DOCTOR WHO Series Eight Review: “Death In Heaven” (Co-written With Sabrina Wolfheart @ Books And Bark)

Today I’m reviewing last weekend’s Doctor Who episode, “Death in Heaven,” AKA part two of the finale. Once again, my co-reviewer is Sabrina from Books and Bark! I’m excited to be co-writing with her but at the same time, I’m kind of mopey. I really enjoyed writing these collaborative reviews with other Whovians and I’ll definitely miss posting a new one each week!

P.S. You can find previous collaborative reviews of Doctor Who‘s eighth series here.

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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. She has been told that she is almost as sarcastic and complains just as much as Donna Noble. She blogs at Books and Bark.

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Warning: Spoilers ahead, sweetie!

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As usual, Sabrina’s thoughts are in italics! Enjoy!

“What did you think about the Doctor in this episode?”

gallifreyan selfiesHe was a powerful character in “Death in Heaven.” He was so in-line with everything we’ve known about him, and he just felt so right in this episode. My favorite, favorite scene was when he saw Gallifrey, or rather, didn’t see it. When Twelve smashed the TARDIS’ console it reminded me of Ten – it was the same “I deserve more!” dynamic, and it really really made me appreciate his character and his incarnation so much more.

I FELT SO SORRY FOR HIM DURING THAT SCENE. Mostly, I liked Twelve’s interactions with Missy. Frenemies.

Also, I know this is a tiny thing, but on Facebook I joked that the photo on the right was a selfie. And it was! So I’m not always as ridiculous as I seem! #gallifreyan #nofilter

“And what did you think about Clara?”

Ha! I knew that she’d be leaving soon, so I was happy about that and didn’t really pay attention to her because there were so many other, more interesting characters and things. Clara definitely wasn’t as annoying as she was in, say, series seven, but basically I, um, didn’t watch her scenes with that much interest.

From the small snippets I’ve seen online, Clara’s departure was very controversial. On one hand there’s the “ugh, girls in Doctor Who always are forced to leave” opinion, and on the other hand there’s the “that was actually a respectable ending” perspective. I’m personally in between the two. I mean, come on, nothing can beat Martha’s ending.

MARTHA JONES HAD A FANTASTIC FINALE AND IS SO SO SO SO MUCH BRAVER THAN CLARA.

While I thought Clara did not have the best ending in the Whoniverse, I thought she made a reasonable choice. Although she seemed to have nobody left in the universe, she lied to the Doctor and told him she was happy because she wanted to let him feel happy too.

Hmmm, good points, but I actually think Clara hasn’t left the show quite yet! (Gosh, she keeps changing her mind about leaving! Eugh.) She appeared in the BBC’s “Children in Need” trailer for the Christmas special, so I think that’s her ending.

“What did you think of Danny?”

I think Danny is an awesome character – but as I said last week, I’m not a fan of the whole Clara/Danny thing. I think they’re awesome on their own and I can buy them as really good friends, but they seem forced together as boyfriend/girlfriend and I’m not sensing the love between them. Which was my main problem with this episode! The whole finale was resting on whether we buy Clara’s and Danny’s “true love” for each other. Well, Moffat, I didn’t.

Honestly, I think Danny’s best moment came after his death. He was a soldier before he was a teacher, and then he became a Cyberman – the ultimate soldier. So that was cool.

Basically, I TOTALLY agree with you, Sabrina. I think he’s cool on his own, but we don’t get enough Danny-on-his-own scenes! Clara kept hugging and hugging Cyberman!Danny and I just sat there rolling my eyes and thinking, “You two would really work as good friends, but I’m not seeing the ROMANTIC chemistry between you guys! I don’t feel at all sad that your love story is ending!”

“What’s your opinion of Missy?”

Missy was fantastic! I loved loved LOVED the scene when Missy gave the Doctor an army of Cybermen: “Armies are for people who think they’re right. And nobody thinks they’re righter than you!”

Oh my god, she was so pleased with herself for thinking of that present. The Master’s a dork.

I really saw a lot of John Simm’s Master [from series three/four] in her, but she’s also cool in her own way.

I thought her actress (Michelle Gomez, apparently – never heard of her before!) was amazing in the previous episode, “Dark Water,” but SHE WAS EVEN BETTER IN THIS EPISODE. She absolutely nails that performance. I mean, the Master is evil and scheming and not quite sane, but they also have an element of… ridiculousness? Hammy acting? She played that very, very well.)

Other than Simm’s Master, I’ve only seen a little bit of the Classic Who Masters – actually, just a few scenes with the original actor, Roger Delgado. I thought Gomez’ portrayal was similar to that of Simm’s, but I wasn’t sure where she fit in with the older versions. Well, I talked to some of my blogging friends who DO know stuff about Classic Who, and… some of them thought she played the Master more accurately than John Simm!

(So, I know this is supposed to be a review with Sabrina, but I couldn’t resist throwing in another friend’s two cents. wondrousadventurer @ Wanderer on the Sands of Time says: “The classic Doctor/Master dynamic is Pertwee/Delgado and Capaldi/Gomez reminds me of that, which is rad. She has a classier undertone than Simm.”

One more thing: What happened to Missy? Will she be back?

I think she will definitely return. It seems like a lot of viewers thought she died, but… I’m not convinced of that at all. When she vaporized others, the resulting explosion-thingy was orange – but when she teletransported earlier in this episode, the explosion was blue. I’m pretty sure she’s alive and hiding somewhere!

“What were your thoughts on the Cybermen?”

Well, they weren’t my favorite part of this episode. I really liked the choice in this episode – should Danny become a Cyberman, or remain in pain? – but I didn’t like the outcome. Danny’s love keeping him from converting is so not in line with the show. It completely undermines the point of “The Rise of Steel” in which the Cyberwoman is “crying” for her husband when her inhibitor breaks. If “love” keeps one from transforming into a Cyberman, then why was she one? Shouldn’t it have been the other way round, and they Cyberman have upgraded to transform even those in love? I don’t know. I really wasn’t buying it.

Hmmm, I didn’t even notice that. My main quibble with the Cybermen was, well… OK, the idea for converting them was cool, but then they didn’t do much! Sure, humans were converted to Cybermen in a rather zombie-ish way (converting those who were already dead, because as Missy said, “the greatest weakness of the human race is that the dead outnumber the living”) but then they just stood around looking threatening.

I guess Danny was really the only threatening one, and he wasn’t threatening many people – just himself, really (because once he converted he wouldn’t be human/himself any longer) and possibly Clara if he accidentally killed her or something.

(Wait, I just noticed a thing. Humans are CONVERTED into Cybermen, and series eight has had religious symbolism/undertones from the very beginning. I see what you did there, writers.)

“Do you have any favorite quotes from this episode?”

Yes, I do!

MISSY: “I need you to know we’re not so different. I need my friend back…”

OH MY GOSH, that quote. I love it too! My favorite was…

TWELVE: “I had a friend once. We ran together when I was little and I thought we were the same. When we grew up, we weren’t. And now she’s trying to tear the world apart and I can’t run fast enough to hold it together.”

“What did you think about UNIT?”

The Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart subplot was possibly my favorite part of the entire episode.

I wouldn’t say it was my FAVORITE part, but I did appreciate the reference to Classic Who. I quite liked the Brigadier in older episodes, so I think it’s cool that the show still mentions him even after the actor who played him died. 

On another note, I was so sad when Osgood died. She was everything I was looking for in a potential companion. (Minus a weird obsession with the Doctor, of course.)

I get waaaaaay too attached to the minor characters in, like, every story – definitely not just in Doctor Who – and WOW I REALLY MISS OSGOOD ALREADY. (I keep calling her Oswald, though. As in Clara.) I don’t know. I just really, really liked her. She’s science-y and brilliant and basically the epitome of geeky cuteness. I wish she’d been in more than two episodes!

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Engie here, again. Time for the conclusion, and for our thoughts on this episode overall!

Minus Clara and Danny’s supposed love story and discontinuity of the Cybermen, “Death in Heaven” was a great episode! I still think my favorite part of this episode was the salute. Never mind the plot holes and discontinuity – the salute gave us a raw and powerful Doctor, able to see himself clearly for the first time in this regernation. I think that’s what made episodes such as “The Waters of Mars” so powerful. (Oh, and on the topic of parallels – I loved them. So very very much.)

“Death in Heaven” wasn’t my favorite episode of the series, and yet it exceeded my expectations. I mean, one of my biggest problems with Moffat is that he has all these cool plot ideas that usually go nowhere. That man certainly knows how to write intriguing series premieres, but finales aren’t usually his strong suit. However, this time I have to admit that this ending was mostly a success!

Thanks for reviewing this episode with me, Sabrina! It was so much fun!

P.S. I can’t wait for the Christmas special! I plan to co-review that one too, but I’m not sure yet who I’m going to ask.

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What is YOUR opinion on “Death in Heaven?” I’d love to know!

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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17 Responses to DOCTOR WHO Series Eight Review: “Death In Heaven” (Co-written With Sabrina Wolfheart @ Books And Bark)

  1. *squees and leaves another comment* Love love love this! 😀

    And OMG, I actually could NOT believe that that was actually a selfie. I do agree that this wasn’t Moffat’s best finale in general, and definitely not his best episode *nods emphatically* Arguably, his best episode was “The Doctor Dances”/whateverthatotherepisodewas.

    {Oh, and on the Christmas special: I just. SANTA. CHRISTMAS. FATHER CHRISTMAS. NINE I HAVE PROVED IT, YOU ARE JUST A CREEPY STALKERISH TIME TRAVELLER WHO DROPS OFF RED BIKES, NOT FATHER CHRISTMAS. (As Ten would say:) HA! [… sorry, I’ve been binge-watching old episodes lately, it’s been far too long since I last saw one of them…]}

  2. moosha23 says:

    This was a great review of the finale! I’ve got to agree with the whole salute thing, that was extremely poignant, and an incredible end to the whole Brigadier thing! So glad you guys brought up the cybermen and love thing, I really didn’t like it when they did that…it just doesn’t make sense. And although Missy had her moments in Death in Heaven, I just felt like they could have done so much more with Missy and the whole religious undertone thing (other than bring the dead back as cybermen that is…although that was pretty awesome in its own right), and I don’t know…her psychotic-ness really showed when she said that she just wanted her friends back, but I wanted more “clever” Master moments too! (Plus the death of Osgood hit me real hard, I was just in shock, and then I was screaming “noooooo!” inside).
    Great review!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you so much! 😛

      Yeah, it’s not really consistent with earlier episodes of the show… I don’t know, Cybermen are scary BECAUSE they don’t feel anything and kill everyone (even people they liked before). So emotional-Cyberman-Danny was just like… what???

  3. I actually almost cried in this episode… My mum DID cry. but I found myself feeling really sorry for Clara, and for Danny too – especially towards the end, where he sent the little boy back in his place. I knew it was going to happen, but I still felt so bad for her!

    I was quite annoyed that Danny was somehow the only Cyberman who still had his emotions – they are emotionless creatures, their emotions are “turned off” when they become one. I suppose not a huge deal, but you know…consistency is GOOD!

    Missy was an amazing character, and I’d really like to be able to see more of her at some point – I loved how she interacted with the Doctor.

    A little note on the Children in Need clip – is it just me, or is the inside of the TARDIS red? And does that not mean that the TARDIS is in trouble? I remember it being red when the Master was around in Tennant-era Doctor Who, but I don’t know that it’s *just* when the Master tries to control it that it happens

  4. Alexandrina Brant says:

    I said it at the time, but I love the way Chris Addison says “upgrade” (or oopgrade) in that video. 😛
    Personally, I thought Michelle Gomez played the Master more accurately than John Simm – he was crazy and meglomanic, but I think she had more of a weight to their joint past with The Doctor. Simm’s Master was crazy for crazy; Gomez’s was crazy because of the frienemy obsession and that makes her more assessable to us as viewers.
    I was having a similar debate about the Cybermen in this episode over dinner with friends yesterday, and someone pointed out how similar the use of Cybermen are in Death in Heaven as in Doomsday – ‘ghosts’ to cybermen; metal army; all over the world, etc…
    I never really saw Osgood as a ‘minor’ character. She had such a big personality than she was a supporting character to me. And they killed her off so quickly! And we were all thinking The Master wouldn’t do it (because the BBC wouldn’t kill off Osgood, no way)!

  5. themagicviolinist says:

    Nooo, the reviews are over! 😦 I’m really going to miss them.

    THE SELFIE!!! 😀 As soon as I saw her do that, I was like, “OMG NEVILLEGIRL TOTALLY CALLED IT!”

    Missy was BRILLIANT! 🙂 I loved her! Even more than John Simm’s Master, I think. She was so psycho and such a great actress. But I didn’t predict her motives, not once. That was a surprise. I don’t think she’s gone, though. I think we’ve learned our lessons from S1 to not trust anything that doesn’t leave behind a body. She’s probably safe on a distant planet, plotting something else.

    Poor Osgood. 😦 I was so freakishly excited when I saw her wearing a bowtie in the preview for the finale. I’ve loved her since “The Day of the Doctor” and was really sad to see her die.

    Oh my gosh, when Gallifrey wasn’t there, I cried so hard. Him smashing the TARDIS killed me.

    The best thing Danny did the entire season was giving up his life for that little boy. BRILLIANT ending. Clara’s, not so much. THEY LIED TO EACH OTHER, UGH. But the, “Never trust a hug–it’s just a way to hide your face” and, “Thank you for making me feel special” quotes broke my heart. Despite my dislike for Clara, I was a great big, tearful mess by the end of the episode. (And, stupid me, I didn’t have any tissues on hand. Blurg.)

    The salute was when I really started to break down and cry. It just went downhill from there.

    I’m really curious to see who the next companion is. 🙂 Normally I’m too depressed from the previous companion’s leaving to have an open mind about the next one–probably why I didn’t like Martha as much as I really should, because I was in a grumpy mood for about half of Season 3. I need to rewatch that season.–but I’m actually excited for somebody new! It’s about time for a change.

  6. themagicviolinist says:

    (Forgot to notify myself for follow-up comments, so this is an excuse to check the button. 😉 )

  7. Pingback: “Doctor Who” Series Eight Recap: Reviews + Thank You + Lists + Analyses | Musings From Neville's Navel

  8. Pingback: Dear Mr. Moffat, Series 8 Edition | Books and Bark

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