Every Episode of Doctor Who Series 8 (2014) Ranked

Series 8! A new Doctor takes the reigns of the show, which means that the whole dynamic of the show tends to get thrown on its head. This goes doubly so this time as Capaldi gives us a departure from the young men of Tennant and Smith. Gone are the days of bouncing around like a goofball, instead giving us a grumpy, cynical and sarcastic style of comedy.

Personally, this was the series I was most dreading because it’s the only one that I haven’t actually rewatched since it originally aired. My memories of a lot of these episodes have faded in the years since 2014. There’s even one episode in here I’m relatively sure I’d never actually seen before.

Still, there’s no time like the present, so let’s get reviewing.

11 – In the Forst of the Night

In the Forest of the Night is the worst episode of modern Doctor Who. It’s really that simple.

Children actors are bad and annoying at the best of times, so it doesn’t help that A) They’re one of the most critical factors of this episode, and B) They were explicitly written to be the most insufferable, stereotypical arses I’ve ever seen. On top of that, all of the adult characters seem to act like children too. There are attempts at comedy, but they are DIRE. Jokes that are so unfunny they’d even be too bad for an episode of The Big Band Theory.

The ‘drama’ in Clara & Danny’s relationship about how much she’s been seeing The Doctor is laughable, and wholly forced into scenes where they have no place being. Speaking of Danny, I have no idea why the writer decided he should be completely inept in this episode, but it turns him into the most unlikable character in the whole thing. I can get behind his motivation of protecting the kids, but he isn’t even good at it, for one thing, he steps up to tiger, with a torch, after which, we NEVER see that tiger again. THAT’S NOT HOW TIGERS WORK. Not to mention that not nearly enough attention is paid to the fact that Danny manages to lose a child at a sleepover. It’s not like she just wandered off either, she’s fully dressed and out in the forest, which means she’s been missing all night, and neither he nor Clara, nor any of the kids noticed.

All of that, all of it pales in comparison to this episodes biggest sin. The one time while watching an episode of Doctor Who that has made me physically angry that it was ever allowed to be broadcast. That is the moment where Clara tells The Doctor not to bother saving all of the children, and The Doctor just agrees. Clara makes this decision, not just to let the human race become extinct, but to let all these innocent children die, without consulting anyone, she simply tells it to The Doctor as a statement as fact. The fact that The Doctor doesn’t spend the remaining 10 minutes of the episode verbally eviscerating her for even suggesting it is a disgrace and a complete failure to understand anything about any of these characters.

Oh, and what’s Clara’s reasoning for letting the children die? Because, if they lived…they’d miss their parents…which is the dumbest justification for anything I’ve ever heard. It spits in the face of anyone who’s ever lost a parent too because Clara’s essentially just said that there’s no point in living without your parents. She says this, by the way, in front of Danny Pink, who is an orphan. Even putting all that to one side, if I was the parent to one of those kids, and you told me that you could’ve saved their lives, but chose not to, I would never stop being furious about it.

And before you say it, I don’t care that it turns out to all be fine in the end, because Clara still made that decision, believing all of the kids were going to die, and THAT’S what matters. Even during their most unlikable periods, I could never possibly believe that Clara or The Doctor would even consider such unbelievable bullshit for a second. It quite simply goes against the entire ethos of the show.

Oh also, making a joke about how they just call the kids ‘gifted & talented’ so they feel special, and it’s actually meaningless? Congratulations on completely shattering the self-esteem of any school kid who gets put in a ‘gifted & talented’ class. I don’t care if it’s a stupid joke on a TV show, kids pick up on this stuff, they will remember it, and it will hurt them.

10 – The Caretaker

Whenever I’ve seen people criticise Moffat’s writing, I’ve never understood where the ‘misogyny’ point comes from, then I rewatched this episode, and I get it now.

This episode treats Clara like an object rather than a character as all the men have a big fight over her. Danny & Clara’s relationship is the focal point of this episode, and it’s absolutely terrible. I know they couldn’t dedicate tonnes of time to establishing their relationship before this, but skimming over it in a montage doesn’t help us feel the connection the show keeps telling us they have. When Clara proclaims that she loves Danny, all I could do was wonder why? We’ve shown them being vaguely flirty and the show keeps telling us that they’re in love, but I’ve never actually seen them make a real emotional connection.

I think the problem comes from perspective. The entire episode is written from Clara’s perspective. On paper, this seems like the smart decision as she’s the bridge between these two worlds. However, the episode never actually focuses on her thoughts and feelings on the conflict between The Doctor & Danny. We get the sense that she wants them to get along, because of course she does, but we never get a real sense of the stress of her worlds colliding. Personally, I think the episode could’ve been a lot better if written entirely from Danny’s perspective, then you could’ve had a proper look at the emotional trauma he goes through when discovering all of this. Not only would it make Clara seem more like a real person, but it would’ve helped up connect to Danny because as it is, I have no reason to like him.

The conflict between The Doctor & Danny shows hints of being good, but more or less just devolves into them being petty little school children to each other. Maybe that idea was the point, but it just comes across as annoying. Danny flips out in the TARDIS for no reason and seems like an arsehole because of it, and The Doctor just seems bitter that Clara didn’t like the guy who looked like him. The Doctor comes across as unbelievably childish for discarding Danny because of his past as a soldier. I know they’ve never liked military organisations or those in them, but The Doctor is always the kind of person to reach out and try to show them the better way, not just bat them away like they’re the scum of the Earth. Neither Danny nor The Doctor comes out of it looking sympathetic or likeable, and Clara is just treated like a little damsel who needs the men to protect her. I know I’ve criticised Clara for never struggling before, but this is too far in the other direction.

At its core, this is an episode that fails to understand its characters,.fails to understand interpersonal relationships, and fails to have any kind of exciting plot. It just wanted to be a drama-based episode, but still had to throw in a monster of the week because it’s Doctor Who. As a result, both suffered.

9 – Listen

Listen is two different types of episode pressed together into one. One half of it is a slow and tense mystery surrounding a very interesting concept. It knows what it’s doing had carries a solid plot. The other half is a character study between The Doctor and Clara, focusing on how it’s shifting with the inclusion of Danny Pink. This fails to understand the established dynamic between these characters, has no idea how romance actually works and tries to wrap it all up with a completely meaningless speech about fear.

I’ll start with the good stuff. First of all, the hook is great. The concept of something under your bed is immediately understandable by absolutely everyone, and I’m surprised it took this long for the show to use it. I loved the idea of how you talk to yourself sometimes to reason that there might be something there. I, for one talk to myself ALL. THE. TIME. And I’d be thrilled to know that all of my genius thoughts didn’t go to waste when I verbalised them.

