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Doctor Who Zygon Inversion Series 9 Episode 8 Review

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Last week’s episode ended with a Zygon copy of Clara firing a rocket at the Doctor’s plane as it passes over London and with a Zygon police officer about to kill Kate Stewart in New Mexico.  This week the real Clara starts to wake up inside her Zygon pod to see a world that is not quite right.  She’s trapped in her apartment, with windows and doors that lead nowhere, with gobbledygook in the newspapers, black toothpaste in the medicine cabinet, reversed numbers on the alarm clock, and a television set that allows her to see through the eyes of the Zygon commander who has taken her form.  But that television set works in both directions, as the Zygon reads Clara’s memories; memories such as the Osgood Box….


Well, based on every clip and behind the scenes photo the BBC put out this past week we know that everyone survived.  I don’t know about you, but I now try to stay away from everything that could be a spoiler.  It wasn’t that long ago that we had to actually watch a show to find out what happened, and we really had to “tune in next week” to find out what was going to happen next week.  Now we get the behind the scenes interviews before the show airs about how Character A really liked how they treated their character before they were killed off at the end of the show, or how they weren’t really dead because they climbed into a dumpster and hid from the monsters.  The biggest source of potential spoilers used to be the TV Guide, now they’re everywhere!  It’s funny that I rant about this now, but last week’s episode didn’t feature a “next week” trailer clip (presumably to avoid spoilers), and that I really enjoyed next week’s trailer clip for Sleep No More.


Yes, everyone survives from last week as Clara causes the Zygon to misfire her first rocket which warns the Doctor to the attack and gives himself and Osgood enough time to parachute to safety as the plane is hit by a second rocket.  Kate survives because she’s a trained soldier, and simply shoots her Zygon attacker.  We finally learn what the rogue Zygons plan to do; they’re revealing themselves as aliens so that humanity will fear them and go to war. A war they plan to win so they can take over the planet and live the way they want to.  As the Zygons make their way to the Black Archive to get the Osgood Box which will instantly transform every Zygon on Earth back to their normal appearance, the Doctor, Osgood and Kate head there as well.  Once the key players are together it is revealed that there are two Osgood boxes, just as there were two Osgoods, one human, one Zygon.  One box for the humans, one box for the Zygons and each with two identical buttons inside marked TRUTH and CONSEQUENCES.  In the human box, one button will detonate the nuclear warheads under London destroying humans and the invaders and alike, the other will release the deadly Z-67 gas and literally turn every Zygon on Earth inside out, obviously killing them.  In the Zygon box, one button will revert all Zygons on Earth to their natural form for an hour, the other will remove the ability to shape change from every Zygon on Earth forever, making them human.  Of course, which button does what?


The real purpose behind the Osgood boxes is now revealed by the Doctor: the boxes are there to make each side stop, sit down and talk out their problem.  But who will go first?  Who will blink?  Who will forgive?  The Doctor gives a beautiful speech about himself, what he had to live with during and after the Time War, and about peace.  He says that the only way anyone can live in peace is if they are willing to forgive.  Peace is eventually restored, but at what cost and to which side?

The Good:

  • Better than last week, as things did actually happen, but this probably could have been a one part episode.
  • The moral message was great, and the Doctor himself was effective in delivering it.
  • Even Osgood, the Doctor’s biggest fan, thinks the sonic specs are a bad idea, comparing it to a “visual hearing aid”. Of course the Doctor then tells us that he “once made an invisible watch… spot the design flaw?”
  • The real Clara didn’t really do much of anything this week, did she?  “Evil” Clara ate up every scene she was in (including the ones she acted opposite herself), but the original was really just there for the memories….

The Bad:

  • You know what one of my biggest problems with  Kill the Moon was?  It completely ignored science and physics and logic.  Peter Harness did the same thing again tonight as he somehow had Kate Stewart arriving in London mere hours after leaving Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  That’s a distance of 8247 km, which even if she travelled the speed of sound (mach 1 or 1234.8 km/hr) it would have taken her more than 6.5 hours to arrive.  Let’s say 7 hours for the travel time to the airport and cleanup of the dead Zygon.  Also, how is it broad daylight in both places? For a show that deals a lot with time travel, you’d think they’d remember the terrestrial time zones we already deal with on a daily basis.  And oh, my facts and figures on the distance between London and New Mexico came from Google, same with the speed of sound calculations.  Perhaps Mr. Harness might like to check into using it too one day.

