Doctor Who: Which Was The Best Episode Of Series Nine?

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Sleep No More - only kidding!


Which was the best episode of Doctor Who series nine? Heaven Sent? The Zygon Inversion? The Magician's Apprentice? Sleep No More?(!)? Hmmm, there are so many to choose from (well, twelve to be exact), and here at WarpedFactor towers we've been arguing about it all week.

There was only one thing we could do to find out the answer. We all took one of the TARDIS shaped post-it notes from Geek Dave's desk and found a little corner each to write down our own individual top 12 - from our least favourite to our, er, favourite favourite. We then took turns in a sort of Eurovision Song Contest style scoring event, awarding points for each episode - with first place receiving 12 points, second 11 points, and so on all the way down to 1 point for last place. Oh, the fun we have!

Anyway, after tallying up all the votes cast we can now conclusively state that our favourite, ergo the best, episode of Doctor Who series nine is.......

....We'll get to that soon enough, but first let's count down the runners-up from 12 to 3...


12. Sleep No More
It's probably little surprise to anyone that this came bottom of the list. In total Sleep No More received just 2.74% of the points available, and out of the fifteen of us WarpedFactor minions who voted, ten of us placed it last in our own personal top 12.
Gatiss delivered the weakest of the season. There’s a shock. The found-footage seemed more like an idea that came first and the story came second. At least it proves that Doctor Who isn’t afraid to take risks. Full marks for effort and ambition, just a shame it was never fully realised. Here’s hoping the planned sequel can redeem it.
Despite a somewhat daft idea for a monster and the found footage gimmick, Sleep No More is actually better than some reviewers would have it. It's Mark Gatiss doing a Troughton era base under siege story with quite a bit of atmosphere from the direction. Even better, it solves my biggest pet peeve with the entire "found footage" genre: just who and why did they put the footage together?


11. The Woman Who Lived
With just 3.59% of the votes Ashildr/Me's second adventure from series nine promised much but failed to deliver.
Little saves this one for me - Me is uninspired in the writing for the most part, and has little character for Maisie Williams to hang her performance on. The Lion-boy looks stupid and is a lazy creature concept. The betrayal is also lazy. Rufus Hound. Regency romance. Ugh.
The scenes with Capaldi and Williams discussing immortality were great. Everything else, notsomuch. Poorly written in the large part, oddly directed, it was just an episode that didn't work.


10. The Girl Who Died
The first half of the Ashildr two-part story actually scored much better, at 6.15%. It divided us though, possibly more than any other episode from this series.
Nicely done, by-the-numbers Doctor Who story playing to its traditional strengths, saving ordinary people from an alien threat.
Comedy Vikings, impressive warriors that do nothing, hammy acting and an underused Maisie Williams make this the definite nadir of the series. Don’t get me started on the whole baby talk thing…


9. Under The Lake
There's very little between this and the next episode, in fact they swapped places several time and ended up with less just 0.2% separating them. In the end Under The Lake finished with 7.44% of the points (but, for what it's worth, is my personal second favorite of the series).
Best base under siege in 21st century Who, bar none. Tantalising clues, creepy ghosts, clockwork squirrels, oh hellyes.
So very atmospheric, and one of the best cliffhangers ever. Very classic Who on a new Who budget. More like this please.


8. Before The Flood
Narrowly edging out the first half of the Toby Whithouse two-parter, Before The Flood received 7.61% of the vote.
The opening sequence, the rock theme, the Fisher King, bootstrap paradox, and the general timey-wimeyness all add up to make this a very memorable episode.
Although the rubber looking Fisher King never threatens the ghosts in the scare stakes, Before The Flood is a very clever and highly intricate story, the base scenes still pull a punch especially the terrifying axe scene. 


7. Face The Raven
Clara's supposed swansong finished with 8.8%, and from here on out there is only 1.5% separating the next five episodes, which I think goes to show the all round high quality of series nine.
Solidly compact storytelling - here's a MacGuffin, don't fall foul of it, oops I fell foul of it, zap. Enjoyable and inventive and colourful all the way through.
Nice enough fan-pleaser, though the ending lacked the appropriate oomph (perhaps because we’ve seen Clara die so often already?)


6. Hell Bent 
The super-sized series finale fitted an awful lot in to its 65 minutes, with some areas being less successful than others. We gave it 9.23% of the points.
A flawed finale, though there’s a great many things to enjoy here, especially the drop dead gorgeous 1960’s TARDIS set. Capaldi and Coleman are great together as always, but the Gallifrey and hybrid plotlines have underwhelming resolutions. 
A beautiful end to Clara’s story. Lots of nods to the past and storylines opened up for the future. What will Rassilon and his council do next? I look forward to finding out! Then there’s that regeneration, the ultimate fan-troll subsequently followed by the ultimate fan-service: CAPALDI IN A RETRO TARDIS!!!!! It’s like Christmas had come early. Now the slate has been wiped clean for the next companion, almost as clean as when Matt Smith first crashed into Karen Gillan’s back garden.
Good, but rather a lot of fan service at the cost of adventure, plus the ending was a bit cosy.


