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Doctor Who: The Mad Man In A Blue Box Returns

Marshall Lemon | 10 Nov 2014 10:30
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So what's happening with Danny Pink? It turns out that since Danny never had a chance to delete his memories before the Cybermen activated, he's a self-aware Cyberman, and the first person he wants to see is Clara. Clara, meanwhile, is busy trying to convince the Cybermen that she's a regenerated Doctor, using her detailed knowledge of his personal life to delay them until he comes up with a rescue. There's an impressive number of callbacks to past episodes here, including references to the Doctor's various wives and children. I'd even forgotten that Clara learned the Doctor's real name, although this episode doesn't reveal what it actually is.

Of course, when Cyber-Danny finds Clara, she thinks he's just another Cyberman, so he has a chance to trick her into finally telling the truth. Danny pretends to threaten her in an effort to learn the Doctor's location, to which Clara bravely replies that the Doctor's her best and truest friend, and that she'd do anything for him. With the truth finally out, Danny reveals his identity, and decides he does want his emotions to be turned off for good.

Hold the phone. That's stupid. Clara just admitted that the Doctor was her best friend, not her exclusive Gallifreyan soulmate. There's nothing she said that contradicts loving Danny, or prevents them from having a relationship. Yes, I get she's admitting the Doctor is an essential part of her life. But they both already knew that. What's the lesson here? "Wow, my girlfriend has a life beyond mine, so I guess it's time to kill myself?" That's super gross. Not to mention Danny's upset because Clara's willing to die for another person, Doctor or not.

I get that "Death in Heaven" wants you, the audience, to feel sad. It's trying to be "Doomsday", where the Doctor and Rose are cast apart forever. It's trying to be "Journey's End", where Donna tragically loses every memory of her adventures. We're used to this, it's a Doctor Who thing. But there are far better ways to do it. How about Danny says "Clara, I'm a Zombie Cyberman now. Our love can never be." And then he flies into the sun. But don't have him succumb to an artificial conflict that Season 8 kept forcing down our throats. And definitely don't have Clara completely agree with him and help switch Danny's emotions off. These are supposed to be semi-reasonable adults, not confused, angsty teenagers.

The worst part is "Death in Heaven" actually gives a perfectly valid reason for disabling Danny's emotions: He can't fully access the Cyber network with his feelings getting in the way. Boom, done. It's self-sacrifice and blaze of glory time. But Doctor Who insists on contextualizing it with the "Clara keeps lying/the Doctor can't be trusted" mentality that got old months ago. It really sours an otherwise solid finale, and I sincerely hope Steven Moffat got it out of his system so we can focus on something else next year.

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