Dark Water Review

(204 comments)


This was always going to be the tricky one. Part one of two. I’ve actually never written a review of a partial story before. I mean, arguably An Unearthly Child versus 100,000 BC, but they are by distinctly different writers, and have their origins in different places. My point there was that it does make sense to treat them differently, even if it also makes sense to treat them as one. I sort of did with End of Time Part One and End of Time Part Two, but that was a slightly joke. So I think this is the first time I’ve ever really tried to think extensively about the aesthetic goals and merits of individual parts of multi-part stories. 

Let’s start with the raves on Twitter, and the GallifreyBase ratings, which are 84.62% in the 8-10 range, 36.53% at a 10/10. Which is around what you’d expect a huge season finale to get if it’s working well, honestly. And as always with Moffat, it’s about expectations. In more ways than one. Everything that’s going to make headlines assembled the way you’d expect. Everything that’s based on clues given away in early episodes goes how you’d think. Yep, the Cybermen are using the dead. Sure enough, the Invasion homage is the cliffhanger. Missy is indeed the Master, which is a twist, but hardly the most shocking of them. The episode’s biggest twist came at the very beginning. 

It’s a good twist. Danny, the sublimely ordinary good man, turns out to have no secrets, and dies in the most ordinary, mundane, banal way imaginable. A plot contrivance par excellence, existing only to set a larger story in action. It’s played well - for all that “he was hit by a car, it came out of nowhere” is a classic lame twist, the decision to start with Clara frantic and surrounded by post-its explaining the past of the series, as though there’s some terrible secret she’s about to reveal, hides the twist perfectly.

And it’s a big enough premise to immediately escalate the stakes. Getting the volcano scene out of the way early, as Clara’s actually very clever and desperate attempt to get the Doctor to do the impossible for her when she needs it, works wonders as well. It’s a one-two punch that quickly and efficiently ratchets the tension up to a breaking point.

It’s also worth looking at these sequences in terms of just being brilliant. Clara’s betrayal is such a perfect encapsulation of her character, good and bad. But what really makes it is the Doctor’s reaction, and it’s the details of Peter Capaldi’s performance that really makes it. Moffat writes them a good scene. But part of what’s so good about it is that it gives them an incredibly large range of ways to play it. It’s just Capaldi, Coleman, and a familiar set. The emotional beats are all clear. The genius is in where you put the emphasis. Coleman makes the wonderful decision to be angry at the Doctor for tricking her even though she doesn’t for a moment imagine that she has a leg to stand on in the “who’s in the right” argument. Her calm delivery of “fair enough” is a triumph. And then Capaldi makes the wonderful decision to make the one eruption of anger be “you let me down.” All of which sets up, so utterly perfectly, the best line of the season, “do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?” Delivered with such calm that it could come from any Doctor.

It’s a fairly big moment, in that regard, not least because it’s the first moment we’ve used the new series trick of really playing up the depth of the Doctor’s emotional connection with his companions for dramatic beats (something only done on the occasion of their departure before), but because it does it without resorting to any of the wide-eyed “go big” acting that Smith or Tennant would have used for it. It’s a moment with as much emotional depth as the entire Doctor/Rose plot - something that speaks louder than the never-said “I love you” of the Davies era ever could (a fact commented on, tacitly, elsewhere in the episode) - and yet you can imagine the line being delivered by Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker, or even William Hartnell.  

And from there, it works like any other Capaldi episode. “Here’s a thing we’ve never actually done.” This time, the Doctor as Orpheus. True enough - fifty-one years and they’ve never done it. 

Here it becomes impossible to go much further without looking forwards to next week. Moffat’s two-parters tend to quickly become exercises in complex plotting. His usual trick is to use the first part to set up a particularly elaborate premise, and then, at his best (Forest of the Dead, The Doctor Dances, The Big Bang) using his second part to move to an even more elaborate one. Certainly we seem set for this, with huge puzzle pieces we know are there not even slotted in place yet. Moffat uses the space afforded to build what’s an impressively complex apparatus of plot. The point is clearly to have it already in place for next week, where, equally clearly, it’s going to build further. That’s an interesting decision, but a welcome one that plays to Moffat’s strengths.

But what’s interesting is that, counterbalancing that, there’s a real sense of not being concerned over where the audience is. They’re expected to get to the conclusion of Cybermen well before the plot does, not least because of the trailer. The result is a nice sense of creeping menace, and a smooth, artful transition from putting the pieces together to taut suspense. 

But as with the opening, the real beauty of this is the details. Danny confronting the kid he shot is astonishingly good and brutal, not least because we could have legitimately expected Clara at that point, making the “oh, wow, they’re really going there in Doctor Who” all the stronger. So is the stark horror of “don’t cremate me.” Such that we’re led to the edge of the bombastic finale we knew we’d have, but along a path that's surprisingly rich and textured.

Blimey. I can’t wait for next week.

  • So, as I guessed in comments, we’re redoing The Invasion with the Master in place of Vaughn. That’s, at least, what’s going on under the hood. Obviously there’s much more, but at the end of the day, that’s the conceit. I love how simple and untroubled the integration of classic series concepts has become for the show.
  • It’s interesting to look at this one in terms of being for children. It has a very high degree of faith in its audience, albeit one that’s probably in practice going to be rewarded - Moffat’s observation that his “confusing” season six story seemed to make perfect sense to the kids is perhaps revealing here. All the same, this is stunningly dark, and is almost certainly going to actually upset some kids, especially any who might have had recently cremated relatives. It’s also perhaps worth remembering how eager they were to stress the bone-cracking sound effects in Flatline, a marked contrast to the removal of those sound effects from The Empty Child nine years ago. They seem to almost be spoiling for a fight over being “too scary for kids,” and yet aren’t actually getting one, which says so many interesting things. 
  • I really do find how spoiler-immune this finale is interesting. The episode’s biggest twist is its cold open. Its most interesting structural trick is steadily pulling its own premise out of its hat. But this is cleverly managed by just having a lot of really clever concepts here. The revamp of Cybermen tombs is wonderfully cheeky in its slight over-elaborateness, as is the afterlife as bureaucracy, then, hell, that being an easy transition anyway. 
  • So, female Master. That’s a female Doctor made basically inevitable, then. There are of course people complaining that it’s heteronormative to have the Master change genders before finally admitting their love of the Doctor. It’s not an unfair point. Although after Davies wrote the most slashable Master ever, simply going one further and having a male Master actually snog the Doctor would probably feel like diminishing returns. If I’m thinking with my writer brain, and being honest, going even gayer after John Simm would have been a bad call. More to the point, though, I can’t imagine that Davies was doing anything other than giggling like a seven-year-old schoolboy at that revelation. This is perhaps where I should point back to my observation with regards to The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe: heteronormative is not the same as homophobic. In any case, the “boyfriend” bits are pretty much the bits of the Mistress I’m least enthused about. The mad and homicidal Victorian matron is absolutely wonderful. 
  • There’s not been enough talk about Murray Gold this season. He’s really been learning to hold himself back. One feels as though he was inspired by doing the big 50th Anniversary bit for the proms, and grew a newfound respect for Dudley Simpson - he’s been much more willing, all season, to offer incidental music instead of big themes. Capladi’s Doctor has a theme, but it’s quite quiet and understated. But the use of the Cybermen music here is a hoot, and a wellt-imed return to crashing form. Everyone’s in on the joke this cliffhanger. And it’s a good joke.
  • And, of course, perfect cliffhanger, ending on Danny and not the big reveal.
  • No ranking this week - it seems impossible to compare this to completed stories. But if this is indicative of Death in Heaven, it’ll be very high in the list.

Comments

unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

None whatsoever.

Quite a lot of hate, actually.

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

She referred to herself as a Time Lady, and changed her name to better reflect feminine identity.

And I don't know that she's adjusting. She seems to have been in this body since Deep Breath.

And it seemed like she was just being sadistic. The Master was nice to Chang in the TV Movie. And gave him a hug, and a smile. Right before snapping his neck.

She's always been so changeable.

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mimhoff 2 years, 10 months ago

We are still waiting on Phil's interpretation of Silence in the Library, and Bells of St John. And now we have a third Moffat story about having your consciousness uploaded...

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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Jarl 2 years, 10 months ago

She's a fun seeming character, but it's hard to sit through Mark and Time and come out with any good feelings about anything, let's be honest.

Hell, I've still never managed to watch Mark, and I've not all the way through Time.

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

I was referring specifically to the idea of the "adjusting to female biochemistry" bit which strikes me as gender-essentialist/sex-essentialist bullshit.

The Master has always been capable of being very nice to someone right before killing them horribly. And has frequently exercised that capability.

...And it seems just as probable that it's the Master once again being a misogynist. Because, I mean. The Master has been. Frequently. As Ainley, as Jacobi and definitely as Simm.

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

It is, kinda, but there are people who identify within it?

And Missy has called herself a Time Lady? Yes, Missy was making a statement there.

And she did decide that she wants to be referred to as the Mistress now. She expressed that.

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

...You're essentialist.

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Jarl 2 years, 10 months ago

The Time Lords (especially the Master, who is pompous and full of himself and very much invested in the idea of Time Lord-ness) are definitely traditional and "bygone" when it comes to titles. The Mistress would of course want to call herself by a name (or, at least, a renegade name) befitting her stature as a fully entitled and landed Time Lady. The elaborate victorian outfit and feminine title is just this incarnation's version of the black jacket and dastardly whiplash facial hair.

As for sex/gender confusion, I've always figured that such a thing is completely meaningless to a race that can change physical form freely (more or less).

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

Not just physical form given the frequent personality changes, or the fact that getting different incarnations in the same room tends to involve lots of insults.

Changing every cell would include the brain.

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

I mean. There's a part of me that takes a little personal offense to her being "evil" just because she wants to do science?

And almost all of what was good about her was Kate O'Mara's performance.

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

Not necessarily, because the Doctor might not make that choice.

I mean. Three, Six and Ten were kinda misogynistic. Sometimes. And wow were One and Four racist sometimes. Most of the time in One's case.

But ignoring that.

...I mean, "Mistress" is a word in the dictionary that can mean 'female form of "Master"'.

K9 called the Doctor 'Master' and Romana and Sarah Jane 'Mistress'.

'Doctor' doesn't have a gendered equivalent. Even an obsolete one.

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Jarl 2 years, 10 months ago

I love the revolving shot of Clara sitting in the chair after hanging up on Danny and then turning to face the Cyberman. Earlier there's a vertical variation when Danny looks out at the Nethersphere.

I just really like the Nethersphere in general. It's such a great, great visual, and the sounds that fill it are even better. I really like what they did with it.

I'm a little unclear as to when this story is taking place, admittedly. It at first seems like it must be the future and the 3W society was a public service. Yet, they've been picking people up for a good long while, and people obviously don't know about it. I still think it's a scam, but the exact nature of it I'm still shaky on. Probably it's via the Mistress's TARDIS, hence how they can get people all throughout time.

Oh wow, I just got that: the dead minds are being kept in the Matrix, which the Mistress is, ahem, a master at manipulating and programming. Of course the Mistress would use the Matrix.

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

Like, the Master once said 'Killed by an insect. A girl. How inappropriate.'

And 'It's always the women.' And his wife at the time was frequently covered in bruises.

The idea of the Master becoming female and applying some outdated notions of gender to herself is not far-fetched.

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quislibet 2 years, 10 months ago

Fellow Rhode-Islander here. I was at Colin Baker's panel today, which was delightful, and if it was shut down, it was done in a very stealthy manner that was not obvious to any of us in attendance. Someone did come in near the end and give the moderator a silent signal that time was up, but it didn't seem premature, and we all milled around inside and snapped photos and so forth. There was no sense that anyone was meant urgently to depart.

The main problem with the panel was all of the con announcements (none actually about the fire-marshall issue) that kept cutting in when Baker was trying to talk, but these were of the "keep an eye out for a child separated from his family" variety, so they were at least forgiveable.

Now, I understand it was an utter mess at the doors of the con for a few hours this afternoon until they started letting people in again, and I know of some people who missed attending Baker's panel because they were stuck outside the convention center. Maybe that's the origin of "the panel was shut down"?

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

I mean. I think there's probably a problematic aspect to Missy choosing to identify this way. But I'm irritated that you immediately thought that it's the writer's fault and not, y'know, the character that's been kind of a misogynistic shitstain for the better part of thirty years.

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm sorry I can't psychically detect your intent through the internet.

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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BerserkRL 2 years, 10 months ago

Also I notice Sean Williams (below) made the same point before I did.

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

I think everyone is sexist.

When you have an infinite number of targets, it behooves you to be mindful of what you shoot at.

Quoting our host because it's actually a pretty good quote.

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Leslie Lozada 2 years, 10 months ago

As a person who does speak Spanish, it's about the same leaver of weirdness.

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Saxon Brenton 2 years, 10 months ago

Danny's meeting with the boy that he had killed suggests that he (and by implication, probably all the other dead) were manipulated into emotionally painful situations where they were likely to take the choice to delete their emotions (if not consciously chosing to become cybermen). You're right that this pushes them towards being villains, but it simultaneously marks them as being victims. In a way that continues the wonderfully dark and nuanced handling of the cybermen from 'Doomsday', where alt-Pete makes the comment about how people feeling sorry for the cybermen allowed the cybermen the slack to restart a new world domination scheme.

And conceptually - and perhaps more interestingly - it pushes the cybermen back from being the Borg-like predators who conquere and assimilate their victims, to more like the people in 'The Tenth Planet' and the Big Finish 'Spare Parts' who find their situation unbearable and choose to give up some of themselves in favour of survival.

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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arcbeatle 2 years, 10 months ago

People transitioning from one gender to the other have the right to chose to be called what they like to be. I like that Missy even made a note to correct the Doctor and be called a "Time Lady" because that was what made her comfortable in her identity.

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

...God I hate that "political correctness" is even a thing that people say.

And especially recently I keep hearing it in David Tennant's voice.

If you know anything about me you'd know that's not a good thing.

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

...I think you might have accidentally responded to the wrong comment-chain. But yeah, what you said.

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

Yes she definitely should.

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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arcbeatle 2 years, 10 months ago

uhhh... whoops. That's embarrassing. But I still stand by what I said in the wrong place!

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unnoun 2 years, 10 months ago

...I mean. The Rani's not that bad.

I got my very own guest post about the Worst Doctor though.

My treat.

Or I guess you can try one of my best friends doing a much better job I guess.

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BerserkRL 2 years, 10 months ago

No one's commented on this, so: did anyone notice the last face we see? It's not Danny.

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arcbeatle 2 years, 10 months ago

I posted this in the wrong place earlier (whoops) but still feel I should add it here:

"People transitioning from one gender to the other have the right to chose to be called what they like to be. I like that Missy even made a note to correct the Doctor and be called a "Time Lady" because that was what made her comfortable in her identity. "

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jane 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm just glad all my harping on near-death experiences hasn't gone for naught.

*giggle*

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Jesse 2 years, 10 months ago

the "Time Lady you abandoned" line did momentarily make me think it might be either Romana or Susan

I thought of River.

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca 2 years, 10 months ago

I loved it until that final reveal. It's not that Missy being the Master is /bad/, it's just... the most obvious choice. Oh, a Timelord has come back? What are the odds its the only Timelord who has ever come back in the new series (at least, what, twice now? The Time Lord High Council doesn't count here, because they're just a bunch of 'randos' and Timothy-Dalton-As-A-Guy-Named-Rassilon.) It's a bit disappointing is all. It's easy.

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Whittso 2 years, 10 months ago

Normally I don't get to watch the episode till Sunday or Monday. I actually saw this one live and am on tenterhooks for Phil's review.

I loved it, but I've pretty much loved everything this series except Robot of Sherwood (which I quite liked). Having said that it did seem a bit... Run of the mill? A return to RTD? Compared to all the more experimental approaches we've had recently. I'm sure others /next episode may well prove me wrong though.

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jack 2 years, 10 months ago

I don't think the Doctor / Missy thing is heteronormative. I think it's basically immune to heteronormative at this point. I mean, a species that is *inherently* genderfluid like Time Lords are would have no concept of something static like ''heterosexual''. it's not like she's suddenly attracted to him because she's in a female body, either-- she's acknowledging all the previous Ho Yay and saying yes, that was me absolutely in love with you.

And you can't put that back in the bag. if she chooses to regenerate into a male body, the attraction is not going to disappear. The show is saying that it's there REGARDLESS of their gender identity... pretty much the opposite of heteronormative.

Also, I believe Missy said something about being ''old fashioned'' at some point? Which is clever, because it acknowledges the otherwise potentially troubling cissexist / heterosexist implications and places the fault squarely on the character's _own worldview_. Love that.

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Whittso 2 years, 10 months ago

And the page reloads and this looks a bit silly. Ah well...

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jack 2 years, 10 months ago

I thought of Shalka as well, and Time of the Doctor when he talks about building a robot boyfriend.

And all the times River said she'd dated androids. Apparently Time Lords in general have an android fetish.

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jack 2 years, 10 months ago

''Doctor/Master is retroactively more canonical than it's ever been'' Yessss. That's a much more succinct way of explaining what I was trying to get at in my first comment, haha.

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Rebecca 2 years, 10 months ago

jack, I liked your comment and I think it was a good explanation of how the Master being interested in the Doctor regardless of the body either of them has is fairly queer as these things go.

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David Anderson 2 years, 10 months ago

Yes. I would guess that's a directorial 'this is what Danny is thinking about' choice. Though no doubt we will find out if it's anything else next week.

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dm 2 years, 10 months ago

But what did Jill think of it?

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Anton B 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm just intrigued as to what the traditional Moffat heel-turn narrative collapse/substitution will be next week. I can't help but feel that we've been well and truly set up all through this series and it's going to be an immense 'everything you know is wrong'. That would definitely make up for the bit of a damp squib of the Missy/Master reveal. It's all about the woman in the shop isn't it? She chose Clara to call the Doctor. If it was Missy ("Clara, my Clara I did choose well") Why? What does she need the Doctor for if not merely to gloat and flirt, though that's often been motive enough for the Master.

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Herms 2 years, 10 months ago

Loved it to bits. So many things to discuss, but I think I'll go for the blandest and just say that since we now know Missy has set up shop in (what's apparently) modern London, the scenes in previous episodes where she watched the Doctor on a tablet don't seem so jarring now. Especially with the "we've got Steve Jobs" joke.

On the flipside, how did Missy collect the soul of that woman from Into the Dalek? Since presumably that was from hundreds of years in the future. Oh well, I guess with Time Lord technology it's no biggie. I guess the bigger mystery is how the android from Deep Breath ended up in the nethersphere. Apart from the apparent time travel, I'm not sure how the clockwork android would fit into the Cyberman setup seen here. Is his metal skeleton sitting in one of those watery tombs somewhere?

On that note, I guess we still don't know how all those robots seeking the Promised Land fits into Missy's scheme. Or how and why Missy "chose" Clara, whatever that means. And of course there's still that "Clara Oswald never existed" line from the trailer, which will presumably be in next episode.

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Herms 2 years, 10 months ago

Another thought: last episode, with Missy nonchalantly watching the solar flare head for Earth, and going "well, that was unexpected" when the trees save the day. If she's been running this whole evil operation on modern Earth all along, shouldn't she have...reacted differently? Somehow? I wonder if this is going to get clarified by whatever revelations are in store next episode, or if it's going to turn into one of those loose threads you get when you have a story arc running through different episodes by different writers.

Also, the Doctor ordering Clara to throw the keys into the lava was a nice callback to Clara's "just go ahead and kill me" gambit from Deep Breath.

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Nyq Only 2 years, 10 months ago

My daughter had decided that Missy was the master before the episode started. I was betting that it was Mercy Thingywhatsit from "The Next Doctor" - we have just done a mini-marathon watching of the David Tennant Specials. So my daughter was practically jumping up and down when Missy revealed she was a timelord and my son and I were trying to think of alternatives: Susan, the Rani, Jenny, River...

Anyway - wow.
I didn't want it to be the Master because he got such a good ending to his story in the End of Time but...wow.
Yes the 2nd part will be vaguely disappointing - how could it not be? - but that was brilliant television.
Stuff it - rankings:
1. Dark Water
2. Listen/The Caretaker
3. Kill the Moon
4. Mummy on the Orient Express
5. Deep Breath
6. Time Heist
7. Into the Dalek
8. Flatline
9. In the forest of the night
10. Robots of Sherwood

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Nyq Only 2 years, 10 months ago

"Did enjoy "He was an idiot?" though."

Oh yes - brilliant. I loved it - having the Doctor build up the possibility of an afterlife to Clara, then having him express his obvious disbelief was very well done and funny

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Nyq Only 2 years, 10 months ago

It is also a coda to the Doctor's 'no' earlier. Clara threatens X if they say Y, so they say Y.

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Anton B 2 years, 10 months ago

They say the eyes are the window to the soul so it seems the Cybermen do have a sense of humour with their choice of window designs. Actually people looking at their own reflection in windows and mirrors has been a theme this season. As has Eyes, Death, Robots and Lying.

The volcano scene was extraordinary. Not only a Dante-esque vision of hell after last weeks Blakean vision of an arboreal heaven but also a canny reminder of series four's Fires of Pompei ("where have I seen this face before?").

Clara's capacity for selfish entitlement issues was dialled up to 11 here but I felt the scene was more than mere blackmail. By removing the TARDIS keys, cutting the Doctor off from the one thing he truly loves, (The Doctor's Wife) she was trying to make the Doctor feel her own loss.

I love that one of the keys was hidden within the pages of Audrey Niffeneger's book The Time Traveller's Wife.

I hope everyone who's been snarking about Missy' s iPad enjoyed the "we've got Steve Jobs' pay-off.

Michelle Gomez is extraordinary. I particularly enjoyed her delivery of

It's only a matter of time now. Someone call Joanna Lumley.