The scenes where we get teased as if we’re going to see the creature are great. They build so perfectly to their climax. The bedroom scene is the best example of this. It starts with Clara calming Rupert, seeming to diffuse the situation. It’s a sweet scene, but the atmosphere remains tense because we know that something’s really there. The tension then takes a huge spike when something sits on top of the bed. There’s then the whole build with The Doctor, talking things out to Rupert, but simultaneously trying to work things out for himself. The Doctor’s slightly panicky tone as he hopes the creature will go away makes the thing feel genuinely quite scary. The same goes for the scene in the space base later on.

Where things fall apart, though, is the character stuff between Clara & Danny. The dating scene is fine, although I didn’t really buy into their connection. I’m not saying I wanted to see the whole scene where they found common ground and started getting along – I’m totally cool with the episode yada-yadaing over that stuff – but it felt like we so quickly went from them awkwardly trying to find common ground, to them falling out that I didn’t have any time to digest their connection. In fact, it didn’t feel like they had any at all. I understand what they were trying to say about Danny’s mental state by having him flip out with the idea of killing, but the argument makes him seem so unreasonable. A perspective that isn’t helped by the fact that we only follow Clara.

I like that the situation flips a couple of times – they both get a chance to be wrong – but again, not nearly enough time was dedicated to it to be worthwhile. I know they tried to establish a connection between the adventure & the date, but it fell relatively flat for me. The Doctor’s investigation played into the date very little, and I’m sorry, but I just didn’t care about someone who we assume is Danny’s descendant connecting with Clara. Danny is such a focal point around Clara’s internal conflict here, and yet I don’t feel like I know who he is. I grasp the idea of being a soldier that hasn’t quite gotten over his days in the war, but that story has been told so many times that, unless you have something interesting to say about it, you just shouldn’t bother. What we get here from Danny is the most basic version of that archetype.

I didn’t enjoy the stuff between Clara & The Doctor either. I know that it was sowing the seeds for later in the series, but it escalates so quickly that I just don’t buy it. I understand that when The Doctor snaps at Clara, it’s because he’s desperate to solve a mystery from his childhood, but there was no build to it. The Doctor doesn’t seem any different than normal until he suddenly starts forcefully ordering Clara around. Sure, he disregards Clara’s date, but from what we’d seen from this Doctor so far, that’s nothing out of the ordinary for him. It meant that all of the character-based drama (both in this episode and the series at large) feel extremely unearned because no-one bothered to give it any proper build.

It’s such a shame that I’ve had to rank this so low because there’s some great stuff in here, but the character drama that is supposed to carry the episode utterly fails.

8 – Time Heist

If you were wondering which episode it was that I hadn’t seen before, it was this one. I feel it’s important to clarify that, because this is an episode with a lot of twists to it, so I need to impress upon you that I didn’t already know what was going to happen going into this episode. The reason this is so important for me to clarify is because all of the twists were really obvious.

Seriously, there was only one twist that I didn’t see coming, and it was the only one that wasn’t foreshadowed until about 30 seconds before it was revealed. Usually, I wouldn’t think much of a secondary character dying in one of these episodes, but it happened so quickly after they were introduced that I knew there was no way they were dead. Their deaths were given no fanfare and no time to breathe, with exposition about their character crammed into the 10 minutes each of them had before vanishing briefly.

Secondly, I cannot stress how painstakingly obvious it was that The Doctor was the architect the whole time. As soon as they had their memories wiped I knew there was going to be some kind of ‘gotcha’ moment when it came to the identity of the architect, and as soon as The Doctor realised it was a time travel heist, it more or less confirmed my theory. Sometimes, solving a mystery before it’s revealed is a fun experience that makes me feel smart, but in this instance, it felt so obvious to me that I couldn’t help but feel bored as The Doctor ran around trying to slowly figure it all out.

There was a nice variety of stuff to enjoy here, though. The first 30 minutes or so was very tense and enjoyable. The episode didn’t spend too much time introducing us to the world, but it didn’t really need to. Bank, heist, mysterious person behind it all; that’s all we need to know. This meant the heist action got to shine, which was where this episode was at it’s strongest. I still wouldn’t call it anything extraordinary, but I had fun watching the team break into the vault while evading the monster that could sense their guilt. Speaking of, what a brilliant concept for a monster, bravo to the Thompson & Moffat for putting that concept together.

The last 15 minutes leave all the excitement behind, though, which felt like a bit too much of a change of pace. They reach the private vault ridiculously easily when I was honestly hoping we’d get at least one more scene of tense heist shenanigans. It left me wanting more, but not in a good way, I just felt like it had short-changed me on the action and totally killed the pace. The sequence where The Doctor works everything out and confronts the monster is good, but the fact that I’d already worked out the solution took something away from it. The fact that the thing in the vault was another one of the monsters though was a brilliant way to end it and, as I said, I didn’t see that coming.

This is one of those episodes that I can’t really conjure up any strong feelings for. It didn’t do anything terribly, but it didn’t do anything spectacular either. I enjoyed it, but I doubt I’ll remember much about it in a few weeks.

7 – Into the Dalek

This is an episode that I keep going back and forth on. I think it succeeds in telling its self-contained story, but when it comes to the long-term, series-length plots, it leaves a lot to be desired.

This was the episode that kicked off the “Am I a good man?” storyline and, in theory, I can see that this would be a very good episode to help that story along. I’ll touch on it in a bit, but there are plenty of moments throughout the episode where the Doctor’s morality is questioned in a meaningful and effective way. The problem with it was that the scene where The Doctor posed the question, was at the start of the episode, not at the end. The Doctor hasn’t done anything in the previous episode(s) that caused this doubt in the mind of the audience, so it just feels like we’re being told what to think.

If instead, The Doctor had asked Clara that question at the end of the episode, it would’ve felt like a natural culmination of the story that was being told. It’s a minor change, but I think it makes a huge difference. One way tells the audience what they should be thinking, while the other allows the audience to come to these doubtful thoughts themselves before the show starts to press on the issue.

Next up, we had the introduction of Danny Pink. Now, I’ve already touched on what I think of him and his story, but, for an introduction, I thought this was quite effective. It felt totally out of place with the episode, but in a bubble, this was an excellent way to give us a bit of a taste of Danny and his budding relationship with Clara. I did find it a bit weird that they seemed to be hot for each other the moment they made eye contact, but whatever.

