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Saturday, 8 November 2014

The Preview Review: Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 12: Death in Heaven [Spoiler-Lite]

 (While this review does not contain major spoilers or specifics, it does talk about officially released details and some minor things may be given away.  It also draws your attention to hints in the episode. Read at your own discretion.)

So after last week's episode ended with the cliffhanger of the Cybermen and Missy being the Master. Who actually saw that coming? Most of us thought it was far too obvious! Now, we have Missy in control of the Cybermen as she gets ready to take over Earth. Again.

And if the previous story didn't receive enough complains about being dark or featuring an afterlife or offending people, this one probably will. You wanted consequences? Be careful what you wish for. This episode is hardly friendly for the entire family, but for the older fellows, this episode is incredibly entertaining and has it's funny moments. You'll want to hang onto those! Lets just say the episode is very well titled.

We rejoin the adventure right where Dark Water ends on, with Clara facing a Cyberman and Missy and The Doctor out in the streets watching the invasion and Danny in the Nethersphere. After the crowd has taken a few selfies with the Cybermen, UNIT shows up exceedingly quickly, with a rather flimsy clichéd reasoning behind it, which adds a bunch of questions to the episode that never really get answered. At least we find out why they are there at that specific time.

We soon see the duo hurtled off onto UNIT's new plane, fitted with a fine portrait of the Brigadier, and we see The Doctor try to take care of things from his new position on the plane while dealing with the restrained Missy, with plenty of chance for the good old stand-off between good and evil, more than once.

If ever there was any doubt about Michelle Gomez as The Master, this episode shuns that out as far as possible. She was delightful with an incredibly strong portrayal of a character that is "bananas", but a better mix than Simm's Master between crazy and clever. And that Mary Poppins look? Even the show fully realises that she is incredibly similar to her.

And playing opposite Michelle Gomez is our lord and master, Peter Capaldi. I know we all say that so much, but it's true. Capaldi really comes into his own in this episode as he faces some shocking revelations and very difficult decisions and actions. His hair also looks good in the wind! And if you plan to have him round, he takes 7 sugars, thanks.

Jenna Coleman and Samuel Anderson are absolutely wonderful as they attempt to get round the challenging events surrounding the episode, although I cannot go into further detail there! Lets just say that the fate of both are beautifully handled.

The return of Kate Stewart, our friendly neighbourhood bridge player played by Jemma Redgrave, and Osgood, the not-so-subtle personification of the fandom played by Ingrid Oliver, were a great addition to the cast, nicely referencing a good proportion of Classic (such as an old Cyberman head) and a certain previous Doctor. However, the addition of Sanjeev Bhasker as Colonel Ahmed was rather pointless and added nothing to the episode, other than an amusing jab at military history.

The heart-wrenching return of a certain character will be massively controversial and likely to cause some shitstorms. Perhaps Moffat went too far? I, however, liked it and thought it was touching.

Director Rachel Talalay provides some stunning shots and epic action sequence (poor plane) and really helps to tie the whole thing together. The episode is well paced, although the closing scenes felt a tad slow after the climax. It's also great to have a bit of a break from an episode focused on the "timey-wimey" and is kept relatively simple, so lets thank Moffat for that!

Kudos go to Milk and BBC Wales Graphics for the excellent CGI in this episode. This episode is simply on a massive scale. We have Cybermen jetpacking around, planes being attacked in midair and plenty of death by Missy. Pay attention to the title sequence too since there's a rather hilarious edit.

With a really long list of spoilers I'm not allowed to talk about, the episode manages to answer a lot of questions. Was Missy the regeneration after Simm, who got trapped on Gallifrey? How did she escape? Where is Gallifrey now? Who is Gus? What the hell was that writing on the chalkboard? Why are robots heading for the Promised Land? How did they know it existed? How are the bodies rescued from cremation? Was it really Missy who brought Clara and The Doctor together? How do they convert the dead? Why not the living?  Who is Seb? Is Missy really The Master? Only a tiny number of these questions are actually answered, with plenty of flashbacks, allowing Moffat to answer them in the future.

Death in Heaven is a very strong end to the series and is, on the whole, satisfying and possibly the best finale story we've had since the show was revived.

Overall, I would rate Dark Water/Death in Heaven 9/10.


Fredricka said...

keep looking for the name "peter" in this review, Have not found it yet. Anybody?

pcjonathan said...

I didn't even realise I didn't include that. Perhaps we all just say it so often we just take it for granted? :P
Anyway, added a small section for him. I tried to take it seriously and failed spectacularly!

Scarilian said...

Would be more excited for this episode if we knew what Missy's plan is... at the moment we really haven't learnt much about what she is wanting to do and as such I don't feel we have enough holding us to the episodes to make us want to see the next part. Death In Heaven could be amazing, but at the moment I feel disappointed with Dark Water.

James Mason said...

I'm guessing the writer of this review gave the same 9/10 rating to the crack he had just finished smoking.

pcjonathan said...

If you have to lower yourself to attacking the author of a review that you disagree with, then your reasons for your opinions can't mean that much. I invite you to back them up, be respectful and remember that personal opinions are just that. Personal.

Ingold Inglorion said...

I'm sorry but I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with the 9/10. I thought this was a very poor resolution to a lacklustre season. The story was convoluted and nonsensical..especially given that these are the Nightmare in Silver model cybermen that use cybermites to instantly convert people. Why would they need the dead? Why would magical water animate long dead and fleshless bones?

Missy is the biggest disappointment. She very quickly degenerated into the ranting Master we've all known since John Simm's kick at the can. No reason was given as to why the Master even survivied, although they did at least mention that he probably has a TARDIS this time around.

I won't get into the whole messing with the dead thing that seems to have so many feathers ruffled. But I will say that turning our beloved Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart into a Cyberman is absolutely horrid. The best thing about the Brig was that he was terribly human, wasn't he? Why can't Moffat just let him be dead? Although I will say that I DO want that huge portrait of the Brig hanging on my own wall...just saying.

As for Danny Pink...he was horrible from the start of this series to the finish. He was an abrasive ass who thought he had the right to judge the Doctor, even after being "resurrected." It got really tiresome...does Danny think he's the only soldier the Doctor has known? What gives him the right to treat the Doctor like that? The Brig, Sgt. Benton, heck even Captain Jack Harkness all outrank Danny the Plonker and gave way more of themselves to the cause of the good guys. Danny just moped around like the Kanye West of the Who world.

Anyway, this was not Moffat at his best. The tantalizing hints about Gallifrey make it seem like it is indeed dead again, but we'll else could the Master survive and know where it is if he wasn't sucked into the last day of the time war as so many of us suspected?

Oh well onwards to Xmas. Santa? Well we had Robin Hood so why not...

Ann Rtist said...

Loved the episode, but felt let down with the "end of Clara" in Whoville bit. Never liked the relationship between her and Pink from the beginning and personally happy he was not in the story that much. It felt too rushed of a relationship with no passion or much emotion and was totally unbelievable so his demise didn't bother me. And as far as the Doctor not knowing he didn't use the bracelet and bring himself back, didn't buy that either. So basically we were left with both Clara lying and the Doctor lying and that's the end of Clara. I guess I miss the Rose kind of endings where we really were gutted he was going on alone.

James Mason said...

Cool story, bro. Tell it again. 0/10 f*cks given.

You're only half right. My opinions don't matter. Neither do yours or the author of this article.

Harriet T said...

Now have seen the show, agree with preview. Really great episode and fitting end to a totally successful and triumphant return to form for the show. Maybe not quite as good as series 5, but blows every other series out of the water and for me, the best finale we have ever had. Loved Missy, loved Clara but most of all, Peter Capaldi is just beyond perfect as the doctor and has gone to the top of my favourite all time doctor list and judging by other polls (GB and Radio Times), most people's all time favourite as well!