If there was really any doubt that Doctor Who should reserve double episodes for the stories that really need them, the proof was delivered two weeks ago with "The Zygon Invasion." It's sad, then, that last week's episode, "The Zygon Inversion," had to carry the weight of such a large dramatic misfire on its shoulders, because as stories go this could have been a pretty good one.
Many of the immigration theme undertones from the first part have been cast aside, after serving their purpose of trying to justify the reasons for a subsection of Zygon society rebelling against their living situation. It was hamfisted at points, but it also provided an interesting parallel to how society forces many to abide by rules which go against their daily lives. Whether that's preferred pronouns, identity, beliefs, personality traits or even national customs, we see this topic in world news reports on a daily basis.
That's exactly why it was disappointing to see this theme dropped so casually, as if it didn't matter in any way to the story's natural conclusion after spending a whole episode building it up.
"YOU CALL THIS A WAR? THIS FUNNY LITTLE THING?"
Let's get to the main issue with this story. This is a two-parter in which a lot of people die, Zygons and humans alike, and for no reason other than to prove a point. The Doctor nonchalantly mentions at the end of this episode that they've played this game of war before, right at the cusp of victory, and we never find out if he's being entirely serious or deflecting. However, given that Clara is aware of the Osgood box and details surrounding the Black Archive there's a sliver of truth to it.
Bottom line, the deaths of at least seven Zygons and at least 6,420 humans could have been avoided if the Doctor had solved this problem when the confrontation came up between Bonnie and UNIT.
That's a lot of blood on the Time Lord's hands, and whether he agrees with that fact or not is irrelevant, but he's the President of Earth. The Doctor is at the top of the list regarding responsibility for those deaths, especially due to his own admission that he's been through this situation in the past with Bonnie, Kate and the Human-Zygon divide.
"I fought in a bigger war than you will ever know."
Yes, we know the Doctor survived the Time War. We know that a lot more people perished as a result of his, the Daleks and the Time Lords' actions. But it's terrible to think that his personal losses and experiences are more important than those suffered in the list above simply because of scale. An impassioned speech about loss means nothing without having sympathy for all losses, even the ones you cause by trying to teach a lesson about your own survivors guilt, Doctor.
And so we’re back to square one. People died for what appears to have been a life lesson for a single Zygon who wanted to unshackle what they felt was a raw deal for their race, but there isn’t any sort of conscience or regret over that. Forgiveness is one of the hardest gifts to share with another, and when it comes down to it ,this was a deal made between two aliens after a lot of humans were killed.
Are there no consequences for that?
The most interesting part for me in this whole episode was in the TARDIS at the end, where the following conversation occurred:
Clara: "You must have thought I was dead for a while?"
Clara: "How was that?"
Doctor: "Longest month of my life."
Clara: "It could only have been five minutes!"
Doctor: "I’ll be the judge of time."
Have we been jumping around the Doctor’s personal timeline again? Where did this month take place? I have no idea what this could mean for Clara, but it looks like we’re two episodes away from finding out. What do you think is happening here?
- Doctor Who makes a "found footage" story, and if you discount the Easter egg "talking to the camera" nature of Blink, this format is a first for the series.
- Like Doctor Lazarus before him in The Lazarus Experiment, Professor Rassmussen is messing with the laws of nature. In fact, if you look at almost every story this year it’s become a running theme: Regenerating Daleks, stolen souls, immortal humans. It’s all so very connected in the most uninteresting of ways at this point.
That's another recap down, folks. How did you get on with this week's episode? You can follow along with this series of Doctor Who via our StoryStream, and if you like that why not check out the rest of our television coverage here at Polygon at the following link.