Tag Archive: science fiction


Arrival – Review

At first glance, Arrival may seem like your typical alien invasion movie. It certainly has the setup for one, with twelve alien ships landing down on 12, seemingly random cities, and each country’s government sending out their military and a small team of scientists to figure out what the aliens are here to do. However, Arrival sidesteps a majority of alien invasion tropes, instead, offering an emotionally driven and thought provoking story with an final revelation that will fill you with wonder.

As previously noted, the setup is fairly simple. There are twelve alien spaceships that have all landed on Earth at the same time, over twelve random cities. Thankfully, this did not result in a full out attack by either side. Instead, the US government, as well as the rest of the world, decided to try to communicate with the alien species, referred to as Heptapods.

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Amy Adams as Louise Banks, standing in front of one of twelve alien spacecrafts

The only problem is their language is completely different from that of any human, so the government brings in Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a linguist who has previous experience working with the government to translate classified intelligence. From the beginning of the movie, Louise is haunted by the loss of her daughter, Hannah, to a rare disease. While probably not intentional, it is reminiscent of Up, so yes, it is an emotional beginning. We later see flashbacks to Hannah, and how Louise’s memories of her daughter help her remember little things that clear her mind and aid in her translation and communication with the Heptapods.

Louise is teamed up with Ian (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, who initially seems to be there to offer a scientific perspective, but for most of the film is there as a sidekick to Louise. I particularly enjoyed the role of Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), because he played an intelligent character. Whereas lesser movies would make the military presence exist to essentially fight the aliens, he is fully on Louise’s side, taking the time to listen to her and understand her point of view. I fully enjoyed how these characters were all mature and intelligent, making them all likable while still being well defined.

Don’t expect anything to move at too fast of a pace here. The movie is a slow burner, spending a lot of time between Louse and the Heptapods, as she deciphers their language. This leads to an actual theory in the field of linguistics known as Sapir-Whorf , which in the context of the movie, implies Louise may be perceiving the world around her differently by being so consumed by the Heptapods’ language. This is an intriguing concept and is effectively woven into the story of Arrival.

There are times when the movie decides to broaden its scope beyond Louise and Ian, but it doesn’t work as well as I would have liked. Television news broadcasts show turmoil in various cities, with riots and looting happening all over the world. A few countries get less and less happy with the alien presence, and some bad translations and lack of understanding how they perceive the world compared to humans leads to the third acts final conflict.

arrival

One of the many words translated throughout the movie

Coincidentally, this is when the big revelation occurs, which I will not even hint at, but can confirm it was pleasantly unexpected. This is likely due to the fact that I have watched a lot of science fiction movies and was expecting something somewhat uninspired to occur. Thankfully, this is not the case, and I do not believe I have seen such a profound final act in a science fiction movie since I watched Contact (though, I hear Interstellar has quite the ending as well). I can’t deny the ending did have one rushed element that did not make a whole lot of sense, but it did work, it just felt a bit rushed.

Ignoring some issues, the ending brought together themes of unity and perception as well as the notion of free will. Surprisingly, nothing was left up to interpretation, and the conclusion was very fulfilling. I was left in chills, being both overcome with wonder, happiness, and sadness after seeing how every thread was neatly tied together. This is science fiction at its finest, presenting big concepts and following through in a well thought out and mature manner.

If you value science fiction that is more than explosions and action or if you appreciate a truly emotional drama, I cannot recommend a better movie this year than Arrival.

Vikings, gods, aliens, and Maisie Williams… yeah, Doctor Who is weird. But weird is fun and interesting. “The Girl Who Died” has a much lighter tone than the previous two episodes, and it’s a nice change of pace.

SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED.

Basically, the Doctor and Clara land on Earth quite some time ago and are instantly captured by vikings and are taken to the viking village. Simple and tidy setup, nothing wrong with that. The Doctor tries to show off his power and act as Odin, one of the gods the vikings pray to. Just as he’s doing this, a giant image of a man in the sky, who the villagers know as Odin, appears and he claims to be Odin and is sending his troops down to bring the best warriors of the village up to Valhalla.

So crazy it just might work. Left to right: Clara (Jenna Coleman), Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Ashildr (Maisie Williams)

So crazy it just might work. Left to right: Clara (Jenna Coleman), Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Ashildr (Maisie Williams)

Well, it goes rather poorly, as the men are killed, but Clara and Ashildr (played by Maisie Williams, best known as Arya Stark from Game of Thrones) are also brought to the ship referred to as Valhalla, but they are not killed. Ashildr, much like Arya (really, if you know Game of Thrones, you’ll notice similarities in the two characters), declares war on the alien posing as Odin. By the way, they happen to be one of the other million deadliest alien races (seriously, is it the Daleks, Sontarans, or this new race called the Mire?).

No matter, the village has 24 hours to get ready to fight the most fearsome beings in the universe. Easy, right? Maybe, that is, if the village’s soldiers weren’t just killed off.