The Cybermen have now been firmly retro-fitted into Moffat's hand-wavium pseudo-science (what do they need skeletons for?) and can take their rightful place as the body horror nightmares they were always intended as.

The finale's going to be mad isn't it?

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Anton B 2 years, 10 months ago

*Michelle Gomez is extraordinary. I particularly enjoyed her delivery of

"DOCTOR CHANG!!"

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Thomas Lawrence 2 years, 10 months ago

Given that the new series has to work for people who never watched the Classic, how would any other Time Lord possibly have worked as a reveal?

I mean, I guess you could have cooked one together about it being some meaningful Time Lord, the Doctor's daughter or mother or some such. But having it be the Rani or Romana would necessitate, at the very least, a bunch of explanation for the more recent viewer which would blunt the impact of the reveal.

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Aylwin 2 years, 10 months ago

One guess is that she wants a companion (in an "it seems to work for the Doctor" kind of way), and has head-hunted Clara. Putting her together with the Doctor has been a way of preparing her, drawing out her talents and her susceptibility to the thrill of power and the feeling of superiority to the little people, using the Doctor as a gateway drug to get her ready for the offer of the hardcore stuff. Setting up the Doctor to inadvertantly corrupt someone into suitability for her purposes would be a gratifying mind-game from a Masterish point of view. And yes, it would be a contorted and implausible sort of scheme, but this is the Master we're talking about.

Mind you, I'm not sure how "Clara Oswald never existed" would fit in with that, so I'm probably barking up the wrong tree.

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Nyq Only 2 years, 10 months ago

The premise, while not even new for Doctor Who, of a virtual afterlife made me think of Phillip K Dick's Ubik.

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mimhoff 2 years, 10 months ago

Only the Master has the old-fashioned villainy required to not reveal your plan for world domination until the Doctor stumbles across it.

It just raises more questions about "choosing" Clara though. Did she predict this would happen?

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Aylwin 2 years, 10 months ago

Small note: that was presumably a war memorial that Danny passed at the start of the episode. Another touch to the whole "season with a theme about soldiers in the centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War with the last episode broadcast on the eve of Remembrance Sunday" thing.

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tom jones 2 years, 10 months ago

I've only seen it once so far, but I'm pretty sure it was the boy he shot

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mimhoff 2 years, 10 months ago

I agree. I like these Cybermen who are true believers, that know that being a Cyberman is an improvement on humanity and who genuinely think they are doing you a favour...

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tom jones 2 years, 10 months ago

"There’s not been enough talk about Murray Gold this season. He’s really been learning to hold himself back."

Yeah, I've really been loving some of his work this season. As a lover of soundtrack albums, this is one I'll definitely be getting.

Incidentally, am I really the only one who picked up on the name of the scientist who recorded the voices from the afterlife? Dr Skarosa!

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Richard Pugree 2 years, 10 months ago

Yes she something along the lines of: "Time Lady, please. I'm old fashioned like that". I thought it was very cleverly done.

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ferret 2 years, 10 months ago

A time-traveller, from the past!

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Richard Pugree 2 years, 10 months ago

I don't think anyone's mentioned it yet, so, do we think we're going to get something about it being the Doctor's fault that Missy is back, as a result of what happens in Time of the Doctor?

I'm thinking that it was the Timelords opening the crack to send 11 his new set of regenerations that allowed Simm or Gomez or whatever regeneration he was in to escape? Piggybacking on the Doctor's regeneration energy or something? Might they now be physically linked in some way as a result of that? Does Missy now have a potentially infinite set of regenerations like the Doctor? Or in fact, given that presumably it Simm defeated Rassilon in some way when they got sent back into the TimeLock, that it was actually Simm or a recently regenerated Gomez (or an interim Master), that responded to Clara through the crack and sent the Doctor the regenerations in the first place. Making Missy's suggestion that she 'chose' Capaldi's accent literal - that she actually was behind the regeneration coming out as it did.

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Aylwin 2 years, 10 months ago

I was incredibly slow to pick up on the Cyberman-eye-logo thing. Mind you, I think that was because I had already latched onto the version in the picture on Seb's wall, which had it as two separate circles, and interpreted those as representing the world of the living and the much large Nethersphere, so making the link with the "the dead outnumber the living" idea.

So yes, this is a comment that starts with me admitting obtuseness with disarming frankness, and ends with me asking for a biscuit.

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Aylwin 2 years, 10 months ago

it did seem a bit... Run of the mill? A return to RTD?

The latter part, yes. Mind you, the secret-base-in-a-major-London-landmark thing (though presumably secret only in its true character, not its presence, and hence near-future rather than present) is such a flagrant RTD shoutout that there has to be intent behind it. Hence I am hoping for some kind of hairpin-bend twist on it next week.

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Herms 2 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, as much as I would have gotten a kick out of Missy turning out to be Evil Romana or some such thing, it'd be hard to pull that off without alienating the general audience. Admittedly, the Matrix played a central role in this episode's evil scheme, which is a bit obscure for anyone who isn't an old school Who fan, but it's also quickly explained as being Time Lord technology, and the concept of a virtual reality afterlife is easy enough to grasp. Doing a similar quickie Cliff Notes explanation of Romana for the lay audience would probably just make her sound like a River Song knock-off, and doing one for the Rani would just make her sound like a Master knock-off.

Evil Susan might just about work, since she's been mentioned a few times in the revived series, and even without that, "the Doctor's long-lost granddaughter" is a straightforward idea. Of course, you'd have to ditch Missy's "my boyfriend" comment in Deep Breath and much of her behavior in this episode, unless you want to take the story into a pretty weird place. Also, Evil Susan overall just strikes me as a stupid idea, even though I find the idea of Evil Romana funny. For some reason.

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Aylwin 2 years, 10 months ago

Pedantic and beside the point, but does traditional Ainu culture count as "Eastern"? I mean, in the sense that (as the quoted passage observes) it doesn't belong to the Indo-Chinese complex/es to which people tend to apply that term. In the same sense that it would highly dubious to class pre-Christian northern European cultures as "Western", in the sense of belonging to the Judaeo-Hellenic cultural complex emanating from the Middle East and Mediterranean to which (or rather, to one strand of which, these categories being ones that originate within that strand, and people tending to be over-discriminating in categorising what is close and under-discriminating in categorising what is far away) that term is usually applied.

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Herms 2 years, 10 months ago

I had pretty much the exact same experience: I originally thought the logo was representing the Earth and moon (a callback to Kill the Moon?), or some other astronomical meaning, and only made the Cybermen connection when the Doctor goes "I must be missing something obvious" and they finally show two eye symbols side-by-side. So it's not just you.

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John Peacock 2 years, 10 months ago

Thanks to the presence of a "Hyperscape Body-Swap Ticket" on Clara's post-it shelf , this BBC Proms tie-in movie is now canon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tv2IG12XVJw

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mimhoff 2 years, 10 months ago

Okay, after reading the other Cybermen articles here, here's my guess for next week:

Following the talk of good Daleks, good soliders, good men, and good Doctors, the story is about a good alien invasion. The Cybermen are back to their origins: they're us without our flaws, and they want to help. And they've figured out that we don't like them converting living humans by force, so they are being good to us by only converting the dead, voluntarily!

Missy is helping out primarily to mess with the Doctor and UNIT's heads.

