Doctor Who: The Zygon Inversion
November 7, 2015 1:07 PM - Season 9, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Shapeshifting Zygons are everywhere in the UK, and there is no way of knowing who to trust. With UNIT neutralised, only the Doctor stands in their way. But how do you stop a war? And what can the Doctor do to save his friends?
posted by fearfulsymmetry (67 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
'Five rounds rapid!' Get in!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:09 PM on November 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well I think I like Doctor Who being a heavy handed metaphor as opposed to that flouncy fantasy crap that Moffat usually serves up. And that whole thing at the end when The Doctor affects an american accent to really drive home that he's taking the role of america in this terrorist metaphor they are doing... But why didn't the zygon just zap the Doctor into crackly yarn when he got into her face?

And I thought the shoulder mounted missile cliffhanger was more terrifying an image than all of the scary monsters this show has given us the past few years.
posted by Catblack at 3:41 PM on November 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Though I've got some minor issues (at least with the first part), this was a solid conclusion - and how many Who two-parters can you say that about? Capaldi gave his best performance of the series so far and I loved the way it tackled the subject at hand.

And I really loved the final scene in the TARDIS. "You must have thought I was dead, how was that?" "Longest month of my life." "Wasn't it five minutes?" "I'll be the judge of time."
posted by crossoverman at 5:25 PM on November 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've still got some major issues with the Zygon story (lots of things that didn't *quite* make sense),I agree, that was a really satisfying conclusion, and it was a nice change to see the Doctor talk down the enemy from whatever, exactly, their plan was.

(Really, though, those American accents were terrible).

Can't say next week's visit to Dark Space 8 has my psyched, but that won't stop me watching.
posted by Mezentian at 6:22 PM on November 7, 2015


Something about The Doctor doing the American game show host accent reminded me of "The Prisoner". I can't quite put my finger on it. Probably the absurdity of the boxes combined with the deadly consequences.
posted by Gary at 6:58 PM on November 7, 2015


And I really loved the final scene in the TARDIS. "You must have thought I was dead, how was that?" "Longest month of my life." "Wasn't it five minutes?" "I'll be the judge of time."

I am deeply concerned that this means something more than it appears at first blush. How long was he with the Medieval folks at the start of the season?

Edit: it was three weeks. Crap.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:09 PM on November 7, 2015


I find this season has a lot of confusing plot points for the motivations of the villains - I kind of forgot what it was exactly the Zygons wanted until the end of part 2, and I still don't know what the Fisher King's plan was. It's Doctor Who so it doesn't have to make sense but it seems looser than usual.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 7:21 PM on November 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Clara's dead to him in his time, and he's popped back into her timestream to spend time with her.

I'm guessing she'll die in "Face the Raven", and the Doctor will face the consequences in "Heaven Sent", and somehow it'll all tie in together in "Hell Bent", which might answer the hybrid issue, Ashildr/Me and Daleks.
posted by Mezentian at 7:30 PM on November 7, 2015


Yes, I think Clara is dead already and he's revisiting her. For this show, I think that's been well set-up and alluded to over the course of the season and this was the scene that nailed it for me. These next couple of episodes might just be them adventuring together for the last time and the finale will pull everything else together.
posted by crossoverman at 8:04 PM on November 7, 2015


"Heaven Sent"? Maybe she'll end up with Danny Pink after all.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:18 PM on November 7, 2015


Oh! If Clara's dead, that might also be why the Doctor offered the companionship to Osgood...because he'll need someone to come along after Clara is gone?

I would love Osgood (both of them) to be the new companion(s). I think it would be immensely challenging and fun to have one actor playing both characters for a whole season.
posted by xingcat at 8:33 PM on November 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I would love Osgood (both of them) to be the new companion(s). I think it would be immensely challenging and fun to have one actor playing both characters for a whole season.

Friend, let me tell you about Orphan Black!

(Which you probably know about).

I'd be all for an Osgood in the TARDIS, I suspect Moffatt et al don't want the stress of two at the same time, and besides, who then will keep the peace?

Rigsy could probably work as a companion too.
posted by Mezentian at 1:34 AM on November 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Capaldi did the best performance of his life? I wouldn't know because Murray fucking Gold spunked his triumphant sting section all over the bit of the speech YOU NEED TO KNOW IS TRIUMPHANT. And also all over the sad bit, in case you hadn't worked out it was sad.

