Another season of Doctor Who has come and gone. With an emphasis on longer stories, the individual episodes of Doctor Who have been very up and down this season. While I don’t think that Hell Bent was as strong as last week’s Heaven Sent, it serves as a fitting sendoff to what Steven Moffat wants us to feel about Clara.
What happens when the inevitable happens when you least expect it? I think that was what Steven Moffat was going for in putting together this season. He mixed that in with another of his favourite tropes this week when The Doctor’s past actions came back on him in a way he didn’t expect. This week’s episode was a memorable one but I’m not sure that I’d call it any good until the final ten minutes.
If there’s one favourite trick of the Moffat era of Doctor Who, it’s making you afraid of the seemingly ordinary. We’ve seen homicidal statues that move when no one’s looking, carnivorous shadows and being alone in the dark. This week, regular writer and Moffat partner in crime Mark Gatiss has a go at making you scared of the seemingly ordinary. This week’s episode tries to make you scared to sleep.
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.
Thanks to giving out candy, I was late to the start of this week’s episode of Doctor Who. Thanks to the magic of a DVR, I was able to rewind to the start but I came in at the point where Clara was non-chalantly watching an abduction in a barely lit apartment. It was a pretty good scene to start on when you consider that it was aired on Halloween.
So was this week’s episode a proper Halloween episode? I’m not sure I’d go that far but I would say that it was a promising start to the Zygon two-parter.
The Doctor Who and Game of Thrones crossover game was strong this week. We always have that connection between the two series because Jenna Coleman is dating Richard Madsen (Robb Stark). This week, we’re going back to medieval times and adding Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) as a Viking girl. Okay, it’s not quite a proper Doctor Who / GoT crossover but it’s probably as close as we’re going to get until Littlefinger shoves Clara out the Moon Door.
For the second story in a row, Doctor Who is a two-part episode. As much as I like the vintage style of a multi-part Doctor Who story, after the Dalek two-parter and this ghost story, I’m not sure that they’ve quite figured out the pacing yet.
If there’s one way to describe Steven Moffat’s run as showrunner, it’s to call it a throwback to classic Doctor Who. He’s mixed in little bits of action, horror, morality, and dry humour to make a fun show just like it was when it first started. Moffat also seems to be bringing back the multi-part stories to Doctor Who. For the second story in a row, we have a two-parter. While the last one was meant to tug at your heartstrings, this one is meant to send chills up your spine.
As someone who watched old Doctor Who reruns growing up, I’m quite fond of the multi-episode arc that Doctor Who traditionally used to tell stories. It’s something we rarely see from modern Doctor Who, at least not to the extent that it used to be used as a story telling device. In fact, this is only the second two-part season premiere of Doctor Who since the revival.
The problem with a multi-episode story arc is that you really need to have a good payoff to the individual episodes and the story as a whole. I’m not convinced that The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar two-parter really fulfilled either side of that.
Nine months on from Christmas, Doctor Who Christmas is upon us. Okay, I’m not sure what a Doctor Who fan would consider to be the biggest event of the year but it’s my review so I’m going to say it’s the season premiere. With no new characters to introduce, we instead get reacquainted with a couple of The Doctor’s old nemeses. What good is a hero without an equally strong villain, after all.