Doctor Who: “Dark Water” – Into The Episode

This Season of Doctor Who has overall been glorious. Between Peter Capaldi’s new Doctor and the darker tone throughout this season, it finally feels like fantastical show is grounded once again. True that last week’s episode – “In The Forest of the Night” was less than stellar, but from the looks of things that was just a bump in the road as the finale brings us some series firsts as well as returning – ‘but new’ – faces. The two-part finale is underway and it looks like this Season will go out with a bang. So let’s dive into this emotionally charged episode to see what questions were answered, and which remain.

Clara Broken:

As the episode opens we see Clara preparing to tell Danny Pink everything. She’s even written it all down on post-it notes to remind herself so that she doesn’t leave anything out. Though before she can begin, she has to warn Danny of what he’s in for, and make sure that he knows that she loves him. Not loves him as a passing remark, but actually truly LOVES him. What’s the worst that can happen? If you thought ‘he doesn’t feel the same’ is the worst that can happen, then you don’t know Moffat.

Doctor Who Clara VolcanoThis revelation stuns Danny so much that he walks into the street without looking and is hit by an oncoming car only steps away from Clara’s apartment. What follows is the most disjointed, yet perfectly edited moment of Doctor Who in a long time. We see Clara at the scene of the accident and then everything around her fades and she’s just in the middle of the street looking at the memorial on the side. This jump is a little jolting and confuses the already in shock viewer. Though as time progresses we see that this is all to show Clara’s mental state. Remember Clara represents the viewer in many ways. So if we’re seeing things so disjointed, it means that Clara has basically snapped as well.

After all her grand adventures, the love of her life dies in the “ordinary” way possible. There was no great battle or crowds of people to mourn. Time didn’t stop as there was no huge stakes placed upon it. Danny was just dead in a matter of seconds and everyone just kept going about their day. When her grandmother tries to comfort her by saying that ‘she deserved better’, Clara replies that she is OWED better. Last episode – no matter how dull it was – did show Clara as selfish when compared to Danny, and here we have that sense return as she expresses her belief that the universe – and the Doctor – OWE HER a happy ending. And if the Doctor won’t give her a happy ending, then she’ll take him down with her.

The Betrayal:

What follows is Clara’s elaborate, underhanded and very misguided plan to control the Doctor. She will ask the Doctor to take her to an active volcano, steal all his TARDIS keys and drug him so he can’t do anything. This might seem a bit much, but she knows that rewriting history to save Danny will lead to a paradox – ie: if she goes back to save Danny, then future her will never ask the Doctor to go back and save him, thus he can’t be saved. I was quite pleased with the re-adherence to the little thing called “Paradoxes”, since the 11th Doctor introduced A LOT of them. But did Clara’s plan work?

Clara Volcano DoctorOf course not. As we’ve heard a lot this season, Clara is a awful liar. The Doctor can already tell there is something wrong with her, so he lets this all play out especially once he realizes he’s trying to use a ‘sleep patch’ on him. They’re not actually sleep patches; but rather ‘dream state inducers’, so he’d turn it back on Clara and see just far she was willing to go – which was far! Clara is an emotional wreck at this point, showing herself to be as determined as she is selfish. It doesn’t matter what consequences this could have on time and space, she wants Danny back.

Though no matter how infuriating Clara might have seemed here, it was brilliant acting by Jenna Coleman. Remember how earlier this season, Clara became the first companion to tell the Doctor off. Well this is the first time we see a companion really lose it and have a complete breakdown. Though regardless of all Clara ‘tried’ to do, the Doctor still stands by her side, which answers a question we’ve been dealing with all Season: Who is this new Doctor?

The Doctor – The Carer:

This season we’ve been wrestling with the question: “Who is this new Doctor?” We’ve seen him compared to a Clockwork Cyborg that changes his face, a Dalek, a legendary hero and also seen him revealed to be a frightened little boy who isn’t afraid to stop monsters. Though here we finally have the undisputable answer to his question “Am I a good man?”; and the answer is yes. In fact, he’s the best. In “Into the Dalek”, the Doctor calls Clara is ‘carer’ – she cares so he doesn’t have to – ;but in this episode we see the Doctor does indeed care more than anyone else.