5. The Zygon Invasion
The first half of Peter Harness' Zygon adventure received 9.4% of the vote.
Probably the most political story in the shows history but one handled well with a lot of questions for the audience to reflect on. Some supremely dark scenes (the Zygons as family members) along with a twist you won’t see coming propel this one to greatness.
International threat, invasion from within, and fear and loathing of 'the other' are issues that are gripping our society today, so it was good to see Doctor Who tackling this just as it might've done with relevant issues during the Seventh Doctor's era or via a 1970s Robert Holmes script.
It was a little heavy handed at times but it was great to have Oswin back and tie-up some of the loose ends from The Day of the Doctor.


4. The Magician's Apprentice
We were promised an explosive series opener and we got one. We gave The Magician's Apprentice 10.09% of the vote.
Staggering invention (hand mines), the gobsmacking premise - Davros as a boy - and the roaring to a new style of the Twelfth Doctor: the guitar-playing, tank-riding, dude-inventing Doctor.
Three months and some of the best episodes of Doctor Who later, it's easy to overlook how great The Magician's Apprentice was. I was like 2 minutes in. There's young Davros. I was like "permission to squee". There's Peter Capaldi playing guitar on a tank. "Squeeeee". There's the Special Weapons Dalek. "Squeeeeeeeeee". It was the best opening episode from the last decade. And Missy rocks!
Doctor Who's greatest hits. Loads of humor, some great twists, the Daleks, Davros, Skaro, Missy/the Master, good new Aliens, great action sequences, UNIT, nods to the past and a great cliffhanger. What more could you want?


3. The Witch's Familiar
Narrowly beating part one of the story, with 10.26% The Witch's Familiar takes the series nine bronze medal.
My favourite of series nine and second-favourite in over 52 years. I loved Gomez's definitive Master, so delightfully unpredictable and deliciously evil! Bleach and Capaldi “acting” acting opposite each other. "The Doctor and Clara Oswald in the TARDIS” is a fantastic punch-the-air moment of triumph. And then there’s Joey Price as Young Davros, look out for him because he’s going places: Calling it now.
Scenes between the Doctor and Davros are always great and it helps that two of the finest actors to inhibit the roles are in action here. Helped along by some gorgeous set design and a wonderfully bonkers Michelle Gomez this is a cracking conclusion to the opening two-parter. 
A Good first half between Davros and the Doctor; Julian Bleach easily Capaldi’s equal in the acting stakes; but the second half was a bit “deus ex machina” in terms of how the Doctor and Missy beat Davros and the Daleks so easily using stuff we’ve never seen before.
Great work from the four principals - Capaldi, Coleman, Gomez and Bleach. And great writing from Moffat too in terms of the philosophical differences and similiarities between the Doctor and Davros.

Our top two changed places so many times that it really could've gone either way. Both were clear leaders from the first set of votes cast, but when the last points were awarded, in second place we had...


2. The Zygon Inversion
Finishing with 12.31%, it's safe to say we liked The Zygon Inversion. Lots.
Very strong, classic Doctor Who, saving the world through getting people talking rather than shooting.
A magnificent conclusion to this two-parter, the final 15 minutes of this episode are some of the best written in the shows history, helped along by an absolutely phenomenal performance from Capaldi. It’s great to have a Doctor Who episode that really makes you think. 
Simply the real world allegory in a Who setting. There was some good service done to a great Who species (seems churlish still to call them villains), and of course that single long scene, with THAT speech. The scene that will cap any montage of ultimate Twelfth Doctorness.
Featuring one of the most powerful extended moments I've witnessed in a home-grown television drama. It was unbelievably good and forms one half of the best two-parter Who has ever done.

Which brings us to number one...


1. Heaven Sent
How close was it at the top? Just 0.08% separated first and second place, but there can only be one winner and with 12.39% of the vote it's Heaven Sent.
A solid, beautiful episode, though it slightly overworked the dough of the storytelling towards the end. Horrifying prospect, working out the only way to win, time after time after time. Actually, madly named as its all about the Hell of repetition, torture, stubbornness, and turning pain into something adamantine.
Outstanding television. Creepy, atmospheric, intense and intelligent. Can we just give Peter Capaldi his BAFTA now?
The best of the series but such a shame that the BBC spoilered the closing moments.
Moffat haters, if you can't appreciate Heaven Sent for the sublime episode that it is then there is no hope for you at all. This showed that Doctor Who is in excellent hands and really has never been stronger in terms of its artistry and intelligence.
Heaven Sent is one of the most experimental episodes Doctor Who has ever done on television. To normally find a story this experimental and unusual one has to turn to the spin-off media. So even more kudos to Moffat, Capaldi and all involved in making this the best episode of the Capaldi era to date.
Heaven Sent was blindingly brilliant, different and thrilling, with a once-in-a-lifetime performance by Peter Capaldi. This was not television, but art.

So Heaven Sent was our choice for the best episode of Doctor Who series nine. Do you agree? And how would you rank them all? Let us know in the comments below.

Compiled from votes cast by Andrew East, Andy Markham, Dr Moo, Geek Dave, Isa Gunther, Jake Oh, Matthew Kresal, Neale Monks, Nick Brent, Si Shepherd, Stacy Embry, Tony Fyler, Wil Fromage, William Egan, and myself.

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