Kyle J. Steenblik

Peter Capaldi saves Doctor Who, and Christmas

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Season 8 of Doctor Who has officially ended, we know things now that we did not know before.  We found out what kind of Doctor Peter Capaldi is, and what he is capable of.  We know what is happening to Clara, and we found out who Missy is/was.  I am going to be packing a lot in here, so if you have not seen the last two episodes of the regular season, and the Doctor Who Christmas special turn back now if you intend to avoid spoilers.  If you don’t mind spoilers by all means stick around.

Capaldi’s Doctor is like none we have seen before, after one season I believe he is the strongest performer this series has ever had.  He seems to understand this character with a depth I’ve not seen before.  His enthusiasm is driving the series at this point.  Honestly I think he is outpacing Steven Moffat, I say that only because watching Peter Capaldi it appears he has to keep pulling himself back a step to keep up with the story.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we start hearing stories of him adlibbing dialogue, he just seems to know who The Doctor is better than the people actually writing it.  I will get back to that, I am putting the TARDIS before the horse.

Dark Water

Season 8 | Episode 11 | Original Airdate: November 1st, 2014

Written By Steven Moffat. Directed by Rachel Talalay. Guest starring Michelle Gomez and Chris Addison.

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Dark Water solicited a few interesting emotional responses when I first watched, and then re-watched the first of the two part episode. First, I was very aware that I was being manipulated. Steven Moffat likes to trick his audience, and I am familiar with his tricks. What I was unprepared for, was that he was using this in a spectacular bluff. Some of these false leads have still not played out, and I do not like that. I was actually counting on these lose ends being tied up, or to at least hint that they will be tied off in the Christmas special. Now I sit here, after Christmas, with a handful of loose ends, and no indication that we will have satisfactory resolution, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Dark Water starts by killing Danny Pink, in one of the most emotionally manipulative ways possible. The character I had hung my hopes on reviving a functional Doctor-Companion relationship dies. I did not walk away for long, just long enough to remind myself that this is a Steven Moffat plot, and just because they say someone died, does not mean they really died, and we previously met Orson Pink, so I returned. My confidence restored I soldiered on, but this death looked different. It is treated different, Clara is not just sad about this death, she is unreasonably angry with The Doctor because of it. This threw me; it seemed out of character, especially for Clara, the companion that knows far too much about The Doctor, time travel, and the universe. What they did with Clara, in her grief was spectacular. Twenty minutes into this episode I was off my guard nothing made sense it was exhilarating. So often, I see what they are doing with the story, what the characters are becoming. I am not surprised nearly enough. I like being wrong, sometimes. To remind you, Clara kidnaps The Doctor, takes the TARDIS to an active volcano, and begins throwing TARDIS keys into the volcano demanding The Doctor save Danny Pink. Now it turns out that it was a dream, kidnaping The Doctor is not simple. Nevertheless, The Doctor agrees to try to find Danny in the afterlife and bring him back, if possible. This would be a good point to remind everyone what happened when Rose saved her Dad’s life, in Father’s Day. When Rose stopped her Father from being hit by a car the TARDIS stops working, and Reapers appear and begin killing people, and time begins to consume people, until the timeline is restored. In other words, things go very bad.

This takes us to Danny being stuck in the Nethersphere, and The Doctor and Clara meeting Missy. Long story short, Missy is collecting the consciousness of the dead, and storing their bodies to be used to build an army of Cybermen. This is also where we find out Missy is a Time Lord, and we are briefly teased with the possibility that she is the Rani, a possibility that literally had me out of my seat with excitement, but then they ruined it by revealing that she is The Master. There is good here and bad here. There are more implications packed into this one reveal than I can expand on in a week. Maybe not a week, but it would definitely take more time than I have, and we still have another whole episode to talk about.

Death In Heaven

Season 8 | Episode 12 | Original Airdate: November 8th, 2014 |

Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Rachel Talalay. Guest starring Michelle Gomez, Chris Addison, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Jemma Redgrave, and Ingrid Oliver.

