I’m going to have to buck up my ideas and get back into the habit of weekly Doctor Who reviews: the next two episodes are stand-alones. However, this is yet another set that are best reviewed after seeing both episodes in the story, so I’m safe for now.
Before I talk about anything else, I have to do this. OSGOOD OSGOOD OSGOOD SQUEEE!!!
Yes, I am a huge Osgood fan so everything Osgood about this story made me happy. That she’s there. That the Zygon!Osgood stayed on Earth and they are the symbol of peace. That Missy only killed one Osgood, so we didn’t have to lose her completely.
That Bonnie became the second Osgood, and nobody ever told us whether the other Osgood is the human one or the Zygon one. Really, I adored everything about this, but I freely admit that I have no rationality when it comes to Osgood.
This is the story where Doctor Who got political. It’s not the first time it’s been political. The original series had its moments–I’m looking at you, Paradise Towers–and there’s no way to read World War Three as anything but a political analogy in places. Although it was sometimes a little heavy-handed, I really appreciated the extra layers that the political references added to this story.
It’s a two-parter that will definitely require multiple viewings to really absorb everything, which is a testament to the many layers of the story. There were call-backs to the original stories that made me squee out loud–the sound I made when Kate told the Doctor that she’d given the Zygon five rounds was frankly ridiculous. There was a discussion of refugees and public reactions and the nature of war that was timely, to say the least.
There was the Doctor’s electrifying speech about war and hate. That may have been the best moment of the series so far. I didn’t think it could get better than the nature of immortality in The Woman Who Lived, but Capaldi knocked it out of the field. When it’s time to nominate episodes for awards, it’s going to be an incredibly difficult job, because so many of the stories this year have been fantastic.
It wasn’t a completely perfect story. They never can be. I felt that the pacing was a little uneven in the first part, and some of the leaps of logic in that part made my head hurt, until I saw the second part and some of it made sense.
I think that may be the one issue this season has had: the first part of the two-part stories is usually weaker and needs the second part to elevate it. Two-part stories really shouldn’t be uneven in that way. They should work better together, obviously, but we shouldn’t have to wait until the second part to feel that the first part was excellent. It wasn’t quite as unbalanced as the previous pairing, but it still seems like a flaw.
However, that’s a minor flaw in a fantastic story. Everyone was brilliant in this, Capaldi and Coleman put in performances that blew me away, and the scene with the boxes left me thinking for ages. That’s what a good story should do: open up ideas, explore them, and leave us debating and thinking about them for a long time.