OK. Quite a lot to say about that one.
(Warning: spoilers, and pretty big ones this time round)
* The opening with Danny’s death felt a bit too sudden, considering how important a character he’s become – though I suppose that’s the point. Aside from that, it was a really good scene. You just knew what had happened when the phone went silent – and then there’s the fact that Clara would probably feel at least partly responsible. Plus there’s her comment about how his death was “ordinary” – exactly the kind of thinking you would expect from someone in her position who’s travelled with the Doctor. People associated with the Doctor who end up dying don’t tend to do it in ordinary ways – just ask Rory.
* That scene where Clara threatens to melt the TARDIS keys. Yes, I liked the edginess of the whole thing. Yes, it was some fantastic acting from Jenna Coleman. Yes, I understood why Clara was doing it. But I still wasn’t pleased about her going so far. Clara seems to be having more and more unlikeable moments in this series. Is this the price to pay for becoming a more 3D character?
* But no, that scene was just a dream! I love how Moffat works these twists.
* It’s almost as if Clara expects insults and sarcasm from the Twelfth Doctor at this point. Well, he proved that he’s still the Doctor at heart – in fact, he was acting far more like the traditional Doctor when he was talking about how he intended to help her. I found myself wondering if he did feel like he owed Clara for how he’s acted since his regeneration. His declaration of how her betrayal hadn’t changed his feelings about her was downright heartwarming. Fortunately, he soon slipped back into his current form by telling her to buck up.
* “I’m exactly what you deserve.” Clara deserves to have her boyfriend brought back from the dead? Is this one of those Best Companion Ever implications? Oh well, at least it’s more understated than it was with Rose. And Clara > Rose, anyway.
* After holding out for ten episodes, the Twelfth Doctor finally kisses someone! At least it wasn’t a companion – nice change.
* We finally get a full appearance by Missy, and I really love her. I love her attitude, I love how well Michelle Gomez performs, and I love…well, more on that twist below. I particularly liked the part where she pretends to be a droid, doing just enough to maybe fool the Doctor and Clara but not quite fool the audience.
* I’m not sure I totally comprehended the nature of the Nethersphere, particularly Missy’s explanation of its true purpose and how that ties in to what had already been said – that’s going to need a second viewing. That doctor was right though – those three words were pretty horrible.
* More cool shoutouts, like Clara’s birthday being 23rd November, and the Doctor apparently swearing on his psychic paper – a reference to another role where Peter Capaldi was known for swearing a lot?
* Looking forward to seeing a finale dominated by Cybermen – makes a nice change from Daleks.
* I’ve avoided talking about Missy in my reviews so far. Unlike some other reviewers whose blogs I’ve looked at, I don’t guess or speculate that much when it comes to TV shows. I prefer to just watch. But when we were all wondering exactly who Missy was (someone actually asked Nicola Bryant, Jimmy Vee and Spencer Wilding if they knew about Missy at the Preston Comic Con panel) – well, I thought it most likely she was some original villain with a connection to the Doctor we couldn’t yet be aware of. But I do recall briefly thinking jokingly to myself, “Heh, maybe she’s the Master regenerated as a woman.” And what do you know.
(Though during the episode itself, was anyone else thinking “the Rani”?)
Normally, I don’t like twists where some supposedly dead character(s) is cheaply brought back to life (Russell T Davies did it a lot), but this one was absolutely brilliant. Firstly, having the Master become a woman really is a fresh approach. Secondly, it was never really clear what happened to the Master in The End Of Time, so it doesn’t feel that cheap for him/her to come back. Thirdly, his/her current plan is a damn sight better than turning every human on Earth into his clone – I still can’t forgive Davies for giving David Tennant that finale.
A brilliant setup for the series end, and I’m psyched for next week – please let it be just as good! Rating: 4.5/5.