The Zygon Invasion saw the Zygons… er… invade, returning after 2013’s 50th anniversary episode, The Day Of The Doctor, and forty years after their first appearance in 1975’s Terror of the Zygons.
“Once upon a time, there were 3 Doctors… 2 Osgoods… One peace treaty”. Well, I’d forgotten about there being two Osgoods, so at least that means that since one was blown away in last year’s finale, Death In Heaven, that means there’s still one left. Hurrah!
The Zygon Peace Treaty is based around Operation Double, where 20 million humans are duplicated so a Zygon can replace each of them on Earth, and so when The Doctor sees two 7-year-old girls in the school playground, he instantly assumes they’re the enemy… but before you can shout “stranger danger”, a Zygon turns up again in their trademark rubber suit, looking like a haemarroid.
In this episode we had Clara looking for a pupil’s parents, but it’s painfully obvious that they’re Zygons, not least with the camera doing a Batman-style skewed camera angle; there’s the Doctor operating their command computer – “You operate it by titivating its fronds”; UNIT going all ‘Tony Blair’ in wanting to bomb the Zygons and the Doctor countering that the majority are peaceful, adding “Isn’t there an option which *doesn’t* involve bombing everyone?”; and when he was going to Turmezistan to sort things out, it was like The Doctor was trying to combat ISIS.
Oh, and let’s gloss over Kate Lethbridge-Stewart talking about the Zygon-killng nerve gas Z-67, calling it “Zee-67” as the programme is sold to the American market.
There’s a brief moment of humour when Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) has question marks on her shirt collar, telling The Doctor, “You used to wear question marks”. He reveals that he still does, but elsewhere – he’s got question mark underpants! She chips in: “Makes one wonder what the question is.”
With her claiming she’s part-human and part-Zygon, the Doctor deduced she was all-human, as they needed humans to make copies, her trying to argue against saying that’s only if they needed information from the human, and that in her case they don’t.
I know the Zygons came long before Terminator 2, but as these baddies can assume human form, that’s what they reminded me of.
By the end of the episode, thanks to a bit of switcheroo, Kate is dead and it transpires Clara is also because her Zygon twin, Bonnie, is doing evil stuff and killing others off, including firing a surface-to-air missile at the UNIT plane the Doctor’s aboard and us hearing an explosion. Yes, “hearing”. So they’re probably okay.
In the aural department, Peter Capaldi delivered a guitar solo of Amazing Grace and there were some neat DD5.1 split-surround effects, but overall, I really don’t know where Doctor Who has gone wrong. It’s just not entertaining me like it used to, as I found this episode (like a number of this series) mostly tedious. The ratings aren’t good, either. They dipped under 4 million for episode 2 – The Witch’s Familiar – with just 3.71m tuning in. That followed the series opener managing 4.58m viewers, even though Strictly Come Dancing on before it got 7.68m. The only competition was the Rugby World Cup on ITV, but that’s not a draw for everyone.
That said, this episode was written by Peter Harness, previously responsible for last year’s Kill The Moon, the episode where the moon was revealed to be an egg. Yes, a fucking egg! Perhaps this goes some way to explain that while the good things about this episode were that we had 2 Osgoods, and also Clara looking hot, the downside was… everything else! I can’t see this storyline improving.
Next time: More Zygons in The Zygon Inversion… I avoided the ‘next time’ clip in a bid to get *some* surprise, even though I’ll no doubt see the trailer in the meantime anyway. You can presume everyone will be fine and the Doctor will sort it out, probably by using Preparation H to cure the Zygons. Perhaps the same brand Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston advertised in the '80s .
The Zygon Invasion is available on the BBC iPlayer until November 30th.
Doctor Who Series 9 Part 1 is available to pre-order on Blu-ray and DVD, and individual episodes can be bought in HD and SD here. And click on all the images in this review for the full-sized version.
Director: Daniel Nettheim
Producer: Peter Bennett
Screenplay: Peter Harness
Music: Murray Gold
The Doctor: Peter Capaldi
Clara Oswald: Jenna Coleman
Osgood: Ingrid Oliver
Kate Lethbridge-Stewart: Jemma Redgrave
Jac: Jaye Griffiths
Claudette: Cleopatra Dickens
Jemima: Sasha Dickens
Walsh: Rebecca Front
Sandeep: Abhishek Singh
Sandeep’s mum: Samila Kularatne
Hitchley: Todd Kramer
Lisa: Jill Winternitz
Norlander: Gretchen Egolf
Hitchley’s Mum: Karen Mann
Zygons: Aidan Cook, Tom Wilton
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.