Lets start with the positive on this episode as it must be said, there were some misses, but still quite a bit to like and while this episode was not as good as The Magician’s Apprentice, it still moved forward in a fairly quick and interesting fashion.

While we all knew that Missy and Clara were not killed at the end of the previous episode, their means of escape from the Dalek’s was explained quite well and their interactions throughout the show were spot on. I especially liked the “view” that Clara had of the Doctor’s escape in a similar fashion and her explanation of his gift for similar escapes from other enemies in the past. Missy specifically while seeming “almost good” last episode, continued that trend here, but gradually and convincingly started to revert to type in a more and more demented fashion and started to remind me of the Joker in some weird and wonderful ways!

Similarly the Doctor and Davros’ conversations and interactions were exceedingly well done and you could absolutely get into it. While anyone would assume that Davros was bluffing and playing on the Doctor’s feelings, more and more throughout the episode, he managed to persuade you of the genuinness of his feelings and his eventual betrayal when it came, as well as how it came was a surprise.

Quick Recap

If you recall from last weeks episode, Clara and Missy were supposedly killed by the Daleks. Well this week starts with them explaining how they escaped (basically Missy had reprogrammed their teleportation devices to send them elsewhere when they were shot by the Daleks) and then discussing how they can break back into the city that is filled with murderous Daleks so that they can save the Doctor.

Entering the sewers of the city – Clara rightly asks, why do Daleks even have sewers? Missy informs her that the sewers are not for removing waste from the Daleks but as they are essentially immortal, when their shell decays the remnants of the Dalek pool in the sewers of the city. While they no longer have the ability to navigate and drive a Dalek shell/body – they still continue to hate as a Dalek and Missy uses this knowledge to trap and kill a Dalek that has come into the sewers searching for the intruder.

“genetically hardwired to keep on living, whatever happens”.

Placing Clara in the Dalek shell – with eerie similarities to Clara’s first appearance on the Doctor in epic Asylum of the Daleks – Clara is “taught” by Missy how to navigate and use the Dalek body. Scarily emotions and words like love and hate and exterminate are the tools that power the Daleks disintegration beams and Clara is quickly frightened by what she’s gotten herself into.

‘How are you supposed to make it go without pedals?’ Clara asked.
‘Telepathic control.’
But inside when she spoke, to her horror she found everything was automatically translated into Dalek-speak.
‘I am Clara Oswald’ came out as ‘I am a Dalek.’

Meanwhile the Doctor and Davros continue their repartee and in a short interlude it seems that the Doctor might have found a quick and easy way to escape when he removes Davros from his chair and uses it to taunt the Daleks in their control chamber.

‘Davros is an insane, paranoid, genius who has survived among several billion trigger-happy mini tanks for centuries,’ he told the army of Davros’ ‘children’. ‘Conclusion? I’m definitely having his chair!’

While this interlude is short, the interaction between the two in the latter half of the episode is both poignant and moving, and Davros particularly does an exceptional job in his portrayal of a dying madman that has seen the truth. When he opens his eyes – well I’ll be honest, thats a scene I NEVER expected to see!

Davros even wept as he asked: ‘I need to know before I go. Am I a good man?’

However, as we’ve come to expect from both the Doctor and his most bitter enemy, leopards just don’t change their spots and while the Doctor is seemingly trapped in his efforts to restore Davros to life so that he can see one more sunrise, in reality the Doctor has realized that its all a setup and trick. Bequething his Time Lord energy to Daleks, the Doctor has realized that its not going just to Davros and those Daleks still in their bodies, but to ALL Daleks on the planet including the bodies of millions and millions of quiescent Daleks that were previously only in the sewers.

generations of Daleks just woke up very cross and they are coming up the pipes ! This city is about to be sucked into the ground, your own sewer is about to consume you !’

Realizing that Clara is trapped in the Dalek shell when she utters the word “mercy”, the Doctor helps her get out. Missy meanwhile is forced to flee as while she’d saved the Doctor from Davros, she’d commited a more heinous crime when she attempted to trick him into killing Clara by pretending that the Dalek body she was inhabiting had actually been the one that killed her.

While we were left last week with the Doctor facing a young Davros seemingly about to destroy him, this week we see the conclusion to that and the Doctor instead exterminates the handmines and saves Davros’ life. The boy wanted to know if was a friend or an enemy though.

‘I’m not sure any of that matters – friends, enemies..’ the Doctor assured him. ‘So long as there’s mercy.’

No!!! Not the Sonic Screwdriver!!

Overall a bit of a mixed feelings here. I mean the first and most obvious thing that must be said here, is that millions of toys around the world have now been consigned to the dustbin of history and I’m sure whole factories full of toy makers are cursing the BBC and Moffat for what he’s done in this most recent episode. If you recall from last week’s episode (The Magician’s Apprentice), the Doctor had given his Sonic Screwdriver to a young Davros, well now its gone (perhaps for good?) and has been replaced by “wearable technology” – sonic (?) sunglasses! I’ll be honest, that’s one thing I really didn’t like – if they wanted to introduce a new line of toys or gadgets, wouldn’t a smartwatch have made more sense? Sunglasses while admittadly cool, just aren’t the right tool in certain situations and just don’t make sense. Of course, in terms of a (secret) grand reveal it’s quite appropriate, as I’m sure everyone was rightfully surprised when it happened! As Capaldi has been featured wearing these shades in episodes being filmed for the remainder of Season 9, it can be assumed that they are here to stay – at least for this season & while the Sonic “Screwdriver” was most definitely not a screwdriver, its a gadget that I will personally miss.

Finally this episode has done nothing more than reenergize the Daleks as while it might seem they are setback by the muck from the sewers, we all know they will be back and if the Doctor knew that Davros was pretending, he’s done nothing more than give him additional life which seems a bit wrong to me? In addition, the same can be said of Missy couldn’t it? She’s an excellent character and I really love the spin she’s brought to the show, but previous iterations of Who had done what they could to stop her … here, he’s just told her to go away. Seems like a bit of a cop out.

