I thought of a couple of alternative titles for this: “Old Enough to be Your Messiah.” (I’ll bet that played well in parts of America.) “The Basil & Petronella Show.” “Who’s Gonna Make the Violins?” But for consistency with my other posts. I’m sticking with this.
This was a great pair of episodes. True, some will have found it hard to understand what was going on in the first episode; and true also, the whole Zygon plot might not have entirely made sense (why, in particular, do they have electric zappy powers now, and why does that turn people into sparking wire wool?) But the overall mood, and tone, and writing, were fantastic.
Not to mention the fanservice. The references to Harry Sullivan; the portrait of the first Doctor over the safe; “Five Rounds Rapid!” (Which, I discover, is the title of Nicholas Courtney’s autobiography.) I Loved it all.
This season feels to me like it’s really solid. There are no real highs: no “Blink”, no “The Empty Child” or “Father’s Day”. But there have been no really weak episodes yet either.
On second watching I caught an interesting snippet. When the Doctor is telling Zygella why he didn’t press the big button, he says he “let Clara Oswald get into [his] head.” Then he says, “she doesn’t leave.” Maybe that’ll be the big secret reveal of this season: Clara doesn’t leave after all.
No, I realise that can’t be so, as official BBC announcements have been made. But it was an interesting change from the heavy-handed foreshadowing of her departure that we’ve seen. Clara has been the Doctor’s — and our — companion for a long time now, and it’ll be strange for all of us to adjust to someone new.
I loved the Doctor’s speech — soliloquy, you might say — that reinstated the ceasefire. It’s his statement of Doctoriness.
Still wondering if there’s a big thing for this season. I mean, apart from Clara leaving. It has to be something to do with hybrids of some kind — I noticed that the second part didn’t use that word, though the first did. The Osgoods could be said to be a hybrid, but I can’t see them coming back before the end of this run. There’s the Dalek/Time Lord thing, which will have to play out at some point.
Then there’s the Minister of War — which could just be a throwaway name like the Nightmare Child; but I think it was placed too specifically for that. And Lady Me, or Ashildr. I fully expect to see her again.
I expect we’ll have to wait for the closing two-parter, “Heaven Sent”/”Hell Bent” to find out.
But before that we’ve got “Sleep No More” on Saturday. I don’t know if it’s a two-parter with the one after, “Face the Raven”, but I’m looking forward to finding out.
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