Saturday’s Who finally began the welcome unraveling of the Nether sphere / Missy storyline, after 4 weeks of filler; with Dark Water.
This tonally dark episode, began with the death of Danny Plank (road accident), whilst on the phone to Clara. In turn, Clara threatened the Doctor to change the past and save Planky; whilst threatening to destroy all 7 of the Tardis keys in a volcano. Whether Clara also intended to break the Doctor’s fingers aswell, to prevent him simply snapping them to open the Tardis doors – was not covered.
The Doctor programmed the Tardis destination, by having Clara push her fingers into the Cronenberg icky console brain again and a trip to the Nethersphere was on the cards to find Planky and meet Missy.
And it turned out to be a big one, with the revelation that Missy was infact; The Master!! SHOCK! HORROR! Who had undergone some kind of as yet unexplained (rather convincing) sex-change operation, that is – since John Simm last played him/her in 2009’s Tennant finale End Of Time. Are they prepping us for a future female Doctor, maybe?
Whilst Dark Water finally and mercifully, got the ball rolling on the endgame. It wasn’t without it’s own issues. Namely, it seemed to have alot of time to fill, with plenty of talking and sitting around and even more talking to fill in the blanks on this week’s morbid backplot; death and cremation.
“Get to the point or I’ll hit you with my shoe!”, Capaldi Doctor growled at a babbling Nethersphere technician. It seemed apt, considering the weight and seriousness of the exposition on offer here. Hopefully, this clears the way for a much less weighty and belting straight-up finale next week – in Death In Heaven.
The revelation that after death, the soul feels pain when cremated; didn’t sit to well here and seemed plucked from a Hollywood horror movie. If you felt this angle was abit too weighty and morbid for Who, you weren’t the only one.
As the beeb received so many complaints, they felt they had to come out and defend it on an aftershow statement. If any epsiode signalled intent to move away from the kiddy-core audience, this was it.
8-Year Old Who Fan : “Mummy! When I die will I become a Cyberman too?”
Mummy : “Yes dear! After you have gone to the Nethersphere and felt the eternal torture of being cremated alive!”
The lava/Tardis key stand off and the death of Danny Pink were nicely timed and shock-stolen moments. The revelation of the Master was unexpected and welcome, considering the rumour mill had been spinning for months about which old villain they would bring back! (Yip! I thought ‘old’ series too! Not Nu Old series!).
Less interesting was Danny Plank, who either – through bad writing or bad acting; seemed unable to emote much in the way of pathos/regret/feelings as he learned of his dead predicament and we learned of his chequered solderin’ past. Say “I love you” again Planky!
Anyway, the reintroduction of the Cybermen could have been a nice side twist to the Master. Unfortunately, last weeks promo give them away, so we knew what the skeletons in the darkwater tanks were going to be (bad move beeb!).
Another nice touch there, with the Cybermen striding down the steps of St. Pauls Cathedral; was a direct homage of Troughton’s 1968 Cyberman episode; Invasion.
Whilst this season has been far from satisfactory. Especially around the problematic introduction, of the Planky/Clara relationship and the ‘three’s company’ problem – affecting the Doctor/Clara dynamic from developing better.
Coupled with the fact that the programme just works so much better, with the Doctor taking centre-stage than Clara; Listen, Mummy On The Orient Express, Time Heist , to name a few. A few lessons for next season learned here.
Dark Water wasn’t a great or very well conceived episode but had two distinct plusses to it. One, it benefited from the added interest of starting the finale and two; where this Missy/Master angle will go next, is the best plotline on offer here – this season.
A number of plotlines, so far remain unresolved and knowing Moffat will probably never be covered again. What is the point of keeping the souls in the Nethersphere? How does it capture people from all over time and space? Why does it matter if these souls choose to remember or choose to delete themselves? How do the recently departed get to St. Paul’s Cathedral? Why is the Master working with Cybermen? How did the Master turn into a woman?
I thought at first, when Missy was revealed as a Timelord. That it was going to be the Rani making a return. However, the Master will do – aslong as we find out when he had his sonic screwdriver lopped off to become a Timelady!
BBC1 – 8:35pm- Saturdays