Overall I didn’t love this one as much as I did the previous episode. There was some good stuff for sure, but the negatives in my opinion did more to hurt it.

Television seems to go up and down in waves with different types of shows being popular at different times.  At one point, we had Space SciFi as a popular medium with shows like Star Trek, Stargate, BSG, Babylon 5 and others all on at the same time.  Similarly we had a slew of reality television shows – some of which are still extremely popular whereas others have fallen out of favor.  We now seem to be in a time of comic book nirvana however with some of the greatest characters and stories appearing on both the small and big screen!

Superhero movies have become the real BIG thing at the box office and there are several studios scrambling to get a slice of the big pie it is and create some lasting legacies. Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Agent Carter which pick up from the Marvel Universe are perhaps more procedural in focus and deal with spies and intrigue, whereas The Flash (read my Season 1 review on SFF World), Arrow & Gotham (built around the DC Universe) are definitely more comic book focused, but they’ve each taken it so much further and yet in completely different directions!

Since there are so many good things I can say about this show and in honor of Flash’s return to our screens, here are my top 5 episodes from Season 1.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

5. Episode 15 – Out of Time

A real game changer of an episode here with Harrison Wells admitting his real identity to Cisco just before he proceeds to kill him (!) and Barry and Iris declaring their mutual love (finally) for each other.  However Barry’s trip through time (another key point to this episode it must be stated) to stop the tsunami managed to reverse all of these elements for everyone except Barry.

4. Episode 17 – Tricksters

When a show goes out of its way to pay homage to what came before and does it in a way that is not only respectful, but also interesting, well when that happens you have to give it credit and in Episode 17, the Flash did exactly that.  With the reappearance of Mark Hamill (James Jesse) reprising his role as the Trickster from the original 90s version of the Flash and with Barry’s dad having some key scenes it was definitely old home week!

Of course, that probably wasn’t the best part of this episode – it was (in my opinion) the reference to Star Wars that completely pushed it over the edge, causing me to almost fall of my seat!

Other huge surprises this week included the real face of Eobard Thawne – not Harrison Wells as we originally thought but rather someone that took over Harrison’s body.  Talking about faces, we also have Barry revealing himself to both his father and Eddie.

3. Episode 8 – Flash vs. Arrow

While a fan of both shows, my preference here is definitely for the more light-hearted Flash and while I know that Arrow has faced some foes with a bit more ability, his primary enemies have seemed to be more of the thuggish variety vs. the super-powered.  As such I thought that this fight was nothing more than a foregone conclusion with Arrow being quickly and easily defeated by Flash.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!

https://youtu.be/i6Il9y9PwVY

2. Episode 21 – Gorilla Grodd

I’ll be honest this was a toss up for first place for me as I think it was just done so well.  Gorilla Grodd could have been nothing more than a caricature and a man dressed in a gorilla suit, but by contrast he was exceptionally well written and shown.  He was fierce and scary and the looks on the faces of the characters as they confronted this monstrosity were just spot on.   This was a risky episode … it could have gone either way as you wouldn’t expect a telepathic, super strong, super intelligent Gorilla to be a viable character, but it paid off for sure.  The graphics (especially for a Television show) are excellent and Grodd delivers in spades!

1. Episode 1 – Pilot

Most pilot episodes are nothing more than filler and spend most of their time introducing the character and his supporting cast but with the Flash we got so much more.  We understood his motivations and reasons for being, we found out about some of his greatest villains and we also discovered how he got his powers.  To say that this show “hit the ground running” would not be untrue at all!  Perhaps most importantly though, this show gave us a comic book hero that wasn’t afraid to use super-powers!  Unlike Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D which focuses only on the people, the Flash gave us glitz and glam right from day one and it was such a refreshing change!

https://youtu.be/dbWIiRAE1Cs

 

Opening:

Last episode was one of revelations. We found out what the map is to (sort of) and we get a hint of fugitive Ward’s next move (with his brother).  Season 2 has been excellent in general, so I was anticipating this episode eagerly, especially since it hinted that we’d get to see some more of Agent Carter in the mix (for a peek at her upcoming series, go here).  So, what kind of ep will we get? Let’s see:

Summary:

We start in Austria 1945, Werner Reinhardt (Whitehall these days) is working on unraveling the secrets of the Obelisk.  In doing so, he discovers a Chinese woman who it doesn’t kill. But upon hearing of the Red Skull’s death, Whitehall decides he’ll have her dissected later.  As it turns out, much, much later.

Present day.  Skye’s dad, behaving quite affably, tells Whitehall the ‘Diviner’ is much more than a weapon and suggests if one of the ‘special’ people take the Obelisk to a certain ‘place’ something very ‘cool’ will happen.

Meanwhile Coulson, Skye, Fitz, and Trip are en route in the bus to Oahu on a mission to locate the alien city. Bobbi is interrogating Bakshi back at the Playground and learns from a slip of his there may be an important Whitehall/Red Skull connection.

Then we have Ward and his brother Christian.  This is the hardest part of the episode to watch. Ward kidnaps Christian and makes him dig up the well he made Ward push their younger brother in. Besides the revelation that Christian did it because their mother was cruel to them, we don’t learn anything otherwise.  Really, it’s ugly and manipulative.

Back to the episode’s main mission:  It involves the seemingly absurdist delivery of a watch, a button and a task for Fitz to complete – put together a transceiver in less than 6 minutes, hard when you only have one good hand.

Meanwhile, Bobbi continues to press Bakshi. Through a search of several of the Playgrounds various SSR vaults we learn that somehow old Reinhardt discovered the fountain of youth before becoming Whitehall.  So… how??

To learn how, its back to 1945 at an SSR base called ‘The Rat’ where Agent Carter get to tell him he’ll be buried and forgotten there, even though he has info on the Obelisk and can tell her all about a meteor that crashed in China and the ‘blue angels’ that came with it to conquer Earth. However, after a nifty 44 year time-lapse montage, Reinhardt gets rescued by HYDRA agents who reveal they found ‘the woman’.

