Doctor Who 08×11/12 – Metal Gear Solid

*WARNING – contains spoilers*

A thrilling two-part bonanza of spectacle and emotional bondage came to an epic close this week. So concludes the first season of Peter Capaldi’s interpretation of the Doctor – the ultimate starring role in television.


Part One – ‘Dark Water’ – began with a shock, as Danny Pink was knocked over by a car and killed whilst talking on the phone to Clara. Ironically, it is only in death that Danny’s character becomes crucial to the enveloping plot. Clara threatens to destroy the TARDIS keys in a volcano if the Doctor doesn’t help her save Danny. Despite being an illusion, this revealed a darker side to her character and showed how far she is willing to go; not only for Danny, but also how ruthless she can be, much like the Doctor himself of late.


Danny meanwhile is being held in the afterlife or ‘the Nethersphere’. He is greeted by the hilarious Seb, played masterfully by Chris Addison, who gets Danny to fill in paperwork. The playfulness of the character is fantastic with little quips and nods to the recently deceased – including the brilliant line from Danny enquiring as to why they have iPads in heaven. Seb’s reply is – ‘We have Steve Jobs’. Very comical.


There is a large orb floating in the Mausoleum of the afterlife (run by a corporation called 3W) – some Timelord technology, which keeps minds in a databank, in this case the recently deceased. It transpires that 3W are converting the dead into… Cybermen! Yikes!


The deceased then turn into the metal men and attack everybody and everyone runs away screaming. Except, they don’t. Out on the streets outside of St Paul’s (oh, that’s where we are, like in Earthshock – nice nod) the Cybermen march into the public only to be greeted by people taking selfies with them – apparently unafraid of the deadly killing machines. This was a great commentary on the human condition today – we are always busy looking at our phones and we are too curious to be scared – whether that is good or bad is debatable.


Missy is outside St Paul’s and starts to flirt with the Doctor. Who is she? Well, she is Missy, short for Mistress. Yes, you guessed it, she’s the Master. Oh no! The Doctor is shocked, were all shouting “Cool, we have a female timelady!” and then we go to a cliff-hanger!


In part two Clara is still trapped in the Mausoleum and is surrounded by Cybermen. She pretends she is the Doctor to hold them off as long as possible, but they know she is lying. However, a rogue Cyberman unexpectedly saves her – none other than Danny Pink, who has not quite converted properly – a little cliché I thought.


The Doctor is taken aboard his very own Air Force One and is informed he is now Commander in Chief of the Earth. Missy is in the cargo bay below with Osgood, a great character, played with nerdy precision by Ingrid Oliver. Alas, our hapless heroine is viciously killed minutes later along with the guards. This is perhaps one of the best scenes and played brilliantly by the truly frightening Michelle Gomez.

They end up in a cemetery on Earth, with Clara, The Doctor, Missy and Danny Pink as a Cyberman. His inhibiter is not switched on, he isn’t quite a Cyberman yet – but he wants the pain to go. The Doctor refuses to help but Clara argues that it would be callous not to. Danny boasts that he has revealed the true Doctor – the General who doesn’t dirty his own hands. This is the theme that has ran through the entire series – is the Doctor a warrior or not? He dislikes the military and saluting, however in the past he has caused such destruction – including the extermination of his own race. This theme has been prominent in all of the modern Doctor Who series and is an interesting concept. His character has become more questionable and ambiguous, blurring the lines between good and evil.

Clara then uses the sonic screwdriver to ‘kill ’ Danny in an emotional scene, as the Doctor stands dejected in the background.

Missy waltzes in with the wristband that controls the Cyber army and hands it to the Doctor, claiming she did all of this for him, it’s the one thing he has always wanted – an army. After much thought, the Doctor proclaims he is not a good man, but neither is he a bad man. He gives the controller to Danny and commands him to send the army into the clouds and burn up the atmosphere, wiping the army out and returning everything to normal.


Clara then picks up Missy’s death ray and goes to kill her. The Doctor intervenes but Clara is adamant, that if they are to continue, she has to die. The Doctor gives in and has a showdown with Missy, who proclaims that she wins if he does. The Doctor knows this. Missy then tells the Doctor the co-ordinates to Gallifrey that she claims is not lost after all. Just as he is about to blast her with the death ray, Missy is shot by another rogue Cyberman in the cemetery – but I am sure she teleports away at the last second. I hope Gomez has escaped and will return in a recurring role because the play between these two towering timelords is something I would love to see again.

They then find Lethbridge-Stewart on the floor in the graveyard – she’s okay after being thrown from Air Force One earlier in the episode. The same rogue Cyberman that shot Missy, had caught her and flown here down to safety – none other than the Brigadier himself who finally gets a salute from the Doctor – nice sentimental nod.

At the end of the episode there was one last opportunity for someone from the other side to return. Danny’s voice was heard through the void by Clara and she begged him to return. However, he sent through the young boy he had killed whilst in the army. It was quite an emotional scene and it was a bitter-sweet ending for the character who sacrificed it all. Danny did mean something in the end of all this – but he was still not everything we hoped he would be.


We came to the final scene where we saw Clara and the Doctor in a café talking. Boy, it hurts. They both lie through their teeth – Clara claiming her and Danny are together and are going to be fine whilst the Doctor spins a yarn about finding Gallifrey and returning home, despite visiting the co-ordinates and finding nothing. They can’t even bring themselves to speak the truth to one another. They hug one last time and Clara asks the Doctor why he doesn’t like hugs. He says – ‘Never trust a hug. You only use it to hide your face’. A fitting line to finish on and mark the end of Clara’s run in the blue box.


I think Peter Capaldi has been superb in his first season and I look forward to his continued adventures. Clara finally had a good series and was sent out on an emotional high. I think Danny Pink’s character arc was a disappointment but we enjoyed a great female Master and Seb was fantastic as her sidekick. There were some cracking episodes and the production value and writing has been of its usual high standard. There are many questions to ponder now for the next series – who is the next companion, how dark is the direction going to be and how much time is left in Moffat’s tenure.


Next up is the Christmas special with Nick Frost as Santa Claus. Bah humbug!

By David Roberts

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