Posts Tagged With: the zygon inversion

Have I Got Whos For You (Party Politics edition)

And introducing David Mellor as the Doctor.

(It’s fine, really. I’ve never liked him much but I maintain a chap has a right to have his hair however he wants. Still, it’s such an obvious joke…)

We have a couple of fan-baiting posts in the works over at Brian of Morbius, but I’m about to go on holiday and I’d very much like to be around to deal with the fallout when they land on social media, so that’ll have to wait. Instead, here’s a fresh selection – some hot off the press, some slightly older material I hadn’t yet got around to posting – and much of it of a political bent. You’ve been warned.

“Define ‘political’,” I hear you ask, when I’ve prodded you in the ribs and asked you to read it off the cue card. Well –

“What’s Trump doing there?” someone asked, whereupon I had to explain that no, this wasn’t Trump. “What are you talking about?” was the reply. “Of course it is.” And I suppose in a way she’s right, although not on purpose.

Speaking of Trump, he’s finally got that wall finished.

“Henry may be sad. Of course he’s sad. It’s what he deserves. Engines who don’t pull their weight get punished. No doubt the FAKE NEWS MEDIA will spew out their usual garbage about unions. Why don’t they go back to the cesspools they came from?”

Of course, if you really want something Who-related.

Talk to the hand, baby.

Elsewhere, in a pub somewhere in Norfolk, the Twelfth Doctor is trying unsuccessfully to get Kate Lethbridge-Stewart interested in Risk.

At a private function in the very same venue, John Bercow is realising that he’s missed his true calling all these years.

And somewhere in the void:

I think I’ll just go and eat worms…

Categories: Have I Got Whos For You | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God is in the detail (9-8)

Ah. ‘The Zygon Inversion’. How do I analyse thee? Let me count the ways. Remember, this is the stuff the BBC DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT, so you’re very lucky to have me on hand to reveal the Hidden Truth. And there is a lot of hidden truth this week; enough to kill a small horse.

Let’s take a look first of all at the clock in Clara’s flat, at the very beginning of the episode.

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6:26 is, of course, a timestamp, and using the same methodology as last week we can draw out the exact lines of dialogue at the 6:26 mark across all previous episodes of the series. Assembling them in order, beginning with ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ and concluding with ‘The Zygon Invasion’, the list reads thus:

“We bring harm.”

“Help me!”

“Are you sure?”

“Listen, we’ve come from the future and you’re about to send a signal. How do you do it? Is it a special pen?”

“I AM ODIN.”

“My curioscanner! It scans for curios. I’m just realising how it got its name.”

“It’s her.”

Written out in this manner this is CLEARLY a conversation between a deity and a poor Earthbound worshipper asking for help, and this is a theme that develops further when the number ‘626’ is interpreted in other ways. The notion of mythological deities also figures when we examine episode 626 in the chronological run – part four of ‘The Twin Dilemma’, a story featuring twin boys named Romulus and Remus, both conceived with the help of the god Mars.

And it goes further. Consider season 6, episode 26 of the original run: episode three of ‘The Seeds of Death’, an episode which concludes with a pod that hides a deadly secret, in a story about malevolent warriors from the planet Mars, which features a character named Osgood. NONE OF THIS IS A COINCIDENCE.

Now, the boxes.

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This is this week’s snowglobe moment. Those of you who have seen The Matrix will note the OBVIOUS AND DELIBERATE reference to the two pills that Morpheus offers Neo; the red pill brings enlightenment, while the blue brings memory loss. Memory loss is a key theme to ‘The Zygon Inversion’, particularly during this scene. But there’s more to it than that…

Pokemon Red and Blue are two different entries in the phenomenally successful Japanese series, in which players capture monsters inside golf-sized balls that are clearly bigger on the inside. The Red and Blue Design Hotel is in Prague, a city visited by at least nine incarnations of the Doctor. And in football, Crystal Palace FC are known as the Red and Blue Army; the Crystal Palace was visited by the Eighth Doctor and C’rizz in ‘Other Lives’, and thus this is a CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS clue that the Eighth Doctor WILL BE IN THE SERIES FINALE.

Also of note: the Mire helmet, secured behind glass. Note that when the word ‘Mire’ is reversed (or INVERTED) it reads ‘Erim’, the name of a village in Turkey and also the surname of a number of at least two Turkish academics and one politician. We may therefore conclude that Mr Copper, the clueless tour guide from ‘Voyage of the Damned’, who believed that the people of Earth went to war with Turkey every December, will cameo in the Christmas special. There is no possible alternative. Just don’t tell anyone; the press leak is presumably still pending.

