I wasn’t as keen on this Doctor Who episode, although some of that opinion might change once I know where the season arc is going I guess. The Doctor still felt not quite Doctorish, and despite liking the mirroring in the first episode I found it rather heavy handed in this one.
SPOILERS AHEAD! Hover mouse over text to read, or read on entry page:
Thinking of harsh comments – what’s with the Doctor being so rude about Clara’s appearance, in such a specifically gendered fashion? Unless it’s supposed to flag up that he does still notice her as a woman despite the “I’m not your boyfriend” conversation, and this is his heavy handed way of covering that up? I hope not. But I don’t see much reason to be so vicious about her looks. Or maybe it’s getting back at her for her shock over his age? Which would be petty. Hopefully it either stops or moves to something closer to banter rather than insult.
But I didn’t hate the episode by any means, it just didn’t really work quite well enough for me to ignore the stuff I didn’t like. The plot was fun in a don’t think about it too much sort of way. I did like all the callbacks to the Nine-meets-a-Dalek episode, which I thought felt deliberately designed to call our attention to how much he’s changed since that episode. Nine was terrified to have a Dalek sprung on him, Twelve was surprised. Nine panicked and wanted to kill it dead dead dead, but Twelve was at least trying to first fix it physically and then to make it a more moral Dalek. Although it wasn’t much surprise that he failed in the latter – his callousness over the deaths of the cannon fodder of the episode didn’t make him seem like a man to inspire a sense of joy in all the little details of the world … That’s the bit that might change in my opinion depending on where the season arc goes. I’d sort of assumed the Doctor would’ve moved on from being so bitter – he’s discovered he didn’t commit genocide (or rather helped himself not commit genocide) and he’s taken the time to take the slow road on behalf of the little people on Trenzalor. So I was a bit surprised at the undercurrent of negativity to this Doctor so far – the banter that goes a bit too far, the lack of care over the deaths of innocents, the dismissal of Journey coz she’s a soldier.
That’s gotta be part of the season arc tho. Missy appears to be collecting people that the Doctor has manipulated into death in some sense (I’m betting he didn’t push the clockwork automaton last episode). This has a certain amount of resonance with Davros “pointing out” to Ten that he turned his companions into weapons – is Missy collecting some examples of “why you’re a bad bad man” to hurt the Doctor with? I read a suggestion elsenet that perhaps Missy is a regeneration of the Master (Missy -> Mistress -> Master, and she might seem to be broken in ways that the Master was broken). Anyway, perhaps we’re building to season climax where the Doctor is forced to confront how his behaviour is often not wholly good even if aimed at good ends? Interesting too that this is the first season arc for a while where the Doctor isn’t (apparently) already aware of it, just the audience that is.
So a bit of a mixed bag this episode, hopefully the next one will be better. (Don’t spoil the trailer in comments please, J doesn’t watch the trailers).