HELLO, WHOVIANS! I’m super-excited because today, I’m reviewing A) one of the finale episodes with B) a super-cool, super-geeky blogger known as Sabrina from Books and Bark. Because “Dark Water” is part of a two-episode story, Sabrina will also be reviewing its sequel, “Death in Heaven,” with me – so be sure to look for it sometime next week!
P.S. You can find previous collaborative reviews of Doctor Who‘s eighth series here.
Sabrina is a book-obsessed hermit who rarely ventures out of her cave. When she does, it is usually to get food – contrary to popular belief, an apple a day does not keep the Doctor away – or, very rarely, to experience “social interaction.” On the weekdays, Sabrina must attend school, which is rather fun, but detracts from her fangirling time. When she is not reading or studying, Sabrina spends her days cuddling her dog too much and trying to figure out crafty ways to get her family to get her more books. This Halloween, she accidentally wore a jacket that was reminiscent of the Ninth Doctor’s. She blogs at Books and Bark.
Warning: Spoilers ahead, sweetie!
Hey, it’s Engie. I meant what I said just now about spoilers. MEGA SPOILERS EVERYWHERE. If you haven’t seen “Dark Water” yet, I definitely don’t recommend reading this post.
Anyway. Sabrina and I organized this review by subject, rather than as a top ten list or whatever. And, you know, there’s one subject who’s been discussed at the END of every series eight review thus far, so why don’t we talk about her FIRST this time?
P.S. Sabrina’s thoughts are in italics, by the way.
[Wordless shrieks of glee and surprise]
WHOA, MOFFAT, I WAS NOT EXPECTING THAT. HOLD YOUR SONIC SCREWDRIVERS! WHAT?! She’s the MASTER?!
[Continues to make unintelligible noises]
When I reviewed the first episode of series eight, I wondered if Missy was the Master. I mean, Missy = the Mistress = the Master isn’t a difficult leap of logic. But that seemed waaaaay too easy, so I thought that it must be a trick. Well, it wasn’t. She was hiding in plain sight… which is an old habit of the Master’s. I mean, the Doctor Who Wiki made an entire page just to list all of the Master’s incredibly obvious aliases throughout the years – including, for heaven’s sake, “Masters” used as a surname. (Find better pseudonyms, dude!)
At first, when she said, “Missy. As in ‘Mistress,’” I thought she was referring to Madame de Pompadour, King Louis XV’s mistress. Given the reference to the S.S. Madame de Pompadour in “Deep Breath,” I thought it was plausible.
In retrospect, even her mannerims and little quips are spot on. I’ve only seen short video clips of most of the earlier Masters, but I can totally imagine Saxon!Master saying/doing the things she did. Like, they have similar attitudes. Which makes sense, since they’re the same person… anyway.
However, it’s like River and Eleven all over again – “mysterious woman appears and starts making out with the Doctor.”
And Clara and Eleven. And Madame de Pompadour. And Queen Elizabeth I. Even Amy has a weird obsession with the Doctor, although that didn’t result in much snogging… thank god.
It was the one thing I really, really did not want this series.
I’m both happy and a little bit disappointed about it. I mean, I hope Moffat writes the Master* with some depth and doesn’t make her, like, a carbon copy of River Song. We’ll just have to see how it turns out.
But on the other hand, the Doctor and the Master have been frenemies since, well, forever, and the penultimate version (as played by John Simm) really upped the flirtiness/subtext. So it’s not a new idea. Also, it’s now canon that one of the show’s main characters has been more than one gender AND likes more than one gender. I mean, it was already established in the series six episode “The Doctor’s Wife” that time lords can become time ladies and vice versa. But it hadn’t happened to anyone super important yet, so I’m glad it did. (Sets a good precedent for having a lady Doctor someday, too!)
*I’m referring to this regeneration interchangeably as the Master or Missy. I mean, “master” doesn’t really imply a gender. So you’ll see me refer to her either way in future reviews/posts.
I’m actually really excited to see what Missy does next!
This season, I haven’t exactly been pleased with the Doctor (even less so than I was with Eleven). He keeps making snide comments to Clara, which is so NOT OKAY on a family-centric show. And he does it again in this episode.
Yes, I don’t understand that. I think the writers are trying to show that he doesn’t fancy her anymore, but there are better ways of showing that! And they don’t involve being mean! I mean, he told her in the first episode of this series that he’s “not her boyfriend,” so I’m pretty sure we all got the message.
And then like the weirdo that he is, he takes Clara to see Danny, risking both their lives for a guy he apparently deeply despises.
Yeah, he changed his mind so suddenly, didn’t he? I wouldn’t mind if he eventually liked Danny – I’d love to see that – but it should happen gradually in order to be believable. Clara and the Doctor have been fighting about Danny for WEEKS, so I don’t know why he was so eager to rescue him now.
(P.S. I did really like the scene where he tells Clara, “Go to hell!” and she’s like DOCTOR YOU’RE MAKING ME CRY and it turns out he’s being literal. They really are going to hell. Using their time machine!)
Clara had such a weird reaction to Danny’s death… it’s like she doesn’t even care about him as a person. She’s defining him by the way he died, complaining that it was too normal for her.
I didn’t understand that. But then, I don’t understand most of the writers’ character-development decisions for Clara.
I mean, I get that she’s in shock, but couldn’t she say something nice about him other than “I love you”? What was with that, anyway? They go on, like, ten dates, spend half of their time arguing with each other, and all of a sudden they love each other? I’m sorry, but I’m not a terribly huge fan of their relationship.
I didn’t think it was possible for me to dislike a couple more than I disliked Amy and Rory, but now I think Clara and Danny take the prize. All that “I love you” stuff is a HUGE pet peeve of mine when it comes to, like, YA love stories or whatever, anyway. I mean, there’s a well-known writing rule that says, “show, don’t tell.” SHOW ME that they love each other. For heaven’s sake, if the writers had to TELL me, they could have at least been more subtle about it. Like, Clara could’ve mentioned something specific that she likes about Danny, or how much she misses him, or whatever.
I don’t know. I just see it as very, very sloppy writing, I guess. Fictional relationships should be believable, and theirs wasn’t. And it was so UNNECESSARY. What was the point of putting those two together?!
Now, about Clara in general, Clara without Danny…
I could really see why the Doctor called her a control freak in “Deep Breath,” because she is. Everything for both the Doctor and Clara is about control.
Yeah, I didn’t understand that comment in “Deep Breath,” but maybe it foreshadowed what was to come? She’s definitely become controlling.
Her behavior at the volcano was just… erratic. If Rose, Martha, Donna, or even Amy had pulled that with the Doctor, he would have thrown them out of the TARDIS, right then and there. Unless I missed something, Clara didn’t do a single nice or admirable thing.
Yeah. That scene (among many others throughout this series and the one before) made me feel sorry for Jenna Coleman, the actress who plays Clara. Like, she gets really LOUSY, not-good-character-development scenes to work with. It didn’t fit with things she’s done previously. It was melodramatic and ridiculous and… blah.
(Also, this isn’t strictly related to Clara, but… after she threw away the keys, why didn’t the Doctor open the TARDIS by snapping his fingers? I mean, come on, Moffat wrote this episode AND he wrote the one – “Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead” – in which the finger-snapping thingy was established. Sure, the quality of some other aspects of his writing are just a matter of opinion, but you can’t argue that he has a problem with keeping track of what he’s written before. It’s just weird.)
Well, I’ve mentioned multiple times in the comments of your previous reviews that Danny’s and Clara’s relationship is not my favorite. I don’t think there’s any depth to it, and it feels sort of like a poorly-written version of Rose’s and Mickey’s relationship.
And now Danny will never end up with someone who actually deserves him!
In this episode especially, there was a lot of space for Danny to evolve as a character outside of their relationship, as well as space to explore what it is to be a soldier. (Think of the little boy whom he accidentally killed during the war.) Instead, we see Danny as already being developed, and he realizes everything he’s done wrong. I think having the little boy speak to him would have been nice, but Danny’s “I’m so, so sorry” reaction is reminiscent of the Doctor’s.
UGH THEY COULD HAVE DONE SO MUCH MORE WITH THAT SCENE. Like, he’s an interesting character on his own, but the writers keep glossing over all the interesting parts.
Ultimately, he’s just someone who’s nice for Clara to look at. He’s honestly only played a tiny part in the story so far. (I mean, until he was Clara’s motivation to destroy TARDIS keys to get what she wants…) If Clara weren’t leaving at Christmas (I’ve heard that her actress quit), I would have loved to see him join Team TARDIS like Mickey did. But, um, without the teenagery-love-triangle aspect of Rose/Mickey/Ten.
If Danny and the Doctor didn’t fight so much, I would’ve loved to see Clara leave and Danny take her place. But whatever. RIP, Danny Pink. You had a decent amount of new-character potential and then it just went POOF and disappeared.
(P.S. I suspect you return in Cyberman form sometime during next week’s episode. I AM NOT READY FOR THIS.)
We didn’t see much of them in this episode, but Cybermen are always bad news for the Doctor. I really liked the concept of dark water. I thought, “Oh, a creepy skeleton episode for the day after Halloween,” but NOPE. Cybermen! Although how the Doctor walked through those CYBERMAN-EYE-SHAPED DOORS and didn’t even bat an eyelid eludes me…
Oh, god. The Cybermen’s BIG REVEAL was excellent for me, because I am SO FREAKING OBLIVIOUS at times. Here are all the clues I failed to notice:
- The door windows were shaped like Cyberman eyes
- 3W’s logo was shaped that way as well
- Missy said the skeletons were encased in armor
- Dr. Chang proved that “dark water” hides anything metal
- There was a close-up shot of a tear in Danny’s eye that looked like a Cyberman’s eye
- The Cyberman theme music played multiple times
And last but not least, I KNEW they would feature in the finale. I guess I thought maybe they’d show up right at the very end? I don’t know. But I was kind of oblivious, and it made their appearance that much more awesome.
Engie here, again. Time for the conclusion, and for our thoughts on this episode overall!
I really liked the idea of the dark water, and it was nice to have some good old, RTD-era Cybermen and Master stuff thrown in. And I liked the idea of the Nethersphere, and the whole cremation concept gave me chills. Really, I thought this had classic Moffat trademark of great concept, not-so-great execution. The magic of RTD’s Who was really in the characters, and how well-developed they were, even though the plot was sub-par sometimes. Moffat has these awesome plotlines, but sometimes, with sub-par characters. If I had to give this episode a rating, it would be 3.5/5.
What is YOUR opinion on “Dark Water?” I’d love to know!