So what happened?
Falling foul of his own trap, Twelve finds himself hanging outside the bedroom window of a young boy called Grant, a New Yorker with a penchant for comic books, who believes the stranger outside his window is Santa Claus, and therefore allows him into his room to give him cookies and milk. Taking him onto the roof, The Doctor shows Grant the ‘Time Distortion Equaliser Thingy’ he’s been building there and gives him a set of step-by-step instructions on how to power the machine up. When it comes to the last step, placing the Hazandra gemstone known as ‘The Ghost of Love of Wishes’ into it, the young boy reluctantly admits that he swallowed it thinking it was medicine for his cough after Twelve handed it to him along with a glass of water. Straight away the side-effects become obvious as Grant begins to levitate higher and higher, the more agitated he gets with the situation, the stone granting his wish to have superpowers like his comic-book heroes. After taking an impromptu trip through the New York skyline, whilst holding onto the newly transformed young man, The Doctor makes him promise not to use his new powers.
Years later, after being salvaged from Hydroflax’s mechanical body, Twelve’s newest companion, Nardole, crashes a press conference held by Mr Brock, the head of a multi-national, research company called Harmony Shoals. Also there is a reporter for the Daily Chronicle named Lucy, who afterwards disguises herself as a cleaner and spies on the strange activities going on in the research facility, soon finding herself being accompanied by The Doctor who’s nonchalantly eating sushi. Between her and the TARDIS duo, they discover that the company has been infiltrated by alien, brain-like creatures, who use the bodies of the inhabitants of the planets they colonise to further their dastardly plans. After Mr Brock’s body is utilised in such a manner by one of the aliens using another employee, Dr Sim, as a host, the murderous creature sets his sights on the three of them and corners them. The Doctor manages to stall him, however, by turning around and making his cohorts do the same so that Dr. Sim 2.0 won’t be able to make it look like self-defence if he shoots them in the back. In the nick of time, they hear knocking on the glass outside the 20th storey window, and the caped crusader known as The Ghost smashes into the building, deals with their would-be assassin and flies Lucy back to the vicinity of her apartment building where her baby daughter is being looked after her Nanny, Grant, the same boy that swallowed the gemstone years before, and who is now living a double life unbeknown to the reporter and his childhood friend, who he also happens to be in love with.
Having already tracked him down using the gemstone, Twelve and Nardole are already lying in wait at Lucy’s apartment for Grant when he swiftly returns to his ‘day job’. When Lucy comes back a few minutes later, she unsuccessfully tries to coax him into telling her who he works for, but he does reveal that the aliens intend to overrun the planet by harvesting the bodies of World leaders and making the rest of the human population their subjects. Before he leaves with Nardole to find the alien mothership, he convinces Grant to be honest with Lucy about his alter ego, and the unlikely superhero agrees to an interview with the reporter via phone call. Meanwhile, Twelve has located the alien space ship, and after boarding it using the TARDIS, he and Nardole become privy to the aliens’ plans after a conference call with Dr. Sim, who informs them they intend to welcome an exodus of World leaders to the ultra secure, nuclear weapon proof Harmony Shoals building in New York after the ship they’re currently in drops to the Earth causing an explosion, which will lead to mass panic.
With The Ghost on the brink of revealing who he really is to Lucy, their rooftop interview/date is interrupted by a group of the extra-terrestrials who intend to takeover his superhuman body, and threaten both Lucy and her baby with the same fate. Getting a message from The Doctor, who’s in the process of allowing the space ship to fall to the Earth before the aliens are ready for it to happen, Grant manages to free himself and switch to his real persona, taking Lucy with him and preventing the ship from crashing into the ground with one hand, disclosing who he is to his long-term crush and sharing a kiss with her. The Doctor calls in U.N.I.T. to deal with the aliens and close down Harmony Shoals. Afterwards, Grant reveals that he no longer intends to use his powers, and Lucy grills Twelve on why he’s so sad. Giving an evasive answer about things ending and starting again, he departs for TARDIS and leaves it to Nardole to explain that he’s still mourning the loss of his wife, River Song.
