Doctor Who Recap: Dark Water
By Edwin Davies
November 12, 2014
Alongside all the revelations, there was the much quieter and more human story of Danny and Clara. Reunited via a wi-fi connection, Clara can't quite bring herself to believe that she is talking to the man she loves, and says that she will do anything to be with him once she knows for certain that he is who he claims to be. Danny, thinking that the only way they can be together is in death, tricks her into ending the call, after which he is presented with the option to "delete" his consciousness by Seb, who Addison plays with the perfect balance between superciliousness and menace. Assumedly, "deleting" himself will cause him to become a Cyberman. Jenna Coleman and Samuel Anderson were brilliant in their scenes, brilliantly conveying their characters' love for each other, and how that same love makes them want mutually exclusive things; Clara wants to be reunited, Danny wants her to live her life. It's achingly sad, and lends an emotional core to an episode that could have got lost in its litany of shocking revelations.
Speaking of which: the reveal that Missy was The Master was very well handled. From her first scene, in which Michelle Gomez, clearly having a whale of a time, pretended to be an android in order to mess with The Doctor, the episode built up the mystery of who she was in a way that was playful, and which managed to withhold information without seeming obtuse. While I would contend that the mystery wasn't actually that hard to figure out - The Master is the only major villain that Moffat hasn't brought back since taking over, so the show would have to get round to it eventually (and you don't have to be Alan Turing to crack the code Missy=Mistress=female version of Master) - it was still a satisfying payoff to all the little clues that had been dropped along the way.
(The problem with Missy, though, is that she could be an opportunity for Moffat to thumb his nose at the people who asked, quite reasonably, why The Doctor can't be played by a woman. By casting a woman as The Master, he seems to be saying that there is nothing stopping him from casting a female Doctor, apart from the obvious fact that he has chosen not to on two occasions. While it sends a clear message that, hey, The Doctor could be a woman in a future regeneration, the actual text sends a very different message. It's like responding to calls for a black James Bond by casting Idris Elba as Blofeld; you're saying that gender and race don't matter when it comes to casting these fictional characters, then not actually doing anything to back that sentiment up.)
Except it isn't really the payoff since we still have one episode to go. As a standalone episode, "Dark Water" may have been a giddily enjoyable 45 minutes, but that's because it didn't have to resolve anything; it just had to throw things into chaos. Now Moffat has to take that chaos and somehow stick the landing, which, as anyone who watched the third series of Sherlock will know, is not really his strong suit.
- Exchange of the week goes to Danny and Seb:
"You have iPads in the afterlife."
"iPads. We have Steve Jobs."
- Michelle Gomez is so much fun as Missy that I really hope they aren't going to kill her off in the next episode. They already squandered John Simm in two sub-par appearances, it'd be a real shame to see them waste someone who so perfectly suits the tone of the show and plays off of Capaldi so well.