Doctor Who Review: Death in Heaven

Peter Capaldi’s first season concludes with Yet Another Invasion of Earth™

Cast and Crew Information

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor
Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara Oswald
Samuel Anderson as Danny Pink
Michelle Gomez as Missy
Chris Addison as Seb
Ingrid Oliver as Osgood
Jemma Redgrave as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart
Sanjeev Bhaskar as Colonel Ahmed
Antonion Bouroupael as Boy
Shane Keogh-Grenade as Teenage Boy
Katie Bignell as Teenage Girl
James Pearse as Graham
Jeremiah Krage as Cyberman
Nicholas Briggs as the voice of the Cybermen

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay
Produced by Peter Bennet


The Master is back, and not only has she very firmly reminded us of the canonicity of cross-gender regeneration, she’s also covered the Earth with Cybermen.

High Point

  • This is cheating, but I want to give a high point to some marvellous misdirection in the trailers
  • No companion has ever bluffed like Clara before
  • The Doctor once danced with Sylvia Anderson!
  • Missy’s Mary Poppins entrance

Low Point

  • The big speech. You’ll know the one. A shame.

The Review

Originality: well there are only so many ways to kill everyone on Earth, aren’t there. The reasoning behind it is new, though. Five out of six.

The effects were disappointing after last week, although this might be a symptom of budget strain because there sure are a lot of them. I’m not at all convinced big jets should fly in that direction though. Four out of six.

The story writhes all over the place in a manner I found personally very satisfying, and keeps up a steady flow of surprises, revelations and other events throughout with only the occasional weak moment. Five out of six.

The acting was a group of talented actors getting to round off a season that’s been heavy with setups, foreshadowing and mystery. They’re also clearly having a wonderful time doing it, and the result is a set of wonderful performances particularly from the leads. Six out of six.

The production is solid, although it didn’t impress me as much as last week’s. Not that I can find a particular fault, but it didn’t hang together in quite the same way. Five out of six.

The emotional response… well, there is a scene in a graveyard which is actually scary. This is what Doctor Who is meant to be like, coupled with excitement, relief and the occasional bit of heartbreak. Six out of six.

Overall, this episode isn’t quite as good as its first part, but is basically still excellent and a great way to round off Capaldi’s first year in the role. Six out of six.

In total, Death in Heaven receives thirty-seven out of forty-two.

19 replies on “Doctor Who Review: Death in Heaven”

    • And I can’t help thinking there ought to be something significant about Claras date of birth…

    • My personal theory on Osgood:

      The Doctor decides she’d be a great companion, and says as much. So after the Christmas Special, he pops back a bit earlier in Osgood’s time stream, picks her up and goes travelling. That’s why she’s dressed like the Eleventh Doctor, and why she already was so up to speed on the Master being regenerated into a female. I haven’t gotten to rewatch the episode yet, but when I do I want to see if there’s anything there to contradict that theory.

  1. Shame about Osgood though.

    …And about too many of the plot points. The world agrees to put the Doctor in charge? UNIT might– and that would make no change to the basic story, other than the “Doctor tempted with authority” aspect would have been only slightly less unsubtle.

    I like Capaldi as the Doctor. I thought Michelle Gomez played deranged in an amusingly over-the-top manner. But I’m not a huge fan of this season, and the finale, while better than many of this year’s episodes, didn’t do enough to change my mind.

    Still, Nick Frost as some kind of Father Christmas? That should be fun. Wonder if Santa is a Time Lord? That would explain a number of things.

  2. I don’t know. I didn’t like it that much. It was wrapped up to neatly and quickly. And the lack of long term planning on the Masters (Mistresses) part bugged me. As if she would not have foreseen the Doctor blowing up the cybermen.

    Though it could have been really just a big setup for the final scene when he goes to the coordinates given him.

    • What did that mean, though, really? That Gallifrey is actually gone (and we’re stuck with the Doctor as the Last of his Cliche)? That the Master/Mistress lied, after all? That it’s there, but somehow not there? It seems a poor payoff– and if it’s gone, did she make all of her toys?

      • And did he really check various alternate ‘realities’????

        I think we’re gonna find out the Master/Mistress was right and that it IS there just in a different dimension or something, the little space in time like CupAsoup

  3. I think we’ll see Osgood again. Don’t forget, “Day of the Doctor” spoke of Clara’s previous visit, but Osgood was still around, so this story is later than that one. Clara hasn’t experienced the “previous visit” yet but Jenna Coleman is out with the Christmas special, so I think Osgood will be back. Also, we have yet to meet Osgood’s sister.

    Finally, my high point by a country mile was the “of course… Earth’s darkest hour, and mine. Where else would you be?” part.

      • Still not confirmed by anything close to an official source (just the usual unnamed ones), but the rumours that she’ll be bowing out during the Christmas Special do seem a bit more believable than some of the others we’ve had previously. The lighter mood and generally more upbeat endings of the Christmas Specials could also be a good way to undo some of the finale’s tragedy – what, or rather who, would Clara most want for Christmas, do you think?

        Still, while I am actually leaning more towards her leaving, given all the misdirection we saw around the season finale, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it were to turn out that we were being misled again…

  4. Oh for goodness sake.

    So I go “Hey I’m smart and I hate cliffhangers, so I’ll have Episode 11 sit there and I won’t watch it. And then I’ll get 12 and not watch it.” and at this point I have two episodes and it’s REALLY hard not to watch them, and here’s the thing. Every Monday I see this friend of mine who’s a HUGE Doctor Who fan, and we talk for a few minutes about This Week’s Episode.

    So I see her and I go “I didn’t watch (episode 11) because I hate cliffhangers, so I’ll watch the last 3 episodes all together” and she goes “was this week’s part of the last ones?” (which in retrospect is INSANE since she SAW Episode 11!!!)

    And LAST Monday I see her and I go “Yeah now I’m sitting on 11 and 12, but I’ll have a mini-marathon next weekend” and does she go “Dude, the series ended this week”? NO SHE DOES NOT. She says “That sounds awesome!”

    I’d love to think she’s messing with me, but she’s not. She just doesn’t pay attention at all. Not to Doctor Who, she loves that thing. She just clearly never heard a word I said. Which is kinda impressive when you think about it…

      • No, definitely not. Well, not more than usual.

        Actually now I’m torn between joking about that and just ranting about knowing her for well over a decade and she still never really listens, and mentioning that she’s married but her husband is a little intimidated by me, which is NOT something that happens often!

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