Monster of the Week
Danielle: I don’t think these sentient, body-snatching brains were given a formal name, were they? It’s only revealed that they’re working for ‘The Shoal of the Winter Harmony’, which is a rather camp name for a shadowy organisation intent on Universe-wide domination. It’s interesting that we’re seeing them again so soon after their appearance in the previous Christmas special, ‘The Husbands of River Song’, too.
Marieke: Not particularly scary, more a little bit gross and definitely effective. One of them infiltrated U.N.I.T now. I hope we will get the see the continuation of this. Also the doctor host body with a German accent… That just screams monster, doesn’t it? (Just kidding for the ultra-sensitive reader).
Danielle: That whole ability to split your head in half is a tad creepy, eh? As was their thankfully unseen method of depositing themselves in people’s bodies. We’ve had much scarier villains on the show, however. To be honest, my own brain kept on screaming ‘Krang!’ when I saw them in those jars.
Marieke: I am still not a fan of the slime when they open their heads. But I found something completely else in this story also rather creepy. And that is Grant’s behaviour towards Lucy. He has a lifelong crush on her, probably accidentally x-rayed her, ‘loses’ her to his best friend and then ends up being the nanny for Lucy’s baby when the friend took off. It is a bit pathetic pining after her like that and his job is therefore slightly stalker-ish and not at all romantic in my eyes. I’d like to add that the brains lying around were not a nice visual accompanying Christmas dinner.
Danielle: Is it just me or did anybody else think Harmony Shoals might be yet another pseudonym for River Song? If that is the case then Moffat may well have another twist up his sleeve before his tenure ends.
Marieke: It would be totally Moffat-esque to dig out one final River Song secret, but it would be nice to let her rest for a while. There is possibly something bigger behind Harmony Shoals. We have seen the slimy opening heads twice during Christmas now. Or maybe they are just a very festive Who thing. Merry Christmas, have some goo and a gun from my head!
Appearing here as Mr Brock, Tomiwa Edun is perhaps best known for his role as Sir Elyan, Guinevere’s brother, in Merlin. He’s also had acting stints in The Hour and Bates Motel.
Danielle: Let’s face it, The Return of Doctor Mysterio is a big ball of Christmas fluff. There have been much meatier episodes for Capaldi to sink his teeth into during his time as the Twelfth incarnation, but that didn’t necessarily make this seasonal outing any less enjoyable. Yes, Grant Gordon’s transformation into a superhero was a rather flimsy tale with the usual cliches, but overall the warm performances held the thing together and it was nice to see a lighter Doctor, even if his grief at the loss of his wife peppered this episode in a couple of places. Speaking of River Song, my gut feeling after watching this special is that Moffat may not be quite done with her before he hands the reins over to Chibnall. That might leave some people rolling their eyes at his preoccupation with her as a character, but I’m all for it if he can find a fresh angle to bring her back from the Library and into the land of the living again. Capaldi and Kingston have great chemistry, so I won’t be at all disappointed if he decides to put them on-screen together again. It’s a temptation I’m not sure I could resist either.
Props also have to go to Matt Lucas for his newly ‘whole again’ portrayal of Nardole. I hold my hands up and admit that I was sceptical over the fact they were bringing him back as a full-time companion, but he and Twelve play off each other nicely. It’s quite amusing that River seems to have taught him how to fly the TARDIS too. All in all, I thought this was a solid, if not exceptional outing for the Doctor, and I’m very much looking forward to what Series 10 has to bring!
Marieke: I like Nardole. Maybe I like the throwback line of sewing his head on more, it was such an easy way to bring him back for the show but also so Who. Let’s just sew it back on after we got rid of the Big Hero 6 costume eh? But he gels with the Doctor and his slightly naive but decisive nature is rather disarming. I don’t mind that they’re brining him back for the next series at all. I didn’t really buy the Lucy/Grant love angle. Also I think there could’ve been a bit more biting humour at the Superman/Ghost parallel.
It was a middle of the road episode, with a little fluff and a little melancholy, which worked for Christmas. The promo for the next series got me more excited though, and I can’t wait to properly meet Bill.
Our Fezzy Score:
So what did you think to the Christmas Special? Fun? Fluffy? Or a complete flop? Let us know in the comments…