Looking at the plot, it definitely landed for me. The whole dilemma of a ‘good Dalek’ was an interesting plot thread that I don’t think has been done before. It didn’t feel like a gimmick either, it actually felt like there was a point to this story, that was trying to evolve the Daleks as villains. I think the fact that there was actually a reasonable explanation as to why the Dalek had shifted its perspective went a long way to bringing me into the story too. If the Dalek had just randomly changed its mind, then I wouldn’t have bought it, but the explanation of the damage it had sustained, allowing it to open up its mind was a great touch.

The progression of the characters in this story works well. I genuinely got the sense that Clara was someone who knew and understood The Doctor’s mind when she called him out on his bullshit this time, rather than just her usual ‘generic strong woman sass’. Why we couldn’t have seen this side of Clara in Series 7, I will never know, but I’m thrilled that we’ve got it now.

The finale was near-perfect in its execution. The tension of Clara restoring the memories was a nice segment to have running through everything, but the best moment was when The Doctor went inside the Dalek’s mind. The fact that the main thing the Dalek took on board from The Doctor’s mind was his hatred for the Daleks was a brilliant twist; because we’d seen it bubbling throughout the episode. It adds so much to the “Am I a good man?” discussion too, because we’ve been shown how hate-filled The Doctor’s mind can be, but also, Daleks are born and raised to embrace hatred, so maybe it’s not The Doctor’s fault. That’s why I think the question should’ve come up after the fact, not before.

Fortunately for this episode, the stuff I didn’t like takes up minimal time at the beginning and end, while the stuff that’s in between it is an exciting adventure. It knows exactly the story it wants to tell and tells it in a compelling manner, which is all I ask for from this show.

6 – Robot of Sherwood

I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. I’d managed to convince myself it was a terrible episode. I think all I really remembered is the general goofiness of the thing, which isn’t entirely representative of the episode. Not to mention, it was written by Mark Gatiss, who doesn’t have an exceptionally high hit-rate when it comes to writing good Doctor Who.

The tone of this one is played relatively light, but I don’t mind that. The whole concept of meeting Robin Hood and having him fight robots is an inherently ridiculous one, so there’s no way trying to play it off as serious would’ve worked. The first half of the episode is filled with a lot of genuinely funny stuff. The scene where The Doctor and Robin first meet is hilarious. Capaldi wouldn’t get nearly enough opportunities to show off his comedic side in this series, but here is a gleaming bastion of funny. I’ll admit, the bickering between The Doctor and Robin does become tiresome pretty quick – the scene in the prison cell should’ve been way shorter – but there were still a fair few lines that got a laugh out of me.

Looking to the plot, I think it was about as good as it could’ve been given the concept. A light-hearted romp with Robin Hood and his merry men was never going to be a revolutionary story, but I struggled to find any major complaints with it. We spend enough time with The Doctor questioning how this could all be real that it builds suspense, but it doesn’t go on and on too much. Then, a large chunk of the episode is spent unravelling the mystery, arguably more so than usual.

The guest stars did a fantastic job here too. Tom Riley was able to capture the over-the-top atmosphere that Robin Hood gives off in his stories (much better than Jonas Armstrong’s portrayal of the role, I must say). The way he gave every line this kind of casual, yet slightly posh touch was very endearing. Ben Miller does a beautiful job as the Sherriff too. If you’ve ever watched Armstrong & Miller, you’ll know that he’s able to pull off ‘posh & manacing’ like few others, which made him great for a cartoonish villain like the Sherriff. He carries the serious stuff too though. The scene with him and Clara could easily have been a bore, but I’d argue that his performance makes it interesting to watch.

The climax wasn’t the greatest. A middle of the road sword fight over a pit of lava isn’t a very ‘Doctor Who’ way to solve things, but sod it, this episode was just an excuse to bring back memories of the old BBC Robin Hood series, which had sword fights way stupider than this.

I really didn’t expect to enjoy this episode, but I was proven so very wrong. It’s absolutely not to everyone’s tastes, but I think that as long as you don’t try to take it too seriously, there’s a lot of fun to be had.

5 – Deep Breath

Following The Eleventh Hour, Moffat was going to be hard-pressed to top himself when it came to writing another brilliant ‘first story’ for another new Doctor. Did he nail it? For the most part, I’d say it did.

The thing that stood out to me most in this episode was the humour, which was a bit of a mixed bag. At the start of the episode, most of the jokes landed, and the tone worked for the jokes. The line “Don’t look in that mirror, it’s furious!” got a huge laugh out of me. The problem I had with the humour was that it persisted throughout the episode even once the tone had drastically shifted. Scattering in jokes during serious moments can be good, but they still need to be consistent with the tone of the scene and most of the jokes here were much too goofy to fit in the more serious scenes.

For example, the scene following the interrogation where Clara calls in the Paternoster gang to help them. This was the point in the episode where the action burst into the forefront of the scene and having Strax comically crash into the floor with a thud only for Jenny to make a quip about it didn’t fit at all. Speaking of Jenny, the jokes between her & Vastra were clearly written by someone who has only ever seen lesbians in porn films. All of the jokes between the two of them were had some form of sexual connotation or innuendo behind them, and while that is funny in small doses, it really got tiresome by the end.

That said, I thought the dramatic and serious side of the episode was fantastic. The scenes underneath the restaurant where Clara is forced to hold her breath to escape is incredibly tense, and I loved it. The following scene where she confronts the villain was also a standout moment for the character. The performance was excellent, and I really bought into the feeling of Clara being absolutely terrified but using everything she’s learnt from The Doctor in her travels to keep herself safe.

The way the inner conflict of Clara adjusting to this new Doctor was well told and I liked how it shifted throughout. She starts off with a very clear denial of the situation, and I enjoyed the scene where Vastra confronted her about it. It was the first time since her introduction that I actually felt Clara’s integrity as a character was challenged by other characters in the show. After being a void of personality in Series 7, some attention is finally being paid to Clara’s flaws and facades to make her more of a person. This conflict remains, where she takes a leap of faith on the fact that The Doctor didn’t actually abandon her in her most dire moments. It culminates beautifully in the final scene where she receives a phone call from Matt Smith’s Doctor to guide her towards acceptance. It’s a bittersweet scene and all three actors involved did a fantastic job of performing it.

That’s the perfect segway to talk about the whole point of this episode: Introducing us to the new Doctor. On that front, it was really good – not Eleventh Hour good, but still good. The shifting in tone from comedic, to dramatic, to heartfelt at the end gave Capaldi the chance to show off his full range for the role in just one episode. All of his comedic lines were great, and he was even able to bring the subtlety to the performance in the form of how he slowly grew out of his post-regeneration daze throughout. It seemed like every scene he was just a little bit less crazy, culminating in the final scenes where he confronted the villain and spoke plainly with Clara.

This episode did an excellent job at what it was supposed to do, and regardless of how well the rest of the series capitalised on what it did, the things it set in motion were great. We saw a wide range of what the new Doctor can do, along with getting a good sense of his personality; Clara got challenged and developed as a character for the first time since she was introduced, and it told a compelling story with a satisfying conclusion.

4 – Dark Water/Death in Heaven

So, this finale was a lot better than I remember it being, but I’m still not entirely sure I like it.

Starting with Dark Water, this is a really good episode. It’s not the most amazing depiction of grief (that happens next series), but I definitely think that the numbness that transitions into anger as Clara processes it is good. I definitely felt it hit a genuine place, it doesn’t feel the need to rush through it either, it gives over about a third of the episode to Clara processing her grief, and that’s good. I especially like how The Doctor responds to it, the line “Do you think I care about you so little that betraying me would make a difference?” is pure brilliance.

The tension builds ok, but it definitely reveals the Cybermen a little too early. I know that you won’t get the door & musical sting thing if you didn’t watch Series 2, but for those of us who did, it just spoiled the reveal that happened 5 minutes later. Speaking of Series 2, why does no-one remember the Cybermen? The whole ‘Army of Ghosts’ thing only happened 8 years prior to this, and don’t give that “everyone just forgot” bullshit, because that’s just not how the real world works. We don’t just forget cataclysmic events like that. As it stands though, there was really no reason for these to be Cybermen, especially when they’re just going to play second fiddle to The Master. The only thing the Cybermen actually add over some random monster (other than marketability) is the whole ’emotions’ thing at the very end. Still, surely it wouldn’t have taken much effort to find another way to do it. All it did was serve to continue the decline in threat or interest in the Cybermen.

Those gripes aside though, I still liked the episode. We don’t get a lot of Missy’s antics here, but I think that’s a good thing, just gives us a taste of what we want to see in part 2.

Then we move onto Death in Heaven, which…is ok. There’s definitely some stuff to like in there, but there’s a lot that I really didn’t enjoy.

Missy is a bit from both groups. Her being crazy was fun, and if you enjoyed that side of John Simm’s performance like I did, then you’ll definitely get a lot out of it. The problem is that the craziness is all she has. There’s no menace, no threat. Yes, she’s doing evil things, but she doesn’t actually feel evil or scary. I think what makes The Master so brilliant is how they mix the crazy & sinister sides to create someone who makes you uncomfortable because of how truly wrong they feel. Missy would eventually become a very different (but much better) character, and this feels like we’re just getting to grips with her.

The plot is definitely the weakest part of the episode, mostly because it never feels like it gets going. I’m glad that the character elements were the main focus of the episode, but the plot really suffers because of it. The scenes on the plane don’t feel anywhere as tense or exciting as they were probably meant to, and the rest of it just gets explained to us at various points.

The character stuff though, that’s where this episode (mostly) gets it right. Even though Clara has a minimal role in this episode, I’d say she’s the character that Moffat got the most right with here. She’s playing a much more reactionary role, but her reactions finally feel reasonable and realistic. I keep feeling her pain. Danny’s story has its problems, but on the whole, I still liked it. The revelation that he accidentally killed a kid was good in theory, but in reality, it plays basically no part in the story and doesn’t feel like it affects his story all that much. It gives him a chance to redeem himself, but honestly, sacrificing himself to save the day felt like it was enough. Maybe if it had been built up to a little more, then I’d have been more invested, but outside of a few hints, it wasn’t ever referenced. It was just backstory, not a character trait.

The Doctor is where the episode lives and dies though, and in classic Doctor Who fashion, it does a bit of both. The “am I a good man?” plot thread is not a good one, and while I see what they were going for, it didn’t end well. Missy giving The Doctor an army is all well and good, but she doesn’t actually give him any reason to use it. Sure, there’s the promise of being able to generally bring justice to the universe, but the man’s already got an infinitely powerful time machine and a basically infinite lifespan, what would he need an army of his weakest villains for? There should’ve been some immediate pressing threat that was forcing The Doctor to use the army.

What I thought was this episode’s strongest scene though, is when Clara & The Doctor are sitting in the cafe at the end. Lying to each other. Just 10 minutes (screentime) that Clara declared he was the one man she would never lie to. They’re so bare with each other, and yet we know how it’s dripping in lies and feelings they’re hiding from each other. Genuinely, if that had been the last time we saw Clara (which apparently, it was meant to be until Jenna Coleman signed on to do another series at the last minute), I think it might’ve been one of the best companion exits we’ve seen. This series showed us how the relationship between the two of them is fundamentally flawed. Some reasons are their fault, others are just the nature of their lives, and I think that would’ve been the perfect end. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, and next series we’d get the real end and…oh boy…it’s….sure something.

3 – Flatline

Flatline is an odd episode, and I’m surprised I ended up ranking it this high, and how much you like it will depend on what aspects you chose to focus on. When I look at the writing of the characters in this episode, I see clear examples of some of the biggest flaws there are in this series. However, when you look at it from a plot-based standpoint, it’s an absolutely thrilling episode.

I’m going to talk about the negatives first because I want to leave a positive lasting impression about this one. First up is Clara. After progressing very well as a character up until this point, here she regresses back into the ‘smoother’ version of her character. She becomes the flawless, more perfect version of the character we saw in Series 7, the character with no real substance. Despite having to handle basically the entire situation alone, she never feels like she’s being challenged. She goes in with a head of steam and fixes every problem almost immediately, with only a little assistance from The Doctor. She literally figures out how to bring the TARDIS back to life in about 20 seconds. I’ll accept that of a two-millennium old super-being, but not of a human who’s been consistently shown to not be on The Doctor’s level this series.

The side characters are pretty paper-thin. Rigsy gets a couple of glimmers of hope, but the episode doesn’t invest in him anywhere near as much as it should’ve. I get the impression he was supposed to be a make-shift companion to Clara, but outside of the beginning & end of the story, he just fades into the background. The old guy is just a lazy stereotype. He’s not even close to a real person and exists purely, so there’s a vague sense of conflict in the group.

Now, onto what I love. Most importantly, we get a proper breakdown of The Doctor’s mind. Through his explanations to Clara, we get to fully understand how The Doctor thinks, and how he’s able to solve mysteries like this so quickly. When you look back at older episodes, you can clearly see them going through the steps outlined in this one. It shows a strong understanding of what makes the show great, and exactly why The Doctor is a hero, an understanding that feels lost throughout many episodes in the series.

The whole thing is exceptionally well-paced. I wish they hadn’t shown us what the monsters were doing right in the cold-open, but the mystery still worked regardless. I liked how the episode gave its audience enough credit to connect some of the dots themselves. Things like the weird texture on the wall in the flat is what I’m talking about. Sure, it gets explained eventually, but for that whole scene, it’s just sitting there in shot, with very little attention being drawn to it. It gives us the breadcrumbs we need to make those kinds of connections and feel more like The Doctor.

The ending put a smile on my face too. Yes, The Doctor’s speech is a bit cheesy, and the way he points out the sonic to blast them all away is quite over-the-top, but it feels earned. This was such an incredibly dark and tense episode that to have a big heroic moment like that felt like a huge sigh of relief. It was a bit much, but it wrapped the episode up nicely and left me with positive feelings.

2 – Kill the Moon

Kill the Moon is the example of how brilliant this series could’ve been if it was done properly. Everything that all the other episodes get wrong, this episode hits the mark perfectly. The conflict between Clara & The Doctor, The Doctor’s faults, even Clara & Danny’s relationship is done exactly how I wanted it to be done in this episode.

The plot is very well-paced. There isn’t a lot of action in this episode, but the one or two scenes we do get are well-placed. The mystery unfolds satisfyingly, and every scene gives you just a little clue as to what’s going on. The scene where The Doctor explains it is a little long-winded, but that’s more or less the only problem I have with how the story was told. One thing I do have to have a go at though is how stupid ‘turn your lights on or off’ is as a way to get the Earth to vote. Apparently, Clara only cared what Europe & the east coast of America wanted to do, because they’re the only places she could actually see.

Courtney Woods was an element of this episode that I didn’t particularly care for. She wasn’t bad, or even that annoying, she just felt kind of unnecessary. Her input into the big debate at the end didn’t affect much, it would’ve been nice to get more of an opportunity to see the situations through her eyes. I wouldn’t say her presence made the episode worse though, so it’s not a huge issue.

Ok, now onto the things that actually make this episode the brilliance that it is. Firstly, this is the best showcase of The Doctor’s arrogance and failures we get all series. He steps to one side and ‘allows the humans to make their choice’ in a way that felt incredibly condescending, especially when you know that he’s already got a plan to save the day. When it all finally comes out, and The Doctor explains it, I couldn’t help but feel like he manipulated Clara in a significant way. If that fact had just been allowed to skate by, I would’ve been furious about it, but instead, Clara calls him out on his shit.

This brings me to my other point, which is that this is the best version of Clara I’ve ever seen. She’s not a plot device, or a perfect caricature, or some damsel in distress, she’s a real person with real emotions. It’s incredible how rare it is for Clara to actually be written like this because it’s utterly brilliant. The performance from Coleman was top-notch, not just in her outburst, but the panic and confusion that she goes through the decision she’s making. The Doctor gets his arse kicked because he deserves it, and the fact that he can’t understand why she’s so upset about is the perfect way to make us doubt whether or not he really is a good man.

It ends on a great note too. Danny’s response to Clara’s outburst is perfect. He doesn’t say a word while she vents, he doesn’t go on about how ‘I knew this would happen’ or anything like that, he just listens and then tells Clara what she needs to hear. That 30-second scene gets me more invested in the connection the two of them have that ANYTHING else in the series. He’s not ‘protecting’ Clara, or trying to make a point, he’s doing the right thing for someone he cares about, and that’s all you needed to make him likeable.

If anything, I’d say the biggest problem with this episode is how well it highlights the failings of the rest of the series when it comes to these areas. It’s like someone read all of my complaints in the rest of this article and fixed them in one fell swoop.

1 – Mummy on the Orient Express

As one of the few episodes in this series that is largely unburdened by the overall series arc, Mummy on the Orient Express was allowed to flourish to become one of the purest and most exciting mysteries the show has ever produced.

What makes this episode so brilliant is that The Doctor is in his element from start to finish. The entire thing feels like one big stream of consciousness from The Doctor. He’s constantly thinking on the move, talking to himself at a million miles a minute and clevering his way out of the situation. This is a version of The Doctor we don’t get to see nearly as often as we should in this series, and it just proves how entertaining it can be to watch.

The mystery of the mummy is so well-paced. The use of the timer in the bottom corner of the screen right from the start is absolutely perfect for building suspense, as well as giving us some clues as to what’s really going on. We start seeing each encounter with the mummy the same as The Doctor, an opportunity to learn more, to get a little bit closer to solving the mystery.

This also continues to poke away at The Doctor’s identity as a good man in a meaningful way. As he says at the end of the episode, he would’ve just kept letting people die until the mystery was solved. Not out of arrogance or malice, but because it’s the only way to save everyone that’s left. It’s the kind of higher thinking that puts The Doctor above you or me, it may seem cold-hearted on the surface, but he’s just doing what has to be done. As The Doctor said: “Sometimes the only choices are bad ones, but you still have to choose”.

While the series arc stuff is there, it doesn’t dig its teeth too heavily into the episode like with The Caretaker. Instead, it serves more as bookends to tie everything together. Clara’s slow realisation that she would never be able to give up travelling with The Doctor isn’t addressed directly until the end, because it doesn’t need to be, we can see her processes as everything unfolds. You can feel the awkwardness between the two of them in the early scenes, as neither of them can say what they really want to. A friendship fading is different from a relationship ending, and I think this is a good representation of the fragile balance The Doctor has with some of his companions. While you could argue that Clara’s U-Turn at the end was a bit cheap, I think just enough was sown throughout the episode that we can understand her thought process.

Regardless, what makes this episode brilliant is the thrill and the mystery. It knows exactly when to accelerate and let off the gas, and knows the best ways to build up tension. Even when you already know the solution on a rewatch, its still an exciting prospect because of how well its told. It’s one of the purest Doctor vs Monster stories we would ever get in the Moffat era, and it’s all the better for it.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you thought of this series, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here this time next week, where I’ll be covering WWE Hell in a Cell!

Every Episode of Doctor Who Series 7 (2012 & 2013) Ranked (Part 1)

With Series 6 being a bit weird with a big gap in the series happening half-way through. The team at the BBC decided they were going to take that one step further with Series 7 and have parts one and two of the series feel wildly different from each other. So much so that you could easily mistake the first half of Series 7 for Series 6.

Still, Series 7 was largely a series of goodbyes. As we first said goodbye to the Ponds and eventually said goodbye to Matt Smith as The Doctor. We got a whopping three Christmas episodes spread across three years and even saw the gigantic 50th Anniversary episode (featuring modern Doctor Who’s first full-length multi-Doctor story).

