Doctor Who: Death in Heaven Review

Death in Heaven by Steven Moffat

Warning: Major Spoilers!

Missy is brilliant. That much is certain. Please can Michelle Gomez come back? She’s bested John Simm within two episodes and deserves a few more. Plea over, now for this week’s review. The pre-credits sequence is such a tease as Clara defends herself against a cyberman – by claiming she is the Doctor! Moffat then cleverly reverses the opening titles so Coleman’s name comes first – a few of us must have been wondering at that moment what was about to happen. Of course, this turned out to be a red-herring so Clara could delay the Cybermen and stop them from killing her, but god it was effective false twist – Clara (and Jenna Coleman) can lie very convincingly.

The Cybermen have never been better in modern who. Not since Earthshock in 1981 have the Cybermen been this effective (don’t Wikipedia that episode btw – far too many spoilers!). The sight of Cybermen climbing out of graves must have terrified more than a few kids, and the image of a converted Danny begging Clara to erase his emotions was certainly as dark as this series gets. The idea of Cybermen as zombies capable of converting the dead is a good one which restores much of the menace about them. Their ability to jet around also is welcome, an ability they use effectively to tear apart a UNIT plane. Yep, UNIT are back, led by Kate Stewart (the brigadier’s daughter) and Osgood (now sporting a bow tie) both returning from Day of the Doctor.

But if the Cybermen are back to their best, they aren’t the only ones. Missy is beyond brutal in this episode, psychopathic in a far more believable way than John Simm ever managed (not due to bad acting, to be fair Moffat wrote this version of the master far better than Russell T. Davies wrote Simm’s). Just check out her kill count; she kills 2 UNIT soldiers and Osgood (noooo!!!) before throwing Kate Stewart and the Doctor out of a plane. It’s as ruthless as a Doctor Who villain ever gets – she’s arguably more terrifying than any Dalek. She doesn’t show any remorse to her associates either – after killing Dr. Chang in Dark Water she deletes Seb here (goodbye Chris Addison!) without regret simply for annoying her. Missy’s motive? – she’s lonely and this entire scheme was just done to get the Doctor’s attention and prove one thing – he is like her. And she nearly succeeds but for two rogue Cybermen.

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW. You can guess one of them. After saving Clara from some roving Cybermen, Danny ends up saving the day when the Doctor steals Missy’s control bracelet and throws it to Cyber-Danny who makes the remaining Cybermen self-destruct – himself included. Clara then holds Missy at gunpoint and we (and the Doctor) are left in no doubt she’s about to pull the trigger. The Doctor, unwilling to make Clara a killer, decides to kill Missy himself, but before he can Missy is shot down by a lone surviving cyberman – who also saved Kate Stewart. It’s a defining moment for this Doctor as he clearly is far more willing to kill than Smith or Tennant’s ever were – restoring some of the darkness we had with Eccleston’s Doctor – as he says he’s not a good man – but he knows who he is now. As for the Cyberman who shot (and killed?) Missy? It turns out to be the deceased Brigadier, saving the Doctor’s life one more time in earth’s darkest hour – the salute the Doctor gives him a fitting final tribute to the character who appeared on and off from 1968 till 1989 in the original series.

The episode ends with the Doctor and Clara parting ways. The Doctor goes to try and find Gallifrey (which Missy claimed had returned to it’s original place) only to repeatedly strike the console when he realises she lied to him. Clara is contacted by Danny, who is able to use Missy’s bracelet to send one person back from the ‘real’ afterlife. But in a heroic last sacrifice and moment of redemption, he saves the kid he accidentally killed when he was a soldier rather than himself – separating himself from Clara forever. The Doctor and Clara then both lie to each other that both things worked out differently (i.e. he found Gallifrey, she saved Danny) and then separate (permanently?). Who knows what will happen in Series 9 now?

Overall: The first 30 minutes are perfect, it stumbles once or twice in the ending, but overall a great finale – the best since Series 5’s.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I will be catching up on the episodes i haven’t reviewed yet in the next few weeks (Deep Breath to Kill the Moon) and then write a series 8 overview.


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