How does one review an episode that was interesting and engaging, but whose every plot twist sent one into near apoplectic convulsions?
I don’t know, but let’s try.
The episode starts amazingly. Clara takes on the Cybermen by insisting she’s the Doctor, and for a just moment, a brief moment makes me believe that maybe she is the thirteenth Doctor come back to be his own companion. But no, that was just wishful thinking on my part that would make no sense with the canon.
But that didn’t stop them from using Clara’s eyes in the opening theme just to make you think that maybe she is the Doctor, even just a little.
Next, the Cybermen reveal themselves to the world, to which the adoring public of London respond to by taking selfies while the Doctor tries to understand why the Mistress did this. It turns out, the Master has now become a more Joker-like character, wherein her only satisfaction is just to mess with the Doctor. No plans of world domination this time. No, her only intent is to mess with her “friend,” which she succeeds with in the end, even if the Doctor saves the world.
Here, I would like to mention, that it’s ridiculous to me that the Doctor doesn’t recognize the Master until now. Timelords know one another despite their regenerations, so there is no plausible reason for him to be confused about who the Mistress is in the last episode, and very briefly in this one. But whatever, I’ll get over it.
Anyway, the popular Osgood and Kate Stewart shows up with a SWAT team to destroy the Cybermen, who fly away into the sky as soon as they are surrounded and explode in order to create a “cloud.” Yes. A cloud. All the information of the dead have been uploaded to a cloud. A literal Cyberman cloud… which then rains/pollinates over all the graveyards to bring about the Cybermen/zombie apocalypse.
Yeah, ‘Doctor Who’ turned the moon into a dragon that can immediately give birth to something its own size, make forests grow overnight, and turn all the dead into Cybermen during a drizzle. With every episode, it loses what little science fiction it ever had.
In any case, UNIT kidnaps the Doctor, installs him as President of the world (which they never undo, so he is probably still President of the world even after the episode ends), and then ties the Mistress up so she can’t do any more damage. Meanwhile, Clara is unable to convince the Cybermen she is the Doctor, but is saved by another Cyberman whom we learn is a Danny Pink. Sadly, Danny Pink is a shadow of his former self and would very much like his emotions to go away because life is too painful knowing what he has become.
And here is where I like the episode a lot less because this is where mayhem ensues. The Mistress escapes her bonds just to needlessly kill Osgood (who they only just hinted moments before may become a new companion, so I’m very disappointed), and the Cybermen attack the plane the Doctor is on. While the plane is going down, we find out the Mistress orchestrated the Doctor meeting Clara from the very beginning by giving her the Doctor’s phone number and placing the ad in the paper. For every time the Doctor and Clara were almost separated, the Mistress was there as a “lady in the shop” pushing them back together.
And why? So Danny Pink could eventually die and Clara would ask the Doctor to help bring him back… I think. I’m not really clear on the logic, if I’m going to be honest.
Then the plane explodes, and Kate Stewart gets launched off and falls to her death.
So, if you’re keeping count, they killed two fan favorite characters so far, and we’ve still got thirty minutes left. But that being said, Michelle Gomez (Mistress) is amazing. If anyone ever deserved to be the next Master, it is her. No. Not deserve. It is owed her. She had better Anthony-Ainley it and keep coming back.
Right, anyway, Clara calls the Doctor because she is trying to turn Danny’s emotions off, something the Doctor is naturally against seeing as it will just turn him into a Cyberman which means he will probably kill Clara. But that whole conversation goes awry with the plane exploding, and the Doctor defying his own death by boarding the TARDIS midair. He comes down, tries to convince Clara to stop, but then realizes he needs Danny to be a Cyberman in order to access their hive-mind and tell him how he can stop the invasion.
We get a nice callback to Danny’s first encounter with the Doctor, when he calls him an officer unwilling to get his hands dirty. It turns out Danny is right, as the Doctor never actually does the dirty work. Someone else kills the master, and Clara? Well, Clara takes the Sonic Screwdriver (apparently it works by thinking and pointing, so that is one big mystery solved for me) to shut off Danny’s emotions.
Predictably, Danny turns into a Cyberman completely. Less predictably, he cannot tell the Doctor how to stop them. That’s when the Mistress swans in à la Mary Poppins with her umbrella unfurled as she floats to the ground and announces the Cybermen are a birthday present for the Doctor: it’s the army he’s always wanted.
Though, to be fair, the Doctor had an army in ‘When a Good Man Goes to War,’ so I’m not really sure why the idea of him wanting an army is supposed to surprise us. He has always had an army, he just needed to call on it.
Like an officer, the Doctor calls on Danny (after giving him the Cyberman control bracelet the Mistress wears) to sacrifice himself and burn all… the clouds… which he does, and the world is saved.
One would think that would be the end of the episode. But no. It gets worse… or better… or… frankly, I don’t know. I have a lot of mixed emotions about this episode.
The Mistress tells the Doctor where Gallifrey is, and Clara moves in to kill the Mistress. With the typical Clara clarity, she tells the Doctor that if the Mistress lives, everything that happened with the Cyberman, including Danny’s death, is on the Doctor. The Doctor agrees, but takes the weapon away and then atomizes the Mistress himself.
So, we all know that Doctor has killed in the past. But I don’t think he has ever been as hard-hearted and aloof as the moment he kills the Mistress announcing that she wins. That’s right. She wins because she forced him to do the one thing he wouldn’t want to do. But oh wait, a Cyberman kills the Mistress for him. So, turns out he’s not a killer. Or is he? Who knows?
The Mistress is dead, I’m angry, but then Kate Stewart shows up saved by her Cyberdad, Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, and suddenly I’m not as angry anymore. Oh, except for the fact Osgood is still dead, and then… Danny Pink is dead. And then Danny Pink dies again (but maybe not because he sort of shows up as possibly his own grandchild in ‘Listen.’
How does he die again? It turns out the bracelet can bring Danny back to Clara’s world. But it only has enough power for one trip, and Danny selflessly uses it on a child he had killed when he was a soldier. Thus, Danny Pink dies all over again.
The episode ends with the Doctor making assumptions about Clara’s relationship with Danny, and how she won’t travel with the Doctor anymore (this is legitimate, a lot of the Doctor’s companions get married and leave the Doctor which is… well.. an article for another day). Clara does not end up telling him that Danny did not come back (another example of Clara’s strength in the face of her friend’s feelings), and the episode ends with Doctor… meeting Santa Claus.
Yes, it ended an incredibly tragic episode where we lose an incredible companion, and two other amazing characters, and it ends with Santa Claus popping in on the TARDIS.
So as you can see, I have a lot mixed feelings about this episode. It killed a lot of a characters I liked, and is pushing off a companion I have really grown to love. It killed off my favorite reincarnation of the Master by far only after only having two great episodes with her, and it had a very, very silly plot that somehow kept me on the edge of my seat.
I guess as a fan invested in the characters, I give this
But as an far as an episode goes, it did it’s job and kept me watching, so I give it a