It turns out she hasn’t aged a day.  So, old Reinhardt makes up for lost time and dissects her to earn himself a second chance (main theme of this episode, explored somewhat perversely, not that that’s a bad thing).  I also think this was the exact situation Whitehall was talking about when he threatened Raina.  And it’s about as horrific as he suggested.

Armed with all they’ve learned about Whitehall, Bobbi takes this info in a final attempt to break Bakshi, claiming Shield will leak the info and credit it to him.  Bakshi, however, prefers death to dishonor and goes the old cyanide capsule in the cheek bone route.

Oh, you actually wanted some action this episode? Really?  Okay…

The Bus flies to the Australian Outback and Coulson explains what’s actually going on.  Once the radioactive button and watch get close enough for critical mass, a magnetic pulse will take down the government a satellite control facility in Oahu.  While that station is down, they will use the less secure Australia Outback station to use the gov’t satellites to locate the alien city.  In an awesomely underplayed scene, Fitz suggests that he won’t be able to build the transmitter in time, freaking out Coulson for a minute, then adds… with his bad hand.  Fitz is officially back!

However, HYDRA, or Skye’s dad anyway, is already there. And while treating Trip for a severe GSW, he clips one of Trip’s arteries to buy time, then gushes about his coming reunion with his daughter, before leaving Coulson with the necessary medicine to save Trip’s life.  Awesome exchange between Skye’s surrogate dad and her real one.  I’m looking forwards to round 2.  And… mission success!  Shield now knows where the alien city is.

The wrap up:

Ward shows up to talk with Whitehall about rejoining HYDRA to fight Shield, you know, as a second chance. Ah, Ward, he’s good, you almost believe him. But then, psycho that he is – he’s has just murdered his own family and framed Christian for it.  Ah, the things we bury…

Skye’s dad is brought in later and is introduced by to Ward by a beaming Whitehall.  It’s a beautiful scene with the knowing glances and visceral subtext.  So, so good.

On that theme of second chances, Hunter accuses Bobbi of pushing Bakshi so hard because she was afraid he’d reveal her own dirty secrets. Frustrated her ex’s paranoia Bobbi asks, “will you never trust me?”  He confesses that he won’t, but he will never stop trying.  I guess this is as close to a confession of undying love a spy can expect since it leads to… hot makeup sex!

And one sort of final twist, but actually a confirmation of what I’d already guessed.  We get one more trip in time, 25 years, where we find Skye’s dad comes across his wife’s eviscerated body and declares he will do the same to Whitehall and tear him apart.  And yes, his wife was the immortal Chinese woman – Skye’s mom.

Final Thoughts:

This episode was at times hard viewing, at least the first time around, but highly rewarding the second time (so… second chances).  The twists at the end weren’t entirely unexpected, but thrilling nonetheless, given how they reinforce the character development we’ve been witnessing with a whole raft of subtext.  Kyle MacLachlan, wow! He has been a revelation in the part, both super dark, yet engaging and a scene stealer as Skye’s dad. So… not easy to watch, but well worth it.  Watch this episode twice!

Sigh, Much better!

Rai #10 which I recently had a chance to read and review for The Comic Book Community on Google+ is an a gorgeous, visual spectacle that is a joy to look at.  The drawings throughout the book are excellent with some of the panels being of such quality that I would gladly mount them on my wall & would in fact blow them up to poster size! I made a point of mentioning one panel specifically in my review & while I can’t show you the whole book here, you’ll probably see in the capture below some of what I mean? The color’s are vivid and beautiful and draw you in to the story in a way that X-O Manowar #40 (reviewed here) simply did not.  While X-O was in some ways more graphic and realistic, Rai by contrast is art & I think the difference in styles between these books does nothing more than further emphasize the difference between the East and the West.

Now while the art was superlative, the story … well that was a bit disjointed.  Not that it was bad … on the contrary, it was quite interesting, the problem was that it was not complete and seemed to jump from place to place without any real reason and justification.  Some of the best parts of the book were impacted by this pattern in fact with huge battle sequences starting on one panel and seemingly being completed elsewhere with no sight of the action which is what we all buy comics for!

I’m sure that you too are a comic book fan (otherwise you would not be reading this review) and overall I think Valiant has done an excellent job in the two books I’ve recently had an opportunity to look at.  Their characters are interesting and have a decent back story, but they each still have some bugs to work out.  While a story is absolutely the most important thing in a book, with comics, its probably the art – both the cover and the interior and in this case, that’s been the deciding factor in pushing Rai ahead of X-O.  If they could hit it out of the park on both fronts though, then I think they’d be in a much better place overall and could reasonably challenge some of the big boys on the block.

I’d love to see stories that match some of the classics from the 90s, ones that are like Days of Future Past or the Mutant Massacre from Uncanny X-Men.  These series not only had an amazing story, but they had the art to go with it and it matched what was in the story.  There were some amazing action sequences and set piece battles and Marvel Comics wasn’t afraid to share these stories with us.  If Valiant expects to get to the next level they are going to have to start writing AND drawing books that match.

This episode may be hard with those with small children (and a fear of lethal kitchen sinks) to watch. The scene opens up with a classic scenario many people may have faced in their childhood. A little girl in bed as her is downstairs unpacking boxes. It’s obvious they have just moved, and the mom possibly had her husband pass away quite recently. She looks up when her daughter approaches her saying something is in her closet.

Of course, mom goes upstairs to check. She puts on a show of going to look in the closet. It’s obvious the mom doesn’t believe her daughter that there’s a monster lurking in there. After checking, the mom tells her daughter she has nothing to fear. Closing the closet doors, and after her daughter’s instance moves a chair in front of the doors as well. The mother goes back downstairs, but hears a scratching sound. She goes to check in the basement for rats. Only to discover a small box filled with family pictures from the previous family who lived there. It’s pictures of Sam, Dean, John, and Mary when they Winchester family lived there before the fire happened.

