This will be my fourth viewing of Death in Heaven. This one didn’t resonate with me as, Dark Water, but it seems to improve with each viewing.
We start this episode with Clara’s statement that sent fandom reeling when the trailer was released: “Clara Oswald has never existed.” She follows it up with, “I’m the Doctor,” and my brain starts to question and quickly scans all the past episodes. Was there something I missed? In this panic I didn’t see the opening credits where Clara’s eyes appear rather than the Doctors. Probably best that it happened that way. I think it’s easy to forget what state Clara is in at this point. It was only an hour or so ago that she was throwing TARDIS keys into the lava, and only a few minutes ago she was talking to her dead boyfriend. So while I think Clara comes across a tad irritating here, I have to give her credit for thinking on her feet.
I’d be taking a selfie with the cybermen too, if I saw them in the street, but these aren’t tourists, but UNIT. Kate Stewart has one of the best character entrances this season, and I totally love her saying, “haircut?” to acknowledge that the Doctor has regenerated but she recognizes that it is him. The opening of the dome of St. Paul’s is a cool little special effect, and there is some great witty dialogue here, what Moffat is famous for. Not to mention the great cyberman theme playing over and over dramatically.
Enter Seb, and Danny. This is where things get fuzzy and you can’t think about the plot too much, because it’s full of holes and confusions. Rather than ripping the concepts of cybermen needing consciousnesses, being seeded by rain (where does the metal come from?), and in the end they are puppets, we will suspend our criticisms and just enjoy the character stories.
The whole concept of the water coming down and raising the dead made me think of the Christian idea of Christ being living water that grants eternal life (John 4:14). But we know that sometimes evil copies good, so here is some evil water that grants a sort of eternal or extended life, but not in a good way. There are some Christian visual symbols here too, crosses in the graveyard, an all seeing eye on the wall of the mortuary, a burial cloth (John 11:44)left on the table after the ‘resurrection’ of Danny.
Notice the burial cloth on the table, and the eye on the wall to the left of the mirror.
The scene cuts back to the Doctor who is revived and lead to an airplane. I want to squee when he corrects Kate and calls Clara “my friend.” Do you notice the Doctor putting like 10 cubes of sugar into his tea cup, and then picking up the saucer to drink from?
Clara rattles off facts about the Doctor and we are reminded how much Clara knows about the Doctor, also how fast Jenna Coleman can talk and then cyber-Danny just blows the heck out of the other cybermen. Nice!
In the belly of the airplane is where Michelle Gomez really shines as Missy. She is witty, bananas, and incredibly frightening all at the same time. The Doctors line about becoming president of the Earth and Missy’s face was priceless.
Now we get to the creepy graveyard scene. Lots of people have talked about how much they liked how they shot the cybermen crawling out of graves, but I found the creepy music, and shaky hand-held camera work a little too campy for my taste.
These are the worst guards of all time. They just stand there while Missy manipulates Oswin and escapes her bonds. RIP Oswin. The fact that Moffet killed off the character that symbolizes the fandom is very meta.
Clara bookends the friendship arc by her speech to cyber-Danny claiming that the Doctor his her best friend. Contrast this to Mummy on the Orient Express where she said the Doctor “isn’t [her] anything.”
Unfortunately this little speech seems to push cyber-Danny over the edge. When he takes off his mask (since when to cybermen helmets come apart this way?) we get the feeling that he is not coming back. Up to this point we though that maybe he might come back, but now, with his rotting flesh on display we get the sense that this is the end of him. Clara is basically suicidal at this point, which is proven by how violently she throws her phone(no person in their right mind would throw their phone that way).
When first watched this, and Kate is sucked out of the airplane I think that maybe there will be a time reset in this episode. I mean, look at the body count. I am both hoping and not wanting a time reset.
I don’t have a lot to say about the Doctor diving into his TARDIS while the James Bond type music plays. Again, a little too campy for my tastes.
The next few scenes are excellently acted. Jenna, pulls out all the stops again. Seriously, this girl must have been swollen eyed and crying for days to film this. The conclusion of this heartbreaking conflict is that Clara is an officer. The Doctor walks away and Clara does what she has to do for the greater good. Her confession that “she wasn’t very good at it” but she did love Danny, was perhaps the truest thing she has said this whole season.
But while all this is well acted, it doesn’t strike a cord with me like I think it should. I find that I’m not as invested in Danny Pink as maybe I could be, and his criticizing the Doctor up until the very end hasn’t helped. Clara spends the rest of the episode basically shut down emotionally.
When Missy gives the cyberman controller to the Doctor I’m truly confused. I do love her sing-song line, “I need my friend back.” I also love the flashbacks of the major themes of the series; as a die-hard fan I’ve already made these connections, but still it’s nice to see them tied in here.
The Doctors conclusion that he is an “idiot with a box” feels like a bit of a cop-out. If anything, this episode proved that the Doctor is an officer, after all, in the end he gives the command to Danny, the soldier, to solve the conflict.
The cyber-Brigadier appearance was a big moment for a lot of fans. I’ve watched enough classic Who to know who the Brigadier was, but not enough to have the affection for him so many others have evidently. I did like that the Doctor solutes cyber-Brigadier as a show of respect for soldiers, a nice turn around from his anti-soldier attitudes all season.
This last scene is the only one this episode that brings tears to my eyes. They’ve spent so much time lying to each other all season, but here they are lying to protect each other. It was pointed out on this thread at Gallifrey Base there is a white clock on the wall behind Clara, who is dressed in white, and a black chalkboard behind the Doctor, who is dressed in black. The Doctor even tells Clara that she’s “on the clock.” The chalkboard has been associated with the Doctor since Deep Breath, but how is Clara represented by a clock? Perhaps because Clara’s time is coming to an end??
I’ve taken some time to sketch out my ideas and make an accounting of what I already own and what I need to buy.
Starting on the Rapunzel apron, I cut across right where the ties attach. Then I cut the front in half up and down and sew a pizza shape piece of pink fabric into it. I’ve gathered the “skirt” and then resewed it back onto the top part. I’m really just making this up as I go, but so far so good.
Here is what I’ve got so far.