‘Death In Heaven’
Well, that wasn’t quite what was expected was it? Before I say anything else, it should be said that there were some really good moments – not least the Doctor as Mr. President – in ‘Death in Heaven’. As an episode, in comparison to others this series, it ranks quite well. Yet, when you think of the simply incredible highs reached by the first part of the finale last week, and the promise the episode ended on, suddenly this final episode doesn’t seem so successful.
Last week’s cliff-hangers were all resolved remarkably early on, giving way to a wholly different concept and tone, not following through on the ideas of last week. Central to this was the fact that, in the end, the Cybermen were almost completely harmless; they were just an army to be controlled by The Doctor himself. This was a plot development that, while allowing an interesting culmination of the overarching theme of Danny’s solider to The Doctor’s officer, neutered most of the tension and threat of the episode.
There was the ‘deadly rain’, but that was a threat without a face, and so it was one that could be easily resolved, as it was in the end. Granted, it was through Danny’s ultimate sacrifice, but the character who’s already dead isn’t one whose ‘final death’ is that much to mourn.
The writing for Clara regarding Danny also felt a bit off. It’s been shown that her love for him transcended loyalty to The Doctor and the survival of humanity, yet she didn’t hit either extreme. She wasn’t fiercely battling to save Danny, but neither was she the strong, charismatic saviour she’s been shown to be time and time again.
One of the highlights of the episode was the wholly unpredictably force that was Missy. To have The Master be totally mad is nothing new, but it felt like Missy was a step above this – her whole ‘I’m going to kill you’ speech to Osgood was marvellous acting from Michelle Gomez. However, this great new incarnation was, yet again, somewhat wasted, both as a villain and as a use of such a prestigious character.
Why did Missy formulate her long gestating, oh-so-teased, death-defying, world-conquering plan? To give the Doctor a present, one she surely must have known he wouldn’t actually want. It wasn’t that villainous, and for the brilliance of what Gomez brought to the role, she was severely under-utilised relative to the plot. That’s also before you factor in the come down from her relevance in ‘Dark Water’ – holding all the cards, a mystery in control. It’s good then, that she seemed to teleport away at the end, saved for another day.
The episode’s ending certainly stirs things up, and now we have the Christmas special to look forward to, which will inevitably be a polarizing affair. See you then.