Another year, another Doctor Who Christmas special. Fortunately, this year’s special was more focused on the characters than it was the novelty of it being Christmas somewhere in the universe. This year’s Christmas special saw the return of River Song and her first encounter with the Twelfth Doctor.
Another season of Doctor Who has come and gone. With an emphasis on longer stories, the individual episodes of Doctor Who have been very up and down this season. While I don’t think that Hell Bent was as strong as last week’s Heaven Sent, it serves as a fitting sendoff to what Steven Moffat wants us to feel about Clara.
Sometimes, it doesn’t take new blood to do something different. For the penultimate episode of Doctor Who, The Doctor was locked in a castle with one villain who was seldom on-screen. It was a completely different approach for an episode of Doctor Who but it works because of it.
What happens when the inevitable happens when you least expect it? I think that was what Steven Moffat was going for in putting together this season. He mixed that in with another of his favourite tropes this week when The Doctor’s past actions came back on him in a way he didn’t expect. This week’s episode was a memorable one but I’m not sure that I’d call it any good until the final ten minutes.
If there’s one favourite trick of the Moffat era of Doctor Who, it’s making you afraid of the seemingly ordinary. We’ve seen homicidal statues that move when no one’s looking, carnivorous shadows and being alone in the dark. This week, regular writer and Moffat partner in crime Mark Gatiss has a go at making you scared of the seemingly ordinary. This week’s episode tries to make you scared to sleep.
For the fourth time this season, we have a two-part episode. While I was disappointed with the last two multi-episode stories, this one is a return to form. When you stretch a story over multiple episodes, there has to be enough content to fill those episodes. While The Zygon Inversion was a bit light compared to The Zygon Invasion, it certainly made the whole hour-and-a-half feel like it was worth watching.
Thanks to giving out candy, I was late to the start of this week’s episode of Doctor Who. Thanks to the magic of a DVR, I was able to rewind to the start but I came in at the point where Clara was non-chalantly watching an abduction in a barely lit apartment. It was a pretty good scene to start on when you consider that it was aired on Halloween.
So was this week’s episode a proper Halloween episode? I’m not sure I’d go that far but I would say that it was a promising start to the Zygon two-parter.
While Doctor Who is a sci-fi show that evolved out of something that was originally intended to be a science and history show, it’s always been at its strongest when it’s a character study. Just look at the difference between last week’s episode and this week’s. The Girl Who Died was largely a comedy episode. The Woman Who Lived was a study of Ashilder and the downside of immortality.
The Doctor Who and Game of Thrones crossover game was strong this week. We always have that connection between the two series because Jenna Coleman is dating Richard Madsen (Robb Stark). This week, we’re going back to medieval times and adding Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) as a Viking girl. Okay, it’s not quite a proper Doctor Who / GoT crossover but it’s probably as close as we’re going to get until Littlefinger shoves Clara out the Moon Door.
For the second story in a row, Doctor Who is a two-part episode. As much as I like the vintage style of a multi-part Doctor Who story, after the Dalek two-parter and this ghost story, I’m not sure that they’ve quite figured out the pacing yet.