REVIEW: Doctor Who 8×12 “Death in Heaven”

Now THAT’S how you do a Doctor Who finale! The closing episode of series 8, “Death in Heaven” delivered things with a satisfactory amount of action, drama, and intrigue, everything you need for a decent climax of Doctor Who. But was that all it was, just a good, bog-standard finale?

Following on from last week’s revelation that Missy is in fact the Master (apologies if you didn’t already know that), “Death in Heaven” not only wrapped this year’s story-arc rather well, but threw new light onto past episodes, who’s quality we think have varied, to say the least.

Now, however, some of those episodes are somewhat redeemed by how this year’s story-arc has come together – plot strands connect more, character motives are more clearly defined, and lots of death! The beginning of this latest series resulted in Doctor Who coming under fire by mainstream press, as the general view they held was that Doctor Who is little more than silly kids fodder. “Death in Heaven”, if nothing else, surely proves those critics wrong.

Missy/the Master sets to work on creating a new army by bringing the Earth’s deceased back as Cybermen, the terror of this brought home when one Cyberman peels his metal face off to reveal itself as Danny. His and Clara’s relationship comes full circle and packs a powerful punch to the heart. At the same time, U.N.I.T pop up and not only enlist the Doctor’s help, but put him in charge of the entire planet – one can’t help but feel this may well have been done to make up for Capaldi’s lack of grip on proceedings these past few episodes, and most of the attention being diverted to Clara and Danny.

Was Moffat simply trying to recreate some of the appeal Amy and Roy had? Maybe, maybe not, but Missy’s flippant reasoning for giving the Doctor an army of Cybermen reminds us that beneath the rough, Scottish exterior, the 12th Doctor is indeed a good man – even when he’s lying to Clara about finding Gallifrey. This is perhaps where “Death in Heaven” succeeds the most – it answers that one question that’s been bugging viewers since “Deep Breath”.

Not “who is Missy?”, not “what is The Promised Land?”, and not “how much more of Clara do we have to sit through before the Doctor can return. “Am I a good man” is answered in full. The Doctor is good enough to let Clara go at last, but that doesn’t stop Doctor Who taking a tip from Marvel and sending Father Christmas in to give the Doctor a telling off.

And there, also, is Doctor Who in a nutshell. As one story ends, another begins almost immediately. But for now we can rest easy knowing that this story had one of the best climaxes of Doctor Who in recent years, and replay the entire series in our heads again and enjoy it for knowing how events are connected. All this through “Death in Heaven”, a fine episode indeed.

Overall grade – A.


+ Cybermen rising from the graves of Earth.

+ Danny and Clara’s goodbye.

+ Missy remains truly evil.



– Have all of Missy’s encounters with the Doctor taught her nothing? Her plans were doomed to end in her downfall!

– Was it just me, or was Father Christmas’ cameo rather abrupt and didn’t fit in with the tone of this episode?

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

About the author

Fred McNamara

1 Comment

  • Missy was a boring character all season, but this finale really let her lunacy fly and I thought she was the most brilliant thing all year.

    My main disappointment with this year and the new Doctor is that in previous years, the companions have always complemented The Doctor, but this year, it seemed this Doctor was complementing the companion. (Commence geek war!)