Doctor Who ‘Death in Heaven’ Review

It’s over. Season 8, with all of its ups and downs… is over. And it went out with a bang, that’s for sure.
Let us talk about ‘Death in Heaven’.

Spoilers ahead.

The word ‘Death’ in the title certainly is justified. There is a lot of death in this episode, and in fact most of the time it’s engulfed in a depressing grey tint. I’m not going to summarize  the entire episode. Instead, I’m going to list the things it did right, and the things I thought were wrong. The episode itself was good, and the finale as a whole was great.
But there are certainly some grievances to be had. First off, though, here is what’s to like.

  1. More references and throwbacks than Day of the Doctor. From a Mondasian cyberman head, to the Brigadier, and a mention of Jenny. This had a lot of good stuff thrown in.
  2. Loose ends were tied up… mostly. The remaining threads from Matt Smith’s era were finished, and the few that season 8 brought up were nice and tied. They happened to untie a thread from season four, and then retied it back up again here. Even though we know the show is connected to previous seasons, it’s nice to know that they remember.
  3. Missy. Played by Michelle Gomez, I can’t think of anyone else that could have embodied that madness like she did. As much as I want to hate her… she is a great character. Insane and aware of it. She’s a lot like a female John Simms.
  4. The acting. There is a lot of chemistry between all of these characters, and it really helps make it real.
  5. Emotions. My eyes got watery twice here. Because of number four, I was really able to feel what was going on, and mourn with them, and smile with them.

Put simply, it was good episode. Pacing was good, acting was good, plot was good and the conclusion was good… if a little bit rushed. Now, I’m going to give you some of the bad points to this episode.

  1. Wasted opportunities. At the beginning of this episode, it’s revealed that when Clara says to the cyberman, “I’m not Clara Oswald, Clara Oswald never existed!”, she follows it up with “I’m the Doctor.”, and the theme music plays with Jenna Coleman in top billing and her eyes going across the screen. I have never before wanted a female Doctor, but done this way… I really did. I wanted Clara to reveal herself to have always been a future incarnation of the Doctor who went back in time to save her/himself, and that Capaldi was really the Valeyard. I thought that some of the dialogue in ‘Flatline’ was perhaps foreshadowing this, with Clara being a good Doctor and all. Or maybe, because ‘good’ had nothing to do with it, Clara would have been the valeyard, insuring her/his own survival for his later plans.
    I don’t know… all in all, they really could have fit a lot more twists in there. Missy being the Master, while shocking to hear out loud, was rather obvious. They could have gone further.
  2. Wasted opportunities. Danny is gone, as far as we know. He was a great character to me, and I wanted him and Clara to ride around in the TARDIS ala Rory and Amy or Ian and Barbara. I thought that was where it was going, with them both being Coal Hill teachers and all. But no, Danny got turned into a cyberman, and sacrificed his only way of getting back for a little kid he killed during war. Danny and Clara worked well together, and I wanted that dynamic to be inside the TARDIS, and with the Doctor. Guess that’s not happening.
  3. Wasted opportunities. I sure as hell hope that Missy isn’t really dead. A great character, too good to be gone after one season. Here, I thought maybe the Doctor would try and take her along with him, like Ten offered John Simms Master… and then Clara wouldn’t go for it, be ashamed with the Doctor, and leave them.
    Or, they could have had Missy get away somehow and have her be the big bad for the entirety of Capaldi’s run. She knew how to get to Gallifrey, apparently, and he doesn’t. That could have been something. And while she may come back, and her death may not be permanent, for now basing myself on what I saw… that was a waste.
  4. Wasted opportunities. I really wish Doctor Who would stop trying to resolve plots like this in only two episodes. Sometimes, they’ve resolved what could have been big plots in one. (AKA, the Power of Three). They could have stretched out this whole cybermen and Missy plot for at least a couple episodes into the next season, to make it truly seem like a big deal. The problem with resolving plots like this in two episodes is that it seemed crunched down for time. The Cybermen didn’t invade. They didn’t shoot a single person, all that happened was they turned into rain and the rain made dead people into cybermen. This was TRULY a wasted opportunity, with the army of the dead, It should not have been resolved so quickly, and with such ease. (Although I will say I do think that if they had to resolve it so quickly, they did it in a way that made some sense and genuinely worked.)
  5. Bad conclusion. If this was really the end for both Clara and the Doctor, I don’t like it. They ended it with lies, and even though Clara got a hug… for a companion that got to be with two different Doctors, (the only one in Nu-Who to get to do that was Rose), she deserved a better send-off. I can only hope this will be fixed in either the Christmas special, or this truly isn’t the end for the two of them.

This episode was good. In fact, it was one of the better ones in the series. But so much more could have been done. All of the actors perform brilliantly, but I think the core story of Doctor Who is going a bit too far off the rails.
I enjoyed the little homage to the Brigadier, and how the Doctor gave him the salute he wanted.
I also, despite my complaint about the ending, liked how they sort of tied up the Doctor’s complaint with soldiers, after Danny commanded his army away and sacrificed himself. Also, despite my complaint, liked the resolution and “redemption” for Danny, sending the child he killed in the war back to the living world.
I have high hopes for season 9. Whatever happens, I will watch. As a Whovian, I owe the series that much. I’m also looking forward to the Christmas special, with Nick Frost as Santa Claus… because who the hell can resist Nick Frost as Santa Claus?

Doctor Who’s season finale, ‘Death in Heaven’, gets a 7 out of 10.
Check back next Sunday for a Season 8 retrospective.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 1:34 PM


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