It felt great to be back in the world of Doctor Who, that was clear from the minute the episode started. Typical of Steven Moffat’s writing the prologue perfectly sets up the mystery for the coming episode. Initially it is clear that this episode is as visually beautiful as season 8. Since the beginning of season 8 every episode of Doctor Who has had a new look to it. I don’t know if they are filming on newer cameras but the newest episodes have been gorgeous. The clarity of the colours and the sharpness of every object on-screen is undeniable. Even when the episode is taking place in a rather bleak landscape the footage itself looks amazing, the start of this episode being a perfect example of this. The little reveal that The Doctor is going to save Davros as a young child was very surprising. I had heard that the Daleks were in this episode but that really took me off guard.
It was great to see Missy back, Michelle Gomez is absolutely amazing as the current iteration of The Master. Moffat’s writing of humorous villains is always glorious to watch on-screen. He has experience with that brand of bad guy on his other show, Sherlock. His writing of the villain Moriarty is very much like that of Missy, the villain was also quite funny in his mannerisms and the hilarious but evil things he said. However, we cannot disregard the fantastic acting of Michelle Gomez to pull off the evil charisma of The Master. She is amazing in a comedy role and just magnetic on-screen. It was good to see the Daleks back again, especially Davros however I wish there had been more of that. It felt like there was a lot of filler in this episode where they could have just thrown us into the story. I am sure I am not the only one that has wanted to see Davros back again since The Stolen Earth. He is a really interesting character that has a lot of history with The Doctor. I think what makes him so interesting is that he challenges The Doctor’s morals, he questions his principles and integrity. A monster that can physically threaten The Doctor and his cohorts is one thing, but a villain that can actually reveal the hero’s flaws, showing him to be not quite the good guy he claims to be is something much scarier. I believe that is what this episode was all about, throughout the episode Davros’ employee would spread the message that Davros remembers. There was of course a scene in which The Doctor’s companions were surprised to see a look of shame on his face. This episode was all about The Doctor’s fallibility.
It was great to see planets that have a strong connection to the series’ past, locations that are very important in the Doctor Who mythos. We were taken to places like Kahn and The Shadow Proclamation, it was like “wow we are really going into deep waters here”. It makes sense given that Steven Moffat wrote this episode, he loves to show as much of the Timelords and the really important mythos stuff as he can. Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman were of course as fantastic as ever. It was a delight to get long scenes where The Doctor, Missy and Clara bounced off eachother. The three actors have great chemistry together.
However, I must say I found it a slightly disappointing episode, previously the showrunners have been able to set up the themes and little mysteries for the coming season while providing an adventure that is satisfying in itself. While I understand that this is the first of two-part story and that this means we aren’t going to get a full story in the first part of it, I did still feel like not a lot happened. The episode went by quickly but not in the way where it’s very fast paced and packed with action. It was more like you were waiting for it to break into a sprint but when it seemed like it was about to, that was the end of the episode. It may seem like I am being too hard on this episode, I enjoyed it I just didn’t think it stood up to some of the content we have been getting lately. As for the cliffhanger ending…it was very exciting and brave of the writers to do, but I wouldn’t worry too much. Although Coleman is genuinely leaving the show at the end of the series they aren’t going to kill off her character like that. Furthermore, they simply couldn’t destroy the TARDIS the show would be nothing without it. By showing Missy and Clara getting killed right before the Daleks blew up The Doctor’s time machine and he went back in time to potentially kill the leader of the Daleks, they essentially give away that this isn’t the last we are seeing of the three of them. Regardless I get the feeling that next episode will be a return to their best, this wasn’t a bad episode by any stretch of the imagination. You can never say that about Doctor Who, it is always good, this week just wasn’t as great as it can be.