Doctor Who – Series 9, Episode 8: “The Zygon Inversion”

  • As this episode began, I feared we were about to face another Forest of the Dead/Last Christmas style setup with Clara in a dream world she can’t or doesn’t want to wake up from – but no, she figures it out pretty quick, even saying out loud, ‘Dream checks, dream checks.’ And I liked how there’s actually a telepathic link between Clara and Bonnie, displayed via the television.
  • When Osgood notes how the Doctor is deliberately talking nonsense to distract her…the Doctor doesn’t acknowledge it and just talks about the sonic specs. Hmmmm.
  • We’ve seen the Twelfth Doctor being optimistic, as in his comments to young Davros at the beginning of the series, yet in this case he seems afraid to think that Clara might be alive. And he calls it a phase – he’s been through it before and knows how his own mind works.
  • Was that a picture of William Hartnell over Bonnie’s control panel?
  • The BBC News video about an alien in South London seems almost casual; the writers haven’t forgotten that since The Christmas Invasion, the general public know aliens exist.
  • For once, Clara being a brilliant liar is used in a positive way, only for Bonnie to counter it with the old Daredevil lie-detector technique. I enjoyed this back-and-forth scene; it’s genuinely tense.
  • The atmosphere as the Doctor and Osgood walk around, not knowing where the danger is, really feels like a horror movie.
  • When Kate turns up, you can see that the Doctor hasn’t fallen for the disguise and knows they’re Zygons. But then we get an inverted surprise as it really is Kate! (Ah, Zygon Inversion – I get it.)
  • The clever Osgood box system with its multiple twists sets up a really fantastic scene for Peter Capaldi, definitely one of his best ever as the Doctor. He seems to have gotten better at negotiating than the Silurian/Sea Devil days when all he could do was offer simple appeals to each side’s better natures. Here, he’s sort of doing the same thing, but with more of a logical approach, brutal honesty, and knowing the right things to say – and he’s not afraid to show how frustrated he is at both parties’ reluctance to ‘get it’. Jenna Coleman’s acting as Bonnie is really good here as well, as she gradually understands the Doctor’s point of view.
  • And the end result is a surprisingly peaceful resolution without the bad guys just getting blown up. Wonderful!
  • I may have to eat my words in a few weeks, but right now, I really don’t think Clara’s going to die. Firstly, she’s already ‘died’ two or three times – how many more times can she do it? We don’t need a repeat of Rory. Secondly, this episode’s ending – and that of the last two-parter – seem so desperate to shove a big neon sign in our faces saying ‘CLARA’S GOING TO DIE!’ that I’m inclined to believe it’s a red herring.

Despite the relatively mediocre first part, the second part is (yet again) very strong. It’s still low-key in terms of action, but it works better this time round as there’s more intrigue and some especially fantastic acting. The climax also felt quite different from most adventures and was pleasantly refreshing. Rating: 4.5/5.

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About velociraptor256

Hi, my name's Richard. I created this blog to talk about my interests - and I have quite a few of those. I love zoology in general, herpetology in particular (especially snakes!), writing (have won National Novel Writing Month seven times so far, plus three Camp Nanowrimos), reading, astronomy, palaeontology, and travel. Thank you for coming to my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you here!
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