Our man in Los Angeles, ROBERT CAVE, takes a look at the seventh episode of the new series of Doctor Who in a weekly review column
Doctor Who Series 9/ Season 35 Episode 7
Hello everyone, either I’m here to review the seventh episode of series nine of Doctor Who or it’s my Zygon counterpart doing the same job. Either way, there’s nothing to worry about.
First of all, arrrgh! No next week trailer! I really want next week’s episode now!
So, yeah, I was already sold on the idea of Zygons as immigrants before I saw tonight’s episode. There were a few moments that didn’t quite convince, particularly when the UNIT soldiers in a very Welsh-looking Turmezistan went so meekly to their deaths, but there was so much to love overall, that I could overlook that. Zygon elders struggling to come to terms with their own radicalised youth, Rebecca Front in uniform shooting doors open, UNIT’s woman-friendly employment policies, and the idea that the world is ending being a very middle-aged concern, to name but four little moments I loved.
It is great to have Osgood back, and while at first I was a bit miffed about the refusal to identify which version of her was killed at the end of the last season, I soon came round to the even better idea that it doesn’t matter. As with gender, or sexuality or whatever else in identity politics, you listen to how people identify themselves and then you respect that. Osgood identifies as both Zygon and human and that is good enough for me.
The word hybrid is used again, seeding some kind of hint for this season’s overarching theme. I really hope the big reveal is not going to be that the Doctor is a hybrid, but it would fit with the 1996 TV Movie. In the context of this episode though, it seems to me that the idea of a hybrid is more of a metaphor for successful integration. The Osgood we thought of as human has changed and so has the Zygon we thought was merely impersonating Osgood. They are both Osgood and the demonstration of this underlines the possibility of a working successful integrated society.
Of course, a sense of paranoia, of not being able to tell who anyone is for sure is something the tension of this episode rests upon. Nothing is quite as it appears, and I suspect this will be especially true in terms of the neutralisation of UNIT UK and Kate Stewart. With the former I suspect “the traitors” who were executed were one of the two Zygon factions rather than the humans caught in the middle, and with the latter I suspect the New Mexican cop lady might turn out to be a Zygon elder who is going to team up with Kate. Whatever the case, I am expecting inversions aplenty next week.
There were a few unanswered questions: the anti-Zygon weapon was stolen by someone with a TARDIS, it might have been the Doctor, or maybe not. We haven’t seen Missy with a TARDIS yet… How did Bonnie (as Zygon Clara identifies herself) know how the Doctor feels about being emergency president of the world? What’s in the Osgood box – is its contents in a state of quantum indeterminacy until it is opened? Or is it just a video like the one we saw at the beginning of the episode, one that explains who the Zygons are and why they are here.
This would work especially well if “truth or consequences” is, as is implied this episode, really a militant cry for Zygon pride, about young Zygons agitating to live openly, ceasing to conceal their alien identities. I really hope so. But I’m going to have to wait until next week to find out.