Doctor Who – Series 8, Episode 12: “Death in Heaven”

(Warning: spoilers)

The Good

* I really liked Jenna Coleman’s acting when Clara is pretending to be the Doctor – she even got the rambling down perfectly, reminding me most of the Tenth Doctor. One wonders how much of that backstory is true (I guess she could have picked it up on her Impossible Girl travels at the end of Series 7). On the other hand, it’s pretty scary how well she’s able to lie at this point.

* Sigh. That reaction to the Cybermen is all too believable for this day and age.

* Nice to see UNIT being sensible, by reacting to the Cybermen so quickly – and then just putting the Doctor in charge of everything!

* Having revealed herself as the Master, Michelle Gomez now performs even better than she did last episode. You can definitely see the shadows of previous Masters in her, from her gloating at the Doctor to her very John Simm-like ‘comedic psychopath’ attitude – although I felt she actually makes it work better than Simm did.

* Thanks for that explanation of the Nethersphere and what Missy’s been doing, Moffat – it does make sense now after the slight confusion of last episode. (Shame I can’t say the same for everything about this episode, but more on that below.)

* The scene in the funeral home was pretty scary – particularly the doors banging – only to rapidly become terribly sad when Cyber-Danny sees himself in the mirror.

* Fascinating that Missy’s been doing her work since The Bells of Saint John – was Moffat really planning this all the way back then? If so, awesome.

* It’s good that we can really appreciate the negative impact of Clara’s relationship with the Doctor on Danny here. On the other hand, I don’t quite understand why Clara is willing to turn the inhibitor on in spite of the Doctor’s warning. It doesn’t make sense – but then, love isn’t sensible.

* Skydiving into a falling TARDIS – the Doctor had to do it at some point!

* There was a real sense of finality in Clara’s conversation with Danny before she turns the inhibitor on, which I liked. Granted, that wasn’t quite the end, but his “promise of a soldier” and his being noble and returning the little boy to life – while a bit cliche – was a good way to bring his story to a close. I’ll miss you, Danny.

* So the “good man” theme, and the “soldier” theme, has all been building to this – the Doctor being handed an army and the power to do whatever he wants with it. I got serious Genesis of the Daleks vibes from this – it is, of course, exactly how Davros reckoned he could achieve peace. Really brilliant.

* You could predict that the Doctor would find some other option, but it didn’t happen in a disappointing way. It’s ultimately hard to argue with the Doctor’s final conclusion about himself – “I’m an idiot with a box!”

* Cyber-Brigadier – a nice little titbit.


The Not So Good

* The redesigned Cybermen were still reasonably scary in Nightmare In Silver – but not here. Both their movements and their voices are not as intimidating as the Cybus Industries brand. And when they fly, they just look like Iron Man, a character who doesn’t exactly make me want to hide behind the sofa. The “aircraft safety” routine that Missy puts them through is the final nail in the coffin.

* The overall threat in this episode is set up very well, with the Doctor’s talk of how you’re supposed to fight an enemy that can convert the dead – but it rather loses its impact as the episode goes on. The Cybermen’s attack on the plane doesn’t make up for seeing them either stumbling around a cemetery or standing around doing nothing – or, indeed, flying like Iron Man.

* So was Missy actually shot by the Cyber-Brigadier, or did she teleport away? It looked more like the latter. But either way, the Doctor should really have been more bothered; we saw how he reacted in Last Of The Time Lords.

* Maybe I’m an idiot who’s completely missing something, but that ending made no sense to me. I get Clara lying to the Doctor – and why does he fall for it? I really thought he knew her better than that – but why does the Doctor lie to Clara about Gallifrey? (Assuming that Gallifrey really wasn’t there and there wasn’t some other hidden off-screen meaning to that scene.) The best explanation I can think of is that he’s already assumed that Danny’s back and thinks Clara won’t be travelling with him anymore and wants her to think he’ll be OK – but that’s a lot of assumptions for him to make. How did he even know Danny could come back?

* And if Gallifrey’s not there, how did the Master come back? It’s never explained where he came back from and when/how he became a woman! And if s/he really was somehow saved when Gallifrey was preserved, that makes no sense – shouldn’t he have already disguised himself as a human at the end of the universe by the last day of the Time War?

The finale started out looking like it would be just as good as the last episode, but ultimately I was disappointed – it had some brilliant acting, and meaningful resolutions to some themes and subplots, but other aspects were lacking. And when I find time to watch it again, I hope that ending makes more sense. Rating: 3.5/5.

Will post my final thoughts on the season at some point, but I’ve got other things on at the moment. But overall, it’s been above-average, I’ve definitely warmed to Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, and I’m looking forward to seeing his next series of adventures!

About R.J. Southworth

Hi there. I've been blogging since January 2014, and I like to talk about all sorts of things: book reviews, film reviews, writing, science, history, or sometimes just sharing miscellaneous thoughts. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you!
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1 Response to Doctor Who – Series 8, Episode 12: “Death in Heaven”

  1. Screensage says:

    I felt pretty much the same. The finale was underwhelming for me and seemed to leave too many plot threads on the back burner. I thought the intro was pretty great, but besides Michelle Gomez and Peter Capald bouncing off each other, I felt this to be a very disappointing finale, worse than “The Wedding of River Song.” The scenes with Danny and Clara were some of the highlights of the episode and The Cyber-Brigadier saving Kate at the end was handled very well.


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