This is where the tone changes compared to the rest of the series 9 so far. We get a series of funny scenes of the Doctor trying to train the villagers how to fight. It seems getting normal townspeople to use swords is harder than you may think. These scenes are a welcome change to the more dramatic nature of the past four episodes.

Admittedly, I do think the episode starts to fall towards a little more silly territory, but then ties it all in with a couple serious scenes to balance the tone. We are given a nice scene between the Doctor and Clara the night before the battle is to begin. The two of them seem more like friends this year and don’t have the awkwardness that sometimes came up last year.

As with Doctor Who, all ends well in the end, and I won’t give any of that away, but it is somewhat anti-climactic. But that’s not important (though, it does hilariously use The Benny Hill Show’s theme tune). What is important is the Doctor remembering why he chose his face, which has been hinted at since his first episode. He chose it to remind himself to always save someone and to not just give up. In this case it is Ashildr, who was integral to securing their victory over the Mire, even if it cost her life.

The Doctor doesn't look overly intimidated by his new enemy

The Doctor doesn’t look overly intimidated by his new enemy

This is where the episode becomes important and more than just a standalone story. The Mire have technology to revive them during battle, and the Doctor took it from them once they were defeated (two tablets to be exact). He revives Ashildr with one, and while she lives she too cannot die (Captain Jack says hello). At this point, only the Doctor knows this and it sets up the story for next week’s The Woman Who Lived.

Before that, I would like to note this episode, despite its silliness does something welcoming for a story in a Steven Moffat led series: establishes the background and develops a new character who will likely show up throughout series 9. Ashildr has a well established character. She’s loyal to her village and its people. Not only is she loyal, but she likes the people and isn’t just loyal because she has to be. However, now we get to see how she develops as the people around her die and she continues to live forever. Unlike the Doctor she can only run so far. These are things we may find out in The Woman Who Lived, and I hope we do. River Song was Moffat’s big character, but her development, well, never really developed and she just ended up showing up to say “hello sweetie” and “spoilers.” Boring, very, very boring. Now we have a character who isn’t annoyingly in love with the Doctor, and instead has to cope with going through the decades, seeing the world change, and having to be an observer, never really there.

I’m excited for the rest of series 9 and am really interested in seeing where The Woman Who Lived takes us. Until then, here’s the trailer:

Doctor Who: Under the Lake Review

After the fantastic story to open series 9 of Doctor Who, I had my doubts about a base-under-siege story as a followup. However, after watching “Under the Lake,” I can safely say my concerns were not needed and that series 9 continues its mark of excellence.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Typically, these sort of stories result in a lot of running around and a somewhat rushed ending and they usually get kind of

Doing some sort of stuff

Doing some investigative stuff

boring. I can’t say what the end result is since this is a two part story, but I can say the cliffhanger has me wanting more.

Basically, the Doctor and Clara end up in an underwater base located in the midst of a flooded town in the not-so-distant future. Here’s the catch (so punny): there are ghosts roaming the halls of the base. To make matters more interesting, there’s a spaceship they discovered in the town that they brought aboard the base, and it has some sort of writing on it that sort of subliminally conveys a message to all that have looked at it.

Here’s the mystery: where’d the ship come from, what is the writing, where is the ship’s captain, why is one of the energy cells missing from the ship, and where is the body being transported in it (suspended animation chamber or something, can’t recall exactly what it’s called)?

These are a lot of questions that normally wouldn’t be around if the episode was only 45 minutes. This is why I enjoy two part episodes. The writer is able to fully develop the story, creating little parts and details that otherwise would not be able to make the final cut.

Speaking of the writing, I love how the characters are written in this story. Naturally, there’s a crew on the base, and as some background, in the opening credits one of the dies and becomes a ghost. Instead of being hostile towards the Doctor – and in turn killing about 10 minutes of the Doctor trying to gain their trust – they basically just go with it (and a little help of the psychic paper saying he’s from UNIT helped as well). The crew isn’t yelling at each other or anything. Instead, they’re trying to figure out how to approach the situation and actually listen to what the Doctor has to say. I rather enjoy how these professionals aren’t a bunch of bumbling fools, which is something that bothers me in a lot of sci-fi when a team of supposedly intelligent scientists turn into a bunch of clueless characters existing just to be killed off, which is basically lazy writing.

Clara is arguably the best dressed teacher on any show ever

Clara is arguably the best dressed teacher on any show ever, and Rose could take some style advice from her

There is one annoying character, a businessman who is over-the-top in it for the profit, but luckily he gets killed off and becomes a ghost (not a big spoiler, you see it coming a mile away).

