Just like the eleven episodes preceding it, Death In Heaven has split opinion. Some fans claiming it is the best Doctor Who finale we have had since 2005, others feel a lot less positively towards it. Stacy Embry empathises with Peter Capladi's facepalm...
I was really looking forward to Death In Heaven.
I've grown quite fond of this Doctor, Peter Capaldi can act everything thrown at him, and has spun gold from straw more than once this season. I thought we would finally find out why his familiar face had replaced that of Matt Smiths. The first half of the finale, Dark Water, was unfortunate in the unnecessarily upsetting 3 words fiasco. The arrogance of Mr. Moffat (of which I've written about before) to think his anti-cremation claim would be contained as a clue to the Cybermen was foolish, with the subsequent backlash of complaints justified. But the overall episode was good. Not upsetting, but good. Very good even. Yes, we all knew Missy was the Master way back in Deep Breath, even if we tried to convince ourselves otherwise all season. But she fits with this Doctor so perfectly, and in Dark Water Michelle Gomez was brilliant... bonkers.... shockingly fantastic. Her portrayal redefined the Master, and she was crazy good whilst doing so.
So yes, I was looking forward to Death In Heaven...
But then we get... recycled melodrama? What?
Here's where I'm coming from... please hear me out.....
happened in this soap-operetta. No important character was
sacrificed. No plot was either completed or begun.
Having never bought into the Danny/Clara relationship, that sacrifice
meant nothing. Osgood, clearly admired by some, is hardly an important character in the series, and more fool her for falling for Missy's trick - who in their right mind would've approached this insane alien? Sloppy writing. And so was using Danny Pink, and then the legacy that is the
Brigadier, as awkward props. Both clearly intended as nothing but unnecessary emotional
manipulation. The metal hug... the Doctor's salute... all hokey.
Playing with the opening title sequence in
opposition was just juvenile, then having Missy dress like Mary Poppins just so she could fly into the
graveyard was a cheap gag. And Missy's not gone. We know the blue light showed she was transported. I mean red was for all the destruction, and a Cyberman would be
programmed to protect her, so where is Missy now? I'm so very
disappointed in the garish misuse of talent.
I'm sure many viewers are jubilant with a self-contained Cybermen
story... but this one was not even as good as Nightmare In Silver... and
this was a season finale? I recently wrote a piece on the Cybermen and
how they've always been defeated by human emotion... and they were, again.
See, I did make a mistake. I read the hype during the week...we will have years of plots tied up....Moffat's masterpiece...The best finale ever. I didn't actively look for spoilers, but hoped that at least some of the hype was right. I kept myself media-free all show day to experience this miracle with fresh eyes, and hoped to be satiated. After all, questions were to be answered! Would we finally know why Clara was the Impossible Girl? Why her? And what really happened in Eleven's time stream? Why does the Doctor wear this face, and how does it tie into Fires Of Pompeii? And a lot more questions besides.
Then, Death In Heaven gave us just one inconsequential answer... the woman in the shop was Missy. Duh! Valuable only because the image of Matt Smith in The Bells of Saint John took me back to the innocent wonder of his open infatuation with Clara (BTW: Thanks for a moment of Matt).
Moffat's attempt to recycle the Bad Wolf Bay scene, with Danny talking to Clara from beyond, and then sending the young boy back from the dead made no sense whatsoever. We were told that Missy's bracelet had only "enough power for one trip", something we're just expected to accept even
though Missy herself had used it multiple times to go in and out of the Nethersphere. It
was just an unexplainable sloppily written plot device, again thrown in seemingly just to tug on the heartstrings.
But at least we have Gallifrey. At least the story has advanced the Doctor's search for his home planet.... Only it wasn't there.
The one saving moment of this whole shambles, which almost made the previous 50 minutes bearable was the cafe scene at the end. It was heartbreakingly written and acted. Capaldi and Coleman were brilliant. The embrace, and the tears that each expressed, felt like authentic love and vulnerability. It rang true, and the Doctor's comment that a hug "is a chance to hide your face" was perfect setup with finesse and subtlety. The eyes had it. I thought, if this can be done why was the rest so disappointing?
Such talent, combined with such outstanding technical and directorial ability....and this?
I give Death In Heaven an F. Three of them - Fairytale Finale Fiasco.
Risk adverse, Stacy would never even enter the TARDIS, but admires
those who do. Happily watching and writing from the distance of Indiana,
USA. She enjoys writing and discussing her observations and critiques.