Sunday, 8 November 2015

DOCTOR WHO, 9.8 – 'The Zygon Inversion'

Sunday, 8 November 2015


The conclusion of Peter Harness's two-parter was even better than the setup; perhaps because there were less 'UNIT soldiering' action scenes and more of The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) just being wonderful. Capaldi was on marvellous form throughout, with Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) making for a brilliant stand-in companion—good enough to make me wish Osgood might become a permanent resident of the TARDIS in Series 10. Alas, it seems this won't come to pass. Jenna Coleman also continued to have a blast as Clara's evil Zygon clone, Bonnie (or 'Zygella' as The Doctor nicknamed her).

Like a lot of two-parters, the second half of this story didn't add too much that was new to the story—it just upped the stakes and resolved things in a fun, clever way. For that reason, "The Zygon Inversion" was more a collection of very good scenes working towards a bravura scene where Capaldi's Doctor made an impassioned speech about the pointlessness of war—as Bonnie and Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) literally had the fate of the planet at their fingertips. A scene that recalled a similar button-pressing dilemma that ended "The Day of The Doctor", which was dutifully referenced to reinforce the idea The Doctor knows a little something about wartime thinking.

And while I began last week's review mulling over the effectiveness of Capaldi's incarnation of this character, it's only fair to say that scene and his performance went some way to elevating his ranking as The Doctor. I still think he needs a bonafide classic episode or two under his belt, but there's no denying this speech was a spine-tingling joy.

I also loved the idea that poor Clara, trapped inside an underground chrysalis while Bonnie walked free in her likeness, was dreaming she's locked inside a version of her own home—before realising she can affect her Zygon counterpart's mind and body in the outside world. A symbiosis that led to some great scenes of Clara managing to make Bonnie text The Doctor subconsciously or winking to him on Facetime, before that tense moment when Clara was interrogated by Bonnie and found herself unable to lie because they share a telltale pulse.

Overall, "The Zygon Inversion" was an excellent episode and easily the best of Series 9 so far. Peter Harness has done a lot to dispel the split-reaction to his "Kill the Moon" last year, to become one of the Who writers I'm most interested to see return. Even if this hour was ultimately a bit knockabout, only really having to ensure Capaldi's shining moment was arrived at with enough buildup and excitement... I don't really care. That scene, that dialogue, that performance... it's something Doctor Who clip shows will now be sourcing footage from forever.


  • Osgood's first name was revealed: Petronella. Do we believe The Doctor's name is Basil, as she claims?
  • Loved the callback to Kate's father with her echoing his famous "five rounds, rapid" line, first used in "The Daemons". Did you know there was a character in that episode called Sgt. Osgood, too? Any relation?
written by Peter Harness & Steven Moffat • directed by Daniel Nettheim • 7 November 2015 • BBC1

Next time...