This is normally the portion of the show where we recap "Last week on Doctor Who,” but this week is different. Considering nothing really happened last week and everything seemed to happen this week, this time would be better suited to tell you all that, if you haven't watched “Dark Water” yet, you're going to want to hold off on reading here before you do.
However, in the defense of those of you who peek at articles with spoilers, testing the edges of what you can or can't read, I'll hold off on the big guns until the second half. So we'll start with the slight spoiler, and then jump into the big, BIG spoiler for this week after we've discussed. That said, it's time to swim through last night's “Dark Water,” and see what surfaces.
"Do you think I care so little for you that betraying me would make a difference?”
If there was ever a moment I was more annoyed with Clara than any other companion in the history of modern Doctor Who, it was her little stunt with the volcano and the TARDIS keys. I get it, Danny's dead and she's distraught over his passing. But Rose Tyler was faced down with the eventuality that her father had to die, and she was understanding enough not to run off with the TARDIS and crash it into the London Eye. Not to mention, you're dealing with a relatively immortal adversary if you're a human taking on The Doctor. No matter how much you threaten him, without hitting certain pressure points, you're not going to be very effective. Clara's lucky Twelve took pity on her and brought her straight to the heart of the Nethersphere.
Rant aside, we did learn of Danny Pink's demise right from the beginning of the episode. Unfortunately, all of his military training didn't prevent him from crossing the road improperly, thus causing him to get hit by a car. This finally means it's time for us to follow Danny into the Nethersphere we've been hearing about all season!
In a set up reminiscent to Beetlejuice, we see Danny meet Seb, a case worker who handles everything from settling you into the afterlife, arranging for calls between you and loved ones, and even setting up meetings between you and any people you may have accidentally killed in your life.
Out of all of the time we've spent with Danny Pink in his living years, it's his death that truly shows us what he's been through. We learn that poor Danny accidentally killed a child in his military service, and that's what's been haunting him since we first met him towards the beginning of the season. Between meeting the young boy he accidentally shot, and having to say a tearful, self sacrificial goodbye to Clara, we saw Mr. Pink rung through the emotional ringer, all while Seb watches and (to a certain point) instigates. Why would he want Danny to experience these feelings? Simple: he has an app that'll take care of all of those “emotions” in the afterlife.
Big Time Spoilers Ahead! Turn Back, Watch The Episode, And Come Back When You're Caught Up!
As it turns out, the huge collection of water tombs overseen by Missy and the 3W company are filled with “dark water,” a substance that hides any inorganic matter and reveals what's behind anything obscuring it. Clothing, jewlery, metal suits of armor. That's right... it's the (new) tomb of the Cybermen! Everyone we've seen die and head to “The Promised Land,” has chosen to upgrade their bodies and delete their emotions. At least, that's what they seem to be hinting at here. Missy and 3W have been harvesting the dead, and turning them into Cybermen... and the end of the episode seems to be hinting that the big plot is a new cyber invasion of Earth, with all of the graves ready for recruiting. Which brings us to the big $1 million twist of this week, this season, and the entire Steven Moffat run.
"I'm Missy. Short for Mistress. Well, couldn't very well keep calling myself The Master, could I?”
MISSY IS THE MASTER! For those of you who called it in your Whovian betting pool, you were right! Out of anyone that she could have been, she turned out to be a regeneration of The Master, whom we last saw battling it out with Rassilon after the events of “The End Of Time.” How or why she's come back to haunt The Doctor, especially after the relatively good terms they left their adversarial relationship on when they last met, is a mystery that will hopefully be solved next week. But this week ended with the two most powerful images Doctor Who could have ended on: Missy's smug grin, and a sobbing Danny poised to delete his emotions.
Next week, we're getting an hour's worth of episode, and judging by this week's revelations, we're going to need it! It all comes to a head next weekend, and you're going to want to be here as we dissect “Death In Heaven!” For those of you who are still reeling from that mind blowing twist, while starting to ask some serious questions, join us in “The Doctor's Notes” for this week!
The Doctor's NotesSo does this mean Steven Moffat just confirmed that The Master has always had a thing for The Doctor? I mean it's always been kind of a running rumor throughout the series, but now we've got a full on make out scene.
The moment between Danny and the unfortunate child he accidentally killed in the line of duty was a pretty powerful one. Its brevity and lack of closure, while initially seeming like a cop out, are exactly what get Danny riled up enough to start breaking. The sneakiness of Seb and the Nethersphere trying to trick the newly deceased into becoming part of the Cyber Army is pretty damned clever/extremely manipulative.
Two HUGE Classic Doctor Who episodes have been referenced in this episode: “The Tomb Of The Cybermen” and “The Invasion” - both Second Doctor serials.
High marks to Steven Moffat for bringing his “A” game to this week's episode. I wish he'd have done so much earlier in the season, but late is most certainly better than never. Screwdrivers crossed, he sticks the landing next week.
Even higher marks to director Rachel Talalay, for putting together a tightly shot and edited episode. For someone who got their start on Hollywood flicks like Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare and Tank Girl, you probably wouldn't expect all that much. However, Talalay has been working like gangbusters on the TV scene, and is the first American director (that I know of) who's directed a Doctor Who episode. Please, oh please bring her back on a more full time basis!
We're two episodes light this year, and I'm kind of sad we don't have a Neil Gaiman episode this year. Here's hoping he not only comes back for next season, but that his name winds up on the short list for showrunners when Steven Moffat eventually leaves.
Speaking of departures, I know the BBC normally announces something officially when someone's leaving the show, but HOW can Clara keep going on as a companion, especially after all the twists her arc has taken?
I really want to see The Doctor dressing down Seb, in the best Thick Of It reference this side of The Doctor's internalized swearing showing up on his psychic paper.