Category: Series 8


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?):

 

 

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:

 

With just an episode away from the two part finale we’re left with “In the Forest of the Night,” a filler episode with little in terms of substance.

SPOILERS AHEAD

It’s clear at this point in series 8 that Doctor Who is now more fantasy than sci-fi. It’s not a huge deal, but it should be acknowledged. I know the show was never grounded in any sort of hard scientific fact or theory, but there was always a lot of rambling about science type things, even if they were made up it still fit the theme. Now we get forests growing overnight to save the Earth from solar flares and other such natural disasters. If I didn’t know better I’d almost think I stumbled into Once Upon a Time. But if the writing is good this shouldn’t matter. Except the writing wasn’t good.

Basically, the story goes when the Earth is facing a natural disaster, trees grow in larger quantities to stop the Earth from being destroyed. This means pumping more oxygen into the atmosphere so things such as solar flares will burn up before being able to reach the Earth’s surface. This is all well and good really, except nothing else was.

For starters, Clara and Danny have one of the most forced relationships I ever saw. We’re meant to believe they are madly in love. Nothing can tear them apart. They’re soul mates. All that good stuff. But when Danny is on screen there’s barely any indication they’ve been on a date (other than showing us Clara going on a date a few episodes back).

Told you, she is Little Red Riding Hood. And he's a mad man with a box. And together this feels like it should fit in series 5.

Told you, she is Little Red Riding Hood. And he’s a mad man with a box. And together this feels like it should fit in series 5.

Literally every time Danny makes an appearance he either tells Clara to tell him the truth, not to lie to him, he’s not stupid, and to think about what he said and talk to him about it at a later date. He acts more like a watered down Jiminy Cricket than an actual human. We learned a while ago he was a soldier. This comes up again when he goes on about how being a soldier made him appreciate the little things back home and how one person can change your life (aka him hitting on Clara). Except that has grown stale. I wanted to care about his past when he was first introduced and made some remarks about what he did in the war that he regrets, but since then it’s just been inspirational quotes to Clara.

So maybe Clara developed some as a character? The answer again is no. I don’t know what she did in the episode, but it felt like a lot of whining. She basically tried to copy what Danny was doing, ensuring the safety of the kids (inbetween inspirational quotes that is) on their field trip as Clara wanted to figure out what was going on with the trees. Eventually she tries to get the Doctor to leave, because he says this is a time changing moment and the futures they traveled to will no longer happen. Instead of trying to figure out what to do, Clara uncharacteristically gives up and tries to get the Doctor to just leave and forget about everyone on Earth. It didn’t make much sense at all. She just went to tend to the kids with Danny, because Danny was doing it so she did whatever he was doing, because they’re in love, apparently.

But wait, this is Doctor Who, so what about the Doctor? Well, again, not much was going on with him. He had a TARDIS full of kids (why does series 8 have so many kids tagging along in the TARDIS, they’re always unbearably annoying) and had to save the Earth or so he thought but then thought he couldn’t and then was thrown off Earth by Clara. It was kind of cool how the first kid he met was Maebh (cool name) and she could act as a vessel for the Earth (I think the Earth or maybe the trees) to communicate through and attempt to explain the purpose of the trees coming out of nowhere. She’s also Little Red Riding Hood. No, really, she is. She’s chased by wolves and the whole episode for some reason talks about trees and their relation to fairy tales.

Back to the Doctor. He eventually realizes the purpose of the trees, comes back after Clara made him go, and takes Clara, Danny, and the kids back to the TARDIS to explain what’s going on. The Doctor is actually written a little oddly this time around. He starts off feeling kind of like Matt Smith’s Doctor. By this I mean he’s all hyped up and running all around the TARDIS, which feels odd for this Doctor. Other than that some of his dialogue felt too out there, in the sense they wrote it so he was incompetent talking to humans. Sure, he’s more alien this time around, but even his more alien versions knew how to hold a basic conversation. But other than some minor moments with these issues, the rest were good with him and no issues there.

They should make a blog of hers for us to follow

They should make a blog of hers for us to follow.

Also worth noting, Missy showed up again. This time using a computer screen (with the screen maker’s company name nowhere to be seen, so better than the iPad mess last week) to spy on the Doctor and Clara. I think she should ignore the Doctor and have an epic mash-up with Sherlock and Moriarty. But as is we will see more of her next week as the two part finale kicks off.

So, what do I have to say about “In the Forest of the Night?” It was filler of the most vanilla kind. Nothing exciting happened. There were barely any fun, witty, or sarcastic lines from the Doctor. There’s a forced relationship. There wasn’t really any sort of real threat. Even if the Doctor didn’t figure out what was going on the Earth would still have been saved (I know the governments of Earth wanted to lay chemicals to kill the trees, but the trees resisted fire [magic trees I suspect] so I doubt some poison would kill them). There were a bunch of annoying kids. Danny is a walking set of inspirational posters you see scattered on the walls of a classroom (I know what Clara’s getting him for Christmas). And Missy is catching up on the latest episode of Doctor Who.

