“Do You Consent?”
Whilst the linchpin of Classic Doctor Who serials was a continual spread of episodes spread around the basis of one particular story, with the likes of “The War Games”, “Trial of a Time Lord” and “The Dalek’s Master Plan” each breaking the ten episode mark in order to completely fulfil their narrative wishes without any cause for constraint aside from a slight echo of inevitable bagginess. For contemporary Who audiences, the idea of one particular story playing over the course of months is a notion of indirect ignorance even if now and then we get an entire series which has a through-line of a narrative which attempts to link certain elements all together within stories which are primarily one-off and unrelated to the bigger picture, beginning with Bad Wolf all the way back in series one and carrying through with plot threads including the inclusion of Torchwood, the appearance of Harold Saxon and the cracks in time which cropped up across Matt Smith’s debut series. With “Extremis” last week, the continuation of that particular tale carries on this week with “The Pyramid at the End of the World” in a supposed trilogy of stories which will seemingly conclude next week, and whilst “Extremis” was an interesting precursor to the story ahead, does this weeks episode continue its’ groundwork success?
In a nutshell? Yes, and whilst the episode does include elements which are utterly preposterous and epic in stature, the bare bones of the story is rather straightforward and grounded, with The Doctor being at the centre of an impossible situation in which the separate parties around him each have differing points of view on survival. With the enemies once again being the creepy, robe wearing monks, their plan for world domination continues by using the one thing that forces any human being into rash decisions; fear, choosing the knowledge of foresight as the pawn in their domineering game of megalomania and control, whilst The Stand-esque subplot involving a mass outbreak of murderous biological material concludes with the Doctor’s sight returning for the time being, but at what cost? Although the twists and turns regarding Bill’s survival during her submission to the monks was rather obvious when it eventually occurred, the Doctor’s predicament when locked in the airlock with a detonating explosive device was effectively played, using the element of his blindness to a nerve-wracking degree which in the end has set up the play for the final endgame which is set to conclude next week. If ever there was evidence for supplying fans with longer stories into the future, these past two weeks are a strong chip to play with,
Overall Score: 8/10
“You Have Left Us With An Impossible Situation, Doctor…”
This week I have to admit to taking a slight and minor kop-out when it comes to our weekly review of Doctor Who wherein instead of focusing on just one episode, I felt it was plausible to review both stories of the returning Zygon menace at the same time due to not only having all the facts and all the answers to the questions from both parts of the story, but mainly because it fits in rather well with my over-burdened work schedule (Screw you real life!). Returning from their short stint in the 50th anniversary episode, “The Day of The Doctor”, an episode where we were left with the notion that the remaining Zygon threat had successfully been integrated into society via that of a rather flimsy peace treaty, “The Zygon Invasion/Inversion” focuses on the uprising of a rogue Zygon threat, hell bent on releasing chaos throughout the world whilst attempting to break free from the secretive nature of their newly found Earth-based lifestyle. It is no surprise that this season of Doctor Who has definitely been more on the solid and consistent side than those previous with the return of the two-parter no doubt being one of the many reasons why with this week’s story only adding to the quality that has been inherent throughout this year’s entry into the Who canon so far.
The fundamental image that comes to mind whenever the Zygons are on-screen in Doctor Who, whether it be their first appearance in the 1975 Tom Baker serial Terror of the Zygons, or in today’s NuWho, is that of the alien race present in the many versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a tale in which the titular “body snatchers” slowly take over the earth by hatching duplicates of those they have captured and then integrating themselves into society. Sound familiar? Of course, but what this week’s tale effectively managed to do was increase the paranoia and sense of unknown of which the alien Zygon race automatically bring about with them whenever they appear on our screens culminating in a rather spectacular appearance of the “evil” Clara, a Zygon doppelganger of our beloved companion who tortuously attempts to bring about the death of not only Clara, The Doctor and that UNIT, but the entire world, with Jenna Coleman clearly having bundles of fun with her newly found evilness in such a role.
Where part one of this latest Zygon tale sought to show the uprising of the Zygon threat, the second part ultimately concluded in a resolution that not only was similar to that of the discussion that took place between human/Zygon Kate in “Day of the Doctor”, but also gave Peter Capaldi another chance to shine, with his speech in which he describes the horror of war and the consequences it brings being another accolade in the Twelfth Doctor’s already star-studded reign as the travelling Time Lord, a speech both incredibly heart-felt and powerful whilst being incredibly apt for a British audience in terms of its’ relevance to Remembrance weekend. Not only does “The Zygon Invasion/Inversion” show how the two-part format most definitely has added a new level of consistency to NuWho, but it also shows that when a story is given that extra amount of time to breath and to metaphorically spread its’ legs, can result in a quality that may have been absent if squeezed into the relatively short and rather familiar, 45 minute time slot, something of which we seemingly are returning to next week in the Mark Gatiss penned, “Sleep No More”. Will it hold up to the quality of Series 9 so far? We shall see.
Overall Score: 8.5/10