Doctor Who: Initial Reaction to The Zygon Inversion
A Guest Blog by Hevy782
When we left off last week I quite liked the direction the story was going in but I also expressed some concern that I had also felt this way before at the end of the first half of all series nine two-parters so far and had always ended up disappointed by the second half. Now I will say that this episode is the best second part from Capaldi’s era. It also linked well thematically with the first part and I can’t really say the same for The Witch’s Familiar and Before the Flood. It felt like one long story this time but the two halves do still feel distinctive. However, I did still feel disappointed with this episode in comparison to last weeks. But before I go into that I’d like to discuss something that kind of bothered me over the course of both episodes, the Zygons themselves. In the classic series they were set up as the ideal infiltrators. They took would take a human, get a body print from them and then take their form. This meant that they had limits but these limits set them apart from the standard sci-fi shape-shifters and therefor made them more interesting. They also had the Skarasen a giant armoured cyborg which they could not only use as a weapon but also depended on for survival due to the lactic fluid it produced for them. However, basically all of this lore is thrown away in this story and while there was sort of an in-universe explanation given by Osgood last week it still bothers me that if they were going to change the monster so much why did they not just make a new one to suit the story’s requirements. As it is they’re just fitting the monster to the story when it should really be the other way around in the case of pre-existing monsters.
Now I don’t think I gave enough praise to Jenna Coleman last week for what she did with Bonnie and I’m happy to say that she improved on it even more this week. I think this is the best performance Jenna Coleman has ever given in Doctor Who and she isn’t even playing her main role. Admittedly she didn’t do too bad a job as the normal Clara but ultimately Bonnie was just so much more interesting to me. I think it’s because we all love a good villain and he fact that said villain looks like one of the main characters is just adds to that. Now we move onto a character who I didn’t really talk about at all last week, Kate Stewart. Admittedly I saw the twist of how she’d get out of last weeks situation instantly but the Brigadier reference they put in there was quite nice. It was nice for her to go off and do her own thing last week but in this episode she seemed to act very out of character when it came to the climax. It felt far too similar to the Day of the Doctor’s resolution and wiping her memory robbed her or any development here. I personally think that they should’ve swapped her out for Rebecca Front’s Colonel Walsh instead as her character fitted the situation far better and there had even been some possible build up to this last week during her scenes. It’s a shame she didn’t appear at all in this one at all as it feels like her character only had half her story told.
While we’re on the topic of the ending though, wasn’t the Doctor’s speech there just fantastic? It will almost definitely be one of Capaldi’s defining moments and while the American accent was quite annoying (albeit not as annoying as Missy’s was) it didn’t detract from the overall quality of the writing or the rest of the speech. And it’s not one of those grandiose speeches which Matt Smith had which only really served to big the character up, it’s instead a speech which could very easily be applied to the real world and it nicely tied up the anti-war theme of the episode. It’s almost call back to the Pertwee era as many of his stories had a strong political message. The Zygon splinter group itself is also very much a parody of modern day terrorism. It even directly paralleled to the idea that many people in our society blame all Muslim’s for the actions of a few radicalised groups and it did this right. And yet some people have still found something to complain about here by calling the BBC insensitive for broadcasting a plane getting shot down only a week after a plane was tragically struck down in real life. Now I am not trying to be insensitive here but surly viewers will be able to distinguish between real life and fictional events. It’s not like the production team are making light of this terrible situation and parodying it as it was filmed long before this event occurred. Cutting it out wasn’t exactly an option either as it was too crucial to the plot and it was last weeks cliff-hanger for heavens sake. I’m just glad we didn’t have a repeat of the Robot of Sherwood beheading scene fiasco but anyway, I’m going way off topic and way too political so let’s cool down a bit by talking about Osgood. She was a great character and while she didn’t do much beyond give the Doctor someone to talk to it was still nice to have her there. Also, it would’ve been great for her to have had at least one trip in the TARDIS as I feel she brings out a lot of good qualities in Capadi’s Doctor.
Overall, I give The Zygon Inversion an eight-out-of-ten as I can look beyond the flaws in the Zygons and see that this is a really strong story with a great speech that it very relevant to events occurring in the world right now. Also, if you’re in the mood for more Kate and Osgood then you’re in luck as Big Finish just released UNIT: Extinction in which they and the rest of UNIT face the Autons. Alternatively the adventures of the Doctor and Clara continue in Sleep No More. It’s a found-footage style story by Mark Gatiss and will hopefully include some good, old fashioned sci-fi horror. So then, until next week be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.