The Zygon Inversion

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The Doctor must stop the Zygon rebels from starting an all-out war with the human race.

After The Zygon Invasion last week, a worldwide threat from a dissident Zygon group, the focus is inverted in this follow-up. It’s all set in the UK, and comes down to a face-off with just the key players, the leaders of each faction. Another inversion is that the aliens are the ones trying to figure out the Doctor’s plan for once, instead of vice versa. The Zygon peace treaty is not the only element from The Day of the Doctor to be used in this two-parter; the Doctor’s failsafe to ensure peace, the Osgood Boxes, being inspired by The Moment from the 50th anniversary special. It’s a great idea to use the choice he has to face in the Time War (also in The Parting of Ways), particularly when confronting an extremist. It’s an insane choice to make, a test he gives (apparently some fifteen times before this too), like a practical version of the virus question he poses to Davros in Genesis of the Daleks.

The broadcast of Invasion on Halloween was apt, with a couple of moments to make the viewer jump, and the unsettling atmosphere of not knowing who a Zygon. Inversion being on the evening before Remembrance Sunday is even more timely, with it’s powerful anti-war message. The ingenuity of the Doctor’s plan is only outweighed by the power and passion of the speech he delivers.

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The Doctor’s speech has been almost universally praised, a marriage of superb writing and electric performance. He interrogates the motives and philosophy of those waging war, particularly an ideological conflict with a hopeless objective, with an emotional honesty that is riveting. It is destined to be pored over, dissected, quoted and replayed for ever more

Trapped in a Zygon pod while her double leads the insurgence, Clara is trapped in a dreamscape. This seems to be another callback to her first appearance in Asylum of the Daleks (she was inside a Dalek again in The Witch’s Familiar). Once again, she is clever enough to take control of her false reality, able to manipulate Bonnie’s body to communicate with the Doctor.

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There seems to be a lot of support for Osgood replacing Clara in the TARDIS. She is an immensely likeable presence in Doctor Who, but her pointing out his modus operandi during adventures might be distracting. And her forensic insight into the Doctor’s thoughts and tactics would be a positive liability when she is inevitably captured, interrogated, hypnotised or brainwashed by their adversaries. The Doctor’s evasive reply to Osgood’s question about what the acronym TARDIS stands for seems to refer to the indecision as to whether the D stands for Dimension or Dimensions, and this now feels like a similar thing to UNIT dating, that the show might avoid a definitive answer to.

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The story’s resolution is that the twenty million Zygons born on Earth will continue to live secretly among the humans. The scene where the unnamed Zygon is ‘normalised’ by Bonnie to run amok and create panic gives us an insight into the vast majority the Zygon population, who are happy to get on with their lives as humans. The Osgoods will keep secret which (if either) is human until it no longer matters, which raises an interesting question: is there a point where humanity learns of the Zygons among them and accept it? do they eventually leave and form their own off-world colonies? or when we watch The Moonbase, The Ark in Space, Frontios and The Happiness Patrol, are we seeing a mixture of humans and Zygons in humanity’s future?

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Order Doctor Who Series 9 on DVD:

Doctor Who – Series 9 Part 1 [DVD] [2015]

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