Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 11: “Dark Water” Recap/Review (9/10)

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Well the penultimate episode of Doctor Who Series 8 is setting up quite a finale folks! I was quite worried about this episode going into it and I have to say, I was very surprised how good this episode was! (especially after my second viewing)

“Dark Water” is the eleventh episode of Series 8 and part one of a two part finale, both written by show-runner/executive producer, Steven Moffat. It also marks the Doctor Who debut for director, Rachel Talalay (who is a long-time Doctor Who fan). Quite a lot happened in this 45 minute episode, so let’s talk about “Dark Water!”

*WARNING MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*

Okay, so the episode opens with Clara talking to Danny over the phone and trying to figure out a way to keep her story straight about how she was lying about quitting travelling with The Doctor. Clara admits her undying love for Danny, when he is suddenly killed by a car while crossing the street! (I honestly was shocked when this happened, I cannot believe Moffat had the stones to do that!) So anyways an unknown amount of time goes by and Clara is still very depressed that the love of her life has passed away and refuses to accept it, even telling her grandmother that Danny’s death was “boring,” and “ordinary” and that she is owed something because of the unfairness of Danny being taken from her.

Clara then calls The Doctor and he asks her if she needs help and this is when things turn very dark for Clara. Clara is shown inside a volcano, with an unconscious Doctor waking up completely shocked! Clara says she found all of The Doctor’s TARDIS keys (all 7 of them) and threatens to throw each one into the lava behind her, if The Doctor does not help her.

We are then shown a flashback with Clara asking The Doctor to take her to a volcano and finding all of his TARDIS keys and using a sleeping patch on him! Clara tells The Doctor Danny is dead and she wants him to change it, knowing how he changes time and events quite frequently. The Doctor explains to Clara that if he prevents Danny’s death it will create a paradox that will disintegrate Clara’s timeline! Clara doesn’t care one bit and threatens to throw all of his TARDIS keys in the lava, and when The Doctor refuses to help her, Clara throws the last key in the lava! Clara shocked and disgusted that she did this finds out from The Doctor that he was always in control!

We are shown the flashback again and when Clara uses the sleeping patch on The Doctor’s neck he moves her arm and places the patch on her hand! The Doctor reveals the patch induces a dream state and tells her that it would never work on him! The Doctor used the patch on Clara, making her believe she was inside the volcano. The Doctor and Clara were in The TARDIS the whole time, and Clara never destroyed any of the keys! (Wow, touche Doctor, touche)

Clara asks The Doctor what they should do now and The Doctor tells Clara to “go to hell.” Clara assumes that The Doctor means for her to leave him, but The Doctor explains that they are going to hell, or wherever it is that Danny went to when he died! Clara is surprised The Doctor would help her and when she asks “why are you helping me?” The Doctor responds “Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?” (Wow, that’s amazing how much he cares for Clara!)

The Doctor says that her and Danny’s timeline are intertwined and asks Clara to once again stick her hands into The TARDIS telepathic circuits and to think “Where is Danny” sending the TARDIS to wherever Danny is. The TARDIS lands in a mausoleum-like building, where The Doctor and Clara find water tombs all around that seem to go on forever! (a clear reference to The Patrick Troughton era episode “The Tomb of The Cybermen!”)

The Doctor and Clara find the words “Rest in Peace, We Promise” engraved on the tombs, causing The Doctor to investigate. The Doctor and Clara come upon some more water tank-like tombs with skeletons seated in chairs, and The Doctor finds a book on a podium and opens it leading to this 3D block to float into the air and open up and begin speaking with The title “3W” appearing. A woman is heard explaining an organization called 3W that was started when it was discovered what happened during the death experience. The Doctor realizes someone is reading the words behind the 3W symbol and a woman in a Mary Poppins-esque outfit jumps out and greets Clara and The Doctor. The Doctor asks her some questions and the woman explains that she is an android designed to help people and that her name is MISI (Mobile Intelligence Systems Information). The Doctor asks who is in charge and MISI claims to be, but The Doctor asks who repairs her and she yells to a man named Doctor Chang.

Meanwhile, Danny wakes up in a white office type room and is greeted by Seb (an office worker-type who was last seen at the end of “The Caretaker”). Seb tells Danny that he is in The Nethersphere/The Promised Land and that he died. Danny is visibly taken aback by this news and looks out the window to see that there are buildings and cities that stretch for miles to form a spherical shape-like world! (all while that haunting Promised Land theme by Murray Gold is played in the background).

Clara and The Doctor are introduced to Doctor Chang, who is a scientist who explains to them how and why the 3W institute came to be. The Doctor is confused as to why the skeletons in the water-tank tombs do not move around. Doctor Chang explains that the dead are submerged in a liquid known as Dark Water. Dark Water only allows organic material to be seen and Doctor Chang says the dead submerged in Dark Water are inside of an exoskeleton.

Back in The Nethersphere, Seb begins to question Danny about his life as a soldier and whether or not he killed someone during his time as a soldier. This triggers a flashback for Danny, and we finally are shown Danny’s time as a solider in Afghanistan and the innocent person he killed! Danny is shown with a unit in a war zone in a village, taking heavy fire from the enemy. Danny fights his way to a house in the village and in the moment shoots and kills an innocent boy in the house! Seb says that the boy wants to talk to Danny and Danny is on the verge of tears trying to apologize to the boy, but the boy runs away! Seb then begins to explain to Danny that because he is still connected to his dead body on Earth, he will feel whatever is happening to his body. Danny admits he is cold, and Seb tells him that they are probably keeping him in a cold place (yeesh, that’s a bit morbid).

Meanwhile, The Doctor asks Doctor Chang what 3W stands for, and Doctor Chang warns that it is very disturbing. The Doctor insists and Doctor Chang explains how the founder Dr. Skarosa was listening to his TV and heard the usual white noise, but after creating something known as a translation matrix, he began hearing voices. Dr. Skarosa believed these to be the voices of the dead and that they were trying to communicate telepathically. Dr. Skarosa translated what the dead were saying and found that they were speaking the same three words “Don’t Cremate Me!” This revelation led Dr. Skarosa to believe a horrible truth that no one has ever considered before, that the dead remain conscious and feel everything that is happening to them after death! (How disturbing and freaky!)

Doctor Chang helps Clara try to communicate with Danny, having scanned her head with a telepathic machine and is eventually able to get her in contact with Danny! The Doctor is skeptical and believes that it could be a fake Danny being extrapolated from Clara’s thoughts and urges her to question Danny to find out for sure. The Doctor (along with Doctor Chang) leaves to investigate the water-tanks housing the dead, believing he has missed something.

Danny tries very hard to prove to Clara that he is the REAL Danny Pink, but all he can say is that he loves her. Clara says that anyone can tell someone they love them, and that saying that isn’t good enough! (Clara why?! The feels!) Danny keeps telling Clara he loves her, until Clara threatens to hang up. Danny tells Clara he loves her (wanting Clara to continue living her life and forget about him) and Clara hangs up, not being able to trust it’s him (NOOOOO! Clara! Why?!!!) Seb sees that Danny is upset and offers him his Ipad to delete all of his emotions! (don’t do it Danny!!!)

Meanwhile The Doctor and Doctor Chang find MISI who is draining the water-tank tombs, which upsets and shocks Doctor Chang! Doctor Chang admits and reveals to The Doctor that MISI is his boss! MISI begins to threaten to kill Doctor Chang, and eventually uses a device to vaporize him! MISI admits to The Doctor that she may have told a teensy lie about being an android, and shows The Doctor a spherical device floating near them calling it “The Nethersphere” explaining how the dead believe it be The Promised Land, laughing at how ridiculous they are for believing it!

The Doctor sees the spherical orb and realizes it is a matrix data slice which is a Gallifreyan hard drive, and is Time Lord technology! Missy explains that you upload the consciousness, edit it, removing all emotions, all while the body is being upgraded into a Cybermen! “Upload the mind and then upgrade the body” as she puts it. The Doctor intrigued asks who MISI is again and she says that he knows exactly who she is! While this is happening, the tombs are draining revealing the dead are actually Cybermen! The Doctor realizes Missy has two hearts that she is a Time Lord! Missy corrects The Doctor and says she is a Time Lady (because she is old fashioned) and specifically the one he abandoned and left for dead! (how intriguing!)

The Doctor tries to yell for Clara and when The Doctor cannot get Clara’s attention he tries to open a door leading outside! Missy reveals that they were inside St. Paul’s Cathedral the whole time! The Cybermen leave their tombs and began marching down the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral (a clear reference to The Troughton Era Cybermen story “The Invasion!”), causing The Doctor to warn people to run away at the impending invasion! Missy dismisses The Doctor’s warnings calling him a lunatic Scotsman haha. Missy reveals that the key strategic weakness to the human race is the simple fact that “The dead outnumber the living.” (how chilling, disturbing and true!)

The Doctor again asks who Missy is and she says “You know who I am. I’m Missy” The Doctor still doesn’t know who she is and when he cannot figure it out Missy says “I’m Missy, short for Mistress. I couldn’t well keep calling myself The Master.” (this did not really shock me, I totally saw it coming, in fact a lot of people guessed her identity) Leaving The Doctor visibly shocked and horrified, all while The Cybermen prepare to invade Earth!

What I Liked:

Clara trying to blackmail The Doctor into helping her save Danny, and finding out The Doctor was in control of the situation the whole time.

The Doctor explaining to Clara that he will always care about her no matter what, it was a very touching and telling moment.

When Clara is almost on the verge of tears when she is surprised The Doctor would help her after she betrayed him and The Doctor says “Stop doing that with the eyes! How do you do that anyways? It’s like they inflate!” Haha

Finding out the truth about The Nethersphere, and how it connected with The Cybermen.

Finding out The Nethersphere was Time Lord technology that housed the consciousnesses of the dead and that they were being uploaded to Cybermen suits, all while their bodies were upgraded to Cyberman.

The Malcolm Tucker reference when Doctor Chang says “why’s there all this swearing?” Haha.

The Doctor asking if Dr. Skarosa was an idiot for believing that white noise was the dead trying to communicate.

The idea that the dead are still conscious and can feel everything that is happening to me, it was unsettling, creepy and downright terrifying!

Danny asking Seb why he has an Ipad, and Seb saying that they have Steve Jobs! Haha

Missy pretending to be an android and telling The Doctor her name stands for Mobile Intelligence Systems Information (I didn’t buy that for one second).

The big reveal that The 3W institute was in St. Paul’s Cathedral, it was handled very well.

The final twist that an old enemy of The Doctor’s was behind everything involved with The Cybermen and Heaven/The Promised Land/The Nethersphere.

What I didn’t Like:

Missy kissing The Doctor, it was completely unnecessary and once it was revealed she was The Master, it made it that much weirder and disgusting.

Missy’s identity being revealed as The Mistress AKA The Master, it was far too predictable. I was hoping for her to be a version of The Doctor or even The Valeyard. 

Overall I really enjoyed “Dark Water,” and how genuinely scary this episode was continuing the trend of Doctor Who returning to its roots and I am very much looking forward to seeing how this series of episodes is wrapped up next week with “Death in Heaven!”

What say you? Did you enjoy “Dark Water?” Did you not enjoy the episode? Did you enjoy the reveal about Missy’s supposed true identity? Are you excited for “Death in Heaven?” Whatever your thoughts let me know!

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3 thoughts on “Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 11: “Dark Water” Recap/Review (9/10)

  1. Good review though I had some more problems with the episode. I felt the reveal about the dead being alive was far too extreme. Remember Who is still a family show and that to me will really disturb children and not in a good way. Also Clara disposing of the keys was stupid as the doctor can open it with his fingers. Also am I the only one who felt Michelle Gomez was just awful. The bit where she pretended to be an android made me cringe her acting was so bad. Sigh it should have been Simon Templeman as the Master LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, but “In the Forest of the Night” is an example of what happens when you make Doctor Who too much of a kids show. That episode failed on so many levels moreso than “Dark Water.”

      The scene with Clara and the keys was showing the lengths she will go go to when she feels powerless. I agree The Doctor could just snap his fingers to open The TARDIS doors, but he let things play out because he wanted to see what Clara was doing. That whole scene was riveting and the acting from Capaldi and Coleman was just phenomenal.

      I liked Michelle Gomez, she seemed to be channeling a little bit of John Simm and I thought she was enjoying toying with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor.

      Simon Templeman has a very cool voice, and that would work. Just from reading a few posts on your blog you seem to have a man crush on Simon Templeman lol. I would love to see Charles Dance, Jeremy Irons, Ioan Gruffud, or Benedict Cumberbatch as The Master

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      • Yeah I admit in the key bit their acting was great. I have always loved Jenna Coleman as an actress and she has been great throughout her time as a companion. Capaldi is excellent too and I agree with another part of your review that “why was he an idiot bit” was brilliant. It was a funny line but his delivery was perfect “so an idiot then”. Yeah I do have a man crush on Templeman LOL he should be in everything IMO. Jeremy Irons would make a great Master, but sadly I don’t think we will be seeing him any time soon as I think Gomez will probably be sticking around for a while. Maybe she will get better its good to always remain optimistic about Who but I really haven’t like what I have seen so far.

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