You’d think that with all this crazy stuff going on, it would easily rank among one of the best series of the show in history, right? Well…not quite. It had its highlights (which we’ll get into), but for me, there was a lot to dislike and a surprising amount of just plain mediocre stuff to endure. So let’s stop generalizing and break it down episode by episode, starting with…

17 – Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

I knew this was going to be last. Before I even started rewatching this series I knew this one was going to hit the bottom and it currently holds the title as my second least favourite episode of Doctor Who ever (we’ll get to my absolute least favourite next time…it’s probably the one you’re thinking of).

So first things first, there is WAY too much going on with the characters. While I enjoyed his later appearance in the series, Rory’s dad, Brain, is absolutely rubbish in this episode. He’s framed as nothing more than a bumbling idiot who’s quite handy with a toolbox and while there are a couple of funny moments, it’s mostly just jokes that don’t land at his expense. This includes the single worst joke in Doctor Who history, where he’s asked if he’s got anything in his pockets and Brain responds “just my balls” and…I just don’t know what to say about that. Doctor Who is no stranger to the odd sexual joke (“Get a girlfriend, Jeff” is still one of my favourite one-liners in the show’s history) but what makes them funny is that they’re subtle little jabs on the uptight BBC One; and somehow, the “I mean these golf balls” fake-out just makes it worse. If you’re gonna go for the joke, at least have the balls (pun very much intended) to stick with it.

Getting back into the actual plot, it has no idea what it wants to be. The whole concepts of there being a spaceship full of dinosaurs should be enough to carry the mystery, but apparently, we needed to add a whole bunch of unnecessary layers to it. So the Indian Space Agency ask The Doctor to investigate it to see if it’s hostile as they’re planning on shooting it down if it is. So The Doctor goes there, investigates the place, discovers that not hostile is it non-hostile, but it’s carrying extremely precious cargo in the form of ACTUAL LIVING DINOSAURS and the ISA…decide to shoot it down anyway? With everything still on board? What? It makes absolutely no sense and the whole idea of needing a time limit to pressure the heroes is entirely unnecessary when you consider the actual scheme of the villain.

This leads me nicely into talking about the villain. Who isn’t exactly a bad villain, but he’s extremely bland. It’s just an old dude who wants to sell stolen stuff on the black market, which is pretty much the most basic of evil plots you can come up with. Originally he wants to sell the dinosaurs, but upon discovering Queen Nefertiti of Egypt is on board (because The Doctor brought her and some random hunter along for absolutely no reason) he decides he’d rather sell her. Which again, makes NO SENSE because who in the entire universe would actually believe she’s the real deal? How would you even begin to prove that to a potential buyer? Dinosaurs are an easy sell because come on, who wouldn’t buy a real dinosaur if they could? But you just pull up some random woman dressed in period-appropriate clothes and claim she’s the real deal? No-one’s going to believe that.

Then we have the most stupidly cliched and telegraphed resolution ever where this ship just so happens to need to people from the same family in order to pilot it. Well, would you fancy our luck?! Rory brought his dad along! What a fantastic bonding experience! It’s so unbelievably dumb and like something directly out of a Cbeebies show that’s trying to teach children about teamwork. Speaking of childish, there’s also these two robots voiced by Mitchell & Webb. I love that duo in their other shows, but here, they’re used for the most basic kid-friendly humour imaginable that wasn’t even remotely funny.

This whole episode is a mess from start to finish. With a whole bunch of threats for the sake of threats, a plot that relies entirely on coincidences and some of the worst jokes and character moments that I’ve ever seen the show perform. What a travesty. At least it’s only up from here…

16 – Nightmare in Silver

…not that far up though.

With this episode, I’m honestly convinced Moffat had some sort of vendetta against the Cybermen and set out to make them look like the most boring and worthless villains possible in the hopes he could rid them from the show forever.

First thing’s first. Angie & Arty. They’re crap characters. They’re little more than bratty, entitled kids who never undergo any process of change and simply exist in the episode to get captured and give The Doctor and Clara some sort of stakes in the fight. The whole opening set-piece with theme park was quite lifeless. It didn’t serve any purpose to the plot and certainly didn’t give us any sense of character in the kids, not to mention, the moment you see the “dead” cyberman, all tension is gone from that section of the episode because it’s obvious what’s going to happen.

The secondary characters throughout the episode are generally awful too. Warwick Davis’ character has a couple nice moments, the one where he’s telling Clara about the war was pretty nice but other than that there’s nothing interesting that any of the other characters have to offer the story. They’re just some tropes with names attached, names I don’t even vaguely remember despite the fact most of them had speaking roles.

As I referenced in the opening paragraph of this entry, what really messed this episode up was that it just totally screwed with the Cybermen. By which I mean, they literally just become The Borg. They went from removing people’s brains and putting it in an emotionless metal suit, to placing implants that alter the brain instead; which is pretty Borg-like. Also, now they can upgrade themselves on the fly in order to adapt to the weaponry they’re being attacked with; another pretty Borg-like feature. One of the biggest problems with the Cybermen is that they’re just a bit bland and making them damn-near identical in nature to a different, vastly superior sci-fi villain does not help in the slightest.

The resolution is dumb as well. With Davis’ character just being like “oh yeah, I can just teleport us all out of here safely and kill all the Cybermen” which makes the entire plot up until that point completely meaningless.

The whole episode is just a series of bad creative decisions that lead to what is quite simply a bad episode. It wasn’t catastrophically bad like Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, but it wasn’t much better.

15 – The Name of The Doctor

This episode felt a bit like it was a victim of circumstance. It was the finale of Series 7 but at the same time, its hands were tied in terms of what outstanding plot threads it could wrap up. So much of the mystery surrounding the events of Series 7 were all in anticipation to the 50th-anniversary and regeneration episodes later that year so very little of major consequence actually happened. We got the reveal of the “Impossible Girl” arc, but that’s about it. As such this felt more like a mid-series finale, akin to A Good Man Goes To War; except not as good.

My biggest problem with this episode is that you could watch the first five minutes, skip over most of the episode and watch the last 10-15 minutes and have pretty much the exact same experience. The middle of the episode is stuffed with so much filler that I’ve almost stopped paying attention by the time it gets to the point where anything even remotely consequential happens. I liked seeing the devastation of the battlefield on Trenzalore (even though the regeneration episode showed it wasn’t actually what happens) but it doesn’t go much further than that. There’s no tension to the scenes where The Whispermen are chasing The Doctor and Clara because what are they going to do? Take them to the place they were already going.