And seriously, what is with the Doctor only being able to defeat monsters by shouting at them?
posted by prismatic7 at 3:17 AM on November 8, 2015


I wouldn't know because Murray fucking Gold spunked his triumphant sting section all over the bit of the speech YOU NEED TO KNOW IS TRIUMPHANT.

Man, I thought he was restrained this week.
And has been this series.

And seriously, what is with the Doctor only being able to defeat monsters by shouting at them?

Aside from the fact he is their worst nightmare, as we have learnt on Earth, sometimes for intellect and romance triumph over brute force and cynicism, one side needs to shout to be heard.
posted by Mezentian at 3:23 AM on November 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Last week there were some people reading the rebel Zygons as a metaphor for people who were fed up with being closeted, and I was on board with that... but after this one, I don't know what to think about that. They did finally establish that they eeevil rebel Zygons weren't just pure evil, but we never got the speech I was expecting where the Doctor said they had a point and if they didn't want to live in secret they shouldn't have to.

While this show was clearly commenting on real world events, it seems like they had their own real world events in mind (ISIS, immigration) and the closeted humans metaphor either didn't occur to them or they brushed it aside to make the points they wanted to make. Maybe I should be offended, but... eh, it ended up being a pretty darn good episode, so that makes me inclined to just shrug and let go of my original reading. It IS still problematic as hell that they did this whole story about a group fed up with having to live in secret and pretend they're something that they're not, and their outrage was dismissed as a temper tantrum. But the people making this show weren't going for a story about LGBT people, they were going for a story about the futility of war, and on that basis they succeeded well. Capaldi's speech was really good stuff, really well delivered.

The one humanized Zygon reverting to Zygon-hood was a very sympathetic character, happy in his life on Earth and wanting no part in any conflict. (Although I spent a good portion of the episode thinking he was a human who was being Zygon-fied, as a way to "open the humans' eyes". RTD almost certainly would have gone that way! Humans turning into monsters and body horror in general are aspects of the RTD run that have been really scaled back in the Moffat era.) I do wish we had seen more examples of the rebel Zygons being decent, but I suppose Bonnie's decision not to use the box and her becoming the other Osgood go a long way toward establishing that Bonnie's not a bloodthirsty monster after all.

I just wish the peace wasn't (presumably) based on all of the rebel Zygons going back into hiding. Even if I let go of the closeted LGBT people take on the story, it still seems like the rebels are being asked to give in completely and some sort of compromise would have made it all go down easier.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:28 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


but after this one, I don't know what to think about that

My pet theory:
They threw everything at the wall - European immigration/integration/assimilation, ISIS, gender and sexuality (or asexuality for Osgood, because asexual representation has been missing and COME ON) - and just said: fuck it, these are issues we have to deal with, they're complex: think about it.

They didn't offer advice, or suggestions, hateful ranting from the right or tutt-tutting though policing from the left, they just put it out there: and are letting people draw their own conclusions.

But to draw a conclusion, people have to think about the issues.

And, if my theory is correct, that is so subversive I love it.
posted by Mezentian at 3:38 AM on November 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think Capaldi was, at least in part, impersonating Hughie Green a smarmy (and later notorious) 'American'* game show host who was a massive figure on British tv from the 50s through to the 70s - not least because Capaldi uses his famous catch-phrase 'I mean that most sincerely'; I wonder if it was ad libbed.

*Green was actually English but spent a lot of time in Canada
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:11 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, the idea of closeted people rising up en masse and demanding to live as their true selves is handled rarely if ever in fiction, and if that metaphor even occurred to the makers of this show I'd be disappointed to know they just punted it. (At the same time, I can see them getting quite some ways in, realizing what this story could look like and just kind of saying, "Oh, shit. This could totally be read like that, but we're stuck now!" So I'd be disappointed, but I can see circumstances where they saw it and just had to let it be.)

