So here we are, part 1 of the finale for season 8 of Doctor Who! Some of you may have noticed that I didn’t publish a review for last weeks episode, In The Forest of The Night. To be honest the fact I couldn’t even be bothered to write a review tells you all you need to know about my thoughts on that episode. Anyway back to this weeks episode, and what an episode it was. Season 8 has been patchy, and whilst it has definitely had its moments none of the episodes have excited me the way a good old Tennant or Eccelston episode could. Finally season 8 has produced an episode like this, Dark Water is easily the best episode of the entire season.
Firstly I want to start with a few grips, and they aren’t even necessarily to do with the episode itself but more with whatever idiots are in charge of making the ‘next time’ clips. Last week we were treated to the clip which heavily featured the Cybermen effectively removing a lot of the suspense, which is just highly frustrating as the episode would have been so much more effective and shocking if the foe hadn’t already been revealed. Another point about the Cybermen would be their design. The phrase ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ comes to mind. I loved the design from the Tennant era and it definitely shouldn’t have been altered. Anyway despite this minor points the episode still manages to tower above its predecessors from the rest of the season. To start it off we had that unreal sequence with Clara throwing the TARDIS keys into the volcano, this scene had so much emotion in it and it just increased when the truth was revealed, The Doctors speech about betrayal was awesome and is probably my top Capaldi moment so far, I loved it. Dark Water is probably the first episode since Time Heist which featured the right balance of characters. Obviously as this is the first part of the finale this should be a given but it was nice to have Danny in the forefront again without a horde of school children accompanying him. Chris Addison also was a great addition to the episode as Seb and he is proof that good secondary characters can be created, likewise with Dr. Chang.
My suspicions about Missy being The Master turned out to be correct and I loved getting to see more of this character than just a bookend to an episode. Missy’s joke about the Dalek was fantastic and I thought at times she really channeled John Simm’s Master which can only be good as he was such a great Master. My favourite thing about the episode was its subtlety though, as I already knew that the Cybermen were involved and my suspicions about Missy were correct, so really I shouldn’t have been too engaged. However the small details regarding these twists drew me in and I didn’t pick up on them until their reveals. The logo of 3W being the Cyberman eye design and then Missy being short for Mistress were both awesome plot points and they gave this episode the shocker moments that it needed and would have had if not ruined by the next time clip. On top of these more important moments the actual episode had such strength just in terms of its ideas, the X-Ray water was such a great element to the story and fitted in so well with the Cybermen involvement. I also thought the Doctors urgency and annoyance at not knowing the full picture was a clever representation of us the viewer as I felt his pain as he was trying to tease the truth out of Dr. Chang.
Dark Water is the episode I have been waiting for. It had everything, this episode stands up against most others that have gone before it in terms of season finales and it has set the final episode up perfectly. This episode has given me the urge to revisit numerous others from the past and really reminded me of why I have stuck with the show this long. It took some time but Season 8 has finally got awesome.
Rating – 10/10