An Englishman in LA: Doctor Who

An Englishman in LA: Doctor Who

Our man in Los Angeles, ROBERT CAVE, takes a look at the latest episode of the new series of Doctor Who

Doctor Who Series 9/ Season 35 Episode 8

DW9_E8-1-1200x790Hello everyone, I might have been a Zygon once, or maybe I never was, what’s important is that I’m here to review episode eight of series nine of Doctor Who and there will be spoilers.

So, almost all of my predictions were pretty inaccurate it seems. Kate is alive, but Jac isn’t. A great shame, I would have like to have seen more of her. Of course, we never saw a body, and Steven Moffat could decide to bring her back to life, but that would cheapen her somewhat. Which brings us to Osgood, and her seemingly empty boxes. Who decided to label them truth or consequences? Is that an idea from one of the previous 15 go-rounds of the Zygon insurrection? Or is it another bootstrap paradox? Are we going to be seeing more of these?

Osgood’s “resurrection” as a character really works for me in a way Jac’s wouldn’t because the Zygon who became Osgood, really did become her. Both the Osgood who was killed by Missy and Osgood that remains alive are both equally Osgood. And the doctor should know better by now than to ask them otherwise.

Sadly, with the focus on the great performance by Ingrid Oliver as Osgood, it is easy to overlook the commitment and sacrifice of both of the Zygons in the story who become Osgood and thus became the peace. It is their actions in this respect, along with those of Osgood herself that make them all ideal companions and also why none of them can ever leave with the Doctor.

It does also have the unfortunate side effect of seeming to imply that the only way for an immigrant to succeed in their new home is to assimilate to such a degree that they become functionally invisible, which I don’t think is a very helpful message, nor do I think it is true.

What I would have liked to see in this episode (or at some point in the future) is a Zygon who is living and working on Earth openly as a Zygon, committed to protecting their home and their neighbours. Openly Zygon members of UNIT would be a start – surely among the 20-odd million on Earth there are others who could serve. Because any organisation, any company, any country or planet stands or falls on its ability to open itself to diversity.

On reflection, the fumble on immigration aside, this really was one of the more adult Doctor Who stories, mainly because, at its heart, it really is all about forgiveness. And the older you get, the more you’ve done, the more important forgiveness becomes.

The humans are forgiven for their actions this episode, and so are the Zygons. Then (almost) everyone forgot and will almost certainly have to face making the same choices again. This really was less a sequel to the 50th Anniversary episode as an infinite reprise, but I think it is a worthwhile endeavour to me reminded how close you can come to making a terrible mistake, and how you must keep working to avoid making the same mistakes again.

The central importance of Clara to both this week’s episode (and the 50th Anniversary) did jar a little with me, though, mainly because of the whole Clara the impossible girl, being born to save the Doctor-thing. It never quite sat right with me and kind of ruined the character for me, if I’m honest, which is a shame because Jenna Coleman is a decent actress.

But Clara’s story is not yet over, and again we saw some ominous foreshadowing of what is to come. Dare I hope that Clara as a character could yet be redeemed? I re-watched The Name of the Doctor recently and the way our titular hero pulled her out at the end of the episode just seemed at odds with the dire prognostications for anyone who entered that timeline. There was that line this week where the Doctor mentions that he “Let Clara Oswald inside [his] head.” Perhaps Clara really did die back in The Name of the Doctor, and in all episodes after that the Doctor has just been visiting her echoes.

I could well be wrong, I have been before, but we will find out soon enough. And there are a few more episodes of The Doctor and Clara to come yet. See you next time.

Doctor Who – The Complete Series 8 [DVD] [2014]

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