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REVIEW: Doctor Who 8×11 “Dark Water”

Last week, I posted a status on Facebook saying “I couldn’t give a flying TARDIS who Missy is.” It looks as though I stand corrected.

The Steven Moffat-penned “Dark Water” opens up the latest finale of Doctor Who in a truly convoluted fashion, but more on that later. “Dark Water” features the latest casualty of the series – Danny Pink. On dying, Danny promptly pops up in The Promised Land, the identity of which becomes slightly clearer. What follows is perhaps one of the most melodramatic scenes ever in the series’ history – on discovering Danny’s death and finding the Doctor reluctant to change the situation, Clara threatens (and actually does) throw away all seven TARDIS keys in a raging volcano.

This scene was heavily promoted in the run up to this episode, and it’s ultimately a shame that it’s little more than a glorified dream sequences. That and the occasional ham-fisted dialogue, “You can see my house from here!” “Doctor… who?” “I feel like I’m missing something… obvious”, don’t do this episode any favours, but what ultimately drags this episode down somewhat is its overall feel.

“Dark Water” feels very much like an introductory piece to the next episode, which is strange given that the majority of this series has been made up of standalone adventures. Much of the episode has the audience guessing such elements as ‘where IS Danny?’, ‘what do the three W’s stand for?’, ‘who is Missy?’ and most of those questions come to some sort of revelation by the end, leaving the canvas blank for an epic finale.

But in terms of the positives for “Dark Water”, it still has plenty going for it. The combined revelation of who Missy is (I shan’t tell if you haven’t seen it, I’m not mean) and what’s happening to all these ‘dead’ people packs quite a powerful punch – and harkens back somewhat to the David Tennant-era in terms of what the potential scope this two-parter has.

The scenes in the Underworld/Promised Land/etc are also immensely chilling, particularly the moment when Danny meets the young boy whom he accidentally murdered. That scene is also made the more blood-curling when it finally clicks with you why both of them are there – recruitment.

“Dark Water” also does much in putting Clara and Danny’s relationship into context in the wider scope of this series. My own general reaction to the couple is that we’ve been seeing far too much of them and not enough of the Doctor. It’s true that in recent episodes Danny and Clara really have been hogging the spotlight over the Doctor – but at least now we know why (somewhat). And now that Missy as shown her true colours, one can’t help but feel that next week’s episode will be split into two halves – one half may see Clara attempting to bring Danny back from the dead, while the other may well see Capaldi facing off against Missy in some much-needed spotlight action.

Overall grade – B.

Pros:

+ Missy – she/he (whoops, slight spoiler!) shines through in terms of personality.

+ The conversion of skeletons into Cybermen has a fine sense of dread to it.

Cons:

– “Dark Water” ultimately felt like it was setting up for the next instalment rather than holding its own identity.

Extra thoughts:

Now that we know who Missy really is, think back to the moment when Missy stuck her/his tongue down the Doctor’s throat. Let that sink in, like Missy did.

What did you make of “Dark Water”? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Fred McNamara