The final episode of Series 8. This series has flown by! Of course it was in one continuous run rather than split up as the previous two series were.
We pick up from the end of the previous episode Dark Water, with Cybermen marching around London, and Missy having revealed herself to be the latest and first female incarnation of The Master. Missy tries to pass off the Cybermen as a tourist attraction, and succeeds as people film them with their video cameras. This is also going on in major cities all around the world (“We’re going viral”, as Missy puts it).
Then Osgood from The Day Of The Doctor and Kate Stewart appear along with other Unit soldiers. They are aware of the situation and have surrounded the Cybermen. The Cybermen however have developed the ability to fly, and all go into the sky and scatter. They each go to one major city and explode up in the air over graveyards, creating a dark cloud. This is a process of “pollinating”. The rainclouds are in fact data clouds, which rain down on the graveyards and funeral homes of the cities. This is a way of converting dead bodies into Cybermen.
Clara finds herself in one graveyard, and is encountered by a Cyberman who it turns out is Danny. His body has been converted, but he still retains his personality as he didn’t delete his emotions in the Nethersphere. But like almost every human aware that they have been converted into a Cyberman, he now wants to die.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and UNIT have gone on board a military aircraft, with Missy imprisoned. Kate tells the Doctor that he is the “President of Earth”, as he has been granted total control of how to deal with the situation. Missy escapes, and murders her UNIT guards and Osgood. Cybermen start attacking the plane, causing it to go down. Missy deliberately causes more damage to the plane so Kate and the Doctor fall out, while she teleports away.
The Doctor manages to call the TARDIS to rescue him and uses it to find Clara. When there he learns from Danny that this is all just the tip of the iceberg; Missy plans to make a second raincloud which will convert living humans into Cybermen.
Then Missy herself arrives. She always had a Mary Poppins quality, and here she actually floats down using her umbrella as a parachute. Then she goes to explain the ultimate goal, and it’s unexpected. She gives the Doctor control of the Cyberman army! She tells him it’s her birthday present to him, with an army like that he can go and fight all those enemies, he can use them instead of random people he meets. The Doctor says nobody should have that much power, to which Missy replies that he doesn’t see himself as good, so in effect she and him are the same. The Doctor passes over control of the Cybermen army to Danny, who orders them, along with him, to fly up into the sky and self destruct.
Missy appears to be killed by a Cyberman, (though both Steven Moffat and Michelle Gomez have implied in interviews since the episode was broadcast that she might have survived). That Cyberman turns out to be The Brigadier from the classic series, who has retained his humanity somehow, and managed to save his daughter Kate after she fell out of the plane.
The ending becomes slightly rushed, but basically the Doctor tries to find Gallifrey after being told by Missy it was in its original location. He goes there and finds nothing. Clara was told there was a way to restore one person from the Nethersphere to life, but instead of restoring himself Danny brings back to life the boy he accidentally killed and tells Clara to find his parents for him. The Doctor and Clara meet, both lie to each other that things have worked out the way they wanted them to, with the Doctor able to return home and Clara able to have a life with Danny, and both decide to part ways for good…
Then there’s THAT ending. The end credits were interrupted! As the cast list went up, someone knocks on the TARDIS door saying “You know it can’t end like that!”, and the Doctor answers the door and it is Santa Claus! Then the credits continue from listing Nick Frost as Santa. It was very funny.
I think Michelle Gomez is ace generally, but she was great as Missy. She makes the character so fun, and sinister at the same time. Missy is absolutely crazy and evil. She has some great moments in this episode, singing a few lines of ‘Mickey’ by Toni Basil, but changing it to Missy. She tells the Doctor that Gallifrey is their Paris, and it is revealed that she was indeed the “woman in the shop” who gave Clara the Doctor’s number.
The Doctor refers to Cloudbase, which Osgood says he is thinking of Thunderbirds, then Captain Ahmed corrects her that Cloudbase was in Captain Scarlett.
I’m someone who’s never been a fan of the Cybermen, but I felt they were used well in this episode. Converting the dead is a very grisly idea, and the Cybermen are now like zombies with a robotic casing. I say this most times the Cybermen appear, but what is frightening about them is not so much them as an army of killer robots, but the idea that humans can be converted into them.
Like most of the recent finales and specials, this episode has a lot crammed in, and it was probably a good idea to extend its runtime to a full hour rather than the usual 45 minutes. It’s eventful, but not terribly satisfying. We end up seeing Osgood and Danny both killed of, but honestly it feels disappointing more than anything. Osgood because she was a fan favourite, and Danny because I think we expected the series arc to be leading to something more with him.
Don’t get me wrong, Death In Heaven is a decent episode and an action packed finale, but it isn’t as good as the set up in Dark Water suggested it would be, which is a shame.
So we have the end of Series 8. Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman were fine and have a good dynamic. The series had some brilliant episodes (Listen, Kill The Moon, Flatline, Dark Water), though it also had a few boring ones (Into The Dalek, The Caretaker, In The Forest Of The Night). Missy was an excellent addition to the series, and Michelle Gomez works very well with Peter Capldi’s Doctor. She is apparently returning for series nine, which is great news. Overall, I think series eight ticked along smoothly.