I have a hunch (and it's only a hunch) that RTD would have seen this aspect early on and either reworked the story to eliminate the possibility of it being read as a LGBT rights story or he would have totally run with it and made the rebels a hell of a lot more sympathetic. I'm not calling Moffat a clueless straight dude (his sexual politics have made him notorious in some quarters, but then again he IS the man who created Jack Harkness) but RTD is a wonderfully loud and proud gay dude and I can't see him signing off on a story that could be read as advocating that closeted folks need to stop making a fuss and just go back in their closets and behave. (I have gone on record as not just loving Love and Monsters, but hailing that ending as a shout out to all the queer misfit kids. Moffat's really good too, but when RTD was on he could be just amazing.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:25 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have gone on record as not just loving Love and Monsters, but hailing that ending as a shout out to all the queer misfit kids.

Inconceivable.

At the same time, I can see them getting quite some ways in, realizing what this story could look like and just kind of saying, "Oh, shit. This could totally be read like that, but we're stuck now!

This is part of the problem with the modern world: subtext defines text, even where there is no need to make subtext text.

I really like my reading, and I like to think that the fact that we can have different readings is a feature, not a bug.
I think that's a sign of good art.
posted by Mezentian at 5:01 AM on November 8, 2015


Inconceivable

You read the post I linked to, right? Seriously, how was Davies NOT talking about being queer there? That speech was not really about how the world is secretly full of monsters from outer space. It was about how life can be so much more than what the mainstream tells you is everything, specifically calling out marriage and having kids among other things. Maybe it wasn't JUST about LGBT people, but I am almost certain that was at least part of it.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:51 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


It almost seemed closer to a Palestinian intifada than an immigration metaphor.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:08 AM on November 8, 2015


The other thing that got me this episode was the shooting down of that plane. It's supposed to be like Air Force One, isn't it? I can't imagine that UNIT has just the Doctor and Osgood flying around in it. There is not a second's mourning for the dead pilots and staff on that plane. (Never mind the utterly horrific true-life horror that is a shoulder mounted missile taking a plane down.)

This is one of the things where RTD was much better at. Ratcheting up the drama of an episode for things like this. His version of the Doctor would have been upset at being blown out of the sky and having the staff of however many, 5, 10 killed. For that matter, it's implied that there's a whole town in New Mexico where the zygons have killed everyone, but we don't care about that, do we?
posted by Catblack at 9:59 AM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I feel like the speech (and the zygon story arc in general) only works if it's taken at face value as being solely directed against actual war, killing, and violent retribution intended to break what would otherwise be a never-ending cycle. If it's taken as a metaphor for any broader forms of protest and resistance, it does turn into a not-so-great message in favor of conforming and assimilating into the majority.
posted by Pryde at 12:07 PM on November 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


No, when he said that he forgave them, I think he had that stuff in mind. He knew they were leaving those crackling hay bales all over the place. (They also tried to kill him personally and abducted Clara and came very close to killing her.) His point was that even if they had done awful things, the forgiving has to start somewhere or the fighting just won't end.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:45 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ursula Hitler articulates some of the problems, and another criticism I have is that the Doctor completely brushes aside the idea of structural violence when Bonnie alludes to them while standing over the blue box - the Doctor just scoffs, so what? I have the same problems too! We all do.

Why was it on Bonnie and her resistance group to break the cycle? If Doctor was in such a position of authority, why not ask Kate Stewart (acting ambassador for the human race) to do something about their global-level xenophobia which was what literally served to oppress these new generation Zygon refugees, in the first place? In his prohibition of physical violence (because he has personally experienced causing it, to his own people), he ignores the problem of the psychological violence of the Zygon offspring refugees having to live under the cease-fire, and thus he implicitly uses his position to privilege human violence over Zygon violence.

If American Indians got sick of living on reservations and some of them tried to stage a futile uprising to drive away the rest of us, and I caught one and he said, "It's not fair", I'm just saying I wouldn't be so quick to mock that by replying "It's not fair!? Well, it's not fair for anybody!", which was actually was one of the explicit lines given to the Doctor. I'm not sure a pacifist who has a sophisticated understanding of violence would rely on that kind of trivializing response.

