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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Doctor Who: Death in Heaven

Spoilers will make you disappear in a puff of blue smoke.

So let's talk about Doctor Who finale episodes. Death in Heaven has had quite a mixed reception, and I feel it's necessary to look at it in the context of the previous finales.
  • The Parting of The Ways: Rose uses a tow-truck to bust open the TARDIS console, becomes a goddess, and literally handwaves away the Daleks. Captain Jack becomes an unlikely badass.
  • Doomsday: Torchwood tears a hole between realities and lets through Cybermen, happen to have Dalek ship in their tower which opens and releases Daleks throughout the city, massive smackdown between Daleks and Cybermen resolved by Doctor opening black hole, which only manages to suck up Daleks and Cybermen. And almost Rose, but not Pete, who was standing much closer. Mickey Smith becomes an unlikely badass.
  • Last of the Time Lords: The Doctor goes from house-elf to pixie-Jesus, entire world claps their hands and says “I believe in magic,” Master's wife shakes off PTSD long enough to make Doctor cry. Martha Jones becomes an unlikely badass.
  • Journey's End: planets stolen from their orbits without affecting atmosphere. Donna's head almost explodes, TARDIS tows a planet back into orbit without disrupting its moon. Rose Tyler becomes an unlikely badass with new teeth.
  • The Big Bang: Universe rebooted by shouty Scottish red-head. River acts mysterious.
  • The Wedding of River Song: “All of time happening at once.” River acts mysterious.
  • The Name of the Doctor: Clara becomes a recurring time-space event and grows a personality. River acts mysterious.
Watch Selfie on ABC weekdays this fall (courtesy BBC)
     Which brings us to the present. Finales are, by and large, bonkers. Insane. Nigh-incomprehensible. Terrible to science. Magical. Emotional. Evocative. Over-the-top madness topped only by the Christmas specials. They make you feel something, if only to make you forget that what you're watching hardly makes any sense. And in that context, Death in Heaven works. It's got junk science and plot holes that Gallifrey could re-emerge through, but there are so many 'punch-the-air' moments that balance it out. From the Captain Scarlet reference to Clara's obvious snooping in the Doctor's journal (Prydonian!) to CyberDan's speech and the CyberBrig's salute. Still, Death in Heaven has one thing over the previous finales:  Kate Lethbridge-Stewart. Kate Lethbridge-Stewart strutting right up to the Cybermen and dropping a pulverized classic Cyber-head at their feet. Kate Lethbridge-Stewart arresting both Missy and The Doctor. I am swooning so hard over this woman.

     Clara's plot arc comes to a seeming end here. No confirmation of my suspicion of her being pregnant, but the bit at the end where the Doctor allows a hug really was touching. She knows that he's lying about Gallifrey, and he knows that she's lying about Danny, and they both know the other's lying, but neither feel the need to call the other on it. Clara got more character development in this last year than any of RTD's companions, and I really hope we see her again. “More Clara” is not something I thought I'd be saying prior to the 50th Anniversary.

     Missy really is mad. The cargo bay scene cements her place amongst the Masters, murdering Osgood and the two UNIT guards (who I'm sure were hypnotized long before they were left guarding her) in cold blood. “Bananas.” Her 'gift' to the Doctor hit him hard. As hard, if not harder, than Davros calling him out years ago for turning his companions into weapons. And while it seems that we saw her vaporized in a puff of energy weapons fire, I guarantee you she'll be back. Never trust the Master, let alone trust her to stay dead. And her teleport signature was blue, too.

     Cybermen can fly now. And have removable faceplates. Since Nightmare in Silver, I've been saying that the Cybermen have been nicking from Stark Tech, and I stand by that. They'll have hand-repulsors next time we see them, mark my word.

     So was this episode a mixed bag? Yes. Very much so. Brilliant, amazing performances. Thrilling set-pieces. Two codas. One, which made me cry, seeing Twelve peering out at the coordinates given him by Missy hopefully, only to close the door in anguish, and beat his hands bloody on the TARDIS console. One, which made me cringe, at the control bracelet's magical ability to bring someone back to life. And in the end, everybody lied. The Doctor lied to Clara about Gallifrey. Clara lied to the Doctor about Danny. Missy lied to everybody about everything. And everyone knew everyone was lying, and they were all too polite to say anything.

Anyone else think it was the Zygon Osgood that got dusted?

Next week: I might get a wee bit political.

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