Doctor Who: Series 8 Episode 11 "Finale Part 1: Dark Water" (REVIEW)
written by Mackensie Baker (@MackensieBaker)
"This is it, Clara, one of those moments. The darkest day. The blackest hour. Chin up, shoulders back, let's see what we're made of. You . . . and I."
The Doctor's words come to Clara, and to us, at a time when we need them most. The loss of a loved one is made more crushing than ever in the first part of our series' finale, and made even more close to home with the fact that the loved one in question is none other than our own Danny Pink. We see Clara at her wits-end, despondant and disconnected, desperate beyond belief. Our Soufflé Girl has finally come into her own, but at what cost? She went so far as to betray the Doctor, something we do not see very often.
His response almost surprised me, I must admit. With the grouchy old man routine he's been putting on all this time, I wasn't all that sure how the Doctor would react to the situation. Needless to say, I was very much pleased with the result. I'm beginning to really grasp the mindset of Twelve. The Doctor has been through a lot, barely making it through in some cases, and he's had to grow up and face the facts. However, although he may seem hard-hearted at times, he's still the same old Time Lord.
Before I get into the twist at this journey's end, I would like to talk for a second about the ideas brought up in this episode. The Nethersphere and its inhabitants are likened, right from the get-go, to Hell and its tortured souls. Though it has also been called Heaven and the Promised Land and so on, nobody seems all too happy to be dead.
Perhaps this is simply because it is a cyberman construction meant to "upgrade" the minds of the dead and turn them into an army of cyberman troops in order to conquer the planet. Comfort, as we all know, has never been a priority of the cybermen. Nevertheless, the idea that the dead are still connected to their bodies is quite dark, even gruesome, and I can't help but wonder what they're going to do with that.
Alright then. "Missi." The Mistress. To be perfectly honest, I was starting to suspect she was the reincarnation of the Rani, an amoral Gallifreyan scientist from Classic Who. Yes, Moffat has stated before that he draws the line at bringing old and (so-called) unknown characters like her back, but then, he also told us that the Master's story had been cleaned up quite nicely. Rule number one: Moffat lies. And so here we are with a female incarnation of the Doctor's nemesis, the Master, looking like an evil Mary Poppins impersonator and working on "deleting" the human race by way of a metal zombie army. I don't think anyone saw that coming. And by god do I love Michelle Gomez's portrayal of the mad Time Lord. Very crazy, and very fun.
The writing in this episode was wonderful, tugging on all the right heartstrings and keeping us on the edge of our seats. There were even a few timely comedic moments to break up all the grief and heartache. The build-up the the big reveal was perfect. One thing that hasn't been adressed yet though is whether Clara's identity is truly on the line. Maybe that was just another misleading trick Steven Moffat has pulled out of his oversized sleeves? But even more worrying is the choice that Danny's left with, to eradicate his emotions and get upgraded or hold on to the guilt and pain that makes him human?
The question that I'm most looking froward to having answered is this: are the Time Lords—and Time Ladies—returning to Doctor Who? It's beginning to look that way with all these references to Gallifrey and quite frankly, it's about time.
So. One more episode before the Christmas special, and anything could happen. Stay tuned for the final part, "Death in Heaven."