This review contains spoilers.
The fragile peace between the Humans and the Zygons is on a knife edge. Tensions run high as factions within the Zygon community seek to incite violent action against Humans. Called in by UNIT, the Doctor and Clara fight to bring the situation under control. But how can they fight an enemy when they have no idea who’s human?
Writer Peter Harness continues to impress me. Kill the Moon was one of my favourite episodes of last season, delivering a fascinating mixture of fun, action, adventure and surprisingly high stakes.
There’s no time for the Doctor to worry about his ‘duty of care’ when it comes to Clara, which gives her room to shine. She’s busy focusing on the task at hand, taking it seriously, and getting things done. I mean, there’s the tiny issue with her turning out to not be Clara but I was impressed with her while I thought she was Clara. And then I was impressed with how well she pulled off that evil villain vibe.
Also, the Bechdel test was aced this episode, helped in no small part by the plethora of female characters. I think someone mentioned that over 70 per cent of the guest characters were female and I am totally here for that. I love seeing female characters in positions of authority, especially when they’re kicking butt.
Osgood is back, which is kind of awesome and kind of confusing. I mean, there was no mention of her living a double/hybrid life back in The Day of the Doctor but I suppose there wasn’t a lot of time to explore that and it’s also not surprising that no one thought to question how the Zygon thing was going until it was the central part of the storyline.
At any rate, I really do enjoy the way her character has developed. While she’s obviously still fangirling over the Doctor with her outfit references, she’s certainly come a long way from the Osgood we first met. Her dedication to keeping the peace between humans and Zygons is almost eerily focused. And I love that she has somehow managed to keep her true identity a secret for so long. I think that’s why it seems so strange that it hasn’t been mentioned before; it’s such an interesting aspect of her character that has just been completely ignored. It would have been heart-wrenching to watch one of the Osgoods lose the other at the end of last season and would have added an endearing point of continuity.
The Zygons themselves are a very relevant ‘villain’ right now. With only a small rebel group leading these terrorist attacks and with a goal to live their lives freely, there are quite a few analogies that could be drawn between this episode and current events. But there’s no demand for these parallels to be noticed; it’s left for the audience to make their own connections and inferences. Instead, the focus is on the humans having to fight an enemy posing as their own loved ones. It adds another dimension to this struggle, making it more emotionally compelling.
With only minor tweaking, it’s possible that the Doctor wouldn’t have been necessary in this episode at all. The action unfolded around him rather than being driven by his presence. He’s more a form of comedic relief than a driving point of the action at this stage. It was irksome that, at a time where immediate action was required, he chose to take a long plane ride for vanity’s sake rather than use the TARDIS to help save the human race from all-out war. I’m hoping that, with the apparent loss of so many characters, he’ll be playing a more important role next week.
I trust in Harness’s judgement with these characters and this storyline and I’m interested to see how this evolves. Kill the Moon had a truly stunning ending and I trust Harness to deliver something similarly striking in The Zygon Inversion.