Doctor Who: Series 9, Episode 8
The Zygon Inversion
Written by: Peter Harness and Steven Moffat
Directed by: Daniel Nettheim
Broadcast Date: Saturday 7th November at 8:00pm on BBC One
The Gallifrey Times have seen The Zygon Inversion and have put our spoiler free preview together.
After the explosive events of last episode, it’s time to once again stumble into the second part of yet another two-parter. After the divisive (as always) tone of The Zygon Invasion – which, may I say, I believed to be quite the significantly thrilling, adrenaline-fuelled outing, which was once again, hit with a balance between the highly negative or the highly positive. For me, I believe this second part, The Zygon Inversion, isn’t as much of a hit. However, possibly less divisive, for the political subtleties take a back seat and the real crucially key part of the episode, that being the very detailed and intriguing social dilemmas, move forward into something of a more conversational conclusion.
Don’t fret though, for the sinister eerie aspect of the first episode returns from the get-go, with a very cryptic and desperately emotive scene pushing the boundaries in terms of storytelling – whilst, unfortunately, this haunting atmosphere doesn’t seem to go anywhere else, this pre-titles scene will make you crawl with terror, it’s really quite interesting. It’s abstract, weird, but almost like that’s its purpose – for those who enjoyed stories such as The Forest of The Dead, I almost got sharp similarities from that.
For me, The Zygon Inversion doesn’t have the intellect that The Zygon Invasion did, twists seem a little limited and predictable, and it just doesn’t scream the excitement and intensity that its predecessor exposed. There’s some startlingly important scenes and exceptional acting, but the main story poodles along a little in dry cohesion and predictability, rather than racking up the tension such as that of last episode. The episode kicks off with some rather unexpected and terrifying moments, but it all dwindles into something inconsistent and out-of-place.
Don’t get me wrong though, The Zygon Inversion as a collective two episodes does hold a lot of political and social truths, it may be one of the most historically accurate and current episodes ever of Doctor Who. The relevancy is key and it almost confuses me how any of this political subtext could be dampened upon – for it all speaks so many truths.
The Doctor and Osgood work as a very sneaky little pair throughout. I’m pretty sure many fans will be screaming for Osgood to return as a companion, for the two really do suit in comedic timing and just genuine dynamic. There’s some really fun stuff here, but the message almost fades between so many themes, it’s almost as if Harness couldn’t quite grasp at what he was trying to say anymore, so just meshed all these themes together at different moments – it’s still fun, just not as coherent, collected and entertaining.
Jenna Coleman once again stands out, it’s so fulfilling seeing her stretch her acting skills. As an actor myself, I know how tedious and monotonous it gets playing the same character with the same motives and intentions, but Bonnie almost forces Jenna away from her comforts and, surprisingly, it really works. Like I previously said, this is a very conversational conclusion, forcing the audience to gauge with interest under the tedious, yet interesting intellect occurring, and with this, Jenna has some stand-out moments as Bonnie conflicts her intention. I’m still shocked how anyone could say Coleman couldn’t act, because this episode would prove them inexplicably wrong.
Yes, Jenna is brilliant, but this is the episode where Capaldi shines brightest and highest, possibly saving the episode’s incoherent story with a dialogue filled with passion, intention, and pity. Truly, we may have never seen The 12th Doctor fill with power, rage and beauty before like this, for his speech fills the episode till it brims with charisma and brilliance. It’d be a shame if these rumours are true about Peter wishing to already be considering hopping away from his role as The Doctor, as this scene further proves how perfect he is for it – but I doubt they are true, so we may be in luck.
Whilst I didn’t enjoy The Zygon Inversion as much as its predecessor, it’s an episode of which still highlights many truths and works towards these two episodes being suitably important for the history of Doctor Who. It has some exceptionally chilling touches and some rich and dense acting, but the incoherence of it breaks the excitement that The Zygon Invasion mounted through rather cheap conclusions. Fun, inconsistent, but still alert to the capabilities of this being a very current problem, The Zygon Inversion is not the best episode we’ve seen, but doesn’t halt any signs of Series 9 being one of the best series of Doctor Who to date.