Tag Archive: steven moffat


Following “The Girl Who Died,” Ashildr is back in England and in 1651. She can’t age but luckily seems to be pretty good at learning and adapting to new accents and ways of speaking. And she’s also not doing very well coping with her ability not to die. So how is “The Woman Who Lived” as a sort of sequel to “The Girl Who Died?” Let’s find out.

SPOILER WARNING

I’m not sure if this story needed to be told directly after Ashildr found out she can’t die. The only real connection is her and I’m assuming they may do something with her character later in series 9, which is why they wanted to get this one out of the way so early on. But in England, Ashildr, who decides she doesn’t want that name and simply calls herself Me or as

the-woman-who-lived

She’s a thief and he, well, he’s trying to look cool

people know her, The Knightmare, a thief. But no ordinary thief. Instead, she’s a thief looking for an alien artifact, called The Eyes of Hades. More on all this in a moment.

If you’re wondering why Ashildr is going by Me, it’s because she doesn’t see herself as that person anymore, or any of the other people she has been, instead, she’s just her, or rather, Me. The main story basically deals with her dealing with not being able to die, which ends up feeling a little drawn out since we’ve had the Doctor go on about it a lot during the David Tennant era, so hearing it again isn’t as interesting. However, Maisie Williams is still solid in her role, so at the very least, when these specific scenes come up, they’re still well done.

It is fun to realize she became rich somewhere along the way, perhaps through thievery, but probably just had the time to get to that point. She has also become cold to the world. By not being able to die she has stopped getting close to people (she previously had children, but they all died during the Black Death, so, understandably, she’s not in the best of places right now).

Back to the alien artifact. Both Ashildr and the Doctor are looking for the same artifact, but for different reasons, and here comes the antagonist of the story: Leandro, a lion guy, like literally, it’s a lion that’s a person (Doctor Who does enjoy a future universe full of cat people).

We learn the artifact is Leandro’s way of creating a portal between his world and Earth and for his people to come and attack Earth. It’s not very exciting. However, the artifact requires a sacrifice, and Ashildr decided to sacrifice Sam Swift, a rival, or rather just another notorious thief in the area. And then after she realizes what’s going on she knows Leandro never intended to help her explore the galaxy like he promised/tricked her

Woman-Who-Lived-3

See, more cat people

into thinking, and as such she turns against him. Through a series of events he is defeated and everyone is happy. Except Swift, who was sacrificed, but if you recall, another one of those devices that brought Ashildr back is still around.

So what happens? Well, AShildr decides to stop being quite so cold to the world and she saves Swift and now he too can live forever, which really isn’t so exciting, but hey, it works to get her back on track emotionally.

Noteworthy, Clara is absent from this episode. It’s actually a bit of a relief to do without Clara for a little bit. For some reason her writing has made her somewhat overbearing. I still like her, but a break was nice.

Overall, I’m not completely into this episode. The problem is the interesting parts (relationship with the Doctor and Ashildr) end up being pushed aside some for the less than exciting story with Leandro. I do enjoy that Ashildr is set up to come back for future episodes, and I suppose this story was needed to show what she’s been up to since being a viking. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still entertaining to watch and you will want to know what happens, but looking back on series 9 so far, it does not hold up to the previous two two-part stories (possibly due to this being a setup episode for Ashildr for a future story, in which case, I do want to know what has become of her).

However, I am interested to see what happens in the upcoming two-part Zygon story, which I will be reviewing as a whole, so below are both trailers:

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:

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.”

“Last Christmas” pleasantly surprised me. I didn’t expect much after the previous Christmas episode, but luckily I was proven wrong. Moffat hit his stride with this one. Sure there are some borrowed elements from Inception and Alien, but Moffat successfully makes them his own. I don’t have any glaring negatives to reflect on, instead here’s a highly positive look at a well written story.

SPOILER WARNING AHEAD

Continuing from series 8, the Doctor and Clara lied to each other and went their separate ways. Now they come back together and soon enough the Doctor brings up Danny (he doesn’t know Danny isn’t alive) and they reveal to each other how the lied to make each other happy (which

It makes sense, no really, it does

It makes sense, no really, it does

of course didn’t work out). All the while there is a real life Santa Clause. Hold on, what, a real Santa? Yes. It sounds ridiculous and for the majority of the episode I cringed at it, but then it all made sense and was very cleverly done. See, the main enemy is a species called Dream Crabs, and they essentially grab on your face (think facehugger from Alien, which they also said in the episode), put you to sleep, dig under your skin, and start to eat your brain. All the while you’re put into a dream state, and the only way to live is to become self aware and wake up from the dream, forcing the crabs off your face and killing them. Back to the story.