I've watched all of the new Doctor who episodes and I feel that this was the first episode where the authors, by committing to their specific brand of liberal worldview, inadvertently limit the progressiveness of their thematic message somewhat.
posted by polymodus at 1:08 PM on November 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


Another example - when Bonnie challenges the legitimacy of the Doctor's authority by pointing out that he orchestrated the entire arrangement (from Day of the Doctors), he again goes "So what?" That he admits no complicity or wrong-doing in this respect, is extremely disturbing. He immediately goes on to compartmentalize the problem as something Bonnie is responsible for. I simply find this hugely problematic; maybe my interpretation is missing something, though.
posted by polymodus at 1:17 PM on November 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


If Doctor was in such a position of authority, why not ask Kate Stewart (acting ambassador for the human race) to do something about their global-level xenophobia which was what literally served to oppress these new generation Zygon refugees, in the first place?

I don't think we have anywhere near enough information to conclude it's human xenophobia that oppresses the Zygons. In fact, it's a sort of long bow to draw. Zygons infiltrate (not the right word) different worlds to observe. This is what the ceasefire is about; Zygons are allowed to stay and do what they normally do. They aren't kicked out because they are aliens. They aren't oppressed because they are aliens. They are doing what they do. Now humans, as we know, are pretty untrusting and maybe they'd kick up a stink to find 20 million more humans in the world but right now, we don't know that humans had any idea they were here. How can they possibly be responsible for repressing them?

TL;DR. #NOTALLHUMANS ;)
posted by crossoverman at 3:06 PM on November 8, 2015


Did anyone figure out the subtle clue the actress who played Osgood used to distinguish between which one was human and which one was zygon?
posted by wittgenstein at 3:56 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Did anyone figure out the subtle clue the actress who played Osgood used to distinguish between which one was human and which one was zygon?

Well, the second Osgood at the end of the episode is clearly Zygon (because she's Bonnie), and she comes across a bit more together and squared away. My takeaway is the one better at acting like a normal human is the Zygon. That would make the primary Osgood, the one soloing most of the episode, the human.

Also, arguably wouldn't the one human-one Zygon rule not really work if they're both Zygons?
posted by leotrotsky at 4:40 PM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


That was one heck of a cold open. Jenna Coleman was a tour de force this episode.
posted by bettafish at 7:27 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


The plane aftermath was strange. Yes, the lack of concern about other crew was weird, but what was the deal with the police non reaction?
posted by hawthorne at 7:45 PM on November 8, 2015


The writing in these last two episodes was awful. Comically awful. Let's not have this writer back, please.
posted by painquale at 12:29 AM on November 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


So I've been reading lots of comments here about how much people love Capaldi, and I have been finding it so puzzling. I really haven't been much enjoying the last 2 seasons. There was a line in this episode that felt like it cleared up what I have been noticing - someone comments that the doctor never smiles. And even when he does, it's more like a teeth-gritting sort of thing. He just doesn't seem to take much joy in anything, and that's sort of sucking the fun out of the show for me, sadly.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:35 AM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


That being said, Jenna Coleman is still fun to watch, so there's that
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:35 AM on November 9, 2015


If nothing else, "I'm old enough to be your messiah," is a great line.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 5:17 AM on November 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


I love Capaldi as the Doctor, if only to imagine him taking on the role of a certain director of communications to release some stress :-)
posted by Pendragon at 6:17 AM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


The writing in these last two episodes was awful. Comically awful. Let's not have this writer back, please.

I'm pretty sure the following:
  • Experience in writing comically awful, incoherent, ridiculous, meaningless scripts
  • Ability to bring that Star Wars Christmas Special and Star Wars Prequel magic to a script
  • Knowledgeable in why Star Trek's The Alternative Factor is a great model for stories
  • Great at writing scripts the night before they're due
Is part of the Careers write up for "Writers wanted for Doctor Who".

So that's a big plus on the I want to be a Doctor Who writer resume. Even if you are or ever were a good writer you have to write utter nonsense to even be considered for Who. Same with composers.
posted by juiceCake at 11:46 AM on November 9, 2015


Yes, the lack of concern about other crew was weird, but what was the deal with the police non reaction?