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Matt Bogen 2 years, 10 months ago

This is extremely unlikely, but why do we assume that Gomez-Mistress is a regenerated Simm-Master? The Mistress says "you left me for dead," but the last time we saw the character, it was the Master doing the leaving, pushing Rassilon and Gallifrey back into the time lock. Is there a point in the old series where the Doctor left the Master for dead, and that is this point in the character's timeline?

I don't think this is likely, but given Moffat's love of the wobbly-wobbly-timey-wimey, it's fun to think about.

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Anglocat 2 years, 10 months ago

There is-"Planet of Fire" would serve admirably for that purpose. That said, I suspect she's the regenerated Simm Master--and Gomez does a hell of a job with it so far. Hope the new series fad of killing the recurring villain in every appearance doesn't happen this time; I'd like to see her return after next week. She's givinbg a strong, mad performance that's different from all of her predecessors

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ant 2 years, 10 months ago

Hmm, so in the Master's timeline, this story occurs after Survival? That's an interesting spin on it!

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Richard Pugree 2 years, 10 months ago

From the way Moffat was talking about her performance on this week's Extra I got the impression that there's a good possibility of this being a longer term recurring role for her...

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Leslie Lozada 2 years, 10 months ago

Well, I really wanted her to be Death, but at points I wanted her to me the Master.

Actually, one of my friends from California, who's taking screen writing classes, saw this from the very beginning. She's brilliant in that way.


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Pen Name Pending 2 years, 10 months ago

Steve Jobs is now a Cyberman

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ScarvesandCelery 2 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, I was just as slow with the logo - I'm always rubbish at predicting an episode's events, I didn't twig what the Cybermen's exact plan was until the tombs started to drain :P

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ScarvesandCelery 2 years, 10 months ago

Excellent episode, here's hoping "Death in Heaven" follows through on the promise of the setup. Rankings seem pointless today, so instead I'll make my undoubtedly wrong predictions.

1. The Master was the person who sent the Doctor his new regeneration cycle.
2. The woman in the shop is not Missy, who was just an elaborate feint, but Clara (perhaps in disguise) ensuring that her travels with the Doctor do indeed happen. That's a moffaty approach to her story that I can see playing out

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ScarvesandCelery 2 years, 10 months ago

Actually, I'm willing to bet the "Clara Oswald never existed" is her bluffing in order to avoid being killed by the Cyberman from the cliffhanger. Might be wrong, but that line did seem to be a major misdirect in the trailer

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The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca 2 years, 10 months ago

If Sarah Jane Adventures can bring back Jo Grant without a hell of a lot of narrative fuss, I think the series can bring back whomever the heck it wants so long as the scene is written well. Plus with School Reunion and Utopia - it's already proven it can do it.

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Leslie Lozada 2 years, 10 months ago

Or explain it all away from regeneration memory loss

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Thomas Lawrence 2 years, 10 months ago

The Lord: I think this ignores the role that paratext has to play in a reveal of this kind. Before Utopia it was already in the broader culture that: 1. The Master was a thing that existed - part of the "folk knowledge" that people with hazy or even no direct memories of the classic series would have had and 2. That the Master was heavily rumoured to be coming back this series anyway. Given that this episode, like Utopia, is structured around a shock reveal that needs to have blunt force impact, I think you need that paratextual support. School Reunion doesn't do a shock reveal and so can afford to introduce the concepts more slowly. Whereas there's no way to do "Missy is actually ROMANA/THE RANI!" and have people who never knew Romana/The Rani be able to parse it absent the paratextual support, which isn't there for either of them. (You could have built up to it over the season somehow, but we clearly didn't. Given the season as it was, the Master is the only reveal that makes sense AS a reveal.)

I never saw the SJA episode with Jo Grant, so I can't speak to how that one worked out or was explained.

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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jack 2 years, 10 months ago

Oh good, I'm not the only one who thought that!!

He totally has a crush on her, doesn't he?

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jack 2 years, 10 months ago

Well thank you!

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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John 2 years, 10 months ago

You're coming at it the wrong way round. The question isn't "who is the most interesting person for Missy to be?" It's "what is the best way to bring back the Master?" And part of that obviously has to involve some character secretly being the Master, because that's how the Master *always* gets introduced to stories.

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John 2 years, 10 months ago

Clara Oswald never existed is pretty obviously a gigantic red herring. Clara's apparently saying it *to the Cybermen*. Occam's Razor suggests the explanation is "she's lying, for some reason that will make sense in context."

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BerserkRL 2 years, 10 months ago

There's a long tradition of thinking of western culture as the combining of three strands: Judaic, Greco-Roman, and Celto-Germanic.

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BerserkRL 2 years, 10 months ago

I don't think it's just what he's thinking about (he's more likely to be thinking about Clara at that point); I think the boy came back, and his coming back will prevent Danny from hitting "delete."

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BerserkRL 2 years, 10 months ago

I'd like to see Susan brought back as an antagonist, but more as "Angry Susan" than strictly "Evil Susan." Her motivation could be rather like Khan's: you overrode my right to make my own decisions by dumping me here with a boyfriend who died soon thereafter and I've been trapped here ever since, waiting for you to keep your promise to come back.

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BerserkRL 2 years, 10 months ago

Clara seems a better choice for Master's companion than his previous ones (Chang Lee, Lucy Saxon) in terms of drive and competence; though for just those reasons a more dangerous choice too.

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BerserkRL 2 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, why not Mondasa?

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BerserkRL 2 years, 10 months ago

Might they now be physically linked in some way as a result of that?

Maybe that's how we'll get the Valeyard?

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BerserkRL 2 years, 10 months ago

Nah, the woman in the shop is a vengeful, resurrected Katarina. She's been pulling the strings behind all the big bads since 1966. The title of the Christmas Special is "The Discarded Trojan."

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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liminal fruitbat 2 years, 10 months ago

My guess: the robots seeking the Promised Land are Cyber-descendants who have a vague memory of the Nethersphere and are trying to join up with their people.

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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James V 2 years, 10 months ago

I do think this story is the best possible thing to follow up the Master's "death" with. You send the Master to the afterlife, of course she then takes over the afterlife!

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TheSmilingStallionInn 2 years, 10 months ago

"If you love him, and you should, help him." And maybe the Master was the one saying "Doctor Who"...

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Prandeamus 2 years, 10 months ago

Skarosa, why that's an anagram of ... hang on, I'll get in a moment, no, I usualy get theses ... I'll come back later...

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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TheSmilingStallionInn 2 years, 10 months ago

The 3W, the three words, are not "Don't cremate me." They are "I love you." The three hardest words for some people to say in their lifetimes.

Clara managed to say it to Danny and told him that she would not say those words to anyone else before he died, and Danny said those words in an attempt to save her and stop her. They are important in this episode, and maybe in the finale as well.

And maybe important because the Doctor is one of the few characters who cannot say, "I love you." He literally cannot say those three words to anyone. They stopped Ten from saying those words to Rose and Ten-Two could only whisper those words to Rose. Eleven certainly couldn't say those words to River Song, even when he married. He couldn't say it to the TARDIS, or Amy, or Clara, no incarnation of the Doctor has ever said those words to anyone, have they?

The Mistress kissed the Doctor and claims that he is her boyfriend, but maybe she regards the 3W, the three words, as a joke, because she cannot love anyone. Probably a controversial idea here, but what do you think about it?

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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Jesse 2 years, 10 months ago

From a poster on Gallifrey Base, an irrefutable argument that Time Lords can't switch genders:

"certainly any people who knew they could change sex at will would not choose a name like Susan for their child"

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breadzone 2 years, 10 months ago

The one saying "Doctor Who" was Ken Bones's Time Lord general, who appeared on Gallifrey in the previous episode.

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Jarl 2 years, 10 months ago

I always liked the theory that the Question was being broadcast as a response to the emergency beacon River was broadcasting in The Wedding of River Song:

"The Doctor is dying. Please help."
"Doctor Who?"

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Jarl 2 years, 10 months ago

Johnny Cash would have words with this poster.

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5tephe 2 years, 10 months ago

Nice point! I'd missed that.

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Aaron 2 years, 10 months ago

The Mistress has always been one of my favourite characters, and I think the most exciting moment in all of Doctor Who for me was in Utopia when I realised for sure that the Mistress was back. I'm excited to see more of the Gomez Mistress in action- too much of this episode, she's not doing a lot. I'm curious to see what she's like in comparison to other Mistresses- certainly, she proves that the Simms Mistress's off the wall goofiness has become a defining personality trait of the Mistress now, something that was absent most of the time in the classic who characterisation of the Mistress.

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David Anderson 2 years, 10 months ago

I think almost anyone watching the Sarah Jane Adventures can immediately grasp the idea of a past companion whose role was almost but not exactly like that of Sarah Jane. Nothing of the impact of Sarah Jane interacting with Jo Grant dependss on the details of The Green Death. Whereas it would be difficult to give much emotional impact to Romana turning evil, without describing where the Doctor and Romana's relationship was when they last met, which would mean talking about E-Space and Tharils. It's hard enough to explain Warriors Gate in four twenty-five minute episodes.

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Philip Sandifer 2 years, 10 months ago

I think there's a difference between what concepts you can get away with bringing back and what concepts you can get away with using as a big reveal.

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eternaly relyneat 2 years, 10 months ago

Forgive me if I just missed it, but i'm surprised there no discussion of THE CITY OF THE SAVED in this ep.

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Prandeamus 2 years, 10 months ago

When I eight or nine, the Master really was the villain who scared the pants off me. The Daleks not being in the programme's toybox in 1971, obviously.

It's quite interesting seeing this clip on the BBC website when Pertwee's doctor meets the Master for the first time... http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01bc2ny (Terror of Autons part 4) Of course with adult sensibilities I can see the comedy, and the comments about him being vicious and overcomplicated.

If this plays out in full-blown Pertwee mode, the Cybermen will betray Missy about 20 minutes into next week's episode.

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David Anderson 2 years, 10 months ago

I think that if the answer to 'who is the most interesting person for Missy to be?' isn't 'the Master' then the answer to 'what is the best way to bring back the Master?' is 'why?'
That said, speaking as someone who has too many memories of tired Anthony Ainley stories, Moffat and Gomez have me eager to see where they're going to do with the character.

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5tephe 2 years, 10 months ago

Best line to give Canonicity (?) to all the Doctor/Master shipping had to be:

"Who looks after your heart?"

"The Doctor."

Although we couldn't see the capital letter.

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Anton B 2 years, 10 months ago

His name is Susan and you should respect his life choices

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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Adam Riggio 2 years, 10 months ago

I actually think Michelle Gomez and Moffat's evil scheme for The Master has breathed some new life into the character. As memorable as John Simm was in the role, Davies had him play out simply the most intense and epic version of the OTT evil scheme of old.

This episode's plan plays on the most primal fear of everything alive, our deaths, and if Danny's storyline is any indication, The Master and her staff encourage them to download their minds to her storage unit by manipulating them to their most profoundly lowest point. She's taken one of the most profound ideas in humanity's religious engagement with the divine and twisted it into an evil scheme of world conquest.

I've finally written up my own account of why this is so horrifying, and thanks again Phil for an excellent entry to get it moving.

http://adamwriteseverything.blogspot.ca/2014/11/the-lure-of-afterlife-doctor-who-dark.html

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Chris 2 years, 10 months ago

I made a diePad joke and almost missed the Steve Jobs line.

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jane 2 years, 10 months ago

It was almost a Circle in the Square. But with an extra little blib in it. Not-quite integration.

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Froborr 2 years, 10 months ago

Of course there are three much, much worse words that Clara's afraid of. Those are the three words driving her: "It's your fault." After all, she was talking to him when he was hit by the car, distracting him... for a self-described control freak like her? She must be drowning in guilt.

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jane 2 years, 10 months ago

It's a subversion of the Chair Ascension motif. "Dark Water" is a "dark mirror" -- a mirror that subverts, undermines, shows the dark side of a concept.

Also, the Chairs must be "organic" in some fashion to be seen in that stuff.

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jane 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm not sure they're entirely qlippothic in this story. It's not like we've got people clinging to the material substrate of life, mistaking the light bulb for the light. They're husks, yes, but defined more by a desire to avoid pain than to avoid death itself.

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jane 2 years, 10 months ago

So is it fair to say that Missy is transsexual? Or simply that she's transsexed, which sidesteps the implication of gender dysphoria?

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Chris 2 years, 10 months ago

"Heaven doesn't want me, and Hell's afraid I'll take over."

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Matthew Blanchette 2 years, 10 months ago

Yeah; I misunderstood hearing it from someone else. Sorry. :-(

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Matthew Blanchette 2 years, 10 months ago

All "Death in Heaven" needs to complete it are some poppies, then, don't you think?

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Ben 2 years, 10 months ago

Going on Gallifrey Base a few years back and seeing all the people who were dead set against a female Doctor further convinced me that it would be a great idea.

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jonathan inge 2 years, 10 months ago

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ferret 2 years, 10 months ago

I thought perhaps Missy's Cyberman technology is based on learnings from the Half-faced Man and other cyborgs that made it to the Nethersphere - her Cybermen being unrelated to Mondosan/Petes World/Cyberiad ones except in visual design and underlying concept.

The Master was always a peverter of exisiting technology rather than a scientist/creator such as the Rani - certainly Missy seems to have hijacked Dr Skarosa and Dr Chang's work to her own ends, along with what is apparently pre-existing Timelord Tech.

On a side note I'm slightly disappointed we (seemingly) won't be seeing any more of the Half-faced Man, he was a fascinating character well acted - was looking forward to his return with perhaps an interestingly evolved worldview after so many decades with Missy in Paradise.

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ferret 2 years, 10 months ago

In those teasing moments after Dr Chaaaaaaang!s death, I was thinking it was going to be an entirely new character, just not entirely new to the Doctor: his long forgotten wife. To my mind that would work better (than the Rani, Romana or Susan) as there's no continuity/stories to bring back exactly. There would still have to be a revealing conversation - presumably an accusational/denial one - but could be covered swiftly and interestingly.

I'm not exactly amped to have the Master back, but if we must have the Master back then having Michelle Gomez in the role certainly makes it worthwhile!

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elvwood 2 years, 10 months ago

Jonathan, I'm sorry you felt you had to remove so many of your posts. Some, perhaps, weren't showing you at your best; but there were others that I felt were definitely worth engaging with. Your one about Ainu myth, for instance, was one I hoped to come back to and think about later - I wish I could come up with that sort of analysis/analogy myself! Anyway, all the best - please do stick around!

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

More from Jill please!

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

My first thought was that Missy could be Romana (Mistress?), but then I *hoped* that she would be the Master. I actually didn't think she would be as it seemed then that she may have been someone else. So being surprised that my hopes were right was wonderful and I grinned with glee when the reveal came!

