Saturday, November 28, 2015

Doctor Who 9.08: "The Zygon Inversion"

“Why do you have a Union Jack parachute?”
-Osgood and the Doctor.

I especially liked the “Zygon Invasion/Zygon Inversion” two-parter this season, because it felt like a classic, Earth-in-peril “Doctor Who” story. We’ve got a lot of horror and historical episodes, plus bigger sprawling mythology-based episodes during the Moffat era, but so rarely have we gotten these classic, present day Earth-based adventures. Even the music in “The Zygon Inversion” felt Classic Who to me. I felt like I could have been watching the Seventh Doctor and Ace. At the same time, the episode employed some typical Moffat twistiness, with Clara’s situation very much resembling a situation Amy faced in series 6. It led to some interesting exploration of the character of Clara, though, and in light of the overall entertaining tone of the episode, I could forgive the over-twistiness in this case.

We learned at the end of “The Zygon Invasion” that the real Clara had been put in stasis, and the Clara we had been watching for most of the episode was actually a Zygon who had taken Clara’s form. This episode opens with a rather creepy sequence showing the experience of stasis from Clara’s perspective. She’s in her apartment, but lots of stuff isn’t quite right. On her TV screen, she can see her Zygon counterpart trying to shoot down the plane in which the Doctor and Osgood are traveling. As Zygon Clara is shooting, Real Clara tries to mentally throw off her aim. It works a bit at first, but Clara can’t hold it for long, and eventually, one of Zygon Clara’s missiles hits the plane.

After her triumph with the plane, Zygon Clara hunts down a guy who saw her do the shooting and turns him in to a Zygon. She says he’s going to be the first to make the humans see, and she shoots a video on her cell phone as he turns into Zygon form for the first time. Meanwhile, in her head, the real Clara pauses the video of the plane explosion on her “television” and sees two parachutes. The Doctor and Osgood have saved themselves, and they end up landing on a beach. The Doctor’s parachute has a huge Union Jack on it, which I found amusing. I never thought the Doctor was very patriotic! Anyway, while they are gathering themselves up from the landing, the Doctor gets a text from Clara’s phone saying “I’m awake.” Osgood speculates that the text is from the real Clara, not the Zygon.

Zygon Clara, meanwhile, is trying to retrieve the Osgood box, because she wants to defeat the humans once and for all. Instead, however, she sees a video of the Osgoods saying that they lied about the box’s location. She is absolutely furious. She ends up having a phone conversation with the Doctor, where the Doctor tells real Clara (the two Claras are kind of mentally connected) not to tell the Zygon where the box is. This comment is clearly meant as a trap. During the call, Osgood pings Clara’s phone and finds Zygon Clara’s location in London. Prompted by the Doctor’s comment, Zygon Clara goes to visit real Clara, and they have a sort of psychic battle to see who can control whom. Zygon Clara says that because their hearts are linked, they can’t lie to each other. This upsets the real Clara more than a little.

Clara finally tells her Zygon counterpart that the Osgood Box is in the Black Archive. Only the Osgoods and Clara herself have access. Since Zygon Clara is a replica of the real thing, she now knows she has access to the box too. Clara tells her that the box has a button that will unmask every Zygon for half an hour, but Zygon Clara shouldn’t get too excited. The Zygons don’t have the numbers to win the coming war. Clara tells the Zygon that the real question she should be asking is why it is called the Osgood Box, but she’s not telling right now. Before leaving for the Archive, Zygon Clara tells what appears to be Zygon Kate to duplicate and kill the Doctor. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Osgood arrive at the location where Zygon Clara’s video was shot in London. The Doctor and Osgood find the guy Clara turned, but he zaps the Doctor and runs away. The Doctor and Osgood finally catch up to him and talk to him. He is having a lot of trouble shifting between his human and Zygon forms. He’s very distressed about the whole situation, and he ends up zapping himself. As the Doctor and Osgood deal with the aftermath of that, Kate arrives on the scene. She says she knows where the Zygon command center and the real Clara are.

Zygon Clara goes to the Black Archive while the Doctor, Osgood, and Zygon Kate poke around the Zygon HQ. When Zygon Clara reaches the Osgood Box, she calls the Doctor and says she now knows where the name comes from. There are two of them. One normalizes all the Zygons, and the other destroys them. Zygon Clara threatens to kill the real Clara if the Doctor doesn’t say which box is the one that normalizes the Zygons. The Doctor tells her it’s the blue one. Both boxes, however, have truth or consequences buttons. Zygon Clara wants the Doctor brought to her, and she tells Zygon Kate this. It turns out, though, that Zygon Kate is actually just Kate. She shot the Zygon who tried to turn her. Kate figures out that the Zygon killing gas the Doctor won’t let her have is in the red box.

The rest of the crew arrives at the Black Archive, and the Doctor says he wants to take both boxes away after forcing everyone to forgive and forget. Understandably, Zygon Clara and Kate are not cool with that plan. The Doctor says that for the red box, the alternative button detonates a nuclear warhead under the Black Archive, and for the blue box, the alternative button removes a Zygon’s ability to change form, leaving them human forever. Zygon Clara complains that her people have been treated like cattle and left for themselves, and I’m starting to feel like this episode is starting to go in a bit of a Conservative direction. It didn’t last long, though, so I could forgive it. Peter gets to give a brilliant, scenery-chewing speech about how she’s a tantruming child and she needs to think about what post-war life would be like. He asks her to consider “how are you going to protect your glorious revolution from the next one.” When Zygon Clara accuses the Doctor of not understanding, the Doctor takes it up another level. He says he has done horrible things and still hears the scremes. He doesn’t want anyone else to have to live with that pain on his watch.

After the Doctor’s speech, Zygon Clara realizes that the boxes don’t actually do anything. They’re just threatening buttons (and we all know one of our current Doctor’s predecessors who liked those!). Kate says they can’t just forget that the boxes are empty, and the Doctor responds “You said that the last fifteen times” before wiping Kate’s memory. He doesn’t wipe Zygon Clara’s memory, though. I think he hopes she’s learned something from this experience. Back outside, the Doctor asks Osgood to join him in the TARDIS, but she says she needs to stay on Earth and keep the Osgood Boxes safe. After Clara goes into the TARDIS, he again asks Osgood whether she’s the human or Zygon Osgood, but Osgood refuses to say. She won’t answer until nobody cares about the answer. And then another Osgood appears. Zygon Clara has decided to change her form and work with the other Osgood to protect the Boxes. The sisters are again reunited.

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