TV REVIEW: Doctor Who Season 8, Episode 12: Death in Heaven

This review contains spoilers.

 

8x12 1I’m so happy to be back in Australia and able to watch the simulcast of Doctor Who on TV. I’m still a bit jetlagged so I don’t know how much my body appreciated my alarm going off before 6am but I was too excited to care.

 

Synopsis

The Master has returned, and is using an army of Cybermen to take over the world. Clara must make a terrible decision about hers and Danny’s future.

 

Plot

I've been lying to everyone for months, mate. I have no qualms about lying to a killer robot.

I’ve been lying to everyone for months, mate. I have no qualms about lying to a killer robot.

We pick up where we left off last week. In Dr Chang’s office, Clara attempts to prolong her life and escape the Cyberman by posing as the Doctor. As a result, Jenna Coleman gets top billing and her phantom face appears in the title sequence.  I’m a bit disappointed because that would have been great (and appropriate) back in Flatline when she was actually taking charge and being the Doctor. But instead, it happens in an episode where Clara doesn’t do all that much.

All it takes is faith, trust, and a little bit of Cyberman dust.

All it takes is faith, trust, and a little bit of Cyberman dust.

UNIT returns for this episode, including bowtie-wearing Osgood, and Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, who comes bearing battle spoils from Classic Who’s Invasion (namely, a detached Cyberman head). The roof of St Paul’s Cathedral cracks open to release 91 more Cybermen who rocket off to Fuckthatville with their new ability to fly, possibly because Steven Moffat just made light of Osgood’s OCD. Or because they’re off to the 91 areas of significant population density in the British Isles, and one is staying behind in London to release a cloud of … Cyberman pollen.

Meanwhile, in the Nethersphere, remember that little kid I thought was going to delete Danny’s emotions out of revenge? Totally not an issue. He and Danny are just chilling out in Coruscant the Nethersphere, watching the lights go out, unaware that their dead bodies are about to be inseminated by a hateful robot cloud. I’d like to take this moment to remind you that if every dead person in this dimension is coming back, then we’ll have Cyberman versions of Clara’s mum, Amy, Rory, Pete Tyler, Hitler, Mother Teresa, msaybe some dinosaurs … you keep track on your own.

Mood lighting means serious presidential business.

Mood lighting means serious presidential business.

The Doctor is elected President of Earth and new resident of an impressive aeroplane. After this is over, he can start nutting out some of the other massive issues on this planet. As the Doctor fills everyone in on the logistics of the dead Cybermen and 3W, I’m starting to wonder why we haven’t heard of it before. Back in season 3, when the Master was going to end up as Prime Minister, we kept getting little references about Harold Saxon. This time we’ve had glimpses of Missy’s creepiness all season but 3W was never mentioned. When the Doctor and Clara landed there last episode, I assumed it was at some point in the future. But clearly it’s not if Kate and Osgood haven’t aged at all. Hang on a second while I sob over the brilliance of the Russell T Davies era.

Maybe all the running with the Doctor would have helped her lung capacity? NOW WE'LL NEVER KNOW.

Maybe all the running with the Doctor would have helped her lung capacity. NOW WE’LL NEVER KNOW.

We are teased with the prospect of Osgood becoming the next companion, and half of Tumblr explodes at the notion, which they’ve been dreaming about since the 50th. But, sadly, Osgood falls prey to the most obvious trap in the world, which I find completely unwarranted because I refuse to accept that her desire to impress the Doctor can turn her into a complete idiot. It doesn’t help that Missy is being watched by the most incompetent guards in existence who stand there like utter pudding brains, hardly raising their guns when they see Missy’s moved. I’ve seen cardboard cut-outs with better reflexes.

Missy kills Osgood, Tumblr cries bitter, bitter tears, the aeroplane gets attacked by door-knocking Cybermen, and Kate Lethbridge-Stewart gets THROWN OUT OF A PLANE because of reasons. I love Michelle Gomez’s crazy portrayal of Missy, and you know it’s working because I want to punch her in the face.

Before she teleports away, Missy reveals herself to be the ‘woman in the shop’ who gave Clara the Doctor’s phone number, placed an ad in the paper back in Deep Breath, and orchestrated Danny’s death, knowing that the Doctor would go to Hell if Clara asked. NOPE. I don’t buy it. Not if Clara didn’t recognise you even a little bit from the shop. Not even the tiniest hint of recognition means you can bugger off.

Surprisingly, when Danny Pink becomes Dan Dan the Cyberman, he’s still in control of his emotions. He returns to St Paul’s Cathedral (which is supposed to be locked down by UNIT). Clara is still there, spouting knowledge about the Doctor to stay alive. Danny knocks her out and takes her to a big ol’ graveyard where Cybermen are popping up from the ground like half-drunk daisies.

Tell me again about the person you're closest to in the world.

Tell me again about the person you’re closest to in the world.

After regaining consciousness, Clara still plays on her relationship with the Doctor, saying that he’s the closest person in the world to her, and the one man she would never lie to. Her face goes from ‘Not a queen; a Khaleesi’ to ‘I am utter garbage’ in 0.2 seconds when Danny takes off his Cyberface and reveals his new—somewhat droopy—self. He needs Clara’s help to turn on his emotion inhibitor so he can get down to killing people.

Though the Doctor tries to keep Danny’s emotions intact, he needs information that only Danny can provide. Danny says, somewhat unfairly, ‘All of those beautiful speeches just disappear in the face of a tactical advantage’. Look, he’s trying to save the entire human race right now, so you can drop the accusatory tone.

