This week sees the welcome return of the hissing Zygons, last seen in the fiftieth anniversary special, and brings the danger to Earth on a grand scale. Is my mum a Zygon? Is my pet kitten a Zygon? These are just some of the questions viewers may be asking after watching the episode. After a neat little recap of where things were left off in the fiftieth, helpfully explained by three Doctors and two Osgoods, we arrive in the present day where a rogue group of Zygons have declared a war of terror on the human race. It’s heavy and adult stuff for Doctor Who and one can’t help drawing comparisons to recent global conflicts.
First of all we are reintroduced (or just introduced?) to Osgood running through a battle zone, being stalked by an angry Zygon. There was much publicity surrounding fan-favourite Osgood’s return after falling foul to the maniacal Missy last year, but due to her character being so intertwined with the shape-shifting Zygons it was heavily assumed they would have something to do with it. What is most interesting is the show’s refusal to give us answers. As much as the Doctor asks, “So which one are you?” Osgood refuses to say, identifying as both human and Zygon. A sort of hybrid if you like, and yes I’m already starting to think that hybrid is this series’ “Bad Wolf.” Whatever the logistics, I’m glad to see Osgood back on screen, this time sporting a different Doctor’s attire with the question mark collar synonymous with the sixth/seventh Doctor’s era.
I’m even more excited however to see the Zygons back. I just think they’re a wonderful piece of creature design and have every ingredient needed to make a classic Doctor Who Monster. David Tennant has even been quoted as calling them his favourite monsters which may have had something to do with Steven Moffat’s decision to revive them in the fiftieth. They also have such potential for storylines, which is why I’m glad the show is going in the direction of a complex and ambitious two-parter. The Zygons’ aim is simple (“We want the world!”) but their plan is less so. I have to admit being a little confused by some of the elements but it’s exciting to be presented with such a huge threat for the Doctor to combat. He truly is facing the “nightmare scenario.”
Like the Zygons themselves the episode shifts around a lot. We visit a lot of different locations, with the Doctor jetting off to New Mexico and Clara making a startling discovery underneath the streets of London. At no point during the episode are you sure whether you’re watching Zygons or humans interact, creating a newfound tension in every scene. It’s the cause for multiple plot twists, including evil Clara, who seems to be even more controlling than regular Clara. The Zygons certainly aren’t going to surrender peacefully, with the body count unusually high for Doctor Who. The Doctor finds himself uncomfortably in a military situation butting heads with an authoritative UNIT member played by Rebecca Front; an on-screen reunion between herself and Capaldi, previously seen together in excellent BBC comedy “The Thick of It.” It’s going to be interesting to see how the Doctor’s peaceful approach changes as the danger grows.
This week sees a return to your more standard cliff-hanger as a missile heads towards the Doctor’s plane. Next week has a lot of problems to resolve and I can’t see the world simply going back to normal. The events we’re seeing will surely have an irreversible effect on humanity whatever the outcome, but I guess we’ll have to wait until next week to see. That’s something that can be praised about the cliff-hanger effect, every week I find myself impatient for more.