Clara has betrayed the Doctor’s trust, everything he taught her and their entire friendship; and yet he still cares so much about her that all of that betrayal doesn’t change how he feels about her. That is tremendous and shows us just why the Doctor is perhaps the greatest man ever. He might change his face; but he is still and always will be the good man. Clara is the closest person in his life right now and no matter what she does, he will forever do anything he can to make her happy, even if that means literally going to Hell. Sadly, the place the Doctor and Clara end up might be a lot worse.

W3 – The Three Words:

The NethersphereIt turns out the view of the afterlife in the Who-universe is very dark. After discnerning that white noise is actually a telepathic plane between dead people and hearing the words “Don’t cremate me”, W3 was founded with the intent of turning the afterlife into aftercare. Since consciousness sticks around with the decaying body, a huge storage computer from Gallifrey was used to store all of these consciousnesses. This is known as the Underworld, Nethersphere, etc.

Though despite this all seemingly being used to care for the departed and give them happier and more conformable resting places, it is actually a means to build a Cyberman army. While their decomposing bodies are upgraded into cybermen in the ‘Dark Water’, their minds are housed in the Nethersphere until they willingly sign away/delete their emotions. In fact, most things in the Nethersphere seem to be geared to forcing one to confront all their past demons until they can no longer take their emotions. Once their emotions are signed away, they are re-uploaded into the newly upgraded cyberbodies. So who would be ingenious – and cruel enough – to make an army of cybermen from the countless dead of the human race? Missy

Missy Revealed – The Master:

When Missy first introduced herself as an artificial intelligence titled “Mobile Intelligent Systems Interface “MISI”, things seemed a little off. Was this like iRobot where things got out of hand, or is she lying? Considering her name’s been spelt MISSY on official Dr Who media channels, most of us probably didn’t buy that abbreviation name. As for who the Doctor really is, I have to give a hand to Chris Hardwick and everyone at the Nerdist.

This idea was first put forth when Missy was introduced. Missy is short for Mistress, which is the female version of Master. Missy is actually the regeneration of The Doctor’s nemesis “The Master” – last seen in The End of Time. This gender change shows that Time Lords are indeed capable of changing gender during regenerations. All the hints for Missy’s identity – at least as a Time Lord – were there this episode. It’d explain why she had the TARDIS’s number – if she was the one who gave the number to Clara – as well as explain why she told the Doctor to feel her chest – two heartbeats.

Wibbley Wobbley Timey Whimey Stuff:

Between its well written story and explanations, this episode overall made a lot of sense. That being said, there were a few things that didn’t make sense. For starters, why couldn’t Danny say anything Clara would recognize him as him. Her final threat to ‘hang up the phone if he says “I love you” one more time’ would explain why he repeated the sentence – so she wouldn’t be in trouble. Though what about all the times before? Why didn’t Danny remember anything deep about Clara?

doctor-who-ep11-s8-iconic-smjpg-8e9ab0_960wAdditionally, the whole Cybermen plan doesn’t make sense. If this is a recent development on Earth, why did we see the Nethersphere accept someone who died from Into The Dalek. That wasn’t Earth nor this time period. Additionally, how did Missy welcome the Clockwork Cyborg? Did the cyborg have a soul? Also, how was Missy seen IN the Nethersphere at various intervals if she’s alive? How were those Sherwood Forest Robots looking for the Promised Land? Again, different time period and not from Earth.

Throw in the fact that no one noticed the cyberman standing up in the room until the water was completely drained, and you have quite a few moments that just don’t make sense. Either there are some moderate holes in these explanations or we’ll get the answer to these questions in the second part of the finale. So what still needs answering, that has a change of being answered?

Remaining Questions:

  • Why couldn’t anyone see the Cybermen in the end?
  • Was did Missy mean when she say she CHOSE Clara last episode?
  • Why would Missy get involved with Cybermen of all groups?
  • Why does the Doctor share a face with the man from ‘Fires of Pompeii’. It was mentioned earlier this season, so flush it out.
  • Will Danny press the button?

Hopefully next week ties everything together quite nicely. Either way, this episode might not have had much action; but it was an emotional roller caster that kept you glued to your seat the whole time. As for Part 2 of this finale entitled “Death in Heaven”, you can find that article here.

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