There is one scene in this spellbinding and thoughtful episode, from two of Who‘s best writers, that will simply floor you. It will absolutely, undoubtedly have you not only on the edge of your seat/sofa/bed, but will leave you breathless and in heart(s)-attack territory.
It’s just that good.
I can’t recall such a powerful, emotive and intelligent moment in Doctor Who‘s long and varied history. It’s ten minutes or so that will have you talking for long after the dust settles. And it’s a simple scene too, just The Doctor chatting with representatives from both the Zygon and human race, trying to reason and debate that war and death is not the answer.
It’s the crux of this inspiring and daring, not to mention excellent, two-parter from Peter Harness (with help from Steven Moffat in this instalment) – war is not, and should never be the answer. Cruelty, as our favourite Gallifreyan observes, doesn’t need to beget more cruelty; someone needs to break the cycle of violence for true peace to begin. Forgiveness is the key word and a solution can always be found through discussion.
This is what the Doctor does, he fights with intelligence and words. Something we can all aspire to. Doctor Who has never been so urgent and so relevant. Writers Moffat and Harness are to be congratulated for this brave, compelling and important move.
Peter Capaldi in The Zygon Inversion (C) BBC
Of course, this fine and noble speech would be nothing without the talents of Peter Capaldi. This is his moment, the defining moment of The Twelfth Doctor – a moment I feel no other Doctor could deliver. His passion and desperateness are breathtaking during his ten minute monologue (almost). When an actor can surprise in such an accomplished way and stir you like this, one feels grateful to be a fan.
Similarly, Jenna Coleman has upped her acting chops considerably for the complexities of her dual role. Like everything in this two-parter, this isn’t a simple polar relationship, it is liquid and grey and full of questions. Coleman too has delivered her finest outing for Doctor Who with “sexy/evil” Clara, particularly in the aforementioned scene with Capaldi. She’s as fascinating and as engaging as he is.
But Inversion isn’t all about this one remarkable moment.
Right from the off, the solution to the cliffhanger is unforeseeable and hugely satisfying (and will remind older viewers a little of the modern day classic, Silence in the Library). And it throws up its own mystery that will keep your mind constantly querying and second-guessing.
Jenna Coleman in The Zygon Inversion (C) BBC
As mentioned last week, this isn’t a no-brainer good vs bad, us vs them scenario. One poor Zygon, hiding from the radicals in his own kind, feels the politically-charged wrath of Evil Clara and finds himself part-Zygon, part-human in a deeply unpleasant and graphic realisation. It’s his distress, however, at the station that will truly affects.
“I was happy like this. I can’t hide. I never wanted to fight anyone I just wanted to live.
Why can’t I live here? This is my home.”
Heartbreaking in the extreme. The human side of conflict and, more so, immigration could not be made more plain and clear. There may be blobby monsters abound, but this is immediate in a very real way.
Peter Capaldi & Ingrid Oliver in The Zygon Inversion (C) BBC
Further to its credit, The Zygon Inversion includes numerous humorous moments peppered throughout (most notably, the Doctor’s opinion of London). The relationship between the Time Lord and Osgood, played so wonderfully and beautifully by Ingrid Oliver, is also a delight – and we discover both their first names! The use of the UNIT scientist, again, is very cleverly integral to the story.
Matching the immediacy of the script and performances is the direction from Who newcomer, Daniel Nettheim; the Zygons are shot impressively and the Zygon base is a red treat on the eyes.
The Zygon Inversion, along with its preceding instalment Invasion, are sublime and the very heights of what Doctor Who can achieve when it comes to “issues” (much like the show used to occasionally in the 70s). But it’s also a story on a grand global scale packed with scenes throughout that grab at both the brain and the heart. They might be slightly ridiculous looking aliens, but the Zygons have brought out the ridiculously good in the production team, cast and writers.
Doctor Who, The Zygon Inversions airs 8pm, Nov 7 on BBC One