Spoilers are straight ahead. But if you’re concerned about spoilers, you probably shouldn’t read an article with the word in the title.
Osgood!!!! Osgood is back! I should have realized such an obvious out existed as soon as she crossed paths with the Zygons, but I temporarily forgot I’d seen TV before and was surprised and beyond psyched to see her. This episode managed to be equal parts satisfying and unsatisfying and just the tiniest bit hard to follow. Do you agree? Let’s find out.
So, the Zygons are back. We saw them last in the Day of the Doctor 50th anniversary special 2 years ago. As a classic Whovian, I was really pleased then to see another classic series villain that wasn’t the Cybermen or the Daleks. New creatures are cool, but there is something to be said for going back and further exploring a relationship with an already-established race. The Doctor is different now, so what do they make of him and vice versa? It was also great to have them return to show us the after-effects of the Zygon-Human peace accord that was established in that episode. The Doctor gets credit for fixing a situation between two groups without ever actually explaining how really often. So, it was nice to come back to this situation and find out what happened.
Two years feels like the right amount of time to have passed for the tenuous arrangement to have broken down. Whether or not that was the actual amount of time that passed in the Whoniverse, it’s enough time for the original events to have faded in the memory of the audience without forgetting completely, and in the world of the story, it’s a realistic amount of time for the two races to have tried to live together peacefully and for a faction of nonbelievers to have cropped up and developed a plan to take over. I did find the set up a little confusing. I had a hard time figuring out at first that some Zygons were good and some were bad. Maybe it’s because they all look and sound exactly alike, maybe it’s because I had a rough weekend and wasn’t paying 100% attention, but I feel like it shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did to be clear about who was on on whose side (or Who’s side). I’m also thinking, with humans and Zygon copies plus a whole mess of hibernating Silurians (remember them?), isn’t the Earth getting a bit crowded?
I’m always pleased to see UNIT these days; seeing Kate Stewart this frequently reminds me of how often we used to see the Brigadier in the old days and that makes me smile. They did seem particularly shooty in this episode. I get it, the Zygons are incredibly dangerous and it’s practically impossible to track a shapeshifter, but if I were Kate, my first plan when the Doctor showed up would not be “bomb the everloving hell out of everything.” You know that’s not going to go over with the Doctor and it’s a little tiresome to have to hear it all again. I have to hand it to the fictional enemies on this one, their plan to slowly replace everyone and eliminate UNIT was a clever one. As I keep saying, I just wish they’d been able to wrap it the hell up in one episode, for once.The scene in which the UNIT troops were lured to their deaths by Zygon copies of their loved ones was haunting and did go a long way to explain why UNIT would be so quick to violence in this nightmare scenario.
Osgood. Dude. She is the freaking BEST. I love the whole backstory of her and her sister. I love that she proved the Doctor chose the right person when she refused to reveal which version, human or Zygon, she was. I doubt she even knows, so hard does she believe in keeping the peace. I’ll even hand it to the writers for that tricky bit of retcon explaining away an old rule that the Zygon had to keep their human duplicate alive. I loved every minute of having her onscreen and I’d like to officially nominate her as the Doctor’s next companion. She’s smart, science-y, brave, chock-full of morality, clearly trustworthy, totally gets the Doctor, and has a kickass wardrobe. Having previously appeared on the show makes her a good candidate, as almost all the new series companions appeared in previous episodes before joining the cast full time. And she would satisfy my urge to have the Doctor take on an alien companion, something we haven’t seen in the TARDIS since the 80s. If the Doctor is President of the World, then I vote Osgood for Vice President.
This series seems to be doing a lot to explore what happens after the Doctor leaves and it’s a theme I really dig. We’ve seen what happened to Davros after he met the Doctor as a child, what happened after he created a bootstrap paradox, what happened to a girl after he immortalized her and left her to her own devices, and now what happened after he insisted on a peace accord and didn’t stick around to help manage it. I’m interested to see where they’re leading him with all this. I feel the show is leading the Doctor to choose to go back to follow up on his biggest unfinished business, the fate of Gallifrey. I’m hopeful they can wrap that up in a smart and satisfying way. The show hasn’t let me down in that way so far, so I have faith.
Really the only unsatisfying part of the series has been all the damn 2-parters. Moffat & Company are really asking a lot of patience of us. Every episode has been great so far, but don’t we all need a little break from the intensity? Doesn’t the Doctor need a break? Every season needs a The Lodger or even a Curse of the Black Spot. Maybe they’re trying to make a statement with this Doctor, that he doesn’t have time for silly one-off adventures. Or maybe they’re just trying to throwback to the classic series days when every story had 6 or 8 parts and took weeks to resolve. Maybe it’s just a stylistic change I’m resisting because it’s different and I’m old and like things the way they were. Whatever the reason, it’s been working so I guess I’ll give up comment on it until such time as it is warranted again. So, let’s all tune in next week to see how the Doctor manages to escape a bazooka strike on his presidential plane and gets the humans and Zygons to play nicely again. See you next week!