Doctor Who Recap: “Death In Heaven”
Welcome to my obsession. All the recaps are here. All the spoilers that ever existed are also here.
So, like on a scale of one to Donna, how upsetting was this episode? I’m not as upset about this as I was about Donna. I think I’d put it beneath Rose and Amy and Rory but above like, Mickey. All I know for sure is that I’m surprised Russel T. Davies didn’t make a guest appearance to write this feels-laden episode.
Recap ahoy, thoughts as I go.
We last left Danny about to become a Cyberman which was pretty awful, Clara trapped in a room with a Cyberman, and the Doctor confronted with his life-long frenemy The Master (and that is a LONG life).
We pick up again with Clara and the Cyberman.
Clara decides to convince the Cyberman and his pals that she is actually the Doctor. She tells them that Clara Oswald never existed, and that she was a cover story for the Doctor. Luckily for her, the Cyberman is in a listening mood, and doesn’t kill her right out.
Side note: The theme of this whole season seems to be, above all else, identity. Who are we? Can we change who we are, and can circumstances change us? How do we know if we’re good or bad people? What does it mean to be good or bad, anyway? Important questions, surely, but I feel they don’t as much get answered as thrown around with no real clarity. Well, maybe some clarity in a bit here.
Cue credits: and check out Clara’s eyes instead of Capaldi’s:
Side note: I confess that for a hot second I entertained the notion that Clara Oswald was some kind of personality download–like, maybe HE deleted all his big feelings and emotions and dumped them into the Clara Oswald companion program or something, so that he could take a break from all his pain and loss. It would explain her growing agency throughout her presence in the series and her increasing similarity to the Doctor. That would have been a cool and totally unexpected plot twist. In other news, she really has improved her lying.
Post credits, we see people who have clearly not learned their lesson from all of the other Earth invasions taking pictures with the Cybermen on the street. Missy is being totally loony and dudes–she was freaking AWESOME this entire episode. I love her. The Doctor has a look of utter horror on his face when who should walk up and offer to take a picture for the two Time Lord lovebirds?
Osgood! She’s the genius Doctor fanatic what works for UNIT and is otherwise incredible. The entire fandom wanted her to go with him at the end of Day of the Doctor, didn’t we? Well. I did. I really did.
Anyway she offers to take a picture and the Doctor compliments her bowtie. “Bowties are cool,” she tells him, snatching away Missy’s odd-looking phone. At a word from her, UNIT agents appear from all corners of the street in a surprise gun-toting ambush. Who should emerge as the leader of this awesome surprise takedown?
Kate Stewart! Head of UNIT and daughter of the Brigadier (click that and learn about the Brigadier, you won’t regret it. Fascinating character.) She’s cool as a cucumber, pleased to have gotten the drop on a bunch of asshole alien invaders for a change. The Cybermen tell her she can’t hurt them with human weaponry, but she points out that the Cybermen have been to Earth before and we’ve done some science on what was left behind.
She also tells them that the Doctor is on Earth’s payroll. The Doctor looks surprised, then asks her how much but she shushes him. The Cybermen, in what can only be described as an epic hair flip, bang their chests and fly away.
The roof of St. Paul’s opens up and ejects a bunch more Cybermen.
The Doctor tries to count.
Osgood: 87. OCD. *shrug*
Missy: 91. Queen of Evil. *shrug*
Side note: I am so here for this.
Kate wonders how there could be a hundred ish Cybermen inside St. Paul’s and no one noticed but the Doctor tells her it must be bigger on the inside. It’s a TARDIS. Is all of St. Paul’s a TARDIS because yes.
Why 91? There are 91 areas of significant population density in the Brittish Isles. As they debate what one Cyberman per city could accomplish, the one over London explodes itself and creates a massive cloud bank. The Doctor asks Missy what’s going on, and she says that the Cybermen are “pollinating,” falling like rain all over the planet. Ew. Cybersperm.
Inside the Nethersphere, Danny and the silent young man from his past are watching as all the lights are slowly going out. The bureaucrat (who is named Seb), informs him that it isn’t exactly as much the afterlife as a “data cloud.” Yes. Cloud. Of data. That will now rain back to Earth.
