Doctor Who – The Zygon Inversion

Another day, another review type thing of a Doctor Who ep. That’s right – it’s one a day till the season’s over…or more if I’m feeling partic energetic, and then I can flail cheerfully about River Song, hurrah!

Anyway, onwards:

  • I’ve really enjoy all the cliffhangers this series. Nothing’s properly beaten Beneath the Lake, but they are all v much appreciated.
  • This bit with Clara trapped in her own mind is double-good as it feels like another pay-off of Last Christmas. Clara’s already got experience recognising false realities, so she uses that knowledge to take a little control when presented with one here.
  • It’s also rather nicely creepy, with the backwards numbers, and music, and flickery telly.
  • Though thank fuck that window was just wall, and not bricked up. Cause that is a thing that freaks me out. NO MYSTERIOUS UNEXPECTED BRICKED UP WINDOWS THNKS.
  • Did Clara’s lipstick get more evil when she turned into a Zygon? It certainly looks much darker than usual this two-parter.
  • Ah, the One Good Zygon, poor sod. Actually, I find the idea of Zygon culture being this fluid thing keen on adapting to and mimicking other cultures as a camouflage for survival quite interesting, and wouldn’t half-mind a story that focuses on the Zygon vs. Zygon conflict rather than Human vs. Zygon.
  • This is quite good: Zygon Clara aka Bonnie forces another Zygon to stop conforming. In human society we’re quite familiar with punishing those who don’t conform, but switching it round in a way that works perfectly for Zygon culture makes for some pretty decent commentary, shame it’s not followed up.
  • “Humans cannot accept the way we really are. If we cannot hide, we must fight.” Argh! See, first sentence is actually a totally legitimate concern, then there is a leap of non-logic to the second. There are quite a lot of OTHER OPTIONS, and by jumping straight to violence it delegitimises that quite reasonable grievance.
  • We really needed a Zygon in here with Bonnie’s complaints, but one who was working for a peaceful, negotiated solution. Or at least wasn’t thinking violence was the first and only solution.
  • Jenna Coleman is bloody good. There’s a lot of chat abt how this season really worked to push Capaldi and show off his range, but neither the writing for or acting in the Coleman department are slacking off either.
  • Unintentional lols: oh Bonnie, if humanity saw that video, they wouldn’t freak out and think “arg! the aliens are coming, the aliens are coming!”, they’d think it was some person in a rubber suit doing some stupid dare or something.
  • Srsly, this is a problem that I think about quite a bit: if aliens did arrive on Earth, would we even believe it anymore? I mean, what kind of proof would you need so you were certain it wasn’t some sort of elaborate hoax/marketing plan for a movie?
  • The only reason the Doctor’s terrible parachute is excusable is because it’s a Spy Who Loved Me joke, the best Bond movie, obv.
  • TeamTwelves&Osgood is awfully good. And the whole fannishness thing is NICE AND UNDERSTATED AT LAST HURRAH.
  • “Don’t think of them as rational, they’re different.” *WINCE*
  • Eeee!! There is a bit where the Doctor talks to the police in the car and there is a smile that is a BIG TOOTHY GRIN and there is no way I won’t ever believe Capaldi is totally trying for a Tom Baker there.
  • “Puntastic…Doctor Puntastic.” I LIKE PUNS.
  • Oh. The Doctor setting Bonnie up to go poking around on Clara’s mind, convinced she’ll come out of the encounter a winner, that’s v putting Clara in a Doctor-ish position. And I love how getting the companion captured here doesn’t mean they’re out of the story for a bit, or even sidelined.
  • Another Moffat trope I QUITE LOVE is when the big, world/galaxy/universe spanning part one is shrunk down in part two to a bunch of people chatting in a room.
  • Or, in this case, a bunch of people heading towards a secret room, and then having a chat.
  • This interrogation would be a BIT LESS SUCCESSFUL if Clara were taking beta-blockers.
  • It is v good though, super tense, and Coleman doing a smashing job in her dual role.
  • Reveal every Zygon on the planet: paranoia and war, or everyone thinking it’s a massive practical joke?? Most of them aren’t going to try and do anything except hide, after all.
  • “Most of your own kind don’t want that.” “Then it’s time we stopped giving them a choice.” And that is why Bonnie is a villain. BUT, the other side, while not war-mongering, don’t want to give their people a choice either. The tyranny of the majority, and the heart of my problem with this story: only one side is recognised as being wrong, when both are.
  • Truth or consequences is a neat line though. “Why’s it called an Osgood box?” is all right too.
  • Ah! I love the team-up, I love Osgood’s….oh, I don’t have the word, something like practical honesty, and forthrightness. “What’s your name?” “Osgood.” “No, your first name.” “What’s your first name?” I mean, written like that it seems so unspecial, and yet onscreen it’s quite a bit magic.
  • There is no reason why he’s not telling the truth when he says Basil. I mean OBV he’s not. But still.
  • “I’m not on anyone’s side,” is v good too. Though, again, he says he just wanted to get on with his life peacefully and “hide”. Which raises the obv I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT question, what about those Zygons who want to get on with their lives peacefully and NOT hide? What place is there for them?
  • Srsly disappoint at the lack of fanwank in the Black Archive displays. WHERE ARE THE IN-JOKES PPL?
  • “Oh you cheeky little monkeys.” OH CAPALDI. Such understated delivery of awesome.
  • I really like Bonnie’s coat. I def wouldn’t mind owning that coat.
  • “There’s two of them.” It would have been a cleverer answer, to my mind, anyway, if Osgood had been fixed in my head as two people rather a bit before this story…oh, yes, yes NITPICKING TERRIBLY, I know, but it just bothers me that the answer isn’t the one I’d instantly say. “Osgood?” Fannish dress sense. That’s my first answer.
  • Obv having two secret boxes, one which would reveal every Zygon on Earth and one which would destroy every Zygon on Earth is a fucking terrible plan. So I’m glad it’s a made up thing.
  • I love there are boxes. SYMBOLIC BOXES. OF SYMBOLISM.
  • Yes, and they look like the Moment.
  • Also, one is blue. I would pick that one.
  • Buttons and boxes! It must be so annoying when your evil plan is scuppered by clearly labelled nonsense buttons in mysterious boxes.
  • “Five rounds rapid.” SHUSHT I LOLED.
  • I do like Bonnie’s temper tantrums. It’s nice to see a villain get legit tetchy when stuff gets a bit fucked up.
  • “Sullivan’s gas.”  NOOO. “Imbecile’s gas.” Maybe I loled, shush, it is a Revenge of the Cybermen joke, okay? IT DOESN’T GET MANY.
  • “Well you know how it is, Daddy knows best.” I imagine I’ll be ranting a smidgen more about bullshit paternalism and how it is v not okay when the Doctor does it a bit more slightly later in this post.
  • “You can’t win.” “I don’t care.” That’s another v nice bit.
  • I think I find Capaldi’s American accent…irritating, or as irritating as it’s possible for me to find Capaldi…I suppose that’s part of the point.
  • Ahhhh! And Bonnie saying “it’s all your fault, all the violence, all the suffering,” and the Doctor saying “sod off, is not, you take responsibility for your own actions”. V GOOD YES. I am, to say the least, NOT BEST FOND of any narrative that tries to have the Doctor as some almighty force so influential that he somehow magically overwhelms the agency of all nearby characters.
  • “We’ve been treated like cattle.” “So what?” HMMMM.
  • So, the speech. Well. There are bits that are superb and bits that are foolish, and naive, and reduce complex nuanced situations to being “oh, you silly people actually involved in the conflict, here am I, the totally objective and fair outsider, here at last to let you know that your conflict is silly! And you should stop fighting at once and be at peace! Yay!” Just, no. How dare he presume that he has the right to moralise and condemn those involved in a conflict he has no part in? A conflict in which he risks nothing, suffers nothing, must not endure the consequences of?
