Doctor Who Recap: Death in Heaven
By Edwin Davies
November 19, 2014
Moffat very nearly managed a hail mary with the final scene of the episode (ignoring for the moment the brief tease for the Christmas special), in which Clara and The Doctor meet in a cafe to say goodbye for the final (skeptical question mark) time. Whereas the rest of the episode was built on bombast and spectacle, the end was built on two people quietly lying to each other. The Doctor thinks that Clara has called him to let him know that Danny has used the Cyberman bracelet to return to the land of the living (boy, that sure is a useful piece of kit) when in reality he sent back the little boy he accidentally killed while he was in the Army, an act so noble I'm wondering if it is possible to give the Victoria Cross to a fictional character. He assumes that, with Danny back in the picture, Clara won't be traveling with him anymore. For his part, The Doctor tells Clara that he has found Gallifrey using coordinates provided by Missy so he is going to go home and help rebuild, when those coordinates actually led to a completely empty part of space. They lie to each other with the best of intentions, hug, then part ways, each broken in their own way.
It's a quiet, deeply melancholy ending that fits the tone of the rest of the series, but felt wildly out of step with the episode that proceeded it. Despite a wild-eyed performance from Michelle Gomez and some lovely grace notes dotted throughout (my favourite being Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart returning as a Cyberman to save his daughter from falling out of a plane, a plot point that was all the more effective because it happened off-screen) it was a pretty slapdash ending to an otherwise very strong series. This was probably the best run of episodes since Matt Smith's first year, so it's a shame to see it end on something of a sour note. At the same time, it feels appropriate that a year that reminded me of what a vital show Doctor Who can be at its best finished by reminding me how uneven it can be.
Episode Rating: 6/10?Series Rating: 8/10
- When Moffat eventually hands the reins of the show over to someone else, I hope they get the words "The Doctor Does Not Sky Dive" embroidered on tea towels and hand them out to every member of the cast and crew. That shit is unforgivable.
- So they killed Missy off in a way that seems final, but it's hard to imagine that she'll stay dead. I mean, they didn't really explain how she came back to life in the first place, so it's not like the writers are being particularly strict when it comes to the rules of how a Time Lord dies or does not die. (Maybe next time she'll face off against a female Doctor?)
- When they do bring her back, I hope it's not in a series finale again. I know The Master is meant to be one of the biggest enemies for The Doctor, but so are The Daleks, and they've been brought in for one-off episodes that don't close out the year. I'd like to see them take this version of the character and have her cause trouble for The Doctor in an unimportant episode before disappearing again, like the Batman villain that they clearly want her to be.
- The Doctor says that he could be a king on Gallifrey, or a Queen. Again, the dialogue seems to be saying that The Doctor could be a woman, but it feels like lip service that probably won't pay off for some time.
- Nick Frost shows up at the very end as Santa Claus, which is great casting, but also baffling. The brief teaser for the Christmas special seems to suggest that it's going to be very Aliens inspired, which hopefully means that it'll have a little bite to it.