Doctor Who: 9.08 The Zygon Inversion
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After last week's globe-trotting affair things returned home in a tense, thrilling episode that dealt with the fallout of the already-occurred Zygon invasion. The stakes had already been set and the joy of this two parter was that it allowed the story to breathe, delivering an even stronger conclusion to this tale.
Taking a back seat in the last couple of tales, Clara got a lot to do this week, in a battle of wills against her Zygon copy Bonnie, averting the initial missile attack on the Doctor's ship long enough for the Doctor (in his wonderful 'inconspicuous' Union Jack parachute) and Osgood to make their escape before the second rocket took down the plane. We've seen how cool and controlled Clara can be in a situation - the Doctor's influence clearly wearing off - and it was great to see how she fought back even in her dream state. The face off against Bonnie, measuring Clara's heartbeat to tell if she was lying was rather brilliant and Jenna Coleman excelled as both good Clara and her evil Zygon counterpart. We haven't much time left with her on the show so it great to see her at the top of her game. Like her or not, Coleman will be a tough act to follow.
Unless of course Ingrid Oliver is replacing her because that would just be utterly brilliant. She was good in Day Of The Doctor but instantly showed her worth in Dark Water only to be cruelly killed off. In both these series nine episodes, Oliver is outstanding, delivering the right mix of geek, hero and compassion to deliver a fully engaging performance. Her chemistry with Peter Capladi's Doctor is also mesmerising; if she doesn't step onboard the TARDIS full time at least she makes a great addition to the growing modern UNIT family along with Jemma Redgrave's Kate Stewart. (I'm still gutted that Jaye Griffiths' Jac has been killed off though). Nice twist with Zygon Kate actually being human Kate too.
The Zygon plot to unmask their race and start a war to conquer the Earth was thrilling but the standout scene was the moment in the Black Archives. The idea of there being two Osgood boxes was a nice twist and I'm sure I wasn't the only one who was reminded of 'the moment' in Day Of The Doctor. Here Kate and Bonnie were presented with two impossible choices - truth or consequences - unmask every Zygon on the planet, detonate a gas that would kill off the entire alien race or activate the nuclear archives under the Black Archives?
War, genocide or peace? The Doctor called into question the motives of both characters (I appreciated that just like her father, Kate's motivations weren't always as pure and heroic as the Doctor or his companions) and then in an even bolder twist, everyone discovered that the boxes were empty, a metaphor for the conflict. This wasn't a war of weapons, but a battle of minds and even Bonnie saw reason in the end; she might win the war but would would happen after that? The Doctor's compassion allowed her to return to the fold, becoming the new second Osgood to help maintain the cease fire.
"Because its not a game Kate, it's a scale model of war. Every war ever fought right there in front of you. Because it's always the same when you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you have no idea who's going to die. You don't know whose children are going to scream and burn. Or how many hearts will be broken. How many lives will be shattered, until so much blood is splattered that everyone will have to do what they were always going to have to do from the very beginning. Sit down and talk. Listen, just listen to me, I just want you to think. Do what thinking is; it's just a fancy word for changing your mind."
If there was ever a question over the futility of war, than this is it. The Doctor's speech is magnificent; war is futile, war is pointless. There will always have to be peace in the end. There has been a lot of talk of this Zygon two-parter coming close to being a metaphor for the current global climate and this speech perfectly epitomises the thoughts we all have.
Of course, with that alone, Peter Capaldi would have been magnificent. But then he tops it. Coupled with a beautiful score from Murray Gold, we see him deliver his most stand-out performance over the last two series when Bonnie tells him he simply does not understand.
"I don't understand? Are you kidding me? Of course I understand. Oh do you call this a war, this funny little thing? This is not a war; I fought in a bigger war than you will ever know. I did worse things than you can ever imagine. When I close my eyes...I hear more screams than anyone could be able to count. And you know what you do with all that pain? Shall I tell you where you put it? You hold it tight...till it burns your hand and you say this. No one else will ever have to live like this. No one else will ever have to feel this pain. Not on my watch."
We've had some compelling speeches in Doctor Who before - think Matt Smith's powerful speech as the Doctor in The Rings of Akhaten but this was Capaldi's moment. Utterly powerful, utterly mesmerising, he did something with the Doctor that I didn't think was possible - he made him even better. If the balance of gruffness and humour hasn't won you over this series, this impassioned speech will surely have done the trick. Moffat and Harness's script was electric and Capaldi completely sold that scene.
And so in many ways this story feels not just the conclusion of the Zygon tale began in Day Of The Doctor but the point at which Capaldi's Doctor has been building to; what the Doctor in his many incarnations has been building to since that fateful moment the dying Eighth Doctor took the cup from the Sisterhood of Karn and transformed into the War Doctor. It makes the darker, almost PTSD element of the Doctor last series all the worthwhile - because it got him to this point.
With the peace treaty restored and Bonnie becoming the second Osgood, normality is restored and The Zygon Inversion ends on a thrilling, emotional high. There are still plenty of teases for the future - did anyone else notice the Doctor's comment that he thought Clara had been dead for a month? And the hybrid story is building with two human / Zygon hybrids joining Ashildr, Sam Swift and the Dalek / Time Lord hybrids. We have just four episode left - and then a twenty day gap until the Christmas special, so appreciate Doctor Who - and Clara - while they are still on our screens...