The story starts with Santa landing on Clara’s roof and she goes up to see what’s going on. She can’t believe what she’s seeing and then the Doctor appears and comes to take Clara away. They end up on a scientific base at the North Pole where they discover the previously mentioned Crabs. The scientific team comes to see what the Doctor and Clara are doing there when they get ambushed by Crabs and Santa comes busting in to the rescue. This is where things get cool. See, at this point they are in a dream state. The ambush actually resulted in them all being taken over by the Crabs and the hallucinated Santa. What’s more, Clara then goes into a further dream state as another Crab grabs on to her and the Doctor goes in to save her. This dream is about her and Danny. She dreams the perfect Christmas where he is still alive, which is what the Crabs do to make it so the person they take over doesn’t want to wake up. But the Doctor goes under the influence of a Crab and enters Clara’s dream, whereupon he and Danny convince Clara to wake up. Surprisingly, this was one of Danny’s better appearances, as it was one of his more human moments rather than his typical Jiminy Cricket-esque inspirational line moments.

Once they depart that dream they realize they’re still in a dream and after a while they get out of that as well, only to be in a supposed final dream state (these Crabs are tricky to say the least). This time Santa comes back to save the day, and they fly away on his sleigh. As they’re flying over London(?), Santa gives the Doctor the reigns to the sleigh. This is when the episode takes a cool turn: the Doctor who has been serious most of series 8 takes the reigns of Santa’s sleigh! Once he gets accustomed to it he stands up with a big smile on his face, yelling back in excitement to the people behind him. As they’re flying the rest of the people (the science crew) gain their memories back and return to their waking bodies, which for one woman was actually kind of sad because she forgot her actual body is confined to a wheelchair.

doctor-who-santa-capaldiThe Doctor returned to his body, after the science crew all returned, and went right to the TARDIS to get the Crab off Clara because she was hesitant to return to a world without Danny. When he gets to Clara he removes the Crab (it took him a while to figure out how to safely remove it, which is why he couldn’t do this in the dream), except the Crab latched on to Clara in the future (I believe she said 62 years in the future). In her living room, Clara explains how she never married despite proposals nobody could stand up to Danny or the Doctor (a tired theme but still worked decently here since he left her for 62 years). Because this Doctor doesn’t express his emotions as much as the 1oth, it was really nice when Clara asked if he really doesn’t see her as old and he basically says she can never be old to him. You can tell he adamantly feels bad for leaving her and that she truly is his best friend. It’s difficult to explain the little things they do in this scene, but by the end it becomes a classic scene likely to be remembered for years to come.

That could have all been enough, but that turned out to be the final dream state (after all, how was Santa originally on Clara’s roof?), and when the Doctor woke one more time he went to save Clara again, except this time she’s young Clara. In an expression of excitement and happiness I have never seen from Capaldi’s Doctor, he anxiously asks Clara to come back traveling with him. Of course she says yes and while I originally didn’t care if she came back or not, I’m glad she’s there for the Doctor and they deserve each other. It reminds me of the end of “Deep Breathe,” when Clara and the Doctor really started their new adventure together to now, when they can’t imagine not traveling with each other. I really have no idea how Clara will eventually depart, but it has to really be something, because her near departure was better than the actual departures of Amy, Rory, and River.

I can only hope series 9 has the same quality of writing as this episode does. It seems Moffat is either spot on or completely misses the mark, but for now he’s the former and it definitely was a redemption over last year’s mess of a Christmas episode. I feel Moffat is at his best when he writes intimate character moments and puts aside some over-the-top arc. The story also allowed for the Doctor and Clara to take center stage, whereas series 8 often had issues with who the main character was; they’re great together and I nearly forgot that. As an added bonus, Moffat made Santa’s existence actually make sense within the confines of the rules set forth in the story.

Despite being one part Inception and one part Alien, “Last Christmas” turned out to be a truly heartfelt story about regrets, relationships, and friendship.

 

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?):

 

 

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:

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: