"You know who I am..."
For this season of Doctor Who, Ross Miller and Kwame Opam will be sounding off on each episode in a series of emails we'll be publishing on the site. This week it's "Dark Water" (warning: spoilers ahead). Check out our previous recaps: "Deep Breath," "Into the Dalek," "Robots of Sherwood," "Listen," "Time Heist," "The Caretaker," "Kill the Moon," "Mummy on the Orient Express," "Flatline," and "In the Forest of the Night."
Kwame: Looks like I get to start this week. I'm excited! In any case, this episode started off feeling fairly weak but wound up getting much stronger albeit much weirder by the end of the hour. This is Who going off the deep end with regard to its exploring darker themes by pretty much taking us straight to Hell. (Or so it seems.)
Once again, this is Clara's story. In the opening minutes, we get the gut-wrenching death of Mr. Danny Pink, his being run down by a truck only just audible over the phone after Clara say she loves him. The moment felt supremely unfair; I literally groaned at my TV and said, "Don't tell me they fridged Danny!" But it turned out to be just effective enough to get us at the current season's end game. Sure, we got even more false drama with Clara. Sure, the Doctor is the one in the driver's seat most of the time. But this season's arc has been building to this moment, and is showing us a character that's willing to go to Hell and back for the ones she loves. Or at least into a mausoleum.
And Hell? I was actually pretty tickled by that twist, and how it factored into Missy's grand reveal. It turns out that this afterlife that looks, by turns, like a garden and a bit like a back corner of your local DMV is actually a Gallifreyan hard drive being used for nefarious purposes. Think of it as VR heaven. The dead people it collects, however, get turned into Cybermen, which is just evil. And Missy is the Master! The bastard is actually controlling Cybermen now, erasing the emotions of dead souls and copy-pasting them into Cybermen bodies. It's really kind of sick, and we don't know yet if humanity is supremely screwed since, yes, the dead do outnumber the living.
I have to say, though. That Steve Jobs line explaining why everyone has an iPad in the Nethersphere was somehow both ghoulish and hilarious.
Ross: Okay, so I'm glad we finally know what the Promised Land is -- well, sort of. We know what it represents (as we have all along) and now have some tangible (albeit incomplete) idea about what it actually does. This episode aired in the middle of Day of the Dead, which seems appropriate here. Right? Right? ... Right?
But that's less important, of course, to the Cybermen! CYBER. MEN! What's a season of Doctor Who without 'em? So much of this season has involved the Doctor trying to figure out (1) what the baddie is (2) if it's bad (3) how to stop it (4) ... if it should be stopped at all. The Cybermen really should be old hat by now. Why isn't there a macro on the sonic screwdriver that disables them all?
Clara, Clara, Clara. The "impossible girl" (remember that?) that's still impossible. I'll say this: I like her with confidence. It's a lot more fun.
Kwame: Who doesn't love Cybermen? I really loved how they recreated that classic scene from "The Invasion," yet another little homage to classic Who this series has done:
But speaking of impossible stuff, there are a few things that are maddeningly unclear at this point. (I know. I know. It's a two-parter. Just let me feel my feelings.) The first is we've been lead to believe that the Master has not only been watching the Doctor and Clara for some time but has actually manipulated them to reach this inevitable conclusion. How and to what end? The second is whether or not they're actually going to bring Danny back from the dead. It's not as though they actually have his body, and the Doctor seems fairly resolute before the Cybermen skeletons start standing up that the dead stay dead. What's more, Clara, imitating the Doctor yet again, tries to be skeptical and fails to see that she's actually talking to Danny over the afterlife intercom thing. I'm really worried Danny is about to say his last goodbyes. The third is Clara herself saying in last wek's preview that she doesn't actually exist. What does that even mean?
And the fourth is... I just did not get the cremation thing at all. All told, weird as it was this was a solid little cliffhanger that brought an old baddie back into the fold. And I do love watching Michelle Gomez chew scenery.
Ross: UGH, okay I almost forgot abut that ending. ABOUT. THAT. ENDING. Lives are in danger! What happens next?TUNE IN NEXT WEEK TO FIND OUT!