Perhaps my favorite character is Cass, who is deaf and has her interpreter, Lunn (the sexual tension is strong between these two). Whereas in the the pre-Moffat era, having a diverse character meant banging it over the viewer’s head until the entire planet knew there was a diverse character, Cass exists as an actual character and not as an agenda or political correctness. I don’t believe it was ever pointed out that she’s deaf. Which would make sense since the Doctor and Clara travel the universe, so if a deaf person is their biggest surprise, well, there’s an issue. And Cass ends up being the one in charge of the base, which is great in terms that it shows her disability does not define her and for all the people complaining about Moffat’s apparent (at least to some people, I don’t see it as much) lack of ability to write a female character, he has writers who can write strong female characters.

Cass and Lunn

Cass and Lunn

Also note, Lunn was not killed by the ghosts when he was cornered by them. Why is this? I think that is something we’ll have to wait to find out. I don’t want to give away why he got in this position, but just remember it. This is something I like about a two part episode, they can have these mysteries all come together as things get resolved in the second part, or at least that’s the hope.

Even more interesting, the ghosts are mouthing words, which the Doctor concludes are coordinates to a building in the town. What is the significance of the building? Well, the Doctor believes they are a signal, but a signal for what?

The Doctor gets tired of not knowing why the town was flooded (well, he knows a dam broke, but what happened around that time) and all the previous mysteries noted (ah, they also found the suspended animation chamber, which is now just chilling in their main room, because why not?), so he decides to go back to the TARDIS and to when it all started. Except the ghosts get smart, and begin to lock down the base, so as they’re all running to the TARDIS, the Doctor and Clara get separated. Clara ends up with Cass and Lunn and the Doctor gets O’Donnell and Bennett (also the sexual tension, but again, enjoyably written characters).

Then, the cliffhanger: the Doctor and them fly away and Clara and her group make it back to the main room, look out the window, and see the Doctor as a ghost. Except, unlike all the other ghosts who are mouthing the same words, the Doctor is saying something different. What happens in the past that caused this? What is he saying? Just add more questions to the list.

So where are we now? The Doctor’s a ghost, adding to the total count of now four ghosts (one original, then a crew member, the business man, and now the Doctor), what’s in the suspended animation chamber, where is the missing energy cell, why did the town flood, what’s the mysterious writing on the spaceship, and who is the first ghost that didn’t die at the base?

I guess we’ll find out in part two “Before the Flood.”

Skaro, Davros, Daleks, Missy and Clara dead or alive, so much was left with last week’s cliffhanger, and rest assured, “The Witch’s Familiar” resolves everything in a pleasantly satisfying and entertaining manner. Without further delay (please excuse me posting this after “Under the Lake” aired, I will have that review up within a much more reasonable time frame) here is the review of “The Witch’s Familiar.”

THERE ARE SPOILERS, REPEAT, SPOILERS AHEAD.

Clara and Missy apparently were killed last week, or that’s what the Daleks thought. Of course they weren’t (contracts and all that good stuff dictate they live) and we now know how they are alive. Missy tells Clara of a story when the Doctor was trapped, about to be shot by a bunch of robot assassins, and in a fraction of a second, used the energy from their laser beams to teleport out of his less-than-desirable position. Similarly, Missy uses the energy from the Daleks’ laser beams to poof her and Clara (remember, their vortex manipulators are linked) out of their situation. They end up outside the city where the Doctor is and must trek back, which is mostly done off screen, so more time for the Doctor and Davros.

An old rivalry lives on

An old rivalry lives on

It’s worth noting, Missy and Clara are surprisingly great together. Or rather, I think Missy would be great with anyone. Michelle Gomez plays the part perfectly, always keeping the viewer on edge, never quite knowing which direction the character is about to go in. Unlike Steven Moffat’s previous female “equal” for the Doctor, River, Missy actually has a personality beyond saying “Hello Sweetie” and showing up to cryptically say how everything is out of order and this is the first time or this is the last time or this is somewhere in-between. I feel like there’s a whole mystery left to unravel with Missy, such as how she escaped Gallifrey, and even though we know about a lot of her past, there’s still room to explore. If it ever is explored is another topic of discussion, but for now I’d like to hope it will be explored at some point.

The majority of the story is based around the Doctor and Davros talking. Even though Davros is evil and is destined to always be evil, it was interesting to see him act with some humanity. Attempting to trick the Doctor into thinking he was going to die soon, Davros was able to play on the Doctor’s emotions, and “trick” him into using some regeneration energy to allow Davros to see one final sunrise. However, Davros anticipated this compassion, and tried to harness the Doctor’s regeneration energy (to make Dalek/Time Lord hybrids, at least it’s cooler than human Daleks and pig people), but then the Doctor countered that, and used his sonic sunglasses to do some sci-fi stuff. Little did Davros think, the regeneration energy would go through the whole city.