The police in the cop car? I'm pretty sure those were Zygons, and not the good ones.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:00 PM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


These last two episodes have me seriously wondering if I've crossed over into "angry and confused old man" territory; this one wasn't quite as bad, but the first part was such a jumbled mess of nonsense that I was actually yelling at the television. I had been enjoying this season up until this point, hopefully this was just an aberration.
posted by jordemort at 2:19 PM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


On the last episode of Harmontown, Rob Schrab, writer of SCUD the Disposable Assassin and Heat Vision and Jack, hinted that he's in talks to write an episode. Not sure if he was serious or if the talks will go anywhere, but it's an interesting potential choice.
posted by painquale at 3:06 PM on November 9, 2015


Actually... it turns out that Schrab is up to write the Lego Movie Sequel, so the talks with the BBC he was hinting at were more likely about being able to use The Doctor in that movie. So, never mind.
posted by painquale at 3:10 PM on November 9, 2015


I have been finding it so puzzling. I really haven't been much enjoying the last 2 seasons.

Capaldi is definitely a departure from the 2 most recent Doctors, although he has a fair amount in common with the War Doctor and is in many ways a throwback to the Doctor of the original series. On the old show the Doctor was seemingly totally disinterested in romance (well, with non-Time Ladies anyway) and while they've occasionally implied this Doctor may have some romantic feelings for Clara those feelings are subtle and a far cry from the way the Doctors used to pine for Rose Tyler, for instance. The Doctor of the originak series was also (sometimes) a scrappy old guy, and this Doctor is definitely that. If you jumped on board with the new series, this Doctor might seem like he comes out of nowhere.

He also feels a bit like Eccelston's Doctor grown older and even angrier, which is kind of odd given that the 10th Doctor compared his 10.5 clone to the 9th and in not at all flattering terms, explicitly rejecting the 9th as dangerous and badly needing Rose's stabilizing influence. If the Doctor has any control over his regenerations (and that's an ongoing debate) maybe the events of the 50th anniversary special left him feeling like it was time to embrace his anger again?

RTD once pointed out that the actual things the Doctor says sound pretty consistent over the decades, it's the actors who really change the lines. And it's true, you could hand (for example) a 4th Doctor script to Capaldi and he'd make it work, but it'd play as a 12th Doctor story. Sometimes I struggle to see Tennant or Smith's Doctor in Capaldi, but I can see Tom Baker and William Hartnell and Jon Pertwee in there. Every Doctor reflects aspects of the same guy, and if this one seems too angry to you think of it as an old friend who is going through a rough patch.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:12 PM on November 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


I enjoyed these episodes well enough. While I don't have a problem with Who being political, afterall there have been precedents, I'm not sure if the writers were up to the challenge of creating a nuanced take on the refugee crisis / jihadists. As Polymodus says above, I think the Doctor's speech inadvertently undermines what they are trying to say. I think I get what they are saying I just don't think it was very well said or thought through. In general with these episodes I found the motivations of the Zygons fairly opaque.

Perhaps it is because I've been rewatching Seasons 12 & 13 of Classic Who, but I've noticed a lot of references to those seasons in this season of Nu Who (and classic Who in general with this episode's "5 rounds rapid"). So many that it can't be just a coincidence. It thrills me but it is making me wonder what that is about. After all, we've had many seasons where Classic Who has barely been acknowledged so why now & why so much? There's even a theme of hybrids in some of the episodes in those seasons so I wonder if that might be it.

Overall Capaldi is working for me and he is a Doctor that I can actually understand versus the last two who felt, to me, uneven at best and infantile at worst.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:23 PM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think these have been by far the best two episodes of the series, they've been tonally interesting and suitable to who this Doctor is. I loved loved loved Capaldi's speech, and I do not believe that it was a coincidence that it aired the day before remembrance Sunday. I have a lot of time for the idea that after a conflict is over you have to sit down and talk with each other, so why not do that first? The cyclical nature of conflict is something the Doctor is very familiar with, and who's going to take the long view if it's not him?
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:35 AM on November 10, 2015


Den of Geek interview with Peter Harness.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:49 AM on November 10, 2015


There's something I've been trying to shoehorn into sentences... I was quietly amazed by the Osgoods, as a metaphor and a science fiction idea.

The treaty, after all, isn't a solution: it's a step on the way to a solution, it's what makes the solution possible. It's like tolerance: Tolerance is rubbish, it's just bigotry holding its tongue, but it's a necessary step on the way to acceptance, which is the only thing worth settling for in the end.

