The Doctor is trying to convince Clara to break her date with Danny and travel with him. The TARDIS phone rings and as soon as The Doctor answers he and Clara find themselves in a strange room with cyborg hacker Psi and shape-shifting mutant Saibra. A voice recording from the mysterious ‘Architect’ tells them that they have agreed to rob the impenetrable Bank of Karabraxos and to their memories being erased. With the help of a mole, they enter the bank but witness a creature guarding the bank called The Teller sensing a customer’s guilty thoughts and destroying his brain.

Helped by more of the Architect’s briefcases, The Doctor, Clara, Psi and Saibra head to the vaults, which holds coveted items for each of them. Psi and Saibra sacrifice themselves with disintegrators to avoid the wrath of The Teller. The Doctor realises time travel is being used to rob the bank. On reaching Madame Karabaroxos, The Doctor gives her the TARDIS number as she escapes a solar apocalypse. Psi and Saibra had just been teleported and the heist was a mission planned by Karabaxos and The Doctor (Architect) in the future to rescue The Teller and his wife from extinction.

Doctor Who has always enjoyed riffing on popular genres – westerns, epics, swashbucklers – and so it was about time the series got around to doing a variation on the heist movie. The premise is unbeatable and, though not executed to its full potential, it remains one of the most distinctive episodes of the season. All the genre pleasures are there – assembling the crew, elaborate plans, the getaway – but it’s not clear what exactly the time travel element adds to the mix, except an excuse to pad out the thin story with out-of-sequence narration. In fact, time travel gets in the way.

All the supporting characters fit into the storyline like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, with just enough room left for empathy. Instead it’s The Doctor and Clara who get lost in the episode. It’s partly because everything they do is in service to the plot but there’s nothing that wouldn’t turn out the same with another Doctor and companion or, aside from owning a TARDIS, an entirely different pair of heroes. In some ways, it’s a welcome breather from the intense psychologising of ‘Listen’ and darker characterisations of ‘Into the Dalek’ but The Doctor and Clara are written too broadly.

Apart from a reference back to ‘a women in the shop’ that brought The Doctor and Clara together (who may or may not be Missy!) and with Danny at the fringes of the episode, there’s not much story or character development in ‘Time Heist’. All storytelling is focused on the heist itself and beyond the suggestion of The Doctor’s jealousy of Clara and Danny’s relationship in the closing moments, nothing changes or is revealed about the characters. It’s all very superficial and self-contained, as are many heist movies, and is proof that Doctor Who has basically become an anthology series.

It’s difficult to see where ‘Time Heist’ fits into Doctor Who more broadly. It’s one of those gimmicky concept episodes, like Steve Thompson’s season 7 episode ‘Journey to The Centre of The TARDIS’, that nonetheless rests on some familiar faces and ideas from the series, like the memory worms or the extinction motif reminding us The Doctor is the last of his kind. Thompson is Moffat’s protégé so it’s no surprise that their collaboration would be full of the jarring time-jumps we see in the showrunner’s episodes, but unlike those here they serve the episode and not longer-term story arcs.

The episode is a very successful marrying of Doctor Who and heist movies, but little else besides. The writers do a great job of adapting the imagery of heist capers for science-fiction using aliens, robots and strange planets but they didn’t really consider how time travel could be integrated with the conventions of the genre. It’s highly entertaining but could have been even more so if it had owned its style-over-substance more proudly, rather than attempting to be profound and complex with the plot twist. The good work done in developing the supporting characters more than usual actually ends up dwarfing the leads, who remain very anonymous throughout. With little relevance to the rest of the season or series, ‘Time Heist’ is an episode that seems ready to be forgotten, just like The Doctor’s memory of planning the robbery. It’s still a diverting episode, if not necessarily worth visiting again.

Telling Clara to ‘take a punt’, The Doctor lands the TARDIS in a forest in medieval Nottingham where she hopes she can meet Robin Hood, despite The Doctor telling her that he is a complete myth. Upon arrival, Robin Hood appears and challenges The Doctor to a swordfight, which he engages with a spoon! As they meet the rest of the Merry Men, The Doctor grows suspicious that they are synthetic beings not historical entities. At an archery contest in which Robin splits the Sherriff of Nottingham’s arrow, The Doctor finally discovers the Knights guarding the Sherriff are disguised robots.