Yes, it is filler. I just don’t get why a show like Doctor Who, with just 12 episodes, has boring filler. There are 22 episode seasons of other shows I have watched that contain no filler and other shows with Doctor Who length seasons that have no filler and can create believable relationships. But rant over, I have greatly enjoyed the majority of series 8 up to this point, so overall I have been really into the show this year and am glad it has gotten substantially better than series 7.

Next week kicks off the two part finale, with “Dark Water.” The trailer lets us know Clara isn’t really Clara, because being the impossible girl isn’t enough, who knew? But I will have a full trailer breakdown soon enough, for now here’s what the BBC has given us so far:

For the first time in series 8 I wish there were still two part episodes. Flatline has some interesting ideas, but due to a time limit of a little over 40 minutes there just isn’t enough room for anything to properly develop, and in the end I was left with an empty feeling.

THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THE IMMINENT FUTURE

While I like Clara, this isn't "Clara Who," let's get the Doctor back in the title

While I like Clara, this isn’t “Clara Who,” let’s get the Doctor back in the title

As has been the case so far, Clara needs to get back to Danny, so the Doctor is all set to drop her off, but of course it doesn’t go according to plan. They still end up on Earth and not overly far from where they are supposed to go, but far enough to get caught up in some tricky business. The TARDIS is shrinking from the outside but remains the same on the inside. Basically, this is done to set up another Clara centered episode, as the Doctor remains inside to try and figure out what is going on outside. Using some fancy tech to talk to Clara and see through her eyes, the Doctor is able to keep track of the outside as Clara does some investigation of her own. Soon enough she stumbles upon some people having

to do community service due to being arrested for graffiti and other such crimes. They have a miserable old guy as their supervisor, and throughout the story he remains equally miserable, never seeming to be affected by the impending doom coming towards him. I’m not really sure what the point of him is since he’s not a bad guy and is just kind of annoying. Maybe it’s so Clara, who introduces herself as the Doctor to one of the guys cleaning graffiti off the wall (spoiler, he ends up making some nice artwork to trick the evil bad guys at the end and save the Doctor).

So, the evil bad guys previously mentioned are some sort of beings living on a two dimensional plane of existence and they are sucking up three dimensional humans into the walls to try and learn their biology. This is all done in an evil scheme to become three dimensional and take over the world, because, you know, why not? Really, it makes no sense. We never learn what they are or where they come from. The Doctor gives them some goofy name at the end in a moment of divine intervention when the TARDIS is accidentally resurrected by the evil guys. It’s all big and flashy but never feels right, mainly because the episode never knew what it wanted to be.

Most of the time it was a Clara being the Doctor story, where she ultimately learned what it meant to make the decisions the Doctor has to make when peoples’ lives are at risk. Except we just had that in Kill the Moon, so I’m not sure why we had it again so soon. Then we get the Doctor popping up

Small TARDIS...

Small TARDIS…

once in a while to give Clara some tech and run around his little but still big TARDIS and deliver the finishing blow on the bad guys.

The second half of the episode finds Clara, the graffiti guy, and the supervisor in a train tunnel, whereupon Clara decides it’s best to ram the bad guys with a train. So while they figure out how to do it the graffiti guy decides it’s best to just go in the train and drive it into the bad guys. Clara was just going to lock the accelerator so the train would go solo, and when she tried to take the guy off the train he was hesitant. I thought this may have meant he had some connection with the bad guys, but again, nothing, he was just being stubborn for no apparent reason.

I also want to point out I’m not being a fool by not referring to these side characters by their names, I literally cannot recall them, that’s how memorable they are, especially the supervisor and his superiority complex.

Also, Danny showed up for maybe a minute to call Clara. Nothing much happened and the episode moved on without him.

...Smaller TARDIS

…Smaller TARDIS

I like the concept of Flatline: a species living solely on a two dimensional plane trying to contact a three dimensional plane. That sounds pretty cool. Except it never evolved past evil bad guys trying to take over the world. We don’t know where they came from or really anything interesting about them. An underdeveloped alien species mixed with forgettable and generic characters makes for a boring 40 odd minutes. If the point of the episode was to let Clara see what it’s like to be the Doctor then great, we get it, she’s done it enough already. Did they forget she literally observed every single Doctor? This shouldn’t be new to her. I didn’t like series 7 that much but it’s still part of the show, so follow the continuity. I don’t have much to say about the Doctor, he was there but had such a small role that he may as well not have been there.

