Doctor Who: The Zygon Inversion Review
For the fourth time this season, we have a two-part episode. While I was disappointed with the last two multi-episode stories, this one is a return to form. When you stretch a story over multiple episodes, there has to be enough content to fill those episodes. While The Zygon Inversion was a bit light compared to The Zygon Invasion, it certainly made the whole hour-and-a-half feel like it was worth watching.
So for all of the quite obvious comparisons between the uprising Zygons and ISIS, we certainly didn’t get a payoff that yields us any lessons. It came down to killing everyone will just psychologically torture you so the only solution is to forgive each other. If only solving all of life’s quarrels, not just wars, was that simple.
For Doctor Who, though, violence is seldom the solution. It would have been quite a shock for war to have broken out or for UNIT to have executed a genocide of the Zygon race. Even Kate downing the two Zygons with her pistol was unusually violent for the forces of good.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that the final resolution of the Zygon resolution wasn’t unexpected but it was lacking in a tie-back to the metaphor that the Zygons were being used for.
Fortunately for Steven Moffat and episode writer Peter Harness, they have the best Doctor of the modern era in Peter Capaldi at the control of the TARDIS. In the episode’s climactic scene as Kate and the Zygon Bonnie (AKA Zygella AKA Evil Clara) stare at each other across a table with Osgood boxes at the ready, Capaldi gives an absolute tour de force of a speech. Sure, he chewed through the scenery like it was no one’s business but I can’t see the scene being done any other way and being nearly as good.
Credit has to be given to Jenna Coleman as Bonnie/Zygella/Evil Clara. There was just enough of a change in attitude that she played a solid villainous character. Turn up your nose at people, act a little angry, change the makeup and instant villain. Okay, there’s more to it than that but she still did a good job of playing two characters.
I will give Harness some credit for doing a good job with some of the hints he dropped in the first episode. Who would have thought that Kate mentioning the Osgoods psychic link would have come back to affect the Claras? That even let him find a way to allow The Doctor and Osgood to escape the plane without some sort of Timelord magic. Half-a-point off for doing the “if you don’t see them die on-screen” trope. We didn’t see Kate die in T or C and the villains didn’t bother to check. A bit too cliché for my liking.
So while I didn’t think that The Zygon Inversion really settled any of the big real-life issues brought up in The Zygon Invasion, I think it was far and away the best two-parter of the season so far. Sure, we have the season finale coming up in three weeks as the last two-part episode of the year that will likely top this one but it’s good to have the bar set reasonably high.
Other random points of note:
- I suppose the double Osgood ending means that she’s not going to be the next companion.
- I’m almost disappointed that they didn’t acknowledge that The Doctor fixed Osgood’s glasses using duct tape. Not only is it the handyman’s secret weapon, it’s also the Timelord’s.
- Do actors get extra pay for portraying more than one character?
Next week, we get a horror episode of Doctor Who. It’s a found footage style of episode with some new type of alien on a spaceship. It’s a cross between your generic found footage horror movie with Alien. Considering that we’ve already had the horror-ish Under the Lake / Before the Flood two-parter this season, I’m hoping that Sleep No More does something a little bit more than change the style of footage.