I was cautiously excited for the eighth season of Doctor Who to begin, for many reasons. The Eleventh Doctor was my absolute favorite and I positively sobbed when he regenerated on Christmas day. Twelve was going to have a lot to live up to, in my opinion, though with Doctor Who they were sure to deliver.
The season opener wasn’t at all what I expected. To be honest, I was excited but not too excited. I have been getting a little tired of the storylines that revolved in the 1800’s London setting with Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, and Strax. I’m not sure why I don’t like it all that much, but it’s been a setting we’ve been seeing a lot since Clara appeared.
The episode was pretty strong, however, and reminded me a lot of Tennant’s introduction in a way – a madman, newly regenerated Time Lord in his dressing gown.
(And I might have cried a bit too much when we had the surprise appearance of Eleven. Oh boy, do I miss you Matt Smith).
The next episode, “Into the Dalek” was interesting, but still didn’t exactly do it for me. Since the relationship between Clara and Twelve was so new, I wasn’t sure what to make of it – and neither were they really. It was also strange that they were doing something similar to the Amy and Rory story and having the Doctor pick up Clara from home whenever he wanted. I tried to imagine Rose, Martha or Donna doing the same – and no way. Those girls weren’t leaving the TARDIS even for a day, because they weren’t so sure the Doctor would actually come back.
The first episode to really blow me away was “Robot of Sherwood” – and mostly just because of how much I loved Robin Hood and his portrayal. The rivalry between him and the Doctor was just delicious and I think the Clara/Twelve relationship really started to develop more.
“Listen” was the classic “creepy” Who that we expect to see from Steven Moffat and I adored it. I’m not really sure how it happened now in wake of the finale and Danny Pink’s end….but you know. The details. Timey whimey and all that. Seeing the Doctor so young and afraid was something new, I think, and really did so much to “humanize” Twelve himself (as well as all the past Doctors) and to see how far he has come from the crying boy in his bed.
The next three episodes – “Time Heist,” “The Caretaker,” and “Kill the Moon” – were all favorites of mine. They had solid plotlines in my opinion and amazing new characters. I want to see the characters from “Time Heist” in every episode, to be honest. Seeing more of Danny was amazing too, especially his display of talents in saving Clara and the Doctor. “Kill the Moon” was a weird one for sure – but good weird. It’s interesting to show the rift between Clara and the Doctor now, since they were obviously preparing for Clara’s exit (?) from the show. (Though, that is a little unclear – is Santa going to make the Doctor see that she lied or something?)
The next three episodes I really liked as well. “Mummy on the Orient Express” was a bit slow for me at the beginning, but really did pick up. The theme of soldiers came up again here and I don’t know why I was so stupid and didn’t see that the signs were pointing to the Cybermen finale – the ultimate soldiers. (Honestly, I sort of forgot that we had spoilers that Cybermen were returning this season, oops). “Flatline” was good and almost a bit like “Blink” in that the Doctor wasn’t necessarily the driving action – just a way to provide information. He was more hands on than in “Blink,” though, so it wasn’t a true “Doctor-less” episode. It was also strange to think of how different this episode would have been with the Eleventh Doctor – who absolutely loved kids (since he was a big kid himself) – while Twelve definitely doesn’t know what to make of small humans.
Now on to the finale episodes. I was as shocked as everyone when Danny died at the beginning of “Dark Water.” The tone the episode took was immediately dark – seeing Clara’s grief was just awful. She was quiet and pulled back – totally opposite of what we saw when Amy first lost Rory in “Cold Blood” (before she forgot it). It was chilling to see and Jenna Coleman delivered it well. The rest of the episode – wow. I didn’t see the Missy/Master thing coming at all. I wondered who she was, of course, but I thought maybe she was a new foe – not one from the past. The dark water itself was so clever, how it only showed you organic matter – everything fell into place by the end of the episode with a big “aha!” moment. The scenes with Danny in the “afterlife” – which we have been seeing all season when a person in an episodes dies – finally starts to bring the season together. The recording of the people saying “don’t cremate me” was totally bone chilling and creepy.
Finally, the end: “Death in Heaven” starts off and oh dear – Osgood is back! I can’t tell you how happy – and then heart broken – I was to see her. If I ever cosplay, it will be as her. (And I loved the new addition of the bowtie!) The pace moved quickly in this episode, with a lot of information. We were brought back to the very beginning of Clara and the Doctor (well, sort of) and it’s revealed that Missy was the girl in the shop that gave Clara the phone number of the TARDIS (and I did not appreciate that Eleven flashback. Miss you).
Then, what absolutely everything has been leading up to this season: the redemption of the solider. The Doctor has always had a distaste for armies and soldiers because of their use of weapons (but it’s been said before that the Doctor himself makes his friends and companions into soldiers), but this season he seemed on a warpath. He never seemed to miss a moment to criticize Danny Pink for his past, or the soldiers in “Into a Dalek.” It was pretty relentless. But it was all leading up to Missy offering him his very own fleet of soldiers – with him as their leader. It also leads to show that soldiers aren’t at all what he first thought – soulless killing machines that just obey orders – and Danny Pink is the one to prove him wrong. He obeys love rather than orders, to protect Clara. This post on Tumblr I think sums up just how great this redemption is – written by a former soldier.
To the conclusion of the season: I don’t know how to feel, to be honest. Clara has never been my absolute favorite companion, but I like her. She’s been with us so long, through two Doctors, that of course I miss her. Her end is so sad – like so many ends with companions are – and worst off, she chooses this. The is going to tell the Doctor the truth – that Danny is gone for good – but then when she sees his happiness in finding Gallifrey (also a lie – bad Doctor!) she backs up. She lies too. Says she’s happy and doesn’t want to travel with him anymore and it’s goodbye. It ends with them both hiding their faces with a hug – hiding the truth – and then Clara disappearing into the crowd in London, because now that’s what she is. One of the crowd. “Normal” you could say. Like Donna and Amy and Rory. Martha at least found Mickey, another companion, and a way to protect the Earth from Earth. Clara is alone in the same way Donna is, but even worst off, because she remembers every amazing adventure with the Doctor. I think that’s the saddest part.
It was an amazing episode, it really was. I think it brought the season together. I had this weird dynamic where I would put off watching the new episode for a day or so after it aired on Saturday. Sometimes I was busy, other times I just didn’t seem that interested, but as I step back and look at it as a whole – it was a pretty good season in the end.
Finally for the most amazing bit: Santa in the Christmas special! I’m beside myself with happiness. It’s sure to ease the hurt from losing Clara. Now we just have to look forward to the future and wonder where the next companion will come from – will Clara come back? Would that be a bit much? Can they bring Osgood back from the dead, please?