The Recap: Doctor Who Season 8

The Recap: Doctor Who Season 8
Written by Maddy C

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) with the TARDIS in Victorian London.
The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) with the TARDIS in Victorian London.

We have now arrived at that time of year which every Whovian dreads. The end of a season of Doctor Who. This season in particular has been full of hype and controversy. For the ones who have not fully immersed themselves in the Whoniverse, The Doctor is a nine hundred year old Time Lord from a planet called Gallifrey. He travels time and space alongside his companions in a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space). Every 3-4 years The Doctor regenerates into a new body and gets a whole new personality as well. Not only does this rejuvenate the show but it’s also a way for new actors to cycle through.

After the Eleventh Doctor’s regeneration, Peter Capaldi stepped into the role and people were skeptical if he could live up to not only Matt Smith’s performance but also the other 10 former Doctor’s. We went from seeing a very childish and happy Doctor to seeing a much darker and ruthless one. This was all thanks to Steven Moffat, head writer of Doctor Who. He took the show in a whole new direction this year with darker storylines and more epic monsters than before. Clara Oswald, played by Jenna Coleman was the second companion to witness the Doctor regenerate. A big part of the changed tone of the show was the dynamic between Clara and The Doctor. She went from being best friends to having to meet her friend all over again. Oswald was much feistier this season and wasn’t afraid to talk back to The Doctor if she disagreed with his actions.

Clara and The Doctor at the Bank of Karabraxos in the episode "Time Heist".
Clara and The Doctor at the Bank of Karabraxos in the episode “Time Heist”.

From the first episode to the last two episodes of the season, (“Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven”) the storyline of a woman named “Missy” was intertwined and left all of us at home guessing who she was. She welcomed people who had died in the episodes to a place called “The Promise Land”. Last Saturday, us Whovians finally got the answers we were waiting for and her mysterious identity was revealed. This year’s finale was separated into two episodes, “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven”. In the past, Doctor Who finales have been known to shock the audience with complex yet compelling storylines. So, you could say that I had high expectations for these two episodes, especially since it was Capaldi’s first go at it.

A promotional photo for "Death in Heaven". (From left to right) Missy, The Doctor, Clara and the Cybermen.
A promotional photo for “Death in Heaven”. (From left to right) Missy, The Doctor, Clara and the Cybermen.

“Dark Water” was the penultimate episode to the season and the actors, especially Jenna Coleman, filled it with captivating performances. One of the most compelling scenes for me was the opening of this episode. Oswald had all seven keys to the TARDIS in her hand and was about to destroy all of them for good, preventing The Doctor to ever step foot into his trusty blue box again. Coleman’s emotions were spot on and I truly thought that it was one of Jenna’s best performances on the show. “Dark Water” definitely was the better episode out of the two for many reasons. “Death in Heaven” just seemed mediocre as a whole. Even though it had small parts of excitement like the appearance of The Brigadier and Osgood’s demise it wasn’t enough to live up to past finales. Another point of interest was when The Doctor lied to Clara about finding Gallifrey. It was a bit odd, and I’m curious to see how this storyline unfolds over the next season. Doctor Who is a show that used to be blessed with a very good group of writers but, these two episodes as a whole lacked closure and was a bit underwhelming.