As the mom is gazing over the photos a fiery apparition appears in the daughter’s closet. Her worst fears now confirmed as the figure walks out towards the little girl.

One interesting aspect of this episode is the foreshadowing that takes place in it. Dean starts to show signs of having telepathic powers of some sort. As Dean is talking to him about tackling a new case Sam is obsessively drawing the picture of a tree over and over. After gazing at the tree for a while Sam puts two and two together. In his father’s journal he and his brother discover the tree Sam had been drawing earlier. The tree is in front of their old family home from when Sam was a baby and Dean was just a kid. So the brothers travel all the way back home.

The brothers talk with the woman and catch scent something is not quite right with the house. They become suspicious when the daughter confirms there’s a person who’s on fire living in her closet. Sam and Dean have warning bells going off in their heads, and go off to do some investigating on their own father. It doesn’t take them long to find themselves being led a psychic named Missouri.

While this is going on the mother has a plumber come to her home, and explains how her sink is backed up. She thanks him for coming and quickly leaves to go into another room. The plumber is checking the sink, and as he does he thinks something may be clogging it. He sticks his hand into the garbage disposal and well…

Let’s just say the mother ended up being on the phone talking about not being able to afford a lawyer. The Winchester brothers learn an evil spirit lives in the house. While they’re talking to Missouri the psychic, the mother’s little boy (at least 3-4 years old) is let out of his playpen. The door to the refrigerator closes on the little boy when he crawls into the fridge. The mother comes back into the kitchen, but finds her son gone. She starts yelling his name as she searches for him. Having no idea that her son was locked in the fridge by the spirit, even going so far as to put to snap the child safety lock in place.

As the mother frantically searches she notices milk is spilling out of the fridge. As she goes up to the fridge to unlock it there’s a brief shot that’s taken from afar. If you focus on the part where the child safety lock is in this far shot when the mother is bending down near the fridge, you will notice the lock is in fact undone. The actress does lift the lock (you can see her doing in the episode) pretend to undo it, and take the little boy out of the fridge.

Missouri, Sam, and Dean arrive at the front door soon after the incident. Missouri confronts the mother and reassures her that she isn’t crazy. There is an evil spirit in the house. After fighting with the poltergeist they manage to purify the house. Sam states he doesn’t quite want to leave even after they save the mother and her children. He says he just has a bad feeling. Dean continues to complain up until the point where they both see the mother silently screaming and pounding on her window.

They fly out of the car and go in to save the family. Sam gets the children out okay while Sam gets the mother out. Sam gets yanked back and held against a wall. Dean manages to smash his way in, and is about to shoot the flaming spirit coming at them until Sam tells Dean not to. The fire dies down, and both boys realize they’re staring at their mother. After greeting her sons Mary drives away the Poltergeist that had been plaguing the house, and sacrifices herself to save their lives.

The ending scene shows Missouri talking about Sam’s new powers and commenting how powerful they are. When she turns to look at John she states she can’t understand how Sam couldn’t even sense his own father.

I enjoyed Batman growing up, reading comics and watching the cartoon show. I had never seen any more than novelized adaptations from the movies, so I was interested when I found this one, hanging out like a sore thumb at the book store.

This novel, No Man’s Land, is fairly unique among a lot of typical Batman material and delivers on some noir-type moments, framed in a post-emergency setting. The story picks up just after Gotham is devastated by a powerful earthquake. Much of the population decides to evacuate, only the brave and desperate remain behind. The GCPD is officially disbanded, leaving no one to guard the prisons and leading to Two-face and Joker’s escape. Jim Gordan and other detectives remain behind to bring order to the wasteland.

After his defeat at the hands of Bane, Batman has been forced stop his vigilantism, which revives the mystery surrounding him when he finally returns in the midst of Gotham’s disastrous remains. The story follows a variety of characters, not just Batman and Jim Gordan and I was impressed with the depth of some of them.

Two-face had a dramatic scene at the ruined courthouse. Outside of his split personality, I’ve always felt that Two-face’s character is difficult to define, but this scene here digs far under this villain’s skin. Another scene that deserves focus is when Batman needs to take on the personality of Bruce Wayne, but he had been serving as Batman in the city’s ruins for so long, he was out of practice for portraying his true identity. The internal dialogue during this shift in personality is truly revealing and entertaining.

 

Through much of the book, Two-face and Penguin are working to wind up on top and control Gotham, now that the city is vulnerable. Joker, however, mostly keeps to himself, hoping that rumours about Batman’s return are true. This story also has Joker’s first encounter and inevitable team up with Harley Quinn, who provides a lot of mischievous charm.

Toward the end, when Gotham is about to begin its reconstruction, the Joker finally launches a major heist and puts the entire city into panic. The story ends shortly after a confrontation with Joker and leads to a satisfying conclusion, but on a slightly sad note.

I enjoyed this story, there was a lot of the classic villains, but some left out. Several scenes were easy to enjoy, which made flipping through four hundred and sixty pages a breeze. It follows cannon from the series, but also does its own style of Batman at times and I’m impressed with the author’s knowledge of the series characters and of Gotham. Definitely recommended for anyone with the faintest interest in Batman. There is also a comic version of this story, so check it out.

Loved it, loved it, loved it!  Many girlish squeals of joy also! 🙂  Now that we’ve got that out of the way, lets get down to it shall we?  There was just so much to enjoy and love in this episode I know that I’m going to miss something however I’ll try to cover the high points and would appreciate any reminders for things I might have missed in the comments below.

The first thing that struck me right from the start is that this episode is definitely being shown in a “Star Wars year” as one of the earliest scenes is of an alien wandering through a bar that reminds me of nothing else but the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine.  Literally snaking through the crowd (this reference will be made clear later) we see the Oood and other familiar characters from Dr. Who lore, however most important perhaps is the search that this mysterious hooded figure is on.

