Saturday, November 07, 2015

Doctor Who – Series 9, Episode 8

three star

The Zygon Inversion

This episode – The Zygon InvErsion - was the conclusion of last week’s The Zygon InvAsion. The word-twist in the title was mirrored in this episode too, in terms of the plot, twisting and turning many times along the way. Written by Peter Harness and joined on the writing credits by the show’s head Steven Moffat, a complex plotline was the order of the day – and it certainly kept us all guessing. We still don’t know the fate of the character Clara, and towards the end, viewers thought that a new companion was about to join the Time Lord.

Every ‘Doctor’ has a defining moment – an episode where they get to really sink their teeth into the part and deliver some memorable lines (Ecclestone’s ‘Everybody Lives’, Tennant’s, err too many too mention!, and Smith’s alien address standing on the top of Stonehenge) – and this was Capaldi’s episode where, in the final act,  he got to demonstrate that he IS the Doctor, by delivering with such passion and such conviction, you don’t doubt what he is saying for a minute! Another example of this was when he was at the negotiating table: "I did worse things than you can ever imagine, and when I close my eyes I hear more screams than anyone could ever be able to count” must have left a few with goose-bumps.

Although Capaldi can do ‘serious’, he also proved he can deliver humour too. In this episode, there were quite a few, but the one I’ll remember and made me giggle was: “You know I’m 2,000 years old? I’m old enough to be your Messiah”.

This story was a gritty one and unashamedly political. With the recent shooting down of a Russian aircraft by ‘persons unknown’ in that day’s news, the opening scene left an uneasy feeling, and I wonder if this had been any other TV programme whether they would have temporarily pulled the episode?

A lovely geeky moment tonight by character Kate Lethbridge-Stewart explaining how she dispensed with a Zygon: “Five rounds, rapid” she commented to the Doctor – and as every Whovian knows, this was an oft-used phrase of her ‘father’ in earlier ‘classic’ Who episodes.

Having said all these positive things, I do wonder whether Steven Moffat's tendency to favour overcomplicated plots, will be the eventual downfall of this show?  This was certainly a complex one, demanding 101% attention throughout. Moffat has already commented to the media that there is at least five more years, but ratings are falling (with the reason being cited as the later timeslot). Who knows?

Overall, for me, this was just an ‘OK’ episode. In spite of the media portraying the episode as the defining moment for Capaldi, it didn’t really capture my attention – maybe I’ll watch it again, to see if I change my mind.