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die hard is a xmas movie | by maryann johanson

Doctor Who blogging: “Death in Heaven”

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[previous: “Dark Water”]

warning: spoilers!

Okay. So, Missy was specifically targeting the Doctor because she missed her friend and wanted to pull his pigtails. And her grand plan to get him to a specific place to do a specific Thing was indeed — as I lamented last week appeared to be the case — all built on a pile of suppositions based on events that were unlikely to happen and, even then, would further require that the Doctor behave in ways he is not inclined to behave.

Okay then.

But you know what’s even worse? Steven Moffat is now stealing plots from Ed Wood-esque parodies of science fiction. Because this:

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is pretty much this:

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(Chubby Rain is the hilariously awful movie-within-a-movie in Bowfinger. It’s about an alien invasion in which the aliens hide themselves in the raindrops. Really.)

I guess snuck in the Cyber-rain were instructions for transfiguring the organic matter of dead human bodies — some centuries dead —

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into Cybermen? But are 250-year-old corpses really that different, on an atomic level, from other organic matter? Why not turn, I dunno, cows into Cybermen? Or pigs? Why not turn trees into Cybermen? (Missy could have gone to town when the trees had taken over the planet. Imagine all of them transformed into Cybermen!)

But Danny Pink is magic and can resist Cyber control, a handy coincidence, both randomly not getting his emotion inhibitor turned on and then also by it not working when it is finally turned on. (And I don’t think we can chalk this up to “just part of Missy’s plan,” as so many other implausibilities and contradictions seem to be getting justified as. She’s surprised to discover that Cyber-Danny is not obeying her.) And it has nothing to do with fresh brains or anything, because Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart — who isn’t quite so freshly dead as Danny — is also able to resist Cyber control, and so save Kate when she got sucked out of the UNIT plane.

Is love saving the day? But didn’t all those other dead people have people they loved, too? Why aren’t all the new Cybermen rebelling?

And let’s talk about UNIT. They need the Doctor’s help during a time of immense global crisis… so they knock him out — during the presumably vital early hours of the crisis, when the situation might be handled or even diffused before it gets worse — and kidnap him. Who wouldn’t be predisposed to help when people ask so nicely? They can get the TARDIS out of whatever dimensional pocket Missy is using in St. Paul’s, but not Clara? (And are we really to believe that China, Russia, and North Korea all agreed to turn over command of their armies to an alien “president” of Earth, one who appears to be all pally with West? Surrrrrre. I can totally see Vladimir Putin agreeing to that. I bet Kim Jong-un was a barrel of laughs at that meeting.)

None of my nitpicking would have been worth nitpicking if I had been the slightest bit emotionally engaged. But I didn’t believe any of this:

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I didn’t believe “You’d go to hell if she asked.” (The Doctor can’t even show up when Clara calls till two weeks later!) I didn’t believe the Doctor and Clara lying to each other about how awesome their lives are going to be now that Danny is “back” and Gallifrey is “found.” I didn’t believe one moment of Clara making yet another outrageously selfish demand on the Doctor: “Either you help me,” she says when she wants to turn on Cyber-Danny’s emotion inhibitor, “or you leave me alone.” Sure, it’s the middle of a global crisis, but let’s distract the Doctor with petty personal needs. She’s not even conflicted about it! Are we supposed to not like her? Because this makes me not like her very much. “Do as you’re told”? That is no way for anyone to speak to anyone, unless that other person is, like, two years old, and mostly not even then, either.

Except I didn’t believe any of it, so that makes it okay, I guess…?

Then, after all the unconvincing emotional wrangling and blackmailing and accusations and threats, both Clara and the Doctor are saved from having to make the tough decision about whether to kill Missy or not. How nice for them. And what a big cop-out.

As I wrote in a comment following my blogging about last week’s episode:

If Moffat wants to turn DW into a big emotional drama, he has to actually write the emotion.

This was all supposed to be very moving, and I felt nothing at all.

Random thoughts on “Death in Heaven”:

• “Hey, remember that time, just a few years ago, when all those ghosts appeared all over the planet and everyone thought their grandpa was visiting from beyond the grave, and it was such a huge deal that people who loved ghosts were on talk shows and there was even a ghost character on Eastenders, and then all the ghosts actually turned out to be Cybermen crossing over from another dimension, and then they had that big battle at Canary Wharf with the Daleks?”

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“Nah, me neither. Here, take my picture with this giant menacing metal man.”

Seriously, does no one on Earth have any memory of all the weird shit that has been happening on a regular basis for the past few years? The sky filled with alien planets? A gazillion little black boxes that gave millions of people heart attacks? That year that nobody died? Anyone? If any of the weird shit has been benign, we haven’t seen it… so why would everyone think the sudden appearance of these enormous robots is awesome?

• So Cybermen can fly now why not.

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So St. Paul’s has a sunroof now why not.

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(I hope the body of Christopher Wren rose from his tomb — which is right there in St. Paul’s! — in a Cyberbody with the intent of hunting down Steven Moffat.)

Evil Mary Poppins why not.

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A bracelet can be used both for transdimensional travel and a Get Out of Death Free card why not.

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I swear to God, Moffat has a giant fishbowl in his office filled with crumpled up bits of paper on which are written snippets of random “coolness” — “haunted earrings chew your ears off (literally)”; “what if tea was an alien plot?”; “The Great Gatsby but with robots” — and he just pulls a few out each episode and tosses them in.

He even tells us as much here: “Nethersphere is just a cool name we came up with during a spitball.”

• If the Doctor wants to find Gallifrey

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then why doesn’t he just plunge his hands into the psychic goo that now takes up an entire panel on the TARDIS console and wish really hard to be there? You know, like how it friggin’ found the building that housed the computer on which deceased Danny’s consciousness had been downloaded. Geez.

• Worse. Guards. Ever.

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Missy is undoing her handcuffs and applying lipstick and these dimbulbs don’t even notice. They don’t even move after she gets herself 20 feet across the hold of the plane. Unbelievable.

• “Just point and think, yeah?”

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So the sonic screwdriver is a magic wand. Great. Oh, and it can summon the TARDIS when you’re freefalling through the atmosphere after being sucked out of an airplane. (That was pretty much the moment when I started yelling at the TV during this episode.)

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• Osgood!

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Killing her off is just cruel and pointless… especially after the Doctor hinted that she would get a chance to travel with him. Another potentially really great companion, one who would have loved traveling with him, eliminated.

[next: “Last Christmas”]


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