Colony Sarff (looking very much like a Sith Master – another reference to Star Wars) is on the hunt for the Doctor and when he’s unable to find him in all of his regular jaunts, he returns to his master … Davros.  Davros it seems has remembered something, something important and something about the Doctor.  What you may ask?  Well that was actually answered in one of the coolest prologues I’ve ever seen!

In the prologue, the Doctor comes across a little boy on a war torn land.  Similar to other rescues that we’ve seen him make countless times before, this looks like just another run of the mill encounter.  The boy however is stuck in a field with “hand mines” that are one of the more interesting and gruesome weapons provided by Doctor Who.  Able to literally suck a person into the ground to their doom, they are able to see people to attack and while the Doctor is good at saving people, you really need to wonder how he’s going to make this miracle happen?

The answer in this case however, is that he isn’t! The boy it turns out is someone we all know and hate – Davros the creator of the Daleks himself is the one trapped in the field of hands and the Doctor surmises that by leaving him to die, he can possibly change the path of the future and save trillions from extermination.

Silly Doctor … this time he forgot that Davros himself must be a fixed point in time … the creator of the Daleks cannot be killed by non-action.  The Doctor really only has two choices here … either kill Davros or save him.  Unfortunately neither option guarantees that the Dalek’s still won’t be built.

However, Davros himself is not the only villain in this episode … perhaps the one that we all loved and hated the most … the Master in his female incarnation Missy is back! If you recall from the episode Death in Heaven (the Season 8 finale) – Missy was seemingly disintegrated by one of the Cybermen – somehow the Doctor’s finest foe resurrected herself (“Ok,” she deadpans. “Cutting to the chase. Not dead. Back. Big surprise. Never mind.”), and now she really wants to be considered more of friend. At least a frenemy.

The Master/Missy has always been a character right on the edge of sanity – while the Dalek’s are simply evil incarnate, the Master has always been someone that could have been on the side of light if things had just gone just a little bit differently.  With the return of Missy in The Magician’s Apprentice, we see a capricious foe, one that while still an enemy of the Doctor is also perhaps his oldest and truest friend and from what we’ve seen over the previous seasons – this is actually somewhat true!  I’d be the first to acknowledge that the Master was always one of the Doctor’s greatest foes, however was he not in some ways made this way due to the meddling of the Time Lords?

 

When she (Missy) stops all the planes in the world to get Clara’s attention & likens her to a dog that is being walked by a nearby couple, it’s supremely classic and in some ways give you the best indication of how the Time Lords (perhaps including the Doctor himself) see us.  Pets to be cared for and nurtured, but ones that they are infinitely superior to – not only in knowledge, but also in ability and determination.  With Clara’s help, Missy is able to track the Doctor down who has been hiding in the renaissance era, this is probably the weakest part of the episode as while it’s fun to watch, its nothing more than a rip-off of Back to the Future & while some of the aforementioned scenes also rip-off other movies/shows, they are done in a way that is subtle, whereas this is definitely not!

Missy however is nothing more than brilliant in this scene and it’s probably one of her strongest ones on screen.  While she was excellent in her conversation with Clara, her she is sublime.  She plays the perfect foil to the Doctor and his over the top ego & acts as the villain to his hero in his ramblings to the crowd.  She’s just amazing and I can’t wait to see what else she brings to the screen this season!

Sarff arrives while Missy and the Doctor are interacting and while Missy is trying to get the Doctor to answer the question of why he sent her his will and why he thinks he’s dying, Sarff tells him that Davros has remembered & the Doctor immediately goes white.  As both Clara and Missy point out, its a new look for him – one of shame.

Taken to a citadel seemingly hovering in space, the Doctor meets up with Davros and while the scenes and conversations of all of Davros’ previous encounters with various incarnations of the Doctor play on the screen – including the brilliant Genesis of the Daleks with Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor – Peter Capaldi seems up to the challenge of replacing this memory in all of our minds.  When Clara and Missy discover the the citadel is not actually hovering in space, but is in fact on the surface of Skaros – the home planet of the Daleks themselves, well that’s where the plot really thickens!

While Missy tries to persuade the Daleks that she should be their new leader & help them take over all of space and time with the aid of the TARDIS, they are less than interested and proceed to EXTERMINATE her, followed by Clara and the TARDIS while the Doctor looks on in horror.  While you might think that was a suitable cliff hanger to leave us on till next week, its not over yet – the Doctor appears back on that war torn battlefield with the little boy … this time however it seems he’s made a decision and its not to save the boy but rather to kill him & perhaps end the reign of the Daleks before they even begin!

Ohhh, boy … this was definitely a good one and if the rest of the season matches this episode in terms of story and production values, we’re in for a very exciting journey.  This episode has the potential already to be one of my favorite ones, possibly second to the Doctors Wife.  Can’t wait till next week!

I’m a bit behind the 8ball with regards to my Doctor Who reviews (and blog updates in general to be honest) so many apologies for that, but unfortunately – life as they say, “got in the way”!

I should be able to start catching up soon though and I thought a good place to start would be with the newest season of Doctor Who and Peter Capaldi.

I guess to start with, after watching the first episode, I have to state, that I don’t have the same trepidation for this Doctor as I did for Matt Smith.  Matt Smith seemed to find his way over the course of several episodes and eventually grew to become the quirky Doctor that we all fell in love with … Peter Capaldi on the other hand … well he’s more of a return to yesteryear and his Doctor is not someone that you would consider as a possible romantic interest – at least I wouldn’t if I was of the female persuasion!

 

Doctor Who in his newest incarnation really is a return to type and seems to be a lot angrier (those eyebrows!) than any of the previous three Doctors (not counting the “War Doctor” of course) we’ve seen recently.  While he’s a bit confused in this episode (due to his regeneration) as discussed later – his extremely strong Scottish brogue gets the point that he is no longer simply our friend, but is now perhaps comfortable in the role of our teacher and even perhaps our mentor as he tries to ensure that humanity makes it into the future.

