It's hard to start anywhere else than that speech. It's a scene that'll doubtless be remembered for years as not only a spot-on summation of the Doctor's post-Time War ideology and pacifism, but also as the definitive showcase of Peter Capaldi's talent. He's superb here, with a fiery and passionate turn that nails the Doctor's righteous fury with just the right helping of broken vulnerability to balance it out. If the rest of the episode had just been footage of Zygons slowly rotating, it would probably still have been a decent outing. Thankfully, there's plenty of good stuff elsewhere, with a fun pairing up of the Doctor and Osgood (or should that be Basil & Petronella?), and a stellar turn from Jenna Coleman, who crafts two very distinct performances in a great face-off scene. The ending is perhaps overly tricksy, but this is undoubtedly a stand-out episode, and one of the strongest of this season so far. 9/10
Ben (Assistant Editor)
Between evil Clara and the Doctor’s passionate speech, The Zygon Inversion undoubtedly showed Capaldi and Coleman at their best. Capaldi felt more like the Doctor than ever before in this episode, with a mix of deep drama and fun with Osgood. The slightly trippy opening sequence was a great introduction, that kept the momentum and the tension going from the previous episode with added threats and also allowed Jenna Coleman to give a stand out performance, which may cause some of the haters to realise what we’ll be missing when Clara leaves. As is the trend in series 9, we didn’t get to see much Zygon action in this episode, which is a real shame, but although we never got to see a Doctor duplicate, seeing multiple versions of Clara and Osgood made this fan very excited. The chemistry between Osgood and the Doctor is always fun to watch and I for one was slightly relieved when she turned down companionship as I fear this would have spoilt the character. Whilst the boxes being empty was slightly predictable for the educated fan, the idea was nonetheless a clever one. Overall, Peter Harness has proved himself as an excellent writer, with a pair of episodes that showcase one of the show’s best aliens and the incredible acting of the lead cast. However, this episode could have done with a little more Zygon action. 8.5/10
When I heard the Zygons would be back, I was very excited, but reasonably skeptical after the audience’s less than stellar reviews of Peter Harness’s last episode (Kill the Moon). But I found this two-parter smartly done and very thought-provoking.
In The Zygon Inversion especially, I think we’re beginning to see massive hints at Clara’s departure. I’m sure we won’t know how everything fits together until she finally leaves, but I think Moffat and company have been leaving clues the entire season. The appearance of Bonnie revealed a dark side to Clara that we hadn’t previously seen, and I’m not sure that’s the last we’ll see of it. Whether Bonnie will make another appearance or Clara herself goes dark remains to be seen, but I thought Bonnie was a clever decision on Harness’s part. The Doctor has to reason with a face he knows so well, prepared to do things the Clara he knows would never do. In The Zygon Inversion, we really see how attached the Doctor has become to her. We’ve always known it, but watching how difficult it is for him to see her this way brings the point home. While the concept of the Osgood Box may have been a little too obvious, I thought it was a classic move the Doctor would make. His speech at the end about how changing, becoming better, and never having to make that terrible decision again, was a high point of the season for me, and ranks among the best of the Doctor’s speeches in the revival as a whole, I think. Both Capaldi and Coleman were on top form, and I’m anxious to see how the rest of the series unfolds. 9/10
I had been greatly looking forward to this episode all week, The Zygon Invasion was highly enjoyable and everything seemed set up for a fantastic part two. Hopefully my opinion is a minority one because I thought The Zygon Inversion was poor and shambolic. Thankfully Peter Capaldi gave a superb performance throughout, but it really shouldn’t have been left solely to him to put in such a massive amount of work and carry everything and everyone else through a somewhat empty piece of drama which lacked substance in several areas. Yes we got an incredible speech by the Doctor, Peter Capaldi excels, almost busting a gut as the Doctor expresses a harrowing and strongly emotional opinion on war, pinpointing the insanity of it from the point of view of someone who acknowledges absolute guilt for every worst aspect, stirring the conscience of his audience as he tells of the constant pain he lives with as a result of his actions and memories. I find this enlightening considering the events of The Day of The Doctor where the key actions which have caused this suffering are re-written. Clearly the Doctor still feels the responsibility of what might have been. Ten minutes of Capaldi brilliance are still not enough to salvage things. I feel there was a continual attempt to make the episode ‘profound’ and I think this backfired. So much felt awkward and kind of embarrassing were the episode to be offered as a showcase of Doctor Who. I am a huge fan of Jenna Coleman and Clara, but the effort to make ‘Bonnie’ evil by giving Clara a shrill and weedy voice (involving losing Coleman’s cool northern twang) just didn’t work. Compared to the action packed previous episode, some passages of The Zygon Inversion seemed wholly unnecessary. Was the potential revealing of all Zygons on Earth in any way dependent on a random individual being confronted in his Flat by Bonnie? Also, perhaps a minor irritation, but in my eyes Kate Stewart’s pink ‘Zygon mobile’ just looked tacky and ridiculous - especially when it’s linked to Bonnie’s standard smartphone. Looking for positives, Osgood was a welcome addition in both episodes and I feel a bit of personal disappointment that she seems to have been ruled out now as a companion! 6.5/10
The uncomfortable feeling last week was even nearer the knuckle right from the start with a plane being blown out of the sky, just like a shocking news story which has dominated the media recently.
I liked the concept of a conscious person inside a Zygon pod, akin to a form of 'locked in syndrome'. However it allowed for the episode to become very Jenna Coleman centred. Coleman is a great actress and it's nice to see her given an opportunity to do something different. But it felt completely wrong for the Doctor to be squaring up against Clara, even a Zygon version. The Zygons themselves were under-utilised, with the exception of one tremendous scene in a mini mart and the distressing suicide of a peaceful Zygon. The ultimate conclusion boiled down to an intense game of Deal or No Deal with no payoff. The status quo was restored, there were two Osgoods, Zygons and humans still on Earth. So what did the story accomplish? Not a lot really.
The saving grace however is Peter Capaldi who was simply mesmeric. I'm starting to run out of superlatives for his consistently supreme performances. That speech immediately goes down as one of the greatest delivered by a Doctor. At a time when Doctor Who's position in the schedules is being debated I'm getting concerned that the show is going away from it's traditional family viewership. This season more so than others has delivered episodes which are very dialogue heavy and with less action, alienating the younger members of the audience. As an adult I'm all for this to continue and an 8pm broadcast time would also be appropriate. In the meantime, this story was gripping, intellectually stimulating and deeply political. I just wish we had more Zygons! 7/10
Last week, we had a battle of strength, a globe trotting adventure with the re-emergence of the Zygons, and all in all a very successful resurgence for the shape shifting suckers. The final part of this next two part arc takes the fight to the mind as the more thought provoking brother. IZII is exhausting, not due to a sense of the underwhelming, but because the episodes themes, and the way Harness and Moffat tackle them, left me racking them in my brain long after the credits roll. The episode starts off with a little inversion of its own as The Doctor and Osgood jump from the plane as Bonnie's (Evil Clara) rocket closes. This was a moment I feared one stem into the cliche; the TARDIS materialises, the missile misses etc, yet I was left satisfied by their orthodox escape. This was likely due to the clever incorporation of Jenna's real Clara, connected to Bonnie via the link needed by Zygons to maintain the deception. Witnessing Clara's psychological manipulation of Bonnie was a wonderful sci fi twist I did not see coming; it is exciting to finally see Harness's deep and clever ideas executed to their fullest potential after the disappointment of KTM. The minimalism of IZII, juxtaposed to its excitable, energetic older brother, will likely be the contention point as time goes on. Some will wish for the continuation of the action that drove IZI, but for those on my side of the fence, having two very different parts served the two parter as a whole better than a direct tonal progression. I can not summarise IZII fairly without addressing the truly incredible speech given by Peter in the episodes conclusion. I am not being hyperbolic when I say this speech stands near the top of The Doctor's greatest monologues, a prestigious list indeed. It has been a long time since my eyes were glued to one character's delivery and my jaw dropped; every word was delivered with a passion that only an actor in love with his work can produce. You could see memories of the Time War burning in his eyes as he chastised Kate and Bonnie, ultimate weapons in front of them. As a continuation of DOTD, it excels; as a single delivery, it demolishes everything seen or heard this series so far. Capaldi continues to cement S9 as his flagship series, yet the return of Osgood can also not be understated. Rumours of her picking up the torch from Clara have been stoked ever more, particularly when hers and The Doctor's interactions felt like those of a long standing companion, however her fandom of The Doctor raises doubts about how interesting long periods of time could be together. With two Osgoods now defending the Earth, the possibilities are set in place. All in all, IZII caps another superb story, finally establishing Peter Harness as Doctor Who's premier psychological thriller scribe. 9/10
And the average score, with Owen's score counted in, comes to 8.21/10. That's slap bang in the middle of our team's Series 9 leaderboard:
- The Magician's Apprentice - 9.25/10
- The Girl Who Died - 9/10
- The Witch's Familiar - 8.92/10
- The Zygon Invasion - 8.7/10
- The Zygon Inversion - 8.21/10
- Under the Lake - 8.2/10
- Before the Flood - 8/10
- The Woman Who Lived - 7.5/10
Our spoiler-filled team review of Sleep No More will be up next Tuesday.