Hey guys! So, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Sorry about that. Midterms sort of quickly transitioned into finals so I’ve had to put all my time and energy (and chronic insomnia) into that instead of putting in the energy to watching Hulu and Netflix, following geek news, and writing out the 4 (now 7) blog pages I owe you guys. And then Thanksgiving happened. Again, sorry about that. Well, they’re over now. So, let’s get back on track with a Post Week starting with…
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS FOR DOCTOR WHO SERIES 9 EPISODES 7 AND 8
This episode builds off the events of both the 50th Anniversary Special Day of the Doctor, in which a peace treaty is made between humans and Zygons to allow both species to live together in peace, and the two part finale from last season, ‘Dark Water’ and ‘Death in Heaven’ in which the fan favourite character Osgood, who first appeared and was duplicated by a Zygon in the 50th Anniversary, was killed by Missy. At the time, fans questioned whether the dead Osgood was the human or the Zygon or whether the other Osgood even still exists. Well, this episode reveals she does and deals with the consequences of the Zygon Immigration…Get it? ‘Zygon Invasion’, ‘Zygon Inversion’? …Yeah, I’m not funny.
The Zygons, for those not familiar, are shape shifters with lots of octopus like suckers all over their bodies. They’re sort of like the Boba Fetts of Doctor Who. They showed up in one serial of the Fourth Doctor’s era in 1975 and somehow became something that all Doctor Who fans knew of, most likely because it was a season premier and marked the departure of two of the Doctor’s then companions (Yes, I count the Brigadier as a companion…Google him). The Zygons languished in ‘One Shot Fan Favourite Hell’ for almost 40 years outside of novels and audio dramas until they were finally reintroduced to television in the 50th Anniversary, one of the few tributes to classic series the special did. Though they were mentioned on occasion throughout the Eleventh Doctor’s era.
Since the events of Day of the Doctor, 20 million Zygons have been relocated to Earth and have been living peacefully in human form. However, a splinter cell has split off and has started attacking other Zygons, calling them traitors, and humans, wanting to live without the disguise under the slogan ‘Truth or Consequence’. In one attack, the remaining Osgood is kidnapped. The cell’s goal? The Osgood Box; a box the Doctor left with the Osgoods with the power to end the ceasefire between the Zygons and humans. Now, Clara, UNIT, and The Doctor must work together to maintain the peace between the two species or end them. Guess which the Doctor wants.
So, anybody else notice the similarities between this episode and certain current events going on in the world? Yeah, so did I. Whether you connect it to the Syrian Immigration, the War on ISIS, or the ongoing Islamophobia still engulfing America and Europe, the situation with the Zygons is eerily similar. This is nothing new. Sci-fi, Doctor Who included, has tackled social commentary before. It’s practically the foundation on which all science fiction is based on. Using it as an allegory for then current events and social issues is an excellent way to get your point across and as a learning tool for later generations to not make the same mistakes or learn what was happening in the time the book was published/ movie or episode was shown. I should know. My history professor did just that. In the past, Doctor Who has tackled Britain’s concerns about joining what became the European Union, imperialism, and even sexuality. That last one has become recurring on the show, even predicting Britain’s eventual stance on gay marriage. It’s also why I prefer Doctor Who to Star Trek, but that’s another rant. The point is, I like the message it’s giving. It’s a good one.
Let’s start with the supporting cast, Jemma Redgrave returns as The Brigadier’s daughter Kate Stewart, The Doctor’s UNIT liaison since series 7 and the one running UNIT. Kate is placed in an awkward position in this two parter. She knows the Doctor wants the peaceful solution, but she first and foremost has to think about what’s best for humanity. That sadly, puts them into conflict. Led by science or not, UNIT is still a military organization and Kate will do whatever she has to protect the Earth. I mean it’s not like Torchwood’s been doing anything lately. Also returning is Ingrid Oliver’s Osgood. As soon as she was announced, it was pretty much a forgone conclusion that the Zygons would return. Their presence is the only way she could still be around after all. Osgood here represents the peace treaty between the two species. We don’t know if she’s the real Osgood or the Zygon. So, in her mind, she’s both. A hybrid. She’s a Schrodinger’s Cat if you will: One, the other, or both. She’s still a wonderful character and it’s great that she’s still around. I almost want Missy to come back, see her, and ask “Didn’t I kill you?” or something like that.
The rest of UNIT was good, ranging from the militaristic Colonel Walsh to the science minded Jac, who also appeared in the season opener. The big takeaway from this episode, however, was Bonnie. Without giving too much away, she’s the leader of the rouge Zygons. She’s a sociopath, willing to do whatever it takes to get what she wants, even if that means hurting other Zygons. In her mind, they want to remain humans, something that’s not them, so they’re traitors. The fact that you don’t see her coming, she’s a Zygon so she’s hidden among the cast until the end of part 1, you trust her right up until she reveals herself and it’s too late to run, makes her all the more memorable. She’s probably my favourite villain this season.
The main cast is good as always, nothing wrong there. Jemma Coleman gets to have an extended role and gets to work with a wider range. It’s nice to see her working outside of her normal acting experience. Above all, this episode is probably a highlight of Capaldi’s run as the Doctor. He’s been through a war, went back and stopped that same war from happening. He both lived through and prevented the death of his people. He’s gone through this exact situation before. He knows better than anyone that “War Never Changes”. (There. That’s your Fallout reference. No, I haven’t bought the new one yet.) He is struggling to convince both sides that it doesn’t have to be like this, there doesn’t have to be fighting. They can resolve things peacefully if they’re just willing to listen. They can break the cycle of hate. I can probably call this one of his best episodes to date. The speech at the climax was my favourite.
I cannot recommend these episodes enough. it’s definitely the best story of series 9 so far. I highly recommend you watch it.
That’s 1 down, 7 to go. Yes, I’m doing 8 this week going into Monday with a regular schedule beginning next weekend. Cross your fingers people. This will be a long one. See you tomorrow!
(Photo via BBC)