The Osgoods represent something further on the way to a solution.

The Zygons, after all, don't have identity beyond rough status markers. They all look the same and don't have names. The challenge for them in living amongst humans is accepting an identity.

What HumanOsgood gave up was her uniqueness. The other Osgood isn't her twin - not just someone who looks like her - but is also her. What ZygonOsgood had to do was embrace identity and difference - whereas she is now exactly like the other Osgood, they are both completely different from all the other humans in a way that no Zygon can be different from all the other Zygons.

What both the Osgoods did was wholly and unquestioningly embrace this: There is no longer HumanOsgood and ZygonOsgood but rather a plurality of Osgood.

I wish I were better at writing this stuff. There is something there that quietly blew my mind.

I must confess, the UNIT spinoff is now the one I'd like to see, though it's the one that's really not going to happen.
posted by Grangousier at 7:54 AM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Funny you should mention a UNIT spinoff... Big Finish released their first four UNIT audio stories featuring Osgood and Kate Stewart just yesterday.
posted by plastic_animals at 8:25 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Zygons, after all, don't have identity beyond rough status markers. They all look the same and don't have names.

You make an interesting point, but as they are presented in their first serial they have names and identities (not just status markers). I guess "Broton" could be a title. Apparently hermaphroditic, some prefer feminine forms and others masculine forms. And ridiculously they live on the lactic fluid of the "Skarasen" a cyborg dinosaur creature they have living in Loch Ness [hey why didn't they talk about that in Z. Invasion / Inversion].

I think the key here, as far as these episodes go, is that they have no place to go as their home planet is destroyed or otherwise unlivable.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:35 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, I was sure... ah, well, never mind. The point for me is that Osgood has willingly chosen to be an alien at home rather than a human exploring in space (however much she'd like to).
posted by Grangousier at 10:26 AM on November 10, 2015


Funny you should mention a UNIT spinoff... Big Finish released their first four UNIT audio stories featuring Osgood and Kate Stewart just yesterday.

Wow. A UNIT series, a River Song series, a War Doctor series, an Eighth Doctor Time War series, a series with the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble. The regular TV show has some big competition.
posted by crossoverman at 5:39 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I loved this episode up until the point where Bonnie became an Osgood. It was the obvious ending, but it seemed out of character. Very few people can accept defeat and forgiveness so graciously. And yes, that was the point, I get it, but... it fell flat for me. On the other hand, I don't have a better ending.

Also, Mr Ruki asked why Kate didn't just shoot Bonnie in the Black Archive. I made him pause so I could opine, and when I was done, he said, "No, it was really just an idle question."
posted by Ruki at 6:14 PM on November 10, 2015


The regular TV show has some big competition.

Big Finish is fully awesome. As Who fans we are truly lucky to have them. Because they literally have something for every kind of Who fan and their output is consistently good. The TV show old or new has no where near that kind of track record.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:38 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


These last two episodes have me seriously wondering if I've crossed over into "angry and confused old man" territory;

It happens, and you probably have.
But is being an "angry and confused old man" bad? THEY will say yes.

, but as they are presented in their first serial they have names and identities (not just status markers). I guess "Broton" could be a title. Apparently hermaphroditic,

This idea was developed in, AFAIK, the BBC books.... I read the BBC one with the McGann Doctor.

They have always been refuges, whatever that meant in the 1970s for the UK clearly it means something different in the 21C. But the Zygons are invaders.

Introducing them in the 50th seems to have caused issues which this episode not only didn't solve,cgreated more questions than it answered.
posted by Mezentian at 4:16 AM on November 12, 2015


Seriously, how was Davies NOT talking about being queer there

Well, he wasn't.... probably.
Your interpretation is new to me, I admit, and if you think it was talking to you, fine. You might be right.
That's the magic of film.

But I have always read it as a poor joke, with little depth of thought.

But, hey, if we're still discussing the subtext of A Cave Of Fire, I am sure what we think doesn't matter.
posted by Mezentian at 4:24 AM on November 12, 2015


But I have always read it as a poor joke, with little depth of thought.

"When you're a kid, they tell you it's all... grow up. Get a job. Get married. Get a house. Have a kid, and that's it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It's so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better."

