Sunday, 9 November 2014

Death In Heaven - Review

An excellent way to round off what has been a very good series - though an episode with some flaws. I was reminded at times of the RTD era watching last night - it had more of the feel of his finales than Moffat's. RTD tended to have to resort to some big reset button, and Moffat resorted to some unlikely coincidences to bring about his resolution. Two Cybermen were immune to the conditioning of all the others - and they just happened to be Danny Pink and the Brigadier.
Ah, Danny. We hoped to see him saved in some way, but as it was he was doomed all along. His death last week, whilst not exactly final, was not rewritten. However, he managed to lead the Cyber forces to destroy themselves and so save the planet, and - in one of those rare genuinely touching moments for a Moffat series - sacrificed himself further to let the boy he had killed have a second chance of life rather than escape back to this world himself. I am really sorry to see Samuel Anderson leave the series - but he had a good send off.
Turned out the story arc for Series 8 wasn't really Missy and the Nethersphere at all. It was Danny Pink.
As for Clara, a most bittersweet departure (as far as we know it was her departure). Dissembling has been a recurring theme throughout this series, and the Doctor and Clara parted company each lying to the other thinking it was the right thing to do. She gave the pretence that Danny was back, and he that he had found Gallifrey and was going home. Jenna Coleman has been superb all series, but it was obvious from the earliest episodes that her time with this Doctor was coming to an end.
The Twelfth will always be her Doctor, even though she started with the Eleventh - but she never felt quite right with him. Too much under Amy's shadow.
Some elements from the recurring story arc we expected to see resolved were absent. The robotic races' desire to seek the Promised Land didn't go anywhere.
The Cybermen were the best we had seen them for a long time, though it should be noted that they only seem to exist to follow someone else's orders - as opposed to being a threat in their own right. RTD had earlier effectively featured Cybermen in a graveyard (The Next Doctor) but in this story the imagery of them crawling from graves and tombs was creepily done. Shame they just lounged about afterwards though.
As for the Cyber-Brigadier, that is going to take time for me to get used to.
Turned out that Missy - the Master - intended to give the Doctor her Cyber-army as a birthday present. The Master has previously tried to get the Doctor to join him in ruling the Universe - but here it just felt that the story had entered a cul-de-sac. Nice to see that the Master is also Scottish these days. Loved the demented Mary Poppins bit, though I understand not everyone did.
It appeared that she was killed by the Cyber-Brigadier, but equally could have teleported away.
Interesting that the Tenth kept trying to save his old friend, but Twelve was quite prepared to press that trigger and destroy her.
Alas poor Osgood. As with Danny, I hoped for some reset that would mean she had not perished, but it was only Kate Stewart who was saved.
Wasn't at all keen on the tacked on throw forward to the Christmas Special - especially when it was as ludicrous as Santa Claus barging into the TARDIS. For me it spoiled what had been a perfect, deeply moving ending.
Did you spot:

  • Jenna Coleman's name first in the opening credits before Capaldi's, after she had just announced that she was the Doctor - and her eyes in the titles. This fooled me for nearly as long as it did the Cybermen.
  • The name of the mortuary where Danny's body was held. Did Dodo become a funeral director when she left the TARDIS?

So, that was Series 8. Moffat promised us something different, something rawer, and he certainly delivered. Most stories have been very good, a couple brilliant. I think only the Robin Hood one really did not work in any way. Throughout, Peter Capaldi has been exceptional. I am looking forward to more adventures with the Twelfth Doctor - though not necessarily any featuring Santa Claus...
PS: I hope those green things in the trailer which followed the episode were some form of Ice Warrior. Then they could use the title "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians"... I'll get me coat...
PPS: Don't forget there's a Doctor Who item in this Friday's Children In Need - between 19:30 - 20:00 according to the Radio Times.

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