The Doctor, Clara and Robin are captured and imprisoned in the castle. While The Doctor and Robin argue over their escape plan, Clara is taken to the Sherriff where she manipulates him into admitting that he is helping robots from earth’s future repair their spaceship with gold. Robin and The Doctor discover the spaceship databanks before Robin and Clara escape. With the help of a golden arrow, the three reunite to destroy the spaceship before it leaves to destroy London. Clara tells Robin about The Doctor and Robin compares himself to the Timelord to explain how he can be real

What we have here is an inventive twist on the Doctor Who historical story. Instead of portraying history through myth and fiction, here we have The Doctor trying to prove that history is actually an artificial construction. Mark Gatiss’s script is as much a parody of Robin Hood movies and TV – particularly the tendency for the Merry Men to laugh at nothing – as it is a new take on the myth and, apart from the infantile slapstick of the spoon fight, it comes off superbly. Gatiss’ dialogue is typically silver-tongued but here it’s productive to the telling of the story.

What’s done particularly well in ‘Robot of Sherwood’ is the balance of playful and serious characterisations. The Doctor is lighter but no less aggressive. Tom Riley’s Robin is cheeky but also a credible hero. Ben Miller’s Sherriff of Nottingham is equal parts Tony Robinson and Alan Rickman, a comic villain but always a genuine threat. Gatiss manages to write Clara as strong without making her behaviour extreme (as in many Moffat’s episodes), especially in her scene with the Sherriff. Unfortunately, the Merry Men are severely underdeveloped and not enough is done with the set-up in Sherwood Forest for my liking.

The episode feels like a throwback to an earlier era of Doctor Who where the companion was always in the TARDIS and periods in earth’s history were visited regularly. It’s very much a one-off using Robin Hood to consider what the place of The Doctor might be in the popular culture of the future. As such, it doesn’t do much to develop the ongoing story but rather reflects on the historical significance of the programme. Danny is temporarily forgotten, there is less egregious reference to the ‘Promised Land’ story arc, and the episode could be anywhere in the season timeline.

More than the previous two episodes, ‘Robot of Sherwood’ demonstrates to us how much The Twelfth Doctor is going to be connected to the classic era of Doctor Who. There are numerous references to Jon Pertwee serials, with the re-introduction of Venusian karate and mention of the mini-scope from ‘Carnival of Monsters’. But Gatiss and Capaldi still distinguish this Doctor from his past incarnations. There’s an arrogance about this Doctor that borders on the anti-social, and it’s a shock to see him so routinely unpleasant to all around him. Clara is well-written, though she’s more of a generic companion here.

With Steven Moffat micro-managing the first couple of episodes of this season, it’s refreshing to get a different perspective on the character of the Doctor from Mark Gatiss, and this brasher, less complicated version seems far more workable in the long-term that the cold-hearted one seen in ‘Into the Dalek’. It’s an episode that cleverly interweaves nostalgia for the classic era of Doctor Who (and Robin Hood fiction) with intelligent commentary on myth and history. For the most part, the episode is well-balanced between comedy and drama, which is a blend that Doctor Who isn’t exactly known for getting right. That said, the 45-minute format does seem to be more of a restriction to Gatiss’s exploration of characters than other writers on the series. It doesn’t contribute much to the season arc but aptly demonstrates that the strengths of Doctor Who now lie in the standalone quality of individual stories.

While getting coffee for Clara, The Doctor uses the TARDIS to rescue Journey Blue, a soldier fighting the Daleks, from her exploding spaceship. Returning her to command ship Aristotle, he avoids being executed as a Dalek spy by agreeing to treat a Dalek that has malfunctioned and ‘turned good’. The Doctor retrieves Clara from Coal Hill School, where she has just set a date with maths teacher and former soldier Danny Pink, and they set off in the TARDIS for the Aristotle. On the way, The Doctor asks Clara if he is ‘a good man’ but she does not know.

