I could tell from the trailer that this was not going to be one of my favourite Doctor Who episodes, and indeed this was the case. It was written by the same guy who wrote The Lodger in season 5 (ie in 2010 with 11 and Amy), and I disliked it for the same sorts of reasons – not my sort of story.
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The plot also relied on the Doctor and Clara showing the worst of themselves, in ways that make you wonder how they’ve survived in the respective lives this long. And displaying stunning lack of self-awareness in each case too. I’m not sure I really buy the Danny/Clara relationship at the moment – I can’t see why he stays with her, she’s clearly lying to him consistently and persistently without being particularly subtle about it. Then when she gets caught she doubles down on it in a particularly insulting fashion – how stupid does she think he is, indeed?
I’ve seen suggested that part of the “plan” for this season (regeneration?) is a re-run of the original plan for the 6th Doctor. In that this regeneration is supposed to start off unlikeable and then have a sort of redemption arc – and apparently whilst that was the plan for the 6th Doctor they either half-arsed it or lost their nerve. Which would explain why the Doctor is being particularly bitchy towards Clara & unpleasant to Danny, but it doesn’t really endear it to me either.
Sadly the more I think about the episode the less I like it. But there was stuff I did like, even so. I liked Miss Disruptive Influence – and was amused when she turned out to be all mouth & no trousers. I also liked the way Clara & Danny are failing to keep the relationship secret from the kids, which felt very true to life. I also continue to like Danny, and he really shone in this episode (particularly in comparison to the two leads) – he’s competent, observant and quick thinking in a crisis. If the Doctor can get past his current soldierphobia and start treating Danny like a person then I’d like to see more stories where Danny is a companion.
Oh – and I nearly forgot to mention the afterlife scene. Missy didn’t welcome this one – because he wasn’t talked into death by the Doctor? Or just because she was “busy”? Really don’t know where this is going – it’s making me wonder if the whole season so far hasn’t happened in the real world, but J thinks that’d be a bit too lame for them to go there and he may well be right. After all, Dallas did that first (and worst) 😉
Overall, disappointing but maybe they’ve got the farce bit out of their system now?