If Doctor Who’s latest season has been one thing, it’s polarizing. Many a fan has stated they love part of the season, but not all. And episodes that many a fan (or reviewer) has dubbed as epic or masterpiece, others have dubbed weak, and flawed. After watching “Death in Heaven”, I can’t help but think this will be another episode that polarizes fans.
No doubt this episode had some truly jaw dropping moments. From UNIT making the Doctor president of the world, The Master being bug-nuts and killing (and attempting to kill) several of the Doctor’s closest friends, and the sacrifice at the end, it was all magnificent…but parts of it just didn’t feel right.
Despite the extended runtime, much of the Doctor’s adventure took place on a plane. Which while interesting in some aspects, was frustrating in others. Again, the concept of making him president of the world was awesome, and I wish we got to see him use the powers more than we did. However, it was more less just a title because he didn’t use any of the powers. So for me that was a wasted opportunity.
Then there was The Master, aka Missy. While I loved the idea of her being more than a little crazy (see above reference to bug-nuts), here it was almost to a ridiculous standpoint. Especially when she killed Osgood and then tried to kill Kate. Evil? Yes. Necessary? Eh. And then the graveyard standoff where she revealed that the whole plan was so she could give a Cyberman army to the Doctor as a birthday present was not only insane (as in bad), but confusing. Did she really think he would go for that? That after all they’ve been through, all their past incarnation, that he would up and use an army to “conquer the universe”? Really? Really?
The one truly good storyline from nearly front to back was the Danny/Clara tale. From Danny first realizing he was a Cyberman, to saving Clara and asking her to disable his emotions, their tearful goodbye not once but twice. It was great. The ending though was confusing, as Danny had a chance to come back but didn’t take it. He chose instead to save the boy he killed. Heartwarming? Yes. Frustrating? Yes! Logical that this scene occured? It’s Moffat, what do you expect?
I will say this though, Capaldi throughout the episode was exceptional. But truly no scene was better than when he found out The Master lied about Gallifrey. The anger and sadness he showed when he realized it wasn’t where she said it would be was amazing. Truly a scene stealer for the episode.
And of course, “Death in Heaven” wouldn’t be complete without the possible final farewell to Clara Oswald. Unlike other companions, she and the Doctor technically left on good terms. Even though both lied to each other in order to get there. It’s unconfirmed yet whether she is truly gone, but based on what we’ve seen…it might just be goodbye. Their farewell speeches to one another were great.
So where does that leave the episode as a whole? Well, it wasn’t the best, but it also wasn’t the worst, and yet it wasn’t great either. It’s truly a conundrum. I base my score on how I feel the episode was in regards to impact to my memory. How it made me feel after watching it. “Death in Heaven” definitely gave me stuff to remember, but not all of it was good. Therefore, my score will reflect that feeling. I don’t know where exactly Doctor Who will go next season/series, but I am excited for it. There’s plenty of potential for great stories. And I’ll be hear waiting to hear them.
Oh yeah! And the Doctor is about to meet Santa! YES!!!