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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Doctor Who: Chekhov Was a Dalek

Spoilers are simply chewing up the scenery. 

It's been brought to my attention that I may have been light on discussing Missy last week. Let me make things absolutely clear: between the lines she's given, and her ability to chew scenery better even than Shatner in his prime, Michelle Gomez is the top Master. The juxtaposition of focused lunacy with Mary Poppins-esque prim and proper corset, coat, and boots is brilliant. She's out-menacing Delgado, out-crazying Ainley, and out-camping Roberts. She's every bit as murderous as Simm and dignified as Jacobi, but far more focused and purposeful. In short, I can't take my eyes off her even as I know she's likely to eat me alive. She is, after all, sharpening her stick as we speak.
"If you're going to take my stick, do me the courtesy of using it."
Last week I did mention that the episode, while full of fun and memorable moments, was extremely unfocused. After seeing this week's episode, I stand by that. This episode has just as many memorable moments but is extremely focused. Were I Stephen Moffat, I would have taken the best ten or twenty minutes of the previous episode and edited it into this episode to make one very, very good seventy-or-so minute long series premiere episode. And while the last episode had new memorable moments, this episode has many classic-oriented memorable moments:
  • Seeing Four and One convincingly displayed in Missy's story. 
  • Twelve riding around in Davros's support chair. 
  • Clara climbing inside a Dalek and piloting it around in a scene that not only calls back to, but almost redeems, the Cushing film's comedic scene of a human piloting an empty Dalek casing.
    • Editor's Note: Let's not forget the big reveal of Asylum of the Daleks, either. 
  • The Special Weapons Dalek (which admittedly showed up in the previous episode) from my all-time favourite episode from the classic series, Remembrance of the Daleks
Gomez and Coleman have an amazing amount of chemistry in this episode, too. Clara knows she's working with a murderous sociopath of unprecedented level, but she continues to press on, not trusting her but knowing she has to do so to get back to Twelve. Missy's gleeful compulsion to place Clara in danger, showing only just enough restraint to not let her get killed, or kill her herself -- at least until they're out of immediate danger and she can try to get Twelve to kill her instead. Is it wrong to hope for 14 episodes a year instead of 13, just so we can get an Adventures of The Mistress episode?
The hell did he get that cup of tea, anyway? 
Now, the reason for mentioning Chekhov: We all know Chekhov's gun, yes? If there's a gun on the mantle in act 1, it must be used by act 3. This episode uses all of its guns. From the living Dalek sewers to Missy's explanation of the Dalek translation software and weaponry to the cables going to Davros's chair right down to the damned sunglasses themselves. I only wish more of the guns had been placed in Part 1, as only the literal gun in the cliffhanger is used here. Which brings me to...

...I was not at all expecting to get choked up during a Davros episode. At least not by Davros. I mean I got a little choked up in Journey's End when the TARDIS was being properly piloted and when Davies was taking a WRECKING BALL TO DONNA NOBLE'S CHARACTER (DAVIES!!! *shakes fist*), but the charade played by Davros was so well executed and drawn out for so long that I fell for it. I genuinely believed that Space Hitler had lived long enough to experience regret. When his eyes, which I assumed had long scarred over and sealed shut, started crying and opened, I gave a little gasp. When Twelve said “Look, the sun's coming up. We're on the same side now” I teared up. It wasn't until his hand started glowing that I suspected I'd been had and found myself cheering on Missy when her serious face came on as the Daleks started to glow and she had to wreck shop and save Twelve.

All in all, an excellent episode. Only real complaint is Twelve making his hand glow. Maybe I can handwave (sorry) it as being a little unstable due to being past his original regeneration cycle, but I really wish they'd stop using regeneration energy like that. It wasn't even necessary, just save the light-up hand until after he'd grabbed the life support cabling. Also, the Sonic Sunglasses were cute, but please bring back the screwdriver. I'm not ready for that kind of change. And I'm certainly not buying overpriced novelty generic-looking sunglasses.

See you next week for Victorian ghosts in an undersea base! 

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