I've got heaven right here on earth.
written by Jermaine Lowery
In the final four episodes of Dr. Who Season 8, we were encountered with beings from another dimension, a not so enchanted forest, and the afterlife, twice! The T.A.R.D.I.S. also know as “Sexy”, has seen more visitors than I can remember. The dynamic between the Doctor, “Clara my Clara”, and Danny Pink shifted throughout; sometimes uncomfortably so. People died… and the band played on.
Philosophical, exhilarating, somber, cohesive, unsettling, compassionate.
First we need clarity. In the world of Dr. Who, Flatline is not referring to the stopping of someone’s heart - that would be too simple, or not simple enough depending on your perception. Think more of an actual flat line, then you can begin to understand. Dr. Who and Dr. Oswald, I mean Clara, are confronted with beings from another dimension - the second dimension, as in 2D. In Flatline, the T.A.R.D.I.S. encountered some funky readings, dimensional energy, so it shrank. It didn’t shrink like the usual bigger on the inside; more like Honey I Shrunk the Kids. The Doctor was trapped on the inside, which was still bigger thank goodness, and Clara had to become the Doctor. Just as Superman plays Clark Kent based on his view of mankind, Clara plays the Doctor based on her perception of him, and what a “mighty fine” Doctor she was. Too good, Clara’s interpretation of the Doctor was cold, calculating, brilliant, and she lied… a lot! Not that Clara is above lying (especially to Danny), but the Doctor had the opportunity to see himself through someone else’s eyes. His inner turmoil to discover the kind of man he is resurfaces as he utters the words to Clara; “You were an exceptional Doctor. Goodness had nothing to do with it.” In the end, we were blessed with another “It is protected” speech, and more of that Capaldi fire spewed at this episode’s two dimensional low lifes, err… Flatliners. Missy makes another brief appearance as she claims to have pulled a few strings in the past… possibly woven some stories together.
Episode 10 - In the Forest of the Night
“Can you not just let me enjoy this moment of not knowing something? It happens so rarely.” Easily the best sentence spoken by the Doctor in this episode. With that out of the way, the beginning of this episode will make you believe you’re back in Sherwood forest. Don’t worry, we are out of the woods… those woods. A forest has decided to rise in the heart of London. When Clara, Mr. Pink, and the school children awake during an overnight field trip, they find themselves surrounded by new, fully grown trees. “Who you gonna call?” The Doctor is baffled by this development, and thoroughly enjoys not knowing, for a short while. How long did you think it would last?
The Doctor and Clara’s paths intertwine as the Doctor becomes babysitter to Maebh, one of Clara’s students who finds herself lost, without her medication to suppress the voices in her head, and afraid - just go with it. The students take a detour to the T.A.R.D.I.S. and even get a chance for a selfie break (it's 2014). The Doctor’s bedside manner is still missing, but he is on the case to figure out why these fire proof trees have invaded not only London, but the entire planet earth. If the trees weren’t enough to deal with, their untold amounts of destruction allow for the freedom of some nearby zoo animals. Enter Danny Pink to save the day, he can at least do that much. Caught in between her incessant lying, her love for Danny, and the chance for adventure, Clara finds herself in another compromising situation in her attempt to pursue true love and the universe all at once.
The Doctor, wrapped in another puzzle feels hopeless, a rare sight to see. In an attempt to save Clara’s life, and hers alone, she sadly declined because she “didn’t want to be the last of her kind" (Ouch Clara, I thought we were cool.) Though he doesn’t save the day, the Doctor does have many strokes of brilliance throughout the episode. The progression of the Clara/Danny love saga takes the front stage as the Doctor uncharacteristically bumbles a bit. It’s a new look for the Doctor, he bumbled. Outside of the bumbling, he made some pretty enlightening remarks about the human race, that Clara cleverly related back to himself (you will see what I mean).
Again, Missy seems to have eyes on the Doctor at all times, while she remains a mystery… Out of sight out of mind?
Episode 11 - Dark Water (Part 1 of 2)
To say this episode went from one extreme to the next is an understatement, BUT, I would rate this as the best episode of the season. Our Doctor begins to come back to himself, and to us with assuredness, confidence, compassion, and determination. Well done, bravo. This episode begins with Clara’s declaration of everlasting love to Danny Pink in a way that can never be taken back, and boy did she mean business. Unfortunately, Danny died during this declaration (huh?!?.... exactly). Clara, being besties with a Time Lord, decides to take advantage of this relationship. With a ferocious plan filled with betrayal and deceit, Clara goes to her Doctor with grief and malice in her heart, betrays him and everything he stands for. Clearly, it was no surprise when the Doctor told her to "go to hell. No one expected he would give her a ride there in the T.A.R.D.I.S., but he did. With compassion in his heart, the Doctor took his friend to get her beloved from the dead, “so buck up and give me some attitude.”
The Doctor and Clara are taken to a place called 3W, an organization that helps you find comfort not only in your funeral, but in the afterlife. Danny and Clara are brought together once again using wi-fi from the Nethersphere. Why wouldn’t they have wi-fi?
In a classic moment, Capaldi briefly goes back in time as he allows his pent up anger to reveal itself as a host of swear words on the psychic paper (good times). The Doctor feels unsettled as he misses obvious clues for the majority of the episode while he searches 3W. Guided by Missy, the truth about 3W and Missy finally surfaces in a major, and majorly unexpected way! With a new leader, the Cybermen find their way back on earth in yet another attempt… will they ever learn? “It is protected!”
Episode 12 - Death in Heaven (Part 2 of 2)
UNIT makes a surprise appearance in another half-baked attempt to save the day. The Doctor awakes aboard a plane where he is told he is the President of the world due to the crisis situation. His nemesis Missy, formerly known as the Master, is also aboard this plane (not too bright but it happened). The Doctor works through this episode to figure out how to stop Missy’s plan to exploit the the biggest strategic flaw of humankind using the Cybermen - (the dead outnumber the living).
While initially hopeful, this episode slowly drains all hope of the Doctor being able to give Danny Pink back to his Clara, so sad. The final moments of this episode are filled with emotion, conflict, and revelation. Missy attempts to make the Doctor more like her, and almost succeeds when The Doctor commits to sacrifice his soul to save Clara’s (metaphorically speaking). The Doctor also finally figures out the type of man he is, an idiot. Though that’s a little harsh, it is sometimes a fair enough assessment. Danny was instrumental in helping the Doctor find himself and in saving the planet, he wasn’t quite able to save himself.
Missy didn’t just bring destruction, twisted justice, and psychotic behaviors, she also provided the Doctor with valuable information regarding their home planet, Gallifrey. With the coordinates to his long lost home planet, the Doctor may be playing a little Bon Jovi on the way. Who says you can’t go home?
This season ended with regrettable farewells and left me with an unsettled feeling. Clara and the Doctor leave a lot unsaid as we bid season 8 adieu. The Christmas special gives hope towards tying up the loose ends we are left with.