The Doctor, Clara, Journey and soldiers Ross and Gretchen are miniaturised to go inside the Dalek whom The Doctor has nicknamed ‘Rusty’. They are attacked by Dalek antibodies and Ross is killed. The Doctor seals the radiation leak causing the Dalek’s damage, which provokes Rusty to lead an attack on the Aristotle. Gretchen sacrifices herself so The Doctor and Clara can recover the memories that made Rusty ‘good’. Linked in to The Doctor’s mind, Rusty destroys all his fellow Daleks. The Doctor refuses Journey as a companion because she is a soldier. Clara tells Danny she is not so prejudiced.

The script for ‘Into the Dalek’ is much tighter and more coherent than ‘Deep Breath’ though there is far too much time wasted on talking about The Twelfth Doctor’s moral ambiguity. The sparse storyline and reduced number of characters helps enormously, and even the extraneous cut-away to Missy in the ‘Promised Land’ season arc is kept to an absolute minimum. The miniaturisation idea, liberally borrowed from the movie Fantastic Voyage and previously used in the Tom Baker serial ‘The Invisible Enemy’, works well although the unique jeopardy of the situation is occasionally forgotten about and it becomes just another labyrinth.

As with other Dalek episodes in the Moffat era, the use of The Doctor’s most iconic adversaries is fairly incidental. There’s no longer any continuity between the Dalek stories and often it feels like they are metal MacGuffins moving the plot along on castors. Though The Doctor talks about his first run-in with The Daleks, there’s a very fractured sense of the Dalek mythology. They seem more like abstract philosophical concepts of good and evil than fully-realised antagonists. The captured and conflicted Dalek storyline is perhaps a little too close to 2005’s Dalek and was arguably done far better then.

The Radio Times for 30 April–6 May 2005 covere...
The Radio Times for 30 April–6 May 2005 covered both the return of the Daleks to Doctor Who and the forthcoming general election. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘Deep Breath’ was a bridge between the Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi eras but ‘Into the Dalek’ gives us a much better idea of how the series will progress. We see that The Doctor will be dropping by Coal Hill School to whisk Clara away to the universe rather than her being a permanent resident of the TARDIS. With the introduction of Danny Pink, we get a link with contemporary earth and possibly a new companion. It looks like we’re only going to get glimpses of Missy and ‘The Promised Land’ in each episode, until at least the season finale.

This is also the first time we’ve seen The Twelfth Doctor outside of his post-regeneration haze, and he shapes up to be a deeply pessimistic and cynical incarnation of the character. The Doctor seems terribly fatalistic about the inevitability of Ross’s death and the impossibility of a ‘good’ Dalek, also notably less certain of his own moral authority. Consequently, Clara has to become more confrontational with The Doctor, which hits the viewer hard when she roughly slaps him across the face in a moment of callous disinterest. She also starts to function as the antidote to The Doctor’s increasingly judgmental attitudes.

The second story featuring a new Doctor is usually where we see what we’re going to get from the character but Peter Capaldi came in so strongly with his abrasive and strange portrayal that there’s not much work left to do, and The Doctor’s sinister side seems to have peaked in this episode. Rather ‘Into the Dalek’ is a chance to get back to more rugged storytelling and pure action after a ponderous and arty season opener. I’m not angling for a return of the Russell T Davies-era where Daleks were overused and all-consuming, but I do think that the stories they feature in could be more quintessential to the Daleks and their history in the series, rather than having them as a piece of metal to hang a premise on. Overall, ‘Into the Dalek’ is very satisfying sci-fi but doesn’t do much for The Doctor or The Daleks.

Clara is starting have trouble juggling her double life at Coal Hill School and in the TARDIS, especially now that she is dating Danny. She is let off the hook when The Doctor announces he is going ‘deep cover’ and tells Danny she wants to spend more time with him. Unfortunately, The Doctor’s undercover operation is at Coal Hill where he is the new caretaker. The Doctor is using his cover to track a killer robot that is patrolling the area called the Skovox Blitzer, who he plans to jettison a billion years into the future with time vortex manipulators.

The Doctor meets Danny but does not clock him as Clara’s boyfriend and instead suspects English teacher Adrian, who bears an uncanny resemblance to his previous incarnation. Danny is immediately suspicious of The Doctor, and barges in on his trap, accidentally sending Skovox Blitzer only a few days forward. Danny finds out about The Doctor, Clara and the TARDIS and later saves Clara and The Doctor from the robot when it returns. Meanwhile, The Doctor takes disruptive student Courtney Woods in the TARDIS, who throws up. Danny tells Clara to let him know when The Doctor has gone too far.

