Doctor Who Review: The Zygon Invasion

Remember the Zygon doubles from the 50th anniversary special? Yes? Good. Time for the truth, or the consequences.

Cast and Crew

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor
Jenna Coleman as Clara
Ingrid Oliver as Osgood
Jemma Redgrave as Kate
Jaye Griffiths as Jac
Cleopatra Dickens as Claudette
Sasha Dickens as Jemima
Rebecca Front as Walsh
Abhishek Singh as Little boy
Samila Kularatne as Little boy’s mum
Todd Kramer as Hitchley
Jill Winternitz as Lisa
Gretchen Egolf as Norlander
Karen Mann as Hitchley’s Mum
Aidan Cook and Tom Wilton as Zygons

Written by Peter Harness
Produced by Peter Bennett
Directed by Daniel Nettheim


The peace treaty that the Doctors forced on UNIT and the Zygons in the 50th anniversary special led to twenty million Zygons taking human form and living around the world. Things were fine, until some of them decided this wasn’t acceptable.

High Points

Lots of callbacks, both within and outside the revival era.

Osgood’s explanation.

Low Points

The Doctor seems unusually passive at points where I would have expected him to dive straight in.

The Scores

Originality: shapeshifters are invading! Wait! No! They already invaded and nobody noticed because they’re shapeshifters! Hands up if you’ve heard it before. It’s a good story to tell, but we’re not seeing anything really new yet. 3/6.

There is minimal effects work by the standards of the show. The Zygon costumes just don’t look all that great, but they are stuck with the legacy of the designs from the 1970s here. Good lightning bolts though. 4/6.

The story is a fairly standard first half set up a situation and then throw in a few hand grenades story. We’ll see how it pans out next week, but I can’t really take a lot of it seriously because I honestly don’t believe they’re going to change the status quo this much at this point in the series. It’s also moving too quickly through three parallel threads, which means we don’t get time to care about any of them before we’re into the next scenes from the others. 3/6.

The acting is mostly good, with Coleman getting to explore a bit more range than usual. 5/6.

The emotional response is hampered by the whole thing being a bit over the top really. It’s entertaining enough, but the flickerings of empathy and actually caring that started to develop got trodden on by the slightly manic editing. 3/6.

Production: choppy, ambitious and reminiscent of the Pertwee era lingering on monsters. Sounds great though. 3/6.

Overall it’s enjoyable but while I enjoy this new sense of having many two-part stories and wouldn’t want them to stop, I now feel like things are getting too ambitious and I could really see this episode being filled out and calmed down a bit to allow us to truly appreciate the developing situation. 4/6.

In total, The Zygon Invasion receives 25/42.

4 replies on “Doctor Who Review: The Zygon Invasion”

  1. The Doctor reminds us most of the “invaders” are peaceful people, and only a small faction want to destroy “our” civilization. And if we persist in bombing indiscriminately, we can expect to “radicalize the lot.” I don’t mean to suggest it’s a straight allegory (that would be a little, let’s say, tacky), but the echoes of world events are, I think, intentional.

    Given the problems inherent in dealing with shape-shifters, shouldn’t they have been more cautious about rescuing one specific person? They don’t even address the issue (that I can recall) that their target might be a shape-shifter pretending to be the target.

    • I got the impression the target and the shapeshifting twin has gotten along so well and were so committed to the peace that they weren’t considering themselves separate entities. Once rescued, the target could be a shapeshifter or the original, but either way, it was the one they wanted to rescue.

      • That was addressed. I’m talking about the potential for the target being a completely different shapeshifter, working for the other side.

  2. While I am happy for whatever Deus Ex Machina gets us back Osgood, I’m not too into this plot. I’m a recent Doctor Who convert that’s only watched the new run though.

    Sometimes you can smell a reset button whack coming a mile away, and it’ll take one heck of a good second half to not make me feel cheated by the resolution for something this far-reaching.

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