Today, the four principal characters all get a good chunk of the action, each showing a side of themselves we’re not used to. Osgood is on stellar form as the de facto companion, showing that she can do so much more than blush and puff into her inhaler every time the Doctor is nearby. Meanwhile, Zygon Clara/Bonnie is vampish, cool and more than a little sexy, Kate Stewart is trigger happy and the Doctor — well, who ever really knows what he’s going to do?
The pre-credit teaser is a funny old thing. Done right and it can be the best part of an episode; handled poorly, and you’re in a bad mood for the next 50 minutes. This season’s “Doctor Who” has nailed it, and Clara’s dreamscape in “The Zygon Inversion” is no different. Reminiscent of Jenna Coleman’s first appearance in “Asylum of the Daleks,” she’s cut off from the rest of the action, communicating through a screen. This is turning into a theme for this season — a hint of what is to befall her in Coleman’s final episodes?
Who’s the Daddy?
The Doctor’s paternalistic attitude towards humanity is never more evident than when Capaldi does his grumpy old man act, and he’s explicit about it here. He’s fraying at the edges when he has to talk Kate and Bonnie out of destroying the planet, and when he saves the day by forgiving both sides, he’s verging on Christ-like. For once, this isn’t patronizing — as we’re reminded, earlier in the episode, he’s been around for millennia and this isn’t his first apocalyptic rodeo. The glimpses we get behind the flippant facade to the guilt and PTSD-riddled soul beneath are beautiful; something the show has done exceptionally well all season. This is a Doctor who has seen it all before and has the scars to prove it — his magnanimity has been hard-won.
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Given how much she got to do, this episode could very well be Jenna Coleman’s goodbye present. Forget the flowers and a nice card, have a scene where you argue — and, let’s be honest, flirt a bit — with your character’s evil doppelganger, and then come back in tomorrow and do it the other way around. From a shaky start, following in the footsteps of the beloved Amy Pond (Karen Gillen, who revived the companion archetype), she’s become a mainstay of the show. It’s going to be hard to see her go.
Friend or Foe?
Kate’s Zygon status has been ambiguous since the beginning of the previous episode (maybe it’s because she’s posh, maybe it’s Jemma Redgrave’s adorable resting bitch face) but it turns out that the UNIT boss has been herself all along, dispatching the menacing Zygon with “five rounds rapid” (her father’s catchphrase), then crushing the Zygon communicator beneath her remarkably unscuffed kitten heels and going head to head with Bonnie.
But just because she’s human doesn’t mean she’s automatically on the Doctor’s side. The tension between them has been handled admirably in this two-parter, with the potential to bring her in as a Harriet Jones-style thorn in his side in later appearances. Redgrave is at her best when there’s a glint of the zealot about her, and Kate’s determination to solve Earth’s problems, her way, could alienate her family friend for good.
UNIT Will Be Back
We may not be getting a “Torchwood”-esque UNIT spinoff on TV, but tie-in company Big Finish is producing a series of audio adventures about everyone’s favourite scientific/military organisation, which comes out this week. And you never know — they produced one for Classic “Who” companion Sarah Jane Smith a few years before the character was given her own show. Maybe if we’re really good (and the audio series sales are high) we’ll get to see more of them on the small screen.
“Don’t look at my browser history.” Someone’s been Googling “Frenemies with benefits” again…
“I’m over 2,000 years old, I’m old enough be your messiah.”
Osgood has given great thought about how she would kill the Doctor, with her justification being “I’m a big fan.” This is entering Missy territory now.
The Doctor calling Bonnie “Zygella” (a play on Nigella, as in Lawson, although I can’t see this one as a domestic goddess) is perfect. Doctor Puntastic, indeed.
“I’m a very big fan.” Doctor to the Osgoods. Cue every viewer with a heart having a little cry.
Questions (That Aren’t “The Oldest Question”)
Why is the Doctor so sad? And why did he think Clara was dead for a month? [Editor’s Note: It might have been a metaphorical month.]
Speaking of time, how did Kate get back from America so quickly? And why did they send her with literally no back-up? She’s got a very important job! Shouldn’t she at least have a bodyguard?
When are the Osgoods getting their spinoff?
Have we reached Peak Coleman Eyebrow? They’ve been on trend all season, but Bonnie is rocking some seriously good brows while she tries to take over the world.
What did Kate think, when she woke up slumped in the Black Archive with two Zygons? Does this happen to her a lot?