Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 12 Review: Death in Heaven

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You have to admit, it was pretty clever indeed for Steven Moffat to latch onto the idea of Clara as The Doctor to the extreme he did in the Doctor Who Season 8 finale.

Before the opening credits rolled, we were treated to a lovely performance by Jenna Coleman as Clara insisted to the Cybermen that she was, indeed, The Doctor.

Clara: Clara Oswald is a cover story, a disguise. There is no Clara Oswald.
Cyberman: Identify.
Clara: Oh don't be so slow, it's embarrassing. Who could fool you like this? Who could hide right under your nose? Who could change their face anytime they want? Ha. See, I'm not Clara Oswald. Clara Oswald has never existed.
Cyberman: Identify.
Clara: I'm The Doctor.

Even better, Coleman was The Doctor for the purpose of the main credits. Her name rolled before Peter Capaldi's and it was her eyes that glared back at us and the credits continued. Very well done, that.

Of course, it wasn't true, but it did show just how much she has learned about The Doctor. That, and she's an incredible liar, just like the man himself.

Whether Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 12 is the last time we will see Clara remains unclear, but companions traditionally change hands officially on Christmas, and given we have the nagging future of Orson Pink (and the worries of Santa), she'll likely be there. Even though it's easy to drop a ball or two (or three) along the way, that one was far too glaring to have not been taken into consideration well before this installment was written.

There was a lot to enjoy in this hour, first and foremost the performance by Michelle Gomez as Missy ("Hey Missy you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind. Hey Missy! Hey Missy! Ha."). She finally cut loose to the extreme and in doing so brought "Scary Poppins" to life as she happily blew people to dust and used an umbrella to float to earth, among other scrumptious acts.

I'm going to kill you in a minute. I'm not even kidding. You're going to be as dead as a fish on a slab any second now all floppy and making smells. But don't tell the boys! This our secret girl plan.

Missy

As sad as it was to see the asthma suffering UNIT gal Osgood implode, it was a jolly good time getting to that point. 

It was a hoot seeing the Cybermen posing for selfies in the street in front of St. Paul's Cathedral, but those good times did come to an end when Missy called all of the already created Cybermen home to explode into the sky and rain down.

Danny Pink and his young "friend" he killed in combat learned they weren't in heaven, after all. Perhaps there never was a heaven, as Missy had collected all of the world's dead in cyber cloud to scatter over earth and raise up the dead in their new, improved bodies.

You have to hand it to Missy, she went to quite elaborate extremes to get her friend back. Being a Time Lord is lonely, and even in her demented mind she wanted to have a buddy to pal around with. It was The Doctor's birthday, after all. What better gift than that of an army of Cybermen? And another song, this time "Happy Birthday, Mr. President," as he was the ruling president of earth at the time.

Honestly, I didn't see that coming, and yet it, too, was performed so brilliantly by both Capaldi and Gomez that it felt as if no other way would have worked. 

Thank you! Thank you so much! I really didn't know. I wasn't sure. Did I say sometimes, thank you! I am not a good man. And I'm not a bad man. I am not a hero. I'm definitely not a president and no, I'm not an officer. You know what I am? I am an idiot! With a box and a screwdriver, passing through, helping out, learning. I don't need an army. I never have! Because I've got them. Always them! Because love, it's not an emotion. Love is a promise and he will never hurt her. PE, catch!

The Doctor

Suddenly, all of the previous introspective moments The Doctor had made sense. His search was internal and only the darkest of days could remind him that he's neither good or bad, but just an idiot. The importance of the love between Clara and Danny was also unmasked as The Doctor took stock of just who he is and why he doesn't need an army at his command.

Thank you! Thank you so much! I really didn't know. I wasn't sure. Did I say sometimes, thank you! I am not a good man. And I'm not a bad man. I am not a hero. I'm definitely not a president and no, I'm not an officer. You know what I am? I am an idiot! With a box and a screwdriver, passing through, helping out, learning. I don't need an army. I never have! Because I've got them. Always them! Because love, it's not an emotion. Love is a promise and he will never hurt her. PE, catch!

Whatever happened between The Doctor and Danny and Clara, one thing was certain -- they did share a cockeyed love for one another because of the Impossible Girl. Danny's attempt to call out The Doctor for being a "blood soaked old general" didn't even come to pass, because The Doctor couldn't -- or wouldn't -- make the decision to take Danny's emotions, not even to save the world. 

He had faith that Danny would never hurt Clara, whether he was activated or not. The soldier who hated what he did went out directing the army with the promise of a soldier to save the world. 

Someone still had to kill Missy, however. Clara wanted to be the one, certain that The Doctor had the coordinates of Gallifrey. The Brigadier (an historical Who nod and Kate's father) came in and out she went.

Unless I'm mistaken, Missy didn't blow to dust, but faded away, perhaps leaving her alive for another day. She had come to life with such painstaking detail it would be a damn shame for her to never make another appearance.

Clara had to say goodbye to Danny three times. Once when he died, another when he exploded in the atmosphere and a third after she held out hope the bracelet The Doctor gave to him would bring him back to her. Instead, he sent back the boy he suffered over killing for years. Thusly, The Doctor also never lost faith in an afterlife, despite his sentiments to Clara in Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 11 when he said he had always wanted to explore the possibility. What good would the bracelet have done if it didn't exist?

The Doctor and Clara both lied to one another, in the end. She did learn well from him. Clara came close to telling him about Danny, but The Doctor imagined she was getting her happy life and wanted to leave to end gallivanting to enjoy it. In turn, The Doctor lied to Clara, asserting he found Gallifrey. Neither were true, and it is because they left each other such that I expect Clara will be back at Christmas.

My hope is Clara will be visibly pregnant and The Doctor will be without Gallifrey and they will decide where to go from there. Hopefully happy, as friends. I never thought of hugs as The Doctor put it, but they do hide the face and their faces hid the sadness of all that was and will never be.

It was a bittersweet end. The world was saved (again) and two friends put up strong, false veneers. They are both better for having met each other.

But, who knows what the future brings when Santa Claus gets involved? Maybe an elf as a companion or delivering Clara to live and work with Santa. Santa wasn't kidding. It can't end like that! She's not OK. They're not OK!

Until Christmas...

Don't forget, you can watch Doctor Who online anytime via TV Fanatic and always drop by to exclaim or complain about all things Who related. 

Death in Heaven Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (35 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 12 Quotes

The difference is this. Pain is a gift. Without the capacity for pain, we can't feel the hurt we inflict.

The Doctor

The Doctor: Oh, don't do that. You look like you're self-concussing, which would explain all of military now that I think about it.
Col. Ahmed: Colonel Ahmed, sir. Privileged to meet you.
The Doctor: Love your outfit, Colonel Ahmed. Are you in the scouts? Are you a man scout? I didn't know they had those.