12 Great Moments From The Zygon Invasion
Mark McCullough picks out 12 faves from the 7th episode of Series 9.
It was bound to happen at some point, and I am sorry it had to be this episode: there was always going to be an episode that I just didn’t enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I think the writing (and concept) behind The Zygon Invasion was as high a level as we have had in the show for a while. That’s as much as I will say for now until I have seen the rest of it. I did say in the comments previously you can choose great moments from any episode, so this shall be a case for that argument.
12. The Cliff-hanger
In truth this moment could have been a lot higher up this list if I was viewing the episode in isolation. However now we are past the halfway point of the series, so I have to consider the episode’s place within the series. Unfortunately this week’s offering suffers a bit in that it was too samey with both The Magician’s Apprentice and Under the Lake. Once more we have a situation where a main protagonist is in a life or death situation. Granted this is probably the best of the three occasions, and a real highlight was getting to see Jenna Coleman turn her hand to playing evil. She just happens to do so well that I hope she gets a chance again in the future, a performance almost as good as the volcano in Dark Water. Some of the tension is undoubtedly lost however as we know the Doctor is not going to die here.
11. Strike Aborted
This one is a truly beautiful moment: One which proves that you don’t need a main character, a huge emotional dilemma, or a burst of high intensity action to create some of the most impactful TV. What Harness manages to do in the simplest of ways in inject a bit of humanity to an extremely difficult situation: A decision whether to bomb a village or not. It is a beautiful commentary on how the heart can overrule the head because when you look at it all intelligence suggests that the village is occupied by only Zygons, yet because the image of her family is used, the operator aborts.
10. Osgood the Hybrid?
Osgood refuses to reveal her true identity and offers a counter to every piece of logic that the Doctor uses to try to figure it out. Another key thing to draw from this scene is the fact that Hybrid was mentioned again, making it three (four) out of four (five) stories the word has been used. In the absence of any other obvious arc, one has to wonder what hybrid is in store for us in the Series Finale.
9. Doctor Disco Undercover
The creepy start set the tone for the rest of the episode: unexpected twists, tension, and a good old injection of typical Doctor Who humour. Speaking of which, as of late the show has developed its own unique style of comedy over the course of this series, and I cannot be happier about it. The Doctor’s idea of deep cover here is almost as good as it was in The Caretaker last year. The narrative quickly turns serious as the Doctor confronts the Zygon leaders, only for them to be kidnapped by the rebel Zygons as he watches on helpless.
8. Kate Arrives at Truth or Consequences
In truth, it was Truth or Consequences that held most of the problems of the episode for me. Not only was the pacing here out of sync with the rest of the episode, something which was especially evident when spliced against the London scenes. The biggest problem was how evident it was that the other woman there was a Zygon, and the fact that Kate didn’t realise until it was too late. Personally I was questioning how one person was able to survive, this questioning became more apparent as the remains of the Zygon’s victims were revealed. How Kate was unable to realise this is baffling and incompetent from someone who is head of UNIT. However this might be an extension of the issues noted in The Magician’s Apprentice and may well be addressed in the next part of the story. Why I have included this as a moment anyway is because it was visually stunning, and gave the episode a sense of scale fitting of the ambition of the narrative.
7. The Osgood Box
A scene from the pre-title sequence where both versions of Osgood outline the terms of the peace treaty which underpins the entire story. This scene is also key in establishing the fact that not all of the Zygons are evil. The dialogue highlights a truth that is real to the world around us, anyone is capable of good or evil, and it is wrong to judge someone based on their background. It was important that the episode highlighted this now, as the narrative didn’t demonstrate it again afterwards, something I feel was a mistake. Also worth picking up on here is that we were told not once but twice to remember details from this scene which will be important later. My best guess is the nerve gas, especially as the next episode is The Zygon Inversion
6. “We Want the World”
I have included this moment because of the discrepancies between the two parts of the scene. Before we cut away we see the Zygon tell the Doctor (acting as President of the World) that the goal is to take the world. Yet when we cut back the conversation their goal has decreased to earning the right to a home and living in their true form. Of course these two goals may not be as mutually exclusive as they first appear, perhaps the Zygons believe that the only way to achieve the latter is via the former. This should be interesting in light of the comments from the previous moment, how would the good Zygon’s react to such a goal? At the moment we seem to a have situation where humans are presented as grey (we learn of their attack on a young Zygon) and Zygon’s as entirely bad (that we have seen anyway). So next week needs to do something to prove the Doctor and Osgood right.
5. “It’s not Paranoia when it’s Real”
My next moment features a reunion of The Thick of It Cast members, but couldn’t be more different than any time these two have previously shared a screen. The scene features the Doctor trying to diffuse the tension of the gravity of the situation. However he is quickly retorted by Walsh who reminds him (and the audience) that anyone could be a Zygon. I absolutely adore the simplicity of the line Walsh uses: It’s not paranoia when it is real. It’s a line that I found particularly impactful and as such have granted it a place on the list. A small snapshot of Harness’ ability to create and realise fantastic characters.
4. Once Upon a Time…
Call me a fanboy if you must, with Doctor Who that is something I will never be ashamed of admitting to. The scene that recapped The Day of the Doctor was just perfect. The nostalgia reminding me of the brilliance of what was such an amazing day to be a Doctor Who fan. The joy of seeing three of the past Doctors again too was something that brought a huge smile to my face before the episode even began. What I like most about this scene is that it nullifies my only criticism of The Day of the Doctor, because it makes it look like this was always the plan for the Zygon subplot of the episode. Whether it actually was or not is now irrelevant.
3. ‘Clara’’s Identity Revealed
I have to say I’d seen this one coming, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still excellent. I knew something was not right when Clara left the kid in a situation where someone who would have been trained in child protection would not have been comfortable. The fact that the Zygon Clara was trying to get the UNIT soldiers to kill the humans that were being used as duplicates is disturbing at best. In fact it was very reminiscent of Missy in The Witch’s Familiar, trying to get the Doctor to kill Clara. This wasn’t the only mischief Clara Zygon got up to this week, let’s not forget it was her trivial pursuit knowledge that leads Kate to Truth or Consequences. I don’t usually recommend rewatches, but this episode is definitely one that gets better when you do.
2. The Zygon Revolution
Chilling is the very definition of this scene where we learn the fate of the Zygon leadership who were kidnapped in the opening scenes. Not only that but it was a pretty topical, and brave decision, to include an execution scene via video message. What the scene also showed us is the brutality of the Zygon rebellion, killing anyone who stands in their way, Humans or Zygons alike. Unfortunately we didn’t see enough of the Zygon leadership beforehand for their death to have the impact it could have. Other than the fact that we knew they stood for good, their deaths would have served noting more than enforcing the pure evil of the splinter group. I suspect that it will prove a plot point next week as the Zygons now have a power vacuum at the top.
1. Are you my Mummy?
Top scene of the episode has to go to the highly emotive church scene where the UNIT soldier is faced with an impossible decision. A huge part of this scene comes from Murray Gold’s subtle yet powerful score which perfectly complements Harness’ sublime script. In terms of what actually happened in the scene it was extremely moving and I found it impossible not to emphasise with the soldier. There has been some criticism in the past that UNIT soldiers are nothing more than muscle, this scene certainly moves to dispel that. It is hugely telling that the soldiers would rather risk death than risk killing a loved one. Anyone who says that it shows incompetence on UNIT’s behalf, I feel that they are missing the point behind the scene: the humanity.