Monday 9 November 2015

Doctor Who - The Zygon Inversion

Inverted Comas

Doctor Who - The Zygon Inversion
UK Airdate: 7th November 2015

Warning: Again, some minor spoilers.

Okay... this is going to be yet another of a series of much shorter reviews of Doctor Who this season, purely because I really don’t have much to say about this one and, certainly, not much bad to say at all. The Zygon Inversion continues where The Zygon Invasion (reviewed here) left off and, rather than doing what I thought it would do by giving us a weak link conclusion to last week’s set up that really wasn’t, in all honesty, the most interesting opening salvo, it surprised me by dumping a lot of the mindless action and exploring the ideas inherent in the basic storyline with a little more detail. This is something Doctor Who has been doing a lot this season and, I have to say, it continues being one of the more riveting series' of the last five years of the show because of it. I’m not saying it’s a great idea to dumb down on the action completely but they are doing less of it, it seems to me, and I think the writers are getting a pretty cool mix of elements so far.

So this week started up exactly where we left off as the writers and Jenna Coleman commenced an exploration of the link of the comatose body of Clara that the Zygon version of her had been using as a master template, so to speak. We are inside ‘comatose Clara’s’ head as she starts to influence the mind-link between her and her Zygon copy, trying to manipulate events from the inside of her mind. Clara’s always been written as a pretty strong character from the outset... starting off when she was the mystery character who kept dying before the revelation of just why that was... and once again we have her full-on in a pitch mental battle with The Doctor’s foes and, at the end of the day, cited by The Doctor as being the one who made him rethink his approach to the options of death and destruction in the first place, by direct reference to the 50th Anniversary special The Day Of The Doctor (reviewed here) once more. A story which, incidentally, was also the first return of the Zygons after their original appearance opposite Tom Baker in the 1970s.

So we have Clara and, presumably, a lot of dead UNIT soldiers, including at least one regular, who seem to have been just swept under the carpet a little since their certain death cliff hanger from the previous week. We also have a great lack of reveal of The Doctor as a Zygon... hooray, the script writers didn’t play that card after all while still managing to make good on the promise of last week’s stonking cliff hanger and, instead, plumping for an answer which is... well it’s maybe less of a Doctor Who solution but it’s a valid ‘adventure story’ kind of moment so, yeah, it kinda works and it’s a lot less deux ex machina than the scenario I just assumed they were going to use... so there’s that.

We also have Jemma Redgrave returning again as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, heading up UNIT and fooling absolutely nobody watching that she wasn’t a Zygon after all but, that’s okay, the punchline to her flash back moment where she shot her would-be Zygon murderer with the words “Five Rounds Rapid” was a fan pleasing moment since it’s what her fictional father, Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge Stewart, famously said for the first time in the Jon Pertwee era story The Daemons (reviewed by me here). A round of applause to the team behind the show for that one... and for the William Hartnell painting moment which I thought I’d glimpsed the week before (now confirmed) and the references to The Doctor’s old companion Harry Sullivan from that original Tom Baker story of yesteryear, Terror Of The Zygons.

Okay so... all well and good. We have Osgood back now too, as what could either be a human and a Zygon or two Zygons. Something tells me we’ll find out the answer to that conundrum at some point over the next two years... and the show’s writers do keep teasing her as a more regular companion at every chance they get throughout the show so... watch this space. I was also glad she took a verbal swipe at The Doctor’s new ‘sonic sunglasses’, pointing out how ridiculous they are. Hopefully Moffat is just teasing us with the absence of our favourite timelord’s sonic device.

And to top it off we have some pretty cool moments of Murray Gold scoring in a kind of action/horror vein... coming up with some tension building motifs just when they are required. So, yeah... all in all a great episode, well written (better than the set up hook), well performed and with a nice, quite dark heart involving The Doctor in a talking solution. Admittedly, he was doing an impersonation of Hughie Green in Opportunity Knocks for a lot of that but it was all still pretty good. That being said, I don’t know what younger viewers of the show are going to make of Peter Capaldi doing an impersonation of a famous presenter who hasn’t really been seen on British screens since the late 1970s... and  I mean that most sincerely, I really do, viewers! Still, it brought back memories for us ‘oldies’ in the audience and this current series of the show certainly seems to be more adult oriented, it has to be said.

Perhaps that’s on of the reasons I’m happy to continue to report that this year’s episodes have made up a stonking good season so far. Only four episodes proper to go now but, of course, all that good work could change at a moment’s notice if a really bad episode comes to light. I have a suspicion that the next four episodes may be very tightly linked and I’m thinking something pretty big with some serious repercussions for the characters in the show may be just around the corner. Will it be in next week’s episode that the pennies finally start dropping? We shall see I guess. Let ‘em bring it on.

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