The Ugly:

  • The puns are okay, but the “Dr Disco” bit is getting a bit silly.  Just like the hoodie and t-shirt under his Crombie coat, and the sonic specs I’m not really on board with “Disco”… Keep the puns, keep the character light, but don’t get ridiculous with it.
  • After seeing them in three episodes now, I’m not really a fan of the updated look of the Zygons… I wasn’t a huge fan of them originally either though.


Next week: Sleep No More….apparently a found footage episode?  I hope not, those give me headaches usually

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Doctor Who Zygon Invasion Series 9 Episode 7 Review

 

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With flashbacks aplenty Peter Harness explains to us the history of the Zygon peace treaty that emerged from The Day of the Doctor, and sheds some light on Osgood’s death from Death In Heaven last season.  Last season as well Peter Harness gave us Kill the Moon.  You’ll excuse me if I’m not overly confident that this two part Zygon tale is in safe hands.


The peace treaty that was negotiated (off screen) before the climax of the 50th anniversary special allowed for twenty million Zygons to integrate themselves into Earth’s population, and to remain anonymous to all but UNIT.  All seemed well, until a splinter group developed inside the Zygon high command that wants to reveal themselves, be themselves and of course take over the Earth.  One woman was key in keeping the peace between humanity and the Zygons, and that was Osgood, who was killed by the Master at the end of last season.  But which Osgood was killed?  Was it the human or her “sister” the Zygon?  They kept the secret to keep the peace.  Never letting anyone on either side know who was who.  Now, Osgood has been taken prisoner by the rogue faction, but before her capture, she managed to get a message to the Doctor.  Reuniting with Kate Stewart and UNIT, the Doctor calls upon Clara to help him solve the mystery and prevent all out war.


This all sounds good, but really I didn’t think that anything happened in this episode. Well, let me clarify, sure things happened, UNIT sprung into action, and traps were sprung around them.  Key humans were replaced by Zygon duplicates, and we’re not quite sure who we can trust.  It very much reminded me of the 11th Doctor episode with the ‘Gangers (Rebel Flesh) in that way.  Everyone splits up in this episode, Clara stays in England to help UNIT; Kate Stewart goes to New Mexico to track down Osgood; and the Doctor goes to a small European village that UNIT has discovered to be a Zygon training facility and are intent on bombing.  By the end of the episode, everyone has walked into a trap, and the Doctor’s plane is about to be shot down by a rocket launched by Zygon infiltrator.

As I said, it didn’t really feel like anything happened in this episode.  We were left with more questions than answers, unfortunately the questions were just parts of the story, and not something the audience thought up on their own.  This episode moved along really slowly I thought. A lot more story could have been developed and delivered if they picked it up a notch or two. Depending on how next week turns out, I really wonder why this one was a two parter.  Zygon Invasion played up a lot of classic sci-fi themes and current political issues such as racism, war and refugees, but failed to really make them matter and instead pushed slowly into the disjointed invasion plot.

The Good:

  • I think they made a reference to Harry Sullivan, travelling companion to the Fourth Doctor, who was a Naval doctor and did encounter the Zygons in their only other episode.
  • We got more references to the “hybrid” that it seems will be the big, deadly, climactic season finale, over-reaching plot point.  I’m not minding this one as much as in past years, because we’re just being reminded that it’s on the Doctor’s mind, and not being hit over the head with it every week, like the Nethersphere clips last year that took up valuable screen time that (a few times) could have been better used to flesh out the stories.

The Bad:

  • Everyone splits up?  With rogue Zygon factions, the “head” of UNIT goes to America alone?  Really?  This just felt like it fell out of an old Scooby-Doo script.
  • The pacing.
  • The logic.  Again.  How do 20 million new people just show up an integrate themselves on Earth?
  • The surviving Osgood will probably die next week and we probably still won’t know if she’s human or Zygon.  They better not hatch another one of her, fully grown out of thin air….or the moon.

The Ugly:

  • They really seemed to be playing up “Clara’s Theme” in this one….we get it.  She’s done at the end of this series.
  • Why did every reveal have to be so obvious?
  • I’m dreading the point where they make a “let Zygons be Zygons” pun next week. 
  • The Zygons were not really well played tonight.  They could have been a tragic monster, one we have sympathy for, but they were reduced to snarling killing machines.


There was no “Next Time” this week, probably because it would answer some of the questions this episode asked itself be too spoiler-y, so here’s a clip they put out to celebrate some of the scarier moments of the show since tonight was Hallowe’en.

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