#975 – Doctor Who-esday: Death in Heaven

deathinheaven

After solving some downloading issues with iTunes, I was finally able to watch “Death in Heaven.” I enjoyed the Series 8 finale, but was left wanting much more.

As far as what I enjoyed, the Cybermen felt like a real threat in this episode, mostly due to their sheer number. I also thought I was watching the “Thriller” video when the Cybermen were coming out of the graves. I also enjoyed the relationship between the Doctor and Missy as well as the Doctor’s development.

The ending, however, left me wanting more. Clara and the Doctor are obviously very important to each other. I can’t handle their relationship ending the way it did, propped up by two very big lies. Hopefully the Christmas special will rectify this ending and give us a more satisfying one. I was already excited for the new Christmas special but, after the ending of “Death in Heaven,” I’m even more excited.

Here are some other thoughts I had while watching “Death in Heaven.”

The Afterlife

Last week we learned that Missy’s “Promised Land” was just a Gallifreyan hard drive. This week we learned that Missy potentially invented the entire idea of the afterlife so that she could store human consciousness. I was raised in a Christian home so I have no conception of a worldview without an afterlife. Ever since I was little I have heard about heaven and hell. We will spend our eternal lives either with God or separated from God. Other religions have always had some understanding of life after death. This small piece of the truth can push people to live differently or better, hoping to have a more preferable afterlife. I’m happy that my afterlife isn’t built on anything that I can do but on what Jesus has already done.

Inhibitor

One of the most moving scenes in “Death in Heaven” involved Clara and Danny, who had been transformed into a Cyberman. Apparently Danny hadn’t deleted his emotions in the Nethersphere, which made his life as a Cyberman difficult. Danny begged for Clara to turn on his emotional inhibitor so he would no longer feel pain. We don’t have a switch to inhibit our emotions, but we do have a lot of ways to numb and ignore them. Addictions can numb our emotions and a lot of us have gotten really good at suppressing our emotions, pushing them down way below the surface. Neither of those options truly inhibits our emotions, though. The pain is always there and will always find some way to express itself. The only way to ease our pain is to actually address it. We need to bring it to God and trusted friends; they can help us walk through it, experience it deeply and then let it go. It may not be as effective as a switch, but we’re humans not Cybermen.

Friendship

This series has had a lot to do with friendship and relationships. We saw Clara and Danny’s relationship grow and develop. We saw the Doctor and Clara’s relationship grow and develop. In “Death in Heaven” we even saw the Doctor and Missy’s relationship grow and develop. When asked by the Doctor why she had given him an army of Cybermen, Missy said that she needed her friend back. Even after centuries of fighting and scheming, all Missy wanted was her friend. Our friendships and relationships are powerful; we cannot survive without them. We saw the relationships among Doctor Who’s characters change. We need to accept that our friendships and relationships are going to change as well. We may want to cling to some idealized version of a relationship but, by letting go, God may bring us something even better.

I liked “Death in Heaven” and I really liked Series Eight. I thought Capaldi’s maiden voyage as the Doctor was great and I can’t wait to see where he takes the character from here. I’m also sad to see Clara go; she was a great companion, one handpicked by Missy herself. Hopefully Clara has one more yuletide T.A.R.D.I.S. trip in her because I can’t have that heartbreaking hug with the Doctor be her last.

What did you think of “Death in Heaven?”

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3 Responses to “#975 – Doctor Who-esday: Death in Heaven”

  1. I’ve never been a Whovian, but I was interested in seeing Capaldi’s take on the Doctor (for reasons I discuss here: http://geekklesia.blogspot.com/2014/11/a-dr-who-noob-watches-season-8.html). In thinking more about it, The friendship between Clara and the Doctor is strained at the end. When Clara is speaking to CyberDanny, she admits that the Doctor is the one man she would never lie to, but we see her lie to him about Danny’s final destiny. The Doctor is willing to sacrifice his friendship with Clara to ensure her happiness with Danny.

    I wish they would have developed the idea of “pain is a gift” more.

    Overall, for someone with no Who baggage, I really enjoyed season 8 as well.

    • Wow, I did not even catch the connection between Clara’s final lie to the Doctor and her statement that he’s the one man she’d never lie to (mainly because she has already lied to him a few times this year). But, taking her speech to CyberDanny at face value lends a whole lot of extra “umph” to that final scene. Nice call!

  2. “Missy potentially invented the entire idea of the afterlife so that she could store human consciousness” – Certainly one reading of that line, and probably the intended one; however, I also wonder if the Doctor meant Missy had been taking advantage of a pre-existing concept of the afterlife all through human history. After all, the minds uploaded to the Nethersphere hard drive had no communication with the living, right? (At least not until Dr. Skarosa heard the three words.) So it’s not as though those left behind would have any reason to think there was an afterlife from that alone.

    Great comments and observations. I found “Death in Heaven” fairly muddled and, like you, was left wanting more (which I am optimistic we’ll get at Christmas), but overall series 8 is my second-favorite series of modern Who, second only to series 5. Certainly a lot to enjoy, and plenty of fodder for multiple rewatches.

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