While Missy and Clara trek back to find the Doctor, they are in a tunnel, that’s actually a sewer, that’s actually a catacomb, where apparently the decaying Daleks are tossed down in. So the regeneration energy also went to them, and since they were pretty annoyed for being thrown away, they used the new energy to rise up and take down the city. Yeah, it was weird, but the real highlight of the story was the Doctor and Davros talking. Throughout, parallels are again drawn between the Doctor and Daleks. At one point, Davros seems to be glad Gallifrey survived, and that both he and the Doctor try their hardest to continue the existence of their people. This continues throughout the majority of the episode, and aids in further developing Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. By the way, Capaldi is absolutely fantastic in series 9 so far. It seems the writers, or at to this point, Moffat, have figured out the way he plays the character and catered the writing towards his strengths and personality.

Glasses are cool, Clara, I have sonic glasses now

Glasses are cool, Clara, I have sonic glasses now

We also get flashbacks to “Asylum of the Daleks,” with Clara once again finding herself inside a Dalek. Though, this time she is in there as a disguise and has full, telepathic control of the movement and weapons of the Dalek. This is mainly done as a plot device, in which the Doctor has to figure out if it is really Clara or an actual Dalek, at which point he threatens to kill the Dalek and Clara makes it say mercy (note, the Daleks were created by Davros, and in turn cannot say certain things, so when she wants to say it’s Clara it translates and is conveyed as “I am a Dalek”). Of course then the Doctor has to figure out why the Daleks would be able to say mercy, and realizes he made a mistake all those years ago, leaving Davros to die. Watch for yourself what happens then, but I’m sure you can guess if you have not already watched. It’s actually a really nice scene, so yes, do watch it if you have not already.

Whereas “The Magician’s Apprentice” faltered with pacing and tonal issues, “The Witch’s Familiar” doesn’t miss a beat, and keeps your eyes stuck on the screen until the final credits role. The performances from the cast are all great and for once in a long time I can say Moffat did a very good job wrapping up a story.

Here’s to hoping next week’s base-under-siege “Under the Lake” keeps the the same high quality as these two episodes did. Here is the trailer for “Under the Lake:”

 

Here we are, Doctor Who is back with the dramatic opening scene of “The Magician’s Apprentice.” Is it good, bad, or a little of both? I’m going with the latter, read on to find out how the 12th Doctor’s second season began.

Brace yourself, SPOILERS AHEAD.

After Clara and the Doctor told each other the truth in last year’s Christmas episode, they went their separate ways, with Clara being a schoolteacher and the Doctor doing whatever it is he does, and that leads us to the dramatic beginning of the episode, on Skaro. There’s a big war going on, and for whatever reason the troops on ground have bows and arrows and the opposing forces have early era airplanes, but ignoring that, this is a war on Skaro. So far so cool. As the previews showed, there’s a young boy here, and the Doctor pops in, as he does, and attempts to save him. Until, spoiler, he finds out it’s a young Davros. Davros, as in, creator of the Daleks, that Davros. Fast forward a bunch of years and Davros is seeking the Doctor because he all of a sudden remembers what happened all those years ago and is dying in a hospital. Worth noting, he is being sought out by Colony Sarff, a colony of snakes that create a humanoid being and is a loyal follower of Davros.

Things are looking a little bleak

Things are looking a little bleak

Cut to intro title/credits scene.

Back to the show.

For the next ten to fifteen minutes we may as well forget the Doctor is doing much of anything because it turns back into the Clara show as all of the airplanes on Earth stop and Clara is pulled out of her classroom and brought to UNIT Here she is apparently more competent than all of UNIT, including Kate Stewart, who is in charge of UNIT, but I’ll conveniently ignore that. After a few minutes of not much happening other than Clara telling Kate what to do, Missy comes back. Hold up, what, but she died, right?

Wrong. So that means there’s an explanation for how she didn’t die, right?

Wrong. Because, well, Moffat has tendency to not explain these sort of things (I’m looking at you Sherlock) and expects everyone to go with it, so fine, I’m going with it.

After some time, Missy, who didn’t turn good mind you, ends up helping Clara and UNIT find the Doctor. Key things to note, the Doctor left Missy his last will and testament in case he dies and Missy is his best friend, which we all kind of knew if you watched some of the Classic Who stories, where there were some rather fun scenes with the two characters. Sure, we don’t know how she came back, but she escapes death all the time, it’s her thing. I’m good with it because I really enjoy her character. She’s so dark and ridiculous, I always look forward to seeing what she is going to do next. She doesn’t play the role of the strictly villainous character, she actually has a dimension to her character, which I sometimes feel is lacking in characters Moffat creates. So more Missy the better.

So much sass

So much sass

Then things get a little confusing, at least for me, so forgive me if I missed anything explaining this. They look at a big map of the world that UNIT has and search for keywords to try and find where the Doctor is. Somehow Clara figures out he’s in 1138 AD, so I’m assuming the map accounts for all of history. Strange, but alright, it gets the plot going so Clara and Missy can make their way to the Doctor. And I’m not even going to begin to ask or wonder how the Doctor, who came to an “ax fight” with his electric guitar in 1138 AD (funny, but a little bit of a tone killer for this episode) also had a tank, he can’t simply drive one out of the TARDIS doors. Missy and Clara get here via a vortex manipulator (if you recall River used one). What’s more confusing is how Colony Sarff a) knew to look in 1138 AD and b) how they even got to 1138 AD. Even more confusing, and this part I just can’t look past because it makes zero sense according to the lore of the show:

Colony Sarff is presumably using a Dalek ship to go around the universe looking for the Doctor. This would mean the ship has no time travel, because the Daleks only manage to temporal shift to a random place or end up somewhere by accident (or make pig people and human Daleks). So, we are now left to wonder how Colony Sarff a) time traveled backwards and b) time traveled forward without the use of time travel (vortex manipulators only work on the person who is wearing one). And this is important, because Davros is assumed to be dying in 2015 AD (Clara is the same age as the previous season and is a schoolteacher, so it matches the timeline, which at most could only be off a couple of years). So they now need to go forward to 2015 AD. None of this is ever explained, and we are still left to assume the Daleks don’t have time travel because Missy herself said so at the end of the episode.

So Moffat, if you read this, I would appreciate some clarity.

Luckily, the rest of the episode is pretty good.

Yeah, so, that was a thing

Yeah, so, that was a thing

We end up back at the hospital where Davros is, Clara and Missy are kept in waiting as the Doctor confronts Davros, who recognizes the face the Doctor currently has, as it’s the one that he saw all those years ago during the war. This part was pretty great, as it brought in Classic Who moments and tied them all together with the current show and it brought back the drama and seriousness of the opening scene of the episode. Then the big reveal. They’re not on a medical ship as originally assumed, but rather, on Skaro. And not just Skaro, but one that has been rebuilt since the war.

In the final moments, Missy and Clara are left to perish at the hands (figuratively speaking) of the Daleks, as they then turn their attention toward blowing up the TARDIS.

All very heavy stuff and all very good. The time travel still is an issue with Moffat, but I like where this story is going. It’s big and ambitious and brings in the lore of the show. I loved the performances of the entire cast. Each character really hit their stride in this one and the closing minutes had me on the edge of my seat, waiting for more. While I enjoyed last season, it felt like it was lacking something, and even though this is only the first episode of this season, I have a feeling it’s going to provide what I was looking for.

I for one cannot wait for next Saturday (well, Sunday, I think I’ll be doing Halloween type things already on Saturday at a haunted asylum, also a good idea for a Doctor Who story), and I am fully on board for this season. Yes, there was some bad, but overall, I want to see what happens next, how will Clara and Missy be saved, how with the TARDIS be saved, how will the Doctor get out of this one? So I’ll leave you with the trailer for next week’s story, “The Witch’s Familiar.”

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?):

 

 

Into the Dalek sees the Doctor going to the most dangerous place in the universe, or at least the twenty something most dangerous place in the universe.  Yes, the Doctor seems to be finding himself frequenting these sorts of places more often these days, but I suppose they want to drive home how much darker series 8 is, fine, so be it, what’s important is how the episode is, and everyone can have a sigh of relief, because it’s a Dalek episode actually worth not only watching but watching again and then possibly once more.

Every series we have gotten a Dalek episode, some good, some average, and some downright awful (human Daleks and pig people, just think about that for a minute) and honestly, this may be the best one that isn’t part of a finale.  Back in series 1 we had Dalek, which reintroduced the Daleks to thousands of Classic Who fans and introduced Daleks to waves of new fans.  The episode was very good, last of the Daleks, last of the Time Lords, that is until the finale of series 1 in which a massive Dalek fleet appeared out of nowhere and then they never stopped coming, which leads us to Into the Dalek.

YEAH, THERE ARE SOME BIG SPOILERS UP AHEAD

Brief Summary:

Essentially, the episode is about the Doctor still coming to terms with his regeneration and trying to figure out what sort of person he is and asking Clara if he’s a good man.  As the story progresses there are parallels between himself and the damaged Dalek.  Yes, the Dalek in question this weeks is damaged and as a result has been

Can this show just be the two of them talking, I'd be quite alright with that

Can this show just be the two of them talking, I’d be quite alright with that

captured and to an extent has turned “good” or at least different.  The Doctor starts off the episode by rescuing a soldier trying to flee from a Dalek ship and when the soldier’s ship blows up, the Doctor materializes around it, allowing the soldier to survive.  She starts to freak out a bit about the situation but after some stern words from the Doctor, she realizes who is in charge.  The Doctor shows how he really hasn’t the time for excess.  He still understands emotion (the soldier’s brother just died, and he gets that, but he also lets her know she’s a soldier and has to get back on duty when they arrive back on her base ship), so it’s not like he’s this cold figure looming over people.  Once on her ship, the Doctor finds out they have a damaged Dalek they want to repair by shrinking down a team to go inside the Dalek and presumably repair it (because who isn’t proficient in Dalek repairs?).  Before that can be done, the Doctor has to go fetch Clara, who is back on Earth teaching and it’s three weeks past their last meeting in last week’s episode.