Whether or not you think it’s worth spending an episode on Danny finding out Clara is a time traveller, it’s hard to deny that Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat (who began his TV showrunner career on school comedy Chalk) know exactly how to pull off this kind of sitcom-style Doctor Who story. Perhaps it’s because Coal Hill School has played such a defining role in Doctor Who since the very first episode that we don’t much mind stopping there for a while, or it could be the fact that the programme is always better when it feeds off relatable experiences.

However, the secondary school setting isn’t utilized as well as in the 2006 episode ‘School Reunion’ where it actually mattered that it was a school under attack. It’s also surprising that there isn’t much teaching going on in the episode given the abundance of teachers, students and classrooms as well as Doctor Who’s origins as an educational programme. To say that Skovox Blitzer isn’t developed enough for a Doctor Who villain is an understatement, but it’s made pretty clear that he isn’t the focus of the episode. Still, the robot is pretty campy and dated-looking, even by Doctor Who’s standards.

As there’s not much of a story in Blitzer’s attack on the school, most of the episode is about how Danny and Clara’s relationship changes once he finds out she’s travelling with The Doctor. We also get to see how The Doctor reacts to Danny’s history as a soldier, through the comic device of The Doctor being unable to think of him as anything but a P.E. teacher. Danny’s impression of The Doctor as an upper-class commanding officer is a totally new spin on the Timelord. It’s also rare not to see a companion immediately rushing off in the TARDIS.

The references to Matt Smith are both good and bad for the programme. On the one hand, it’s a great visual gag and no memory of Smith can be a bad one but I can’t help feeling nostalgia like that holds the viewer back from completely embracing Capaldi as the new Doctor. It also revives the romantic attachment between the two, which I’d hoped we’d left behind. The season arc with Missy is fleshed out some more, as we witness a police officer arrive in the ‘Nethersphere’ and start to see ‘Heaven’ as possibly more corporate than we previously imagined.

 I much prefer these sustained comic episodes of Doctor Who to putting laboured comedy routines in episodes where they don’t belong, especially when they’re as well-written as ‘The Caretaker’. But it is fair to say this is one of the blandest stories you’ll see this season, especially the science-fiction aspects. Character development is the key here, and there’s plenty of time left over for that, but in a programme aimed partly at children, you do expect it to do something more with the idea of a secondary school than a few homework clichés. Halfway through the season, it feels like a bit of a holiday, but one you do something worthwhile with! The ‘caretaker’ is actually a good metaphor for the episode, since it’s job is to clear up the mess created by previous episodes and keep Doctor Who ticking along in preparation for the second half of the season.

The world has been covered with forest overnight. In London, Clara and Danny are babysitting a Coal Hill ‘Gifted and Talented’ student sleepover at The Zoological Museum. One of the students, Maebh, gets separated from the group and finds her way to the TARDIS parked in a leafy Trafalgar Square. The Doctor and Clara talk by phone and she and Danny take the children to the TARDIS, by which time Maebh has wandered off. On finding out Maebh has been medicated after her sister went missing, The Doctor deduces that the voices in her head were trees communicating with her.

The Doctor, Clara, Danny and the Coal Hill kids, nicknamed ‘Gifted and Talented’ as a euphemism for behavioural difficulties, follow Maebh’s gingerbread trail of personal items, encountering COBRA burning through the trees and escaped zoo animals. Upon finding Maebh and using her to communicate with miniscule bug-like creatures in the air, The Doctor concludes that the earth will be hit by a solar flare. Clara lets The Doctor leave but he returns, realising trees are protecting the earth from the flare, and sends global text messages to stop humans harming them. The trees save the earth and Maebh’s sister returns.

The Doctor Who debut of Slumdog Millionaire author Frank Cottrell Boyce was awaited with some anticipation (more than Neil Gaiman by those not as devoted to fantasy) and, at least on a conceptual level, he didn’t disappoint. The spectacle of a forest growing over London, not unlike the transformation of England into a green and pleasant land in the 2012 Olympics opening written by Boyce, is certainly breath-taking. However, the fairytale origin story has been worked over so many times in Doctor Who since Moffat took over, even Boyce’s notable intervention begins to feel like it’s flogging a dead unicorn.

