Doctor Who: Dark Water

Picture shows: (l-r) MICHELLE GOMEZ as Missy, PETER CAPALDI as The Doctor
(photo courtesy BBC America)

Spoiler Alert: “Dark Water” opened up a flood of thoughts on this series of Doctor Who, including a major revelation about Missy.

So, how about that latest episode of Doctor Who?  After the disappointment of last week’s episode, this one kicked it into high gear as we start the finale.  Before we get too deep into unpacking everything that happened, allow me to take some space to say some mostly spoiler-y things in all caps.

HOW DID I SERIOUSLY NOT PUT TWO AND TWO TOGETHER AND REALIZE THAT MISSY = MISTRESS = THE MASTER?  I MEAN REALLY.  IT’S BEEN STARING US IN THE FACE LITERALLY ALL SEASON AND I DIDN’T FIGURE IT OUT UNTIL THE FINAL MINUTES OF THIS EPISODE.  SERIOUSLY WELL DONE, STEPHEN MOFFAT.

Okay, now that I think I have all the yelling out of my system, OMG OMG OMG I am ridiculously excited to have the Master back.  This season has had some intricate plotting as we’ve warmed up to Capaldi’s Doctor, and I dare say there’s been some even more intricate plotting the past few seasons.  One thing that seems to come up every time there’s a search for a new Doctor is “Why can’t the Doctor be a woman/person of color/non-human/magic hatstand”, which is all well and good, but there’s been something that’s held me back from agreeing with it.  Even though the world’s changed in 50 years, there’s something about the character of the Doctor that feels like he needs to be a he, for whatever reason.  “The Doctor’s Wife” opened up the idea that Timelords can change more than their faces during the regeneration process, but there still didn’t seem to be a precedent for why the Doctor, the main character of this show, should be one to change.  And now, with the revelation that the Master’s done it, I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a Female Doctor soon.  By doing this with the Doctor’s largest enemy, the door finally feels ready to open.

Besides that whole deal, let’s talk about how awesome this version of The Master Mistress is.  She and the Doctor seem to fit together so well (and that’s not just because of that great introduction they had, which in light of the revelation at the end of the episode takes on a whole different meaning.  Her whole demented Mary Poppins thing is a fantastic turn for the character, and I really hope they give Michelle Gomez a chance to recur in this role and don’t just send her away at the end of next week’s series finale.  I’ve been trying to figure out who Missy is all season and what’s going on, and now that it’s revealed itself I’m really impressed with the work Stephen Moffat has done all season.

Part of that work really needs to be credited to what he’s done with Clara’s character.  I’ve been a broken record player week in and week out talking about how the show’s taken a darker look at the effect getting to travel in the TARDIS can have on Clara, and predicted things weren’t going to end well.  Danny’s (semi-shocking) death managed to completely catalyze this.  Clara’s addiction to the traveling in the TARDIS and getting away from the “boring” parts of life leads to her feeling “owed” a fix from the Doctor and betraying him with a sleeping patch, a trip to a volcano, and a threat to destroy all the TARDIS keys.  Clara went beyond what would be acceptable for a companion, and her reaction to the Doctor’s well-meaning “Go to hell” is completely within reason.  Through Clara’s reaction, though, it’s interesting to see how much Peter Capaldi’s portrayal of the Twelfth Doctor has revealed its softer and caring side.  Even after that lucid dream, he’s wiling to try and help Clara because he cares about her.  I still have a hunch that next week’s resolution to the sudden uprising of the Cyberment with the Master’s help may split Clara and the Doctor up for good, but it’ll be a fantastic end to a superb series.

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About Ben Smith 228 Articles
Ben has been writing about TV, music, and pop culture in some form or another since 2009, including stints at Mental Floss and Temporary Obsession. When not solving puzzles of some sort or consuming pop culture at a frightening pace, he can be found collecting shiny pieces of the internet at GoodAtInter.net. E-mail: ben@whatelseison.tv