Reviewed By: Mercury
Review Date: 3/18/19 7:09 pm
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This is not a bad episode but it is yet another missed opportunity for a great story by Steven Moffatt as this first part of a two part finale falls well short of its potential then leads on to an even more disappointing second part.
The episode begins with the death of Danny Pink which should be worth a couple of plus points on its own except we then get two episodes full of the 'undead' Danny in the Nethersphere and returning as a Cyberman. His presence in this first part of the story is not nearly bad as in other episodes though to be fair. In the next episode he goes back to being more annoying but here he is OK. My only question mark here is why would such a strong willed, brave, independent, bright and attractive young woman be so attracted to a dull, self righteous, controlling bore that she is willing to risk everything to be with him?!
Clara's reaction to his death is irrational and she totally betrays the Doctor but that kind of reaction to the death of someone you love is believable (just not when it is such an inexplicable love in the first place but we will have to just accept that) and Jenna Coleman acts her role well. She tries to force the Doctor to travel back in time to save Danny. The Doctor refuses and makes an assertion that he innately knows when he can interfere in history and when he cannot and that this is a case which would cause a damaging paradox. This assertion is helpful in the Moffatt era as if you accept it the many occasions the Doctor chooses to interfere or not are made more explainable. The scenes of Clara trying to force the Doctor to save Danny, the doctor's reactions to her threats and his clever response is powerful. The Doctor ultimately reacts in a beautiful way, forgiving and supporting Clara showing the compassion and decency we would expect from the Doctor. The first negative in this episode comes with the Doctor's offer to find Danny in a possible afterlife which is hard to accept as an action he would suggest.
I can just about accept the Doctor offers to 'find' Danny as a way to make Clara feel he tried to do something I suppose but it is too contrived that Moffatt invents a story where Missy is extracting people's 'souls' as they die and then the Doctor decides to search for someone in the afterlife despite never believing in one. Yes we can accept Missy planned events to some extent knowing Danny was due to die but her banking on the Doctor making such a choice to enable her to get him to the Nethersphere is a huge stretch. In the follow up episode this is worsened when it is shown Missy has made such a huge effort just for her to make a strange gesture to the Doctor but that is a criticism against that episode (Death in Heaven) not this one. The annoying thing is there are a dozen better scenarios they could have used to bring about the same situation. Danny and all the others could just have been getting stolen from mortuaries etc and turned into Cybermen and the Doctor could have discovered bodies were going missing, including Danny's and investigated. Instead the contrivance of using the TARDIS telepathic controls to take them to Danny is weak and unconvincing.
Once they are in the Nethersphere a second, bigger issue arises with the sick idea presented that everyone who dies continues to feel what happens to their body, including cremation! This is unnecessary and horrifyingly insensitive for viewers who have lost loved ones, particularly children who make up a large portion of the audience of this family show. I still cannot believe Moffatt put this dumb and awful idea in. It is not needed anyway! They could just have said Missy travels to the point of people's death, hijacks their conscience before death and steals their body to make into Cybermen. Their conscience being stored in the Nethersphere, feeling the anguish of losing their life, their removal from loved ones and guilt of past mistakes would be perfectly adequate. Why include the feeling of pain to their dead body? It is just a sick idea! Even if we deduce that this is purely a result of Missy's interference and that outside of her temporary period of harvesting souls this phenomenon does not happen it still is inappropriate as an idea.
This weird idea's introduction is such a shame as apart from that glaring error things mostly progress really really well with Capaldi putting in his usual superb performance and Michelle Gomez excellent as the hilarious but dark Missy. There are moments which are uncomfortably over the top but mostly it is funny, strong dialogue with quality acting. The writing and direction builds tension as the story approaches an exciting reveal of the Cybermen which is done really well. The suspense of the Doctor not working out who Missy is or the Cybermen's involvement makes for great enjoyment and brings thrills when those two matters are dramatically revealed. The Cybermen exiting St. Paul's Cathedral is a great moment and a nod to The Invasion with the 2nd Doctor.
The threat posed by Missy and the Cybermen and the enjoyable excitement of all the events as well as the excellent acting, effects, designs and some of the better dialogue and ideas hold this up in quality well but although the episode is not outright illogical it is not as credible as it should have been and the effect on the dead is poorly handled so overall I cannot really rate this higher than 5.5/10.