Of all the Coal Hill episodes, however, ‘In the Forest of the Night’ is the only one that looks at each of the students individually and might actually have some educational value for children who are watching. As you would expect from Boyce, the episode is very sharply written with a dry sarcasm that prevents this family-friendly modern-day fairytale from becoming too cutesy. For a programme with such a strong international appeal, it’s good to see an episode that is unapologetically British in its tone, references and imagery. That said, some of the science-fiction elements are handled a little sketchily.

What this episode has that others in this season do not is a use for Danny. He’s seamlessly integrated into the story and plays a crucial part in the action. However, the revelation that Danny will not travel in the TARDIS seems like being different for difference’s sake. The writing clutches at straws to call-back to previous episodes such as ‘Time Heist’ and ‘Robot of Sherwood’ but these allusions seem tacked on, apart from The Doctor’s absenteeism in ‘Kill The Moon’. We see Missy watching via tablet once again, but with the same imbalance of tease to information as before.

At last, we start to get somewhere with the triangle of mistrust involving The Doctor, Clara and Danny. Boyce called upon his experience as a soap opera writer to find a way for Danny to discover Clara’s secret about travelling with The Doctor (via dated exercise books) and put a rather laboured story point to bed. We get more of the tension between The Doctor and Danny, and a nice inversion of The Doctor’s usual Superman act as Clara saves him from saving the earth. Peter Capaldi’s fustiness with the children is a marked contrast with Matt Smith’s infantile empathy.

I wouldn’t want ‘In the Forest of the Night’ to be forgotten like the earth-saving trees, but it seems a highly unnecessary addition to the litany of fairytale-themed Doctor Who episodes that Moffat has made his speciality since becoming showrunner. Many of the same ideas were explored in ‘Robot of Sherwood’ only 7 episodes previously. Perhaps Moffat needs to instigate the spreadsheets that Rod Serling used on The Twilight Zone to make sure there weren’t too many of the same genre of episode each season. It is, however, a much-needed vindication of Danny’s relevance to the series and the decision to set much of this season at Coal Hill School. It would help if Boyce returned to write another episode that wasn’t so overdone nor so indebted to the cultural patriotism of the London Olympics. It remains one of the quaintest visions of a post-apocalyptic society that you’ll ever see.

Danny dies in a road accident while on the phone to Clara. Struggling with her grief, Clara blackmails The Doctor by drugging him and threatening to throw his 7 remaining TARDIS keys into an active volcano unless he brings Danny back to life. However, The Doctor switches the drugs and allows Clara to hallucinate throwing the keys into the volcano in order to see how far she’ll go. Burned by her betrayal, The Doctor nonetheless offers to help Clara by syncing her mind with the TARDIS telepathic circuits to see if there is any trace of Danny left in existence.

Meanwhile, Danny has been transported to The Nethersphere, which greeter Seb tells him is the afterlife and he meets a child he accidentally killed in Afghanistan. The TARDIS takes The Doctor and Clara to the 3W facility where corpses are suspended in a substance called ‘dark water’ and meet welcome droid Missy. Clara and Danny communicate while The Doctor discovers the dead remain conscious. Seb urges Danny to delete his emotions. It is revealed the corpses are Cybermen uploaded with the dead and break out of the facility, which is actually St. Paul’s Cathedral, and that Missy is The Master.

It’s clear from the cold open that, apart from post-it notes, nothing is going to tie the first episode of this two-part finale to the rest of the season, as in previous years. It doesn’t help that the previous appearances of The Nethersphere were tacked on to each episode like a DVD bonus. As a self-contained episode, it’s just about bearable, with the creepy moving skeleton heads and macabre 3W facility constituting an effective piece of horror. Having waited so long for the truth about Missy’s identity, the double bluff comes off as tedious and the big reveal is underwhelming.

The volcano dream sequence is the worst example yet this season of the programme trying to have its dark cake and eat it. It turns Clara into a sociopath only to deny ever taking the character to such an extreme. It’s dishonest writing, and even a hack like Moffat should know better. It was also totally unnecessary to represent Clara’s grief this way since it had been perfectly well established in a naturalistic scene with her Gran. The Nethersphere scenes are made unwatchable by Chris Addison’s overacting as Seb, and Michelle Gomez’s Missy isn’t far behind with her hammy pouting.

