Peter Harness and Steven Moffat’s script is on a smaller scale than the international scope of the first part – just look at the cast list in Radio Times! – but it’s considerably more powerful.
There are some fantastic moments for Jenna Coleman, particularly when she’s allowed to let rip in her Zygon persona (who’s given the most appropriate nickname by the Doctor!); likewise Ingrid Oliver’s Osgood is the lynchpin around which much of the episode revolves. The Zygons are appropriately blobby and threatening.
But chances are when you’ve finished watching this episode, you are going to be reassessing your opinion of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor – particularly if you’ve been one of those who have yet to be convinced by this incarnation of the Time Lord. It’s Capaldi who you won’t be able to take your eyes off, particularly in the last third of the episode.
No spoilers as to the set-up: he’s talking to the bad guys, and he delivers a performance that is simply stunning to watch. It’s not just one piece of dialogue that stands out – like the second Doctor’s classic line about evil in the universe in The Moonbase, or the sixth’s speech when he’s castigating the Time Lords – it’s an entire scene where Harness and Moffat set out clearly what this Doctor stands for… and Capaldi goes to town. The sheer passion, the anger, the emotion will grab you – this is the Doctor we’ve been waiting for from Capaldi. Think the serious side of Tom Baker in Nightmare of Eden, Pertwee taking apart the justifications of the quisling controller in Day of the Daleks, Tennant warning a rabbit in The Day of the Doctor… OK, maybe not quite so much that one – more him facing off with his successor in the Tower dungeon (and you can probably find your own equivalents in most of the other Doctors). The Doctor making clear what he stands for, what any sane and sensible person would stand for…
Don’t miss it.
Verdict: Peter Capaldi’s finest hour (so far!) as the Doctor. 9/10