I think it’s fair to say that if you haven’t enjoyed Series 8, this penultimate episode isn’t going to change your mind. If you’re one of those people who have relished Peter Capaldi’s alien Doctor, the building up of the characters of Clara Oswald and Danny Pink, and wondered about exactly who and what Missy is, then you’re going to find much to enjoy here.
Even if there weren’t strict guidelines on what can and can’t be said up front about the episode, you don’t want this spoiled (and a couple of key scenes were withheld from the preview to ensure that there are still at least two shocks coming on Saturday for everyone outside the production team and presumably DWM). There’s a rawness between Doctor and companion we haven’t seen for many years, and the show goes into territory that it hasn’t – and I suspect many people will believe after seeing this, shouldn’t – although I am guessing that the finale may alter perspective yet further.
Michelle Gomez and Chris Addison both exude charm and menace as required, and there are some interesting takes on the Cybermen. Both Jenna Coleman and Samuel Anderson give strong performances to match the material they’re given and there are some quintessential Doctor-ish moments from Capaldi. Director Rachel Talalay gives it a visual polish that maintains the standard we’ve seen throughout the year, but it’s an episode that I would advise those with younger children to watch first before letting them see it.
Verdict: Nightmarish for very different reasons from some of the earlier episodes this season, this is certainly the darkest the show has been for a long time. 8/10