An unwelcome return of the ‘dead lover’ motif that plagued so many of Amy and Rory’s storylines, Danny’s death brings about Clara’s mental breakdown while giving The Doctor and Clara a convenient excuse to encounter Missy. Danny’s meeting with his wartime victim clears up the enigma of the ‘bad day’ we’ve been hearing about since ‘Into the Dalek’ which made him ‘wise’ and, after a few red herrings, we discover that The Nethersphere is nothing more than a simulated reality inside a global hard drive from Gallifrey. The Doctor is really just a pawn in this elaborate conflation of storylines.

The revelation that Missy is a female regeneration of The Master raises more questions than it answers (none of which will be addressed, incidentally!) but while the misogynistic, bigoted corners of the internet freak out about a transgender Timelady, the real misgiving to have about this plot development is Moffat’s inability to write interesting, powerful women. The Doctor’s failure to know Missy relies on an incredible suspension of disbelief, and turning a blind eye to the programme’s existing mythology, but the biggest problem is not finding anything worthwhile to do with Missy as a character, besides the slash-fiction friendly kiss.

Like most of Moffat’s season finales, ‘Dark Water’ is a real mess. However, unlike previous finales, it’s not the culmination of multiple storylines that makes it so. Here the issue is that the episode relinquishes the dramatic power of its major set-piece, the 3W facility, for a few fan-gasps. The strongest story ideas and character moments are undermined by pantomime execution, not least from the supporting cast, and Clara endures the most ill-advised villainizing of a Doctor Who character since The Sixth Doctor tried to throttle Peri. The script relies on twists and turns that are both easily anticipated and not nearly as interesting as they first seem and, apart from piloting the TARDIS, The Doctor’s impact on the episode is virtually non-existent. The ‘dark water’ of the title could have  easily been an intriguing sci-fi concept but, much like the submerged Cybermen, it never has the chance to breathe.

OK where to start with this one?  There was goodness a-plenty here but at the same time, some jarring elements that just didn’t fit.  Overall however this was a fitting if somewhat depressing end to the season.  While the future of Clara is somewhat up in the air, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor has definitely cemented him into the annals of Who lore as one of the good ones.

Where were we?

In the last episode – Dark Water – Danny has gotten run over by a car while crossing the road and Clara in her grief has managed to persuade the Doctor to take her to him.  Here they meet Missy.  Missy who we’ve seen throughout this series turns out to actually be the Master (by the way – read this post by another fan to get the full history of the Doctor and the Master.  It’s extremely detailed and provides an excellent insight into the character, his motivations and history). We also find out that Dark Water has been converting humanties dead into Cybermen.

Episode Recap

Clara has been detected inside the facility and is now being interrogated by the Cybermen preparatory to being “upgraded”, thinking fast however (similar in some ways to how she acted in the 1st episode of Series 8 – Deep Breath) Clara manages to get them to stall by stating that Clara Oswald is not real – its all a lie – and in fact she is really the Doctor!

Meanwhile, Missy and the Doctor are outside St Paul’s Cathedral where hordes of tourists surround the Cybermen thinking them a simple attraction. One of the “tourists” offers to take a picture of Missy and the Doctor, but she is in reality Osgood – an undercover officer from UNIT.  After she seizes Missy’s weapon, additional UNIT officers surround her and the Cybermen use their rocket boots to escape – one of them however detonating above the Cathedral.

In the Nethersphere the lights start to go out & Seb (Chris Addison) tells Danny that they are going to go home and their bodies are being “upgraded” (note: this was one of the silly bits for me that just didn’t jibe with the whole story … while Seb was played really well, the whole campy, over the top persona just didn’t work considering the end-of-world scenario in progress).

Back at St Paul’s both Missy and the Doctor are sedated and the Doctor just manages to whisper to Osgood, “Guard the graveyards” before passing out.  As the dust from the Cyberman explosion starts to settle, it starts to rain – however the rain seems to only be falling over graveyards.