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

Yeah great Romana fakeout - for a moment I did think that my wildest thoughts were right. Good tease. Nice call on the Shalka Master too.

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Seeing_I 2 years, 10 months ago

My friends and I repeated that line all evening. :)

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Seeing_I 2 years, 10 months ago

Parts of this made me think it was the Cybermen finally taking "Revelation of the Daleks" back from the pepperpots, since it's so obviously more in the Cybermen's wheelhouse.

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arcbeatle 2 years, 10 months ago

Well, she has clearly transitioned. I'd say Timelords are probably (mostly) genderfluid. Though I know of some Trans people very happy to adopt her transition as a symbol and example of their own, so simply because of that I'm willing to accept her as being transexual regardless of the narrative details within the universe.

All sci-fi analogies aren't 100%, and I think this one is close enough to be fair to call her trans.

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arcbeatle 2 years, 10 months ago

I did not notice, but I admit I have only read your Star Wars Novels (which are sitting proudly on my shelf though, mind you, I loved them quite a bit! Still very miffed there won't be a third Force Unleashed Novel... *grumbles*). I'll add the Crooked Letter to my reading list!

Of course, the afterlife as a giant expansive city also reminds me of Philip Purser-Houser's "The City of the Saved" and one can't help but wonder if it was intentional that way since it was a Doctor Who tie in.

That bit with Danny was very clever, and it goes along with the theme we've had through the season of people teaching other people to trick by example. The Doctor teaches Clara, which comes to a head here in this episode, and finally Danny does it to Clara. For her own good.... But so was the intention for any of them.

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Seeing_I 2 years, 10 months ago

I think Moffat has been a real clever-clogs and found a way to have his cake and eat it too on several levels.

Bring back the Master with a twist - check.
Answer calls for a gender-swapped Doctor with a gender-swapped Master one - check.
Answer calls for The Rani to return by filling the slot with a different fabulously evil Time Lady - check.
Fill the "flirty mature female character with a history of putting the Doctor on the wrong foot" slot, recently vacated by River - check.
Provide fodder for all the Doctor/Master shippers - check.

I just hope that the transgender community doesn't go nuts complaining that "of course the EVIL character is the one who's transitioned."

I must admit I twigged to the "Master / Mistress" thing immediately when the character name was mentioned, and the slow reveal that she was allied with dodgy aliens in an Earth-invasion plot where UNIT was involved clinched it. But I will say I was holding out a bit of hope for Evil Romana, just so we could also have gotten Evil K9!

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Nicholas Tosoni 2 years, 10 months ago

*dies*

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

"Which is fair, though I see it more as further evidence of Time Lord genderfluidity, so ymmv."

I must say that I feel *very* happy with the Master/Mistress change and the genderfluid nature of the Timelords/Ladies being underlined. I feel that this really has always been there (though not implicitly maybe) and as a man who has always experienced an inner fluidity as far as gender goes, really pleased to see this happen. It reminds me of the Culture in the Iain M Banks novels where gender can be explored and altered according to choice - that's what I enjoyed seeing, the choice of a new gender being made by the Master. What fun as new possibilities are opened up!

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

Or maybe the Master has always been the Mistress and she has only recently realised.

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

But the Moon is an egg.

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brownstudy 2 years, 10 months ago

I saw Missy's old-fashioned dress as a sort of reflection of the Doctor's whimsically old-fashioned dress sense, esp. Hartnell and Troughton, and Smith, to a degree.

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Pôl Jackson 2 years, 10 months ago

I was thinking the same thing when I was watching it. It's not the first time I've seen concepts from the New Adventures & Faction Paradox pop into Moffat's scripts.

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encyclops 2 years, 10 months ago

"Malokeh, I rather love you," says Eleven in "Cold Blood." (Barf.)

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encyclops 2 years, 10 months ago

I assumed she chose the name "Susan," presumably because there weren't any Ford Prefects around yet.

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encyclops 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm late to the party as usual, having forced myself to watch twice and then write my own post first, but I think I agreed with just about everything Philip said above, especially regarding Murray Gold, the effectiveness of the episode even spoiled, and the power of the more dramatic scenes. My heart was in my throat for pretty much everything after "that's Time Lord technology" up through "I could hardly keep calling myself 'Master.'" Part of that was because for a moment I was thinking she really would turn out to be the Rani, not because I thought it would be a good idea, but just because it was a prospect I hadn't taken seriously and it suddenly seemed to fit so well.

About my only major disagreement with Philip this time is that it's too early to rank this. It's possible that "Death in Heaven" will retroactively ruin this for me, but I have a hard time figuring out how, and Moffat's record with two-parters is very good. Earlier this week I figured out my rankings for the season (rationales here, if you're interested: http://encyclops.com/season-8-pre-finale-rankings/) and this effortlessly King Kongs its way to the top spot:

1. Dark Water
2. The Caretaker
3. Flatline
4. Listen
5. Mummy on the Orient Express
6. In the Forest of the Night
7. Deep Breath
8. Into the Dalek
9. Robot of Sherwood
10. Kill the Moon
11. Time Heist

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Aylwin 2 years, 10 months ago

Si causam non praeficiendum requiris, circumspice.

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Sean Case 2 years, 10 months ago

She will realise the implications about ten seconds into the next episode, I'd guess.

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BerserkRL 2 years, 10 months ago

Oh my god. The horse is the Doctor's granddaughter. Everything makes sense now.

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BerserkRL 2 years, 10 months ago

The Master's very first appearance featured a somewhat organic chair.

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Seeing_I 2 years, 10 months ago

They are doing "The Invasion," yes, but it strikes me they are also remaking "Revelation of the Daleks" for the Cybermen, who were always a better fit for that story anyway, with Missy as the Great Healer and Kara drolled in one.

Seems that my prior comments were eaten by Google, so - Moffat has performed something of a hat-trick here. He's managed to write a flirty madwoman to lead the Doctor a merry chase, thus filling the River / Tasha vacancy. He's brought the Master back with a twist, and at the same time pre-empted any need for the Rani. Meanwhile he gives a huge boost to the notion of a female Doctor, even after pooh-poohing it on Capaldi's introductory special. It's pretty, well, great.

And while I am not at all enthusiastic about the change from Lord to Lady seemingly mandating a sudden flurry of kisses, which seems as out of character for the Mastress as it did for the TARDIdris, I can't help but notice he might have filled the Iris Wildthyme slot as well. Which is really a shame cause if anybody should be snogging Peter Capaldi, it's Katy Manning.

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

Yes Jane, there is something of the climax of the 8th Doctor DWM comic Flood in this, where the Cybermen trick humanity to want become like them so they can numb the intensity of emotion which they have been manipulated to feel.

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

Absolutely Adam and mimhoff. This is also (as I suggested above) a playing out perhaps of the ideas behind the Cybeymen in the DWM comic The Floood, where humanity's emotions are manipulated to make the *want* conversion. Look forwards to reading your post Adam.

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

I am simply so excited to be seeing Michelle Gomez in a major role. I discovered her first in the surreal hospital comedy The Green Wing where she plays a beautifully unhinged Administrator - really worth a watch if you can find it. I really hope that she is in for the long term and ends up not being a flash in the pan and being regenerated off.

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

"a species that is *inherently* genderfluid like Time Lords are would have no concept of something static like 'heterosexual' "

I really agree jack. Whatever way the regenerations go for both the Doctor and the Mistress/Master this is really explicit now.

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

Very interesting ideas Richard!

There has to be something linking them as I do think it's significant they are both Scottish.

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

mmm... I missed the significance of the logo too, and also interpreted it as the world of the dead outgrowing the size of the living world. I even started to imagine a Mandlebrot set style relationship between other worlds. But what a lovely use of the eyes for the logo. Beautiful design.

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

Oh I sooo want Gomez to be recurring too - will be criminal if she isn't. Sounds very hopeful though!

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

Really late commenting (had my birthday this weekend which I share with my parter and wee had a long weekend of celebrations) and don't have too much more to say that has not been said (though am ruminating so more may come) - but I *absolutely loved* this episode so much! I feel very hopeful for the finale as I somehow don't think that Moffat will be approaching his final episode of two in the same way as before. I believe he has had time to think his approaches through and we may well be delivered something quite new.

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Anton B 2 years, 10 months ago

A couple of stray thoughts
As the Cybermen were so heavilly trailed and spoilered and the main reason for Missy's presence is the revelation of her true identity can we expect another surprise monster reveal in the finale? Weeping Angels maybe?

Who is Seb? I've a feeling something is being hidden in plain sight here but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Will the Clara in the "Clara Oswald has never existed" scene reveal herself to be Saibre the shape shifter from Time Heist ?

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Anton B 2 years, 10 months ago

@BerserkRL. That's been my (only slightly non-serious) head-canon for some time now ;)

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Anton B 2 years, 10 months ago

@Daru. Totally agree on Michelle Gomez. She's a fantastic physical actor. Her character in the Green Wing is to The Mistress what Capaldi's Malcolm Tucker is to the Twelfth Doctor.

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

Oh yeah Anton she so is isn't she! Interesting that she has appeared to be very choosy about her film and TV work, makes me wonder if she has also been doing a lot of theatre. Great physicality and superb control of facial expression.

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Seeing_I 2 years, 10 months ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

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Seeing_I 2 years, 10 months ago

Whoa. This is weird. I logged in today and saw that my comments have disappeared. So I posted a new comment saying, weird, my comments have disappeared. I posted, then saw my comments WERE here, so I deleted my comment - and all the others disappeared, as well. What's up, Google???

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

They're in the Nethersphere.

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quislibet 2 years, 10 months ago

Heteronormative or not, it does have the advantage of sidestepping (at least in the present incarnation) the "gay villain" trope.

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Seeing_I 2 years, 10 months ago

Google commenting is being extra-weird. I logged in today & all my comments were gone. I posted a thing saying "hey my posts are gone" and then once i did that, they re-appeared. So i deleted that post ... and they disappeared again!

And no, Google...I am not a robot!

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Philip Sandifer 2 years, 10 months ago

Are you falling victim to the "load more comments" issue, whereby Google's link telling you that it's not displaying all the comments because there's too many is too small and easy to miss?

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UrsulaL 2 years, 10 months ago

Danny is dead, or at least believes he is dead.

For Clara to join him, he's afraid she would have to be dead, too.

He isn't afraid she'll put herself in danger investigating. He's afraid she'll kill herself to join him. Particularly when she says she'll do anything to join him.

So he's afraid to say anything to confirm that it is really him. He believes Clara has her life ahead of her, and he doesn't want her to throw it away.

In the immediate moment, he's afraid she'll kill herself. But if he's thought about it, he'll realize that if she's able to keep coming back and talking to him, she won't get over his loss, won't move on with her life.

So he needs to end the call, even though it means he may not be able to talk to her again, either.

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adampsb 2 years, 10 months ago

Actually given how much of a misogynist the Master was I think it is highly unlikely that he would change into a woman. Just a case of pandering to the why can't the Doctor be a woman crowd. What's next a female James Bond, Jason Bourne and John McLane. It's silly and the Master should have stayed as just that. THE MASTER

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

Yes that's a good save isn't it? Good to see that not happening.

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elvwood 2 years, 10 months ago

I did like the nod to Malcolm Tucker in this episode - the "another government inspection: what's with all the swearing?" bit. I can't believe I missed it first time around.

I suppose the bit by the volcano could have been a nod to Caecilius, but that's not so clear.

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Anton B 2 years, 10 months ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

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Anton B 2 years, 10 months ago

Just spoilered myself with the official BBC trailer for Death in Heaven. Actually there's nothing too spoilery in it, mostly UNIT fighting Cybermen. (Which makes me think even more that there's going to be a twist we haven't seen coming) There's also a scene that manages to homage both a classic Hartnell and a famous Twilight Zone episode which is so effective I'm surprised they waste it in the trailer. If you don't want to ruin a really good fright moment avoid this trailer.

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Jarl 2 years, 10 months ago

If we're to take the implications over the years that James Bond is a cover identity seriously, a female James Bond would work fine enough. "Jamie Bond" doesn't quite work for that, but with how historical trends go, James will probably be a unisex name in a few decades anyways.

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Jarl 2 years, 10 months ago

They actually landed in Mercy in the early 1900s before traveling to 1960s London, and Susan named herself after the horse.

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Seeing_I 2 years, 10 months ago

Yes, I am a victim of that. Like Sally who spent all night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, I demand reparations!

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Prandeamus 2 years, 10 months ago

Yes. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

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encyclops 2 years, 10 months ago

It's entirely plausible to me -- though I don't necessarily want or choose to believe that this is what happened -- that the Master's regeneration was, like the Doctor's, not controlled and deliberate, and that once he realized he was not only female but that he enjoyed it, any misogyny he might have felt toward himself vanished.

Moreover, we know that personalities change from regeneration to regeneration. Above, unnoun suggests that not every incarnation of the Doctor is equally misogynist or racist, and there's no reason to think this might not be true of the Master as well. Certainly my recollection is that he sometimes seemed more respectful of Jo Grant than the Doctor himself, for example.

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encyclops 2 years, 10 months ago

Personally I'd rather see a gay/bi villain than no gay/bi characters at all, but I have no problem at all with this direction. Nothing that happens to the Master/Mistress has ever been permanent, so even those who do have a problem with it won't have to wait forever for it to change.

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Sean Case 2 years, 10 months ago

But she has to be expecting the betrayal, right? So what's her plan for it?

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

Danny is Handles!

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John Peacock 2 years, 10 months ago

"Helping you ... to help me ... to help you."

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brownstudy 2 years, 10 months ago

Just rewatched the first third of the episode last night and marvelled at how the whole season has built to this. Pardon me if this has been pointed out before, but Clara's bargaining scene with the Doctor in the volcano is a dark mirror of the bargaining scene between Clara and the Half-Face Man in "Deep Breath."

In DB, Half-face man starts out with his worst threat but doesn't back it up, and Clara calls him on it. In DW, Clara doesn't start negotiations with the Doctor in reasonable conversation. Instead, she starts with her worst threat and she knows she needs to back it up. And boy, does she. She even sacrifices her own safety to manipulate the Doctor.

And their banter at the volcano uses that keyword "control." The Doctor maintains he's in control of the situation, while Clara basically tells him he doesn't know who he's dealing with. It's a great scene that really brought a lot of strands together.

And of course, in both stories, the Doctor proves he has her back when she's in deep trouble.

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Anton B 2 years, 10 months ago

In that case I demand a Danny Handles and Oswin Dalek spin-off series. They could investigate space crimes perhaps with a comedy Judoon sidekick.

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Daru 2 years, 10 months ago

Your'e on! And you have to have some stories involving Rusty Dalek.

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