Doctor Who Series 8 Review “Death is Heaven”

Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 12 Death in Heaven (4)

And so ends Peter Capaldi’s first year as the Doctor, as series 8 of Doctor Who comes to a close with an oversized finale episode. While this has definitely been a shaky season, “Death in Heaven” managed to offer up a satisfying conclusion, even if it left us with no clear picture of where the show will be going next year. I guess that’s what the Christmas special is for.

Now, for all of the strong, emotional moments throughout the episode, the clear MVP of the hour was Michelle Gomez as Missy. Gomez is absolutely stellar as the new incarnation of the Mistress, getting to cut loose here in a way she hasn’t all season. She captures the character’s insanity and quirks with ease, absolutely killing it in her scene with Osgood on the plane. Honestly, she seems to be having even more giddy fun in the role than John Simm before her.

Even better, the show managed to roughly keep the character development given to Simm’s Master, who sacrificed himself to help the Tenth Doctor out. Here, while her plan involved mass genocide, she ultimately was trying to bring the Doctor to her level so they could rekindle their childhood friendship. There’s complexity to the character, and I have to hope her death by Cyberman wasn’t as permanent as it appeared.

Speaking of Cybermen, they served as a great antagonist, as well as potential weapon for the Doctor to wield. Of course, it was a weapon the Doctor ultimately rejected, letting him finally determine what kind of man he is. Though his speech was a bit standard, it was good to see his struggle come to an end while also tying together the season’s thematic through lines.

What did fall a bit flat for me was the final goodbyes between Clara and Danny, though this admittedly comes from my personal disinterest in Clara as a companion. Perhaps your mileage varied, but it just didn’t have the same impact as the departure of Amy and Rory or the Doctor having to erase Donna’s memory. Heck, I got more chills from a Cyberman they just said was the Brigadier. That said, each character had strong moments on their own, from Clara passing herself off as the Doctor to Danny getting the heroic send-off as he led the charge into the clouds.

Also, though she’s scheduled to appear this Christmas, Clara’s goodbye at the end of the episode felt quite final. My guess would be that the show will use the Christmas special to give her a happier send off, perhaps by bringing Danny back. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. And hey, I’ve never been more excited for a Christmas special after seeing Nick Frost as Santa Claus!

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