So ends one of the most polarizing seasons of Doctor Who yet. This episode perfectly combined everything of this season, while also bringing in many aspects of the series past. If there was something you hated about this Season, it was included in this finale; but so too were all the amazing parts. There’s a lot to discuss and even more you might have missed, so let’s break down this episode’s complexities and go Into The Episode one more time.
Honoring The Past:
The Cybermen are one of the top Doctor Who monsters; and the Master is basically THE returning villain. So bringing these two together was a great throwback to the past. Though there was much more than just Cyberman and the Master in this episode. In fact – too quote the Tenth Doctor – this entire episode was “like an episode of This Is Your Life” as heroes and villains from the entirety of the Whovian Universe was shown and/or referenced.
From Osgood saying “Bowties are cool” – a clear reference to her last run in with the Eleventh Doctor – to Clara running through the entirety of the Doctor’s history including his daughter Jenny who was created from altered DNA. Though there was much more than just casual past references as Unit played a huge role in this episode, especially Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart was an old time favorite of the Doctor Who universe and helped the Doctor on many occasions, while always hoping that one day the Doctor would salute him back.
Having the episode end with the Cyberman version of Lethbridge saving his daughter Kate and finally getting that salute from the Doctor was so fulfilling. Also, this means that there is now a ‘Good Cyberman’ out there, much like how there’s a Dalek who fights Daleks, rusty. Will he return, who knows? Though this episode wasn’t just about the past; but also about taking the past into the future – with frightening new versions of both Cybermen and The Master.
Cyber Pollination – Dark Water:
The Cybermen are back; but this time updated with Time Lord technology. Through experimenting with some rich benefactors who were afraid of death, Missy was able to start experimenting on the dead bodies until she developed Black Water – something that not only concealed the Cybermen within; but also helped carry the blueprint of Cybermen. Instead of being Cyber throughout, these new Cybermen were more like armor that latched onto the human body.
With the new ability of flight, these new Cybermen are much more mobile. Though it is their ability to use the Black Water and ‘pollinate’ that makes them most dangerous. Imagine an army that recruits a new soldier every time it kills another. I haven’t seen anything that overpowered since Moffat rewrote the Weeping Angels backstory – for a third time – and said they can turn normal statues into new Angels as well. By strategically placing 91 Cybermen, Missy was able to begin increasing her army by having them explode and ran ‘Dark Water’ over the gravesites. Though why go through all this trouble? Simple, because Missy’s “Bananas!”.
A Long Lost Friend – Missy:
If you’re only familiar with the recent New Who on the Ninth Doctor and beyond, then you’ll know the Master as that over the top villain who cant help but hear the sound of drums. Well there were no drums in this episode – probably fixed now that Gallifrey is safe -, but there was an incredible amount of depth added to the Doctor and the Master’s relationship – or rather, friendship.
I had a friend once, we ran together and I thought we were the same. When we grew up, we weren’t. She’s trying to tear the world apart; and I can’t run fast enough to hold it together – The Doctor
This isn’t the Master’s first attack on Earth – nor will it probably be his/her last – but now us new viewers can we see why the Doctor has always treated the Master with a sense of guilt and sorrow. It’s not just because the Doctor has a long history with the Master as his nemesis; but also because the Master used to be his childhood friend. Additionally in this episode we finally got confirmation that it was Missy who brought the Doctor and Clara together – as well as her who called Unit to investigate 3W.
Though despite these revelations, it wasn’t explicitly shown WHY she did all of this – at least until the end. It seems as though Missy went through all of this just so that she could bring the Doctor to this exact moment and give him an un-makeable choice. Why? So that she could show the Doctor that contrary to his beliefs, they actually haven’t grown apart; but are still very much the same.
Crazy? Yes, possibly even ‘bananas’; but you have to remember that the Master has never been the most sane of people. From killing those the Doctor loved to going over the top and lying about Gallifrey’s location. She misses him and in her mind she feels that this all makes sense and is justified. Honestly, I don’t know how Missy/ The Master could return; but I really want her to. She was brilliant and just an amazing character. Hey, the Master has been brought back to life before – ‘The End of Time’ – so it can be done again.
A Season Long Question Answered At Last – Am I A Good Man?
It’s crazy to think that Missy went through all this trouble just to give the Doctor a huge ‘we’re not so different’ Birthday Present; but then again she is bananas. Though in the end what this whole scene does is answer a question that was posed when the Season first began – and has been wrestled with throughout – “Am I a good man?”. To show they aren’t that different, Missy asks the Doctor if he trusts himself with an Army of New Cybermen. He could have the power to sway any battle in whatever direction he wanted without losing innocent lives; but does he trust himself enough to wield such overwhelming power?
Armies are for people who think they’re right. And nobody thinks they’re righter than you. – Missy to The Doctor
Again this is a pretty random premise for the Doctor – especially since Earth just made him the President in charge of all their armies about a half hour earlier. Though regardless of this, the Doctor is still forced to think back on all that has happened this season. He remembers the Dalek Rusty and Robin Hood; but none of the good from those initially, just the bad. Until finally, he realizes who he’s been all along:
I am not a good man. I’m not a bad man. I am not a hero and I’m definitely not a president. I’m no are not an officer. Do you know what I am. I am … an idiot with a box and a screwdriver – passing through, helping out, learning. I don’t need an army; never have… because I’ve got them [companions]. – The Doctor
To call the Doctor good, bad, president, officer, etc would be incorrect because it limits him. He travels around and helps people – which is a good – but he also is always learning. Yes, he feels he’s right most of the time; but that is because he’s seen more than you can imagine. Though even despite seeing all he’s seen, he still acknowledges that he can be wrong, so he’ll just have to learn some more. He is just one man; and not someone who can coldly command legions. We’ve known this of the Doctor all along; but sadly, some people just can’t understand this at all – and ultimately end up looking like petty fools.