The Tenth Doctor shows up again here:

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Note the ROSE-coloured bottles of Rubicon hidden just behind the poor Zygon. In ‘Tooth and Claw’, the Tenth Doctor offers to take Rose to observe ‘Caesar crossing the Rubicon’. Note also that both of actors were in ‘Day of the Doctor’, although Billie Piper played a character with a different name who looked like Rose, just as this week Jenna Coleman played both Clara Oswald and someone who looks like her. Note that in ‘Tooth and Claw’ the Doctor and Rose meet Queen Victoria. Note that Queen Victoria is shortly to be played by Jenna Coleman. Note that Zygons have claws. Sort of. That’s enough notes to be going along with. My brain hurts.

Not-quite finally, observe Clara’s lounge / sitting room / snug / living room.

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[Parenthesis]

“Eddie! I think there’s someone in the drawing room!”
“The what-room?”
“The drawing-room!”
“I don’t think I’ve been in there. What, you mean we’ve got a room just for drawing in?”
“God, you’re so common, aren’t you? What do you call it, the snug or the saloon or something?”
“Oh, the lounge!”
“That’s it! Yes, the laaunge! There’s someone down in the laaunge!”

[Parenthesis ends; a moment of silence for Rik Mayall]

Note the three lamps, drawing clear parallels with the three separate Doctors featured in ‘Day of the Doctor’ – the last story featuring the Zygons. The one on the back wall is clearly the War Doctor, given his preoccupation with walls the first time we see him; additionally he is at the back of the room, just as the memory of the War Doctor was pushed (or at least acknowledgement of his existence) is pushed to the back of the Doctor’s mind. The one to its left is clearly the Tenth Doctor, situated as it is on a table with a RED CLOTH, signifying the Tenth Doctor’s RED TRAINERS. And on the right is the Eleventh Doctor, given that the shadow it casts on the wall looks partly like a Fez while simultaneously resembling a Trilby, as worn by –

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Who, of course –

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Yes, well.

Finally, class, here’s your homework. I know we don’t tend to give homework but your task – should you choose to accept it – is to decode this.

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Just the headline in red, that is. I know what it means already, and I’ll tell you next week. But let’s see who can figure it out before I reveal the answer. First correct guess wins my seal of approval, and also a lollipop. A rose-coloured one. Go on, get cracking.

Categories: God is in the Detail | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: ‘The Zygon Inversion’

Spoilers, sweetie….

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“The other day a woman came up to me and said, ‘Didn’t I see you on television?’ I said ‘I don’t know. You can’t see out the other way.'”
(Emo Phillips)

I sometimes wonder what Russell T Davies makes of current Doctor Who. Certainly I’m not sure whether anyone ever asks him. You cannot move online for press snippets and paragraph-long teasers from the current showrunner about the ‘fun chase’ that the Christmas special is promising to be, or how devastated everyone will be when Clara departs. I’m of the opinion that Doctor Who ought to stop telling its audience how we ought to be feeling and allow the drama to breathe and speak on its own terms, but that’s another day and another blog post, and one I may write, so let’s not dwell on it now.

But does Russell (yes, my animosity towards the man has evaporated to the extent that I can call him that now) sit in his flat with a vodka and tonic and a curry and cheer on this new, reinvented Doctor? Does he lament the fact that his five-year legacy of the tortured soul has been all but undone? Does he sit and weep while this new chap, the ageing Scot with the impressive eyebrows (because I’ve just finished The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who, and eyebrows get mentioned practically every page) talks about how close he was to an act of genocide before a soap actress pulled him back from the brink? Or does he nod and smile and say “Yes, that’s probably where I would have gone with it”, and then leave another message on Peter Davison’s voicemail?

We may never know, and in a way that’s fine. But I’ll bet he was watching last night, and thinking “Gosh. I could have had fun with the Zygons.”

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Certainly Moffat has. In a way, this sort of story fits with his writing style like Mary Tamm’s tailored outfits clung to her bosom. There are three ways of writing hidden identity narratives: make the audience aware and play on the dramatic irony; keep them entirely in the dark; alternatively, allow them to spend time believing one thing before pulling the rug out from under their feet. Moffat has done the last one so often that the rug has almost worn threadbare. Vital missing seconds from scenes change allegiances, set booby traps, resurrect the dead. Moffat uses the concept of time like a child experimenting with Playdough, twisting and reshaping it into anything he sees fit. Lest we forget, at the end of series six he built an entire dramatic conceit upon the single use of the word “Actually…”

Peter Harness may have been responsible for the story, but you can feel Moffat lingering at his shoulder. Having spent last week building up to the moment a previously trustworthy character revealed their duplicity, here he does the exact opposite. It’s a trick that doesn’t work quite so well second time around, largely because we do not see an awful lot of Kate until the final act, and she is given a single scene with the Doctor before revealing that her true colours. Still, Jemma Regrave does a convincing sneer.