Back they pop to repair the Dalek.

See, Daleks really aren’t all that interesting, and I have a feeling they knew this when writing.  The story barely features a Dalek and by shrinking everyone to go inside the Dalek it could have been anything with a mechanical outer shell, but that’s alright.  When they go inside the Dalek there is a Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (and The Invisible Enemy) feel as they’re rummaging through hallways and various rooms.  Eventually they do get to finding the issue: a part of the Dalek leaking radiation, in turn altering the part of it which limits emotion and allows it to be “good” or rather, realize the Daleks are bad and in turn want to kill the Daleks, so good-ish.  Once repaired the Dalek goes back to normal and the Doctor tries to come to terns with the fact that some things will never change: Daleks will always be evil.  He kept saying this to Clara leading up to this point, not because he was being stubborn, but instead because he was tired of it, tired of the lack of change, which also reflected his state of mind.

Opinion:

Without simply restating the entire episode, I will say by the end of it the Doctor, with the help of Clara, realized things are not always as they seem.  A damaged Dalek could still be “good” even if consistently a soldier.  While the Dalek notes how the Doctor is a good Dalek (another tired line in Dalek episodes), Clara lets the Doctor know what really matters is he tries to do good.  Even when things don’t go right it still ends with good intentions.

Right, is this really a good idea?

Right, is this really a good idea?

Now, I do enjoy the chemistry between the Doctor and Clara.  For once she isn’t written simply as a plot device to lead into the 50th anniversary and her personality is a lot more defined, probably a result of more consistent writing.  While still finding himself, the Doctor has a distinct personality.  He has no time for trivial matters or things that cannot be avoided.  In one scene a member of the group inside the Dalek is going to die, the Doctor knows there’s no way to stop it from happening, so he puts a sort of tracking device in him so they can see where dead bodies go in the Dalek.  Yes, at first it seems harsh, but as the Doctor notes, there was no way to save him so his death can at least help them survive.  This Doctor gets mad at soldiers waving guns around and barking out orders.  He doesn’t have the time to put up with that, just talk like a civil person, that’s all, don’t eliminate your soul for the sake of being a good soldier.  In a way, this Doctor needs Clara to balance him out, though, I’d like to see a solo episode or two with him, that would be interesting (I’m thinking along the lines of The Deadly Assassin).

Extras:

Danny Pink, Clara’s new boyfriend made his first appearance.  All we learn is he was a soldier and all signs indicate to some sort of incident in which he ended up killing a civilian (heavy stuff compared to the last couple series of the show).  So far he seems like a good guy, he had a funny scene when Clara was trying to ask him out/get him to ask her out.  I’m looking forward to more of him, for once we may be getting a male companion (other than Jack) who is a strong character on his own.

Missy makes another appearance.  A female crew member who went in the Dalek was also killed but somehow ended up in what Missy calls heaven.  What is going on there I’d like to know, but I’ve given up with making theories for Moffat stories, far too many of his haven’t gone anywhere and it just turned into a headache, so this time around I’m taking a different approach and simply am trying to enjoy the ride and hoping the writing is more solid this time around.

Conclusion:

I don’t like Dalek episodes.  I dread them the week leading up to them.  They’re rarely good.  This week’s proved to be very good as it allowed the Doctor to analyze himself and ultimately show he is a good man through the simple act of trying his hardest to do good, even if his approach isn’t as happy-go-lucky as the 11th Doctor.  I really enjoy the more serious tone of this series and I hope others do as well.

Next week is set in the past again, and the trailer seems pretty solid for Robot of Sherwood with Robin Hood (it seems very Classic Who):

 

Peter Capaldi is finally on our screens as the 12th Doctor (or 13th or possibly 14th, counting is difficult these days) but was it worth the wait?  For the most part yes, it most definitely was.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Deep Breath is one of the better first new Doctor debut episodes (my favorite being The Eleventh Hour) and the extended running time really helps, and makes me glad we will be getting two part stories back this series.  The episode starts off with a dinosaur just because they can, but luckily it never gets out of hand like Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, and actually makes for an early character defining moment for the new Doctor and his more serious tone.  He still runs around and does crazy stuff but there are a lot of somber moments with this new Doctor.  He’s rather frightening in some parts and does not seem like the type who will put up with any sort of nonsense.  This Doctor talks as well, he’s not always running around shouting.  There’s a scene in which he is rummaging through the streets of London when he finds a mirror and uses a homeless man to talk to about his new form while trying to figure out why he subconsciously chose this new appearance.  Moffat claims the scene in which the Doctor and Clara are talking in a restaurant is a great showing of how much calmer the new Doctor is, and while it is good, I prefer the previously mentioned scene, this is a Doctor who can carry his own, he doesn’t need a companion, he just commands respect.  I still don’t have a real feel for him

He may be the 12th or the 13th or technically the 14th Doctor, but no matter, the more I watch the more I can say I can't until next week.