Danny Pink – Heroic, Annoying & Pig-Headed All At The Same Time:
If you’ve been following along with my reviews thus far, you know that I have VERY mixed feelings about Danny Pink. Well as the season finale, it’s only fitting that this episode would somehow make us both feel bad for Danny while also hating his guts. The fact that Danny was able to overcome the Cyberman interface and go to save Clara was nothing short of remarkable. Though it is what follows from this that particularly annoyed viewers.
After hearing what Clara has to say about the Doctor, Danny can no longer live with the pain and wants to become completely emotionless thus becoming a full Cyberman. Though when we look at what Clara said, she didn’t say anything that could hurt Danny. Clara went on and on about how the Doctor is her best friend and trusts him with everything; but nothing about LOVING him romantically. So what hurts Danny is that Clara will stand by her best friend – who is also the only ‘living’ man in her life right now.
To make things worse, Danny still takes shots at the Doctor. The Doctor tries to tell Danny that pain is what makes us good because we can “feel the hurt we inflict” and thus try to make up for it. Though Danny doesn’t want to hear it, and gives the Doctor more incentive to kill him. He continuously tries to paint the Doctor as “the blood-soaked general” who’s too afraid to get his hands dirty – two images that contradict each other. This is additionally annoying considering it’s not the Doctor who decides to ‘kill’ Danny; but Clara herself. Yet it is the Doctor who takes the brunt of all of his misplaced and misguided comments. The episode end further confirms the folly of Danny’s claims when Clara wants to kill Missy; but the Doctor refuses to have Clara put blood on her hands and offers to kill Missy instead.
In the end though, Danny ends up commanding the Cyberman army to fight for the living and thus saving the day. Now to be fair, I don’t know how exploding Cybermen could save the day when exploding Cybermen caused the problem in the first place earlier in the episode. Regardless, even when given a chance to return to this world after his heroic deeds, he chooses instead to give life back to the boy he accidentally killed in the war. As for how any of them would be able to return in their original bodies completely unscathed and un-Cybered . . . let’s also file that under ‘Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Stuff’. Though aren’t Danny and Clara supposed to have kids – one who gets lost at the end of the universe? insert more Wibbly Wobbly here-
Death In Heaven:
Cards on the table, these Doctor Who finale episodes have painted a pretty bleak picture of the afterlife. As if “Dark Waters” revelation that the dead feel everything that happens to their bodies, this episode went even further to show that Missy was probably using this process since the moment mankind developed an idea of an afterlife. As you can imagine quite a few people were upset about this; but it still doesn’t explain how Missy was able to get nonhuman lifeforms and people from other planets into her device – ie: Clockwork Cyborg and the woman from Into The Dalek.
In the end, the episode title “Death In Heaven” might as well be a reference to this two episodes killing any ideas of their being a Heaven or afterlife in the Doctor Whoverse. Or did it? As I just mentioned, we see Danny talking to Clara at the end and there being mention to how the bracelet can teleport him out. But Danny’s body was destroyed and all that remains is a consciousness. So how can anything be transported or even the bracelet still be intact? Again, let’s just throw this all into the “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey” category because none of it makes sense; but at least it HINTS at there actually being another place of afterlife – despite none being built up or mentioned. Or perhaps everyone just went back to the giant Gallifrey Hard-drive. *shrug*
Have you ever read “Gift of the Magi”, the story were a wife sells her hair to buy her husband a watch chain and her husband sells his watch to buy his wife hair clips. Well as touching as that story was, that is how sad this finale’s end was. The Doctor assumes Danny returned to Clara and so he doesn’t want to stand in their way. So he tells her that he’s found Gallifrey and will no longer be time traveling so she doesn’t feel like she’s missing anything. Little does he know, Danny didn’t return and Clara is now all-alone.
Upon hearing this, Clara doesn’t want to hurt the Doctor or take him away from being reunited with his family so she lies. She says Danny did in fact return and they’ll live happily ever after. Little does she know, the Doctor was lying. Missy apparently lied about the coordinates – or something happened to move Gallifrey since Missy told him. Either way, Gallifrey wasn’t found and the Doctor is now all alone without Clara. Throw in the Doctor explaining why he doesn’t like hugs and you have one of the saddest endings possible. Can anything make this better? Only one man . . . Santa Claus!
Yup, that’s right. Santa Claus is coming to save the Doctor and Clara – though it looks like it’s the other way around when we see the trailer. From the scene we can tell that Santa knows about Clara and the Doctor lying to each other AND that he can enter the Tardis without a key. Is it just me or is anyone else scared of how Moffat will handle this one – I mean the guy just killed Heaven, so what will he do to jolly old St. Nick?
All in all, I have visions of the Christmas Special looking like that episode of Power Rangers where they went to help Santa in the North Pole – not making a lot of sense. Further more, a post credits scene? Really? Following the Marvel movies huh? What’s next, Santa and The Doctor will return in The Avengers? Lol
As I said, this finale was basically a condensed version of everything this season, so depending on what you thought of the season will determine what you thought of the finale. Overall I personally liked it despite some very annoying and ‘Timey Wimey’ moments – much like the Season. Beyond that, get ready for my Doctor Who Christmas Special article – due out next month – as well as my complete Season 8 review after the Christmas Special airs.