Almost forgot, Missy makes the most annoying appearance ever in the show. Why? She shows up at the end and is spying on the Doctor and Clara. No big deal. Except she’s using a legitimate Apple iPad! What the, I can’t, I just can’t. Every other character in the show has used a sci-fi, futuristic touch pad made for the show, keeping the viewer immersed in the world. Except now we get some mystery woman who is collecting dead people and using an iPad. It just felt cheap, like something a low budget, perhaps a web-series would have to due just to be able to help fund their show. Not here, this is a flagship show for the BBC and they sold out by putting an iPad in. Do note, the angle she is looking at Clara through the iPad is close to how the Doctor was looking at her, so is Missy looking through is eyes? Also note, Clara, yet again, is the most important girl in the whole universe. How many times can someone be the most important person ever? Rant over, I’ll wait and see where the story goes, no use getting worked up before it all tries to come together.

I’m not quite sure what to think of next week’s episode, In the Forest of the Night. From the trailer I can’t tell if the Doctor will be the focus or if Clara and Danny will. Ideally they can all work together, but if that doesn’t happen have Clara and Danny pop up once in a while and give the show back to the Doctor. Though, I must say, this series has been pretty great so far minus a couple bumpy episodes, I didn’t even realize next week’s episode is the last one before the two part finale (I still would like a two part normal story, but it’s a step in the right direction).

 

I didn’t have much of an idea what to expect from Mummy on the Orient Express. All I knew was it involved an Orient Express in space and there was a mummy, so basically, not a lot. With that to go off of, I was glad to see it wasn’t an Egyptian mummy is somehow resurrected and is now going to go around and kill a bunch of people for no apparent reason story (as I feared after series 5 ended with a phone call about an Egyptian Goddess causing issues on the Orient Express, which perhaps was the original idea for this story).

SPOILERS AHEAD

I’m not going to go ahead and summarize the episode as I’ve been doing, since you’ve seen the spoiler warning you have probably watched the episode and need little in terms of recap. I will however, tell you how I continue to enjoy the complexity of Capaldi’s Doctor. As the story progresses, the Doctor realizes only the person about to die can see the

Has he ever worn the same outfit twice so far?

Has he ever worn the same outfit twice so far?

mummy and they have 66 seconds to live before they either die or say the correct phrase to stop the mummy from attacking. Sure, this basically tells us the Doctor will figure out the phrase by the end but how he gets there is a little surprising, at least compared to the last two Doctor’s we’ve had.

Here, the Doctor doesn’t waste time apologizing to people how they have to die. Instead, he tries to focus them and have them tell him and the rest of the scientists on the space train what they are seeing in order to learn more about their foe. It’s a bit cold but at the same time there is no other option, so the Doctor does it in order to save as many as he ultimately can.

What is a little strange is they’re all put on a space train to solve this mystery. A train full of scientists, carefully put together, and I believe at one point it was mentioned this has been tried before but without success (i.e. all the scientists died before they could figure out what to do). Unless I missed something, I believe this may have been set up specifically for the Doctor. Let me explain my case.

First, I recall the Doctor saying he has been summoned to the train before. Someone clearly wants him there to solve this, which leads to what he ultimately solved.

The mummy, as we have established, isn’t a typical Egyptian evil mummy who is evil for the sake of being evil, or perhaps being woken up from a good dream. Instead, this mummy is a soldier who in the end had to be relieved of his duty. The Doctor figured this out after a series of Sherlock type observations and before the mummy could kill him the Doctor told the mummy he was relieved of duty. As a result the mummy collapsed.

Now, this whole series has, among other things, focused on the Doctor’s increasingly aggravating and somewhat insulting dislike towards soldiers. I assume this will be another underwhelming story arc, because right now all it really amounts to is the Doctor insulting anyone who has ever served for pretty much anything. For a man who prefers to talk and reason instead of waving a gun around, he sure does an awful job at explaining things (or perhaps Moffat has no idea where he was originally going with this idea). Regardless, this was another story heavily focusing on soldiers. Coincidence? I think not.

Just because I like this picture

Just because I like this picture

I’m ignoring the blatant elephant in the room, and no, it’s not Clara’s wig, it’s the fact she’s back so soon. She was all ready to leave the episode before and Danny kind of pushed her along to eventually go back with the Doctor. In the meantime I would have liked a solo Doctor story. Yeah, Moffat will scream and shout how the show is all about the companion and the Doctor, but last I checked the show is Doctor Who, not I’m a Super Important Companion Who Will Save the World and Here’s This Doctor Guy I Keep Around. Give Capaldi a solo story. He can carry it. Or at least do something like Matt Smith had with Craig, they were fun and more Doctor focused.

