Doctor Who Series 8 Review “Dark Water”

Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 11 Dark Water (2)

Given how focused this season of Doctor Who has been on character interactions, it makes since that “Dark Water,” the first part of this year’s finale, would focus on strong performances and emotional character moments instead of being all big reveals and sci-fi action. And while this season has had its ups and downs when it comes to the relationship between The Doctor, Clara, and Danny, this episode provide all three with some fantastic scenes.

In regard to the opening scenes, those rumors of Clara’s departure after the Christmas special certainly hold more weight now, don’t they? Given how far Clara was willing to go, it seems almost impossible that her relationship with the Doctor can ever be fully repaired, regardless of what the Doctor said. And even if he can forgive her, she’s now definitively chosen Danny over the Doctor, a choice that could easily lead her to deciding she should rather be with him than travel with the Doctor in the future. Major kudos to both Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman for infusing these scenes with a lot of dramatic energy.

Similarly, praise should be given to Samuel Anderson, who nailed the emotions Danny went through during the episode. Though I’ve found his performance to be a bit odd at times this season, he did a great job making me feel for Danny as he had to face the horrors of his past and saying goodbye to Clara.

Now, while I said the episode wasn’t full of big reveals, that doesn’t mean there weren’t two major turns late in the episode. The first was the reveal that “heaven” was ultimately a Cyberman production plant, a way to turn all of humanity’s dead directly into soldiers in a vast Cyberman army. Of the two big reveals, this one was my favorite, as the image of the draining dark water revealing those familiar metallic faces was a chilling one, and a great way to welcome back one of the series’ greatest villains.

The other reveal was the true identity of Missy, and I have to admit, this is one that let me down a little bit. I’d seen a lot of speculation that Missy would turn out to be The Rani, a Time Lord villain the Doctor hasn’t faced since before the revival. For my money, I was hoping that, if she was a Time Lady, it would be Romana, turning a former companion into an enemy. Instead, Missy is the Master, which is great from a naming standpoint, since it should’ve been obvious from her first appearance. However, I think it would’ve been more interesting to see another classic character return than to trot the Master back out. Still, the gender swap is nice to see, and speaks towards a possible female Doctor in the future.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments!