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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Doctor Who blogging: “Dark Water”


[previous: “In the Forest of the Night”]

warning: spoilers!

So. The Master I mean Missy wants to conquer planet Earth. Yawn.

I’ve complained before that Steven Moffat tends to paint himself into corners, but this could be the biggest and most problematic one ever: Oh, so, the Doctor cannot possibly regenerate into a woman, because Reasons, but the superevil Master can totally suddenly be a woman for no Reason at all? This wouldn’t necessarily be an issue, except that Moffat has not been the bestest friend to women during his tenure running the show.

Hero who saves the planet, the galaxy, the universe? Can only be a man forever and ever. Archvillain out to ruin everything? Why not morph into a woman? Plausible!

Allow me to tell you how angry this episode makes me. I mean, even if we remove the women-as-evil issue.

None of it makes any damn sense at all.

For starters, what is this place for?


Is Missy, in the process of building up her Cyberarmy of soldiers housing the manipulated consciousnesses of the downloaded dead of planet Earth, actually running a facility that people can come and visit? You know, like how we go to the cemetery? To whom is “3W” — which means what? — being advertised and marketed? What is the purpose of the “dark water” that is hiding the Cybersuits?


Was this all conceived and constructed merely to fool the Doctor for five minutes before Missy monologued her evil plan to him? Who else is seeing this? Who is the Cyberarmy being hidden from? All the tourists wandering around St. Paul’s Cathedral who simply thought the catacombs had been upgraded?


(Seriously, St. Paul’s is insanely crowded all the time. There’s no way 3W could be inside it. Or is it that Missy’s TARDIS is hidden in the cathedral, and the 3W facility is inside her TARDIS? Except landing a TARDIS inside another TARDIS is a not-easy thing, as we’ve seen way back in the classic incarnation of the show, and would have other consequences. Except Moffat doesn’t care about anything at all except that it all looks cool right at this moment, as long as you don’t think about it at all in any way.)

Did Missy plan on killing someone the Doctor cared about to get him to accidentally have the idea to try to find out where people go when they die and so accidentally stumble upon her “Heaven”? Or did she just totally luck out that Danny Pink got himself run over out of the blue and that Clara Oswald would go so completely around the bend that she would attempt to force the Doctor to do something to save him, and that he would fail to simply hop back in time — because, you know, as Clara says, he breaks all sorts of rules all the time — and instead attempt to do something utterly bizarre, such as try to go where people go when they die? Even though, mere minutes later, the Doctor is insisting that “the dead are dead, they’re not talking to you out of your television set, they’re just gone” and “this isn’t possible, the dead don’t come back.” How does this jibe with “We’re here to get your boyfriend back from the dead”?


This Doctor has been wildly inconsistent, but never — that I can recall — in the same episode. Never this ridiculously.

(And this is entirely apart from the matter of: If the Doctor thinks it’s possible to rescue people from the dead, why hasn’t he tried this sooner? I bet Adric would have liked to be rescued from the dead after his noble sacrifice! Sure, a show that’s been running this long and told so many stories has to innovate somewhat, but this is way too big a thing to drop in at this point. The Doctor suddenly casually announces that he thinks something is possible that, if he really believed that, would change everything about the entire history of the protagonist! There has to be some continuity.)

(Oh, wait, and then there’s this: If the Doctor thinks 3W is a “con, a racket,” and is convinced that the “Danny” that Clara is talking to over the computer is a fake


built from the telepathic scan the 3W doctor says they made of Clara, then there’s no way in hell that “ask him questions only he’d know the answer to” would work. Because any answers that she could confirm are correct are ones they could have gotten from the telepathic scan! And this after the Doctor tells Clara to be “skeptic and critical.” He seems incapable of that himself, and credulous and unreasoning is not something the Doctor has ever been.)

Let’s rewind. I did not for an instant believe a single moment of any of this::


Not even as a dream. (Though there was also no suspense at all before we were informed that it was a dream of sorts.) And Clara shouldn’t have believed this either… that she could possibly know where all the TARDIS keys are, for instance, to focus on just one aspect of her “plan.” Was she willing to die there on that lava field after throwing away the last key? This is, again, entirely separate from other problems, like if Clara is so madly in love with Danny that she could behave so vindictively toward the Doctor, we need to have seen a relationship that intense (which we have not). Or how the Doctor would so readily forgive her for that betrayal. How can he ever trust her again?

Is the whole damn episode cheaty and emotionally manipulative? Sure is.

I am so close to giving up on Doctor Who. It is actively pushing me away, and I’m not sure I want to keep pushing back.

Random thoughts on “Dark Water”:

• Where is this this looks cool can we go there pretty please?


Oh no instead we have some soap opera to slog though *sigh*.

• The Doctor has a copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife:


(At least in Clara’s imagination.)

• Well, there has always been an element of “Oh, just fuck already” to their relationship”:


This could need to happen at last.

[next: “Death in Heaven”]

posted in:
tv buzz
  • Chris Lockard

    Why does everything have to be a statement about women when it comes to Steven Moffet? Why can’t it just be that he decided to throw a twist by bringing the Master back in a new interesting way? Why do you find the need to nick pick a show that has never taken itself too seriously and was always willing to rewrite itself for the sake of plot development? I wondered these things as I read this recap.

  • It’s interesting how the “show that has never taken itself too seriously” was a lot more coherent and worth taking seriously when it was all garbage-bag monsters and wobbly sets.

    Why does everything have to be a statement about women when it comes to Steven Moffet?

    That’s a great question! Why don’t you ask Moffat what his problem with women is?

    Maybe you could explain what you like about this episode?

  • Chris Lockard

    I don’t think Mr. Moffat has a problem with women, I think you simply think Mr. Moffat should only portray women in a way that pleases you. Clara is a strong, independent and resourceful woman and most importantly an interesting character.

    I liked the play on death and how well they tied it to the conversion of becoming a Cyberman. For instance the fact that cremation was a problem. I liked that Clara was human enough to believe that the Doctor could be forced to rewrite time for her needs. I like how Missy took her time in revealing to the Doctor who she really was and I liked that the reveal itself was just as powerful as when Derek Jacobi/John Sims made their reveal to David Tennant. On a whole this season I’ve also loved the art design, score and cinematography. Finally I always find Mr. Capalidi very interesting to watch and his dialogue to be pithy and engaging.

  • I feel like we are watching two completely different shows.

  • Bechdelathon

    For what it’s worth, I think some of your questions were answered, either implicitly or directly:

    “To whom is “3W” — which means what?” – This was explicitly stated by Dr. Chang; it stands for “3 Words”, the 3 words they allegedly heard the dead saying in the white noise, “Don’t Cremate Me”.

    “Was this all conceived and constructed merely to fool the Doctor for five minutes before Missy monologued her evil plan to him?” – I think the answer is clearly yes, but I don’t think that’s particularly out there. On the scale of ‘needlessly complicated and ridiculous plans the Master has done’, maintaining a small facility to mess with the Doctor’s head for a while isn’t even in the top 10. The Master is insane and obsessed with messing with The Doctor; she built the facility for the same reason she pretended to be an AI droid, kissed him, or for that matter, became Prime Minister of England; it’s all elaborate mind-games aimed at the Doctor. I mean, I’ll agree “She/he’s crazy!” isn’t necessarily the most interesting motivation, but “The Master did something crazy” really isn’t a reach given how much the character’s insanity has been played up in recent incarntions.

    Regarding the Doctor’s motivation, I might be fan-wanking here, but I really don’t think he ever believed he could bring someone back from the dead; that would just be too stupid. I think that’s something he was telling Clara in order to investigate Danny’s death (about which I think there is more to be discovered). One hallmark of Moffat era Doctor is lying to the companions, telling them what they need to hear in order to get them to do what must be done; this was the whole point of Orient Express. I’ll grant that I could be wrong about this, but I don’t think it’s an uncharitable interpretation.

  • Chris Lockard

    Maybe, I feel at times you are way analytical of Doctor Who, especially when it comes to Moffat. I only ask for interesting characters that I can invest in, fun/frightening adventures that take me places only I can dream of, and thought provoking dilemmas that do not always provide a clear black or white solution. The only season of the show that hasn’t met that level of expectation for me was last season. Some seasons are better than others but each has high moments, this season is no different in my book.

  • Mayra

    The only reason I could came up with to deal with the fact that all of a sudden the Doctor would agree to go looking for Danny when he’s never, ever done it before, not even for people he cares about more, is that after the “breakdown” Clara had, he was like, “Okay, I’ll just pretend we’re going to look for him, but actually I’ll just find a way of making her deal with his death. Or I’ll hit her with a shoe”.
    Also, while I think is completely shitty what Clara does, also out of character and for no reason at all, on the other hand, doesn’t seem out of character for the Doctor to forgive her.

  • Jim Mann

    Interesting. Back in the Davies years, I very much agreed with you take on the show. But recently, this year especially, I’ve thought you and I were watching different shows. I’m more in line with Chris’s view. (Though I will agree that Kill the Moon was a pretty dumb episode, but then almost every year, including those during the Davies years, had pretty dumb episodes.)

  • I want the same things! And I don’t feel like I’m getting them.

  • “To whom is “3W” — which means what?” – This was explicitly stated by Dr. Chang; it stands for “3 Words”, the 3 words they allegedly heard the dead saying in the white noise, “Don’t Cremate Me”.

    See, I kept waiting for three words that started with W!

    On the scale of ‘needlessly complicated and ridiculous plans the Master has done’, maintaining a small facility to mess with the Doctor’s head for a while isn’t even in the top 10.

    Maybe not. But then it’s pure dumb coincidence that leads the Doctor to it! Where is Missy’s ridiculously complicated scheme to actually get the Doctor to the facility?

    I think that’s something he was telling Clara in order to investigate Danny’s death (about which I think there is more to be discovered).

    On what basis do you assume this, though? There’s no indication in the episode that he thought anything else was going on.

  • “Okay, I’ll just pretend we’re going to look for him, but actually I’ll just find a way of making her deal with his death.”.

    By giving her hope that he could be rescued? That would be a whole new level of cruelty even beyond what we’ve seen from him this year.

  • pina-colada

    Yeah, we wouldn’t want to forget the brilliant RTD stories that were Aliens of London and Love & Monsters to name a few

  • I_Sell_Books

    Honestly, I’d like Peter Capaldi to leave after this season. He is being so dis-served, and I feel like his Doctor is just actively unpleasant as written. My heart wants him to be darker – a lot darker – and I think most kids could handle that kind of ‘will he won’t he’ dichotomy.

    Still don’t care about Clara. Still don’t understand her purpose.

    Why is Michelle Gomez – who is awesome (see also: The Book Group) – dressed like Mary Poppins? Why can’t she be more like Servalan? (Blake’s 7. G’head, go look, I’ll wait) Why does she even care about Earth? And can we go somewhere else, now? Like, I dunno, some planet in the future with humans who don’t have bumpy heads?

    Maybe it’s because I’m currently reading Terence Davies (slimly detailed) novelization of Doctor Who and…the one with Sarah and Harry, the Cybermen and the Vogons, but it just seem so much more interesting than the any of this series stories.

    I remain disappointed in this series, and the only reason I caught up is because my son suddenly decided he likes PC as the Doctor. He hates Clara, tho.

  • I’m with you on this season, totally. It makes me very sad.

  • Bechdelathon

    I think I’m just more willing to extend the episode the benefit of the doubt, at least until part of the 2-parter comes in. From my perspective, it felt very much like we hadn’t learned the full extent of Missy’s plan (why the robots of sherwood were looking for the promised land, why she keeps resurrecting people close to the Doctor, etc.) I also find it hard to believe that Danny “Badass Soldier Who Does Flips Over An Intergalactic Killing Machine” Pink would just wander into a road and get carelessly run down.

    I’d predict, and I’m more than willing to eat my words, but I predict that Missy had Danny killed knowing it would draw in the Doctor, and that her plan goes a lot deeper than the Cybermen.

    That said, you could be totally right and this all could be incoherent garbage.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Heh. Funny you should say that… :)

  • RogerBW

    This is clearly a show that is being made for people other than me. Fair enough, making it for me wouldn’t be marketable, and it takes real skill to make a show with a wide appeal rather than just repeatedly hitting the reward buttons of the core demographic.

    Yes, Chris, why does everything Moffat does have to be a statement about the same two female characters that are the only ones he seems to be able to write? (“This one is sexy, I want to screw her, and she can come on my adventures but of course she’s not as important as me” and “this one is sexless, mumsy, and shuts down the boys’ fun”.)

    Having the Cybermen walking down the steps from St Paul’s Cathedral is like having characters in a DTV horror flick say “this is like a movie” – you really shouldn’t remind me that The Invasion is on my shelves, and I could be watching that instead of this.

  • Maria Niku

    Myself I’m glad to see a female Master. Female baddies are fun, if properly written. For one thing I’d like some background. The Master was sucked back to Gallifrey with Rassilon and co. in End of Time and then Gallifrey was timelocked away in Day of the Doctor. How did he end up as she and back on Earth? Alas, not much hope on “properly written”, even if Missy survives beyond next weekend’s episode, what with Moffat being Moffat and Missy being a woman and whatnot.

  • ketac6

    I just reeled when suddenly they introduced the concept of an afterlife into Doctor Who, a programme that has always seemed based on humanist scientific principles. Unless there’s some big reveal next week that the Doctor knew about Missy’s plan all along and was playing along somehow then none of it makes sense.

  • I’m getting really tired of the idea — which many fans have put forth — that we need to just wait and it’ll all make sense in the end. But stories also need to make sense on their own, even if they’re part of a larger story. It’s hard to see how all the problems with the storytelling this season will be resolved and finally make sense.

  • This is clearly a show that is being made for people other than me.

    That’s how I’m feeling too. Which wouldn’t be a problem if it had been true all along.

  • I got the impression (eventually) that there really isn’t an afterlife beyond Missy’s plan. But why the Doctor would believe there might be is another issue… and again, not in standing with the Doctor we’ve known and loved for all these years.

  • RogerBW

    Even if the argument were a valid one, we’ve waited before and it didn’t all make sense in the end.

  • Gemma Wright

    I feel that you were not only watching a different show, but were on an entirely different planet! Your arguments against everything here are seriously flawed and you make me ashamed to be a feminist because I don’t hate men (quite the opposite) and I don’t use use your brand of lowdown hatred as an excuse to rubbish great TV shows. I loved this episode and truly cannot see where you’re coming from. Perhaps you simply lack imagination?

  • Gemma Wright

    My mother always told me that I want doesn’t get…

  • Inkashling

    Haven’t commented in awhile because I feel like we are often watching a different show. Still, I wait in hope for you to enjoy the show again :)

    I felt compelled to comment this time round because some of your questions here have pretty clear answers in the episode. Before I answer them, I just need to say this… Missy being a female Master is so not what you say it is. I mean, that criticism of Moffat is really, really reaching. It’s blatantly obvious that he made a female Master so sometime after Capaldi, in the not so distant future, there is precedent for a female Doctor.

    What does 3W stand for?

    It stands for ‘3 words’ and the 3 words are ‘don’t cremate me.’

    What is the purpose of the dark water?

    Um wow you answered your own question in the same sentence! It’s there to hide the cyber-suits from suspicious types, particularly given visitors are allowed. Further, given it’s The Master, wouldn’t be surprised if she went to all that trouble just to mess with The Doctor. Next episode may clarify.

    Why does Missy run a facility that people can come and visit?

    Because she’s The Mistress/Master and when has The Master NOT done crazy shit like this that capitalizes on human greed and stupidity. If The Doctor and The Master are two sides of the same coin (dark/light/good/evil) and The Doctor has a penchant for bringing out the best of humanity, why shouldn’t The Master have a penchant for bringing out the worst in humanity? It felt *exactly* like something The Master would do – bureaucratize and make a mockery of death, laughing at the idiot humans helping all the while.

    Did Missy cause Danny to die or luck on him drawing The Doctor?

    This is a two-parter story and given things Missy has said earlier, I think it has been made pretty clear that she is pulling strings, including Clara/Danny. To say a two parter story needs to stand completely alone is a bit much. TThe point of a two parter is a longer story that doesn’t conclude until the end of the two parter – that means unanswered questions or you aren’t doing it right.

    I actually agree with some other things in your review – like how the hell did Missy hide 3W in St Paul’s. My mileage varied though because I was so thoroughly entertained by everything else – great performances from all of the central characters and especially Missy, great guest stars (the guy with the ipad) and a dark story that sets up for an interesting next week.

  • inkashling

    “Yes, Chris, why does everything Moffat does have to be a statement about the same two female characters that are the only ones he seems to be able to write? (“This one is sexy, I want to screw her, and she can come on my adventures but of course she’s not as important as me” and “this one is sexless, mumsy, and shuts down the boys’ fun”.)”

    I’m a feminist and I strongly disagree with this reductive statement about Moffat’s female characters. Way to squash them into little boxes. For one thing, where does Missy fit in your two categories? I’d turn gay for Missy, she isn’t a bit mumsy and she shuts down The Doctor’s fun (only because she is playing the iconic villain) but is endlessly entertaining for the viewer. Or Amy Pond: sexy, allowed on adventures and often more important than The Doctor in episodes. And Clara, Clara Who as one friend has dubbed her because she has become *so* important to The Doctor in terms of what she does to change his history multiple times. And then of course there’s RTD era who – your first category fits Rose to a scary tee.

    All of Moffat’s female companions are shown to be powerful in their own right as much as they can be in a show about the central character of The Doctor. Moffat, far more than RTD, acknowledges the important role that companions play in being as great and sometimes greater, than The Doctor.

  • Exactly! I used to love this stuff!

  • Stephen Robinson

    The Tardis Keys were real, I think: The dream doesn’t begin until she slaps the “sleep patch” on The Doctor, who then places it on her. He then collects all the keys from the floor of the TARDIS.

    I almost switched off the episode after The Doctor forgave Clara. I was hoping for actual consequences: That “go to hell” would actually mean something, that the Doctor saw Clara for what she is: Someone willing to abuse the vast power of the TARDIS for her own personal gain. I don’t care how much we’re told (and we’ve been told this — never shown it) that Clara loves Danny. If she’s willing to make the universe implode on itself just so she can rewrite Danny’s death, she’s no different from The Master. Especially when she believes she is “owed” her happy ending in exchange for… what? Hanging out with someone who saves the universe?

    And that might have been some dramatic sense: The Master “chose” Clara well — seeing that she was no so different from her. And set up a situation that would result in the Doctor rejecting her and leading Clara to 3W and then the Doctor might be inclined to rescue her, while not actually forgiving her.

    Because forgiving Clara feels like the Nick Carroway View of Women (GATSBY reference, sorry I’m a geek). Women are emotional and will do anything for love and that is somehow more forgivable than Adam, a man, making one mistake for financial gain. The Doctor repudiates him with no second chances. We get no evidence that the Doctor is overall more forgiving now. It’s a “Clara Can Do No Wrong” concept that infuriates me.

  • Stephen Robinson

    Making the Master female or black doesn’t “set a precedent” for a female or black Doctor. It’s actually more likely to be considered a placating move that can be referenced when the question comes up again. “Oh, well, we already did the Time Lady thing.”

    And Moffat didn’t need a “precedent” to hire a woman to replace Matt Smith, if he’d been so inclined. It would make as much sense as Missy does.

    Even if regeneration is a “lottery,” if Time Lords can switch genders, then this would amount to the Doctor having flipped a coin 13 times and come up with tails each toss. Of course, we don’t know the situations under which the Master regenerated, and actually the 13th regeneration would have been the best moment to introduce a female or minority Doctor because the “rules had changed” (new cycle and all that).

    Anyway, like you, I can sometimes enjoy the spectacle of a Moffat script, but I’ve been burned too much to expect sensible resolution beyond “just cause.” It’s very frustrating plotting.

  • Stephen Robinson

    “We’re going to the afterlife to bring back Danny!” has to count as the moment when DOCTOR WHO stopped even trying to be anything but HARRY POTTER. Danny died a perfectly normal death. I could see if the Doctor wanted to investigate every possible aspect of the death to see if there was any loophole but to basically say, “Yeah, he’s dead and we’re going to bring him back — even though he’s been dead for weeks.” It’s insane. And is not even consistent with Moffat’s own continuity. ANGELS TAKE MANHATTAN frustrated fans because there was about a dozen different ways for the Doctor to save Amy and Rory but then he basically said, “Well, a tombstone says they’re dead. What can you do?” But Danny is street pizza and *that* he thinks he can resolve.

    “Every culture has a concept of an after life.” Yes, it does, but how does that translate to *bringing someone back from it.” I repeat: His body is gone.

    Oh, and I suppose the “twist” is that Danny being “kept somewhere cold” is how they bring him back. After all, he’s been dead long enough to have had a funeral — and been embalmed. So something else must have happened.

  • Stephen Robinson

    I like the idea of a female Master, as well, mostly because if the show is insistent on using the character, they need to do something to make the character different. The Master has been, since his introduction, an example of ‘de-uniquing.’ He’s a Time Lord… like the Doctor. He has a TARDIS… like the Doctor. And so on. The Doctor, unlike Sherlock Holmes, doesn’t need a Moriarty (who himself was only in one story). If you want an “opposite” to the Doctor, then villains like the Daleks and the Cybermen fit that theme far better while remaining unique. (Note that you can tell great Dalek and Cybermen stories without the Master but the Master almost always requires another villain/monster to work.)

    So, a female Master introduces a “femme fatale” to DOCTOR WHO. That is itself neither innovative nor progressive (Moffat is also obsessed with them from River Song to Tasha Lem). But as a fan of film noir*, I’m partial to the trope, and it’s better than simply having two white men fight it out.

  • Stephen Robinson

    There are moments when I’ve wondered if Season 8 couldn’t have been written with Amy and Rory instead of Clara and Danny and actually made more sense (especially the deep relationship between Clara and Danny that we’ve never flippin’ seen because, unlike Rory, Danny doesn’t travel in the TARDIS).

  • althea

    “I’d turn gay for Missy, she isn’t a bit mumsy and she shuts down The Doctor’s fun (only because she is playing the iconic villain) but is endlessly entertaining for the viewer.”

    Um, she doesn’t entertain this viewer. I’ve been endlessly annoyed by her from the get-go.

  • Stephen Robinson

    See, I kept waiting for three words that started with W!

    SER: My wife thought the same thing!

  • Stephen Robinson

    I cut “Dark Water” some slack as part one of a two-parter — although, as I mentioned upthread, Moffat has burned me repeatedly with his two-parters.

    However, based solely on what we’ve seen this season:

    It was established in “Deep Breath” that “someone is keen on keeping” Clara and the Doctor together. This was presumed to be the “woman in the shop” who gave Clara the TARDIS phone number, which is how they met in the first place. “Flatline” reveals that it was The Master who “chose” Clara. And since it’s Clara who brings the Doctor to 3W, there is reasonable set-up to presume that was The Master’s plan all along. And Danny’s off-screen death (we never see the driver, nor the body) can also support the Master’s involvement.

    Of course, this doesn’t yet answer “why.” It would be nifty if 3W was a recent organization that had claimed to know that the dead ‘remain conscious’ for the purpose of conning humans into handing over their loved ones to them, but there’s no evidence of this. Clara doesn’t know what it is.

    And if everything’s just about playing “games” with the Doctor, I think we come to another huge problem with The Master as he’s been depicted for a while now. He’s almost like the Riddler who is compelled to leave clues to his crimes that inevitably leads to his capture. The Daleks and the Cybermen don’t draw out the Doctor (except for “Victory of the Daleks” and “Asylum of the Daleks” and their plans made sense then). They have plans that don’t involve him and it’s just their dumb luck that he shows up and wrecks it. The Master just feels like a dumber villain because of his insistence on involving the Doctor or keeping an incapacitated Doctor alive for a year so he can eventually defeat him.

  • Stephen Robinson

    You know what’s funny? I’m your average guy and confess to not initially noticing the way Moffat wrote women in WHO and SHERLOCK. However, the intelligent arguments made my many female fans made me take a critical look and I was shocked by what I saw.

    I don’t know why it’s difficult for some men to accept that we have a different perspective (especially in a society where sexism in media is subtly present on many levels) and that when female fans point out serious issues from their unique position, we should — I don’t know — *listen* to them.

  • Stephen Robinson

    Where did you get the idea MaryAnn hates men based on this post?

  • Tonio Kruger

    I am going to assume that up-vote Chris Lockard gave his own post was unintentional since it is neither classy nor modest to give your own posts an up-vote.

    And quite frankly, I would not quite be comparing “Utopia” to this episode if I were in Mr. Lockard’s shoes. But then my mileage obviously varies.

  • Tonio Kruger

    There’s not exactly a shortage of movies in which alien characters invade London — any more than there is a shortage of movies in which giant monsters invade Tokyo.

  • Tonio Kruger

    So does that make Clara Oswald the 21st century equivalent of Daisy Buchanan? If so, I’d watch out for her the next time she gets behind the wheel of an automobile.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I guess it’s evil of me to admit this but I kept thinking of this video shortly after I saw the episode.


  • Tonio Kruger
  • Maria Niku

    Presumably, all sorts of things have happened outside of the stories we have seen, things that have made the bond between the Doctor and Clara so strong that she can do no wrong in his eyes, so strong that he’ll forgive even this deception. The audience has not seen anything of this. It’s not storytelling, it’s telling the audience to accept as given that Clara can do no wrong.

  • RogerBW

    Sure, but that specific framing of that specific shot is a shout-out to old-time fans (it’s actually a very short shot in the original, but it got used an awful lot in publicity material): http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/cybermen-the-invasion-london.jpg
    Unfortunately I fear it’s counterproductive in this case.

  • Greyhound

    “You are way analytical of Doctor Who”
    Well, yeah. That’s the point.

  • Bechdelathon

    I totally agree with you in general, and about this season as a whole. I’m just saying that in the specific case of a 2-parter, and one that explicitly focuses on mystery and reveals, it feels a little unfair to blast part 1 for not answering everything; DW has a pretty long history of 2-parters where the first raises a bunch of questions and the second answers them. I agree that stories have to stand on their own, but we happen to be in the middle, not the end, of this specific story.

  • If you are unable to converse in a civil way, please do not post comments here.

  • And since it’s Clara who brings the Doctor to 3W

    But *that* requires a chain of events and decisions that not only could the Master not have anticipated, but *also* that the Doctor do something remarkably out of character as we have known him over 50 years — that is, suddenly deciding that there’s a way to go to the “place” that people go when they die, even though, as he says here himself, dead people don’t go anywhere, they’re just dead.

  • But there are problems there that go beyond “oh, but maybe that will be answered in Part 2.”

  • Whatever you feel about Missy, it’s clear that she falls, for Moffat, into the Would Not Bang category. We know this because the Doctor is actively repulsed when she kisses him. (This is before he knows she is the Master. Revulsion might be understandable then.)

  • There’s already a precedent for Time Lords gender-flipping: the Corsair (who was only mentioned, and did not appear onscreen). My problem is that Moffat has said that the Doctor cannot be a woman. But now he says the Master can be.

    It stands for ‘3 words’ and the 3 words are ‘don’t cremate me.’

    I dealt with this in another comment. Please read the comments threads.

    That said, this is like saying “Our motto is ‘Motto!'” The company would more sensibly be called DCM.

    It’s there to hide the cyber-suits from suspicious types, particularly given visitors are allowed.

    Oh. Really? What visitors? Where are these visitors coming from? This place is situated in modern day London, and there is NO indication at all that anyone beyond Missy’s crew (which consists of one other living person, as far as we can tell) actually knows the place is there. We have no reason to believe that there have actually ever been any visitors to this place. We don’t see clients, and we have only indications that Missy is snatching people’s consciousnesses as they die, unaware. There is no evidence whatsoever that 3W is a real business.

  • Bingo.

    “Show, don’t tell” is the basic, fundamental, can’t-break-it rule of storytelling. As Stephen Robinson also notes above (and I did in the OP), we haven’t seen any real semblance of a relationship between Danny and Clara, either.

  • Stephen Robinson

    It’s very confusing. I initially got the impression it was a business, and the idea was that the dead were “protected” in exoskeletons so they’d be comfortable in the “after-life” and the dark water allowed visitors to see… the rotting bodies of their loved ones (*very* weird).

    There’s also the impression that 3W exists at some point in the future. The “interface” that explains what 3W is was vaguely futuristic, and obviously the MISSY droid ruse would only work if they thought they weren’t on present day Earth. The revelation that The Doctor and Clara never left Earth was supposed to be a wham moment, right?

    Anyway, I’m of the opinion that a proper season-ending two parter should spend the *first* half answering the questions raised during the season and then escalating the stakes so that the second half is about *how* the hero overcomes everything. To that extent, “Dark Water” failed.

  • Stephen Robinson

    In fairness, The Doctor recoiled when Clara hugged him in “Deep Breath.” One of the things I actually like about this Doctor is that he has an obliviousness to sexuality that is somewhat refreshing after the almost adolescent responses to women that 11 and 10 demonstrated at times.

    However, I agree that I don’t think the female Master is not supposed to “present” as “sexy” — the “old-fashioned” attire seems intended to give a “evil Victorian schoolmarm” vibe.

  • Stephen Robinson

    I think Moffat has poor track record of adequately answering questions raised in his first parter in the second. The “info-dump” last-minute ‘hail mary” explanation for the season 6’s entire arc in “Time of the Doctor” is the most recent evidence.

  • Stephen Robinson

    Well, yeah, it’s hard to rationalize. It’s not like the Master needs anything from The Doctor. Why not just launch the scheme? Or is she really that desperate to revel in her triumph in the Doctor’s presence.

    It’s not a smart trait. It’s a cliche evil overlord behavior that the original Master rarely displayed.

  • Stephen Robinson

    I’m torn on referring to Michelle Gomez’s character as “The Master.” Part of me thinks that “Missy” simply falls into every “obvious anagram/alias” The Master has used in the past. But something does bother me about referring to someone who now presents as a woman by the “male” name of her birth when she has explicitly requested otherwise. I suppose we’ll see how she refers to herself in “Death in Heaven” now that The Doctor knows.

  • 2Cclearly

    Don’t cremate me is really 4 words….

  • kco99

    Kate Stewart, Sally Sparrow, and Lorna Bucket (to name three) do not fit into either of your exclusive categories.

  • RogerBW

    Sally Sparrow: gives up her entire life to live with a slobby man. (Which is better than being groomed as a child by the Doctor, which is how Moffat first wrote her.)
    Kate Stewart: not created by Moffat, only written by him in The Day of the Doctor where she’s a vaguely sexy plot device.
    Lorna Bucket: another child groomed by the Doctor, who is lucky enough to get killed before her life can be destroyed in any other way.
    Yes, all right, I should have added the third female role Moffat can write, but I was trying to ignore the vile implications of the whole “hugely mature men have a perfect right to warp the lives of young girls in any way they see fit” thing.

  • Gemma Wright

    I’ve read previous posts, and if she isn’t slating male characters in general she’s slating Moffat. That’s all she ever seems to do.

  • Gemma Wright

    If you are unable to accept that any post online will encourage civil questioning and debate, perhaps you ought to reconsider why you are writing this blog – other than to make fans of the show facepalm and to ratle their cages?

  • Well, Clara is now in the realm of “unfuckable” (for the Doctor), so he has been expressing revulsion toward her too.

    He has not been oblivious to sexuality. He has been dishing out gendered abuse. The two are not the same things.

  • Well, now that the Master is a woman, she *must* be insane and obsessed with the Doctor. It’s been a standard thing in Moffat’s writing.

  • Danielm80

    If you want to encourage civil questioning and debate, then you might want to back up your points with actual evidence: Why are MaryAnn’s arguments flawed? What comments has she made that suggest she hates men? Why is Doctor Who, this season, a great show? What could MaryAnn say that would indicate she has an imagination?

    If you support your assertions with well-thought-out supporting arguments, then you’re taking part in a debate. Otherwise, your comments may come across as angry ranting, which doesn’t sound civil at all.

  • But “Mistress” has all sorts of sexual connotations that “Master” does not. (As do so many female analogue of male terms.)

  • I’m a fan of the show.

    But please, keep it up. You’re thisclose to getting banned.

  • Stephen Robinson

    If you believe Moffat is the root cause of the series problems, it’s not “slating” him to point that out. He’s the showrunner, after all.

  • Stephen Robinson

    I agree. I think a female Master who detests the Doctor and considers him “beneath” her would be a nice throwback to Delgado. Frankly, I thought the “unresolved sexual tension” between the Master and the Doctor was already *done* with RTD. And it weakens the character, as he had multiple opportunities to flat-out kill his enemy but instead kept him around and sang the Scissor Sisters to him. That, at least, was somewhat daring if you’re going to do it at all (the “what would I be without you?” scenes in “The End of Time” for example) but a female Master crushing on the Doctor is boringly heteronormative.

    The “femme fatale” character has a complicated history, rooted in fear of female sexuality and its destructive influence over men (one can argue that it traces back to Samson and Delilah) but I still enjoy its use in media if handled in a somewhat self-aware fashion. And if the female Master wore period ’40s clothing and referred to herself as “Mary” and ran “Astor Industries” or something, I’d have been head over heels (Mary Astor even works as an alias for “Master”). But to your point, it’s become as ubiquitous in Moffat’s work as foot fetishism in Tarantino’s. We’ve already had River Song 2.0 (the character who “debuted” in “Time of Angels” was drastically different, I thought, from the one in “Silence in the Library) and Tasha Lem — the sexy “psychopaths.” You could even throw in Oswin from “Asylum of the Daleks.”

    This, I’ve noticed, is an issue sometimes in fandom. There’s a tendency to want to critique in a vacuum. “So, what’s the big deal if Clara is willing to betray The Doctor because she’s in love? Isn’t it interesting that she has to choose between adventure with the Doctor and domestic life with Danny?” On its own, perhaps, but I can’t separate it from Amy Pond’s *identical* dilemma regarding the 11th Doctor and Rory. I can’t separate “The Impossible Girl” from “The Girl Who Waited” — both reductive descriptions that the Doctor actually uses to describe grown women.

    And now we have a “femme fatale”/”sexy psychopath” Master.Viewed in a vacuum, not a terrible idea, but within the context of Moffat’s run,it is eye-rolling. Just like Osgood with her schoolgirl crush on The Doctor is when viewed as a whole.

    When I consider Moffat’s run, I wonder if it’s not just that Moffat can’t write platonic — non sexually charged — relationships between men and women but whether he can write platonic relationships at all. Rory and The Doctor weren’t friends — they were both ultimately rivals over the affections of a woman, whose choices were one or the other (never none of the above). That is replaying itself with Danny and The Doctor.

    My challenge to anyone who dismisses these complaints would be to imagine if Sam Anderson had been The Doctor’s companion since the second half of season 7 — Danny Pink “the impossible guy (?)” who “was born to save the Doctor” and who has to figure out who his friend is after he regenerates. And even has to choose between exciting adventures with his friend or a normal life. If the idea is laughable, then we should seriously consider why.

  • Stephen Robinson

    Interestingly, I think RTD certainly played up the sexual connotations of “Master” in “Utopia” (“Use my name!”) and “Sound of Drums” (“I like when you say my name”). But I do agree that the connotations are different — “Mistress” even in the dominatrix sense is often more servile than the “Master.” And there’s the implication that a “Mistress” always has a “Master.”

    It is interesting to view the discussion online — fans who think that Gomez’s character should refer to herself as “The Master” and as a “Time Lord” while other fans (especially those who are transgendered) take exception to that — she’s a woman now and they like that she fully embraces that.

    However, to your point, I think a problem with “Mistress” is that it in a way abdicates a major part of The Master’s personality. I think of Simm’s character yelling at Wilfred Mott ,” OBEY YOUR MASTER!” or the classic versions saying, “I am the Master and you will obey me.” So, I suppose if I were writing a female Master, I’d split the difference — have her embrace “Time Lady” but she’d always be “The Master” because — like The Doctor — that name the character chose is ultimately a promise made.

  • Gemma Wright

    Yes, Moffat is the showrunner. And? I don’t understand the hate – it’s childish to the point of being pathetic. If you hate a show this much, why do you even bother watching?

  • Gemma Wright

    I just wonder why you hate Moffat so much? If he’s “destroyed” the show for you, simply don’t watch it! Every show has it’s turkeys for episodes, but I see nobody slating them. I tried using sensible arguments and questions a long time ago and gave up. How do people who love the show get through to you?

  • Gemma Wright

    I don’t do angry ranting – but I see pages such as this one that are full of it. I gave up with reasonable arguments and backing up my theories here a long time ago, since the OP only appears to respect those who wish to agree with her fully. I happen to completely disagree, but then again I’m not one of those viewers who watch any show simply for the joy of picking it apart and spoiling the fun for others.

  • LaSargenta

    Slightly tangential, but given some of this comment, I thought you might be interested in this thread from two years ago: https://www.flickfilosopher.com/2012/06/question-of-the-day-could-there-ever-be-a-detective-film-noir-with-a-female-lead-and-a-homme-fatale.html

  • Stephen Robinson

    As MaryAnn has not demonstrated any “hate” for Moffat, I agree that it is hard to understand the non-existent emotion. You haven’t provided any examples of “childish” “hate” from MaryAnn about Moffat. And, regrettably, there is a great deal of that online if you wish to compare.

    This is also MaryAnn’s profession, so it makes sense that she would continue reviewing DOCTOR WHO while Moffat is showrunner. I think the more apt question is why you would visit and comment on a blog when you not only strongly disagree with the writer’s opinions but have little respect for them.

  • Stephen Robinson

    Yes, the “alien” Doctor constantly makes rude comments about Clara’s appearance and *Clara* was the shallow one who Vastra dressed down because she might not find the Doctor attractive anymore.

    It’s the height of male privilege that The Doctor’s rudeness is hand-waved as part of his “alien” nature (despite his younger predecessors being polite enough) but dollars to doughnuts, if a Tilda Swinton had been cast instead of Peter Capaldi and given the exact same lines to say, I don’t think she’d be described as “alien” but other, more derogatory terms.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    By Adam, do you mean Adam Mitchell, from “Dalek” and “The Long Game”? Because that’s not an apt comparison, at all. The 9th Doctor kept him aboard reluctantly, at Rose’s pleading, and ditched him as soon as he had an excuse. That’s not something he’s done since, even remotely. In retrospect, I think that was a potential direction Davies considered taking the character. But he clearly abandoned the idea, either immediately, or after Eccelston left. Kinda like Reapers.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Between the stylistic choice to put weeks of subjective time between episodes, and the long running theme of the Doctor’s attachment to capital-C Companions, I’m not having any trouble accepting the Doctor’s response to Clara here. In fact, I found the scene affecting. I also disagree with characterization of “Clara can do no wrong”. I think the Doctor was very angry at Clara, and forgave her anyway. Which adds to the emotional impact.

    That being said, the second half of this episode was a mess.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I think it’s pretty clear these stories were written with Amy and Rory in mind. I don’t think Steven Moffat intended to switch up companions (and possibly not even Doctors) during his tenure as showrunner, and had sketched out 4 or 5 seasons.

