“This is your country. Protect it from the scary monsters. Also the Zygons.”
A fine episode of Doctor Who for Hallowe’en night!
1. Two Margarines On The Go
This is a fairytale. It is a parable. What is to come is not reality, but something to illustrate something about our lives. Steen Moffat has explicitly said that Doctor Who is a fairytale, in this week’s episode, it’s right there in the beginning, on the tin.
The last time Doctor Who went for an explicit immigration parable, The Unquiet Dead, it did leave the unintended impression that actually all the immigrants wanted to do was take over the world and kill us all. The Zygon Invasion does pretty much the same, though there is far more complexity, nuance as well as big sledgehammers over the head as well. It is simultaneously immigration into the UK over recent decades, the terror threat abroad including training camps and drone attacks, and the fear that we are living in a country about to go under Sharia Law. In reality that is nonsense, in Doctor Who such a takeover is clearly less than nonsense. Here we have a radicalised rogue minority admittedly, but one that has radicalised many more, seized power through infiltration and set to destroy us all, including taking down a plane. Despite all the liberal do-gooder mealy mouthed platitudes about the danger of excessive action radicalising the many, and how every group of people has a small minority dedicated to violent ways, as it stood this was pretty much a BNP/National Front fantasy scenario… that was even made test with the Doctor’s line about benefits. it will take a hell of a job to turn this around next week. Love to see how they do it. It is an Inversion after all.
Time to open that Osgood Box.
2. We’ve Been Here Before
We may have seen nods to the First Doctor and to the Fifth and Seventh with the portrait and the question marks, but this was all about Jon Pertwee. With the seventies/eighties line thrown in, this was The Doctor vs. The Brigadier over the use of lethal force, forty years on. As well as explicit political and social parallels set on a modern day Earth with an international perspective. “Isn’t there a solution that doesn’t involve bombing people?”
Oh yes, and for some reason I never realised how well the Two Osgoods or the Two Brigadiers mirrored the Three Doctors until it was spelled out for me. I am dim.
And now we can add question mark underpants to the sonic screwdriver, and talk all about Osgood as the potential hybrid that Davros talked about, but all this chat about being human or Zygon made me wonder if by any chance the Doctor is half human again, like he was in the nineties… could the Doctor be the hybrid?
3. Young Blonde Sisters Are Always Hiding Something
Across both UNIT and the Zygons, the high command, the police cop, the Brigadier, Walsh the drone operator, Osgood, Clara, Jac, the soldier’s mother. every character of power in this episode was presented as female.
Especially when they are commanders of the Zygon Empire on Earth. Very Men in Black, and yes the Doctor does make this look good with the sonic shades. This was a great scene in so many ways, for the first two thirds we could be convinced that, as often, the Doctor has got it wrong and he is looking like a creep harassing two girls – until they talk back and suddenly we’re all okay with it. Just remember….
4. Damn Dirty Limeys
Sledgehammer time, deliberately reminiscent of the “No Blacks No Dogs No Irish” accommodation signs of an earlier part of the twentieth century. I hope.
The British folk turning up in New Mexico, and the descriptions and observations from the Americans does sound like classic xenophobia… just directed at someone else on the Mexican border than usual. But do beware the unreliable narrator here.
5. Hiding In Plain Sight
One of the key way that the parable does work is the fear of people hiding in plain sight. Being ‘The Other’ makes it easier to dehumanise the enemy. The real fear is that they are reds under the bed, your friends, your neighbours, your family. And here that’s who these Zygons become, and soldiers are suddenly unable to do what they need to do mentally in order to kill someone they have never met. This is an exaggerated example of what psychological warfare has often done, one side trying to humanise themselves against the other… the only person immune is Rebecca Front, and that’s because she’s war hardened after going up against the Doctor in a very different guise.
6. The Cronenberg Touch
We had a bit of this with the telepathic controls of the TARDIS but we’re in full blown Cronenberg territory with the Zygon computer, “titivating its fronds”… couple that with the interface in the lift, and the organic, shivering, sweaty, moist computers are back. Then throw in some Ridley Scott Aliens and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers for good measure.. and for thematic purpose too. The red under the beds theme from Body Snatchers is also a parallel here.
7. Trivial Pursuit My Arse
That’s right, Clara sending UNIT to Truth And Consequences was always the plan. Is it even a Trivial Pursuit question? It seems not…. though there was a suggestion that it should be. Another unreliable narrator moment.
You should have know though. A pony tail is the sign of the devil.
8. Don’t Forget The Anti-Zygon Nerve Gas.
It was taken by someone in a TARDIS? And now the Zygon Clara knows this and has access to the TARDIS? What if it’s still there? Wouldn’t that be a useful way for a rogue Zygon unit to make sure the rest of their population step in line?
This is Chekov’s Gun. You don’t reveal such a weapon exists in the first act without it being fired in the third.
9. Dead, Wrapped In Bubble Wrap
Clara is dead again. Said so, explicitly. She isn’t yet, obviously, if the Bleeding Cool theory plays out. But she will be. And this is another of her many possible death to follow being exterminated, being a ghost and being taken to Valhalla.
10. Surface To Air, Aired
This morning, a plane crashed in Egypt, killing over two hundred. A more timid broadcaster would have cut the ending of tonight’s episode, or postponed it a week.
Also, Doctor? Stop getting in a plane that keeps getting blown up.
“There have been reports all across London of strange activities in lifts”
Yes….. one week till part two.