Doctor Who “The Zygon Inversion” Review (Season 9 Episode 8)

Doctor Who wrapped up its Zygon storyline with another great outing, pushing the horror and mystery elements from last week to new highs for a thrilling hour of television. Throw in stellar performances from Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi, and “The Zygon Inversion” served as a strong conclusion to the show’s best two-parter of the season.

Aesthetically, this episode was another delight. The harsh shadows of the Zygon pod bay and the black archive were just the right kind of oppressive, serving both the more horrific elements of the episode as well as the cold war tensions at play between humans and zygons. And it was that tension that made for such a strong hour, one that explored themes of paranoia and body horror in a lot of great ways. It didn’t play a huge role, but the poor Zygon trapped between transformations was effectively creepy, as was his unfortunate end.

What sold the episode, and it’s great to say this, was Jenna Coleman’s dual performances as Clara and Bonnie. I’ve mentioned before that upon her initial introduction, Clara was one of my least-favorite companions, feeling more like a plot point than an actual character. However, over the course of the past few seasons, the writers have done a lot of work to build Clara up, and this season has seen her just get to have fun and be a strong travelling partner to the Doctor.

And with this episode, she served as the clear highlight for the majority of the running time, even though her role as companion was mostly supplanted by Osgood. While trapped in the dream state, Clara got to show the tenacity and self-confidence she’s come to be known for while verbally sparring with her Zygon duplicate. And as that duplicate, Coleman had the chance to really show her range, imbuing Bonnie with a cold rage that always made it clear these were two separate characters.

While Clara anchored the majority of the episode, though, the Doctor absolutely crushed things at the end. I know that Peter Capaldi hasn’t been the most warmly received actors to take up the role, but I’ve always found him to have the right fire for the role. And, much like Coleman, this has been a strong season for him, and he’s never been better than in that fiery plea for peace that he delivered to Bonnie and Kate. It feels like a culmination of his arc so far this season, showing just how desperately important every single world, every single life, is to the Doctor. It was a stellar performance, and one any doubter of Capaldi’s Doctor should see.

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