REVIEW: Doctor Who – ‘Death in Heaven’

The series finale saw a welcome return for U.N.I.T.
The series finale saw a welcome return for U.N.I.T.

So what happened?

Picking things up right where we left them, Clara is facing down a cyberman of her own and is forced to pretend she’s The Doctor to buy herself some time. Meanwhile, The ‘real’ Doctor is still reeling from Missy’s revelation that she’s The Master and looking on aghast as London’s inhabitants treat the shiny, metal men like a new tourist attraction. Unannounced U.N.I.T turn up to save the day and sedate both Time Lords long enough to get them on the plane, restrain Missy and instate Twelve as President of the Earth to see over global military operations and fight off the impending threat from the cybermen army, some of whom have flown into the atmosphere, exploded, turned into clouds and rained down on the graveyards and mortuaries, seeding the dead and reanimating them as yet more members of their lethal army.

It’s one of these new recruits that finds Clara still arguing with a group of his fellow metal monsters, and unconvinced by her revelation that she’s a Time Lord, stuns her and then executes his cohorts, before taking her to a graveyard to sleep it off. When she eventually wakes up amongst a bunch of fledgling cybermen, it’s one in particular that keeps on catching her eye and she manages to track it down, confronting it over why it saved her and took her there. Lifting his mask, he reveals himself to be none other than her recently deceased boyfriend, Danny, struggling to come to terms with his new existence as it seems incompatible with his emotions. Desperate for her to help him as he can’t do it on his own, he requests that Clara deletes the very thing that makes him human, and in doing so, potentially puts her danger.

Whilst all of this has been happening on terra firma, up in the air mad Missy has freed herself from her restraints and killed poor, unsuspecting Osgood, before summoning her metal army to bring down the plane, apparently allowing all of U.N.I.T. to perish, including the Brigadier’s daughter, Kate. Left alone in the hold as it continues to go down, Missy reveals that she was the one who gave Clara The Doctor’s phone number, back when he was still in his eleventh incarnation, thus she was responsible for bringing them together and ultimately putting them in their current situation. Predictably she then leaves him to it after Clara calls the TARDIS and asks him for help with Danny’s predicament, seemingly allowing him to plummet to the ground and yet another incarnation, until he of course summons his time machine and saves himself, much to his nemesis’ dismay.

He had it coming: unimpressed with Seb's squeeing technique, Missy 'deletes' the customer service interface.
He had it coming: unimpressed with Seb’s squeeing technique, Missy ‘deletes’ the customer service interface.

Reaching Clara, after an argument, he gives her his sonic to deal with Danny and access the information he needs to access about Missy’s plan, warning her that she’s risking her own life by doing so. Much to everyone’s surprise the newly unburdened cyberman doesn’t harm his former girlfriend, and his new boss pops along, Mary Poppins style, to explain what she intends to do herself. To Twelve’s absolute horror, everything she’s done has been to please her childhood friend and regain his favour, even being prepared to wipe out the human race so she can present him with an invincible cyberman army that can defeat all of his enemies in the Universe. Momentarily puzzled by what to do when Missy hands him the amulet that gives him absolute power over the undead army, he soon throws control over to Danny who commands his fellow cybermen to harmlessly vapourise themselves in the atmosphere, therefore ridding the planet of the cloud that was literally hanging over it. Determining that Missy deserves a death sentence for her crimes, The Doctor and his companion argue over who should untertake the execution, but not before she gives her fellow Time Lord Gallifrey’s co-ordinates in Space, before a renegade cyberman takes the task out of their hands. Baffled by who he is/was, they find Kate safely laid out on the grass, and soon realise it must have been her newly awakened father that saved her, and finally The Doctor salutes the Brigadier and then watches him self-destruct.

Two weeks later Clara has called The Doctor to meet her in a cafe after Danny gave up his opportunity to come back from the Nethersphere, sending instead the young boy he accidentally killed in Afghanistan, and asking her to find his parents. Assuming that her boyfriend is back and that she’s called him to tell him she can no longer travel with him, Twelve lies and tells her he doesn’t mind because he’s found Gallifrey and plans to return there. Unbeknownst to Clara, he flew to the place Missy told him their home planet was and found nothing there, then smashed up the console in a fit of rage. Parting company with a hug, it’s obvious that the separation isn’t what either of them want and none other than Santa Claus (Nick Frost) voices this when he bursts through the TARDIS, setting us up for the Christmas episode.

Santa Claus (Nick Frost) makes a surprise visit at the end of 'Death in Heaven', setting us up for the Christmas episode.
Santa Claus (Nick Frost) makes a surprise visit at the end of ‘Death in Heaven’, setting us up for the Christmas episode.

Monster of the Week

Marieke: Not all activated at first, only the Cybermen attacking the plane were menacing. Obviously the biggest monster was Missy, who willy-nilly executed people, showing she has no fear, bias or motive. Poor Osgood! And she even was wearing a bow-tie. It turned out that the military represented by Cyber!Danny and also by the Brigadier who were set up as baddies by the Doctor, do not fall under that category any more and have in his eyes (or under his brows) redeemed themselves.
So the Cybermen were more a dangerous object used for bad at first by Missy and then for good later by Danny. Those Daleks and Cybermen, all going soft… Thank god we still have the Skovox Blitzer floating around…

Danielle: There’s probably a justifiable argument that there wasn’t a real monster in the finale. Just a mentally ill Time Lady, who was determined to do whatever it took to get her friend back. The whole point seemed to be that there’s a very fine line between good and evil, and we all seem to lie in the grey area in between.