So somehow we are left to imagine what the Doctor and Clara did in between episodes, as this is supposed to be their last trip together after a series of ones after the previous episode when she left. Yeah, I guess this story did something to get her back, but really, it felt like any other episode, there wasn’t much weight or worry of Clara actually being gone at th end. Which is fine, I just don’t get why they set it up to be that kind of episode if they never followed through with it.

In the end, what are we left with? I’d say a really fun, frantic episode which calmed down in the second half once the Doctor started to understand what was really going on. We got to see more of the new Doctor’s personality, which I have been enjoying so far, minus his soldier thing. The pacing of the story was well done, it never felt rushed or too slow, it was always just right. Overall, I would not advise missing this one. For two weeks now we’ve gotten less than exciting episode titles and seemingly boring creatures/plots turned around into two rather good stories.

Now to see what next week brings with Flatline:

Well, I said last week Kill the Moon was a rather bad title, but after watching the episode I would like to retract that.  Sure, it’s now a less than subtle title but it’s definitely a fitting one for a rather good episode.

As I have mentioned in previous reviews for series 8, Clara is actually written consistently this time around.  As a result, we get an episode that relies on Clara to do some very important things, and while it is valid to argue the companions have been given too much of a role and taken the focus away from the Doctor, this time it’s the Doctor taking his own leave.

SPOILERS AHEAD

The story starts off simple enough. The Doctor is forced by Clara to take the girl (her name’s Courtney Woods) from the previous episode to space, because the Doctor was being rude and telling the girl how she isn’t significant. Oh, did I not mention in the last review there was a girl from Clara’s school? No big deal, there’s a girl from Clara’s school.

So, the Doctor goes to make her the first woman on the moon, and in the process, as is often the case with Doctor Who and wondrous cliches, gets more than he bargained for.

It seems there’s issues with the moon splitting apart and it’s going to be catastrophic for the tides down on Earth. A team of scientists are sent up to literally blow up the moon. Let’s just examine a few things for a moment. First, they’re scientists because I believe they say how NASA shut down space exploration, fine, no big deal. But the best they could

Orange never goes out of style in space

Orange never goes out of style in space

come up with was blowing up the moon with nuclear weapons? Let’s just ignore how that will affect the tides. Anyway, I digress.

Together, they all make their way to an abandoned station on the moon, in which the inhabitants have all been killed. Killed by what? Spiders, kind of. The first twenty minutes or so we’re left to believe spiders have infested the moon, are tearing it apart, and killing people who step foot on the moon. Because well, spiders are evil and will do anything to be more evil.

But luckily we’re spared a boring old spider story and instead are left to find they’re parasites, which leads into the bigger issue of what is going on with the moon?

We lose the Doctor for a bit at this point, as he literally dives into the moon to find out what is going on. Clara, the girl, and the final surviving scientist (why must the rest of the crew always insist on splitting up?) return to the station, left with the decision: blow up the moon or don’t. Soon enough the Doctor gets back and sheds some light on the situation. He discovers the moon is an egg, and inside is a new species, all on its own. Whereupon he departs again, not interfering in Earth’s history, or future, or timey-wimey. This doesn’t sit well with Clara, who along with the girl from school, does not want to blow up the moon since it is a living creature. The scientist on the other hand has to play the role of wanting to blow up the moon. And it’s for a decent enough reason, saving Earth and all.

So in a frantic mess, Clara sends a message to Earth, asking the people to cast their own vote on what should be done. In the end it comes down to the final seconds before the moon will explode. Clara lunges towards the cancel button and spares the moon. Conveniently, the Doctor shows up just in time to get them all off the moon and to the safety of Earth. They witness the moon crack open and a new creature emerge from inside. Unlike the blow up the moon method, the creature lays another moon, or egg rather, so nothing is ruined by the moon potentially no longer being there.

Right, all neat and tidy, except not really. See, Clara was not at all happy with the Doctor just leaving her. She wasn’t ready or wanting to take on such an important task on her own. Essentially paving the way for the future of humanity. She sees it as the Doctor making light of the situation, just popping off to do something else and come back to see how things are going. Of course the Doctor did it because he trusted her to make the right choice.

Logical? Nope. Really cool? Yup.

Logical? Nope. Really cool? Yup.

Clara actually does leave at the end of the episode, and for these forty odd minutes, it’s pretty significant. Obviously I don’t have to mention the stellar performances by Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, because, well, when aren’t they fantastic. I mentioned earlier how it’s not bad for this to be Clara focused, because she’s finally being defined as a character instead of a plot device as she existed to be in series 7.  Plus, it’s not like the Doctor hasn’t been the focus of this series the majority of the time.

