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.