Doctor Who – Series 8, Episode 12: Death in Heaven

Death in Heaven

We look back at Series 8 ahead of series 9 premiere with our Who guru, Steve Hendry. Today WG also delivers his verdict on part two of the Series 8 (34) finale of Doctor Who, Death in Heaven...

Well, that’s that until Christmas Day then, and it’s probably just as well. The whole of the final hour of the most consistently brilliant season of Doctor Who since 1977 was a sequence of emotional hooks and uppercuts that will resonate until Santa Claus arrives. The Doctor opening the TARDIS door to find no Gallifrey was the punch that finally put me on the ropes, before Clara floored me, convincing The Doctor that he’d managed to achieve what he was trying to do for her back at the start of this two-parter. Knockout.

Ten zero eleven zero zero by zero two from galactic zero centre. What a bitch. I was sucked in by The Master’s cruel lie, just like The Doctor and anyone who’s watched Pyramids of Mars. The whole final sequence was heartbreaking, more so even than Osgood’s murder and Danny’s exit. Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi ended their partnership as they began and continued it, with a powerful, beautifully delivered pair of performances. They have set an extraordinarily high bar for the next Doctor-companion partnership, and at this point I nominate K9 as season 35’s +1. Let me explain. There have been numerous potential candidates for a permanent spot on the TARDIS crew this season, and they’ve generally been great- Journey Blue, Perkins, Psi and Saibra were my personal favourites. K9 generally used to remain aboard the TARDIS most of the time, so a continuation of one-hit companions would work well on that basis. The thought of Capaldi’s Doctor travelling with K9 has enormous potential, and he’s the first Doctor since Tom Baker that could really make it work. My K9 campaign has one final, compelling argument- the Capaldi-Coleman partnership has been so perfect that it may be folly for Steven Moffat to attempt to recreate it straight away.

The CyberDan scenes worked very well indeed, from prosthetics to performances and production. Having been a critic of the Clara/Danny storyline throughout the series, I was left to wonder whether it was worth the payoff at the end, and it just about was. The intrusions made into stories like Into the Dalek and Flatline didn’t enhance those episodes in any way, and there had to be a big finish at season’s end to justify those. Samuel Anderson played Danny’s final scenes exceptionally well, and his previous episodes will seem very different when re-watched, with advance knowledge of Mr Pink’s fate. Of course Danny was joined by Osgood on this story’s death list, and I definitely didn’t see that coming. Steven Moffat gets grief on the internet when he doesn’t kill characters, and he’s had plenty since broadcast after going all George RR Martin here. He just can’t win with some people, and I am left wondering whether they actually like Doctor Who at all.

Michelle Gomez’s Master/Missy will surely be back, after delivering a performance of the magnitude required to match the extraordinary Peter Capaldi. I’ve enjoyed all the Masters in their own way, but I may just have watched my favourite Doctor and Master face off. The eye-rolls, sarcastic asides and overall screen presence are a match for Roger Delgado at his best, and I don’t offer that level of praise lightly.

So, after all that, what do you want for Christmas? Nick Frost as Santa? Permission to squee!!

Image - BBC.