The season 8 finale, “Death in Heaven” written by Steven Moffat, is an episode of redemption.
Of Moffat’s 2 major projects, the writing in Doctor Who has been eclipsed by that of Sherlock. Where is the complexity? Where are the twists and turns? All season we have been met with many flat episodes (I did like “Listen”, “Time Heist”, and “Kill the Moon”) that evokes less than average thought or emotion. But we have been teased with this story line about Missy who seems to be modeled after Mary Poppins from a terrifying parallel universe. Is she an usher for the dead to heaven or hell?
You’ve been warned but you are still reading! So here goes.
The final episode redeemed the entire season, because it left us with so many questions, and it left the characters so rich, that this is enough to propel me through the Christmas special well into the next series!
In the first part of the 2-part finale, We found out that Missy was actually the Master reincarnated, and she had been harvesting the dead to create a new race of Cybermen, a re-occurring enemy of the doctor who finds the human race too imperfect to keep around.
But the Doctor saves the world at the finale of every season and many times mid-season. What makes this different?
First of all, I got tired of the Clara/Danny charade, and I think in the last 5 minutes of the episode, the show finally gave it up.
I don’t know about other watchers, but Clara never really caught on for me. I loved her when she said “But it’s smaller on the outside!” but that’s where my good opinion ended. She was supposed to be a genius or some kind of a clever impossible girl, but she ended up coming up as somewhat of an petulant child, always demanding more of the doctor. Her wide eyed stares of wonder somewhat contradicted with her original wide eyed stared of knowing. She was at once aggressive and confused.
Maybe the show was trying to make her more likable to introducing Danny, but really I think the introduction of Danny was more for the benefit of the Doctor than Clara (see my point number 3) because he’s a soldier. Since I’m guessing that was always the intention, I never got into the whole Clara/Danny relationship. You can tell someone a thousand times that you love them, but if you still run off with the Doctor and lie to them, and give your life without another thought to warn the one you love… then it’s not very believable.
Second. The desire for the Master to prove that she and the Doctor are quite similar.
But what happened to Gallifrey? It was such a big deal last season that I was surprise that it was barely even mentioned here other than some more wall markings inside the Tardis. I’m glad that the Master came into play at the end which helped loop things in a little more. I loved the idea that in the end everyone has to make sacrifices. Can you really see the Doctor’s sacrifice where he took Danny’s humanity to gain a tactical advantage as something similar to the Master killing people for the fun of it? I don’t think so. But even Danny taunted the Doctor on. Why was the Doctor flipping the switch for Danny so different than if Clara had flipped the switch?
None of it really made that much sense, but it was worth thinking about. But of course the madman/woman wanted to know that she was not alone. After all if we are mad together, then to us, we are not mad at all.
Third and finally since last season, or maybe it even started with David Tenant trying to play god, the Doctor’s goodness has been in question.
Was he truly a hero or did he leave death in his wake? After all, he destroyed entire races. Since Martha, the Doctor has had qualms about militarizing his companions. Although he is somewhat of a soldier himself – more like a mercenary – he did not like the idea of soldiers, or fighters, and really anyone who killed whether it was for the sake of others of themselves.
I think by far the saddest part of the whole episode was when the Doctor found out that he was the president of the human race… in command of all its armies. I thought that was tragic because while the Doctor could not decide what kind of a person he was, in a sense he knew that he wasn’t a danger to others because he never had the range or temptation of power. After all, all he had was the screwdriver. It would be interesting if the Doctor had such power by force for a much longer time. How scary would it be if power corrupted someone who was already so power on his own and so intelligent!
As a bonus, this episode wasn’t just about if the Doctor was good, but also what he did to his companions.
At the end of this episode, he tried so hard to save Clara’s soul, but in her willingness to destroy the Master forever, her soul had already been sullied. Clara’s character somehow ended up being the most corrupted of all of the companions. She was willing to throw away all of the Tardis keys to save her love? Isn’t that quite a bit evil to throw away the futures of so many (assuming that she believed that the Doctor had a large positive impact on the world) for the hope of saving one?
I love that the episode ended in lies, because it just weaves more imperfections into the characters of Doctor Who. It’s much more fitting for the red lining of the Doctor’s cape. Perhaps next season he will wear his shirt inside out.