PLOT

Late Victorian London. A Tyrannosaurus is rampaging in the River Thames, much to the shock of onlookers.

When Madame Vastra and her team arrive, Jenny notices that the dinosaur has something stuck in its throat … it coughs up the TARDIS, which lands upright on the banks of the river.

Using some high tech tools, Madame Vastra manages to contain the dinosaur while she, Jenny and Strax (always love the potato!) descend to the TARDIS.  Strax knocks on the door of the TARDIS and the newly regenerated Doctor appears.

He and a dishevelled Clara leave the TARDIS, and the Doctor refamiliarises himself with the Gang – albeit poorly, due to his post-regenerative confusion. After failing to identify his companions and complaining that Vastra’s sonic shields are giving his “lady friend” (the dinosaur) a headache, the Doctor suggests that everyone “take five” and immediately falls unconscious. When Clara confirms that this is indeed the Doctor, Vastra comments:

Here we go again….

Awakening in Vastra’s home, the Doctor has a few more rampages about the room he’s in and Vastra also quizzes Clara on her relationship with the Doctor and what he really means to her as well as his appearance.

As an aside – This episode does a really good job of addressing the fact that this Doctor looks different to his predecessors and also looks like a character from a previous episode of the Doctor.  I’ll discuss this in more depth later, but it should be mentioned.

Outside on the street, people are still looking at the giant dinosaur. A man called Alf guesses the Tyrannosaurus is part of a government plan and then says to a mysterious man there is something wrong with the dinosaur’s neck, that makes it look unreal.

The man replies that Alf has good eyes, and he needs them as a gift to replace his bad eyes. He reveals the other side of his face – it looks like a clockwork robot & in fact looks very much like the robots from the episode a Girl in the Fireplace (with David Tennant) – and then proceeds to remove Alf’s eyes.

The Doctor proceeds to escape from Vastra’s home in an effort to save his Dinosaur, but is too late as the creature is burning in the Thames.  It is at this point that the Doctor starts to question the number of spontaneous combustion’s in the city & comes to the realization that something nefarious is happening (isn’t it always!).

When Clara finds an ad in a newspaper for the “impossible girl” she realizes that the Doctor is trying to communicate with her and she proceeds to a rendezvous with him in a local restaurant.  Once there however it comes to light that the Doctor did not in fact invite Clara so a big early question is who sent the message?

Realizing that they are in fact in a body factory for spare parts, the Doctor and Clara attempt to escape but are captured and taken into the heart of the factory itself.  Here they see the clockwork man that had taken Alf’s eyes recharging.  The Doctor is forced to abandon Clara in the factory leaving her to fend for herself and while this is a terrifying and frightening episode, it shows that Clara is actually someone in her own right that deserves to stand with the Doctor.  Clara recalls the Doctor’s earlier suggestion and attempts to escape the buried spaceship in a single breath which is a terryfing and tense sequence, but unfortunately Clara is unable to escape and ends up being captured.

Taken to Half-Face Man for interrogation, Clara is actually able to utilize her “teaching skills” and outbluffs him before the Doctor arrives in the nick of time.

Clara’s obvious terror is so crucial here. The one major way that the past season distinguished Clara from Amy is that the former is not a naturally brave person; both “Cold War” and “Hide” demonstrated that Clara could feel overwhelmed by the danger of the situation—understandable enough, really—but could find the strength to struggle through it.

For the first time, teaching isn’t just a random thing she does when not traveling through the universe; it’s something that offers its own life experiences, and she disarms the robot just as readily as those unruly students did her on her first day at Coal Hill School.

While the Doctor and the Half-Face Man fight above London, Clara and Madame Vastra combat the robots inside the restaurant.  A very different Doctor to any we’ve known in a good long while admits that he might have to kill the Half-Face Man and cannot let him continue his rampage throughout the streets of London.  When the robot talks about the “Promised Land” the Doctor tells him there is no such place and he should know.  Realizing that the only way the robots in the restaurant will stop is by killing the robot, the Doctor and the Half-Face Man struggle at the doorway of his “escape pod”.  When the robots fighting Madame Vastra all fall silent, we know that the Doctor was successful (or was he?  did the Half-Face Man realize he needed to die and completed the act himself?).

The Gang return to Vastra’s home to find that the Doctor and the TARDIS have both vanished. Later, Clara (back in her modern clothing) asks Vastra if she’s got a vacancy since it looks like she’s stuck in Victorian times, but Vastra assures her he’ll be back. She’s proven true as the TARDIS returns, telling Clara “Give him hell; he’ll always need it.”

Clara finds the interior changed, with a lighter shade of mood lighting in the time rotor and some furniture about. The Doctor admits he’s not sure about the new look himself after Clara says she doesn’t like it.

As Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor—or, as he really ought to be called from now on, the Doctor—observes toward the end of his debut outing,

“I’m the Doctor, I’ve lived for over 2,000 years, and not all of them were good; I’ve made many mistakes, and it’s about time I did something about that.”

Clara, still having mixed feelings at this new incarnation of the Doctor, is unsure if she wants to stay his companion, convincing herself she doesn’t think she knows him anymore. Clara walks out of the TARDIS in modern times to answer the call, and hears the voice of the Eleventh Doctor. He explains he’s calling through time from Trenzalore just minutes before his regeneration. Clara, remembering how she found the TARDIS telephone dangling off the hook from the call box, is shocked to the point of tears from hearing from him again as he says that the man before her is still him – just changed.

Holding back her tears, Clara asks him why he would do this. The Eleventh Doctor explains that he’s phoning her because he thinks this regeneration “is gonna be a whopper”, and that if she’s afraid, the new Doctor will be even more so and needs her help to handle all this. She should not be afraid, for his sake. The Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors respond to each other, both asking if it’s the Doctor on the line. When he hears the voice of his future self, the previous Doctor groans over “turning old”, which makes Clara laugh, as she also indirectly confirms his hair will be gray as well.