I actually really enjoyed this story. I was glad they took a risk and made it kind of out there instead of just having a spider invasion story for the millionth time in sci-fi history. I always seem to enjoy the episodes when they have to decide whether or not to save a creature (even if they usually end up saving it), there’s always a solid amount of tension and emotion, making for some good drama.

Clara walking out on the Doctor was pretty cool and even cooler was seeing Danny (anyone who read my previous reviews knows I’m a fan of Danny) disagree with Clara and show her she’s not done with the Doctor just yet.

There are so many dynamics at play with the characters this series that I’m glad we didn’t have to deal with more Missy stuff.

I’m looking forward to next week’s episode and seeing how the Doctor and Clara act together after the climactic ending of this week’s story. Here’s the trailer for Mummy on the Orient Express (I hate to judge an episode by its title, but can we get a bit of creativity one of these weeks with the title?):

I’m going to be honest, I don’t really know what to think of The Caretaker.  On one hand the dialogue and characters were good but the actual villain/threat supposedly being the most ruthlessly designed killing machine misses nearly every shot and may arguably be more inept at going up and down stairs than a Classic-Who Dalek.

Really, at this point, why can’t there just be a Doctor Who episode that is pretty much just drama talking?  With the way the show has gone under Moffat, that may be the best bet.  Let the characters talk about drama things and ignore some evil villain plot that ultimately goes nowhere and takes time away from the well written parts.

SPOILER ALERT – YES, IF YOU READ AHEAD YOU WILL KNOW SIGNIFICANT PLOT DETAILS

Let’s start with the good.  Peter Capaldi is funny without being annoying.  It’s more a sarcastic type of humor, and as we’ve all been finding out, he does it very well.  It also helps that Clara continues to be written well and Jenna Coleman has great chemistry with Capaldi (he really is the Doctor she’s written for, she was just kind of there for Matt Smith).

Nothing says disguise like a new coat

Nothing says disguise like a new coat

We get to see more of her relationship with Danny, and I’m mostly all for Danny (I will get to that later).  The Doctor goes undercover as the caretaker of the school Clara and Danny work at, so naturally the Doctor is bound to meet Danny.  Here’s where an issue arises.

Yes, I get it, the Doctor doesn’t like soldiers.  This has been pounded into our heads for the past few episodes, and without any proper explanation it is wearing thin.  I’d like just a hint of an explanation for his anger towards them.  There was some explanation a few weeks ago when the Doctor found himself in a Dalek, but other than that not much, just a lot of ranting and shouting.  Danny goes on to eventually act out an over-the-top soldier performance to the Doctor, because he’s fed up with it and I don’t blame him.  I don’t understand why the Doctor doesn’t think soldiers can be smart, but perhaps in time something will be explained, or not, it’s impossible to tell or trust Moffat’s sense of direction.

While I’m talking about Danny, I’d like to note he is not a super hero.  I say this because they kind of made him a Matrix-esque type super hero at the end of the episode by having him do this crazy slow motion, forward flip over the evil robot (which was also a soldier carrying out its orders, so maybe the Doctor doesn’t like soldiers because they carry out orders and don’t think about what they’re doing, I don’t know, just a thought).  It was completely out of place and felt like last minute writing to solve the issue of how to eliminate a highly forgettable villain.

Now, I did like how there was a bunch of confusion between Danny, Clara, and the Doctor during the first half of the episode when the Doctor didn’t know who Danny was and when Clara was trying to keep everything under control while the Doctor was at the school.  It was reminiscent of an episode of Coupling, which is always a good thing.  While the Doctor thinking Clara was going out with the teacher who wore a bow tie wasn’t overly original, it made for some funny lines and worked well.

doctor-who-clara-dannySo all seems to be going well.  The characters are well written (except that slow motion flip, still don’t know where that came from, it was way too over-the-top) and are a joy to watch together.  Except the actual evil/bad guy plot really had no point.  Unfortunately, they can’t seem to avoid the monster-of-the-week formula, even if means throwing in some boring plot.  As previously mentioned, we’re left with a soldier robot that misses every shot and is just there to conveniently shuffle characters around to where they need to go for the good parts to occur.  Of course, in the end the robot is defeated and all can move on.

I would have preferred a story along the lines of Listen, which had a villain that was a part of the Doctor and his own curiosity.  This allowed the script an opportunity to focus on the Doctor and have everything flow and connect properly.  In The Caretaker, there was a noticeable disconnect between what the characters were doing and what the villain’s lack of a plot was doing.  This resulted in some annoyance when the villain came back on the screen.

Still, I’d say the episode is definitely worth a watch for the Doctor, Clara, and Danny.  At least they seem to have a better handle on the main characters this series, and I appreciate the consistency with Clara, which was completely absent in series 7.  So, strangely enough, unlike last series where Clara was always being changed to fit whatever the writers needed her for, this episode the villain seems to have been written after all the good dialogue was written and they just kind of threw a robot in there.

