As Missy converts the Earth’s dead into an army of Cybermen, Clara is devastated to find that Danny is one of them. Meanwhile, the Doctor is recruited by UNIT and made President of the Earth as together they attempt to stop whatever fiendish plan Missy has in mind.
As Cybermen come marching out of St. Paul’s Cathedral and Missy reveals herself to the Doctor to be the new incarnation of the Master, UNIT, led by Kate Stewart, comes rolling in to apprehend them both. Meanwhile, the Cybermen rocket into the air, each exploding over its designated area, creating a massive raincloud. Clara – trapped by Cybermen in the 3W office – tells them that she is the Doctor in order to avoid death. Cue an awesome title sequence featuring Jenna Coleman billed above Peter Capaldi and Clara’s eyes instead of the Doctor’s.
The Doctor awakes in an airplane hangar, is ushered onto a plane, and told that he is the new President of the Earth due to protocols to be followed during a global crisis. Missy is restrained in a lower cabin, and certainly miffed after all the time she spent trying to take over the world to learn that the Doctor has been made President of the Earth without even trying. She says she knows where Gallifrey is, but that she won’t tell the Doctor. As the Doctor confabulates with his UNIT team, Missy escapes and kills Osgood and has a group of flying Cybermen attack the plane. As the Doctor and Kate investigate, Missy also throws Kate out of the plane before transporting herself away. The Doctor skydives towards his falling TARDIS, able to reach it and dematerialize before hitting the ground.
Meanwhile, the Cyberclouds produce a rain that transforms the organic tissue of the dead into Cybermen, then upload the stored minds from the dataslice into the bodies. Danny awakes in a morgue and discovers himself to be a Cyberman. Cyber Danny then finds Clara at the 3W facility, knocks her out, destroys the dangerous Cybermen, and then takes her to a cemetery for some reason. She awakes there to find that Cybermen are rising from graves only to wander aimless and confused. She notices a Cyberman watching her and discovers that it’s Cyber Danny. He asks her to turn off his emotion function, not being able to bear how he feels. Clara calls the Doctor for help just before his plane goes down.
The Doctor arrives at the cemetery to help Clara, but tries to convince her not to turn off Cyber Danny’s emotions. He says that not only will Cyber Danny kill her as soon as his emotions are off, but that his emotions are important. Of course, Cyber Danny can’t connect with the hive mind to find out Missy’s plan without turning his emotions off, which throws the Doctor into conflict. In the end, Cyber Danny’s emotions are suspended and he tells the Doctor Missy’s plan to kill everyone and transform them into Cybermen. Missy arrives a la Mary Poppins – which, let’s be honest, we’ve all been waiting for – and demonstrates her power over the Cybermen using a special bracelet. She then gives the Doctor the bracelet – power over an entire army – as a birthday present, to prove to him that she and him aren’t that different after all.
The Doctor is momentarily conflicted, afraid of the potential for evil inside himself but tempted to use the army for good. He comes to a realization that he’s just an idiot with a box, and that Cyber Danny, despite having his emotions suspended, hadn’t killed Clara or obeyed Missy’s orders. He throws the bracelet to Cyber Danny, who commands the Cyber Army to destroy themselves to burn up the clouds, defeating Missy’s plan. Missy tells the Doctor the coordinates of Gallifrey, which is right where it always was. Clara wants to kill Missy, but the Doctor takes it on himself so that she won’t have that burden haunting her. Just as the Doctor is about to kill her, a leftover Cyberman from behind them shoots her instead. The Cyberman points in a direction, where they find the unharmed Kate Stewart. The lone Cyberman turns out to be the resurrected Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. The Doctor salutes him and he goes flying off.
Two weeks later, as Clara is sleeping she is woken by Danny’s voice calling to her. It turns out that the bracelet offers a way back into the living world but only has power for one trip for one person. Danny uses it for the boy he accidentally killed when he was a soldier instead of for himself. Clara meets up with the Doctor to tell him, but thinking that Danny must be back the Doctor gives Clara an easy way out by telling her that he found Gallifrey right where Missy said it would be. This is a lie. Clara, thinking that the Doctor has found his home, lets him believe that Danny came back. Both of them are devastated, but lie to each other for each other’s happiness. They end on a hug, but when Clara asks the Doctor why he doesn’t like hugging, he says that he doesn’t trust them because it’s only a way to hide your face – which is exactly why he agreed to the hug in the first place.
