People that look like people but aren’t people. That’s right, the
Gangers Zygons are back! Acting as a sequel of sorts to a thread from The Day of The Doctor, The Zygon Invasion has a lot to live up to. But the question is, will it live up to the expectations? Let’s find out.
“The Zygons, a race of shapeshifting aliens, have been living in secret among us on Earth, unknown and unseen – until now!
When Osgood is kidnapped by a rogue gang of Zygons, the Doctor, Clara and UNIT must scatter across the world in a bid to set her free. But will they reach her in time, and can they stop an uprising before it’s too late?”
Before seeing this episode, after just seeing the trailers, I thought that this episode would be a political thriller mixed with the action of James Bond. And boy was I kind of right! I’m going to be straight with you, when I read about this episode and they said it was going to be politically themed, I originally thought of immigration, with bigoted people telling the Zygons ‘Go home, we’re full on Earth’ however, I feel that this wasn’t the case. Instead of dealing with a concept of immigration, to me the episode used themes of extremism and even terrorism. I’m aware that some will think that these themes are way too complex and dark for the younger audience of the show but personally, I feel that Doctor Who is a great tool for being able to explain these kind of themes to children in a way that they can comprehend. Sorry to tell you kids but the world isn’t a nice place and the few who are ‘bad’ tend to ruin it for the rest of us.
One thing I loved about The Zygon Invasion was the pre-title sequence; admittedly the whole ‘Once Upon a Time’ thing was kind of unnecessary and I feel detracted from the epicness that was The Day of The Doctor but it was great that this episode reminded casual viewers whereabouts we are in regard to the Zygon threat. Seeing Tennant, Smith and Hurt again was a joy, and I’m glad to know that the Zygon strand of the 50th anniversary wasn’t totally forgotten about. What interested me again was that Clara wasn’t travelling with the Doctor at the beginning of the story. I assumed that this episode would pick up where The Woman Who Lived left off, with the Doctor and Clara in the TARDIS, but we see the Doctor instead playing Amazing Grace on his electric guitar.
Another thing I loved was the sheer scale of this episode, the first ten minutes or so were so humble and quintessential Doctor Who. We had the Doctor in a playground, a headquarters in a shabby house, a different headquarters in a junior school and Clara’s apartment block. You do think that considering the Zygon situation had millions and millions of Zygons scattered across the globe, its rather convenient that everything is happening in the UK. Then boy are you proved wrong; this kind of thing would not have been realistically possible to do a few series ago. I know that not everything was filmed on location, but having the Doctor whisked away to Turmezistan, a fake country somewhere, Kate Stewart sent to New Mexico, a real state in America, and Clara and Jac told to stay in England, you really do sense that this is a worldwide problem.
As well as the globetrotting nature of this episode, another thing that I’m sure it will be remembered for is the return of fan favourite Osgood. The fact we’re still left wondering whether she’s human or Zygon is a great mystery, which I personally hope isn’t answered in The Zygon Inversion as I feel it adds another layer of intrigue to the character. Personally, I adored Ingrid Oliver in this episode, both as Osgood and Osgood. The character wasn’t shoehorned in and I’m glad she has a fairly big involvement with the plot this episode, as her only real function in Dark Water seemed to be for her death. The fact that Osgood grieved and went into hiding after Other Osgood was killed humanised her character and showed that being involved in the Doctor’s life isn’t all fun and games. Admittedly, having Osgood back did lead to her being used as exposition for the most part, having her tell the Doctor that the Zygons had evolved so they didn’t need a living host to copy anymore seemed like that was the only reason she was brought back. Another thing that I suspect was Moffat shoehorning in the episode was yet another mention of a hybrid. I get that Osgood thinks of herself as part human, part Zygon, but that does not mean she’s a hybrid. It means she doesn’t want to identify that she’s one or the other for the safety of both herself and the safety of the Zygons in hiding.
After the fleeting few seconds that Kate was seen in The Magician’s Apprentice, it’s good to see her return with more substance in this episode. For the first time since the characters introduction, we really see her work alone, without the Doctor or Osgood by her side. (Something I suspect we’ll also hear in the upcoming Big Finish release, UNIT: Extinction) I really enjoyed Kate’s involvement in this episode and, like Osgood, I think we saw a more human side to her. There’s a small scene near the beginning of the episode where Kate and Jac are in the secret UNIT base and you see Kate stand at Osgood’s old desk, and you can sense that Kate has lost a great friend and coworker. To me, those little moments that Kate gets really shows how caring she can be as a character. Another great example of this is in New Mexico in the Sheriff’s Office, when the Sheriff is holding a gun at her, Kate immediately tries to help and calms the situation down.
I feel whilst I’m talking about how much I enjoy the UNIT Team, I should probably mention Jac. Sure, she was there as Clara’s companion, but she really feels rather two-dimensional to me. Considering she’s somehow got a job at UNIT she seemed extremely amateur for most of the episode. Her only saving grace was at the end when she realised the Zygon pods weren’t holding Zygons.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, we can talk about Clara, who it’s safe to say, has the most obnoxious answer machine message on her mobile ever. Yet again, it falls to Clara to adopt this Doctor-like persona, taking charge and finding out what’s going on whilst the Doctor is in Turmezistan. At the beginning of this series, I really liked Clara as a companion, especially when paired with the Twelfth Doctor. However she seems to be becoming too complacent and downright careless to warrant even being a companion anymore. I really hope it pays off in her departure because otherwise I feel like they’ve ruined a perfectly good companion. The revelation that she was a Zygon didn’t really make me feel any better either, as the ‘Bad Clara’ we saw in this episode who apparently is called Bonnie, wasn’t too dissimilar to the Clara we’ve seen the rest of this series. I’ve never wished this on any previous companion to the Doctor, but I really do hope that she’s dead by the end of the series. And that’s saying something when I regard Adam as a companion.
Overall, I would consider The Zygon Invasion mainly a character piece, as I feel we saw Osgood and Kate develop, and even Jac to a certain extent toward the end, there wasn’t much explodey action, instead we see steel wool conduct electricity, which is apparently what becomes of humans when Zygons kill us. There’s one scene however, that I thought was absolutely stunning; the scene at the church in Turmezistan was brilliant as it was genuinely heart wrenching at times. Seeing a hardened UNIT soldier faced with the idea of having to shoot
his own mother a Zygon was an amazing idea realised by writer Peter Harness. Even though deep down everyone knows that it is in fact a Zygon using the disguise to it’s advantage, I feel that it shows us that our loyalty to family and loved ones could be considered a weakness to exploit if you’re an alien race insistent on taking over the planet.
In summary I absolutely adored The Zygon Invasion and I feel that it was one of the most mature and carefully thought out episodes of Doctor Who since the revival. The cliffhanger was a bit obvious as we already know that Peter Capaldi’s Doctor will be in the rest of the series, so our only worry is how he’ll get out of the situation instead of will he get out of it. The characters were well thought out and the themes pushed the boundaries on what Doctor Who could be.
The rating system on the Gallifrey Archive is achieved on a scale of 1-10.
For The Zygon Invasion, I will give a rating of: