“What Have You Done?” (Doctor Who: Dark Water + Death in Heaven)

Dark Water (Poster)
The awesome poster for the really bad Dark Water.

What? I was gone only like two weeks, Doctor Who! I haven’t watched for two weeks, and now this happens? What? In case you were wondering, I just watched the finale of the eighth season of the new Doctor Who. And in my “professional” opinion, I didn’t like it. I’ve said before that this season has been a compendium of seriously bad episodes, and seriously good episodes (maybe at the end of the post, I’ll count them all up), and I can probably say that these two were the worst.

(SPOILERS)

While Clara calls him on the phone, trying to tell him something, Danny Pink walks into traffic like an idiot, and dies. Yeah, in like the first few minutes of the episode. It really sets the tone for the whole thing. Anyway, Clara goes to the Doctor, and does some thing with a sleep patch that’s not a sleep patch, and TARDIS keys, and an active volcano, and blackmail. But it was all a dream! So the Doctor takes her to Heaven anyway, even though she just showed him that she would totally destroy his livelihood and strand him in the middle of an active volcano forever. But they go there anyway, and meet the Master, who’s got a bunch of Cybermen in some water tanks, but no one notices, because it’s “X-ray water”! And then the Cybermen escape, and the Doctor and the Master make it to London, because apparently Heaven has a direct outlet, and the Cybermen explode, and turn into storm clouds, and then rain on all of the graves, and more Cybermen come out, because that’s how rain works, and then… OH MY GOD! What did I just watch?

Death in Heaven (Poster)
The awesome poster for the really bad Death in Heaven.

You want to hear a fun story? I want to tell one. Way back when (near the 50th anniversary), I thought it would be really cool if I could just get one super intense episode with the Cybermen or the Master. Imagine my surprise when I was shown a really bad episode that was trying to be super intense, featuring BOTH the Cybermen and the Master. It was like the Spider-Man 3 of Doctor Who episodes. Being that way severely handicapped it, though. It was like the 50th anniversary (I will be drawing more parallels to this), where you got both the Daleks and the Zygons, and both of them sucked. The Master, coming off of their excellent portrayal by John Simm in the End of Time (David Tennant’s last episodes) was really overdone, and seemed like a rehash of every other unstable female villain. The Cybermen were bland and misused, which is a real disappointment, considering that they are one of the best Doctor Who villains out there, and have the capacity for amazing storytelling. Instead of that, there was just some plot holes, hand-wavy science, and some chubby rain.

I feel like the episodes tried to go for something intense and final, but came up with a ridiculous “team-up” of villains, some references to Classic Doctor Who that were completely lost on me (even though I love the Brigadier as a character), and unnecessary deaths. It all felt rushed, and unpolished, even above all of the mistakes. All the Master got was a few after-episode teasers hinting at “Heaven”. Then the storyline is completely introduced and completely concluded in the episodes. Maybe if Doctor Who had better build-up, and actually lead into the season finale, it would have made more sense. It was all too segregated, as the last two episodes tried to get a huge storyline done in a limited amount of time.

The Plot (Dark Water + Death in Heaven)
The plot. Where was it?

I mean sure, the Master was a pretty good actor, and did her job well. She was a rehash, a good one, but still another copy of every other psyco-villain lady. Ultimately, the whole finale followed the tradition of the 50th anniversary, in taking a huge dump on the End of Time, which I believe to be the best episodes ever of Doctor Who. The Cybermen were wasted, and they certainly weren’t doing anything better than The Age of Steel. What is evident here in these episodes is the show’s complete inability to top itself anymore. The storyline was a convoluted jumble of mistakes and small attempts at redemption. They killed the asthmatic UNIT woman, who was one of the only good things about the 50th anniversary special, and they almost killed Kate Lethbridge Stewart, head of UNIT.

Okay. It wasn’t all bad stuff. Danny is getting no points off for his stuff in the afterlife, his interactions with the little kid he shot, his war flashbacks, or his Cybermen badassery. The cute cameo with the Cyber-Brigadier was pretty nice, and the whole exploding-plane-Doctor-falls-into-the-TARDIS-with-key-out thing would have been really cool. However, at that point, it just seemed like a half-baked attempt at redemption for the episodes. What a mess. 4 out of 10.

Inside a really hit or miss season, the finale was the worst episode of all. Dark Water and Death in Heaven were complicated messes that did nothing but confuse me and ruin other perfectly good episodes of Doctor Who. The villains felt tacked on, and only there to give the Doctor some new moral quandary. There were some upsides however, as in mostly everything Danny did, but those don’t save these from being the worst episodes of season 8.

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