First off, let me just say that Peter Capaldi is an absolute legend! He deserves a Bafta for this episode alone.
It was an incredibly close race with Matt Smith, but Capaldi’s phenomenal acting this series (that Zygon speech!) has cemented him as my 2nd favourite Doctor of all time.
I’m sorry, 11th Doctor fans, I’m so sorry. Of course, Matt Smith is still an amazing Doctor! Capaldi’s just better. Needless to say, Tennant is chilling at the top of the list.
So, with all that out of the way, here’s a quick synopsis for anyone who’s not seen Season 9, Episode 11 yet:
Trapped in a world unlike any other he has seen, the Doctor faces the greatest challenge of his many lives. One final test. And he must face it alone. Pursued by the fearsome creature known only as the Veil, he must attempt the impossible. If he makes it through, Gallifrey is waiting…
And this should be obvious, but if you’ve not seen the episode yet, this blog post will be full of SPOILERS. All that being said, here’s what I found particularly great about this week’s episode and also some stuff I didn’t like.
Doctor Sherlock and the Store Room
Capaldi’s Doctor is colder and more detached than previous regenerations and consequently, this makes him more Sherlockian. In this episode we get to see The Doctor’s mind-palace (sort of), though he calls it his “store room”. As you’d expect, it’s the TARDIS. Really, what else could it be?
When The Doctor jumps out of that window, he goes to his store-room, locks the door, and just THINKS. Time slows down, very similar to when you enter a dream in Inception, and we get to see how The Doctor’s mind actually works.
This entire sequence reminded me a lot of that courtroom scene in Sherlock. I love it when shows slow down time and give characters a chance to show their thought processes and overall cleverness to the audience.
In mere seconds, The Doctor’s already done all sorts of calculations to figure out how far he’s going to fall, how fast he’s going (that’s why he threw the stool), the wind resistance, the atmospheric density, the strength of gravity, the moment of impact, the chances of remaining conscience, and so much more. We even get the writing-on-chalkboard stuff from last season’s fan favourite episode, Listen!
As detached as The 12th Doctor is, we also get a chance to see his more human side. He’s emotionally raw after having just lost Clara and being able to do nothing to save her. (So is the audience!)
Even though The Doctor manages to hide it most of the time, the store-room sequence shows the audience just how emotionally fragile he really is. He’s lost without Clara. He’s confused. He’s angry. He’s tired. He’s Scottish. But most importantly, he’s scared.
He’s now truly alone, without Clara. He’s still in that state of mind where she’s alive, even though he knows she’s dead. He still thinks he’s in the TARDIS, showing off and explaining to Clara how he’s going to survive and what he’s going to do next.
Even when he’s not in the store-room and he’s just walking about the castle, he’s verbally explaining his thoughts to an imaginary Clara. He’s still in shock and doesn’t yet know how to cope with it.
The bit when he’s completely broken and Clara shows up to give him that final motivational push! SUCH FEELS! Also, loved the little Clara cameo!
The Confession Dial
I have to admit, when I began watching the episode, I had no idea what was going on. But the moment I saw those clothes on that stand in front of the fireplace, the clothes were the exact clothes The Doctor was wearing at the time, it hit me.
I knew there was some kind of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey loop which was being repeated over and over again. My beliefs were confirmed when the 12th Doctor took his wet clothes off and placed them back on the stand the exact way they were placed when he found them. He even straightened the shoes!
All in all, the whole Confession Dial idea was marvellous! It was confusing at first, but it worked out well. And I loved the Brothers Grimm references! I admit, there are still a lot of bits to the plot I don’t quite get, but I’ll need to rewatch it to make sure.
The Veil, which was the monster stalking The Doctor, was actually Death. He said it himself when the episode started. I love how they chose to make Death take the form of an actual nightmare The Doctor had (when he was younger he saw an old veiled dead woman surrounded by flies and it gave him nightmares for years).
Although the name was a bit confusing (The Veil is already an established Silurian-like monster species in the Whoniverse), the monster was great. It really sent chills down your spine. When you first see it creeping around the castle, you feel the hairs on the back of your neck tingle. The monster is right up there with The Silence and Weeping Angels!
Also, I loved the effects when The Veil actually killed The Doctor. Well done!
They’ve been teasing this Hybrid thing all throughout the series. In Episode 2 of Series 9, Davros says the following.
There was a prophecy, Doctor, on your own world. It spoke of a hybrid creature. Two great warrior races forced together to create a warrior greater than either. Is that what you ran from Doctor, your part in the coming of the hybrid? Half Dalek, half Time Lord.
Then, in this week’s episode, The Doctor says this:
You got the prophecy wrong. The hybrid is not half Dalek. Nothing is half-Dalek; the Daleks would never allow that. The hybrid destined to conquer Gallifrey and stand in its ruins is me.
The thing is, I think this is an intentional misdirect. I don’t think The Doctor is The Hybrid at all. I know people on the internet are talking about that one-off Doctor Who movie where the 8th Doctor mentions he’s half-human. Others are saying that The Doctor is a ‘good Dalek’, as mentioned in Series 8 and this is supposed to show that he’s half-Dalek etc.
But I reckon they’re all wrong. I think The Hybrid is Ashildr. Let me explain why.
- The Hybrid is “a creature cross-bred from two warrior races”. Ashildr fits this description. She is ‘cross-bred’ from the Vikings and the Mire.
- Secondly, and this is important, it’s been a big deal in Series 9 that she’s changed her name from Ashildr to Me. ME. Now go and read The Doctor’s quote again. Particularly the last bit. “The hybrid destined to conquer Gallifrey and stand in its ruins is ME.” BOOM. Plot-twist, right there. Me = Ashildr.
- The Doctor knows Ashildr is The Hybrid. That’s probably why he was freaked when he saw her for the first time in “The Girl Who Died”.
- Ashildr also knows she’s The Hybrid. In the Episode 12 preview, she says “The Hybrid. I think it’s time to tell the truth.” How else would she know what The Hybrid is unless it’s her? It’s not like she’s well-versed in Gallifreyan mythology.
- Why else would she be on Gallifrey in the next episode? She even looks a bit like a Time Lord in the pic below!
Random Thoughts and Questions!
- Did Ashildir teleport The Doctor to Gallifrey? If that’s the case, how did he end up in the Confession Dial?
- Did Ashildir teleport him directly into the Confession Dial? If that’s the case, how did he end up in Gallifrey?
- If he knew what a Confession Dial was and how it works (he must have seen other Timelords with Confession Dials), why didn’t he realise he was in his own Confession Dial?
- Is Ashildr The Hybrid?
- Why didn’t the Diamond Wall room (the one The Doctor was punching) revert back to it’s original state?
- What is the point of a confession dial? Who’s hearing the confession?
- Why would a confession dial be given to The Doctor’s best friend in the case of his death? What’s the point?
- The Clara scene was reminiscent of Amy Pond’s cameo in Matt Smith’s last episode.
- Gallifrey’s back!
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments!