Capaldi Doc finally got to go head-to-head with the Master (or ‘Missy’), in Death In Heaven. The season 8 endgame, so how did it play out?
Well pretty well – due almost entirely to Missy. They needed a really strong foil for Capaldi and boy did they get one with Michelle Gomez. Who almost completely stole the show, as a demented and psychotic (sometimes Scottish) Mary Poppins-a-like villain.
Missy creepily toyed with people around her, before coldly murdering them and unleashing her suicide Cyber-squad on the world. To go forth, blow-up and create more Cybermen out of corpses, with (unquantified) nano-tech rain.
UNIT were ready for this though, having the foresight to have learned from the last Cyberattack on London. Cue another tie in with 1968’s The Invasion as Kate Stewart deposited a bust old-style cyberman head at the Doctor and Missy’s feet.
Of course, being captured by UNIT was all part of Missy’s scheme and you had to feel sorry for UNIT’s Osgood. Who Missy vapourised on the plane after taunting she would kill her. Especially as the Doctor had pretty much offered Osgood a new companionship (or kiss of death) to travelling with the Doctor (it didn’t protect her though!) despite Clara’s boots not even being cold by this point.
Kudos for killing Osgood off so abruptly – after toying with the audience expectation that she would infact become the new companion. It gave Missy a seriously menacing edge. Especially when earlier, she was handcuffed to the trolley; Hannibal Lector-style.
The whole point of Missy’s grand plan? To give the Doctor an invincible Cyber-army of the dead to go forth with and do whatever he wanted, via a control bracelet. You see, Missy just wanted to be the Doctor’s friend and give him a gift on his birthday he couldn’t refuse.
It was a clever statement on where the Doctor character is now at. Especially when Capaldi Doc came out with the gem that he was just “an idiot” that wanted to quietly travel around in his Tardis and not occupy such godly central roles as “Earth President”, “The Oncoming Storm” or the “Predator”, etc. As Nu Who, so assuredly centred him in and around, during the Tennant/Smith era.
Death In Heaven also homaged (and cleverly ridiculed) the basic elements from the Master’s second Nu Who appearance; in Tennant’s 2007 – Sound Of Drums with an alternate take on the Earth invasion/Earth response type-storyline.
This time, the Doctor was straight-away installed as Earth president by UNIT rather than a cowboy George Bush-style character. Although, the yanks got an early mention but this was sneered at by Capaldi Doc. There was also a mention of the Valiant skybase, as the Doc asked if UNIT were going there on the plane, which they weren’t.
So Missy had infact been playing the Doctor all of this time like a prize-fiddle and it was great to see Capaldi speechless for a change, whilst Missy hogged the limelight. Missy had also been meddling, by bringing Clara and the Doctor together again having apparently been the original “woman in the shop” briefly featured (offscreen) in Bells Of St. John; who gave Clara the Doctor’s Tardis telephone number.
Even poor old Danny (Planky) Plank who was still lying on a mortuary slab, got converted into a Cyberman and sacrificed himself; not once but twice. By blowing his Cyber-self up and then choosing to use the ‘magic lamp’ bracelet to (redeem his conscience) sending back the kid whom he shot, whilst in the army.
Clara also seemed to want to throw in the blue travelling towel, especially with a newly resurrected kid to look after and lied to the Doctor about Danny being resurrected, as to her reason to quit.
Likewise, after Missy’s revelation that Gallifrey had reappeared. The Doctor went to look but it wasn’t there. He told Clara it was, so they were both lying to each other at the end. It was a fascinatingly complex end to their time together – if a little unexpected.
After all of Clara’s little white lies to Planky, about continuing to travel with the Doctor; she then lied to the Doc. The Doctor kind of reciprocated though by letting Clara down gently. Lets hope that’s the last of her participation in the series.
I wasn’t sure that Cybermen bouncing all over the shop like Excocet missiles was a good look for them – for me anway. They were clearly trying to do something differently clever with them (as with the Daleks in Into The Dalek). I suppose they can now match the Daleks for flight – next time amd have a Battle Of Britain style fight in the air!
Michelle Gomez – as the new Uber-bitch Master, or “Missy” character completely stole the show and was the best thing about Death In Heaven. With her bizarrely unsettling and menacing take on the Master character.
Planky’s defining moment, of rallying his Cyber-brethren to go on a suicide mission was a bit too cheesy and I couldn’t really forgive the desecration of the Brigadier’s corpse for a cheap twist near the end.
In the end, I’m not sure what I was supposed to feel for Planky or Clara; as through either bad writing or acting – or a combination of the two. I was strangely unmoved by their eventual intertwined fates. Planky especially.
Death In Heaven was bold, unflinching, brilliant and terrible all in the same token but a much needed strong ending to a poor season all-round – thanks to Michelle Gomez. Death In Heaven also benefitted from being unfettered from the plot heavy dialogue of Dark Water to just be allowed to run.
It was a typical Moffatt slam-bang finale but in a departure from previous finales – didn’t undo everything in a timey-whimey undemining kind of way and credibly stuck to its guns. It’s Santa this coming Xmas – with Nick Frost. Can’t wait to see Frosty do his thing.