With the ninth season (series?) of Doctor Who just around the corner, I’d say now would be a good time for me to help you get up to speed, so when Saturday, September 19th comes along, you won’t be thinking, “Who’s this guy with the weird eyebrows?” or “how come that blue box thingy is so big on the inside?”
Of course, you could just rewatch it all on your own, but I think it would be easier for all involved if you just read what I have to say, as I sum up each of the season eight episodes for your benefit:
The season opens with an implausibly large dinosaur wreaking havoc among Victorian London. Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax (Strax!) are there, and not a single person seems to notice/nor care about Vastra or Strax’s appearance. The show just sort of expects us to go along with it, and I for one have no problem doing so.
The dinosaur coughs up the Tardis, and when the Paternoster Gang opens it up they find a brand new Doctor, who is acting slightly crazier than usual. Due to a ridiculous chain of events involving daleks, a time crack thingy and a new regeneration cycle, the Doctor has changed into his twelfth face. (Technically his thirteenth, but who’s counting?)
“Here we go again,” said Vastra, in a suitably ominous manner.
The rest of the episode can be broken into three separate plots. Plot one follows the Doctor finding out who he is. As a result the character’s pretty wacky for most of the episode. It’s not until the scene right before he may/may not have thrown that dude off the skin balloon that we get to see who he is really is.* Storyline 2 revolves around Clara’s character arc, where she suddenly develops a personality, which was practically unheard of at the time. She is given flaws and problems outside the doctor and she actually, like, grows as a person. Crazy, right?
Storyline 3 (the main one) is all about the mystery of who’s stealing body parts, and I thought it was reasonably well done. Especially the scene in the restaurant with those machine thingies. I don’t think I even breathed during that entire segment.
The episode ends with the mysterious appearance of this woman named Missy. I immediately assume that she’s the female version of the Master, but then dismiss that theory because that would be way too obvious.
*Oh, who am I kidding, he definitely threw that guy off the skin balloon. Classic Twelve, am I right?
Into the Dalek
This was the episode in which we realize just how much of a douche this new Doctor is. “Top layer if you want to say a few words,” was my favorite quote.
We were also introduced to Danny Pink in this episode, and from the moment he and Clara met you could just tell the two of them were going to fall in love. Not because of their amazing chemistry, (har!) but because now that Clara and the Doctor can no longer be a thing, she’s going to need another love interest to make googly eyes over. There’s also this wonderful over the top scene in which a student asks Danny if he ever killed someone, and Danny just sort of stands there as a single, perfect tear falls artfully down his cheek as sad music plays in the background.
I think it’s safe to say that Danny killed someone at one point.
Episode rating: 8.5/10
Robots of Sherwood
Like any Mark Gatiss episode, you can just tell the writers were high when they penned this script. It involved Robin Hood, a bunch of robot people, and an ending involving a golden arrow that made a million viewers all raise a sceptical eyebrow at the same time.
Coleman, who’s been killing it all season IMHO, rocks it again in this episode. Capaldi also rocks it. The guy playing Robin Hood was pretty chill as well.
Episode rating: 7/10
This was the first Moffat episode that had nothing to do with the season’s arc since The Beast Below, and it was a reminder of just how great he could be when he limits himself to a forty minute, self-contained story.
This episode wasn’t just terrifying and thought-provoking. It was important, despite having little to no future ramifications. It went further back into the Doctor’s past than we’ve ever gone before (I think), and it did so in a way that deepened his character and made perfect sense given everything we knew. It was also, like, really cool.
And I know I complain about Clara a lot (why has she not left yet?), but she was absolutely terrific here. Listen was one of the rare episodes in which she felt like a fleshed out human being, and as a result I was hooked on her every move. Everything she said, every facial expression she made was on point. It makes me upset that Clara was rarely as well written as she was here, because I know Jenna Coleman’s fantastic in the role.
This was a very controversial episode, by the way, and there are many varying different opinions on it throughout the fandom, all of which are perfectly valid. That being said, my opinion is 100% correct and anyone who disagrees with me is a bumbling buffoon.
Episode Rating: 9.9/10. (A tenth of a point is taken off due to the fact that later events in the season have made Orson Pink’s very existence a plot hole, not that I really care.)
My word count is almost at a thousand and I’m not even close to done yet, so I’m going to have speed things up a bit.
Time Heist was a fun, twisty episode, with reasonably interesting side characters and a plausible ending. I am a little bugged at just how easy this bank was to infiltrate. (Why are the vents so big?!)
Episode Rating: 8/10.
This was the episode in which my enthusiasm for the season started to falter. It’s here that we get the start of that horrifically contrived Danny-Doctor conflict (ugh) and that scene in which Danny saves the day with a ridiculous somersault flip.
On the bright side, we were properly introduced to Courtney, who everyone on the internet seems to hate, but not me. She was rad, guys.
Episode Rating: 5.5/10.
Kill the Moon
This was a strange episode, in that it went from great to absolutely horrible and back again, sometimes within minutes of each other.
I loved how Clara went off at the Doctor near the end. It was a long time coming, that scene was. Also, the first half of the episode was very tense, and it gave me some Interstellar vibes, despite the fact that I hadn’t actually seen Interstellar until just a few weeks ago.
The entire concept, from the problem (the moon is an egg?) to the solution, (it turns into a dragon, which then immediately lays another egg that’s exactly the same size and shape as the moon), was just terrible. I know a lot of suspension of disbelief is required for this show, but this was too much.
Episode rating: 6/10
Mummy on the Orient Express
Loved this episode. The plot was tense and well done, and the character-work between Clara and the Doctor was great. The idea of having the timer shown on screen was genius.
Well, it wasn’t genius, but I’m glad they decided to do it.
My only quibble with the episode was that there should have been one between this and Kill the Moon, in which the Doctor travels alone for a little while. To have Clara say, “I never want to travel with you again!” at the end of one episode, only to immediately be seen traveling with him in the next, seems a bit cheap. I got over it pretty quickly though, so . . . *shrugs.*
Episode rating: 9/10.
Twas a fun episode, and a great one for Clara, and it was only hampered by a bunch of one dimensional, kind of boring side characters. But we also got a tiny tardis, so all its flaws are forgiven.
Episode rating: 8.5/10
In the Forest of the Night
This episode was so bad that after watching it, I immediately drove to the nearest beach and just stared at the horizon for a few days, contemplating the meaning of my existence.
Episode rating: 2/10
Danny dies in the dopiest way possible, and Clara goes to extreme lengths to save him. “I’m in love with Danny Pink,” she says, and I just roll my eyes. I mean, if the show wants me to believe that she was really in love with him then sure, I’ll play along, but it would help if they had some sort of chemistry, or if I had felt anything at all when the two of them were together. (The only time I could remember actually enjoying their relationship was in Listen, and it was all downhill after that.)
The rest of the episode, however, was suitably dark and creepy, and the reveal of the cybermen would’ve been gasp-worthy had the internet not spoiled it weeks before. And that whole concept of people feeling what happens to them after they die was wonderfully disturbing. So disturbing, in fact, that I genuinely found myself wondering what type of effect this could have on the emotional well-being of the children watching it.
Episode Rating: 9/10.
Death in Heaven
So now that Missy’s in the middle of taking over the world with her cyberman, (Oh yeah, Missy is the Master after all, by the way. Totally forgot to mention that.), it’s up to Kate Stewart and the obvious-stand-in-for-the-fans Osgood to save the day. It ends terribly, with Kate getting thrown out of a plane and Osgood being (presumably) blasted into smithereens.
But Missy is defeated in the end, the Doctor realizes he’s an idiot (about goddamn time), and Danny finally stays dead.
I gotta say, this episode would’ve been so much better if Danny wasn’t in it. Every moment he appeared was just annoying to watch. The whole time I was thinking, “just die already, you boring excuse for a character,” and I wasn’t able to truly enjoy the episode because of my (completely understandable, considering the show’s history) fear that Danny would somehow be brought back to life.
On the bright side, Clara gets an appropriate, satisfying ending in this episode. “It appears that’s the last we’ll see of Clara,” I say, starting to look forward to the show’s next companion.
This episode was tense and scary, but it was ultimately ruined by that obnoxious ending.
While I was a bit upset that they were bringing Clara back for another episode, I eventually warmed up to it, and I even ended up shedding a Tardis-shaped tear during the end of the episode, when it appeared that this was Clara’s final good-bye.
That was the perfect ending for Clara, but then the show stomped all over it with a “ha, just kidding! Clara’s here to stay after all!” And while I do like Clara, I think her time has finally come.
Otherwise, I think the episode itself was really good. It was just that the ending felt so cheap, and it left such a bad taste in my mouth.
So all in all, it was a pretty up and down season. (Aren’t they all?) But I think it was one of the stronger ones, due to the fresh, interesting relationship between the two main characters that admittedly sort of stopped being fresh near the end. Sure, it had its moments of suckiness, but I think we could all agree that it was at least better than season seven.