Where's the joke in that? Davies is saying, in no uncertain terms, that the whole job-marriage-house-kids thing isn't all there is to life, putting the words in the mouth of a man who is in a loving, extremely unconventional relationship with a woman who is, in biological terms, no longer a woman. Even if you disagree with me about the read of the episode's message, I don't see how this could be read as a joke. (Unless you're referring specifically to the line about them having a love life. If so, that was indeed a joke but it was only a small part of the scene. I do think it's significant Davies included it, because I think he was underlining that these two have a healthy relationship and yes they have sex and if you think that's weird it's YOUR problem.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:31 PM on November 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Love & Monsters really strikes me as Davies' most personal episode, for better or worse. FWIW Ursula, I think that particular bit you quote and how you've interpreted it is how it was meant to be interpreted. I don't think it is there for a laugh, at least I don't think so. While I'm glad you found worth in that episode, for me it really crystallizes my problems with the RTD era.

The weakest bit for me is the whole Abzorbaloff alien. It is a pretty striking dig at obsessive Who fans in general and more specifically a dig at controversial super fan Ian Levine. While I don't entirely disagree with Davies' take on Who super fans or even Ian Levine, I found the alien to be a cheap shot and in fact cheapened the show for me. It made the episode, which could have been a great story of inclusion, into a personal attack.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:30 PM on November 12, 2015


It is a pretty striking dig at obsessive Who fans in general and more specifically a dig at controversial super fan Ian Levine.

I don't know anything about the Ian Levine thing and I'll have to look into it. While I've grown to appreciate RTD a lot more than I used to, the guy is hardly perfect and I'm not saying your take on the episode is wrong. (For all I know, RTD may have told the press, in so many words, "It's a parody of the annoying super fans, those people who really need to get a life.")

But I didn't see Elton's fan group as a negative thing. They were brought to together by this obsessive interest and ended up becoming real friends with their own little ELO cover band and everything. Elton's speech at the end could be read as a celebration of geekdom, as much as an LGBT thing, and it wouldn't surprise me if that was intentional too. Basically, there is a rich life to be lived outside of the mainstream.

If the Abzorbaloff was meant as a knock on a particular person, I sure hope that person deserved it because it was one of the most frightening, disgusting creatures in the show's history! Maybe it was Davies' take on obsessive fans... but now that I think of it the Abzorbaloff is actually the only one in the group who ISN'T an obsessive fan! He's a pretender, bringing these people together for his own sinister reasons.

(But as I noted in another thread, RTD does have this weird fat-shame-y thing and I suppose this alien may be the ultimate expression of that. It may well be that RTD was making fun of some 300-pound fan who got on his nerves. It would disappoint me, but like I said, Davies' isn't perfect!)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:29 PM on November 12, 2015


The Abzorbaloff was the winner of a design a Dr Who Monster competition... think the kid that won it was bit knarked as he wanted it to be huge, like bigger than a bus.

Sad Tony, who cam second, was utterly robbed.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:26 AM on November 13, 2015


The Abzorbaloff was the winner of a design a Dr Who Monster competition

I'd heard that, yeah. I did a quick Google of Ian Levine, and some people were conjecturing the character was based on him but nobody was really saying why and I wasn't seeing evidence of Davies clashing with the guy. (It may have been all over the UK press, but in the US most of the Who gossip we get is pretty straightforward stuff about spoilers and cast changes.)

If Davies said something about how the character was based on Levine or he was really mean about obsessive fans I'm not seeing it and it seems like one of those things where you could spend a few hours digging and still never know. I'm not ready to do a deep dive like that just now, so I'm going to carry on loving that episode until somebody gives me reason to think Davies was being mean to a super-fan for no good reason.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:11 AM on November 13, 2015


It does kind of make sense, but I can't put it into comprehensible, non-litigable words. Although (without wishing to be body-shaming, heaven forfend), there's a certain physical resemblance.

At the very least, he considers himself to have been a Who superfan and a serious authority on the series (even unto unofficially consulting on its continuity during the 1980s, according to certain sources possibly not unadjacent to Mr Levine). This heightened view of his importance isn't shared by a number of other members of Dr Who fandom of the 1980s and 1990s, which included figures such as Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffatt. Thus it's conjectured that RTD put in a character who intrudes into a fandom, bullies it mercilessly and finally absorbs it to sate his appetite as part of a long-running fandom bickering war.

