This is it, my friends. This is the episode that will take the Peter Capaldi naysayers and do one of two things: shut them up, or prove that they are clinically insane if they continue to grouse about how not-great he is. “The Zygon Inversion” is the best episode of the season so far, and should reaffirm for viewers what Doctor Who is all about: challenging perceptions, championing kindness and tolerance, and breaking the mold of what a “silly little science fiction show” is supposed to be.
WARNING: What you’re about to read contains spoilers about this episode and possibly other episodes/seasons of Doctor Who. Proceed at your own risk/reward!
RECAP: Picking up straightaway from last episode, Bonnie the Clara-doppelganger is still wreaking havoc. Although she did manage to destroy the Doctor’s plane with her bazooka, some quick thinking on the real Clara’s part (yes, she’s stuck in the Zygon stasis pod, but apparently is sorta awake and can use the Zygon duplication technique as a two-way mental link) buys enough time for “Doctor Disco” and Osgood to escape the plane via emergency parachutes. As the duo makes their way back to London, Bonnie mentally interrogates Clara and discovers that the Osgood box is in the Black Archive, located underneath UNIT HQ.
Upon returning to London, Zygons attack Osgood and the Doctor, and they are heroically saved by the not-quite-dead-yet Kate Williams, who survived her own Zygon attack in New Mexico by, well, just shooting the alien first, I guess. They all head to the Black Archive in time to have a tense standoff with Bonnie, who is not only holding Clara hostage there but has also discovered that there are actually two Osgood boxes, one to hold the fate of both the human and Zygon races in its function.
This is where Capaldi gets real. He gives a nearly ten-minute-long impassioned speech that absolutely mesmerizes and stirs up all of the feels inside you. What he says makes you want to volunteer for the Peace Corps, go out and make the winning shot in a moment of glory for your local sports team, and generally just rally for whatever-the-hell cause he would ask you to support. Here is, in my opinion, the highlight of his diatribe:
“This is a scale model of war. Every war ever fought, right there in front of you, because it’s always the same. When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you have no idea who’s going to die. You don’t know whose children are going to scream and burn. How many hearts will be broken? How many lives shattered? How much blood will be spilled until everyone does what they’re always going to have to do from the beginning: sit down and talk.”
Shiver me timbers. Of course, in the end cooler heads do prevail and the Doctor does, in fact, save the day, leaving Kate Williams, Osgood, and the newly-reformed Bonnie (as Osgood 3.0!) to continue to work at peace on Earth.
>>> At the end of the previous episode, we were given four characters with their “deaths” shown off-screen: The Doctor & Osgood, Kate Williams, and UNIT higher-up Jacqueline. Of this quartet, it appears that only Jaq really “bit it,” as she’s the only one who doesn’t get to make a “fooled you, audience!” reappearance in this episode. RIP, I guess…
>>> We hear Kate Williams tell the Doctor how she disposed of her Zygon captor in New Mexico: “Five rounds rapid.” This is a direct quote from a former head of UNIT – Kate’s father, no less, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, who uttered the line in the 1971 episode “The Daemons” during the run of the Third Doctor.
>>> There is one line, towards the end of the episode, that is delivered as if it’s just another piece of dialogue, but the more I think about it, the more it speaks volumes. The Doctor, in no uncertain terms, says that this is the 15th time that he’s had to help keep the Zygon-human peace treaty from breaking down in a situation like this. Fifteen times!? Perhaps there is more back-story here that we’ll get explained to us in a future episode, but obviously the Doctor has lots of off-screen visits to Earth to nip this issue in the bud. Thank goodness he’s got some time on his hands…
CLOSING THOUGHTS: Doctor Who has set itself a pretty high bar for the remainder of this season after this fabulous two-parter. The preview for next week’s episode appears to return us to something of the “monster of the week” vibe, but after what we’ve been given in this tale, I’d imagine that most true DW fans are eagerly awaiting another crack at Capaldi and the awesomeness of his Twelfth Doctor.
PRINCIPAL CAST FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE:
Peter Capaldi as The Doctor
Jenna Louise Coleman as Clara Oswald
Gemma Redgrave as Kate Williams
Ingrid Oliver as Osgood