Doctor Who – Series 12, Episode 8: “The Haunting of Villa Diodati”

  • This episode had a particularly good atmosphere, with the eerily lit house and the stormy weather. (I think it helped that it was very windy outside as I watched it.) Obviously Doctor Who has done haunted-house episodes before, but this one still managed to feel fresh.
  • The way Yaz talks about the Doctor with Miss Claremont definitely felt like fresh material for the Doctor/Yaz shippers.
  • Graham is still providing the chuckles – he sees a couple of strange figures suddenly appear in the room with him, and his first thought is that they’ve brought him some food.
  • I knew the Cybermen were going to be in the two-parter finale, but it was a surprise to see one turn up an episode early.
  • Jodie Whittaker showed off some of her best acting yet as the Doctor in this episode: first, her angry determination not to see anyone else be assimilated by the Cybermen (presumably thinking of Bill), and then her outburst at the Fam when she is faced with the impossible choice of saving Shelly or stopping the Cyber-War. Stamping her authority and getting frustrated at her own moral responsibility like that isn’t something we see too often from Thirteen, but it shows that she’s still the Doctor.
  • There was a lot I liked about the lone Cyberman, like his half-converted look and how he still has a little emotion left in him, but not enough for him to be redeemed (good subversion there). The way he reaches into the chest and silences Elise is more impactful than if we had properly seen him kill her onscreen. And to cap it off, he becomes the inspiration for Frankenstein’s monster!
  • The biggest problem I had with this episode was that it had a bit too much going on – so many ghostly happenings that it seemed impossible they could all be brought together. And as it turned out, they weren’t: the episode pointedly gives no reasonable explanation for the ghosts that Graham saw and leaves us to assume that they were real ghosts which had nothing to do with Shelley or the Cyberman.

This was a solid episode with a lot of good stuff in it; like Fugitive of the Judoon, I would like to rate it higher, but it was let down just a bit by being overly complicated. Rating: 4/5.

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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