor meeting for the last time in a coffee shop. The Doctor lies about finding Gallifrey and Clara lies about Danny coming back (note, the bracelet that let Danny control the Cybermen also allowed one person to travel back from the dead, and he gave it to the boy he killed in the war. Which, is going to be hard to explain to his parents.). When the Doctor goes to the coordinates Missy gave him for Gallifrey, he finds nothing there. The way Peter Capaldi portrays the emotion of the Doctor is brilliant. The Doctor wants nothing more than to have his people back, to be able to know he can go back home. Time after time it continues to not work out for him. However, Missy would have had to somehow get away from Gallifrey, so series 9? Both the Doctor and Clara want each other to be happy, which makes it even more sad that they lie to each other. They don’t want to burden the other person if they believe the other person is happy or if they can convincingly lie about their own happiness. It was a really intimate moment between friends, culminating in a still reluctant hug from the Doctor, which he did for Clara. See, the Doctor doesn’t like hugs, because according to him “never trust a hug, it’s just a way to hide your face.” Never has it been more true than in that moment, and it’s moments like this that I want Doctor Who to add more of the slower, talking scenes. Let the characters have room to organically develop and talk.

Let's hope for more of this in series 9

Let’s hope for more of this in series 9

Overall, I actually enjoyed “Death in Heaven.” Yes, Missy really didn’t have to be the Master. After all, there was no use of mind control or any Master-type things going on. Being female shouldn’t mean the whole character changes, if that’s the case then why not simply make Missy her own character? On the other hand, they gave her a really good amount of crazy that was absolutely perfect, I only wish she had more screen time, and I’m awaiting her inevitable return (because the Master doesn’t ever seem to really die) hopefully in the near future.

I have been getting tired of Clara, so seeing her go wasn’t such a big deal, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she returns for Christmas.

Peter Capaldi, well, he’s just great as the Doctor. I’m really looking forward to at least another series with him. Towards the end of series 8 the writing started to get off track, with a few episodes having a Matt Smith vibe rather than the mood the beginning of series 8 established for Capaldi’s Doctor. It will be interesting to see what they’re able to do now that he has a full series to go off of.

After the disappointment that was “Dark Water,” Moffat came through with “Death in Heaven.” It still has its fair share of flaws, but it’s a noticeable improvement over the finales of series 6 and 7.

I’ll be writing up a full series 8 review and possibly a more in depth look at Missy. Until then, here’s the trailer for Christmas (Ice Warriors?):

 

 

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