Leah and I finally got around to watching these two today, and I decided, what the hell, I’d write down my thoughts.
- The Doctor playing the guitar
- Jenna Coleman shooting a rocket launcher
- Basically everything with Osgood and Kate
- The two teenagers witnessing the transforming Zygon having absolutely no reaction
- Clara manipulating Bonnie to send a text message
- The Doctor referring to “The Imbecile’s Gas”
- The Osgood Boxes being deliberately modeled after The Moment.
- Before I even watched this episode, I caught wind of the mention of Harry Sullivan’s Magic Zygon-Killin’ Gas which would Invert Zygons. It instantly occurred to me that the stupidest possible outcome, and therefore a very likely one, would be that the Zygon extremists would be tricked into releasing what they thought was a turn-all-Zygons-back-to-their-natural-form gas, but it would turn out to be The Imbicile’s Gas instead, but it would turn out that the gas didn’t really kill the Zygons but instead turned them permanently human, thus ironically defeating the renegades and conveniently removing the whole “There are still Zygons living on Earth in secret permanently” thing. It turned out not that not only did they not use this stupid reset button resolution, but they did use the concept as the fake-out.
- It would have been a lot funnier if the Doctor had declined to specify what article of clothing he wore the question marks on.
- It would have been nice if it had not been obvious that Clara was a Zygon duplicate from even before she got grabbed. Seriously, the second the Doctor calls her and gets her voice mail, we already know what’s going to happen.
- Ditto Kate Stewart, only the other way around.
- Okay, so yeah. The Doctor forgives Bonnie, and is cool with her becoming an Osgood. The story’s written itself into a bit of a corner here where that is the only possible “right” answer for the story. But… Bonnie was responsible for the murder of dozens of UNIT soldiers, all the people killed in the shopping mall, that one civilian Zygon she zapped back to his natural form, and the entire population of Truth or Consequences, NM. But that’s okay because she’s learned an important lesson? I’m sure that will be a great comfort Jac’s family.
- The Doctor keeps asking Osgood which one she is, even after she makes it clear that she rejects the question. Now, I am cool with the way that this gives Osgood moral superiority to the Doctor, but there is no point where I got any sense that the Doctor actually had a valid reason to keep asking her. The obvious “good twist” would be to reveal that the Doctor keeps asking because he wants to be sure she won’t pick a side, but he never does. He just keeps on asserting that it’s really important that he know which one she is, and she just keeps on asserting that, no, it’s really not, and he just keeps not getting it.
- Will you shut up about the fucking “hybrid”? We get it.
- The Zygon the Doctor interrogates on the plane doesn’t even seem to understand the concept of having a name.
- But Bonnie does. Bonnie makes a point of saying it, of differentiating herself from Clara and making others acknowledge her identity.
- Osgood’s utter refusal to identify as human or Zygon. And even though they keep asking, everyone who matters, even Kate Stewart, accepts that. You know, I think this is the most trans-positive message this show has ever had. I’m guessing they didn’t know they’d done it.
- You know who doesn’t ask Osgood which one she is? Clara.
- That Kate’s escape from the Zygons involved the simple expedient of shooting them.
The basically unforgivably bad:
- Episode 1 is a 45 minute runaround whose only purpose is to say “It takes basically zero effort to defeat UNIT.” Ooh, UNIT’s so suspicious and so quick to solve problems by killing, but they fall for the same trick three times in a row.
- For all the work they do to reinforce the idea that Truth or Consequences is a splinter group not representative of the majority of peaceful Zygons, we see exactly one civilian Zygon (And it’s implied that he goes on a murder spree when unmasked). We see approximately two non-radicalized Zygons, and they’re the Unhelpful, Ineffectual and Probably Corrupt government.
- I notice that this pair of episodes was written by Peter Harness, who also gave us last year’s “Kill the Moon”, the story that half of viewers thought was a pro-choice parable and half of viewers thought was a forced-birth screed, since it’s all about it being the obviously right choice to not terminate the moon’s pregnancy. But the choice is ultimately made by one woman in spite of being pressured by literally everyone in the world, and the choice takes the form of pushing a big red button literally labeled “ABORT”. I get the feeling Peter Harness means really, really well, but has a blind spot for the implications.
- That fucking CGI title sequence. Yes, it was a brilliant and wonderful fan-made sequence that inspired it, but a bunch of professionals making a television show in high definition for international consumption as a flagship of BBC drama should be able to produce something that doesn’t look like it was made for the Playstation 2. At the least, they should be able to make something that looks as good as the fanart that inspired it.