Episode 8, ‘The Zygon Inversion’ (part two to ‘The Zygon Invasion’), starts with a literal bang, as the Doctor’s Air Force One plane is taken down with a rocket launcher by Zygon-Clara (‘Clargon,’ from here on out). Of course, the real Clara can’t do anything but watch from her assumed mind-prison, stuck inside a Zygon pod, and apparently still telepathically linked to her imposter.
Clarion spends little time reveling in her victory over the Doctor, and starts seeking out Zygons in hiding, one by one, which, considering that there’s supposedly billions of them, may take a little time. She uses a mind-zappy trick to stop him from being able to appear as a human, and in a scene almost reminiscent of The Fly, begins to mutate back into a Zygon in front of what must be the world’s most unimpressed teenagers (seriously, they don’t even raise an eyebrow. Kids these days, right?).
Back in the mind-prison, Clara is stuck in what is a recreation of her apartment, except with the small change of cement walls where the exits should be. So, no biggie. She can’t help but replay the memory (from Clargon’s vision) of the Doctor’s plane blowing up on a TV, mainly because I’m guessing that wherever she is probably doesn’t get Netflix.
After closer inspection, she spots a blue spec in the explosion’s aftermath, and while your first thought might be “It’s the TARDIS”, it’s actually a parachute with the Union Jack on it…for camouflage, as the Doctor explains.
He, of course, along with Osgood, has parachuted safely to a deserted beach before facing a fiery death. The only casualty of concern is Osgood’s glasses, which the Doctor offers to replace with his sonic ones, and it seems we’ll just be ignoring that the plane likely had pilots and other staff that are now burnt to a crisp.
Meanwhile, Clara gains some control over Clargon, and is able to sneakily send a text to the Doctor with some Zen like concentration. While the Doctor at first assumes the message is from Clargon, Osgood is quick to deduce that Clara must be alive somewhere so that the Zygon can access her information. That means there’s still a chance of saving her!
Now at UNIT headquarters, Clargon opens a safe containing the laptop with the Osgoods’ video message from the last episode. Apparently she was under the impression she had found the Osgood box, but nope, the Osgoods delightfully reveal it’s just a decoy .
Soon after, Osgood get’s Clargon on the phone for the Doctor, and the two have some quick ‘I thought you were dead’ banter. Apparently her name is Bonnie, but it’s unfortunately too late; she definitely looks like a Clargon. The Doctor cunningly reveals that Clara knows about the boxes, which will hopefully give them time to find her, and give her a reason to keep Clara alive.
This leads to Clargon interrogating Clara, who, while staying pretty cool at first, gets slightly flustered when revealed that they share a heart beat now. This means that Clara can’t really lie, or at least probably can’t do it effectively. Clara ends up revealing that she has access to the box, which sits inside the vault under UNIT’s Black Archives, and that her body scan is the key. There’s also something more to the boxes though, and Clara thinks she can use it as leverage to stay alive.
In London, which the Doctor nonchalantly refers to as a dump, Osgood has tracked down Clara’s phone. But instead of Clara, they find the Zygon that Clargon had transformed earlier reeking havoc by zapping people into dust piles. The plan is to create panic, which he’s effectively done, but he’ll never be able to be in human form again and so chooses to zap himself instead of facing a life as a mutant mix of the two.
Surprisingly, Kate appears, or at least the Zygon version does, having recently arrived from killing the original. After checking in with Clargon, she meets up with the Doctor to inform him that she’s found Clara’s pod, although it’s already been removed once they get there. Osgood also catches on that they must be Zygons, which, duh!
Clargon is actually starting to like being Clara, only because she seems to be able to do anything she wants, at least when it comes to UNIT. She walks straight into the vault with no problems, until she finds why it’s called an Osgood box…because there are two of them!
One blue. One red. One normalizes all Zygons, while the other destroys them. Clargon is left with no choice but to wake up the real Clara and use her life as a bargaining tool with the Doctor, who immediately tells her it’s the blue box.
Except, when she lifts the lid on the blue box, there’s only two more buttons labeled ‘Truth’ or ‘Consequences’, and it’s the same with the red box as well. Clargon is not happy.
Neither are the two Zygon soldiers with Kate, who she promptly shoots, freeing the Doctor and Osgood. In flashback, we find out that Kate actually got away and it was all a cunning plan to go undercover. But Kate wants this over with and she’s ready to unleash the Doctor’s gas in order to turn every Zygon inside out.
The trio quickly makes their way to the vault, where Clargon is still stewing over the box situation. The Doctor takes delight that his failsafes have failsafes, as there’s a fifty percent chance that any button will mean victory for one side.
It seems a risk that Clargon (and Kate) is willing to take, even after the Doctor has ranted at her that she hasn’t actually thought out her plan beyond the battle. Because that’s just it, all she wants is war and she appears completely satisfied in knowing that she’ll win that, with little regard for what comes after.
In a stand off between Kate and Clargon, with hands hovering over their chosen buttons, it seems that we’ve almost come full circle again to where we were in the fiftieth special. But this time the Doctor is done, and he’s had it up to here with all the senseless killing.
He puts the small battle taking place into perspective, by bringing up the Time War and all the senseless deaths he holds himself personally responsible for. Both Kate and Clargon can’t help but be moved.
Kate is the first to close her box, while Clargon begins to think like the Doctor and realizes that both boxes must be empty. The Doctor would never allow such weapons to exist in the first place. The rebel leader finally gives in and decides that the only way is peace.
As Kate points out, how can they go on knowing that the boxes are empty? Pretty easily actually, as the Doctor immediately wipes her memory again. Although he doesn’t wipe Clargon’s and instead allows her to keep the memory because she’s one of them now.
Clargon returns to the Zygon control centre and sends out the message that the cease-fire is back in place and the rebels are standing down; they are all safe.
As the Doctor and Clara make their goodbyes with Osgood, he offers her the ultimate ticket to the past and future by joining them on the TARDIS. But she refuses, believing that protecting humans and Zygons is more important.
She won’t be alone, because there’s a new Osgood; Clargon has transformed into a new Osgood sister, seeing that she can’t be Clara. The Doctor still can’t help himself though, and must know if one of them is human. Alas, they’re just Osgood!
- This is as political as Doctor Who has gotten in a long time, which really made the episode feel significant, and much closer to Torchwood in feel as I said last week. There were clear messages being sent about immigration, assimilation and terrorism, but the messages did seem to become a little lost towards the end.
- I hope they use UNIT, and Kate, at some point to be more than a military operation that jumps on the fear bandwagon with every issue they face. It’d be interesting to see them actually in a position where they must attempt to keep peace.
- The new Osgood takes after McCoy’s 7th
- At the end of the episode, before the Doctor wipes Kate’s memory, he quips that he’s wiped her memory fifteen times already. It’s not really clear whether he means he’s wiped her memory or that there have been fifteen incidents that have broken the cease-fire. I’ll believe the former, only because the latter implies that this is pretty much a regular occurrence at this point, and that kind of alters the point of the episode.
- We learn that Osgood’s first name is Petronella. Hmm. Better than Basil, I guess.
- This was a good episode, with some great acting from everyone all round, especially Capaldi, but there seemed to be some problems in how it was executed. As a two-parter it fell a little short, and felt more like matters were complicated to pad the episode to meet a running time. There was also something missing from not having a normal Zygon involved. The story was completely removed from what they were fighting for (Zygons being able to live peacefully), and as a result, the stakes didn’t feel as real as they should have. Also, a bit bummed that Rebecca Front’s Colonel Walsh wasn’t in this episode, seeing that she seemed to play a fairly important role at the start of the story.