TV Review: Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 8 “The Zygon Inversion” (UK, 2015)

“Since when is Doctor Who political?”, says my Tom Baker adoring mother after seeing the credits roll for “The Zygon Inversion”. Bewildered and a little confused as any long-term fan of the show would be, my mum encapsulates a stark change in the landscape of Doctor Who – that it has the power to transcend what science fiction typically is. I welcome this refashioning with open arms, “The Zygon Inversion’ a testament to what happens when the conclusion of a story is just as, if not more, important than establishing the premise. I’m so happy that I can finally say this – Doctor Who is back.

It’s been a gruelling eight weeks of reviews. I began to think that those heartwarming, tear jerking moments of Who had been sacrificed in lieu of spectacle. But alas, last nights episode reiterated that – just like any long-term relationship – you have to go through the bad to get to the good. No longer is Doctor Who my secret mistress that I try to hide from the world. Baby, we’re in a long-term, passionate relationship. Okay, I’ll stop talking about my love-affair with the show and actually get to why this episode was so damn good.

Firstly, it was unapologetically political. “The Zygon Inversion” tackled the morality that comes with war and peace, demonstrated in a beautiful sequence between The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) and Evil-Clara (I refuse to call her Bonnie) (Jenna Coleman). It’s revealed that the Osgood Box isn’t actually some terrible plot device to make chaos ensue, but rather a set of boxes – one for humans, one for zygons – that cannot guarantee the fate of either species. In their endeavour to tear down the human race, the Zygons cannot securely guarantee that they will be safe in doing so; if Evil-Clara wants to exterminate the human race, she risks also killing off the entirety of the Zygon species.

I know I’ve dissed Clara incessantly, but Jenna Coleman needs praise for her flawless execution of Evil-Clara. From the mannerisms to her change of voice, Coleman took this role and made us believe of Clara’s body-hijack. It’s a side of Coleman that I wish I saw more often, especially given her imminent departure.

I know I said a few weeks ago that Capaldi had his defining Doctor moment already, but how wrong I was. At the crux of this story was an exploration of the consequences of war, and who knows that better than The Doctor himself? The poor guy had to risk killing off his entire race in order to save the planet, placing in him an eerily similar situation to Kate Stewart and Evil-Clara. The writers know this and work with it with pure ease, allowing Capaldi’s incredibly talent to take the reigns and pull our heart strings.

The scene lasts for a captivating ten minutes as Capaldi works his magic, making us feel all the emotions that you can with an episode that is unnervingly relevant to our current day situation. In highlighting the trauma that comes with war, The Doctor convinces Kate and Evil-Clara to stand down, effectively breaking the cycle of cruelty and war.

It’s a really great piece of writing and incredibly difficult to fault. This episode illustrates what Doctor Who does best – it captures our hearts. Yeah, the space travel is nice. But it’s even better exploring who the mythic creature of The Doctor is and why we love him so much. Next week looks like it’s heading back to creepy-Who – and I’m incredibly excited.



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