Danny remains unchanged with the inhibitor turned off. Disappointingly, he reveals the plan to kill everyone on Earth and turn them into Cybermen, which is a logical step they could’ve figured out on their own.

Psych. Still not under your control.

Missy materialises with an umbrella like a demonic Mary Poppins and demonstrates her control by getting the Cybermen to mimic an aeroplane safety briefing. They all obey, with the camera purposely staying away from Danny so we know that he’s not doing it. Otherwise Clara would be getting hit in the head by his swinging cyber arms. When the camera cuts back, Danny is indeed standing still, and even manages to wrap one of his arms around Clara.

DO YOU WANNA BUILD A SNOWMAN?

DO YOU WANNA BUILD A SNOWMAN?

All of this—the Cybermen, the rising dead, the intended genocide of all mankind—has been a birthday present for the Doctor. With this army, the Doctor can save everyone who has suffered throughout history, including his own people. And the only way to save Earth is to conquer the universe. The entire series has been working towards this. All the questions about whether the Doctor is a good man, the hatred that Rusty the Dalek saw in him, his continually foregrounded repugnance for soldiers. All because Missy wants her friend back. And she wants to know they’re not so different. Why better yourself when you can try and turn your friend into a raging psychopath as well?

But the Doctor passes command to Danny, who decides all the Cybermen are going to fly up and explode, burning out the clouds. I really wanted to hear their awkward Cyberman cheering after Danny’s speech because it would have been hilarious, but it probably would have spoiled the dramatic moment. Did the command only work because Danny is a fellow soldier and not a commander? In a sea of blank robotic faces, it’s hard to see if the Cybermen were genuinely moved or if they were simply following orders. Whatever their motivation, the Cybermen obey, flying upwards and sacrificing themselves for those they’ve left behind in a scene that will resonate for the many Commonwealth nations preparing for Remembrance Day.

Defeated, Missy switches tactics, giving the Doctor Gallifrey’s coordinates and asking for them to return together. But, in order to prevent Clara from doing so, the Doctor decides to kill Missy once and for all. Or a bunch of times and for all. How many regenerations does she have left? We could be here all day.

Before the Doctor can push the button on Missy’s killer doodad, she disappears in a ray of blue light. The same light that signalled her earlier teleportation. It came from the last Cyberman in the graveyard, who directs the Doctor and Clara to where Kate is lying, apparently unharmed, in the grass.

Take better care of my daughter next time.

Take better care of my daughter next time.

The Doctor realises that this Cyberman must be Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Kate’s father. He gives the Brigadier what he’s always wanted—a salute—and lets him fly off to explode in the sky with everyone else, not bothering to question why he may have just helped Missy escape. If that’s what happened, anyway. I’m really not sure whether she died or teleported. But that’s the second zombie Cyberman who has refused to let harm come to someone they love so I wish Missy could have seen the key flaw in her plan: dead people have feelings too.

Two weeks later, Clara wakes to someone calling her name in a scene reminiscent of Rose’s last visit from Ten. But there’s no trip to the beach. It’s just a creepy white light with Danny’s voice. Apparently Missy’s special bracelet has enough power in it to let one person come back from whatever world the Cybermen are in. And Danny, being egregiously noble, sends back the boy he killed and asks Clara to find his parents. I hope that means you know for a fact that his parents are alive, Danny Pink, because otherwise you might be setting him up for misery. But, you know, whatever. I guess Orson Pink is never going to exist and Clara can kiss goodbye the glimpse of her future. Unless she’s pregnant now. Could she be pregnant? GUYS?

The era of Clara and the Doctor ends with both of them generously telling bald-faced lies because they think the other is happy. Clara says that Danny is back and they will be happy together. The Doctor says he’s found Gallifrey but, in a heartbreaking flashback scene, he finds Missy’s coordinates are a lie. He smashes the console of the TARDIS in frustration, rage, and grief.

Everything's fine and nothing hurts. Wait, that was another lie.

Everything’s fine and nothing hurts. Wait, that was another lie.

The Doctor reveals that he dislikes hugging because it’s ‘just a way to hide your face’ and, as Clara and the Doctor cling to each other, secretly crying, it makes sense. I teared up at this bit even though I was mad about the stupid lying and the way things turned out. Clara thanks the Doctor; travelling with him has made her feel really special. The Doctor thanks her for doing the same for him, and that’s it. It’s over.

How about some happiness? Just, like, one day of happiness. It'll be a nice change.

How about some happiness? Just, like, one day of happiness. It’ll be a nice change.

We have just enough time to yell, ‘WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?’ before we’re graced with a mid-credits scene to set up the Christmas special. Santa Claus (Nick Frost) enters the TARDIS and tells the Doctor that it can’t end like that. And he wants to know one very important thing: what does the Doctor want for Christmas?

Yes, that’s right. We get SANTA CLAUS in the Christmas special. And Nick Frost’s name is so perfect for his character that I can’t actually stand it. I assume the Doctor’s Christmas wish is for Clara to be happy. Maybe for her to travel with him again so they can find Gallifrey together, since they’re both idiot liars.

Maybe we’ll get a more satisfying ending for her time with the Doctor. I can’t honestly imagine that Clara would want to keep travelling with the Doctor after what happened. Yes, she would be with her best friend, and the only person who can truly understand what has happened. But how would she cope the next time somebody dies and she can’t save them? I assume, based on Santa’s comment and an internet search, that we’re seeing Clara in the Christmas special. So I guess we’ll find out how she copes in about six and a half weeks.

See you at Christmas, Whovians.

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