He also thinks he's the world's number one authority on Northern Soul, FWIW, and occasionally turns up as a talking head in BBC4 documentaries on both subjects.

That might do for a start. Hopefully someone will contribute more (and more accurate) detail. There's also a bunch of John Nathan-Turner related gossip which is well above my pay grade.

I don't think I could even begin to explain Lawrence Miles, though. Thankfully, that will probably never be necessary.
posted by Grangousier at 6:20 AM on November 13, 2015


There's also a bunch of John Nathan-Turner related gossip which is well above my pay grade.

Oh boy
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:40 AM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Even if you disagree with me about the read of the episode's message, I don't see how this could be read as a joke. (Unless you're referring specifically to the line about them having a love life. If so, that was indeed a joke but it was only a small part of the scene. I do think it's significant Davies included it, because I think he was underlining that these two have a healthy relationship and yes they have sex and if you think that's weird it's YOUR problem.)

The world is dark and full or terrors.
Love And Monsters has clearly given you more grist for the thought mill than most, and hey, fair play.
I can't see it myself, but I read A Writer's Tale and found him skeevy.

I can't tell you your reading is wrong, and that line you quote is, frankly, gut-punchy.
But as Obi-Wan says, your take is from a 'certain point of view'.
I'm of the type who thinks that the Doctor wouldn't just leave Moaning Myrtle as a blow-job slab.
(And, while I had never considered the disability angle, my gut says that is not where he was going).

Also, I have never drawn a parallel between Lavine and Davies, but given they will have known each other, if not met each other, I'd not be surprised. I am sure he has said the group in L&M was based on fans, and it seems as such, but it needn't be Lavine.

I knew Lavine's name in the '80s, pre- Doctor In Distress (no link).

Oh boy

I see what you did there.
posted by Mezentian at 5:11 AM on November 14, 2015


Oh boy

I see what you did there.


That was unintentional

Heard some shocking stuff re JNT back in the day that you could hardly believe.... but given what's since been revealed, more believable but still above the pay grade for sure.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:52 AM on November 14, 2015


I regret starting a conversation about Levine, as it is way off topic, but if you're curious about him and his connection with Who fandom check these DWO Whocast episodes:

Episode 256.
Episode 257.

They interview the man himself. It is a pretty warts and all interview. As to his relationship with Davies... This conversation should illustrate it somewhat.

As for Lawrence Miles... no comment. Actually, I like the About Time books on Doctor Who that he co-authored. But they are pretty snarky so they may not be for all tastes.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:53 PM on November 14, 2015


As to his relationship with Davies... This conversation should illustrate it somewhat.

It was hard to know what to make of that exchange. I could read it as Davies being in a joshing mood, dealing in a jokey-annoyed way with a fan who he feels is kind of pestering him. But I honestly don't know. Much as I love Doctor Who and admire much of what Davies has done, he isn't even the showrunner anymore and I'd feel like I was wasting my time to really try and get to the bottom of a rumored feud from like 8 years ago.

This JNT stuff, on the other hand, THAT's got me intrigued! (I feel skeevy for even being curious, but at the same time...)

Miles' Wikipedia page is prety bare bones. Any chance of a recap of why he's controversial?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:24 PM on November 14, 2015


Aside from putting together the About Time episode guides (which I haven't read), Lawrence Miles was one of the writers of Doctor Who novels from the time the show was off the air, and wrote a number of incredibly high-concept, idea-packed stories that presaged many of the developments of the relaunched show (most notably the Time War, but there are a number of people who've argued that his 1997 book Alien Bodies is practically a series bible for New Who). The controversy is that he's apparently very good at burning his career bridges behind him, but I'm not up on the details. He certainly doesn't mince words about the new series on his blog.
posted by bettafish at 5:11 PM on November 17, 2015


Miles did give us the Seal Of Rassilon photoshop, which I am dearly hoping to see in Hell Bent.
But Who will disappoint.
posted by Mezentian at 11:50 PM on November 20, 2015


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