Doctor Who – Dark Water – Review

Barry Quinn
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And thus the internet imploded.

We’ll get to Steven Moffat’s master plan in a moment, as hard as it is to fill this entire write-up all about Missy’s nefarious revelation.

‘Dark Water’, like its name and many of its preceding stories, is extremely dark in tone. It kills off Danny, shows Clara betraying the Doctor, reveals that the deceased have a consciousness, and explores the possibility of an afterlife.

Killing off Danny was a deft move. We’ve spent the past nine weeks falling in love with him along with Clara and mere moments after their declaration of love for one another he is offed. It’s brutal, it’s shocking, but ultimately it is necessary.

Had Samuel Anderson debuted only an episode or two prior, Clara’s next moves wouldn’t have been believable at all. But because we’ve seen their relationship prosper over this series, we take Clara for every word she says. She is determined and she is vindicated. Who says the Moff can’t write interesting women characters?!

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What follows is perhaps Jenna’s crowning glory amidst a series of stunning performances. Her rage as she tells the Doctor he’ll never step foot in his TARDIS again is palpable and intoxicating. She tricks the Doctor, betraying his trust. But, as is the norm with the Moff, all is not as it seems. The Doctor actually tricked Clara to find out how far she was willing to go. His line, ‘Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make such a difference?’ is utterly beautiful. Please don’t let next week be the last we see of Clara. Her relationship with Twelve is the best Doctor/companion dynamic we’ve seen since Ten and Donna.

Journeying to the Nethersphere we learn that Danny is dead but still feels what his body feels. And he’s going to be cremated… This is incredibly dark and the Moff has once more made something that is already utterly terrifying (dying) into something unfathomable. The dead retain consciousness – imagine that. I’m surprised such a plot wasn’t vetoed by the BBC, but it does justify the later timeslots we’ve had this series.

But what was most intriguing for me in the Danny section wasn’t his reunion with the boy he killed (surely this’ll have some huge payoff next week). No, it was the fact that he was actually given a choice to remove his emotions. Usually the Cybermen aren’t so complacent. And he’s seriously considering removing them. I said weeks back that turning Danny into a Cyberman would be a daring but entirely plausible move. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Moff actually carried this out.

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I so wish the production team had somehow managed to cordon off St. Pauls Cathedral earlier in the year whilst filming was underway – the dark water receding from the catacomb tanks would have made for a HUGE shock. But alas, this wasn’t achievable.

We’ve known all along that the Cybermen will be returning. But they barely feature in this first half. Their unveiling is utterly chilling (but the seeds had been planted, for those that had somehow missed the publicity earlier this year – the insignia of the 3W Corporation, the invisible exoskeleton holding the real skeleton in place, the lack of emotions) and their descent down into the streets of London was spine-tingling. What a nod to the classic series. Like ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ before it, it appears as though the Moff may possibly rejuvenate the Cybermen – and boy, has it been needed! Here’s hoping part two lives up to the hype.

And so we come to Missy.

Like the revelation of River Song, its all in the name. Missy and Mistress and Master.

It was obvious from the get-go but no one truly dared to believe that the Moff would be so bold. The gender-swap of the Master is perhaps the Moff’s most controversial move thus far. I’ve already read many grumbles online but to me this move is daring, bonkers, mind-boggling, and utterly incredible. Who’d have thought that 43 years after his formal introduction, the Master would become the Mistress.

I sincerely hope that Michelle Gomez, who has played the role with such camp bravado similar to John Simm, gets a second stab at this role – she is made for the Mistress.

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The Mistress is obviously just to test the water and see whether a female Doctor could one day be possible. If such a day comes some will obviously be disgruntled. But I have to say that I am entirely open to the possibility.

With A LOT to cover in the final hour of the series I don’t think it is going to be possible to live up to the hype, somehow. We have the reintroduction of UNIT, Kate Stewart and Osgood, dealing with how the Master became the Mistress, defeating the Cybermen, dealing with Danny and deciding whether Clara stays with the Doctor or not. It’s a hell of a lot to cram into one episode. I just hope it’s all given equal precedence – it will be such a letdown if Missy and the Cybermen barely feature because if they do, and they are dealt with well, the Moff here has the chance to redeem two central figures in Doctor Who mythology. The Cybermen need to be made scary once more – so do it, Moff. And Missy needs to be accepted by the fandom – so do it, Moff.

I have my fingers crossed. This next week is going to be a long one…

About Barry Quinn

Barry Quinn is an English Language and Literature graduate and a Creative Writer MA studier. He is an aspiring creative and professional writer and is currently in the process of writing his first novel. His writing blog can be viewed here: You can follow him on Twitter at: @mrbarryquinn