This week, rather than touch on each of the episodes individually, I opted to wait until after the two episodes had finished and discuss them as a whole. The Zygon episodes, an extension of the plot from the 50th Anniversary Special, does what so few episodes of this show have ever done, admitting that previous episodes have real ramifications.
It seems as if the theme of this season is holding the Doctor accountable, both with the Lady Me and now with his Zygon plan. For once, the man who runs away is being forced to confront the real consequences of his decisions, and, for fans, it’s wonderful.
When the 50th Anniversary episode was over, and we were done squealing over all of the awesome, I’m sure I’m not the only person who thought “having tons of Zygons just chilling on earth isn’t something we’re just ignoring now, is it?” But, having been a fan of the classic series, I suspected that it was. So, when I saw the names of these episodes, I was pleasantly surprised.
Aside from the Doctor’s newfound responsibility for his actions, what impressed me most about this episode was how it handled the possibility of war. Since it was revealed that the Doctor fought in the Time War, it has been referenced a couple of times. Mostly these have been passing statements, mainly ways to show that the Doctor hasn’t forgotten again. This episode, however, we get another look at the depth of the scars it left on him.
The beauty of an older Doctor is that he can show a depth of experience that just doesn’t register as well on a younger face. Both Tennant and Smith did fantastic jobs representing an old Timelord with a young face, but our brains are simply coded to recognize youth in a different way than age. Capaldi, when he rages against the mentality of people wishing for war–calling them children throwing a tantrum–is simply so much more believable. He looks like a man who went through a war and came out on the other side, different, scarred but still standing. I’ll trade unending energy and attractiveness for that in the Doctor any day.
The other complication from this episode comes in a simple throwaway line (and I’m not talking about the first name gag). Once it’s revealed that the boxes are empty, Kate Stewart comments that they can’t just forget. The Doctor, predictably, wipes her memory and the memories of the random Zygons present, but his response is troubling. “That’s what you said the other fifteen times.”
The implication here, and again I’m hoping it’s not one we’re just sweeping under the rug, is that this isn’t the first time the Zygons have tried to fight back. In fact, based on how long it has been since the anniversary episode (assuming both dates correspond with their real-world equivalents), it’s almost a monthly thing.
Does this mean we’ll have to deal with the Zygons again? I certainly hope so, if only to see more of Osgood.