As Series Finales go, Death in Heaven is probably one of the darkest, if not THE darkest of NuWho, packed with death, even more lies, a good dose of heart break, and some serious wobbly chin moments.
While the events taking place on the screen may appear action packed with both Cybermen and aeroplanes exploding, seemingly here, there and everywhere, Death in Heaven really boils down to a series of conversations, where some people tell other people just how much they love each other, and how sorry they are for not being the best versions of themselves.
So, without further ado, I’ll get on with my review.
Each man kills the thing they love.
Many of you, in fact most of you will not believe this, but on first airing of the series, I had a theory that Missy was a Time Lady, from as far back as her entrance in Deep Breath.
Logically, it felt that after Madame Kovarian, Moffat wouldn’t pull the same narrative string twice and it turns out, thankfully that I was right.
At first I pegged Missy as being The Rani, and I even hoped that she might have been some version of Romana, driven mad by The Time War, I am actually STILL holding out hope, for that in some form.
That Missy was in fact the female regeneration of The Master, I didn’t actually peg until five minutes before she revealed this fact to The Doctor, in the last moments of Dark Water.
The idea that Time Lords and Ladies, can change their sex during regenerations was an idea firmly established, in the Matt Smith Era episode The Doctor’s Wife.
While, it may seem like a controversial theory, for me at least the idea that an alien who has the ability to change their age, hair colour, weight and height, can also amend their original gender, makes sense.
Out of all the Time Lords, The Master’s gender reassignment seems the most obvious, and brilliant, and in seeking to mirror the newly regenerated 12th Doctor, so perfectly, Missy is underlining something that has never really been in doubt, that there’s only ever been one real love story in Doctor Who, look away Tardis, and that it’s between The Master/Missy and The Doctor.
For me at least it’s this otherness, which has always bonded these to very different characters together, both being outsiders disliked to a greater and lesser extent by their own people, The Doctor and The Master have somehow always been able to see past this, to the potential, that the other holds, for good and bad.
The Doctor firmly believes that The Master/Missy has always held the capacity to be better, to do better, while The Master/Missy, has been on a mission to corrupt The Doctor into being just like him/her.
Most of the greatest love stories never get a happy ending, just ask Romeo and Juliet, and alas it is the same for our star crossed Time Lords/Lady, because the very things that draw The Doctor and The Master/Missy together, are the very same things that will always repel them, deep down they never really want the other to change, okay well, The Doctor does, but that’s another story.
At its heart Death in Heaven, addresses the fundamental push/pull of The Doctor and The Master/Missy’s relationship, and the fact that The Doctor is prepared, however reluctantly, to kill his oldest friend to save Clara Oswald’s soul, is perhaps one of the biggest betrayals of a series so far, that has been built on lies and betrayal.
It’s testament to series newcomer Michelle Gomez, that she manages to make Missy’s realisation that for Clara, The Doctor will in fact actually kill her, one of the saddest moments of not only this episode, but the entire series.
When it’s time to go…
It seems only fitting we should end this series where it really began, with The Doctor and Clara Oswald standing in a perfectly ordinary, British high street, the brutal irony in this episode however, is that unlike Deep Breath, we see Clara departing alone, as the pair go their separate ways.
In many ways, for me at least, this feels like a good place to leave our Impossible Girl, with Clara deciding to essentially sacrifice her own happy ending with The Doctor, on board The Tardis, so that her best friend can have his.
We’ve seen companions depart The Tardis for myriad of reasons, in the early days it became something of a cliché for companions like Jo Grant, to leave hand in hand with a love interest they had only met four episodes before.
The modern era of NuWho has done much to dispel, and avoid this, with Rose Tyler being stuck in another Universe, Martha Jones choosing to leave The Doctor of her own free will, Donna Noble being magic reset buttoned, Rory well, Rory didn’t get much of a say, but Amy Pond decided to live out the remainer of her life in the past with her husband.
While Donna and Amy’s departures were tragic, Donna’s especially, when seen as an allegory for alzheimer’s disease, however not since the departure of feisty Australian Tegan, have we seen a companions story reach such a bleak conclusion, as Clara watching The Tardis departing without her.
I am now going to go completely ego crazy, and suggest what I may have done if I was sitting the showrunner’s seat, feel free to look away, and to entirely disagree.
If the fate of the Impossible Girl had been left up to me, I would have rested the character of Clara for most of Series 9, replacing her with Bill Potts, or even Maisie William’s, Ashildr.
I would however have brought Clara back for the lacklustre Sleep No More, and proceeded to pull the emotional rug out from under the audience, by letting Clara meet the raven in only her second episode outing in Series 9.
While such an exit would have left us little time with Miss Oswald, I never completely believed Clara’s journey from classic Type A personality, to reckless daredevil.
There’s also something to be said for the pathos that would have followed, in Clara’s decision not to take the tattoo from Rigsy’s neck, but instead from the neck of The Doctor’s latest companion, and essentially, Clara’s replacement.
But hey, that’s what fanfiction is for.
In conclusion, I am going to give Death in Heaven an 8/10.
While, this is in no way one of my favourite Series Finales, and if you think about the plot a little to hard it collapses under the weight of logic, despite this however Death in Heaven is an excellent character study, with some added explosions.
Clara’s green waterproof and dress combo gets only a 5 from me, mainly because this dress is a little too samey, when compared with the one she wore in Dark Water.