Doctor Who: Series 8: Dark Water

Dark Water by Steven Moffat

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!!!! WATCH EPISODE BEFORE READING!!

Oh my God. They actually did it. Before i get to who Missy is (though that will be discussed in detail) this episode had some of the creepiest, under your skin concepts Moffat has ever thought of – the worst one? That a person’s soul/new body/mind can feel what happens to the old body after death – whether feeling cold while lying in a morgue or worse, unbearable pain during cremation or autopsy. It’s a concept that unsettles you more than any monster.

Now the opening 30 minutes were shocking, weird and fairly slow paced, but they built up to a final 15 that blew everyone’s minds. Within mere minutes Danny Pink had been killed in a car accident, leading a broken Clara to threaten the Doctor (by throwing away all his TARDIS keys and trapping him in a volcano) to go and rescue Danny. Clara’s betrayed the Doctor, but the Doctor is too fond of her to care, and decides to see if the Tardis can find the ‘afterlife’ (being unwilling to change the timeline by actually saving Danny). Danny meanwhile, finds himself in the Nethersphere with Seb (Chris Addison) a very officious man who acts as a kind of guide for his transition from one life to the next. Addison does very well here, coming across as a cold, slightly unsettling bureaucrat – the last person you want to be stuck in heaven with. Worse news for Danny, he meets a boy he accidentally shot and killed while being a soldier, reawakening a lot of bad memories.

But Seb doesn’t run the show of course. The Doctor and Clara find themselves in a facility full of tanks of skeletons submerged in ‘Dark Water’. It also contains the Nethersphere – revealed to be time lord technology (bigger on the inside clearly). There they are greeted by Dr. Chang, who explains the skeletons are encased in a suit that holds them together (but which is invisible in the Dark Water, which has similar properties to X-Rays) and Missy (Michelle Gomez), who poses as an information droid initially but is swiftly revealed to be a time lord (or time lady to be correct) when the Doctor puts his hand on her chest and feels a double-heartbeat. From the moment the Doctor confronts Missy with this fact the episode really feels like its building up to something monumental (and Missy’s callous murder of Chang shows she isn’t exactly a friendly time lady…).

It’s a shame we knew the Cybermen would turn up, if they could have kept it as a surprise it would have been even more fantastic (By the way, it was very clever how the facility’s logo was the shape of a Cyberman’s eye socket). It turns out Missy has been uploading the minds of the dead contained in the Nethersphere into new Cybermen, building a massive army right in the centre of London.

One of the three (three!) cliffhangers we are left with is when Danny, despairing that he will either never see Clara again or that worse, Clara will kill herself to join him, is offered a choice by Seb to delete his emotions/memories to spare himself any further pain (which the audience knows will turn him into a Cyberman).

The second cliffhanger is when the skeletons in the Dark Water are revealed to be encased in cyber-suits, then the Cybermen emerge en masse, storm the facility and march out onto the streets of London as one of them corners Clara in Dr. Chang’s lab. I expect the second half of this two parter will have a lot more cyber-action to come. But its the third cliffhanger everyone will be talking about as the Doctor finds out who Missy is (i guessed, but i was so happy they chose this).

Missy. Short for Mistress. Well she couldn’t call herself the Master anymore could she? Yes that’s right – the first ever FEMALE master. Sorry John Simm fans, it looks like his time is up, but Michelle Gomez put in a superb performance here (given time she could easily become the best master since the original (Roger Delgado) in the 70’s). She was coming across as a mix of the master and Irene Adler from Sherlock (not that I’m complaining) and will probably cause a massive burst of fan-fiction after THAT kiss with the Doctor (before hilariously offering to snog Clara as well). Does this pave the way for a female Doctor at some point too? I wouldn’t be surprised. What did everyone think of the twist – please comment below!

Overall an episode with concepts that really got under your skin, and a twist that will leave an agonising wait for the second half. Well done Mr. Moffat.

Rating: 5 out of 5!

Next Time: The Doctor, Clara and UNIT attempt to contain Missy and the Cybermen…

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