Doctor Who: Initial Reactions to The Zygon Invasion
A Guest Blog by Hevy782
The Zygons are back and it appears that this is a story that has been in the works for a long time now. It all began during fiftieth anniversary, where a rather bland Zygon subplot is now revealed to have simply been laying the groundwork for this story. Following the events of this subplot in The Day of the Doctor a peace between humans and Zygon’s is established, with the two Osgoods acting as the living embodiment of said peace. Skip forward a year and one of the Osgoods is disintegrated by Missy, an action which I doubt even she was aware of the full implications. Now the peace is breaking down and a Zygon splinter group are now trying to claim the world for themselves. When I first heard about the story everything about it excited me except the fact that it was written by Peter Harness who of course wrote last years train wreck of an episode Kill the Moon. Then it was revealed that Osgood would be returning and I started to worry. Not because I dislike Osgood but because her Death in Heaven really meant something at the time and it felt like that was being thrown away and yet another death in Doctor Who didn’t mean anything. The few glimpses we got in the series nine trailers looked good but it was the individual episode trailers that got me really excited again. My hopes were held high again but I still had this thought in the back of my head reminding me that I felt the same way about be trailers for Peter Harness’s last story. The clips then came along midweek and they didn’t look too good out of context. So there’s been a lot of ups and downs on the road to this story but now that I’ve seen the first episode of it, what do I think?
Well, I thought that The Zygon Invasion was the best episode of series nine so far. Admittedly I wasn’t a fan of the once upon a time opening and for the first five minutes it felt like my worst fears about the episode had been confirmed. The Zygon’s using electricity now initially annoyed the hell out of me and especially considering that they got the sting so right in The Day of the Doctor this just felt like a cheap gimmick. But once we were beyond the opening titles and I’d had a chance to calm down I actually started to enjoy it. Not long after that I was riveted to it and was disappointed that I couldn’t immediately go straight on to the second part. So I did the next best thing a just watch the first part again. The second viewing definitely helped and some of the things that annoyed me the first time really ended up feeling like simple nitpicks the second time. The electricity still didn’t work for me though and the fact that it turned people into things that look like tumbleweeds just felt like an excuse not to show actual dead bodies on Doctor Who. Now I’m not a psychopath who gets a kick out of seeing dead bodies but I do feel that actual bodies would’ve had more of an impact. Other than that the Zygons were great and felt very menacing. Also, given that the electricity thing is my biggest complaint that just shows how strong the episode really is.
The episode had more than a couple of parallels with modern-day terrorism. The Zygons using Osgood to send out there message. The fact that many are blaming the vast majority for the actions of a few. These are all things that relate to problems we have in the real world and while it does feel like these themes are being bashed over your head from time to time I still feel that it works. It also helps to make the Zygons even more scary as they remind us of people we fear today just like the Daleks reminded sixties viewers of people they feared back then, the Nazis. But that’s not all that made the Zygon’s scary this week as the scene outside the Church was one of the most gripping things I’ve seen in a long while. While it may have been obvious that she was a Zygon the acting made it very tense and the music added to it also. In fact the music added a lot to the episode, as it can be quite creepy at times. Another standout moment was the reveal of Clara being a Zygon and while it was fairly obvious on the second watch I somehow did not see it coming first time around so well done to Peter Harness on that. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where they take this next week with Jenna Coleman playing the main villain. Exciting stuff. Also, poor Jac. She was quite good in this and even though there wasn’t much character there I feel that the actress did a lot with the role. Another good character was Colonel Walsh who will hopefully be back next week as Rebecca Front worked brilliantly alongside Peter Capaldi. The Doctor obviously dislikes her but not because she’s a soldier but because of her attitude towards the Zygons which works a lot better. But what is probably the best thing about this episode is the global scale of it. It feels like a finale in the way it’s written and a movie in the way it’s directed. Steven Moffat was spot on when he described it as a global urban thriller and it’s a style that’s very new for the series, thus making this episode really stand out.
Overall, I’m going to give this episode a very high nine-out-of-ten as it simply blew me away. Now there are some things which I deliberately missed out of this week’s review but rest assured that I will bring them up next week as I want to talk about them parts when we have the full picture. Now it probably goes without saying that I’m looking forward to The Zygon Inversion. Having said that though I am worried, as Capaldi’s era seems to have a habit of producing disappointing second halves. Hopefully this will be the exception but until we get the answers we seek next week be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.