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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Doctor Who: A Passion for Beethoven.

Spoilers throughout, as usual. Especially that “Minister of War business.”

Okay, I can almost forgive the Sonic Sunglasses if they keep letting Twelve play with that guitar. Especially if they keep letting him break the fourth wall and play his own theme music after giving us a lecture on temporal mechanics. It's definitely giving Twelve a sense of old-school punk-rock cool that even Tennant on his best days would have had trouble matching.

This episode is the second part of the second two-part episode of the year (so far), and unlike the first two-parter, this episode gels extremely well with its first part. Apprentice and Familiar had very different tones, with the first part being much less focused than the second part, but here the pacing remains similarly frantic and the stakes escalate well with the first episode.

Between the magnificently gruesome-looking inside-out face of the Fisher King to the cloudy nothingness in the empty eyesockets of the Doctor's ghost to the rushing water from the broken dam violently flooding the coldly lit air of the Cold War dummy town, the visuals in this episode are far and away the best we've gotten this year  (so far).

Speaking of whom, the Fisher King is probably one of the best monsters I've seen since the relaunch of the show, despite his painfully short screen time. I really hope we get to see him again, as that's the sort of monster design that makes you pine for an action figure. (Well, it makes me pine for an action figure.) The animation was excellent as well, which was surprising for a large practical effect like that. I haven't seen a practical monster that big move that well since Farscape, and the confrontation between Twelve and the Fisher King was fantastic. I haven't seen the Doctor stand up that defiantly to a being that obviously powerful since Seven.
Seriously, Henson company would be proud of this.
Twelve seems to be remembering the lessons he learned as Ten, as his plan here was suitably intricate so as not to break the laws of time, and his insistence that you can't “cut tragedy out at the root” definitely hearkens back to "The Time Lord Triumphant" story beats where Ten was laid low when someone whom he changed history to save killed herself shortly afterward. Capaldi's performance as the Doctor ghost, coupled with the smoky effects and empty eyes, was chilling -- especially when mimicking the call of the Fisher King at the climax. 
This is what despair looks like. 
Clara's previous smugness seems to have evaporated rather quickly after seeing the Doctor ghost. Cass's question about if traveling with the Doctor changed Clara and made her willing to put people's lives at risk really hit home with her, too. If she keeps this up, I may have to take back the “Series 2 Rose” comment I made last week.

I really enjoyed the Daredevil moment with Cass, despite my comment about disabled superpowers last week. Showing the ghost stalking her from her perspective, with complete silence while focused on her, then hearing the axe dragging was effective, and her last-second dodge after checking the floor plating for vibrations was well executed.

So far, this is the stronger of the two-part stories this year, even managing to use the accursed Sonic Sunglasses in an effective manner. The bootstrap paradox used in the episode was well addressed, too, and it's been a few years since we saw one, not since Five and Ten crashed into each other and nearly punched a hole in the universe the size of Belgium.  I'm only disappointed that we didn't get a reason that Cass never let Lun look at the writing in the shuttle beyond having to extrapolate "intuition." 

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