Right, so, it’s a decent enough episode and isn’t a drag like Time Heist.  The upcoming episode, Kill the Moon has an admittedly sort-of-awful title, but the trailer seems pretty good and so does this preview clip:

 

 

Doctor Who: Time Heist Review

If there’s one thing we should have come to expect by now is Moffat doesn’t really know how to do time travel well, and when he does he manages to mess it up the following week.  Such is the case with Time Heist.

SPOILERS AHEAD – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

The story starts off decent enough.  Clara’s going on about having a date with Danny, the Doctor really doesn’t care much and he needs to go off somewhere with her.  Next thing we know they’re in a room with two other people, have their memory wiped for why/how they got there, and are told they have to rob the most secure bank in the universe.  This leads into an overly angst filled episode reminiscent of something from Matt Smith’s era.  What do I  mean by that?  Allow me to explain.

The creature of the week is very similar to the Nimon in The God Complex from series 6.  Where the Nimon fed on beliefs the monster this week (sorry, I don’t recall what they refer to him as, and yes, it’s a him, because Moffat shoehorned a love story into the episode) feeds on regret/guilt/memories, it’s really never that clear, but both ultimately kill their victims by feeding on something in their head.

Another Smith era inclusion are two sidekick type characters.  They don’t really do much or develop much or really have anything interesting going on.  One is a cyborg who can plug into things and hack them and the other is a shape-shifting mutant who cannot touch anyone because she’ll turn to look like them (think Mystique and Rogue from X-

Initiate slow motion walk, no seriously, this was in slow motion

Initiate slow motion walk, no seriously, this was in slow motion.

Men).  Capaldi isn’t the type of Doctor to go palling around with an entourage, after all, last time that happened for Smith it was for the painfully bad Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.  It wasn’t much better here, but at least there weren’t any duos of robots to drive the viewer mad.  The problem is, they’re just not very interesting and they feel hollow.  At least in The God Complex I wanted Rita to live and was a bit upset when she didn’t.  Here I just didn’t care much about either sidekick, they just existed to progress the plot, die, and conveniently come back at the end.

Before I get to my time travel issues I want to note Capaldi is yet again brilliant as the Doctor.  It took me a couple episodes to get into him (I now know how Tennant fans felt when he left, I much preferred Smith to Tennant so his departure took a bit of adjusting to) but now I’m completely on board with him and I hope the writing of the past few weeks continues, as it was stronger and allowed him to really shine.  That said he did the best with the script given to him here and did not fail to disappoint.  I also like how they’ve been writing Clara and it seems she no longer exists simply to have a companion for the 50th.

Right, to the time travel issues.  The episode starts off with the Doctor and Clara getting a phone call from the phone on the outside of the TARDIS, which nobody knows the number to.  They then find themselves in the room without their memories of how they got there and a man – who calls himself The Architect – tells them they must rob the bank.  So they go about their business doing that.  Eventually they make it to the end of the episode to the final vault where Ms. Delphox resides.  She owns the bank and we find out she made clones of herself, which explains why it appears we’ve seen her earlier.  The Doctor begins to understand what is going on and realizes he is The Architect who sent them to the bank.  So he gives Ms. Delphox (hmm, they even gave her red hair, perhaps someone behind this episode was playing Pokemon at the time) his number and says to call if she ever finds herself having any regrets.  Which she does when she’s on her deathbed.  Her call reaches the Doctor and Clara in the beginning of the episode and kicks off the events of the episode.

Wait, what? Moffat did it again?

Wait, what? Moffat did it again?

The problem with this is the Doctor’s first time meeting Ms. Delphox, so it’s a weird loop.  If that’s his first and last time meeting her then there’s the issue of how she originally got his number.  After all, he would not have known to set the whole heist up if he had never met Ms. Delphox before the beginning of the episode.  It’s a loop that doesn’t make any sense because there is no path A and path B.  It is a continuous path A that does not make sense.  Because Ms. Delphox would have had to originally gotten his phone number to call him there, which she could not have done in the beginning of the episode because she did not have his number at that time, and in turn the time travel makes absolutely no sense.

Now with that out of the way, the episode ends with us finding out the heist was all about reuniting the monster of the week with his girlfriend/wife.  If this sounds familiar it’s because the same thing happened in Hide just last series.

So what was this episode?  Predictable, very predictable.  My sister correctly guessed the entire plot just 1/4 into the episode.  Rather forgettable since there was nothing in terms of story arc or character development.  It really felt like filler, which is always disappointing in Doctor Who since there are only a handful of episodes per series and shows like Once Upon a Time are able to have over twenty episodes a season with just one or two not so good episodes per season.  Still, the rest of the series has been pretty solid, so one bad one isn’t a killer, just a bit disappointing.

