02nd Nov2014

‘Doctor Who: 8×11 – Dark Water’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


I like Doctor Who and I like Peter Capaldi’s version of the Time Lord.  I’ve grown to like Samuel Anderson as Danny and I of course think Clara is a good companion, so why is it that Dark Water had me a little annoyed? I guess you’ll have to read on to find out.  I may have to be slightly vague at times because it would be unfair to post spoilers, I just want to get my opinion across.

Not everything that I say is going to be negative, so don’t think I am writing this just to be cynical about Doctor Who, I am a fan and have been since I was a child.  In Dark Water there are problems though.  The first is the tricky problem of Doctor Who and death.  It’s not really a spoiler to say that death is going to be relevant in this episode because we finally get to Missy (Michelle Gomez), and we know she has dealt with the death of people unlucky enough to cross the Doctor’s path.  Remember what happened with Rose during the Christopher Eccleston era and why you should not mess with the natural course of death? Why is this forgotten and why does the Doctor suddenly believe there is an afterlife? This makes no sense and feels against who The Doctor is, but then again we aren’t meant to look for too much sense are we? Oh and if he suddenly wants to take a trip to whatever comes after death, I’m sure he’d have done it before now to visit people he has lost.  Just a thought of course.

The second problem for me is that we are meant to have forgotten stories from the other Doctors, especially one from the David Tennant era.  Fans who actually have a memory (I assume all of us) and who have seen the episode I am thinking of will see resemblances and wonder why this episode so blatantly appears to have forgotten about.  It dealt with the dead and how we handle the fact they are gone, surprisingly enough they featured the same enemy too…strange that isn’t it? Though I did notice a comment from The Doctor pondering the fact he seemed to be missing something.  I think déjà vu maybe hit Steven Moffat when he was writing this one.

This week has been a strange episode for Jenna Coleman as she seems to struggle with the emotions that she needed to portray, again part of the reason for this is the actions she takes which are against her character (in my opinion of course).  I’m not sure why but her acting just didn’t have the impact it should, and honestly Samuel Anderson eclipsed her in their scenes.  That’s not to say she was really bad in this episode, more that she just didn’t convey the intensity of emotions that were needed, but this could be down to the believability of what we are seeing on the screen.

Now to the positive, and that is Peter Capaldi and Michelle Gomez.  As the episode speeds up to the finale and the reveal of who Missy actually is both are on top form, verbally sparring as The Doctor tries to understand what is going on and what he’s missed…which is a pretty huge thing to miss really.  The reveal is easily the best part of this episode and does make it worth watching, but as with previous episodes we’ve seen this year, why is it that the episode itself is weak and there is an over reliance on the final moments to distract the viewer from what we’ve seen to get to the good bit? The reveal is worth the wait, but to get there is somewhat of a chore.

We are not at the final episode yet, that will come next week but Dark Water has continued to do what is common this year, and that is to forget rules that Doctor Who has set up, forget previous stories (or expecting us to) and most importantly that the fans should not be treated like idiots.  I do love the big reveal and once again Peter Capaldi is on top form…he just needs stories that live up to the performance that he is giving.

**** 4/5

Dark Water has more of a feel of déjà vu, not only for its weaknesses but also for the story line. The big reveal for Missy is handled well and Michelle Gomez really shines in the role, but I can’t help feeling that the final episode has a lot to fix. Peter Capaldi is a good Doctor Who, he just needs stories that live up to his portrayal.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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