Episode 6 – THE WOMAN WHO LIVED

Ashildr or Me’s return was far too soon in an episode where so many aspects seemed forced. The Doctor bumping into Me for a start was far too coincidental, why would he be bothering to chase Leandro’s amulet? Some of the dialogue that was scripted for Me sounded awful. I know there’s some difference between a script and real life speech for dramatic effect and for purposes of making the plot clearer but some of Me’s lines were just so ridiculous, you just wouldn’t believe anyone would talk the way she did. The episode ran for almost half an hour before any action took place. It was basically just a character piece for Me, who was annoyingly arrogant throughout. I didn’t understand how she recognised the Doctor and remembered Clara, yet forgot her own family and village. At times, this episode lagged a lot and became boring. When we finally got some action at the end it was pretty scarce. Another thing that was forced was the death, that was for some unknown reason, required to activate the amulet. It was basically just an excuse to use the immortality capsule. Why Me hadn’t already used the device on one of her ill children confused me too. Leandro was underused, he was designed beautifully and could’ve posed more of a threat but the lacklustre script didn’t allow for that. I did like Sam Swift, he added welcome comic relief to the dark and solemn storyline. The brief bit of action we did get with Leandro double crossing Me to allow his people to come through the rift and invade was exciting but this could’ve been allowed to play out for longer. If Leandro was the focus of the story rather than Me’s personal history, the episode would’ve been a lot more interesting. As I’ve said before, Me is a character I can’t invest in and she just irritates me. Were we actually meant to like her? After four appearances in series nine I still can’t work out what role she was actually meant to play. This is a frustrating and at times tedious episode, ruined by the far too quick return of Ashildr. 4/10

Episode 7 – THE ZYGON INVASION

Peter Harness was back and if Kill the Moon wasn’t thought provoking enough, then this was a whole new level of Doctor Who exploring moral dilemmas. This two parter is so relevant in today’s society and it makes me proud to say I’m a Doctor Who fan when scripts like this are produced. The Zygons were the real life equivalent of immigrants seeking refuge and the splinter group was the story’s version of a terrorist organisation. Osgood said: “Any race is capable of the best and the worst” and it was good to see the Zygons not get treated like your normal Doctor Who monsters, but almost like humans. Osgood’s hostage video was chillingly similar to the sort that ISIS have been releasing in recent times. The two young girls who were patrolling the cease-fire getting forced to transform into their natural Zygon form before being murdered on screen was another striking similarity to real life terrorist activity. This was important to keep it as relatable as possible to set up the second part. I loved how the episode began with a flashback to The Day of the Doctor to show that this was a follow on from some of the events of that story. The Zygons now could zap their victims which added a degree of menace to them. They showed how manipulative they could be when they sent out copies of the soldiers’ families in the churchyard scene, which prevented the soldiers killing the Zygons and then led to their own deaths eventually. If you compare this story to Last Christmas in the sense that anybody could be a Zygon here, just like anything could’ve been a dream in that story, I think Harness achieved a perfect balance. In Last Christmas the dream within a dream concept was taken too far to the point I believed nothing was real. In this story, you really had no idea who was a Zygon and who was human. The reveal that Clara had been captured and copied was great, I loved the way the Professor worked it out at the same time as the viewer. The Zygon version of Clara seemingly shooting down the Doctor’s plane was a fantastic way to round of this brilliant first part. 9/10

Episode 8 – THE ZYGON INVERSION

Somehow this second part managed to top the first. The link between the human and Zygon versions of Clara was clever and fun to watch. I liked how Clara cleverly shook the television that she was watching what Bonnie could see, and that put Bonnie off shooting the Doctor’s plane the first time around. Jenna Coleman’s performance as the main villain was superb and totally convincing. Seeing the Zygon that she transformed go on to commit suicide was very impactful. It showed just how recklessly and selfishly the splinter group were behaving. Again this was relevant as that is exactly how terror groups behave. Kate Stewart’s bluff, pretending to be a Zygon to get back to the Doctor was another clever twist that I didn’t see coming. Now you can’t talk about this two parter without discussing the war speech. In my opinion this is the finest piece of writing in Doctor Who history. It’s unbelievably moving, relevant and powerful. Capaldi’s delivery of the speech was exemplary, I loved how he flicked between himself and a spoof game show host to sarcastically prove that war is not a game. Lots of people dismiss Doctor Who because sci-fi and fantasy isn’t for them which is fair enough. But when the show produces storylines as deep and meaningful as this then it’s unfair to brand the show simply as science fiction. This is a show that can teach people important lessons in morality and kindness. It was quite right that images of this speech were widely shared across social media in the wake of the British government’s decision to bomb Syria. Every single person who had a say in that decision should have been made to watch this speech beforehand and maybe the outcome would’ve been different. I cannot speak highly enough of Harness’s writing or Capaldi’s performance in the closing twenty minutes of this story, it was simply on a different level. The speech managed to talk Bonnie out of her plans which was a superb resolution to my favourite two parter of series nine. 10/10

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