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We know that we can trust Osgood and the Doctor, so it’s left to Coleman to thicken out the concept. Harness and Moffat achieve this by imprisoning her in a bricked-up flat, where the toothpaste tube is full of what looks like excrement and nothing much works except the TV. It’s a perfect opportunity for a Blake’s 7 marathon if ever I saw one, but Clara discovers that she has a limited control over her Zygon counterpart, as embodied by some rather silly hand movements.

In 1998, I saw a film called Sliding Doors, starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Helen – whose life branches in two directions depending on whether or not she catches a particular train. In the film, Happy Helen cuts her hair short and dies it blonde, presumably because blondes have more fun; Miserable Helen retains its original length and colour. So too this week Bonnie’s brisk and businesslike demeanour is embodied by a pony tail and bright red lipstick, while Clara spends most of the story looking like she’s just got out of bed. Bonnie strides with a glacial stare where Clara ambles; she could also learn a thing or two from Bonnie’s posture. Coleman brings a distinction to both roles; it’s the first time we’ve seen her play an out-and-out villain, and it works, despite occasional lapses into caricature.

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By the episode’s end Bonnie has assumed the identity of Osgood – so there are now two of them, at least one of which is a Zygon – but it would be inconceivable to think that Moffat will not use Coleman again at some point. “Clara,” he assures us, “will never return”, but at no point has he suggested that Bonnie will not. Indeed, if the nature of Clara’s death (assuming that’s where we’re going) is in any way ambiguous, who is to say that he couldn’t have the internet debating whether he actually killed Bonnie instead? That’s what he does, after all.

The plot of ‘The Zygon Inversion’ is essentially built around the nuclear option. The action sequences are sparse and consist largely of people running away: the Doctor and Osgood escape the police, and then pursue an unmasked Zygon in an empty supermarket only for him to commit suicide rather than spend his life unable to cloak. “I never wanted to fight anyone,” he insists, not long before pulling the trigger. “I just wanted to live here. Why can’t I just live?”

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If last week’s episode was largely about immigration policy and the expectation of assimilation, this week is largely about extreme options and final solutions. We are once more in the Black Archive, with Capaldi raging and shaking in a speech that couldn’t be more obviously ‘BAFTA nomination’ if they’d stuck a flashing subtitle underneath it. The sunglasses are off, the preaching comes thick and fast, and the fact that “Do nothing” is once more the solution is, for once, not to the story’s detriment. It’s an impressive moment, worthy of the best of McCoy, and destined indeed to be recreated by past Doctors at conventions and posted across the internet.

Various jokes pepper the script and some of them are very funny. Capaldi bails out of an exploding plane with a Union Jack parachute – the fact that Spectre opened only last week is almost certainly a coincidence, but it helps. London is described as “a dump”. And the Doctor’s look of incredulity when Osgood reveals she does not know what TARDIS stands for is priceless, even more so when she admits that this is because “I’ve heard a couple of different versions”.

 

wayne

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As with last week, there are misfires. The Doctor’s American accent is almost as dreadful as Missy’s (it’s nothing to do with Capaldi or Gomez, who manage fine; it’s just a criminally bad idea). Various scenes don’t make complete sense: the Doctor’s encounter with the police officers feels like it’s going somewhere and then doesn’t, while the ending is slightly muddled. Structurally, the whole thing feels slightly off-kilter, as if it would have benefited from a pacing rethink.

But in the grand scheme of things, this is nitpicking. We’re two thirds of the way through a series as bumpy and uneven as its immediate predecessor; mediocrity pervaded the Dalek story, the promising ghosts were ruined by time travel, and a fun romp through Valhalla was followed by dreary, plotless philosophy. There’s a risk that in calling ‘The Zygon Invasion / Inversion’ an obvious series highlight, I’m damning it with faint praise, and that’s unfair to everyone. In a year of lacklustre ideas and squandered potential, of course it stands out. But that doesn’t stop it being a darn good story in its own right. And just when all seemed lost. Tweak my diodes and call me Petronella.

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Categories: New Who, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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