Then there’s the timeline stuff. Which, mechanically, is fine. I’m on board with the concept of a being like The Doctor having that in his tomb instead of a body and I like the concept of someone going through this time stream in order to rewrite The Doctor’s life. Then Clara jumps in it and everything goes to shit. First thing’s first, how does Clara being around stop the Great Intelligence from doing what he wanted to do? The Great Intelligence now has what is essentially omnipotence over The Doctor’s whole life and how in any way does Clara scattering herself across that timeline stop him? Especially when the episode itself states that The Doctor is very rarely even aware of her presence, so it’s not like she’s warning him about what’s going on.

What gets me the most is that this is HUGELY wasted potential. This could’ve played out as one of the most exciting stories ever as Clara has to battle The Great Intelligence literally across The Doctor’s whole life. It would’ve been such an incredible feat for them to insert major scenes throughout past Doctor Who adventures as Clara has to actually work out a way to stop The Great Intelligence, with lots of different versions of The Doctor helping her out along the way. Instead what happens is…basically nothing, it seems simply the act of Clara entering The Doctor’s timestream completely wipes The Great Intelligence from existence, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and IT’S NEVER EXPLAINED.

Also, despite being told several times over that Clara entering The Doctor’s time stream would mean she’d die, she’s actually fine. This is also never explained. I know The Doctor goes in to save her (which just raises further questions) but I thought the whole point was that entering the time stream scattered her very being across The Doctor’s whole life, how can she just be in a slightly smokey room waiting to be saved?

The only saving grace this episode has, in my opinion, is the reveal of John Hurt at the end. The back and forth Hurt & Smith have just before the cliffhanger sends chills down my spine and while I would’ve preferred to see Ecclestone, this was still excellent.

Unfortunately, that is it in terms of the things I liked about this episode. It’s an absolute mess that only answers one of the many questions this series posed to the audience and even that answer wasn’t satisfactory. It’s full of ridiculous inconsistencies (inconsistencies which only go greater thanks to various reveals in future series) and leaves me in know what satisfied with the time I invested in watching the series. While I do like the setup for the 50th-anniversary episode at the end, it’s not saving this thing.

14 – The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe

After absolutely knocking it out of the park with his first Christmas special, Moffat decided that one was enough and promptly shat the bad with this one. Another parody was never going to be a brilliant idea (especially as in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the whole point is that it’s NEVER Christmas) and I definitely don’t think this one landed anywhere near as well as A Christmas Carol did the previous year.

In my Series 6 rankings, I touched a bit on The Eleventh Doctor slowly becoming more and more goofy and childish as his tenure went on and I think this episode might be the very peak of that. The scene where The Doctor is showing the family around the house and going through all of the crazy fun modifications he’s made to the place starts off as a nice bit of fun but quickly goes off the rails crossing over into “a bit much” territory, the peak of which was inarguably The Doctor launching himself at the hammocks and missing, before popping up to comedically proclaim “this hammock seems to have developed a fault”. As I’ve said many times, I’m a fan of comedy in Doctor Who, I think it’s what elevates some of the best episodes of the show to legendary status but this whole scene may as well been written for a sitcom. I could edit in a laugh track to happen at the end of the hammock scene and it wouldn’t seem out of place in the slightest; it was just a step to far in terms of departing from the tone of the show and really threw me off.

Once we get into the actual drama of the plot, it feels a bit…meh? It takes the most basic elements of the source material and throws them at the wall in a manner that doesn’t really work. The kid goes off into the forest alone, so the others attempt to find him, only to realise that, they’re all in danger. Once again, the threat of the episode doesn’t exactly feel like a huge deal and I’m not sure how melting something with acid turns it into fuel, but fine, whatever. Also, you’re seriously telling me that at no point during the process of getting them into the ship and tying them up, there was no opportunity for any of these three, well-built miners to overpower Madge and take away her relatively primitive weapon? Oh and then she’s just suddenly able to pilot the giant mech…until it’s comedically useful for her to mess it up and fall over; cue laugh track once again.

The ending is sweet, but it doesn’t feel earned. They played on the idea of Madge hiding her husband’s death from their children a little, but it doesn’t exactly feel like she went through any kind of character progression because of it. Even when the kids do find out about his death, it doesn’t have any consequences because about a minute later, it turns out that he’s actually still alive, so it doesn’t even matter that she lied about it.

I can only be so harsh on this episode since it is a Christmas episode and those tend to be a bit more simplistic plot-wise. That said, I still think it’s among the worst of the bunch.

13 – The Crimson Horror

Honestly, that’s such a brilliant title and I wish it was used on a better episode.

This episode has a couple of concepts that I like, but I don’t think any of them are really used to their full potential. For example, I like the idea of the first half of the story being told from a different set of characters – in this case, The Paternoster Gang – who are slowly discovering the mystery before running into The Doctor’s adventure half-way through. It’s a much more interesting way of revealing a mystery, allowing you to have a way to not quite tell the audience everything right at the beginning because The Doctor can show up at the mid-point and fill in the gaps.

As it stands, I also quite like The Paternoster Gang. Strax can sometimes stray too far into silly, but there were still a decent amount of jokes he mad here that gave me a good giggle. Vastra & Jenny are quite good and Vastra, in particular, is a competent breath of fresh air, as most of Moffat’s secondary characters end up being quite dumb; that said, I think they do stretch the whole lesbian things between the two of them a bit thin. There’s only so many suggestive jokes you can make before it gets grating.

This is yet another scenario in which the villains’ main motivations are a little bit misty and unclear to me. I understand it on the level of her being someone who only wants what she deems as “perfect” people in this new society, but very little attention was paid to how she classifies that, outside of obvious faults like her blind daughter. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the actual plan either. A society that people sign up for but then are never seen again is an extremely overplayed trope in all of fiction, sci-fi especially and there was nothing all that special about the one in this episode to justify using the trope. It might not seem like a big deal, but for me, as soon as I got the concept of it being a society where people go missing, I knew a rough outline of what was going to happen throughout the rest of the episode.

The climax is fine, but nothing particularly special. It’s your classic “villain has a last-ditch attempt that almost succeeds until it turns out the good guys had already stopped it.” sequence and, once again, there was nothing noteworthy about this incarnation of it. We even got the guilt-free killing of the villain as she falls to her death after trying to attack someone.

The whole thing just feels like a “nothing special” episode. The only thing that actually makes the episode feel like Doctor Who is the characters, but even they aren’t all that strong. Clara has very little role to play outside of being a damsel in distress for the first half. She’s instead undercut by the Paternoster gang, who dominate pretty much all of the screentime the good guys have. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think things could’ve been balanced a bit better to give every character a bit more of a feature role, especially considering what a large role they’d all play in the series finale.

12 – The Snowmen

This episode feels like it was written with the wrong mentality. Instead of coming up with a plot and then working the plot-threads for the coming series into it, it felt like this episode was written with the sole purpose of introducing both Clara & The Great Intelligence and then they tried to build a plot around it. It didn’t work.

