Saturday, September 26, 2015

Geeky TV commentary - Doctor Who 9.2

Doctor Who airs at 9pm on BBCAm Saturday nights.

That was so much fun! What a twisty, existential, yet somehow peppy and fun episode! It's basically Missy that saved it from being dreary, what with it being about how Davros is dying and wants the Doctor's help. Everything she says is quotable, and even when it's a totally ordinary line, she delivers it as if it's quotable anyway. I wasn't sure about her when she first showed up, but she's basically a gift.

So! The Doctor is trapped in the little room with Davros the whole episode while Davros goes on about how compassion is a weakness and how it'll kill the Doctor in the end, and how happy he is that Gallifrey is back because everyone needs to belong and he's happy the Doctor can live out his days with his own people. It was creepy, to be honest, and super red-flag-inducing, and it lasted for ages and made us sort of question our instincts.

Because Doctor Who likes to do that, and then assure you that you're actually fine. This case is no different. Once it's been a full night of talking to this dying, sad, weepy Davros who actually does still have actual human eyes in there, when he's almost dead and too weak to see his last sunrise, the Doctor is all "here, have some regeneration energy" like a doofus. Which, of course, is the trap. As soon as he touches the wires plugged into Davros, he starts sucking out all that sweet sweet regen*, and he transmits it to all the Daleks on the planet. It's unclear whether there's other cities than the one they're in, but even if they're all there is, that's A LOT of Daleks who will be regenerated and possibly get the ability to keep regenerating?

And this is where the B-plot with Missy and Clara comes in.

See, they were only seemingly destroyed because Missy had a teleportation device that she used to save them at the second that the extermination bolt should have hit, using the bolt's own energy to do it. They land out in the desert outside the city, and Missy threatens to eat Clara if they're not saved soon, but they wind up saving themselves by going back to the city to rescue the Doctor. 

And climbing through the sewers.

Which happen to be less sewers, since the suits are self-contained and don't produce much waste, and more a sort of icky squishy slime-mold graveyard because the Daleks can't actually really die, but they can break down until they can't run a suit anymore and they have to send them somewhere. The Doctor has already made it super clear that he wants Clara back in a declaration that kept reminding of Nine's demand for Rose from some of these same Daleks (probably), so Missy uses her as bait to capture a suit. 

Which she then sticks Clara in.

And which turns out to be the most disturbing scene in the episode. Because whenever Clara tries to say her name, the suit says "I am a Dalek" and whenever she tries to say anything positive or frightened or anything other than angry, it says "Exterminate" and now there's that begged question of whether the Daleks inside there sometimes have names, and whether they actually do have emotions and independent thoughts, and the suits just force them to conform? A person could write a whole paper on the ethical implications of that scene. Also, probably, on the absolute glee Missy takes in it all.

Anyway, there's this whole enormous slime-mold living under the city all Dalek-angry about everything ever because they're Daleks that can't be Dalek-y, and when Davros sends them all the regeneration energy, he sends it to all of them. Davros is so classist, he never thought about the slime-molds. 

So Missy rushes in and blows of the machine, and the slime was the Doctor's backup plan because he knew about all this red-flag plan the whole time, and he possibly just wanted to be the better man for a minute? They're running through the halls like a good Doctor does, when one of the Daleks that wasn't rebooted by all that regen-juice corners them. Missy is trying to convince the Doctor to kill it, and he almost does, but he notices that it's not angry, it's frantic, and eventually Clara manages to say she'd never kill him, and the suit translates it as "Mercy".

But now the Doctor knows that Missy has designs against his current favorite companion, and he tells her to run and gets Clara out, and they escape. Missy seems to be trapped in the city as it collapses, but she also seems to have a plan, and now she's on the loose again. But when the Doctor and Clara are watching the city collapse, it occurs to him that there shouldn't be any way for the Dalek suit programming to know about mercy--

--and that's when he goes back in time and saves Kid Davros instead of leaving him there to die, and makes a point to tell him that there always has to be mercy, and it apparently sank into Davros's DNA and got into the Daleks and / or their programming. 

And it was so much fun!
More stuff we learned this ep:
  • Missy's brooch is made of dark-star material; it's also the gift that the Doctor gave her / him when her / his daughter did...something. Daleks got in the way of that story.
  • Missy considers switching to lady-form to be an expensive upgrade that the Doctor can't afford.
  • It's possible that the Doctor didn't leave Gallifrey because he was bored; Davros thinks he left so that he wouldn't get involved in the war that could only end in the Daleks assimilating Time Lords and stealing their regenerations. This might just be Davros being a megalomaniac again, but it's something.
  • Daleks have respect; they never attacked Davros because they respect him. This doesn't mean that he didn't have his chair made with a force field that cannot be breached by Dalek weapons.
  • The Tardis's defense protocol of the moment is to disperse as dust.
  • The Doctor no longer has a sonic screwdriver, but he does have sonic sunglasses.
  • Daleks take everything at face value and apparently don't have any sensors in their city to keep track of whether anyone is teleporting, which seems like a security flaw to be exploited like woah.
  • "The only other chair on Skaro!"
  • Clara needs a lot more practice before she becomes a Dalek sharpshooter; this is after Souffle Girl for the Doctor, but earlier in history for Clara, so maybe that's something.
There was some of that by-now-standard Moffat hand-waving that I love but that seems to annoy a lot of people when the Doctor stole Davros's shielded chair and waltzes out into the middle of all the Daleks with it with a cup of tea and says "The real question is where did I get tea? The answer is: I'm the Doctor, deal with it." I assume that the Doctor has a lined pocked that he can hold even a cup of hot tea in, since we've already established that his pockets are bigger on the inside anyway, so why not. There will be people who will probably give this episode points off because of that, but by now everyone should just know that there's going to be a certain amount of it in a Moff production.**

Last week, I said it's hard to talk about an unfinished story; this week, I can honestly say that it was a good story, and a weird and wonderful way to start the new season! If we're gonna get a whole season of quirk and strangeness, and Missy running around saying outrageous things, and Twelve being bizarre, we're in for a good season.

What did you guys think about this week? Share in the comments, or come talk to me on Twitter!

Previous Doctor Who commentary posts:
*If that doesn't make it really risky and scary when he goes from 12 to 13 because he used up a big chunk of that proper energy, I'mma be really annoyed.
**Also, I'm going to assume that if it's not a pocket, any of these hand-wave dismissals are just storylines we haven't gotten to yet until such time as Moff's time ends and they haven't been closed up. He likes the big-frame story, and I like that, too.

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