Doctor Who: “Dark Water”, Moffat, and the TOO Long Con


S08xE11 “Dark Water”

The first of the two-part series 8 finale, “Dark Water” answers a few of the big questions posed to viewers over the last few months, and asks even more. It is no secret I think this season has fallen flat, mostly because it seems the story lines are recycled from better story lines of previous seasons. The writing of series 8 has been a wee bit boring and predictable, with the two most interesting characters–Missy and Danny Pink–not getting nearly enough screen time for me to stay interested in the disjointed episodes of Peter Capaldi’s first season as the Twelfth Doctor. While a two-part episode is a bit difficult to gauge at this point, that won’t stop me from discussing decent character development for Clara, Moffat’s TOO wide net and a slight nostalgia for really good Doctor Who that recently has been eating at me.

Spoilers ahead, Sweetie! Repeat–DO NOT PROCEED if you haven’t watched “Dark Water” yet.

The Pointless Death of Danny Pink

The episode starts off with the sad and somewhat pointless exercise of killing off Danny Pink in the most mundane way–he is hit by a car while crossing the road and talking on the phone to Clara. It seems like such a waste of a good character, especially because he is whittled down to a plot device, furthering confusing and somewhat grandiose idea that Missy is harvesting human (only?) minds for the Cybermen.

Yeah, this has been the entire buildup of Series 8, apparently.

Since “Dark Water” is the first of a two-part finale, I can’t say for sure whether we will see Danny again, either in the second half of this story or in any other season of the show, although I am apt to believe Moffat has a bigger purpose for the character. We know that Danny is a large part of Clara’s timeline; she met lookalike grandson, Orson Pink, during which time, he gave Clara a “family heirloom” that she in turn gave to the child, Danny Pink, which gives the impression that she and Danny have a future together. Which isn’t going to be possible, if he is dead. Danny, as always, plays the reasonable boyfriend superbly. While Clara wants to “rescue” him from his fate, she also doesn’t want to be tricked and so we leave Danny where he is, for now; in a globe of light that is apparently the hive mind of the Cybermen.

I’m confused.

Regardless, there is great opportunity for character development from Clara because of Danny’s death. She wants to rewrite time, and since her BFF is a Timelord, she manipulates the situation the best she can to blackmail Twelve, who sees it coming a mile away, thwarts her attempts and then helps her anyway. I appreciate that the Doctor wants to assist Clara regardless of her betrayal. It’s nice to realize he is still the kind-hearted softie we know and love from series’ past. He cares about Clara and probably would have helped her if she had just asked nicely, but then again, he also is a bit of a drama fiend. The TARDIS decides to take the Doctor and Clara to the place where people go after they die, and they end up in the Nethersphere and finally meet up with the mysterious Missy.


The Mistress

The issues I have with this episode are not necessarily the weak storyline, the randomness of the Cyberman subplot or even the drawn out reveal of Missy’s identity. What I have a problem with is the fact that the entire series has led up to the unveiling of Missy (spoiler: she’s a regeneration of the Master), and yet there didn’t seem to be too much else going on in the episode but build up to the next BIG thing. Missy, short for Mistress AKA the Master (the Doc’s nemesis and fellow Timelord from Gallifrey whom we all thought to be dead back during Ten’s regeneration) is working with? controlling? the Cybermen and yawn….oh, excuse me, I’m sorry, did I just yawn in the middle of this post? Yes. Yes, I did. The Cybermen are back. Again. Along with the Master/Mistress, who is apparently working with them to obliterate all of humankind. Again. And yet, in this episode, we didn’t get any new developments EXCEPT the reveal. This could have been a very well done 15 minutes of television instead of a long, drawn-out 50 minute episode. This has been such a huge plot point woven throughout the entire series, I hoped that it would be dealt with in a reasonable and exciting way. Instead, we get the Mistress snogging the Doctor, soliloquy-ing at him and then this strange business about the “dark water” and the Cybermen that makes absolutely no sense (Please, explain to me the purpose in a comment below. I don’t get it).

For a two-part series finale, I must say, I’m a little lost and a lot disappointed. There is too much talking, not enough action and I fear that all the good stuff will be left for the second half of the episode. While, that isn’t a bad thing per-say, it does lead me to my next point.

Moffat’s TOO Long Con

Dear, dear Moffat. When I said you were a master of the long con, I meant it as a compliment, I really did. But this is taking things too far. The reveal of Missy and the point of the Nethersphere took too long with almost no decent build up or foreshadowing. I wasn’t ready for the Cybermen and I don’t get what they have to do with anything, to be honest. Missy as the Master? Kudos. I love the idea. But it might have been more fun for viewers if we had some sort of inkling that the Gallifreyan storyline was coming back, don’t you think? Instead, Capaldi’s first season was filled with one-off, monster-of-the-week episodes that left a bitter taste in my mouth because they were boring. We were bored! The excitement and novelty of the show got lost in the secretive conspiracy to bring back the Master/Mistress (I’m going to stop doing that. She’s the Mistress now) and the character development was pushed aside for tired storylines with old villains.


Oh, excuse me. Again. I must need a nap. Or a new showrunner. Either way, I will be watching the finale when it airs, because, like a train wreck, I just can’t look away.

xoxo Your Friendly Neighborhood Wholigan,

The Collectiva Diva