This is probably not the best story to watch if you are paranoid. Or if you have a phobia to creatures that look like the unholy lovechild between a prawn, an octopus and a bag of Wotsits (a brand of potato chip in case you have no idea of the glorious Wotsits). Everyone else, you might like this. Although don’t blame me if you don’t.
Be warned, this is another two-parter.
The episode starts off where The Day of the Doctor left off, with the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors (with a little help from the War Doctor) forcing the Humans and Zygons to make peace. All of this, by the way, being narrated by two Osgoods.
Incidentally this bit with the previous Doctors seems to be a bit of a theme this season, the sighting of old Doctors. I wonder if it signifies anything? Good to see John Hurt again. I liked him being the Doctor.
Also, I have noted that whenever Whovians talk about the show, they always spell the alien races with a capital letter but they never do the same when they mention Humans. Why is that?
In any case, Osgood and Osgood (one Human and the other Zygon) explain about the peace treaty between the two races. They talk about how the Zygons change their appearance to settle down on different planets peacefully but that some Zygons are, as like some humans, bad people. We are also told that should a “nightmare scenario” occur, causing the treaty to break down, the Doctor has given them the Osgood Box. What constitutes a nightmare scenario and what is in the Osgood Box?
Osgood and Osgood, sounds like a great idea for a spin-off. The theme tune could be sung to the tune of Pinky and the Brain:
They are Osgood and Osgood,
One is a Zygon,
And the other is human.
To prove their geeky worth,
They must protect the Earth.
They are Osgood and Osgood.
My theory is that when the Osgood Box is opened, all the Zygon duplicates will turn into copies of Osgood. Or turn into boxes. Or Osgood-box hybrids…
I have to note at this point that this adventure seems like a thinly veiled reference to the current troubles that are happening in the world today with radicalised Muslims committing terrorist acts. Allegory is a good thing but not when it is used unsubtly. But I suppose it is all for the good.
When the Missy Master killed Osgood in Death in Heaven, this sent the remaining Osgood a little strange. After a brief period where she spent her time singing soppy songs about sad kittens, she went off the grid.
We see Osgood hiding from a Zygon underneath a desk in a sheriff’s office. Somewhere in New Mexico. She is trying frantically to send a message off to the Doctor (why not UNIT?). Which Osgood is this, does it matter? Her message gets through to the Doctor before she is picked up by the Wotsit monster.
In a time where ‘stranger danger’ is rife and the thought of children talking to elderly men is seen as being pervy, this next scene was a little off. Just my opinion, mind you. But watching a man in his late fifties try to talk with a couple of little girls in a playground, well, I thought that was decidedly dodgy. These two little girls are Zygon commanders, effectively the two head honchos of the Wotsits. Things get dodgier when these two little girls are then kidnapped by a radicalised Zygon. I am surprised that the Zygon didn’t try to tempt the girls away with a bag of sweeties.
The Doctor tries to contact Clara but she isn’t answering. All he hears is the second most annoying answer-phone message. The first being the Doctor’s message: “If I don’t respond to your call, it is because I am ignoring you, ya wee pudden head.”
Clara is walking up the stairs in her block of flats when she finds a neighbour’s child, Sandeep, crying on the stairs. Being a warm and caring person, she asks him what the problem is. His parents have vanished. Clara, again being warm and caring, enters their flat to see what has happened. The lights are off which should have been her first warning but no. She finds the parents who are a little starey and threatening in a gormless kind of way. When she tells them about the boy, the father goes out and brings him into the flat screaming and kicking. His mother says that it is fine. Erm, really?
Next, we see Clara leaving the flat despite the possibility that poor Sandeep is being domestically abused by his parents. What? Really? Yeah, I think not. Hands up if you automatically assumed that she was a Zygon duplicate. Everyone, eh? Could this have been any more obvious? Meh.
So Zygon-Clara (or should that be Clagon or Zyra, actually scratch that, I will stick with ‘Zygon-Clara’) responds to the thousands of messages sent by the Doctor and meets up with him and Kate Stewart (who is in charge of UNIT as all you Whovians should know) at the Tower of London where this secret international military organisation operates from. What the ravens make of this, I don’t know.
Our heroes, Zygon-Clara and an UNIT operative called Jac watch a jolly video of the little girls morphing back into their Zygon selves before being turned into piles of crackling piles. The Zygon separatists want the right to be themselves. After a bit of faffing about Evil Clara reveals that the words “truth or consequences” may refer to the New Mexico town of the same name. And Osgood was last heard of in New Mexico…
…so Kate pops off to Truth or Consequences. By her self. The head of UNIT. Again, by her self. Yes, quite. Wouldn’t catch her father being so reckless.
…the Doctor reuses his position as President of the World (as he became in Death in Heaven) and takes some UNIT soldiers with him to Turmezistan where they suspect that the radicalised Zygons are keeping Osgood prisoner.
…and Zygon-Clara strokes a white cat while laughing maniacally.
Turmezistan is a fake country by the way. The name is meant to sound familiar by resembling the names of real countries Turmenistan and Turkmenistan.
In the fictional country, the Doctor meets up with Commander Walsh and her men who if they were in Star Trek would be the equivalent of the red-shirted officers who get killed within five minutes of beaming to the planet. Wow, that was a long sentence! Anyhow, the Doctor and the cannon fodder have thirty minutes to get into the Zygon commandeered town before a military strikes wipes it out from the surface of the planet. Easy-peasey!
I am pretty sure that I heard a bird associated with the English countryside as they all lurk outside the town’s chapel.
When the squad goes in and surrounds the town’s chapel (where Osgood might be held), an American woman comes out and says that she is the mother of the soldier leading the squad. Then more relatives come out. None of these people answer questions that would reveal their identity and yet the soldiers all fall for this. How plausible is it that the Zygons would kidnaps their loved ones and take them to this chapel in the far east? How would they know about the relatives of the soldiers who I would assume were picked randomly for this task?
The soldiers all enter the chapel with their ‘relatives’ and are all killed. UNIT is clearly not recruiting on basis of intelligence.
The Doctor and Walsh enter the chapel to find the remains of the soldiers reduced to blackened piles of sludge crackling with electricity. Stupid stupid men. Walsh gives the Doctor a few minutes to locate Osgood and then allows the military strikes to happen ahead of time. Luckily Osgood is found and neither her or the Doctor are blown up by friendly fire. Huzzah!
On the plane journey back to Blighty, the Doctor reveals that he wears question mark underpants after he admires Osgood’s question mark lapels. I like how Osgood is such a cosplay icon. I hope that she will be wearing the Sixth Doctor’s coat in the second part of this story.
Back in London, Zygon-Clara has led Jac to her block of flats where they see Sandeep’s ersatz parents lug the boy into the elevator which Clara unaccountably didn’t use at the start of this story. They discover that these lifts are in fact being used to kidnap people and replace them with duplicates. Not just this lift but quite a lot of lifts around London. This is abduction on a huge scale. If you weren’t paranoid before, well… This is Mulder and Scully territory now.
They return with soldiers, with the intent to shoot the suckers off the Zygons. But when Jac sees a pod with Clara inside, she soon realises that the Clara beside her with the big gun is in fact a Zygon. I am sure that you are all reeling from this shock.
This Clara is a Zygon called Bonnie. What kind of self-respecting Zygon is called Bonnie? “Oh no, Bonnie has caught us!” “Oh no, Bonnie will turn us into piles of sludge!” Not exactly the most threatening name in the world. I’d have called it Bruno or Len, something like that.
Mischief managed, Bonnie heads back to UNIT HQ to pick up a bazooka. And a scrunchie to keep her hair tied back.
While all this tomfoolery is happening, Kate Stewart has discovered that the town of Truth and Consequences is empty of people. She meets up with a police officer who keeps asking if she has back-up (why hasn’t she got back-up, she is the head of UNIT for crying out aloud!). This officer says that Zygons killed everyone in the town and then turns into a Zygon her/itself. Just what is going on here?
The next scenes are puzzling. We see the Zygon pretending to be Kate Stewart when she calls Bonnie who has stayed disguised as Clara. Why would this Zygon pretend to be Kate unless this Zygon really was Kate? In any case, she tells Bonnie that UNIT has been taken out of the picture in the States.
On the plane, the Doctor is trying to suss out whether Osgood is Human or Zygon not that it matters, according to her, when they are interrupted by a phone call from Zygon-Clara who tells them that Clara and Kate are no more. She then fires the bazooka at the Doctor’s plane. This is why he used the plane to travel, they couldn’t have used this cliffhanger if he has used the TARDIS.
Will the Doctor be killed? Will another Osgood die in a plane? Probably not but at least it will be fun finding out.
Ingrid Oliver as Osgood is wonderful. A mixture of innocence, derring-do and scientific nerdiness. I love this character. I am not sure that she is being written to appeal directly to the viewers who, like her, can be quite fannish.
Peter Capaldi is equally good as the Doctor. He seems to be playing it with a bit more comedy this season. I think that this is a good thing because last season he was a little too acerbic, I hope that he will continue to play the Doctor for a long time to come.
Jenna Coleman as Clara. Um, no. Her performance as good but when she becomes Zygon-Clara, she shows all the performance skill of those models in the video for Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love. This is not a bad thing but…it is a little typical. Whenever someone is copied by an alien intelligence, they throw all their acting skills out of the window. Perhaps this is just the way I see it, I don’t know.
All in all, I enjoyed this first episode. It is missing something but I cannot quite put my finger on it.
Next episode: a brand spanking set of new characters and the thrilling conclusion!