Doctor Who - Series 9, Episode 12

Doctor Who

The wrath of God himself descends upon Doctor Who this week. Reece Morris-Jones is the messenger...

... where do I start? If this review had a sound, it would be one long sigh. Because I'm tired. Tired of unfulfilled promise. Of scripts that barely rise above the standard of 'tossed off between marketing meetings and planning world tours for the actors'. Of a show that can't even get an acceptable baseline standard of 'enjoyable family show' from week to week.

I've held my tongue, biting back my full thoughts on the series in the hope there would be a strong ending to the season. A few episodes that redeemed a series that was fair to middling at its absolute best and committed the worst sin of all; being boring even when it was bad.

It makes me sad that all the great visual and sound design, the wonderful acting and some great direction, being pissed away by some bizzare writing, editing and production decisions. That all this love is put into a creation that is resembling a genetic monstrosity more and more by the day.

Steven Moffat has always seemed to struggle at the role of showrunner since he took over but this episode displays that he no longer seems to have a clue, or else has let the behind the scene aspects of his role overwhelm the more visible parts. Either way, it's time for him to go.

So, onto the episode itself after all that ranting. It's a fucking mess. A visual representation of a desperate man throwing shit at a wall to see what sticks. It's the only explanation for the episode, which flitters from scene to scene, wasting everything. Were you looking forward to the return of the Timelords? Then enjoy them rolling over like a puppy hit with a newspaper. Liked how Clara's sacrifice meant something? Well not any more! Did you wonder where the hybrid 'arc'* of the series was going? Then look forward to a few scenes that make no sense as the episode circles a black hole of mediocrity. Look forward to an episode that can't even keep its own internal logic consistent.

Yet despite all of that...all of that ...SHIT, there's a small kernel of a good idea in the episode. Namely that what finally pushes the Doctor over the edge is his greatest strength; his desire to keep a promise to his companions (to us the audience), that they are safe with him. The idea that the Valeyard will come about from good intentions, not bad.

It's a intriguing idea, but like all the good ideas in the show this season, it gets smothered in bad ones that cling to the show like treacle.

And the saddest thing is I know it's my fault. I debated if I wanted to watch this season but episodes last season like Flatlines, or Heaven Sent this season, have kept me hoping things will turn around. I tried to find the goodness amongst the garbage. I hoped Moffat wasn't plunging the show into a kamikaze dive. I kept watching through everything. We all did, as Steven Moffat laughed at our rage, goaded us on to line his pockets as the Titanic sank.

The truth is nothing matters much any more. This finale has nearly killed my love of Doctor Who. I don't know if I can watch until the end this time around, hoping things will turn about. And the end will be soon. Ratings are plummeting this season. Even if Steven Moffat leaves, now, he's poisoned the show for years to come.

Yet I know in my heart I will watch anyway, hoping this time the show will avoid the car crash . And when it does, it will drive another cut deep into me. A cut the Doctor Who fanbase will share as one.

I'll see you at Christmas.

*I think the word shouldn't really be used in this context as it's an arc in the same way a belly flop is gymnastics.

Image - BBC