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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Doctor Who: Deep Water

Doctor What The Hell? Spoilers ahead..

This was.. intense.

     I've always thought that the worst thing that can happen to a person that leads a life of adventure is that they die from something completely and utterly mundane. I thought the perfect example of that in Doctor Who, previously, was the Seventh Doctor. He'd just witnessed the trial and execution of his arch-rival and childhood friend by a race of bio-mechanical space Nazis, only to be thrown off-course and land in 1999 San Francisco and be randomly gunned down by a street gang. Clara, apparently, feels the same way. Danny Pink, squaddie, maths teacher, and definitely not a PE teacher, struck down while crossing the street. While on the phone with intergalactic adventuress Clara Oswald, the former Impossible Girl, who was more than likely trying to tell him that she was pregnant. Would explain the post-it notes, the tenor of the phone call, and the Doctor's “mess of chemicals” remark. Not to mention her "I'll never say those words to another person."

     Companionship with the Doctor is something that we've seen can bring out the best in otherwise unremarkable people. In the case of Clara, we seem to have been building to it being something that can bring out the worst in remarkable people as Clara, at least in her intentions, betrays the Doctor's trust and attempts to strand him inside an active volcano being unable to access the TARDIS. Assuming he can't open the doors by clicking his fingers (Maybe he needs a key on his person to do the finger trick), at least. But his reaction afterwards, “Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?” made my eyes well up. Either way, this episode front-loaded the intensity, as many shows would have stuck a scene like the volcano confrontation near the end. Coleman and Capaldi carry off this intensity and emotion in this scene so well, too. I'm seriously considering them now, due to this episode alone, likely the strongest team we've had thus far.

Original Version of scene courtesy BBC archives, from back in the era where they deleted things willy-nilly
     The “afterlife” where Danny shows up was a huge red herring, and I was sure, just for a moment, that they had cribbed something huge from my particular favorite bit of spin-off extended universe fiction. In the Lawrence Miles series Faction Paradox, spun off of the BBC Doctor Who book series, there's a city at the end of the universe, The City of The Saved. In the City, every human, human variant, human hybrid that ever dies appears there. The City exists outside of Time, and can only be entered by the Uptime Gates. Even an approaching TARDIS would get routed through the Gates, for security purposes. No one knows who built it or what the true reason for it is, but it's rumored there's a half-human, half Time Lord hybrid known colloquially as The Grandfather that lives there, but that's just rumors. And rule 1 is The Faction lies. I was certain that Danny had shown up in the City, given that we've seen several humans show up there, as well as a cyborg that had human bits.

     Missy, or MISI, was something that I totally did not see coming, at all. Since 2005's Rose, every episode that comes out, the fandom's had a new guess at which character was The Master. Even when Sir Derek Jacobi and John Simm came along, we were still guessing everyone from Donna to the Master's Wife. So much so that most of us just gave up and assumed he wasn't coming back. Not to mention all the rampant speculation that this or that character was The Rani. I've said before that Michelle Gomez is brilliantly menacing, and I've got to maintain that, for a woman who has fruit on her hat, she remains so. Especially once the facade drops. She out-camps Eric Roberts, out-menaces Roger Delgado, and out-crazies John Simm. Not only that, but considering that a Moffat-created character sets the on-screen precedent for a female Doctor, it breaks the narrative that Moffat is the most misogynistic DW showrunner.

     And poor Danny Pink. Waking up in The City, feeling cold, minus a body, regretting his actions during war, having met the young boy he accidentally killed. We now know why the soldier cries, and why he bristles so hard at the Doctor's authoritative tone. Finger hovering over the “Delete” button. Having practically forced Clara to not follow him into what he thought was the afterlife by repeating the words “I love you” at her until she closed the connection. I honestly can't call whether The Doctor and Clara will find a way to pull him back from this particular precipice.

     I was concerned with how little development the finale had going into this, but they've done a lot with the 42 or so odd minutes they had, and they've got an hour left. This particular finale's been creepy, gruesome, and heart-wrenching so far, and I look forward to where they're taking it.

Next week: Looks like we're re-staging The Invasion, hopefully with more than six Cybermen.

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