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S08xE12 “Death in Heaven”
If you have been reading my reviews of Doctor Who this series, you know that my outlook shifted as the season moved forward. I started out all sunshine and roses, excited for the possibilities a new Doctor and Moffat’s writing could bring. It has been a rocky journey, with moments in each episode that I appreciated and many that fell flat. As the series comes to a close, with only the Christmas special left in Capaldi’s first year as the Doctor, I find myself disillusioned with the franchise and hoping for drastic change in the next few months. I like Capaldi as Twelve, I really do. Unfortunately, the combination of a new Doctor, lack of chemistry with his companion and the horrible writing of series 8 has me in dire need to understand what it is that went wrong. Let’s start with what worked and what didn’t in “Death in Heaven”, and go from there.
Spoilers ahead, Sweetie!
S8xE06 “Caretaker” and S8xE07 “Kill the Moon”
Since we took a week off, this post we are combining the last two episodes of Doctor Who, which have highlighted on the relationship between the Doctor and his companion, the link to and representation of a long term connection to humanity. Both episodes reveal a Doctor who shares a precarious bond with humankind that has become damaged by prejudices, preconceived notions and the Doctor’s struggle with his own heroic nature.
Spoilers ahead, Sweetie!
My British cohort, I call her Dame Dear Collectress, text me Saturday evening asking if I’d watched Doctor Who yet. I was driving home from LA, so I hadn’t, but she assured me it was very “ooooohhhh wweeeeee ooooohhhhh”, I believe were her exact words.
And so it was.
This week, the Whoniverse went crazy over the fourth episode from the 12th Doctor, and for good reason. “Listen” took us to the great mytharc that is the Doctor’s history, it took us to Gallifrey and it showed us that Clara may have had more of an impact on the Doctor’s timeline that we originally believed.
Spoilers ahead Sweetie!
S08xE03 “Robot of Sherwood Forest”
This week, we traveled with Clara and Twelve through time and space to, you guessed it, England. Imagine that? Mark Gatiss penned this episode that reminds Whovians that we are “all stories in the end” and sometimes the story does not tell the whole truth and sometimes, truth shifts over time. The parallels between Robin Hood (whom the Doctor at first does not believe exists and then believes is a robot) and the Doctor (last of the Timelords, the Oncoming Storm) shine in this episode. Even if the plot was a little campy and we didn’t get to see the curious character “Missy”, the overarching plot points subtly woven into this episode are worth discussing.
Spoilers ahead, Sweeties!
S08xE02 “Into the Dalek”
While I spent the last year or so really, truly excited for the new Doctor, I’m beginning to feel a bit of a let down with series 8. The writing (MOFFAT, I defended you!) has been lackluster and the plot almost nonexistent. Although the Collectress has encouraged me to rant my frustrations, I’m still giving the new Doctor and the new series a chance, and therefore will save my judgements for at least a few weeks from now. There are a few things that interest me in regards to the over arching storyline, so that’s where we will begin.
Spoilers ahead, sweetie!
The Doctor and the Military
Throughout his 12 regenerations, the Doctor has had a tenuous history with military forces. While he and Brigadeer Lethbridge-Stewart remained friends through numerous regenerations, the Doctor is wary of the armed forces, for obvious reasons. He is an alien with a spaceship that contains the technology and history of, not only the Timelords, but the entire universe across space and time. UNIT, as well as other military forces the Doctor has encountered over the years, continuously attempts to exert power over the Doctor, his property and his friends. As Nine and then Ten, the Doctor is suspicious and somewhat rude to soldiers, working with UNIT only when Martha or Rose asks for his help. When he does help the military, it often turns into a standoff, with his TARDIS confiscated and his life threatened by soldiers with guns. Eleven was a softer Doctor and, while he didn’t volunteer his help, he often worked with the military because of River Song and her connection to the Papal Mainframe. At the end of his life, Eleven may have become more than disillusioned by the idea of the military, because of the tense situation on Trenzalore. Soldiers on both sides had a complete disregard for the innocent lives lost in the town of Christmas, while the innocents are the precise people the Doctor is always trying to save. With both sides, the Daleks and the Papal Mainframe, fighting against the Doctor right before his regeneration into Twelve, his personality seems to have taken a dark turn in terms of how he feels about soldiers.
In “A Good Man Goes to War”, the Doctor meets a soldier who dies protecting Amy and baby Melody, a soldier who joined the army to meet him and with whom he inspired when she was a child. Eleven takes the time to talk with her, he doesn’t immediately judge her for her military ties, instead giving her a chance to prove herself as an individual. For him, this is enough to invite her to run with him once again, but, alas, she dies and her chance is lost. Twelve shows us that he is not as forgiving as he once was. In “Into the Dalek”, he meets a soldier who seems to have a good heart. He saves Journey Blue and even works with her team to heal a “sick” Dalek (Who subsequently turns evil as soon as he is healed, leading the Doctor to articulate that a kind Dalek is a sick Dalek. I thought we already knew this?) but, once the adventure is over, refuses to allow Journey to travel with him, even though she proved herself to be worthy. Twelve believes Journey made the decision as to what kind of person she wanted to be as soon as she joined the military. Meaning, Twelve may not believe in second chances as his former regenerations once did. If this bias against the military remains strong in him, Twelve and Clara may have a problem soon enough, because it seems she’s met herself an army man.
The countdown to new Who has begun and I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. For the last twelve days, Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman have traveled the world, from London to Rio, promoting series 8 of Doctor Who. This morning in Parliament Square, the TARDIS landed and London prepares for New Who this weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited about the new season and will watch every Saturday ON MY OWN TV because I ordered a bunch of new channels to bring you timely TV talk for Fall. Still, while I have stayed positive and professional, this nostalgia started about ten seconds after crying my eyes out on Christmas 2013, like a good Wholigan.
I miss Matt Smith.
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