Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Doctor Who - Death in Heaven

The end of Peter Capaldi's first season as The Doctor ends not with a bang but a whimper. In a storyline that puts the entire world at risk from a resurrected Master and an army of Cybermen rising from the dead writer Steven Moffat constantly cheats the audience with a story that never sums up the courage to sacrifice what's required to make the finale work. The Doctor being made President of Earth against his will caps off a season of bizarre plot points that sound like fun ideas until you put them into practice. The reveal of Missy's (Michelle Gomez) plan, which is a special kind of torture specifically designed for her lifetime frenemy, works well, but the show's ending refuses to let there be any real cost to the entire affair undercutting the finale from the get-go.

Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) gets thrown out of a plane? Survives. Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) gets turned into a Cyberman? Still has the heart to play hero and live peacefully in the afterlife. The Master forces The Doctor to become the general of the Cyber Army or watch it destroy the Earth knowing either option will destroy him? Plan neutralized in a handful of seconds. The Doctor agrees to kill Missy for Clara (Jenna Coleman)? The choice and ramifications (which might have started a journey down a very interesting path for the character) are completely taken out of his hand by a truly groanworthy cameo. Even Clara's tearful farewell to The Doctor is negated by news Jenna Coleman will return for the Christmas special.

The death and sacrifice of Danny Pink (a character the show never sold me on) may help to break The Doctor's relationship with Clara (except we know she's coming back for at least one more show). Missy's "death" (which looks exactly like her transport earlier in the episode) is awkward in the extreme allowing for the character to possibly show-up at some future date. The only part of the ending that I was sold on was The Doctor and Clara's "final" conversation where both offer lies to comfort the other when the truth could be used to far greater effect. That sequence, far more than Danny's death, is the highlight of the episode and would have been a truly bittersweet farewell to a fan-favorite character (but, as stated, Moffat has other plans meaning Clara's eventual exit will have to try and find a way to top the stand-out moment of this lackluster season finale).

No comments: