Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 11 Review: ”Dark Water”

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Last night, Doctor Who kicked off its 2-part series finale of the current series where big secrets are finally starting to unravel. We start the first hour with getting completely shocked as Danny Pink gets hit by a car and dies within the first five minutes of the episode. I didn’t see it coming at all while at the same time, I sensed that something big was going to happen in the first part. The thing that was more shocking though was that it happened just a few minutes into the episode as it sets up the plot for the Doctor and Clara.

The trailer that aired last week did leave me with so many question marks, especially the part when Clara was threatening the Doctor with not being able to ever step into the TARDIS ever again. As she is mourning the death of her loved one, Clara goes against the Doctor by taking all the keys to the TARDIS and threatens him that she would throw away all the keys unless he would go back in time and save Danny. I’m very mixed about this act because on one hand, I understand that she was emotional and just wanted to get her beloved Danny back. But on the other hand, it was also a bit too much that a companion would go the length of hindering the Doctor of being able to use the last thing he has from Gallifrey.

However, it turned out that the Doctor was already one step ahead of her as the whole thing with them being at a volcano was just a dream state. What follows is something that was incredibly emotional as the Doctor offers to help her find Danny, even though she betrayed him, but states that he cares so much about her that her act wouldn’t stop him from helping her. This was the moment for me in the whole episode where I finally started to settle in with Capaldi’s Doctor after all these episodes. It’s going to sound weird, but that moment is when he truly became the Doctor for me.

It turns out that Danny had gone to the Nethersphere where a lot of other deceased characters this season had gone to. We got some of the best performances from Anderson in this episode, even though I wish the circumstances had been different. We see him having to deal with the fact that he is dead and we get to witness one of the memories that have clearly tortured him during his days as a soldier. We learn that he accidentally killed a young boy, a revelation that I have been speculating for a while. I will point out that the character Seb (assuming this is a short name for Sebastian) who was Danny’s guide throughout “Dark Water” was really annoying.

We have known for a while that the Cybermen would be returning for series 8 in the two-part finale, but we didn’t know how they would play in to this episode. I did get suspicious at first when we saw all those skeletons inside the tanks under what we learn is dark water (hence the title). I did totally miss the other big hint in the episode with the two big Cybermen formed eyes in the door to the lift and I felt so stupid for asking “why is the camera focusing on that door so much and what’s up with music?” during that scene. I dug how the reveal was done here and I love the Cybermen so no matter how you bring them in again, I will always enjoy their presence.

Now let’s talk about the biggest mystery that has been Michelle Gomez’s character “Missy”. Throughout this whole season, I have gone back and forth with my speculation and never been really sure if she is good or evil. Her first interaction with the Doctor was just hilarious because what does she do? She starts making out with him and for a second, I thought that it was somehow River Song who had come back from the death and regenerated. Luckily, it wasn’t her because that role belongs to Alex Kingston. But there was some regeneration involved her as towards the final minutes of the episode, Missy reveals that her name full name is Mistress as she, in the current form, couldn’t keep calling herself The Master.

Despite that I have been thinking about this as one of the possibilities for weeks, I still had my mind blown to pieces as this is one of the most brilliant things the show has done this season. I think I need to go back and re-watch the last episode The Master was in before next week, just to remind myself what happened to him at that point. Gomez has intrigued me ever since her first scene and to have The Master back as a female is just fantastic because if you think about it, the Doctor hasn’t really had a lot of main female villains, at least in the rebooted series.

Overall, “Dark Water” was a solid first part of the 2-part finale with great performances from everyone as half the mysteries we have been dealing with this season finally got some answers. The big reveal that Missy was The Master (now known as Mistress) has me even more hyped up for next week as I’m dying to find out how the Doctor is going to stop one of his biggest villain this time around.

Don’t miss “Death in Heaven”, the epic second hour of the series 8 finale of Doctor Who next Saturday, November 8, 9/8c on BBC America!

Image via BBC America

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