  • But there are elements of truth here: violence cannot be used to end a cycle of violence, but forgiveness can. And it’s much harder to forgive, than it is to strike back. Striking back is never strength, it’s the instinctive animal reaction. (I generalise massively, but still.)
  • “What is it that you actually want?” Good question. And the pushing thinking to be beyond that war, and what happens next, and what the next civilisation will look like, what it will value, how will it all work; those are questions worth asking.
  • “Tantruming child in history.” *wince*
  • “What are you going to do with the people like you?” ANNOYINGLY, when this question was asked, my thoughts were immediately diverted to a Star Trek TNG episode that addressed this very question. (The Hunted, season 3)
  • “Until everybody does what they were always going to have to do at the very beginning, sit down and talk.” I feel very, very cheap for saying this, I do, but I can’t help it. I’M SORRY. Four words: peace in our time.
  • On a larger scale, and avoiding cheap shots, it’s correct. All wars end, and they do so, overwhelmingly, because of treaties, because people have sat down and spoken to each other and reached an agreement (there are other ways to end: extermination of one side, sodding off and never speaking again, just forgetting to call the whole thing off and accidently be at war with Berwick-Upon-Tweed for a century and a half, but mostly, terms are reached). So the idea of skipping over the horror of the killing bit and getting straight to the treaty bit is great, if only people were computers.
  • Ak, and I just watch this and I want to talk about various different wars and why what happened, happened. There are exceptions, course, but, as a rule, in the past thousand years or so, war is not something any country decides on lightly. Decides foolishly, sure, but not lightly.
  • But really, if we got a slightly different story, and Bonnie had tried diplomacy, had tried peaceful protest, had excercised all the legal and non-violent options open to her and her supporters and *still* her leaders refused to allow them to be themselves, what should she do? What should they do? Keep trying, persist, sure, but for how long? Why should they continue to accept persecution? How many times do you ask George III to address colonists’ grievances before you tip a lot of tea into the harbour?
  • And they talk, sure, but where’s the talk of terms, of compromise, of addressing Bonnie’s issues? Quite a lot of what I’m hearing is “step away from the box, stupid child, violence is bad”.
  • NO, DOCTOR, actually you VERY MUCH DON’T UNDERSTAND. And, omg, this bit where he is all “my pain is SO MUCH WORSE THAN YOUR PAIN.” Ugh, most annoyingly, in a different context the whole, “I’ve seen so much war, never again, not on my watch” could be beautiful. But it DOESN’T WORK when peace, any peace, at any price, is valued higher than a free and just society.
  • Realising the box is empty is a bit of a good moment. I do fucking love that they’re empty. Just boxes, just symbols, just a way to get people to stop and talk.
  • Right, so Bonnie doesn’t want to go to war any more, hurrah! But what about the reasons behind that, omg, she didn’t just want to go to war FOR NOTHING, and making it seem as though there are only two choices “peace and conformity” or “war and natural Zygon blobbiness” is NOT IMPRESSIVE.
  • I’m going to assume Kate agreed to have her memory wiped for all the times she found out when this whole thing was set up because otherwise I will be unhappy.
  • And I do like they have to have that almost flashpoint again and again, and each time choose to step back from active hostilities. I shall ASSUME actual negotiations happen sometimes too.
  • The forgiveness though, I can understand anyone finding that a bit patronising, but I think  it’s beautiful.
  • Ah! And the Doctor playing Clara in Day of the Doctor there! Oh, that just makes me that bit more arg with all the hindsight of what’s to come.
  • Ahhh! The final scene is just sublime. “What’s it stand for?” EEeee! :D:D And the asking her to come, and her reply and SHE WAS A V GOOD PSEUDO-COMPANION. HUG!! “The day nobody cares about the answer.” Such wobbles, but an excellent finish.
  • Oh and the thinking Clara was dead and it being the worst and OH. This was much easier first watch.
  • I give that six Osgoods out of ten. Still loads of bits that gave me eyeroll, but nothing as anvil-smacking as last week. And I did love loads of it too. And no moons turned out to be space dragons.
  • And next it’s….well, maybe it will magically be brilliant this time, WHO KNOWS?
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