After what has been a really cracking series, last night millions of us tuned in for ‘Death in Heaven’, the Doctor Who Season 8 finale. And what a finale it was.
Picking up largely where last week’s ‘to be continued’ episode left off, with mercifully only the shortest of re-caps, we re-join The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) outside St Paul’s Cathedral with the newly revealed The Master, otherwise known as Missy (Michelle Gomez). Meanwhile, Clara (Jenna Coleman) is still trapped inside with a particularly menacing looking Cyberman, calmly attempting to talk/lie herself out of danger whilst Cyber-beings descend on every city on Earth.
With the entire planet in danger from extra-terrestrial beings, naturally it wasn’t long before UNIT turned up, this time in the form of the brilliant Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) as well as worthy leader Kate (Jemma Redgrave). Together they hauled both The Doctor and Missy off onto ‘Earth Force One’ an aeroplane with a distinctly presidential feel, as it turns out that in this sort of turn of events, The Doctor sort of becomes Earth President apparently. And with the Cybermen raising a terrifying new army, he hasn’t got a lot of choice but to get on with it.
With so much going on, this episode really benefited from its hour length. For one, we had Missy prancing maniacally about in her Victorian nanny grab, heartlessly killing people left, right and centre one second, and firing off icy, barbed one-liners the next. All credit to Michelle Gomez for her role in this series, she really has been fantastic, and a worthy nemesis for fellow Scot Peter Capaldi, who’s Doctor has developed extraordinarily well into a version of the character we haven’t really seen before. This finale allowed him to come to terms with who he is, a question that’s been hanging over the whole series arc. Turns out he’s just an idiot with a box and screwdriver, which is all we really wanted to hear.
As well as packing a serious emotional punch through Clara and Cyber-Danny’s heart-wrenching goodbye, (after all, you can’t have a Doctor Who finale without a few tears these days) the episode was brimming with so much action that at times it felt more like a Bond film than an episode of Doctor Who. It certainly carried it off well, mind. From THAT flying scene, to the destruction of the plane to the jet-packing villains, it was real edge-of-your-seat stuff, although mixed with elements of genuine sci-fi horror as the Cybermen went all zombie on us.
Speaking of emotional punches, it seems that, although the ‘is she or isn’t she’ departing Clara is at least returning for the Christmas Special (more on that in a moment), we have indeed said goodbye to Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) for good. Not only has he been a great returning character, but he had the unique opportunity of dying three times, twice of which were in incredibly selfless, heroic circumstances. Not only did he save the entire human race, but when given an opportunity to be re-born, sacrificed his own life for that of the young boy he once killed in Afghanistan. It was a fitting tribute to a brave and loyal soldier, particularly given the strong military themes present throughout this series. The only final sadness was that The Doctor never got to find out quite how selfless ‘P.E’ had in fact been, although again it did seem fitting that Clara and The Doctor both parted on a lie. At least for now.
It is often the case with Doctor Who that even when characters leave, we never truly feel that they are gone, gone. (The Master him/herself being a classic example). And it seems that this also will be true of Clara, particularly given the jokey feel to the final credits, including the appearance of Nick Frost (!), as Father Christmas in the Christmas Special prequel.
Frankly it can’t come around quick enough. This series has been excellent, and I can’t wait to see what Christmas and Series 9 have to offer.