Review: Doctor Who – Death In Heaven

Death In HeavenWith a woo-eee-ooo Peter Capaldi’s first series of Doctor Who came to a stunning conclusion on Prime tonight.

In the Series 8 finale Death In Heaven show runner Steven Moffat delivered, in spades, on the promise of the show although the title was typically misleading.

Death In Heaven was the second part of a two part story that began last week with the death of Clara Oswald’s (Jenna Coleman) beau Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) in a pointless car accident, and the Doctor’s promise to take Clara to the afterlife to bring him back.

The afterlife ended up not to be the afterlife after all but the crypt in modern day St Paul’s Cathedral. This was for no other reason than Moffat wanting to send Cybermen down the cathedral’s steps just like they did in the 1960s.  There the Doctor’s arch rival the Master, changed into Missy (Michelle Gomez), had saved Pink’s consciousness to a Time Lord hard drive and, well, its gets even more complicated from there.

Suffice to say the afterlife is not a quick trip in the TARDIS, and Moffat was lying to us as profoundly as Missy lied to the Doctor. Death In Heaven refers to the death raining down from heaven via exploding Cybermen as well as the deaths of characters aboard a Cybermen sabotaged plane carrying the President of Earth the Doctor himself. I find it hard to believe that asthma prone scientist Osgood (Ingrid Oliver), introduced with so much promise in the 50th Anniversary Special The Day of the Doctor and seen only for the second time in Death In Heaven, is really dead.

But the story had some lovely nods to the past, notably the passing mention of the Time Lord’s exile of third Doctor Jon Pertwee to Earth where he worked alongside United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT) Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart as the organisation’s scientific advisor. This was hinted at when the brigadier’s daughter Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) revealed the Doctor was still on UNIT’s payroll, although its significance wouldn’t come to the fore until the episode’s end.

I found the late brigadier’s resurrection as a flying Iron Man style Cyberman in time to save his daughter from a crashing plane more moving than Pink’s last actions to save the land of the living from the army of the dead. Maybe that says more about my Doctor Who fandom than anything else, or the fact that we hardly got to know Danny before he was taken from us.

There was some gut-wrenching stuff for the newest viewer as Clara’s relationship travels with the Doctor seemingly coming to an end, with them saying their goodbyes at episode’s end, but remember Moffat has lied to us before. So, it’s at least until the Doctor Who Christmas Special when we they say their goodbyes all over again . . . or not.

I wouldn’t say this is the best Doctor Who season finale since the show came back in 2005, Series 7’s The Name of the Doctor and Series 4’s Journey’s End beat it, but it was pretty satisfying. I’m, however, looking forward to sitting down and watching the whole series in a row now to see what I missed first time around.

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