Doctor Who - Series 9, episode 8

Doctor Who cast

Reece Morris-Jones takes a sideways look at The Zygon Inversion...

At the end of last episode's review I posed some really important questions that had to be answered. To answer them, no, surprisingly yes and no. Moffat can never refuse the chance to be smug.

Now that the splinter cell of Zygons have declared their intention to go to war with the humans, and with UNIT all but gone, The Doctor and Osgood are all that stands in the way of the treaty between two races falling apart.

As episodes go, it's far and away the best written of this season of Doctor Who but also the most troubling due to what I feel was poor direction. For one, it does do what I had hoped for in the last issue, which was delve into both sides of the conflict a bit more. It was good seeing that both sides of the conflict had just as many people scared to engage and ruin their lives as people warmongering. Even if it was a bit clumsily handled (an unmasked Zygon in daylight still looks like a bloke in niche fetish wear) I appreciated the effort to make us empathetic to all sides of conflict, given the episode's short running time.

Zygons
Doctor Who viewers after realising the ending to the episode doesn't make much sense...
Whilst the conclusions the episode seems to reach are a bit heavy handed (if you are a minority you should just assimilate and shut up about freedom of expression) I think the heart of the message was in the right place. The Doctor's Epic Speech (™) about the pointlessness of conflict if it is directed by zealots on both sides would have had more impact if it were delivered to both Kate and Clara's duplicate Bonnie. Both sides were acting like children really – wanting to be the one who 'won', when the reality is that to achieve long lasting trust you have to take the harder and more long term route of compromise and negotiation.

Also, is it just me or does the Doctor's declaration of how many times the conflict has happened before seem to really point to how his solution hasn't worked at all? After all, you've convinced one of the commanders that an invasion of Earth doesn't really help, but you still have radicalised elements of the Zygon race out there... who now will begin to complete for leadership in a power vacuum created by a commander disappearing.

Throw in a Leader of UNIT who suddenly has to clean up a mess she doesn't have a complete memory of (after all, UNIT has been destroyed and all she will remember is it has something to do with the Zygons...) and you really are priming the situation to occur again not too far into the future. Actually, it seems the series really is setting itself up for an end of season reveal that (gasp) the Doctor is a bit of an arsehole sometimes. Like... most of the other series' finales actually.

Hmm, can I get a refund? My Doctor's Epic Speech™ doesn't seem to be working properly.

Overall, it was an ok episode, if a bit poorly paced. But, as always, the performances were great and helped cover up an episode that makes less sense the more you think about it. Nothing in the episode stood out in the cinematography section of things but it wasn't ugly at all.

It's nice that Doctor Who tried to tackle a complex and relevant topic. But in the future, it could do without trying to wrap things up in a neat little bow. Perhaps then viewers won't be let off the hook so easily and Doctor Who can become something that challenges and thrills viewers.

Next week: Mark Gatiss is back, which means he's doling out jobs to his less successful comedy chums and Doctor Who goes found footage! Will it be the next Blair Witch in terms of quality? Or A Haunted House?

Images - BBC