He may be the 12th or the 13th or technically the 14th Doctor, but no matter, the more I watch the more I can say I can’t until next week.

since first episodes are always sort of sporadic for the new Doctor but I can say I like him so far.

You may have known already but Jenny, Strax, and Vastra make a return, still with as little rhyme or reason as possible, but at least they made an appearance and should be out of the way for a while (actually, Vastra wasn’t bad this time around, the same can’t be said for the other two, but so be it).  At least having the three of them around gave the Doctor and more specifically, Clara some sense of stability as the new Doctor comes into his own.

Clara is pretty cool this time around, she seems to have grown up, which as they allude to may be a result of this new Doctor not always being there as her “boyfriend.”  He’s still going to be there for her but the bliss and flirting is in the past (or future or future past or… it’s confusing).  This new Doctor is trying to come to terms with himself and his past.  While at this point he isn’t about to go and outwardly show this (which is a little odd since he does show how vulnerable he is), he needs Clara, and he knew this, so in a surprise, emotional cameo by Matt Smith, the 11th Doctor talks to Clara about what has happened and how the 12th Doctor will need help.

Oh, yes, there’s also a new story arc, surprise surprise.  A mysterious woman going by the name of Missy shows up at the end and claims she and the Doctor are in love, because we didn’t just go through that with River.  Apparently she knows the Doctor from his past regeneration cycles, and while many seem to think we’ve seen

Right, can we just discuss how funny they're both standing, seriously, what is Jenna doing?

Right, can we just discuss how funny they’re both standing, seriously, what is Jenna doing?

this character before, I wouldn’t be surprised if Moffat pulls some convoluted story out of nowhere to explain it, but that’s for another time and I will let the rest of series 8 play itself out.  Speaking of similarities (though, more intentional this time) the main villains in this episode required human parts to repair their ship, which of course is the same as in The Girl in the Fireplace, but I suspect it may be more than that and am interested to see where it goes.

I realize I didn’t talk much about the story here but the ending is what was important (mentioned above) and really, it’s all about the Doctor here.  Matt Smith gave his final farewell (well, until another anniversary special).  Peter Capaldi is shaping up to be really great.  Clara is as great, and sassy, and bossy as ever.  Episodes may now have room to breath and talk rather than just shout and run around like mad (really an issue exclusive to most of series 7).  There’s a redesigned TARDIS control room, complete with a few of the “round things” and a cool bookshelf.  Really, I don’t have much of anything to complain about with the episode, other than a few little things and the annoyance of Jenny, Strax, and Vastra it was  a really well done story, and it was so well done I watched it twice in a row at the movie theatre last night (hence the late review).

Though, now I know what everyone felt like when the 10th Doctor left (I was one of the few who was glad to see him go) as I’m still getting over the 11th Doctor leaving (my favorite of the new Doctors).  I know I’ll be good with Capaldi, it just may take a little longer to really get into it this time, but if the writing and performances are as strong as the debut I will have no worries that Capaldi very well may be up there with my top two Doctors (Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker).

As always, here’s the trailer for next week’s Into the Dalek, check it out, seems like the Daleks may be somewhat interesting again:

 

It’s finally here, the trailer for series 8 of Doctor Who.  I don’t want to go into what I think each little clip is from, as that could a) go on far too long b) probably be wrong and c) other sites are probably doing that much better than me.  However, I will say I’m pleased with the trailer, actually very pleased with it.

There has been a ton of talk about Peter Capaldi being a rebel Time Lord, which rebel is usually associated with teenage angst and going against authority.  But in the trailer he is calm and questions his past decisions.  He does this in a calm voice, not overreacting, even when he tells Clara they are going “into darkness” (umm, Moffat, were you casually watching Star Trek when watching this or just hanging out with Benedict?).  The ending of the trailer is a solemn shot of the Doctor in Clara in the TARDIS with the Doctor asking what type of man he is, which for whatever reason gave me a sort of fourth Doctor vibe.  No doubt this season will deal with the Doctor doing some major self reflecting, and with any luck will also follow through with the set up from the 50th and have him start his search for Gallifrey.  I’m also hoping at some point during his reflection they explain Jenny, Strax, and Vastra.  Not that I like them but because they really make very little sense and since they’re going to be in series 8 they may as well get some sort of back story.

Continuing the Classic-Who vibe is a T-Rex (not quite sure why we have dinosaurs again, they weren’t good at all in series 7) storming through a city (third Doctor anyone?) and a robot around the forty three second mark that looks like it could fit right into the Classic era.  Of course the Daleks are back because why not spend another episode on them?  The problem is they’re far too one dimensional to be interesting and we saw how turning them human worked out, but I suppose we’ll wait and see how it turns out.  Not related to the the characters, but as I’m watching this trailer again, I have to say, I really love some of the retro feeling music in the beginning of it, you’ll know what I mean when you hear it.