One of the biggest problems with this episode is The Doctor. While Moffat would later create an absolute masterpiece centred around The Doctor’s grief over losing Clara, in this episode, where The Doctor grieves losing The Ponds, it misses the mark. Instead of having The Doctor contemplate everything about himself, he just sits up in the TARDIS and sulks about it. I understand that side of grief that can potentially make someone just want to shut out the world, but the manner in which it’s done here doesn’t seem authentic, especially when The Doctor snaps in and out of it whenever the plot demands.

While we’re on the topic, can we just talk about how unbelievably contrived it is that Clara just so happens to have a problem with a pond, so she can say “Pond” to The Doctor and snap him out of his sulking? I genuinely laughed when I heard it, there wasn’t even a hint of subtly or finesse to it. Why would Clara even chose “pond” as the word? I get that it’s happening in a pond, but I feel like the ghost made of ice would be a more pressing part of the problem and you’d rather choose one of those as your single word.

When it comes to the villains…it’s fine. It’s a Christmas episode, so there’s got to be something Christmassy in the plot and if that has to be evil snowmen then whatever. The Great Intelligence is kind of interesting until The Doctor just obliterates it with very little trouble. The way The Doctor tricks Simeon into erasing his own memory is clever, but I didn’t feel nearly invested enough to care.

Ultimately, this episode did what it had intended to do and set up both mysteries about Clara & The Great Intelligence, but it wasn’t done in the most interesting of ways and, as I’ve already explained, it wasn’t resolved in all that great of a way either.

11 – Hide

This is a solid 30-minute episode that unfortunately had to be stretched to 45.

Clara continues her role here of being more of a plot device than a person and as a result has little-to-no impact on the plot, a theme that would carry through most of her episodes in this series. The Doctor, on the other hand, does a really good job of owning the stage throughout this enitre thing. I wouldn’t put his attitude in this episode anywhere up with any of the best Eleventh Doctor stories, but thanks to Clara’s lack of personality, the weight of this episode falls on his shoulders and he does an admirable job carrying things. The secondary characters are ok, but they’ve got pretty basic personalities, so they struggle to hold my attention when it’s just them on screen.

As for the ghost story/horror aspect of the episode, it’s ok, but nothing special. I enjoyed the twist of the “ghost” being a time traveller that’s stuck somewhere and I especially enjoyed seeing The Doctor going through the entire history of Earth just to confirm his theory. It was a creative use of time travel, which is something Doctor Who doesn’t do as often as you’d think it would.

Unfortunately, the episode ran into what I’m going to call the “Iron Man 3” problem. Which is where half the episode is spent building up a big monster that’s set to be the villain of the piece, only for that to turn out to be a fake-out. At this point, we’re introduced to the real villain, but they’re nowhere near as compelling or interesting because the first half of the episode was dedicated to establishing something else. The monsters in Hide are pretty throwaway if you ask me and I didn’t think they worked as a threat to The Doctor.

The episode tries to use a lot of horror movie techniques when it comes to the creatures, but often uses them in the wrong ways, or later squanders the whole thing. For example, when we’re first introduced to the concept of them, we get the perfect “less is more” build-up and if they’d stuck to their guns with that, the whole thing could’ve been quite exciting. What was done instead, was that the episode revealed them clear as day and chase The Doctor. The thing is, The Doctor actually gets away and deals with the creatures quite easily, so instead of spending the rest of the episode on the edge of my seat waiting to see The Doctor have to face them again, I don’t feel any tension because the aura of mystery and fear that was surrounding them is gone.

Looking back to the plot, I think the episode should’ve ideally wrapped up right about when The Doctor saves the trapped time traveller and manages to escape the creatures himself. It felt like a natural stopping point for the episode, all of the main character beats were wrapped up and when The Doctor realised that he had to go back to help the creatures, it seemed entire like the episode was trying to fill for time. It’s a neat twist, but not one that was built-up enough to feel earned. The only real hints we got about this twist were things that you wouldn’t be able to know were hints until you knew the solution, which isn’t how clever foreshadowing is done.

Although the episode did lose steam very quickly in its latter half, I thought the first half was quite the entertaining episode and just enough was done in this one to drag it up a few places in my estimations.

10 – The Bells of Saint John

This is an odd episode because it leans quite heavily on its characters (specifically Clara), but it doesn’t quite land the right feel for them just yet.

Going into this episode we were fresh off of meeting a version of Clara from Victorian London and watching her die. In theory, this is a cool idea and I like the fact that The Doctor is able to run into another version of her, the problem comes in when the show starts to act like they’re the same person and all the characterisation we got from Victorian Clara still stands (minus the period-relevant dialect). I understand that, mechanically, they are the exact same person but they’ve led different lives with a different set of memories, so when we’re introduced to modern-day Clara she feels like a very different person and it makes it jarring when the show pretends they’re the same.

While we’re talking about The Impossible Girl thread, the whole mystery surrounding Clara’s origin is one of the biggest factors as to why I’m not a fan of Clara in this series. My opinion of her shifts during her time with Capaldi, but her time with Smith is a horrible introduction for her. As a direct consequence of everything to do with her centring around The Impossible Girl thread, she gets absolutely no room to develop any kind of personality and, as I’ve touched on in previous entries, she doesn’t really do anything in this series unless it’s directly related to that mystery. While she would later develop some form of a personality, the entirety of her time in Series 7, she more closely resembles a plot device than a person.

Speaking of plot, when the episode isn’t leaning into the character stuff, I think there’s a pretty fun plot here with a lot of exciting moments. It’s nothing spectacular, but I thought there was a lot of excitement to be had in the scenes where The Doctor is trying to prevent Clara from being uploaded, or when he’s racing up The Shard to confront the villain (as goofy as it was). If the episode wasn’t also tasked with introducing modern-day Clara, then I think a bit more could’ve been done with the concept though. “Evil Wi-fi” is an idea that you can do a hell of a lot with (as many other sci-fi stories have proved over the years) and this one doesn’t do anything particularly special to make it stand out from the rest.

I’ve got my problems with this one, for sure, but a lot of them are more to do with what they set up for later in the series, rather than what actually happened here. In addition to that, I still have a good time with the action scenes, even if they aren’t anything particularly noteworthy in the long run, so I’m happy to stick this one in the middle and give it a pass.

And that’s all for Part 1! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this list, make sure you follow me here and on Twitter @10ryawoo so you’re updated when Part 2 drops in a few weeks. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these episodes and make sure you come back this time next week, where I’ll be covering WWE’s Money in the Bank!