Doctor Who show runner Steven Moffat made us wait until the closing scenes of Dark Water before showing a Cyberman invasion force on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.
We’d seen glimpses of the Cybermen in central London in last week’s Next Time trailer. But we should have guessed we’d have to sit tight until the end of the episode to see new Who’s recreation of a scene from 1968’s second Doctor story The Invasion. Two of the eight Patrick Troughton episodes are missing from the BBC archives.
Moffat dished out a less than straightforward story in Dark Water, the first episode in the two-part finale of Series 8 of the show. The sudden death of Clara Oswald’s beau Danny Pink came out of nowhere.
Pink, like Rose’s father in the Series 1 episode Father’s Day, dies stepping into the path of a car. “It wasn’t terrible,” Clara tells her gran. “It was boring. It was ordinary.” A former soldier who has spent some time at the Doctor’s side defending the Earth from alien threats, should die a glorious death not a wasted one under the wheels of an automobile. It reminded me of Lawrence of Arabia’s stupid motorcycle death in a Dorset lane in 1935.
There’s only two rules in Doctor Who. The Doctor is “never cruel or cowardly” and the TARDIS can take him anywhere he needs to go for a rollicking good story.
After Pink’s untimely death the Doctor decides to take Clara to hell, the afterlife or wherever it is people go when they die. The Doctor usually has all the answers but it is a bit vague on this as he disengages a whole lot of settings in the TARDIS that normally stop her travelling to such places. And there’s the gaping hole in this story.
Surely it would be easier for the Doctor to go back in time and prevent Pink’s stepping out in front of the car, time paradoxes aside. But the afterlife it is because it is necessary to kick this strange, strange story along.
There, in a mausoleum, are rows of seated skeletons inside watery graves Anyone who hadn’t worked out they are, in fact, Cybermen awaiting their marching orders wasn’t paying attention. But it takes the Doctor and Clara some time because they haven’t seen the Next Time trailer.
Then there’s the skeleton’s custodian Missy, the Edwardian Lady who claims to be a caretaker droid of sorts until fessing up to being the Doctor’s old arch rival The Master in female form. Missy, you see, is short for Mistress.
I’ve suspected she was a long lost Time Lord, or Time Lady as she tells the Doctor, since her first appearance in Peter Capaldi’s first story Deep Breath, but I doubted Moffat would give the Master a sex change.
We haven’t seen the Master on screen since the tenth Doctor David Tennant’s final story The End of Time and now, next week, we’ll discover why and how the character has teamed up with the Cybermen. But watch out for spoilers since the season finale, Death in Heaven, aired in the UK and Australia yesterday.
The Cybermen haven’t been so frightening since the Tennant story The Army of Ghosts and The Age of Steel.