November 4, 2014

Death, Dying, and DARK WATER

First, just a note - I'm not going to include spoilers for Dark Water. Writers, reviewers, and obnoxious fans alike have been spoiling away, and so I'm going to deliberately avoid including spoilers. For those of you who think I'm being too prudish, let me just say this - my blog, my rules. I don't mind spoilers myself, but I don't mind drawing the line this once.

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.

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