“Besides, she’s she, and I’m I, and oh dear, how puzzling it all is!”
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The Zygon Invasion
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: “Crivens! If I dinnae respond tae ye call, it is because I am ignorin’ ye, ye 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 – splunge! – 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.
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!
The Zygon Inversion
Characters: less than the last episode but no new major characters.
These two episodes have strange titles. The Zygon Invasion? Not quite. The Zygons are not invading. It can’t be an invasion unless they plan to take over after coming from somewhere else, which they clearly have not. They immigrated to this world following a foiled invasion, true, but this is not an invasion. They have lived on the planet for two years! If anything, this is an insurrection. The second part is The Zygon Inversion and as we all know, an inversion is simply a reversal of position. Does that not give away the plot of the second part?
The Zygon Inversion is not so much Truth or Consequences as Deal or No Deal. I will reveal why later (if I can think of any decent jokes…well, even if I can’t think of decent jokes).
As you know from the last episode, Clara has been doubled by a Zygon (called Bonnie) who unaccountably looks much prettier than the original. This isn’t just my opinion, other people have voiced it as well (mostly men, ahem). Our Clara is trapped inside a pod where her mind has built up a copy of her flat in much the same way it did in Asylum of the Daleks. What makes this dream-flat real is the fact that just like in a dream, any words she sees in books or newspapers make no sense.
Clara and Bonnie share a mental link with our heroine able to influence Bonnie. So Clara is able to jog Bonnie when she tried to shoot a missile at the Doctor’s plane. Not so good is the second attempt which blows up the plane.
Both the Doctor and Osgood escape thanks to Clara being able to influence Bonnie. The Doctor’s escape was really the opposite of inconspicuous with his Union Jack parachute. Clara sees the escape via her TV/mind link but why doesn’t Bonnie? Why does Bonnie have a much posher voice than Clara?
Between the first and second episode, in the real world, a plane had been blown up by terrorists. I was surprised that the BBC didn’t postpone the show until next week because of this terrible incident. As such, I have tried to not allow this real-life event to colour this unreview. Just a horrible coincidence.
Bonnie, whose evils deeds for the day have not been completed yet, finds herself a poor slob who is really a Zygon in disguise (for reasons only known to me, I will call him Adrian). Bonnie then causes Adrian to revert – splunge! – back to his lovely suckery self in front of a bunch of youths who, instead of running away in fright at this sudden splunging, give him the evil eye.
Bonnie records this on Clara’s phone and uploads it to the internet where Adrian promptly looks like a man in a dodgy rubber suit running about the concrete jungle. This is true. The Zygons look realistic-ish but that video clip of Adrian the Zygon doesn’t look convincing at all. So just what the heck is going on here?
Bonnie then pops off to UNIT HQ while Clara uses her unique ability to control the Zygon by getting her to unconsciously text the Doctor. She tells him that she is conscious and that the Doctor should pick up a couple of pints of milk because the TARDIS fridge is running low of the stuff.
When she gets to UNIT HQ, Bonnie learns that the Osgood Box isn’t there. She also learns that Clara knows where it is. By threatening to force feed the real Clara with Zygon pizza, and fattening her up, Clara gives up the location: the Black Archive which is under the Tower of London.
But what of the Doctor and Osgood? What are they up to? Earlier, the Doctor called Bonnie which surprised her.
“What? Why aren’t you dead?”
“Och aye, wee Zygon lassie, I did a thing an’ escaped from ye bazooka.”
Clara, controlling Bonnie strings, causes her to break out in a fit of tics and winks and gurnfests. The Doctor, who is Skyping her apparently, can see all these things and breaks them down to a message from his friend about where Adrian is, where Clara’s pod is, and to remind him again about the milk.
The Doctor and Osgood find Adrian but too late. He has been killing people and turning them into fluffy electrical discharge blobs. Poor Adrian only wanted to live in peace but Bonnie has ruined that. And so he takes his life in the fear that his uncontrollable lapses into his Zygon form may have started a war between his race and the Humans.
The Doctor and Osgood find where Clara was but she is no longer there since Bonnie has taken her pod to the Black Archive. Also the Doctor stubs his toe but the real problem comes when two Zygons arrive with Kate Stewart who is in fact a Zygon duplicate…at least that is what she says until she then shoots the two Zygons and reveals that she had killed the Zygon from Truth or Consequences. Exactly as I predicted in the unreview for the first part of this story. If anyone else guessed the same, assume the smug position.
The Doctor is far from happy with the Zygons being shot down though. But what can he say?
When Bonnie got to the Black Archive with podded Clara in tow, she was surprised to see that there twenty-two numbered Osgood Boxes lined up on counters either side of a wooden walkway, behind each box is a person and on the wooden walkway is a bearded gent with an outrageous taste in flowery shirts…and I am confusing the Osgood Boxes with Deal or No Deal, aren’t I? Sorry! No, there are two boxes with those Gallifreyan swirls covering them. One is blue and the other is orangey-red and both will no doubt be available to buy just in time for Christmas.
Bonnie calls the Doctor. She is not a happy bunny! She is foaming at the mouth when the Doctor tells her that one box can remove the disguises all of the Zygons on Earth thus creating chaos on a global scale, while the other will release a gas that targets Zygons and turns them into packet of Wotsits.
There are 20 million Zygons on our planet and billions of Humans…but which is better? FIIIIIGGGGHTTT!!!! This is not a war the aliens can win. Not that will stop Bonnie, oh no.
Bonnie has Clara popped out of her pod and asks her if she knows which box does what. Clara doesn’t have a clue.
When the Doctor, Osgood and Kate turn up, they find Bonnie throwing a hissy fit and stamping her feet. The boxes have been opened up and they have two buttons labelled with ‘truth’ above one, and ‘consequences’ above the other.
Kate and Bonnie take a box each and prepare to press a button but of course neither of them knows which button to press. One will unscrunge all the Zygons on Earth, the other will gas all the Zygons on Earth.
The Osgood Boxes had been conceived as way of making sure that peace was the only option. Either choice would cause huge damage and therefore it would be in the best advantage for the Humans and the Zygons to not press any of the buttons. Peace is the only wise option.
It while he trying to convince them both to not press the button, for Bonnie to step back from her reckless actions that Peter Capaldi gives the best speech of his time as the Doctor so far:
Bonnie: You don’t understand. You will never understand.
The Doctor: I dinnae understan’? Jings! Me? O’ course I understan’. I mean, do ye call this a war? This funny wee thing? This isnae war! I scrapped inna bigger war than ye will ever ken. I did worse things than ye could ever imagine. An’ when I close mae eyes I hear mor’ screams than an’one could ever be able tae count! An’ do ye ken whut ye do wi’ all that pain? Shall I tell ye where ye pit it? Ye hold it tight till it burns ye hand, an’ ye sae this: Nae one else will ever have tae live like this. Nae one else will have tae feel this pain. Not on my watch! Crivens! Do I ha’ t’ bang ye heids taegether?
Both Bonnie and Kate back down. If only so that the Doctor doesn’t clonk their heads together. But also because they suss that both the boxes are empty. The boxes were just a bluff as well as a deterrent.
Bonnie says that since they know this, that the boxes were only a grand bluff, what was to stop the peace treaty from shattering like Davros’s glass undercrackers? The Doctor smiles enigmatically and says, “Crivens, lassie! Do ye nae ken that I ha’ been wipin’ ye memories ev’ry time ye realise this?” So far, he has wiped their memories seventeen hundred times.
The Doctor, again, wipes the memories of Kate and the two Zygon guards whom I have not previously mentioned but leaves Bonnie, Osgood and Clara with theirs intact since her knowledge of this Osgood Red Herring Boxes will encourage her to be on her best behaviour from now on.
Bonnie calls off the Zygon rebels and they all live happily ever after…
Wait, there is some more story to tell!
A little while later, the Doctor, Clara and Osgood walk to the TARDIS. Our heroes are leaving but not before the Doctor offers Osgood a trip aboard the Ship. And she refuses! Damn it! I was really hoping that Osgood would leave with the Doctor. Oh well, maybe she will join up when Clara leaves?
There is a further twist in the tale, there is a new Osgood duplicate! Bonnie has taken on the role of the second Osgood. Osgood and Osgood still won’t admit if the original Osgood, if she is the original, is Human or not. Spoilsports! Both will protect the Osgood Boxes, the Earth is safe! Huzzah!
The Doctor asks Osgood all throughout this two-parter whether she is Human or Zygon. But a massive clue comes after the plane crash. Remember her broken glasses? Yes? Surely there are a part of her if she is Zygon? If so, wouldn’t the glasses unscrunge in her hands and revert back to that orange fleshy material? They don’t, nuh-uh, so therefore I reason that the Osgood that was killed by the Missy Master was the Zygon Osgood. I think you will find that my theory stands up. I rest my case, m’lud.
I love when the Doctor said that TARDIS stands for “Totally And Radically Driving In Space”. I can only imagine how much the Moffat Haters bit through their tongues in sheer anger. Of course, he was joking but well…
Peter Capaldi is 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. Capaldi has a wonderful speech here, which I have shamelessly butchered for comedic purposes. This two-parter is worth watching for just that fact.
Jenna Coleman as Clara, meh. Jenna Coleman as Bonnie, excellent. 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. This is what I said after the first part, but after watching the second part, I have revised my opinions drastically. With the latter part, Jenna really gets to pull out all the stops and it is pretty good to see her play a different role. She manages to angle in such compassion and sympathy for a character who is basically a child who wants to destroy the passer-by (and yes, I did just quote the Sex Pistols).
Ingrid Oliver as Osgood, and then at the end, and as Osgood is great. Ingrid Oliver as Osgood is wonderful. A mixture of innocence, derring-do and scientific nerdiness. I love this character. I am sure that she is being written to appeal directly to the viewers who, like her, can be quite fannish. I cannot mention how much I was shouting at the television for her to get into the TARDIS with the Doctors and Clara. Just imagine two Osgoods with the Doctor? Best companion combo ever and I am not just saying that because I think Ingrid Oliver is bewitchingly gorgeous.
Jemma Redgrave is also rather wonderful in this story as well. As Kate Stewart, she brings so many flavours of characterization. She embodies this role in a fashion which reminds me of Nicholas Courtney as Papa Lethbridge-Stewart. I really hope she comes back again.
Did I enjoy the story? Of course but then I love every Doctor Who story I have ever watched. It is a great two-parter that manages to be as close to The X-Files as it can get.
This is a good thing.
So, go on and watch this story. Not the best Zygon adventure but still a bloody good one.