Missy and the Doctor
I wasn’t sure how the relationship would pan out between the Doctor and the newly female Master, but their interaction was as tense and conflicted as it always has been – and interestingly enough, with about the same level of sexual tension. Everything the Master ever did was in some way connected to his obsession with the Doctor, and as the series got a little more serious, so too has the depth and complexity of that relationship. It’s quite obvious that the Doctor has very strong positive feelings about the Master/Missy, that there is a lot of lingering fondness there for a lost friend. And all Missy ever wanted was the Doctor’s friendship and approval back – and failing that, it seems, a realization that the two aren’t so very different.
And for a moment there, they seemed set to run off to Gallifrey together, if only Clara hadn’t insisted on her death. As noble as the Doctor’s intentions were in taking on the role of executioner to spare Clara’s conscience/innocence, it only proved Missy’s point – that they weren’t all that different after all. In the end, the Doctor is spared the act of killing her as well, but he acknowledges the terrible irony of the intended act. Just before she dies, the Doctor tells her, “You win.”
Of course, Missy gets the last laugh once again by lying to the Doctor about the location of Gallifrey. It’s still lost, which is devastating to the Doctor who hoped beyond hope to finally go home. But it must be out there somewhere, because when we last saw the Master he was being dragged back to the timelocked Gallifrey by Rassilon, which means that Missy must have come by way of Gallifrey somehow. The search is still on.
Clara and Danny
While beautiful and sad and tragic, this was the bit that seemed to drag the episode down somewhat – especially that endless cemetery scene. Love conquers all once again and the strength of the human spirit defies alien technology – and somehow Danny still loves Clara even though he has no emotions. I’m not really sure I buy into any of it. But the end bit where Danny sends back the young boy instead of going home himself is pretty devastating, and there were some genuinely beautiful moments. Jenna Coleman was especially versatile and affecting this episode, and can we just talk about the Doctor Clara opening for a second.
There are plenty of fanfictionized genderbent Doctor’s out there, and it’s been a question of debate and controversy for a long time. It’s been theorized by fans and casually mentioned in passing during the show that Time Lords can not only change their gender, but potentially regenerate into any form they like. For some, the regeneration process is random and unpredictable, but others might have slightly more control over the outcome. For the Doctor, it seems entirely subconscious – but his current body always fits his current needs or desires. And many have been quite disappointed for a long time, that given this potential ability to change, that the Doctor hasn’t changed more – say, into anything except a white male. It was even more hotly debated this last time – and while many were disappointed with the lack of diversity, I don’t think many disputed the validity of the choice.
So here we have an episode that allows a formerly male character to become a female character, with complete acceptance and not much surprise from everyone involved. It firmly plants the idea in the Doctor’s subconscious. He even agrees amiably to Clara’s suggestion that he could become the Queen of Gallifrey. And then there’s the opening of the episode, using Jenna Coleman’s name up front and her face in the opening titles. While the opening acts almost as a punchline to a joke – the rouse that Clara claims to be the Doctor to avoid death by Cyberman – it is also one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in a while. Watching with my boyfriend, we both cheered when Coleman’s face came up in the titles in place of Capaldi’s.
What I feel like this episode does is not only plant the story roots that may eventually lead to a female incarnation of the Doctor, but it plants the roots within the minds of the audience. We have seen the potential for a female Doctor in the form of Clara Oswald and seen what it would look like to have a woman dominate the opening credits, and the possibilities look pretty badass to me. So be prepared Whovians. I don’t want Capaldi to go anywhere for a while, but I’d actually bet money that a big change is coming next regeneration day.
Clara and the Doctor
How fitting that the Doctor and Clara end their relationship on mutual lies – a lie purely for the other’s benefit to preserve what they believe is the other’s happiness. Of course, because they’re both lying about their happiness to preserve that happiness, no one is actually happy – but they don’t know that. And isn’t it just like Moffat to establish a character quirk in the first episode – the Doctor’s aversion to hugging – and maintain it throughout the season to use it to full heartbreaking effect in the end. “Hugging is just a way to hide your face” – and what faces!
First of all, how great is it that a man named Nick Frost is playing Santa Claus? Second of all, I had totally forgotten until that end scene that Nick Frost was going to be in the Christmas episode. I am excited all over again. And the implication is that Clara is back for that one, so we likely haven’t seen the last of her yet.