He’s not at all impressed at the discovery that he’ll have gray hair, knowing how young he was in his soon-to-change appearance, but braces for the change with an endearing smile as he looks forward toward more adventures with his “impossible girl”. The Eleventh Doctor says a final goodbye to Clara before he hangs up and meets up with his Clara to regenerate.

As Clara realises the Doctor had planned this to help her cope with him regenerating, the current Doctor comes to her and says he remembers the call – after all, he made it – and that what he (as the Eleventh Doctor) had said is still true, and asks her in person if she will help him.

Upset that she’s looking right through him but doesn’t view him as the same person, the Doctor begs, “Just see me.” Clara walks up to the Doctor and gives him a good look over, and when she concentrates on his eyes, she recognises him as the Doctor – her Doctor – and beams, thanking him for phoning from the past. Clara hugs him, which the Doctor says that in his current incarnation isn’t his thing, looking a bit confused and wondering where he should put his hands, but she’s unsure he’s entitled to a vote. The pair stroll off together in search of coffee, the Doctor still hesitant.

The Droid awakens in a beautiful garden, replaces his top hat on his head, and meets Missy, a mysterious woman who claims the Doctor is her boyfriend and that she likes his new accent. Helping it up she asks whether he fell from the balloon or was pushed out. The Droid then asks where he is. She tells him that he has reached the “Promised Land” at last. The woman grandly introduces his new home, “Welcome… to Heaven”.

Review

OK I know this was a doozie of an episode and it seemed like a lot happened, but as an introduction it was really good … I have to be honest I wasn’t too keen on the whole Dinosaur in London thing, but overall it turned out really well and not only did Peter Capaldi do a really good job, it introduced our new mystery too.

So much of the substance of “Deep Breath” deals with identifying and explaining the nature of the Doctor’s mistakes, particularly in his treatment of his companion Clara. Basically, the 11th Doctor—and perhaps the show in general—had forgotten that his youthful appearance was only a façade. It’s hard to imagine a more effective way of reminding everyone of that fact than by turning Matt Smith into Peter Capaldi, and “Deep Breath” is at its most compelling and distinctive whenever it tackles head-on the long-ignored question of the Doctor’s true nature.

 

As promised, this new Doctor is a darker, more dangerous figure. Consider what he says to the Half-Face Man: “I have the horrible feeling that I’m going to have to kill you. I thought you might appreciate a drink first. I know I would.” Now, I can imagine the other new series Doctors delivering that line, albeit in very different ways. But this Doctor? It’s just a statement of fact. This isn’t who he must be because the situation forces it upon him, but more simply who he is. Perhaps it’s who he has always been, even if he only now is willing to admit it: “Those people down there. They’re never small to me. Don’t make assumptions about how far I will go to protect them, because I’ve already come a very long way. And unlike you, I do not expect to reach the Promised Land.” It’s left ambiguous whether the Doctor actually killed the Half-Face Man, or whether he simply convinced him to end his miserable existence, and the rest of this season will likely explore the deeper implications of that uncertainty.

The Doctor spent at least two lifetimes running away from his true self, and now the time for running is over. The 11th Doctor was, like all his other selves, a great and good man, but he was also selfish and capricious, unable to see how he was inherently compromised by his own contradictions, by his attempts to be both boyish goofball and ancient wanderer. And, on some level, those irreconcilable traits began to engulf Doctor Who as a whole.

Both the Doctor and Doctor Who needed clarity, and that’s what this new incarnation represents. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is the minimalist, back-to-basics take on the character; I mean, just look at his costume. We’re about to see not what the Doctor hopes to be, but who he really is. If “Deep Breath” is any indication, it’s going to be a whole lot of fun finding out who this strange new person—the one we’ve known all along—actually, properly is.

  • There are a bunch of references to Moffat’s “The Girl In The Fireplace” here, although it doesn’t really take us anywhere beyond just sort of generally justifying the reuse of some rather effective monsters.
  • “Deep Breath” also makes some cheeky references to the fact that the Doctor has seen his face before, specifically on the Roman Caecilius in “The Fires Of Pompeii.” The story seems to quickly move from the mystery of a familiar face to the related but distinct mystery of an older face, with the Doctor wondering what his subconscious is trying to tell him with this particular selection. But file away the face as one of the season’s little mysteries.
  • As for the big mysteries, we get introduced to this season’s presumptive main foe in the closing scene, as Michele Gomez shows up as the strange, faintly animalistic Missy. I’ll not even speculate on what’s going on with her, but I will point out it’s probably wise to not take everything she says at face value.

The team is definitely jelling more and there is quite a bit of good humor present in this episode.  Right from the start with the Android continually providing updates about the ships’ arrival at the space station and they are even discussing plans for what will happen afterwards.

When number Three wants to sell the ship the rest of the crew all dispute this arguing that they need to find out who messed with their minds and to do that they need to stay together. Number Five starts to try and find somebody to play with, but the rest of the crew don’t want to have anything to do with her so she decides to go exploring on her own unfortunately she almost immediately comes across a dead body stuffed in a crate. It actually kind of makes you wonder and have some questions as that seems to be quite coincidental.

The boy that she discovered has no identification & number Five suspects that she might have actually known the boy. In fact as the episode progresses she seems to explain the fact that she found the body and it wasn’t just a coincidence and in fact there was something behind her decision to go in that room – quite nice that the writers aren’t ignoring the coincidence here and are willing to examine it head on.  Number Five continues on to explain where some of these dreams are coming from & that Number One suspects that all of their memories have not really been lost, but rather they’ve been jumbled up and downloaded into Number Five’s subconscious.   The sad fact is that one of the dreams actually is applicable to someone sabotaging the ships stasis pods.  As soon as this message is delivered to the rest of the crew however and before they can really explore the implications of it, an emergency ensues and the ship is dropped out of hyperspace – it looks like the saboteur is still at work!

On a personal note – I’m not sure if I like the Android character on the ship.  I feel that she’s quite annoying and the way her eyes are always shifting is completely unnecessary.   While I realize she’s meant to be unemotional, Data (from Star Trek) had these same limitations, but Brent Spinner really made him live and breathe, whereas the Android here is just boring. By contrast the ship itself seems to have quite a bit more personality as its got a huge fish-tank that is as unexpected as it’s cool!
Number Three shows number Four the locked door in the hold of the ship and indicates that he Four is one of the few members of the crew that he trusts.  He  asks him for help in opening the door, and while  number Four initially seems to  consider this and meditates on it,  he ends up saying NO and just walks away leaving Three standing in the hold all alone.
Trying to determine whether the emergency that kicked them out of hyperspace is real or not, the Android indicates that she (it) can administer a lie-detector test on all of the crew & not only will this help with the current apparent sabatoge, but might also determine who is responsible for removing the memories from the crew.  Everyone submits to this fairly willingly but Three is forced to do so by the rest of the crew when he is the last one and everyone else has been determined to be telling the truth.  As Three is being tested however the test is interrupted by an external influence on the ship – it is being bombarded by gamma rays which will kill all the crew if they do not do something about it!
The Android states that the only way to save the ship and crew is if she was to go onto the hull to determine if the fault is real or if the sabotage was to just the diagnostic program.  She does however make a very strange comment when she is leaving the ship  – number Two states that she needs to come back safely as they cannot escape without her and the android comments that actually number Two can do it by herself … there’s obviously some knowledge that she has.
Green screen effects in overall CGI actually is quite good on the show the set pieces are pretty standard any other sign for a show would have the same but for early run episodes with expect a smaller budget they’ve actually done quite a very good job here with the extra set pieces in and effects as well which is quite good I would’ve expected the android or any suit however to have some sort of propulsion system versus having to just use  walking to the affected area it seems a little bit too low tech and I expect that to be rectified in future episodes or future in the future anyways.
Due to the gamma radiation very sensitive electrical discharge in the hull of the ship and even though the android is in a suit she is impacted by this impact this actually means that somebody else from the crew has to go out and fix her however she has fixed the problem and the ship could actually escape.  While Three and Five attempt to hijack the ship now that its repaired and escape the gamma rays, One and Six go out onto the hull to save the Android.  As Six is coming back into the airlock he is hit by an electrical charge which almost kills him (well it does but the Android reboots and zaps him with electricity restarting his heart).
Once the ship returns to FTL they also complete number Threes lie detector test and it seems that everyone was telling the truth and no one actually does have their memories.  While neither One or Two believe in his innocence, right now it seems like we’re still stuck with the mystery and will have to wait for answers.
But that actually it isn’t the end seems that the real Jace Corso (the person we know as number One) is searching for the Rossa that obviously calls into question whether all of the people on the ship are who they think they are or whether there perhaps clones or something like that.  Hmmm – Interesting!

 

I recently purchased new guts for my PC after a several month hiatus on gaming and opted to try some of the games I acquired during the Steam summer sale. Of those, the ones really worth talking about would be Aliens: Isolation which I have not worked up the courage for and The Long Dark, a survival game set in the majestic northern Canadian Wilderness. After a plane crash caused by an Electromagnetic storm you must travel through rough terrain back to civilization seeking food, water, and shelter while avoiding prowling wolves, marauding bears, and the icy indifference of blizzards. Currently the game is in Alpha and only the Sandbox mode is available with a Story mode launching later this year.

 

I like to fool around in games mostly; story is nice but being thrown into a game with no foreknowledge and little to no explanation beyond trial and error makes for good entertainment in my books. I chose the middle difficulty (Voyageur) and jumped right in. Almost immediately a variety of hints greeted me and before long I had the basics in hand much to my dismay. I soon came across some railroad tracks and followed those to a good-sized cabin by a lake. I ventured inside and gathered up what I could. While certainly helpful there just wasn’t enough to sustain me for more than a day or two so I had to keep looking. Returning to the outside I could see a couple of ice fishing huts on the frozen lake and so made my way to them and looted those as well, after that it was a short trek to a couple more cabins and beyond those more huts and more cabins. This was almost too easy. I had amassed a large collection of food, spare parts for crafting, and even a few bullets with many more spots to clean out. In my greed, however, I didn’t notice the black blurs patrolling the ice. On my way to the next group of cabins I heard an insistent barking and saw that the black blurs were quickly becoming more defined and they had too many sharp bits for my taste. I bolted back to the cabins just barely making it in before they ran me down. Such went my first encounter with wolves. I spent the next several hours peeking out periodically to see if the wolves were still around, they were. I reigned myself to spending the night and hoping for the best in the morning and while the wolves were gone so too was my food. What I thought was a good collection turned out to be next to nothing to my monstrous hunger, I had to find more. A quick jog brought me to the untouched cabins and I cleaned those out. A few more morsels could be found in a couple more fishing huts so I figured I’d have enough for more scavenging tomorrow. My hopes had returned but with them came the wolves. This time I wasn’t lucky enough to make it back into the cabin.

 

On my second play through I fared significantly better, I found a rifle and learned that wolves have a good amount of meat on them which solved two problems. So far so good but we will see how that goes in the next zone. I have a feeling that my luck will run dry when I need it most. Overall this game is a lot of fun and while certainly not the best looking graphically; it has a good style which I absolutely adore. Walking through the misty woods is unnerving and desperately searching for somewhere to hide in a blizzard is terrifying while your health drops lower and lower. A good amount of animals populate the world providing lots of opportunity and challenge depending on how kitted out you are. Lastly, the sandbox mode is fun and I imagine the story mode will be even better from what they intend to add. Winter is right around the corner and there’s nothing quite like sitting in a cozy room while your game character freezes to death.