“I fought in a bigger war than you will ever know. I did worse things than you could ever imagine, and when I close my eyes I hear more screams than anyone could ever be able to count!”
Phew. That’s a relief. The second half of a very mixed Zygon story is thankfully much better. In fact it might just be the best episode in the series so far. Or it would be, if it wasn’t for the two Osgoods taking their inhalers in sync at the end.
The episode picks up, with real Clara waking up inside her own subconscious. Whilst evil Clara (or Bonnie) is in control, real Clara can only watch the world from within her own head. The dreamlike prison Clara finds herself is cool and suitably weird. There’s even a nice They Live reference in there. Meanwhile Bonnie is shooting down the Doctor’s plane, back in the real world. Admittedly this does echo recent events, but it’s so ridiculous you don’t really take notice. In a show that lives so far in the realm of fantasy and sci-fi, I find it silly that people get worked up about it. It was made before the crash, and this scene was heavily signposted from last week. It’s mainly just The Daily Mail, but the BBC couldn’t change the scene and they could hardly cancel it. It’s fiction and unfortunately, this time it accidentally hit too close to home for some.
Speaking of awkward parallels to real world terror, this episode was filled with less obvious references than the first episode. In fact mostly everything was improved from last time. Kate Stewart, who got quite a rubbish part last episode, was great this time. It was awesome to see someone doing things her way, emptying a clip full of ammo into a Zygon. There’s been such a military presence in the past two episodes and it was nice to actually see someone fire a gun. It also set up a nice contrast between her way and the Doctor’s way. The Zygons were good too, the scenes of the Zygon being transformed back to humans was genuinely unsettling. Even Osgood was good! Until the last ten seconds in which they both used their inhalers – as if I didn’t HATE this ‘trademark’ enough. I feel like I’m crazy, more people must hate her right? More fans must feel offended when she’s on-screen?
Peter Capaldi gave an absolutely cracking performance in this episode. I know we say that every week, but this took it to another level. That man has some serious acting chops. That speech at the end was perhaps the best scene Doctor Who has ever had. The writing was top-notch, the concept tense and simple and there were no convoluted Moffatt-y moments. And as I said, the acting was superb. Capaldi finally made the Doctor feel like a tortured soldier. They’ve always said it but I’ve never believed it. The Doctor carries around so much pain and this is the first time that pain has seemed utterly devastating. Thank god he’s sticking around for another series.
The final resolution was perhaps a little too neat, and it might piss some people off that they kept dragging up some obscure plot points from two years ago. But overall this episode was amazing and it more than made up for the mess that was part one. Doctor Who did the impossible and turned it around with an episode I’m not likely to forget for a while.
The next episode is the found footage one written by Mark Gatiss. It will be interesting at the very least.
Reviewed by Jack