Sunday, November 9, 2014

Doctor Who: Death in Heaven


The season finale seems to have created two camps: those who think it's the best of Moffat's time as showrunner, and those who think it was unsatisfying. I'm afraid to say I agree with the latter group.

It was the anti-"The Doctor Dances." Instead of everyone winning, no one does.

Oh, the episode had its moments. The extra 15 minutes helped with the pacing, giving some scenes more room to develop. But the climax and resolution first had me confused -- because what I thought had happened couldn't possibly have happened because it was too awful -- and then had me frustrated when I realized that, no, I wasn't confused at all and it really was that awful.

The problem was the script. The performances were good. I especially enjoyed Michelle Gomez as Missy. She gave the character more depth than John Simm (though for the record, I also loved John Simm's take on the Master). I don't think she's dead. The show can't kill off a character with such a long history in such an anti-climactic way.

Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman did their usual quality work. Jenna Coleman's name first in the credits, and the use of her image instead of Capaldi's, right after Clara declared that she was the Doctor, was genius. For a half a minute, I almost believed it. I also loved the Doctor taking out his frustration and anger and hopelessness on the TARDIS console. That was an earned moment, and Capaldi sold it, 100 percent.

Here's what I saw as the major issues:

Missy's Cyberman plot was overly complicated
She had been stealing souls for centuries, and created some Cybermen so she could explode them to create more Cybermen, who then didn't do anything. Yeah, I know, the army was a gift for the Doctor. But seriously, couldn't she have come up with less of a Rube Goldberg plot to achieve the same end? And how can you have Cybermen all over the world without having them do something besides pose for selfies with tourists? That was a total misuse of a classic villain. Ugh.

An unnecessary death
Moffat brought back the amusing Osgood and gave her the best line of the episode ("Bow ties are cool") for the sole purpose of having Missy kill her. Her death was intended to raise the stakes, to show that Missy was serious about her insane homicidal tendencies. It's a very Joss Whedon-ish move. It didn't work. Osgood's death was pointless and wasteful. She had potential. She was smart and cute and got bonus points for being a Doctor groupie. Then she basically walked straight into an obvious trap and then stood there and let Missy kill her. Since Osgood is the stand-in for the fandom, what does that say about Moffat's opinion of the fans? Again, ugh.

That scene with the Doctor and Clara
You know the one I'm talking about. He lies, she lies. They care deeply about each other but still part ways on the street, ending a long and complicated relationship in the worst way and for all the wrong reasons. There was no sacrifice as there was with Rose, Donna and Amy. There wasn't any honesty, as with Martha. The Doctor and Clara cannot end it like that. I do think that Clara has one foot out the door (probably because the thing she needed to tell the Doctor is that she's pregnant), but please, Show, you have another chance in the Christmas special. This time, get it right.

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