Saturday, 31 October 2015

Doctor Who: The Zygon Invasion (1)

Doctor: 'At ease. I'm the president of the world. I'm here to rescue people and generally establish happiness all over the place.'

It seems like only 357 days ago that I was bemoaning the loss of Osgood, in a scene so silly that you could have popped a red nose on it, draped it in a green wig, and called it Krusty. Let's face it: Osgood came to an uncharacteristically unintelligent end. Death by bananas! So I was overjoyed to hear that everyone's favourite Doctor fangirl would be returning. Pity they ruined the surprise by advertising it in virtually every press release from here to Timbuktu.

Apparently, Steven Moffat never intended for Osgood to die, which likely explains why her return felt so straightforward, organic, and utterly perfect. Bringing back Osgood didn't require some elaborate retcon, all it needed was a clip-show from 'Day of the Doctor', mixed with new footage from the Osgoods, explaining how the peace treaty was eventually realised. I'm so pleased they picked this particular loose thread to run with. It was a story begging to be told, and I think Peter Harness—so far—has done a sterling job. What it means, however, is that UNIT have known all along that Osgood was alive. They could at least have told us, the bastards!

Of course, we still don't know which Osgood survived—the original Osgood or her Zygon doppelganger—although the question might be somewhat moot. Osgood is something akin to a hybrid. Sound familiar? The week before last we learned that Lady Me was a human-Mire hybrid. So which hybrid does the Time Lord prophecy refer to? Lady Me? Sam Swift? Osgood? Or are there more hybrids still to come? If it isn't Lady Me, then perhaps Maisie Williams saying that she'd love to return to the show one day wasn't the deceit I imagined it to be. Maybe she won't be back this season after all. Bummer.

Obviously, we were meant to be suspicious of Clara throughout the bulk of tonight's episode. The way she left that little boy with his clearly bonkers parents immediately set the alarm bells ringing, and by the time she was asking Kate Stewart about troop numbers and weapon capabilities, I could barely see the TV screen for the warning flag flapping in my face. So whilst the Clara reveal wasn't entirely unexpected, it did an excellent job of hiding Norlander's true identity. Clara's such a goody two shoes, it'll be a nice change of pace to see Jenna playing a darker character for once. And Bonnie is pretty rotten. She had no compunction about threatening to kill Clara or attempting to blow the Doctor out of the sky.

I'm a little puzzled as to how they're using Clara this year. It's supposed to be her final season, yet they can't seem to keep her and the Doctor together. She spent a good portion of 'The Witch's Familiar' in Missy's company, she was almost entirely absent from last week's episode, and tonight she ended up stranded in the UK while the Doctor went swanning off to Turmezistan. Maybe there wasn't time to do a comprehensive script rewrite after Jenna's eleventh hour decision to stay, but if it was a deliberate creative choice, then I'm not sure I approve. It's going to be hard to pull off a finale with the appropriate emotional kick if they continue to keep her and the Doctor apart.

How successful the in-your-face social commentary was, I'm undecided. I did laugh at the benefits quip (before cringing), but the stuff about faction radicalisation, and the eventual rebellion which led to non-conformity and violence, was perhaps a little too on the nose. But that was the point, right? The story was meant to be understood against a backdrop of political unrest, the radicalisation of British teens, immigration woes, and ISIS trouble abroad. How effectively it deals with these issues, and whether it addresses them with the seriousness they deserve, or whether it simply uses them as a weak framework for an alien yarn, we'll be better equipped to determine after next week's instalment.

But the way UNIT viewed the Zygons was appalling, as was their blow-everything-up attitude—which mysteriously seemed to desert them when faced with a cave full of hostile Zygons. If you can shell the shit out of everything, then you can surely shoot a gun? In fact, UNIT pretty much stank tonight. How many times did Walsh give an order, only to be ignored completely? ('Confirm Strike', 'Strike Aborted'/ 'Kill it!', 'Over and out, ma'am.') I mean, I love having UNIT around, but I sometimes wish they'd be more effective. They way they surrendered at the end was pitiful. Is a cave full of soldiers really going to end up reduced to a pile of sizzling pubic hair?

What's in the Osgood Box? I was paying attention, but I have no clue. If the name's hyper-literal, then we'd expect to find a third Osgood inside. But unless the box is bigger on the inside than out—and we all know that can't happen (*cough*)—then I'm guessing Peter Harness has something else up his sleeve. Were the relatives in the church human or Zygon? That UNIT dude's mother was so bad at answering questions, that—had I been in his shoes—I'd have shot her two sentences in. And what exactly did Bonnie go back to Clara's flat for? Was it simply to set up the lift scene, or is there more to that story, too? Questions I hope to see answered next week.

Other Thoughts:

—Doctor Disco? Doctor Funkenstein? Twelve really is experimenting this season.

—I'm no weapons expert, but I find it hard to believe that Clara's bazooka wouldn't have had at least some recoil.

—How good were those American accents? They sounded like utter shazbot to me.

—The tumbleweed was terrible. It barely tumbled.

—If I hear another person say 'let Zygons be Zygons' on Twitter, I'm going to flip my wig.

—It was impressive how the Doctor managed to get an authentic wah sound out of his guitar without a wah wah pedal.

—The Zygons sound awfully wet in the lung department. I'm no Doctor, but I'd be surprised if they didn't need a course of antibiotics.


Doctor: 'I snogged a Zygon once. Old habits.'

Clara: 'I used to memorise Trivial Pursuits questions, so I could... win.'

Clara: 'I thought you didn't like being president of the world.'
Doctor: 'No, but I like poncing around in a big plane.'

Osgood: 'Doctor, what are you doing here?'
Doctor: 'Rescuing you. In quite a dashing way, I might add.'

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