Overall, the trailer is setting up for a more drama filled series 8, which I’m looking forward to.  Matt Smith was really great but they ended up making him too goofy and annoying towards the end (particularly the first part of series 7).  His serious moments were always nice but there were far too few of them.  I’m hoping Capaldi has the opportunity to not only be more serious but actually show off the Doctor’s intelligence instead of waving around his screwdriver to save the day.  Let the Doctor be the smartest one in the room again and/or get some more smart characters on the show who can keep up with him, or at least attempt to keep up with him, intellectually.

There were only a few characters shown, so I’m thinking they kept a lot of the second half of the season and finale out of this (at least judging by the finale filming pics I saw but won’t post due to spoilers, this seems to be the case), which would be a good move, I’d like it to be a surprise.  The trailer is pretty atmospheric and more solemn than dark, which should make for an interesting change.  I’m still not on board with the Doctor being this evil being Moffat has him out to be, but seeing as there’s nothing I can do to change that I will simply go with it and see where the writing takes me.

Overall, despite my negativity about Moffat, he did do series 5, which is my favorite since the show came back, and with a new Doctor I think I’m going to maintain optimism.  It’s an opportunity to start over and get rid of all the past threads that went nowhere.  Kick of the search for Gallifrey or some other grand adventure.  Make it like a mini-series even, have one continuing story.  Do something awesome.  Moffat, stop saying how brilliant you are and let the writing do the talking for you.

Doctor Who  will be returning August 23rd, and I believe it will be shown at the same time on BBC and BBC America.  The episode goes by the title of  “Deep Breath” and they say it will be feature length, what that means I have no idea.

 

So we all probably know by now about how John Hurt didn’t do what he did in the name of the Doctor.  Right, we don’t know what it means exactly, but we know of the line and we expect to understand it in the 50th, so that’s enough harping on that.  What is more frightening is how much sense this line doesn’t make.

Last night I re-watched The Power of Three, as I had only watched it when it aired and didn’t remember much of it.  For nearly 35 minutes I was very entertained.  It was great seeing the gang together just talking and hanging out, getting up to some time travel shenanigans.  There were some well written dialogue moments, something which has been somewhat lacking.  There were some good laughs and well, I really do wish it was a two-parter, as I’m a fan of these slower paced type shows/episodes, and this had good promise to be one, and it mainly was.  All great stuff.  But then came the ending, an ending which actual disturbed me, and not in a good way (is there a good way to be disturbed, I don’t know, but this doesn’t help that case).

SPOILERS

Ignoring the randomly placed holographic villain, which by the way, could have been interesting if given proper time to develop, I want to discuss what happened after the hologram disappeared.  The Doctor waved his magic wand, I mean screwdriver, around, and got the cubes to save everyone on Earth.  Awesome, who doesn’t want to see the Doctor save everyone?  I know I do and I was glad to see it happen.  What I wasn’t glad to see happen was him kill a lot of people.  These people weren’t hostile, in fact, they were sleeping.  Yes, the Doctor killed humans in their sleep.  You may be wondering what I’m talking about.

Well, if you recall, for some reason the evil alien nurses were taking people through a wormhole to another dimension to get to one of their seven spaceships.  I say for some reason because it seems whatever they wanted to do on

In about 10 minutes this will explode, and well, bad day to be human I guess

In about 10 minutes this will explode, and well, bad day to be human I guess

the spaceships was also being done by the cubes, but whatever.  So, the Doctor saves Rory and his dad (who is awesome, just thought I’d let that be known) but for some, very not Doctor reason, ignores every other human in the same unfortunate situation.

Maybe he’s saving them for the end to send through a wormhole or something.  Well no, though that would have been an easy way to save them (use a teleport beam, you get the point).  Instead he just kind of ignores them, saves himself, Amy, and Rory and well, they all blow up.  It’s not a stretch to imagine each of the seven ships had people on them, and they all blew up.

Seriously, what in the world were they thinking?  Right before this the Doctor goes on a whole speech/rant about how important and amazing the human race is, and boom, he blows them up!

Come on, and the episode did so much right, like bringing back UNIT from the mess RTD made of it.  I just don’t get it.  As someone who was pretty much raised on the 4th and 5th Doctor followed by getting into the 3rd and of course the 9th, 10th, and 11th, this is just inexcusable.  I could see if the enemy did it and the Doctor tried desperately to save everyone, as he often does, but come on, to just ignore them and let them blow up but still save your buddies, that’s just cold, wrong, disturbing, and not Doctor Who at all.  Again, this may have been a victim of rushing an ending, but couldn’t they have rushed a better one?  I want to  stress how much I genuinely enjoyed the episode (as I have been a bit critical of the Moffat era as of late) up to the ending, as it kind of made me miss the Ponds again and it was simply a well written episode with really good balance between characters, UNIT, how the world reacted to the cubes, all of it was so good.

At this point, how wrong can John Hurt’s Doctor be?