With Dark Water, Steven Moffat has excelled, giving us surprise, suspense, some mild humour and plenty to think about. He continued to dabbled with the show’s DNA, linked up parts of the story arc and showed how relationships move on with some complex characters. The story covered ground that might never have been expected and with deft brushstrokes this was nothing like children’s television. In places it was uncomfortable viewing and also visually splendid.
So I liked it then!
From the earliest moments of Clara’s PostIt mania, through Danny’s death to the scenes by the volcano there was nothing predictable about this (until the reveal at the end).
Grief does strange things and for Clara she needs Danny. Here, now the Doctor does something we have not seen before, instead of looking to change history (with care) he will go to the afterlife (if there is one) and bring Danny back. No more snide PE teacher comments. Why has he never done this before? What has Clara done for him – go back and re-watch Name of the Doctor and Time of the Doctor. Of course, if possible this is a massive can of worms for the future. Let the future beware, I say!
The story the explored the Doctor’s relationship with Clara, Missy, Danny’s past and had much to say about death and beyond. For many people, me included, this will have been uncomfortable viewing and the concept of feeling the fate of your body from beyond the grave was and is very disturbing.
The slow reveal of the Cybermen was teased and protracted while Moffat tried to take the focus away from Missy, in the end though there was only one person she could be – what next?
The death of Danny pulled no punches and pushed the show into less familiar territory. The volcano scene was a little clunky (we knew it had to be a red herring) but once the Nethersphere was entered (and the 3W HQ) everything was immaculate. The story avoided too much pseudo-science just presented us with a fait accompli – the people think they are the dead and they persist in a strange floating future world / matrix construct floating around inside St Pauls (apparently).
Michelle Gomez then went on to channel John Simm as she harangued the Doctor on the steps of the London’s ancient cathedral and as fans relived scenes of classic Who the inevitable reveal took place – now the precedent is set, when will the Doctor become female?
As a piece of television, this is an example of the BBC at its best – a so-called family show is able to full recreate war scenes as a drop-in to a studio story intercut with central London and some amazing CGI. Story aside, this is a tremendous production and directing by Rachel Talalay (Tank Girl, Ally McBeal, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)).
The series arc
With some disappointment that Missy wasn’t the woman who gave Clara the TARDIS phone number in Bells of Saint John we now get to puzzle over how The Master survived the end of Last of the Time Lords. This season has been very happy to throw away human history (yet not change time willy nilly ?!) but I suspect Orson Pink will happen so Danny will un-die (if resurrected, what about the rest of humanity) so I predict a resolution based on love and even an RTD like deus ex machina rewind.
What do I know?!