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Death in Heaven picks up right where Dark Water left, with The Master revealing herself and awakening the Cybermen. This episode primarily focuses on Danny Pink. He was saved in the Nethershpiere, which is a time lord data matrix and then uploaded back into his body, which has been upgraded to a Cyberman. Then we spend some time finding out what The Master, or rather Mistress wants. It turns out the whole episode, is just another way for her to torment The Doctor. What she calls, being friends. She made him a Cyberman army that he can control. To be honest, I thought this was a very cool twist. Like Gandalf with the One Ring of Power, you can see the temptation. I loved how tortured Capaldi looks at this moment. The real crux of this episode is Danny Pink. As a converted Cyberman, he was able to keep enough of himself to recognize Clara, and keep her safe. He was also able to help The Doctor save the world by sacrificing himself and the entire Cyber Army when The Doctor turned control of the Cyber Army to Danny. CyberDan has a chance to say a few heartbreaking goodbyes and orders the Cyber Army to self-destruct. A few things happen next, first, Missy tells The Doctor that Gallifrey is found and that she can show him where it is. Then a converted Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart “kills” Missy, just after she give The Doctor a set of space-time coordinates. Clara gives up traveling with The Doctor, and Danny manages to contact Clara to let her know The Doctor has found a way to come back, but instead sends a little boy he had accidentally killed while he was a soldier. Finally, The Doctor realizes that Missy was lying about Gallifrey, or gave him the wrong coordinates. There are loads of Easter eggs for longtime fans, it is highly enjoyable to watch, but what we are left with is Clara has given up her life with The Doctor, Danny still dead, no explanation on how The Master survived, or how she returned. The end of the regular season was extremely anti-climactic and left very little resolved. Too much unresolved in my opinion. I was more unsatisfied by this finale than any other I’ve seen. There was a single ray of hope, which was at the very end, when Santa enters the TARDIS. Here I left thinking they will tie up all these loose ends in the Christmas special. I was hopeful.

Last Christmas

Original Airdate: December 25th, 2014

Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Paul Wilmshurst.   Guest starring Nick Frost (The Worlds End, Shaun of the Dead) as Santa Claus! Michael Troughton (Breathless, The New Statesman), son of Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, Natalie Gumede (Coronation Street, Strictly Come Dancing), Faye Marsay (Pride, The White Queen), and Nathan McMullen (Misfits, Casualty).

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Last Christmas began in true Doctor Who holiday fashion, Clara waking up after Santa crashed on her roof.  It’s good fun, and then The Doctor shows up and ushers Clara into the TARDIS, but not before Santa tells The Doctor he needs help.  Naturally, they go to the North Pole, where a team of scientists has been attacked by face hugging alien crab creatures.  As they are making introductions, and The Doctor identifies them as Dream Crabs they are ambushed by more crabs, and saved by Santa.  When I say Santa saved them, I mean he rode in on Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer like a great jolly night in fuzzy red armor.  We have classic film references, and Nick Frost as Santa saving The Doctor from face hugging space-crabs, I was happy.  Go home all other holiday specials, this will never be topped.

What the Dream Crabs do, is put you into a realistic dream state as they slowly burrow into your head and eat your brain.  I don’t really want to spoil it but they spend a good amount of time trying to figure out who is dreaming, and how to save earth from the invasion of the face-hugging space dream crabs.  If you didn’t catch this special, I would encourage you to fix that.  There are some very touching moments between Clara and The Doctor as they make up.  The Doctor seems to see Clara in a new light after learning about Danny.  In case you forgot The Doctor thought Danny had come back, he did not know he sent the little boy instead.  While Clara seems to have forgiven The Doctor, she seems to realize a man with two hearts could never really be as heartless as he seems.

It really is very touching.  We also find out that Clara is not leaving, Jenna Coleman has signed on for the whole of season 9.  Personally, I hope that means there is some hope to bring Danny Pink back, or some other way to explain Orson Pink.  That lose string is really going to bother me for a long time.  There are a few loose ends that are going to bother me, but honestly, the depth of character Peter Capaldi is bringing to The Doctor will keep me attached for a very long time.

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