And just like that, we’re here for the two-part season/series finale (depending on how you see things) of Doctor Who. And if “Dark Water” did anything, it turned most of our assumptions on our heads and showed us just how powerful misdirection is.
WARNING!!!: FULL SPOILERS AHEAD!
If you don’t believe me, then go right into the first scene where…THEY KILLED DANNY!!!! After it was obvious that Clara had something to say to him about the Doctor, she went for a heartwarming truth about their relationship, and the result caused Danny his life. At least…that’s what we’re led to believe.
Almost instantaneously Clara shifted from the spunky Impossible Girl we all knew to a very dark person. It’s rare that we see companions truly snap, and become people we don’t recognize, seeing Clara go to that dark side was amazing. From her blank expression, to her speech about how Danny’s death was “ordinary”, to trying to get the Doctor to help her or else, all of it was spot on. But most importantly, it was believable. Though the Danny/Clara relationship had only been roughly 10 episodes long, you believed they were a couple through and through, which made his death and her mourning all the more believable.
I loved the confrontation scene with The Doctor, as it showed just how serious Clara was about breaking all the rules in order to get Danny back. What’s important to know though is that they made sure to spell out past mistakes (looking at you Rose Tyler!) and stating why they can’t happen again. Instead though, the Doctor (who of course was in control the whole time) makes a bold decision. They’re going to find Danny in the afterlife.
Though we’ve seen certain people from past episodes enter the “afterlife” or whatever you choose to call it, seeing Danny in it brought it all into perspective. Tapping into numerous beliefs about the afterlife, while adding a wrinkle or two of their own. Moffat clearly had fun with this. And it was through this “experience” that we learned a lot more about Danny, including what happened to him when he was a soldier.
Yet it was Clara and the Doctor’s adventure that proved all the more chilling. From the initial meeting with Missy (who I’ll get to soon), to the chat with Dr. Chang about the titular Dark Water and the way they preserve bodies, to the “truth” about the afterlife it was all amazing.
But once the reveals started coming they didn’t stop, nor did my jaw get off the floor until the episode was over. First, there was the reveal that the Cybermen were behind everything (dark water hides inorganic material, thus not showing their metal exoskeletons, clever!). Then, Danny technically wasn’t alive, but his consciousness was uploaded into a Gallifrain mainframe. The Cybermen are using dead people to upgrade themselves, and of course, Missy is The Master…
MISSY IS THE MASTER??!?!?!!!?!?!?
Yeah, wrap your head around that one. Especially the scene where they kissed. Gross…
Before I head into final thoughts I want to touch upon the Clara/Danny interaction. I liked how the Doctor forced her to make sure it was really Danny and not some fake created by a brain scan. And then when Danny couldn’t think of anything to tell her that it was her except “I love you” was very moving. Resulting in what could be his REAL death by him deleting himself!!!!
There were only a few minor problems with “Dark Water” that dragged it from a perfect score. First off was that though I loved Clara’s trip to the dark side, I wished it lasted longer. I liked that the Doctor was in charge during the ultimatum scene…but did he have to be? Also, still trying get over Missy kissing the Doctor when she’s the Master…not cool with that. Also, the reveal of what the “afterlife” was was no doubt interesting, it raises questions about what we’ve seen in the previous episodes. Different locations, different settings, and of course Missy meeting the departed personally. What was that about?
However, “Dark Water” delivered many a surprise and ensured that this finale is going to be (hopefully) one to remember. You can just feel the status quo changing, but how it will change is anyone’s guess…