November 4, 2014
Which is a good idea, because this is the first episode of Who in a long time that has been surprising - from the events of the first fifteen minutes to "that" revelation. Many fans have called this "predictable", and on some level, it's true - having photos of Cybermen when shooting in central London during the daytime will be a bit of a letdown. But it's the way that Moffatt lays in surprises, that we know what's coming but that he engages in two full-on shocks at either end, that makes this a strong episode.
Another aspect is the effect of travelling with the Doctor on Clara's behavior. Many writers have used the "addiction" parallel, and I have to disagree. (Trust me, I've studied addiction - have a master's degree, so I'm coming at this from a very well-informed perspective). Perhaps "addictive" is not so apt as "codependent" - after all, some people are attracted to chaos and drama - two words which definitely do not apply to Danny Pink. (In fact, last week's episode had Danny espouse a philosophy of enjoying what's in front of him - a philosophy at odds with the freewheeling see-the-universe attitude of the Doctor). Lying to maintain an unhealthy habit is one thing; lying to avoid healthy behaviors and attitudes is another, and those come crashing around Clara in this episode.
Another theme - hidden, in plain sight - is that of the Doctor's blindness, of his own lack of perception. We've seen this Doctor from "birth" wonder why he had a familiar face; confronted with his own internalized hatred of the Daleks; and a variety of things that he has not been able to see, or what he has "missed". Ironically, I suspect that the Doctor's anti-soldier stance is less about a quirk of regeneration and more about a kind of "super" perception.
Ok, that's a fannish theory....but no more so than the usual pre-season speculations.
It's really hard to write about the first half of a two-parter, because there is so much that is good about this episode. It's probably the most effective kick-off to a Moffatt season ender since....well, in a long time. I know I'm missing some key details, but in the end, Dark Water has much to commend it, and quite honestly, I'm not sure I can get it all in one post.
Hopefully next week, with Death in Heaven, I'll write pages. Yes, I hope it's that good.