This water seeps out into the gutters and sewers and eventually finds it way to a morgue where the recently deceased body of Danny lies.  Reanimating his corpse, Danny stalks off in search of Clara whom he finds speaking to the Cybermen.  When he approaches her, Clara not realizing that she’s speaking to Danny further exacerbates by continuing to pretend Clara isn’t real.  He proceeds to knock her unconscious and then destroy’s the  Cybermen that she was speaking to.  Picking up her unconscious body, Danny flies off with her to one of the graveyards where Clara wakes up.  Confronting her again, Danny reveals himself to her and states that Clara needs to help him turn off his emotional circuits so that the pain can go away.

While this is all going on, the Doctor wakes up on “Boat One” where he’s unceremoniously informed that he is now the President of the Earth and all of its military forces are now under his command.   The Doctor goes down to speak to Missy and in a really well done scene, reminds her of all the times that she wanted to take over the Earth and says its a piece of cake!  Missy also reveals that she was the one who’d arranged for Clara to call the Doctor and also for the advertisement in the Newspaper (two of this seasons mysteries answered).

When Osgood correctly surmises that Missy is really the Doctor he offers her a place on the Tardis, but this is unfortunately not to be as the Master quickly escapes – killing her guards and Osgood in the process.  As Missy/The Master calls in her Cybermen troops, Boat One starts to plummet from the sky & Kate is sucked out into the air.  The Doctor manages to make it onto the TARDIS and materializes in the graveyard and warns Clara that if she deletes Danny’s emotions, he will kill her.  Clara disregarding the Doctor’s warning takes the Doctor’s screwdriver and enables Danny’s emotional inhibitor.

[note: another quibble for me is the constant ranting that Danny alive or dead has with the Doctor and officers in general.  While you could state that his deep seated hatred came from an officer forcing him to kill the child we were introduced to last episode, we’ve learned that this is actually not the case and it was a simple accident.  I realize that authority figures in certain positions can definitely be overbearing and obnoxious but I don’t know if it needed to be said and pushed as much as it was]

Missy then appears and gives the Doctor a bracelet that will enable him to control all of the Cybermen.  Stating that this is what he really wants – a way to right the wrongs of the Universe without sacrificing the lives of those he loves.  The Doctor horrified tries to think of a way out of this dilemma and then realizes that Danny despite having his inhibitor turned off, has not attacked Clara comes to the realization that what he needs here is a soldier & not an army.  He throws the bracelet to Danny who puts it on and assumes control of all the Cybermen.  He promises Clara that she will “sleep safe tonight” before flying into the cloud with the rest of the Cybermen and destroying it, himself and the other Cybermen.

Clara about to kill Missy is stopped by the Doctor who doesn’t want her to have to bear the trauma.  Before he can shoot however, a blast from behind seems to disintegrate her.  Turning around, the Doctor realizes that one remaining Cyberman is Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.  The Brigadier has not only saved his daughter Kate, but as the Doctor states:

“The Earth’s darkest hour. Where else would you be?”

has also it seems destroyed Missy.  The Doctor gives the Brigadier a salute before he too flies off into the sky where he also detonates.

Several weeks later Clara wakes up in the middle of the night to Danny’s voice.  He says that the Nethersphere has enough power for one one-way trip but instead of coming through himself, he sends through the young boy he’d killed. He says is sorry and the portal closes, leaving the boy in the hallway along with the broken bracelet.

The Doctor and Clara both meet in a restaurant and the Doctor seeing the bracelet on Clara’s wrist wrongly assumes that Danny had returned.  Thinking this he tells her that he has finally found Gallifrey and that he will now be returning home.  They both hug and you can see that the lie’s they’ve both told to protect the other are making them deeply sad, before the Doctor leaves in the TARDIS.

As the episode ends, there is a knocking at the door of the TARDIS and in walks Santa Claus!  Telling the Doctor that “it can’t end like this” and that neither Clara nor the Doctor are “okay”, the episode ends, getting us all ready for the upcoming Christmas Episode.

Final Thoughts

Overall a really good season with some good, scary villains and stories.  While we’ve seen some of the Doctor’s favorite foes – the Daleks – they’ve been presented in a new light and the Doctor himself has changed.  The Christmas special will hopefully answer the question of Clara and her potential death in the serial and hopefully we’ll also get a chance to see whats going to happen in the next series.