Oh Missy you're so fine! Michelle Gomez's bonkers Time Lord was often the best thing about the finale.
Oh Missy you’re so fine! Michelle Gomez’s bonkers Time Lord was often the best thing about the finale.

Creep Factor

Marieke: More of an unstable factor with Missy. Everyone could die (apart from the Doctor and Clara obviously) and even Kate nearly did. It was more melancholy that took over. Clara and Danny, Doctor and the Brigadier, Danny and the kid sent back, Clara and the Doctor. It was all bittersweet, wasn’t it?

Danielle: The only scene that creeped me out was the bit in the morgue when Danny became Cyber!Danny. There’s something that’s always really disturbed me about the possibility of the dead coming back to life, which makes me hide behind the sofa if there’s a zombie film on, and the ‘newly conceived’ cybermen banging on those fridge doors sent a shiver down my spine.


Danielle: Numerous mysteries were solved in the series finale. From the reasoning behind Missy’s ‘Master Plan’ to who gave Clara The Doctor’s phone number. I guess whether or not Twelve was a good man was meant to be the big question mark this series, and to a certain extent we got a satisfactory answer, in that who he surrounds himself with help to define his sense of morality. That’s the real difference between him and The Master. It’s solitude that ultimately drives his one time friend mad, heartless and cruel, whilst his choice to travel with companions that have kept our ‘hero’ sane. With that in mind, it seems that Father Christmas has turned up at just the right time…..

Marieke: Well, the new mystery is, where has Missy gone to? When the Doctor zapped her, it had a different sound than when she was zapping people. And an interface. Never squee near her. No doubt we’ll see the Master return and hopefully in Missy form again. Michelle Gomez has proven to be an excellent version of the Doctor’s arch nemesis. Also, there was a nice Scottish accent contest going on at times!

Sanjeev Bhaskar as Colonel Ahmed.
Sanjeev Bhaskar as Colonel Ahmed.

Familiar Face of the Week

It was fabulous to see Sanjeev Bhaskar, most famous for his comedy stints in Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No. 42, don a police uniform and argue the toss over whether U.N.I.T’s flying HQ plane was like something the Thunderbirds used. We heartily approved!

The Verdict on Series 8 and Twelve?

Marieke: I found this series a bit too inconsistent and I was wondering at times what they really wanted to do with Twelve as the new Doctor and the series as a whole. I think it got somewhat clear at the end, although I will never understand why Missy gave Clara the Doctor’s number other than getting him out of hiding. The whole ‘control freak’ idea doesn’t gel with me and also I think The Doctor would go through hoops for every one of his companions, not just Clara (even though, I know, she is the ‘Impossible Girl’). Twelve proved the be much grumpier than my beloved Eleven (I think even though his time on the show has had some rough patches, he is my Doctor) and his catchphrase makes me laugh: “SHUT UP!” For a long time though, I didn’t entirely feel Twelve and possibly I never entirely will. However in the series finale I didn’t mind him much any more and he did look like a real Doctor to me, so that will do for now. For me, Listen was my favourite ep. Yes, a dividing one, but I liked the simplicity and also the sheer terror created by that thing under the sheet on the bed. Also the ending was clever. I am counting on a return at some point to who exactly that was under the sheet, otherwise I’ll be disappointed! The Clara/Danny arc wasn’t worked out well and Danny ended up being a throw away character saving the world. Such a contradiction, but by that I mean he wasn’t really memorable in the end. And I had such hopes. Oh well! Now we’ll face an interesting Christmas episode with Santa himself and the rumours of Clara leaving. I wonder how that will play out, but it’s not that I can’t wait. I honestly didn’t even miss the show last Saturday. Twelve still has a lot of work to do.

The central tension between Danny, Clara and Twelve, which was meant to drive this series, often felt a little forced.
The central tension between Danny, Clara and Twelve, which was meant to drive this series, often felt a little forced.

Danielle: The biggest and most profound thing my Fezzy friend and I have disagreed on throughout this series is Twelve. Pretty much from the get-go I was on-board with Capaldi’s very different, bad-tempered, less self-assured version of The Doctor, simply because I felt it was very much time for a change of pace and who better to take it on than such an accomplished actor, who also happened to be a huge fan of the show? Where we do agree is on the inconsistency of the storytelling and the characterisation in this run of episodes. The whole Danny and Clara relationship arc felt a lot like the the tail was wagging the dog, rather than a natural progression that we could totally invest in. That’s not to say that I can fault the actors attempts to make it believable. I really can’t, but they can only do so much with what they’re given. There was a lot to like this series, however, and as with Marieke, I absolutely adored ‘Listen’. In many ways it was the perfect Who episode. I just wish we’d seen more as beautifully crafted as that one. I’ve always loved Moffat. Far more than I ever did Russell T Davies, but I’m starting to think it’s time for him to consider handing over the reins and allow fresh blood to inject some new life into the show.


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