Well here we are with the second part of this story.
Much like with the first part I feel that some outside opinions might be necessary afterwards to get a full perspective on whether this story was a success since when your dealing with ethics and allegories a second opinion is usually justified. However I’d like to preserve my thoughts for this episode right now more the sake of posterity (though like the first part don’t consider this to be the end all be all of my views on the tale).
This story has a noticeably smaller scale than the last one. Whereas the latter had far more characters and those characters were spread out far more the focus here is a lot more tighter for better and for worse. It also seems that the parallels to immigrants and ISIS or whatever, as people have noted for the first part, have been toned down significantly and it’s in general more about the sides of war in general. This is also for better or for worse as at times mainly cause I’m not sure at this point whether Bonnie wanted to liberate her people or kill all the humans since it got a little confusing at some point.
With this part it also becomes clear that this story is less a continuation of Day of the Doctor as much as an extension/expansion of the Zygon plot and it’s parallels with the Doctor’s choices in that story. This seems to be the case because when you get right down to it nothing has really changed between the ending of either story. There’s a confrontation in the Black Archive, there’s potential for either war or peace, the Doctor talks about the Time War, the the situation is resolved, the Doctor and Clara go to do something else and two Osgoods hang out. Ultimately the only real difference is that the latest iteration of this tale is a good deal more detailed than the former, which leads to some interesting discussion and arguably will satisfy people more than the somewhat rushed one in Day, but this also causes a problem when you could make the argument that the more simplistic form in Day had more meaning somehow especially since the choice to not blow things up there paralleled the Doctor not deciding to make the choice to use the Moment more effectively, and also because the more detailed explanation leading to as simplistic a solution as before is somewhat frustrating. In the end peace is achieved because apparently that’s the way things are and any conflicts the two side have between each other need to be forgiven or something. I get that apparently the Zygon splinter group is supposed to be ISIS and that we probably shouldn’t give into the demands of terrorists but it feels a bit hollow to have things just go back to the way they were.
I can’t really know for sure if the ethics of the situation are justified but what I do know is that the whole scene of them working this out takes up a good chunk of the episode so having things just return to the original situation feels off-putting. I get that we want to not have a violent ending for the sake of it and I’m not entirely sure how to resolve this problem but those are just my concerns and feel free to voice your own.
Anyway let’s talk about some other things. Jenna Coleman definitely did a pretty good job in this episode particularly in the scene where the two versions of herself were confronting one another, they definitely had the feel of two different people even if it didn’t quite have an Orphan Black level of immersion. The scene where she was waking up in the distorted reality was also pretty effective and I appreciated the nod to Last Christmas’ dream reading thing (this section is probably the thing I’m most certain Moffat had a hand in, though I’m guessing he had a few other touches as well including some of the writing in the ending (though not necessarily the weaker parts)). Now granted the Bonnie/Clara conflict definitely had shades of Nightmare of Silver and the whole companion in distorted reality reminded me of Forest of the Dead and Last Christmas it was still pretty well done and Jenna can feel good she can have this performance on her resume.
The Doctor and Osgood also had a pretty good partnership in this episode with some pretty good lines (the stuff with first names) between them. Out of all the temporary companions that the Doctor had had this season (Davros doesn’t count and him and Missy didn’t get a whole lot of screen time) she’s probably the best and it’s a shame they didn’t have as much screen time as together as they could have. Though hopefully with some version of Osgood still alive we can her interact with Doc and future ones for years to come. On the subject I’m fine with them not telling us which Osgood is which since as the story illustrates in the end it doesn’t matter. As long as she brings the fun I’m cool. Capaldi’s performance throughout was quite good and the confrontation scene in particular (him bringing up the Time War had some good weight behind it despite it being kind of done before). Him pulling out the American accent/game show host was also quite amusing. I also found it funny that the Doctor’s solution to fixing Osgood’s glasses was some tape (let’s hope she can get Emma Watson to fix them properly).
Kate didn’t really get to do much I’m afraid though I think that’s mainly down to the character pretty much being forced into the same perspective she was in Day of the Doctor with her messing about with starting the Apocalypse again or something. Also as a minor note those heels looked pretty dreadful. When Osgood has more practical fashion sense then you you know you’ve got a problem. Or maybe it was casual Friday which is why we always see Osgood in a cosplay outfit (unless Kate knows better than to mess with Osgood and her daily wardrobe cause she fears what will happen if she inquires into it, sorry other UNIT guys). Also not really sure we needed the solution to her getting out basically coming down to a fan reference (fives rounds…). Though speaking of fan references, outside of the ones we already saw in Day of the Doctor we had the reveal that it was Harry Sullivan who engineered the crazy gas (which is probably going to miff some AV Club members) and what appeared to be a Mire helmet in the background of the big confrontation.
Also an inquiry I have is why no one freaked out when that guy was reverting into a Zygon. I guess the idea is that those guys watching him were part of Bonnie’s crew (like those guys in the taxi apparently) but it wasn’t really explained.
Well anyway this wasn’t a bad two parter I guess but it felt more like an extension of the concept from Day of the Doctor as opposed to being a proper sequel or conclusion. There were some good scenes some stuff that wasn’t well thought out and generally good production values. At the very least I can still say this was still a vast improvement over Harness’ last story (probably cause of the lack of brain-melting science and maybe? because of Moffat’s influence). Any possible ethical problems will probably have to be debated among people far smarter than I am but until then feel free to come to your own conclusions and then join me for the next episode.