Definitely looking forward to next week with more Danny, it should be fun having him and the Doctor interact, though I have to say, the evil robot thing looks really pathetic, which isn’t surprising since the writer of the upcoming episode wrote the past two Craig episodes, which were very good if you ignore the fact the actual threats were as lame as possible:

 

 

Doctor Who: Listen Review

I’m surprised to say this, but Listen may be the best episode of Doctor Who since series 5, and there are a few reasons for this.

ALERT – THERE ARE SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT

For the second straight week there has been a lack of Missy, which is good.  The season arc isn’t being shoved in our faces and this gives individual stories room to develop without somehow being made to accommodate a larger arc.  Instead, the stories focus on the Doctor and his character.  As such, Listen starts with the Doctor searching to find if there are undiscovered beings who evolved to become perfect at hiding, and as such how do you find these beings?  What’s so great about this episode is ultimately, the Doctor never really finds the answer to this, and while I would have been all for this being a two part story, it was wrapped up rather nicely, more on that in a minute.

Switching over to Clara, we find her on a date with Danny, and it’s not going well at all, but that’s not a big deal, because time travel, except when time travel makes it worse.  Originally they’re getting on fine until she makes a joke about Danny being a soldier in relation to killing people, whereupon his PTSD comes back and understandably he gets

Basically, listen (also, let's note again how cool Capaldi is)

Basically, listen (also, let’s note again how cool Capaldi is)

aggravated about the comment and how people always ignore the good things he did in the war (though, we still don’t know the bad).  After that, Clara leaves, goes home, the Doctor is waiting for her, and after some adventuring, she goes back to Danny, messes up again, goes off adventuring some more, and eventually makes amends with Danny.

But what about the adventuring?  This is the Doctor’s quest to see if there are beings we cannot see.  It’s a search for the unknown, in which the Doctor is as helpless as the rest of the characters, which makes for a chilling change of pace.  For the first time in the show I actually felt the suspense the writer intended (while I greatly enjoyed Blink, I didn’t feel the tense atmosphere they were trying to portray).  The two of them go back to an orphanage and unlike the orphanage in series 6, this one actually plays neatly into both the story and the characters.  The TARDIS is linked to Clara, and brings them to the orphanage because Danny lived there when he was young, and while they did not know that, Clara began to figure it out rather quickly as she found Danny.

Then they go all the way to the end of the universe and find a future relative of Danny’s, who seems to be an eventual result of Clara and Danny getting married (I’m rooting for their relationship).  However, the most important place they are brought to is the last one.  While at the end of the universe, the TARDIS materializes in the ship of Danny’s future relative, and the Doctor opens the door to the outside, which has been locked and written on to not open.  The Doctor decides to open it after he and Clara hear banging coming from around the ship and eventually knocking on the door.  When the Doctor unlocks the door it is opened from the outside.  Clara is forced to go in the TARDIS and all we see of the Doctor is everything being sucked out of the ship once the door is open and the Doctor holding on for dear life.  Future Danny (sorry, I forget the character’s actual name) goes out of the TARDIS and brings the Doctor in.  We never see if any being comes into the ship, all we have is a cut on the Doctor’s head, which could be from objects flying out the door.

Clara attempts to fly the TARDIS away and she does, but where they end up is absolutely brilliant, if not somewhat confusing: Gallifrey.  Yes, they land on Gallifrey, in the very barn the War Doctor goes to in the 50th.  Except now we visit the Doctor’s very early life, when he is just a child, before going to the Academy to become a Time Lord.  The Doctor ran away to the barn (which it seems he did many times) because he was afraid of the dark and what may be out there.  Clara, not knowing where she is, goes up to the bed the Doctor is in, and as she goes there, two people walk in, so she hides under his bed (monster under the bed, afraid of the dark, or Clara what are you about to do?).  When the people leave the Doctor wakes up and sits with his feet on the ground, and Clara grabs his ankle, creating a moment of complete fear for the young Doctor.

This is when Clara shines.  She begins to recall what the Doctor said to earlier in the story about fear creating strength, and she tells this to the Doctor and reassures him everything will be alright.  It’s fantastic because it shows the Doctor has the same fears as everyone else, and they have been with him since childhood.  It allows Clara to further understand why this Doctor isn’t as playful (and why the 11th was) and hides his fears behind a new found maturity (a welcome change if I may say so).  Clara refuses to tell the Doctor where they landed and orders him not to look.

Clara, what have you done?

Clara, what have you done?

This episode was great on many levels.  The relationship between Clara and Danny as well as Clara and the Doctor are superbly written.  There was no interference with any sort of series 8 arc-ness (not a word but I will ignore that) with Missy and the Promised Land.  This was an episode all about the characters we have now.  I can’t express enough how refreshing it is not to waste another episode with Jenny, Strax, and Vastra and it’s especially nice to not have to deal with anymore one-dimensional River Song nonsense.

My only complaint is the paradoxical nature of Clara being the one to be an essential part of the Doctor’s fear of the dark/unknown, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the giant paradox that was series 7 and its Christmas special, so I’ll let it go.

Next week we have an interesting looking episode by the name of Time Heist, here’s the trailer:

What do you get when you mix the 12th Doctor with Robin Hood?  A really great time, that’s what.

I’ll be the first to admit I had reservations about Robot of Sherwood (note, there is more than one robot, so Robots would have been more appropriate).  The first two episodes have been dark, especially Into the Dalek.  The Doctor has been darker, more sarcastic, and not really one for over-the-top type humor.  The preview clips for this week’s episode gave off a vibe that could linger too much in the over-the-top silly area.  However, that has proven to not be the case.

SPOILER WARNING – THERE ARE SPOILERS AND YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

Right, so the Doctor asks Clara where she wants to go and she says she want sot meet Robin Hood, who the Doctor quickly points out is not real but just to please Clara, he takes her where Robin Hood is told to be in all the legends.  Sure enough they arrive and are suddenly greeted by the man himself.  This Robin Hood is largely what you would expect

from him: energetic, optimistic, upbeat, always laughing, and having an overall merry time.  Throughout the course of the episode we learn there is more to him than what first appears, and the happy face partly acts as a way to hide from the past.  So, while Hood plays the role of the legend, he ultimately is just a man.  This continues the theme of the Doctor trying to figure out if he’s a good man or really just what sort of a man he is in general.  Which leads to a nice ending scene with the Doctor and Hood where Hood asks if he really is just remembered as a legend and forgotten as a man, and is good with being a legend.  Whereupon he tells the Doctor it isn’t bad being a legend, for it allows the people around them to strive to be something greater and that one day they will be the ones people remember.  This, of course, allows the Doctor to reflect on what he’s meant to his companions, and is likely why he wasn’t mad at Clara for telling his story.

The big concern I had this week was how Capaldi would be in a lighter episode.  I was ready to dismiss this as a filler, but it was more than that.  Allowing Capaldi to be lighter also allowed him to further expand the range of his Doctor.  He doesn’t do the silly humor of the 11th Doctor, but instead has a more subtle approach, much like the 3rd Doctor.  He’ll throw in quick little lines or have entertaining arguments/banter with characters, much as he did in a scene when he, Clara, and Hood were locked up in a jail cell.  The Doctor and Hood started arguing over who could die slower and eventually Clara told them to shut up and think of a plan, and they both claimed to have a plan.  Though, neither had a plan, which was clear when Clara made them explain their plans.  The best part here was when she told the Doctor not to include the sonic screwdriver in the plan.  Yes, it was because he was without the sonic at the time, but it was also a nice joke pointing out how the sonic became the easy out for every situation in series 7 and how it has already been used a lot less this series.

Actually, it's not as ridiculous as you may think

Actually, it’s not as ridiculous as you may think

I also enjoy how this Doctor is so sure of himself all the time and is proven wrong on several occasions.  He has this need to always be right, as if being wrong is a sign of weakness.  While darker, this Doctor is still vulnerable, he just tries to hide it in a different way.  This is one thing Moffat seems to have a good hold on, as the 11th Doctor also felt old, tired, and vulnerable despite being played by Matt Smith.  It was great seeing Capaldi come to terms with Robin Hood being a real man, not just a legend.

There was a story in case you’re wondering.  It was a fairly standard evil bad guy (redundant? sure, why not?) who gained control of a legion of robots from space and had an end goal of ruling Earth.  Nothing spectacular but it played out decently enough and had a nice Classic Who vibe to it with the castle setting, robots (Classic Who seemed to embrace robots and androids more than New Who), and story.  The robots actually had a pretty cool design both disguised as knights and with their helmets off.

Importantly, the Doctor checked the database in the robots ship and found out they were looking for The Promise Land (I believe that’s what it said, will re-watch to confirm).  This somehow links back to Missy, who was missing from this episode, which is fine, too much of her would likely result in lack of mystery and interest.  The arc so far reminds me of series 5 and the cracks, which is awesome considering series 5 remains my favorite since the show came back in 2005.

My only real issue is the lack of Danny Pink.  I’m curious to see where his story will go and what happened in his past as a soldier.  But that will likely come soon enough, so no worries there.

Overall, Robot of Sherwood  isn’t going to go down as an all time classic, but it’s a fun episode which I will not be opposed to watching again.

Next week looks to get darker again, with this trailer for Listen: