The Zygon Inversion is one possibility out of many which might or might not come about in an episode which tied itself in knots more than a few times.
Clara’s world is all upside down. She’s hearing conflicting messages coming out of her television set whilst running about in her pyjama bottoms and a vest. Somehow she can control what’s going on in the real world, yet not quite as Evil Clara (aka Bonnie) still downs the plane kinda hinted about in The Zygon Invasion.
But if Good Clara is at home, what’s with Pod Clara? Well, Good Clara is inside Pod Clara. She has some influence over Evil Clara, but they’re still linked and need each other to survive. Got that? No? Confused? Yep, it was a complete nonsense.
Somehow the Doctor and Osgood found parachutes before they knew the plane was going to be blown up, so they’re still alive once it crashed, but either way, some numpties will be complaining to the Daily Mail, as I publish this, assuming that Steven Moffat and co put this plotline in on purpose to tie in with the tragedy of the Russian Metrojet plane crash in Sinai, last Saturday, which is still being investigated and led to the loss of 224 individuals, just like all those idiots who work in TV stations who cancel films where slightly similar things happen that are currently in the news. I subsequently expect the Mail’s headline to include the word “OUTRAGE!”
This episode centred around the Osgood box which can start a war by unmasking every Zygon around the world for an hour, since there’d be 20 million Zygons against 7 billion humans… although it took half the programme to tell us that!
There were a few amusing moments in this episode, such as The Doctor referring to Bonnie as Zygella, and later, in the Zygon underground, commenting “Well, they like a good cave, don’t they?” This was nicely balanced with a later, dramatic scene I’ll refer to shortly.
However, it still found time to get stupid and show the Doctor forget things he’s done just a few episodes earlier, since just like when he was tricked by Davros in the opening twoparter, he’s tricked by the Zygons, manifested as Kate, into following them to certain doom. But.. in the opener, he claimed to be THEN tricking Davros. But no, it’s more of the old Switcheroo because Kate IS Kate. She just escaped by killing a Zygon, even though the Doctor doesn’t like killing. I bet he hasn’t seen the Danish TV series, The Killing, either! Egads!
And so, to the Osgood box. Just to continue Operation Double, there isn’t one box but two. One box normalises the Zygons, the other initiates a negative reality inversion and destroys them. I thought this was going to lead to the age-old question of being faced with two doors – one leads to freedom, one to death. Both have a guard. You solve that one by asking either guard (it doesn’t matter which one), “If I ask the other guard which is the door to freedom, what will he say?” And then go through the other one, since they both conflict with each other.
Alas, neither of these boxes were talking – it was more “truth and consequences” nonsense. But the options ended up being slightly different, since while Bonnie had the choices she’d been given, for her blue Osgood box, Kate had the red box, with options that one button releases gas to deal with the Zygons, the other blows up London… something like that, anyway. Again, it felt like the writers (yes, this episode had two! Last week’s Peter Harness, plus showrunner Moffat) were throwing in a lot of words at once just to make it all sound interesting rather than entertaining.
Eventually, the Hitler-esque Bonnie sussed the boxes were empty and that the world won’t be affected. The Doctor reckoned that she’d begun to start thinking like him, yet really, she’d just had a word with the props dept.
The episode also threw in politics about how warmongers should just sit down and talk, and find a peaceful co-existence instead of going to war. It gave Capaldi a nice few minutes of shouting, but while he got to act for a bit, it all felt like rather a lecture and, quite frankly, I’d rather just have had Jenna Coleman running around in her bed-wear for 50 minutes.
Oh, and I hope Kate’s got some cream for her red box…
Finally, The Doctor invited Osgood to join him as a companion. She really wanted to, but elected to stay on Earth. Next time, perhaps? We know there’ll be a vacancy, soon. But which Osgood is she? Zygon or human? …then another Osgood appears. There’s two? No, it’s Bonnie returning in Osgood form. And the balance is restored.
Next time: Reece Shearsmith gets all panicky, proclaiming; “You must not watch this. You can never unsee it” – rather like certain Who episodes, and there’s the Morpheus machine which allows you to go a whole month without sleep. Well, at least I’d get stuff done for a change.
The Zygon Inversion is available on the BBC iPlayer until December 6th.
Director: Daniel Nettheim
Producer: Peter Bennett
Screenplay: Peter Harness and Steven Moffat
Music: Murray Gold
The Doctor: Peter Capaldi
Clara Oswald: Jenna Coleman
Osgood: Ingrid Oliver
Kate Lethbridge-Stewart: Jemma Redgrave
Etoine: Nicholas Asbury
Zygons: Aidan Cook, Tom Wilton, Jack Parker
Voice of the Zygons: Nicholas Briggs
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.