  • Stephen Robinson

    That’s actually my point. The Doctors in the new series seem to have a “reluctant” attitude toward male companions — at best considering them an extension of the primary female companion. Even Matt Smith jokingly referred to The Doctor viewing Rory as Amy’s “pet” that he indulgingly brought along. And even now, The Doctor is not breaking all the rules to save Danny for Danny’s own sake but simply for Clara’s happiness.

    This is a serious dramatic problem because if the Doctor can’t form actual relationships with male companions — for their own sake — then we are stuck with the Doctor and attractive female formula, which has been done to the point that it’s become repetitive. I’d also the TARDIS not essentially be what Clara called a “snog box.” I’d love some diversity in the TARDIS crew. Is it really that difficult? Maybe Moffat could watch some Law & Order reruns with the senior and junior detectives.

    Regarding Adam, I’d add that the “pretty young thing” companions are placed on a pedestal where they can do no wrong (Rose, Amy, and Clara especially — though Amy to a lesser extent). I suppose The Doctor’s forgiving attitude toward Clara could be excused considering that she saved his life, but so did Martha and he let her walk away.

  • Stephen Robinson

    That’s not a “stylistic choice.” That’s a dramatic cheat, which would be rightly ridiculed in any other form of fiction.

    I might consider qualifying it as “stylistic” if, for example, whenever we saw Clara and Danny together, they were progressively more intimate and relaxed as a couple and we were “shown” this through their interaction rather than being “told” this. A better script could have conveyed the shock of Danny’s death by having him and Clara talk about something mundane as grocery shopping but in the way that indicates they are deeply connected. Instead, we get a scene that wouldn’t be out of place in a high school drama.

    Dramatically speaking, “I love you” and “I hate you” are the epitome of “telling” and having characters announce their feelings.It’s much better to have characters reveal their affections for each other in a more natural way.

  • Justanothernerd

    MaryAnn, I just wanted to thank you for these Series 8 reviews. It’s been really painful watching this latest batch of episodes (even the good ones, because you can tell there won’t be very many of them) and precious few reviewers out there seem to understand how much Moffat has dismantled nearly everything once-great about the show. I know you keep saying that you’re close to giving up (I almost fell off the wagon after the atrocious “In the Forest of the Night,” myself) but I hope you hang in there at least for the finale and maybe the Christmas special, if you can stand it.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    It’s absolutely stylistic. It would be equally stylistic to have the entire season occur over the course of a couple weeks, or the course of a single day.

    I mean, maybe stretching the definition of “stylistic” here. But I don’t think so. The stylistic choice is always about which dramatic cheats to employ.

    Danny’s death scene was melodramatic, but it worked for me. YMMV. [Lengthy additional reply deleted because I told myself I wasn’t going to engage with these posts. MaryAnn (and you, and some others) aren’t seeing the show through the same lens as I am anymore. Which is fine, it happens. I’m just sorry you all aren’t enjoying yourselves.]

  • I don’t “hate” Moffat. It’s nothing personal. I just don’t like what he’s doing with the show.

    I keep watching because I love *Doctor Who,* and I keep hoping it will feel more like the show I fell in love with, and because it would break my heart to stop watching. Because that would mean I had given up on it.

    Why does it bother you so much that not everyone is enjoying the show in the same way that you clearly are? How would it impact you if I *did* hate Moffat?

  • Your comments are now beyond bordering on abusive and are actually abusive. Last warning. You don’t get to say things like “How do people who love the show get through to you?” One more uncivil comment and you will be banned.

  • Chris Lockard

    Correct in assuming that I didn’t intend to upvote my own post, I was simply trying to view who had upvoted my comment.

    Also I would agree that on a whole Utopia is a stronger episode, I was more so stating that the reveal of Missy’s identity was equally shocking as the reveal of Professor Yana’s identity.

  • Chris Lockard

    Sorry meant to say overly analytical of Doctor Who. I think MaryAnn sometimes looks for connections and proclamations that are not there. Just my honest opinion.

  • I will definitely blog about the last episode and the Christmas one, and then I’ll decide whether to keep going after that.

  • Greyhound

    I’m curious as to what you consider “overly analytical” and how her “connections and proclamations” are not valid.

  • The timespan over which a story is told might be considered stylistic. Omitting the important parts of the story that are essential for understanding where the characters are coming from is simply bad writing.

  • Chris Lockard

    Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing the feminist perspective and for the most part I usually side with a lot of things they’ve pointed out, especially when it comes to pop culture. With Doctor Who and Sherlock though I don’t see a valid intent or neglect on Moffat’s part to cast women in a bad light or less than able to hold their own when compared to men.

    Amelia, Clara, Vastra, Jenny and River all are strong willed women who are willing to do anything that a male companion of the Doctor would be willing to do. In fact it should be noted that between Vastra, Jenny and Strax it is the two women who are perceived to be the more intelligent of trio with of course Vastra being the influence for the world’s greatest literary detective.

    With Sherlock I think it the negative reaction is more so due to Sherlock’s personality than anything else. He talks down to people, treats them as secondary elements when in the room with him, and in general has very few close friends. I would have an issue if he only treated women this way but he constantly does it to men as well as its the nature of Sherlock Holmes to be a bit of a dick.

    Maybe the fact that Capaldi’s Doctor is a lot closer to the Holmes we see in Sherlock than to the kindness that we see of Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Doctor is the reason why MaryAnn and others in disapproval of Moffat’s writing of female roles have grown distant and non trusting of the show. I’m not one to say they are wrong for having that view point, I simply disagree.

  • Chris Lockard

    I think the biggest one was the Kill the Moon episode being a hidden message on abortion. I’ve watched and discussed that episode with plenty of men and women and never once heard it brought up until I read MaryAnn’s review. I’m not saying that she isnt allowed to hold that view point, I’m simply stating its a pretty big leap to make that conclusion.

    Another fun part of that review was when she questioned the writer’s scientific understanding on the age of the moon since he made the age of the egg 100 million years old. Now ignoring the fact that at no point does the Doctor actually state the age of the moon as being 100 million, or the fact that by the end of the episode we learn that after the birth of this moon egg we see a new moon egg immediately replace it, thus suggesting this cycle could repeat itself every 100 million years she seems to be overlooking the fact that at its core, Doctor Who is a fantasy show. Laws of science are constantly thrown aside for plot points (the biggest being that the Doctor can travel backwards in time). If we are going to start nitpicking this new era of Who based on it’s knowledge of scientific principles I have some bad news for fans of the Eccleston, Tennant, and Smith eras of the show, they are equally as guilty. .

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I’m not having trouble following the progress of Clara and Danny’s relationship. I get that we’re skipping ahead each time he shows up. I’m filling in the blanks as we go along. This isn’t the Clara and Danny Show. I’m getting all the information I need to see how Clara’s relationship with Danny will affect her relationship with the Doctor.

  • I_Sell_Books

    OmFG Tilda Swinton as the Doctor?!?!


  • And lots of other fans DID see an abortion message.

    But even if no one else saw it, my interpretation is more than supported by the episode.

  • If Moffat’s wants to turn DW into a big emotional drama, he has to actually write the emotion. Instead. he’s assuming we’re going to buy enormous leaps in the development of relationships, not only an intense deepening of emotion between Danny and Clara but the one between the Doctor and Clara. Both are absolutely essential if we’re going to accept how she threatens the Doctor and why he forgives her *so* easily. This entire episode is built on those moments, and they have no basis in anything we’ve seen.

  • RogerBW

    I think that these gaps are a symptom of the same mentality that throws a nifty effects sequence on the screen (like the flying shark in that Christmas special) and expects us to enjoy it without any connection to anything else. It’s making drama that just hits the “good bits”, the key emotional scenes without any of the slow build that to a viewer like me stores up tension and makes the “good bits” actually good. It’s taking the payoff without making the investment.
    Clearly for some people this works very well.

  • Danielm80

    There’s a thing called “fridge logic.” A movie or TV show entertains you while you’re watching it, but when you go to get a snack afterward, you stand at the refrigerator door saying, “Wait a minute. If he was a ghost the whole time, how did he eat and change clothes and fill out paperwork?”

    This episode was the opposite of fridge logic. I could explain away most of the plot holes afterward, if I tried hard enough: Missy arranged Danny’s death, and she spread rumors about a place called the Nethersphere, so that the Doctor would want to investigate. But while I was watching the show, nothing the characters did made the slightest bit of sense.

    And, in a way, Danny and Clara’s relationship has had the same problem. The dates they went on, as written, were so awful that the characters never should have gotten together. And Clara has treated Danny so badly this season that he should have left her months ago. Only the chemistry between the actors makes me believe the relationship at all. I’m not sure whether that’s fridge logic or the opposite, but I shouldn’t have to work this hard to enjoy a TV show.

  • Egbert_Snorkwiggler

    This is meant to be cruel to be kind, though I’m sure you won’t take it that way. As a long-time lurker, I remember when this website used to be fun. Now everything you write is laced with anger, bitterness and seething resentment. If you want to enjoy Doctor Who – and entertainment media in general – maybe you should shake off the persecution complex, because I swear to you, sourness doesn’t sell. You should be putting your intelligence and writing talents to better use, for the sake of your own mental health.

  • bronxbee

    perhaps if you are not happy reading the site, you should move on as well. why should the FF be “happy”? sometimes things need to be brought out into the open and flaws and prejudices pointed out. most people seem to be of the “bread and circuses” mentality — don’t worry, be happy. i’m glad to see someone using their intelligence to point out the misogyny, prejudice, and idiocy that often appears in our “media entertainment.”

  • Stephen Robinson

    MaryAnn mentioned the seeming disconnect of the Doctor suddenly believing in an afterlife. I think it would be interesting (and certainly provocative) if the entire concept of the afterlife as we know it was a fiction created by Missy over time due to visits to the past.*

    *One issue I’ve had with the Master is that although depicted as the “evil” version of the Doctor, we rarely see him using time travel as a weapon. Sure, he had a TARDIS but it often felt more like a vehicle for transportation rather than rewriting history. There’s arguably the King’s Demons and Sound of Drums but beyond an initial gimmick, I’d love to see The Master manipulating time.

    I’ve mentioned the scene with Clara, who demanded that time be rewritten to save Danny (from the sort of ordinary death about a million other people suffered on the same day he died). She didn’t care about paradoxes and damages to the timeline, only her own personal interests. This went beyond “betraying” the Doctor but rather demonstrates how dangerous the power of the TARDIS would be in the wrong hands.

    They’ve gone back and forth on the Master’s back story — was he always a “psycho” in waiting or is truly the Doctor “gone wrong.” What motivated the Doctor to leave Gallifrey was not that different from what motivated the Master to do the same but the Master was slowly corrupted by power.

    I would love if the lava scene with Clara was somehow tied back to the Master’s “fall” for thematic purposes. It would help us understand the character beyond a “mustache twirling villain.”

  • LOL!

  • Stephen Robinson

    Moffat’s writing at times reminds me of the argument about the effect iTunes has had on the music industry. The concept of an “album” has vanished. It’s all about great “singles.” In the world of YouTube and Memes and gifs, everything can be about the big MOMENT, the big REVEAL, and so on. Five or six of them from each episode get clipped and sent around on the Net — removed from the context of the actual series.

    “Did you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference” was a great FEEL (as the Internet calls) and that clip and gif are EVERYWHERE — unconnected from the story, from the actual interactions between the characters that would make it work.

    Same with “You’re the only one who’s ever gonna hear these words.”

  • Stephen Robinson


  • RogerBW

    Stephen, being fair, the first eighteen-odd years of Doctor Who tended to use the TARDIS mostly as a way of getting to where the story was going to happen rather than rewriting history. (“You can’t rewrite history! Not one line!”) Even when something like The Chase or The Daleks’ Master Plan visited a whole bunch of different periods, nobody ever thought of saying “they’re going to 4pm on the Marie Celeste, why shouldn’t we go to 3.55pm and set up a Really Big Cannon pointed at where they’re going to arrive?”.

  • Danielm80

    I can understand why, as a reader, you might want to suggest topics for MaryAnn to write about. But suggesting what emotions she ought to feel and what opinions she ought to hold is unrealistic, and more than a little odd. Even if you were her therapist, it would be crossing a line.

  • RogerBW

    That’s part of it, but not the whole thing — because there’s also the big emphasis on the “series big bad”, in the style of Buffy, even if it only consists of a reminder each episode that the big bad exists and will be dealy with in the finale.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Dan, do you really think I don’t know what fridge logic is?


    C’mon, now, buddy. :)

  • Danielm80

    Sure, but…(*looks around*)…there might be more than two people reading this site.

  • inkashling

    Ha. I think he’s been a heck of a lot more coherent than RTD, even if I think that both The Wedding of River Song and The Time of The Doctor were relative clunkers for Moffat. Both the s5 finale and the s7 finale were thematically cohesive and interesting and didn’t do the RTD kitchen sink plus info dump that annoyed me so much about most of his finales.

  • LaSargenta

    And one of them might be a dog.

  • Danielm80

    Based on the avatars I’ve seen lately, almost everyone on the Internet is Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

  • Tonio Kruger

    You mean fridge logic was not what was used by the screenwriter of the last Indiana Jones movie? :-)

  • Tonio Kruger

    Well, I’m pretty sure I’m not. :-)

  • Tonio Kruger

    I don’t think you’re doing your best to understand her, Mr. Snorkwiggler.


  • Tonio Kruger

    One would think that a servile dominatrix would be a contradiction in terms since the very definition of a dominatrix — from what I understand — is that of a female sex worker who is not only permitted the freedom to dominate her clients in a way that even male sex workers dare not imitate but who is actually expected to dominate them in such a manner because after all, that is what she is being paid to do.

    There are such things as professional submissives who are paid to be even more servile than the average sex worker but such people are never addressed as “Mistress” the way a professional dominatrix is.

  • Tonio Kruger

    She has played the Angel Gabriel and the White Witch of Narnia. Why not the Doctor?

  • Tonio Kruger

    Well, MaryAnn, you could always give up and start blogging about the new Karen Gillan sitcom.


    * Ducks and exits the room pursued by bear. *

  • I *hate* sitcoms.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Yes, but you’re depriving the rest of them the not-to-be-missed experience of losing hours of your live to TVTropes!

  • Doctor80

    Looking back at Moffat’s Tenure, I’ve come to the realization that I havent been moved by his finales – like ever. They’re so…dumb and inconsistent and I really can’t wait for Clara to leave. We need some time with just the Doctor now to get to know him better.
    Capaldi is being wasted. I think he is ten times the Doctor Smith was, but the writng has severely let him down. Moffat is an exceptional storyteller, Blink, Midnight, Forest of the Dead proves this, but he is lousy at story arcs,

  • Doctor80

    I would say that everything with Clara so far, even or rather especially the ending to season 7 was all done with Amy in mind. Moffat doesn’t seem to know how how to move on from the template of Amy. Which is why I hope he is going soon.
    Has there been any reason at all to have Clara have a job? It seems such a waste of time and distract from getting to know the brand new Doctor.
    I worry, that when Jenna leaves Moffat is going to write another character just like her.

  • I’ve said this a bunch: Moffat needs an editor. All his great stories were written for RTD.

  • RogerBW

    I think this is true of a lot of artists. They complain about it, but they produce much better work when they have to satisfy some sort of external constraint.

  • LaSargenta

    Right. Submissives are called anything BUT Mistress or Master. In fact, people use (and dress them up as) Slave, Dog, Servant, and a host of other names for roles. A bit of trivia, as well: There are precious few professional submissives as there are so, so many submissives in search of a top that the tops for pleasure (as in, not-Pros) have no trouble finding willing ‘victims’ for their dungeons.

  • Tonio Kruger

    “Midnight” was an excellent episode but it was not written by Steven Moffat; it was written by Russell T. Davies.

  • bronxbee

    and, in any event, it has been cancelled.

  • Lady Tenar

    It would be one thing if he hadn’t absolutely sneered at the idea of the Doctor ever being a woman on his watch. But it’s apparently a-okay to bring back the villain as a woman? How does that not raise questions of what the hell that’s all about?

  • Lady Tenar

    Being analytical is a good thing when analyzing filmed media is your job.

    I can’t speak for Maryann, but I have seen eye-to-eye with her on a lot with DW and, for me at least, it’s been the lack of interesting characters that is one of the biggest problems–both male and female. Because, frankly, I don’t think Moffat is much better at writing male characters that last longer than a single episode. I absolutely loved the episodes he wrote for RTD-era Who and I think that’s kind of the ideal scale for him to be writing stories. I don’t think he handles long-term character and story arcs well at all and I’ve never managed to care that much about any of the characters he’s created in his tenure or be that interested in them. It’s just that the crappy female characters he tends to write are crappy in specifically sexist ways.

    You’ve got it wrong if you think that feminists only want to see women portrayed in a certain way. On the contrary, we generally want to see women portrayed in all ways, the way men have always been. It’s not necessary for female characters to be “strong,” good, or even likeable. They just need to be believable and real and interesting. Some of my favorite female characters ever are thoroughly loathsome people.

    But Moffat just writes women and stories about women using the same limited grab bag of cliches. It’s offensive, yeah, it’s also just plain boring.

  • Lady Tenar

    By the same token, if this blog gets your goat so much, why read it? You’ve already outright stated that you don’t even intend to actually back up your points, which means you’re just trolling.

    As far as I can tell, you seem to think that Maryann hates men because she frequently criticizes writers, directors etc. that happen to be men, including Moffat. Well, considering that most writers, directors etc. are men, the only way that could not happen is if she liked everything.

    Of course, a solution to this problem would be to have women better represented in creative jobs in TV and film. If there were more women writing and directing, Maryann would naturally criticize more women because women are just as capable of making crap as men are. And, in fact, Maryann also writes a lot about female under-representation in film and television. But I’m guessing (I can’t know, since you won’t say) that the fact that she does this also reads as “hating men” to you. (Because wanting to see more women do male-dominated jobs obviously means you hate men, of course.) So it seems she can’t win.

  • Lisa

    I think Moffet makes stupid comments about women sometimes so when he turns the Master into a woman, it feels like he’s trolling us or rubbing salt in the wounds. I was annoyed that the Dr didn’t just go back in time – he did exactly this in the 50th anniversary – how was that not a time paradox and yet this is? I don’t mind space gobbledegook but I do mind not following your own rules.

    I really didn’t understand how the dark water thing worked or what the point of it was. Are the bodies been kept there in the tanks or are they in graves? Or why it was in St Paul’s?

    These characters have no inner life – was that Clara’s gran? Mother or father’s side?

    I hate Danny Pink and Clara’s better off without him.

  • RogerBW

    Why was it in St Paul’s? So that there could be That Shot, a bone tossed to the viewers of the old series.

  • And also just for the spectacle of it.

    Moffat is all about spectacle, and never mind if it has any support in the narrative.

  • Chris Lockard

    I don’t believe I’ve ever heard Moffat say he has a problem with the Doctor being a woman. Let’s be fair, no other show runner has ever picked a woman to be a the Doctor either. I would like to think that no show runner would simply dismiss the idea of a female Doctor based on gender and honestly it appears there were many reasons why Capaldi was cast as the Twelfth Doctor. I believe he chose a woman to be the Master because:

    1. It would be a plot twist that few would see coming
    2. It reminds more mainstream fans of the fact that Time Lords can change gender
    3. He thought Michelle Gomez was the clear cut best choice for the role

    I believe these things because that’s what Moffat has said. He just cast a woman in a role that has only been played by men and is one of the few villains that has ever stood toe to toe with the Doctor. The one thing that I find Moffat has always done well is cast the right actor for major roles, so far based on the last episode, I don’t see any evidence that isn’t the case with Michelle Gomez as well.

  • RogerBW

    “It didn’t feel right to me, right now. I didn’t feel enough people wanted it.”

    “Oddly enough most people who said they were dead against it – and I know I’ll get into trouble for saying this – were women,” he insisted. “[They were] saying, ‘No, no, don’t make him a woman!'” http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/s7/doctor-who/news/a503989/steven-moffat-on-female-doctor-who-rumours-it-didnt-feel-right.html

  • 1. It would be a plot twist that few would see coming

    Except we did. Moffat didn’t exactly try to hide it.

    I believe these things because that’s what Moffat has said.

    Except Moffat lies. :-)

  • Danielm80

    “I like that Helen Mirren has been saying the next doctor should be a woman. I would like to go on record and say that the queen should be played by a man.”

    There are lots of interesting quotes from Moffat about women on this page, if you can get the site to load properly:


  • Chris Lockard

    I think the bigger question to ask was if Michelle Gomez would make a great Master. Based on these last two episodes, especially the second hour, it’s hard to argue she wasn’t perfect for the role. I feel a lot of times if there are traces of sexism in media it’s usually non intentional. Not everyone is Michael Bay, someone who literally casts women simply as eye candy. With Moffat, maybe he does feel like the Doctor should always be a male role, maybe he doesn’t, but I think the bigger thing that drive Moffat is his plot narrative. If Moffat stumbles its usually when he focuses too much on a plot’s twist and turns and not enough on his characters.

  • Reginald Anselm Leppik

    I didn’t hate Missy because she was a woman(well, I frankly thought it’d be out-of-character for him to become one, I wouldn’t want to become one). I hated her because she was such a cartoony caricature, completely devoid of the subtlety and charm that makes great villains truly great.
    For as OTT as John Simm was, he had both and provided the most in-depth look in the relationship of the two Time Lords yet. This is as far away from that as possible.

    As for giving up – not yet. I did nearly do it in Kill The Moon, but a shot of classic Who brought me back and now I just watch to see Clara go and the occasional script from someone who knows how to write consistently and dramatically(meaning believably).

    When/If Mark Gatiss should take over, I will honestly thank God. His worst stuff is merely boring and his best is fantastic.

  • Reginald Anselm Leppik

    Which were just silly, but still good to watch. This is like a torture watch.
    “Let’s take everything good about this show and rip it into pieces… slowly… just… like… that…

    Just about the only thing that worked in this episode was the end where Capaldi smashed his TARDIS and that’s only because he’s such a good actor.

  • Reginald Anselm Leppik

    “Oh Doctor you have to do this, oh Doctor you have to do that. Oh Danny I’m in trouble but can still pick up the phone because you are my looooooove.
    What? You won’t murder puppies for my needs Doctor? Well then F***K YOU!!! You are a horrible person!!”

  • Jurgan

    At this moment, I now no longer like Clara at all. It’s not like she was Donna Noble before, but I tried to like her, and she had her moments. But kidnapping the Doctor and threatening him that way made me hate her. Also, did anyone else think Lord of the Rings with the whole “throw the McGuffin in lava” thing? Clara has become obsessed with Danny to an unhealthy level of codependence. Even before she died, saying “I’ll never say ‘I love you’ to anyone else” is a creepy level of commitment. What, you never want kids? And then I guess she was about to confess all of her history, but why over the phone? Then she kidnaps the Doctor, and nothing makes me believe he cares about her enough to go to Hell for her. Their relationship is done as far as I’m concerned, but I gather the creepy codependence transfers to them for the next season. I’m about to watch the finale just because I want to see how it ends, but characters are more important than plot. I admit I liked Missy’s campy performance, and it does seem in character for the Master, but I don’t care about our leads anymore. The Mistress’s plot is bizarre, and I don’t see how “every corpse on Earth” will rise. How long has she been doing this? I guess with a time machine it’s possible but… I don’t know, this shit makes no sense. Maybe it’ll make sense in the end. I doubt it, but even if it turns out to be perfect clockwork, it won’t matter because I don’t care about anyone involved.

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