Don’t ask questions.
All the people in the Nethersphere are going back to their bodies, and the rain will also upgrade their (dead) bodies at the same time. Handy. How the *right* drop of data rain gets to the *right* body–wait, I’m doing the question thing. My bad.
Elsewhere, the Doctor demands that Missy explain what’s going on but instead UNIT tranquilizes both Missy and the Doctor with some kind of magical Time Lord knock out drug. As the Doctor is protesting and then falling asleep, he grabs Osgood and whispers in her ear that they should “guard the graveyards.”
Rain falls only in the graveyards and floods various morgues and things. It’s pretty freaky. Though it’s a slow reveal on the show, we find ourselves watching the birth of Danny Pink, Cyberman. It’s really, really sad.
Back with UNIT, the Doctor wakes up to find himself handcuffed. Kate tells him his cooperation is “to be ensured.” He tries to shame her, “Would your father have done this?” She tells him they both know he absolutely would have.
They uncuff him and he follows her up to the plane, asking about Clara. “Your assistant?” she asks. “My friend,” he says. GOOD DOCTOR–remember in Into the Dalek when he wouldn’t call her a friend, but a “carer?” In any case, now he says he needs her with him. Kate says she’ll give the order, and once he’s aboard the plane his word is law. Literally.
Once aboard the plane (to keep the Doctor a moving target, according to Kate), we meet Colonel Redshirt. I mean Ahmed. The Doctor compliments his uniform and asks if he’s a scout–a man scout. He also makes a joke about saluting looking like self-concussing. His love of soldiers is still in full effect.
As the Doctor puts like seven sugar cubes in his coffee (tea?), Ahmed and Steward explain that there’s a president on board. The Doctor says he doesn’t want Americans on board, all they’ll do is pray. They tell him no, not the American president but the President of Earth. He says gee, good job, vote for an idiot to run the world. They then tell him he’s the president, by joint agreement of all nations, in the event of an alien incursion.
Basically, all of Earth has given him their armies. Good to know.
Back at St. Paul’s/possible TARDIS, Clara is trying very hard to convince some leftover Cyberman that she’s the Doctor. They tell her they require proof, and she offers to tell them the Doctor’s name. As they are bantering, another Cyberman appears and tells her she’s in fact not the Doctor but Clara, with parents and a birthday and everything. She tells this Cyberman that she’s an incredible liar. He hangs his head like the saddest Cyberman ever and says “correct.”
Then he knocks her out and shoots all the other Cybermen in the hallway. The scene shifts, and we see he’s holding Danny Pink’s paperwork. All the feels are felt.
Aboard the plane, the Doctor is interrogating Missy close up and personally.
He asks her how she’s still alive, and she says that he saved her. He says “I saved Gallifrey” and she makes some quip about collateral damage.
Side note: so like, did she escape? How? Are there others? GAH.
She also tells him she knows where Gallifrey is, and that the best part about knowing is not telling the Doctor. She’s a delightful evil queen.
A voice summons the Doctor, and he can’t help a little sass:
Doctor: Remember all those years when all you wanted to do was rule the world? On my way (to the summons).
Voice: Thank you, Mr. President.
Doctor: Piece of cake.
There is a Missy eyeroll here you have to see to believe. Perfection.
The Doctor goes to talk to Osgood, who is dissecting Missy’s phone-type device.
Osgood: Who is she?
Doctor: You’d never believe me if I told you.
Osgood: Because I thought she might be the Master, regenerated into female form? Your childhood friend responsible for a number of previous incursions.
Doctor: That was very quick.
Osgood: We do have files on all our ex-Prime Ministers. She wasn’t even the worst.
She then goes on to be even more amazing, pointing out that the clouds caused by the Cyberman have not dispersed and they are now covering all the land masses. She says the graveyards might not be the only problem. She asks the Doctor what he thinks. After a pause, he answers.
Doctor: All of time and space?
Doctor: Just something for your bucket list.
All of us: OH MY GOD YES PLEASE BEST COMPANION I NEED IT. Maybe that was just me. But come on, nerdy genius bow tie wearing Doctor fangirl who isn’t too moony to think things through? Dream companion. DREAMY.
Osgood uses her inhaler, it’s adorable.
Meanwhile, Clara wakes up in a cemetary. A creepy scene with creepy music reveals that Cybermen are slowly and Romero-ishly crawling out of all the graves.
On the plane, they say that the graves are all “hatching” Cybermen all over the world. The Doctor reminds us that Cybermen can convert any organic matter just by touching it, and if they’ve learned to convert the dead too, the human race is basically fucked. FUCKITY FUCKED.
In the graveyard, Clara is freaking out. Cybermen are slowly emerging from their graves and zombie-walking around.
The Doctor on the plane says they’re not attacking because they’re newborns but wait for it. He also says the Master has probably been collecting human minds as long as there’s been the human concept of an afterlife, and that we can safely assume that every living human is stored in that data cloud.
Side note: Holy shit, right? Like, woah. This is just the saddest thing I can think of. All that time, they were all there. Still alive. Still aware. But now they’re all CYBERMEN. This must be one of the greater tragedies in human history. And they have the Master to thank. Again.
Missy, below with Osgood, sings herself a little song. 100% A+ best moment of the entire show.
She calls Osgood over to “tell her a secret” and honestly I think Osgood is far too intelligent to fall for this but she does anyway. She’s a Gryffindor not a Ravenclaw I guess, sigh. Naturally, Missy has picked her way out of the handcuffs. After some deeply fucked and delightfully evil taunting, she kills Osgood with her little phone thingy (same way she killed Dr. Chang in the previous episode).
Side note: My husband is still making fun of me for being so moony over Osgood when she was obviously going to get it from the beginning. WHATEVER I LOVE HER.
Another side note: On the other hand, I also really love Michelle Gomez in the Missy role. She’s fucking incredible. Also she uses the line “oh my giddy aunt” right before she murders Osgood, which is a classic Second Doctor line. BURN.
Then Missy steps on Osgood’s glasses and I hate/love/hate her so much.
Up in the control room, Kate reveals that the Brigadier’s greatest wish was to get the Doctor to salute, just once. The Doctor muses that he should have asked. A Cyberman slams his face against the plane window.
The plane soon becomes overrun by Cybermen busting their way in. Colonel Redshirt gets pulled out and, well, redshirted. The plane begins to descend and the Doctor notices Missy has escaped so he runs down to see what’s up with that. He discovers Osgood is dead and that Missy is still totally nuts. She asks him if he has any more friends she can play with.
Clara finds the Cyberman who took her in the graveyard and starts making vague threats about the Doctor and how she’s his best friend.
Clara: He’s the only man in the world I’ll never lie to.
Danny gets a remarkably “are you fucking kidding me” look on his emotionless robot face and tries to shoot her, but he can’t. Instead he reveals himself to her by removing a face plate I didn’t know Cybermen had, and she has the courtesy to be devastated.
Side note: I will say that I don’t feel as deeply affected by this as I wanted to. Danny Pink has been a refrigerated character from the beginning, existing more to drive Clara’s plot forward than to be a person with any agency of his own. He’s like the sad dog who’s owners chain him in the backyard because they’re super busy, or something. So while this was a hard core way for Danny to go out, I also didn’t feel the weight of it the way I think I was supposed to. It felt designed for teen angst rather than adult emotions. Then of course I remember that this is a family show written largely for kids, and I should probably calm my tits.
He asks her to help him. He tells her Danny is dead, and that he can “feel” being a Cyberman and that it’s terrible and can she please turn off his emotions using the handy inhibitor on his chest. He tells her he can’t do it himself. Probably because he has robot fingers.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is losing his shit at Missy. Missy taunts him, tells him she has a gift for him. She tells him she met all the people who died to keep him alive, and that she knows what he really needs–to know that the Doctor is just like her. Before she can elaborate, the phone rings. Missy tells him it’s Clara, and confesses that she’s the one who gave Clara his number to begin with (and the one who put the ad in the paper in Victorian England to keep them together).
Side note: Did Missy disguise herself when Clara got the number from the shop? Or did Clara just call? Or did she just not recognize Missy when she saw her again? These are the useless questions my mind asks.
Missy: Because she’s perfect. The control freak and the man who should never be controlled. You’d go to hell if she asked, and she would. Phone’s ringing Doctor, can you hear it? Now that’s the sound of your chain being yanked. Heel, Doctor.
Side note: So, we know Clara is the Doctor’s closest companion since his own granddaughter (and arguably River Song), the one who knows his name and all his history–all his ups and downs. I find it fascinating that Missy sees her as controlling and yanking the Doctor around on a chain. It’s Danny she does that to, not the Doctor. She and the Doctor have the uncomfortable truth between them–Clara knows all. I think he would run for her because he trusts her completely. She’s the only one who knows him this well at this time, especially since he lost River. Well. Except the Master. I think someone is jealous.
Clara is calling the Doctor for help with Danny, turning Danny’s emotions off. The Doctor tells her not to do it, that if she does Danny will kill her. She says that it’s her fault he’s suffering, and that she is going to turn off his emotions whether the Doctor is okay with it or not. She tells him that he can either come help her or not, but she’s doing it.
Luckily, there’s a large quantity of plot-delaying switches in the inhibitor so she can take her time and not switch him off right away. She tells him she’s sorry.
Back on the plane, Missy blows the side of the hatch off and Kate, who had come to report to the Doctor, gets blown out of the plane.
She tells the Cybermen to blow up the plane and also kill some Belgians because they’re not even French.
The plane blows up and the Doctor begins to fall from the sky. We see that Missy has transported herself to the Nethersphere, and is now watching the Doctor die. Seb is with her, and fanboying all over the Doctor who manages, in the air, to grab his TARDIS key and use it to home in on the TARDIS while falling to his death. We see him heading right for the TARDIS, arm and key out, then the TARDIS rises triumphantly above the clouds and Missy looks put out. Silly level 11, as I like my Who.
The Doctor lands in the graveyard to tell Clara not to turn Danny’s emotions off. He tells her Danny will kill her, then others, and will never stop killing.
Danny: I will not harm her.
The Doctor tells Danny that pain is necessary, that pain is what separates him from the Master. Danny asks him if he truly feels pain, and the Doctor tells him yes, every time. Pain is a gift, just like fear is a superpower. Danny says, “Then shame on you, Doctor,” and the Doctor agrees.
The Doctor asks Danny what the clouds are going to do next. Danny asks how he is supposed to know, and the Doctor reminds him that he’s part of a hive mind now.
Danny: Clara, watch this. This is who the Doctor is. Watch the blood-soaked old general in action. (to the Doctor) I can’t see properly, sir, because this needs activating. If you want to know what’s coming, you have to switch it on. And didn’t all those beautiful speeches just disappear int he face of a tactical advantage. Sir.
The Doctor is plainly devastated. He needs to know, Danny agrees–he does. They both know they are both right, and the gift of pain is pretty evident here.
Clara tells the Doctor to give her the screwdriver. The Doctor refuses but she tells him to do as he’s told, something she’s repeated several times this season. He allows it. Danny mocks him, “typical officer keeping his hands clean.” The Doctor is deeply shaken, and it shows, but he lets Clara take the screwdriver anyway.
Clara: I wasn’t very good at it, but I did love you.
Danny: I loved you too.
Clara: I’m never going to say that again.
Danny: Me neither.
Clara: I feel like I’m killing you.
Danny: I’m already dead. You’re here this time at least.
Clara: Goodbye, Danny.
Danny: Goodbye, Clara.
She sonics him, and he gets all “dead face no feels.” Clara falls against him in a hug. The Doctor tries to pull her off but nothing bad happens, they just stand there. The Doctor takes the opportunity to ask what’s going on with the clouds. Danny tells them that the rain will fall again and everyone on the planet will be turned into a Cyberman. The Doctor asks how he can stop it, and Danny says he can’t.
Missy returns in the most fantastic entrance in the history of Time Lord entrances:
She goes to kill Clara but the Doctor throws the zapper phone thing out of her hand. Clara picks it up.
Missy goes on to show the Doctor that she has created this entire Cyberman army for him. For his birthday. She hands him the bracelet she’s been using and tells him the army is his to command.
Missy: Tiny bit pleased? Oh go on, crack a smile. I want to see if your eyebrows fall off.
Doctor: All of this. All of it just to give me an army?
Missy: Well I don’t need one, do I? Armies are for people who think they’re right. And nobody thinks they’re righter than you. Give a good man firepower and he’ll never run out of people to kill.
Side note: BURN. Also–remember that the Master redeemed himself sort of in his last appearance. We discovered that Rassilon had turned him mad at the age of 8 as a way to help the Time Lords find their way back once the Doctor locked them all away. His madness was imposed, and he was once just a boy like the Doctor, probably scared of things under the bed too. In the end, the Master saves the Doctor’s life and sacrifices himself, jumping back through to wherever Gallifrey is now to die in the Time War. Or, you know, regenerate into a deranged Mary Poppins. Whichever.
Doctor: I don’t want an army.
Missy: Well that’s the trouble, yes you do. You’ve always wanted one.All those people suffering in the Dalek camps? Now you can save them. All those bad guys winning all the wars? Go and get the good guys back!
Doctor: Nobody can have that power.
Missy: You will, because you don’t have a choice. There’s only one way you can stop these clouds from opening up and killing all your little pets down here. Conquer the universe–Mr. Presdient. Show a bad girl how it’s done.
Doctor: Why are you doing this?
Missy: I need you to know we’re not so different. I need my friend back.Every battle, every war, every invasion. From now on, you decide the outcome. What’s the matter, Mr. President? Don’t you trust yourself?
The Doctor remembers–asking if he’s a good man, being told he’s a good Dalek, being called “sir” by Danny with scorn, telling Robin Hood he’s not a hero. A smile suddenly bursts across his face and he plants a kiss on Missy in thanks.
Doctor: Thank you! I am not a good man. I’m not a bad man.I am not a hero, and I’m definitely not a president. And no, I’m not an officer. Do you know what I am? I am an idiot! With a box, and a screwdriver. Passing through, helping out, learning. I don’t need an army, never have, because I’ve got them. Always them. Because love, it’s not an emotion. Love is a promise. And he will never hurt her.
The Doctor tosses Danny the bracelet. Danny takes it and commands the Cyberman to fly into the clouds and burn them down (by exploding).
Danny: This is not a good day. This is Earth’s darkest hour. And look at you miserable lot. We are the fallen, but today we shall rise. The army of the dead will save the land of the living. This is not the order of a general, nor the whim of a lunatic. This is a promise. The promise of a soldier.
(to Clara): You will sleep safe tonight.
Danny and the others fly to the clouds and explode. It’s pretty much as upsetting as you think.
Missy tries a last-ditch attempt to save herself. She tells the Doctor the coordinates of Gallifrey, tells him it’s right back where it started and maybe they could go together. He calls her a liar. Clara reveals that she’s been holding the zapper phone the whole time.
She holds it up to kill Missy and the Doctor tries to stop her. She says “if you’ve ever let this creature live, then everything that happened today is on you. All of it. On you.”
Side note: Shouldn’t she be well aware of all the times the Master and the Doctor had encounters? Also, wow way to miss Danny’s point TOTALLY, Clara. If you go around thinking you have the power of life and death over another, you’re an officer not a soldier. Then again, we know that she’s much more like the Doctor than Danny, don’t we?
The Doctor begs her not to, and promises in not so many words that he will kill Missy as long as Clara doesn’t. Missy is taken aback–the Doctor will kill her just to save Clara’s soul? Before either of them can kill Missy, a blue laser beam comes from behind them all and appears to disintegrate her.
Side note: If she’s actually dead, I’ll be very sad because she was amazing. One never knows with the Master–we know she could teleport to the Nethersphere with the bracelet but she doesn’t have it now. So…?
Who shot the blue beam?
A Cyberman, who points them at an unconscious Kate! Kate is still alive woooo! How?
Clara: She’s saying something about her father.
All of us: AAHMAHGAH awwww noooo awwwww yesssss
Doctor: Of course. The Earth’s darkest hour, and mine. Where else would you be?
Some time probably passes, and the next scene is Clara in bed. We hear Danny calling her from the hall of her house. When she gets up, a shiny white light appears and he tells her that the bracelet will let one person return from the Nethersphere, there’s just enough power for one trip. He tells her the Nethersphere is dying, which likely means the dead are really dying too though that’s never discussed.
Clara says yes, great, come back then. Danny says no, one trip, one person. He sends back the kid, the kid he probably killed in Afghanistan all those years ago. Danny says he’s sorry, but he has promises to keep. Soldier promises, I suppose.
Side note: Did this take everything way too far on the other side of sentimental? My argument is yes, but my husband (who feels nothing for Osgood) says it’s exactly what should have happened. I feel like they unfolded Danny’s “I killed a kid” story way too late, and now it just feels trite and overdone like when they returned the big sister at the end of In the Forest of the Night.
Later, in a coffee shop, the Doctor and Clara meet. She tells him she has news and it’s not good but he interrupts her and tells her he knows what she’s going to say. He sees Missy’s bracelet on her wrist and assumes Danny is back home where he belongs.
She’s about to correct him when he tells her he’s found Gallifrey. That it was right where Missy said it would be. Then we see a scene of him finding Gallifrey–or rather, big empty space where Missy said Gallifrey would be. We see the Doctor really lose it and begin punching at the TARDIS control panel hard enough to bring sparks. He’s destroyed. It’s in this moment we really get to see how homesick he is, and how alone. Again.
He’s lying like a rug to Clara and she’s so happy for him that she lies to him and tells him yes, Danny is great, they are great and they’re going to live happily ever after. They decide to hug. The Doctor tells Clara the reason he doesn’t like hugs: they just seem like a way to hide your face.
Side note: So, he does know that Danny’s gone and she’s alone too. He must. They’re too alike to be anything but lying liars.
They say their goodbyes.
Clara: Traveling with you made me feel real special. Thank you for that. Thank you for making me feel special.
Doctor: Thank you for exactly the same.
Except there’s a knock on the TARDIS door after the credits. The Doctor is brooding in the control room about his eternal ennui or something.
Voice: Doctor! You know it can’t end like that. We need to get this sorted, and quickly. She’s not all right, you know, and neither are you. I’m coming in. Ah there you are, I knew I’d get around to you eventually. Now stop gawping and tell me–what do you want for Christmas?
So, I don’t know. I liked the episode over all. There were Cyberman-sized plot holes but I don’t really care about those because the overall story was engaging. I also believe they fulfilled my wish and “fixed” the Doctor–at least, I hope so. I think we’ve seen him embrace himself again, and humanity, rather than scorning everything. He didn’t even make a joke about Clara’s appearance.
Most of my questions from last week are either answered or don’t matter. I still have questions from previous episodes though.
We do think Clara is pregnant, don’t we? I mean, how else can you explain Danny Pink having a timeline in Listen? I briefly entertained the notion that she might have adopted the kid he rescued and that’s who has the timeline, but that guy Orson Pink looked an awful lot like Danny. In either case–how did he get the “Dan the Soldier Man?” She left that with the baby Doctor.
Way back in Deep Breath, the Doctor said he chose “this face” for a reason. I’d like to know what that reason is.
Taken as a whole, I liked the season’s messages and the Doctor’s journey through this hella hardcore regeneration. I like how much he changed. I kind of hate him sometimes and I like that too. I wish I’d ended up feeling more for Clara and Danny, but mostly what I feel is pretty glad we’re going to get a new companion soon (if that is indeed what happens, as is being heavily hinted). Capaldi is a damn genius of emotive acting, which is a great pairing with the season’s “feels are for chumps” plotlines.
I want the writing to be more consistent and less sparse. If you’re giving me a message, then give it to me. Don’t leave me to too much speculation or I’m alone with Tumblr in the night and that’s no one’s good time. Throw us a bit more of a bone, is what I’m saying. Tell us SOMETHING substantial.
Oh and please bring Missy back. Please.
I’ll be back for the Christmas special, guys. It’s been a blast!!
(screencaps from kissthemgoodbye.net)