We”re in the home stretch now, folks. Only two episodes remain. After the elves or whatever showed up last week to save the Earth from a deadly solar flare, Clara Oswald”s lies to Danny Pink finally caught up to her. Will she be able to keep him from leaving her? Does she even want to? Everyone take a deep breath, because we”re headed into “Dark Water.”
Never before has Clara – or perhaps any companion – sounded so similar to the Doctor. Ms. Oswald is on the phone with Danny but she”s telling him to shut up, shut up, shut up, despite the fact that he can”t get a word in edgewise. We can deduce that Danny was on his way over to get the explanation he deserved. But as we all know, sometimes it”s easier to talk when you can”t see the other person”s face.
So in a fit of nerves, Clara has covered her wall in post-it notes about both her current feelings towards her beau and her past adventures with the Doctor. Armed with this cheat sheet, she called Danny in a bit to avoid face-to-face confrontation. The most important thing for Mr. Pink to know? Clara loves him. And not in a rote way. The words “I love you,” from Clara belong to Danny now, and he is the last person who will ever hear her say them. Which, because this is television, means something irreversibly devastating immediately follows her ominous declaration.
Danny Pink is dead. Hit by a car while crossing the street. The show glosses over the specifics, giving us a voice-over eulogy while Clara stands in the middle of street staring at Danny”s memorial on the sidewalk. She”s is obviously devastated and yet I feel nothing. Danny was so peripheral to the season that his loss – to me – is almost a relief because now Clara doesn”t have to choose. I assume this is not the reaction they were going for. Look, I get not wanting to rinse and repeat the Ponds by having Clara”s boyfriend tag along in the TARDIS, but not doing so hindered the writers ability to show the process of them falling in love.
ANYWAY. Whether or not I”m distraught over the loss Danny Pink matters not, because Clara is. Standing in her kitchen, she calls the Doctor because her boyfriend dying wasn”t terrible. It was boring and ordinary and Clara knows she is OWED better than that. She has a point. After all, she did throw herself into the Doctor”s time stream and shatter herself into a thousand thousand pieces to keep him alive. The least he can do is bring Danny back from the dead.
“What can I do for you Clara?” asks the Doctor, after finally answering the phone, Without warning, we are transported to the climatic battle from “Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith.” Twelve awakens on a rocky volcanic ledge and Ms. Oswald eerily appears from the fog of war with fire in her hands.
Note to self: do not kill Clara”s loved ones or she”ll go all Galadriel holding the One Ring on you.
Back in the present, our heroine boards the TARDIS in a fit of forced cheer. She wants to see a volcano. No reason, just needs to see one. Preferably now. As she chatters on to distract Twelve, she”s collecting the TARDIS keys. Why she knows where all of these are is proof the Doctor is either going senile or has put way too much trust in her. Finally, she steals a sleep patch and in one swift movement slaps it on Twelve”s neck. So, thanks for that mini-flashback I guess?
Standing on the edge of the lava pit, Clara Oswald channels her best Anakin Skywalker. Only lava can destroy a key to the TARDIS and she has all seven in her hand. To prove she is serious, Clara lobs one into the waiting volcano. If being a companion doesn”t work out, she”s got a great future as a hyper-competent super villain ahead of her.
Danny Pink is dead and Twelve is going to fix it or she will destroy every single key to the TARDIS. “Hahaha,” says Twelve. He can”t just bring people back from the dead because of time loops and paradoxes and other wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff.
Clara basically says bullshit, and chucks a TARDIS key. She knows the Doctor is trying to regain control of the situation and the stand-off continues until she”s had it with his manipulation and throws the whole fistful of keys into the lava. “YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE,” screams the Doctor…in my version anyway. In reality, Twelve stares in disbelief. He seriously underestimated the depths of Clara”s grief and now he”ll never again fly away in his precious blue police box and they”re both gonna die here on Mustafar.
Even realizing what she”s done, Clara is brutal in her non-apology. “I”m so sorry but I”d do it again.” She is shaping up into one hell of a Time Lady.
Satisfied with how far Clara would go to save Danny, the Doctor ends the charade. The patches weren”t sleep aids, but lucid dreaming aids. None of that actually happened because he stuck one on Clara to see the lengths she”d go to. On the one hand, I”m glad they don”t have to waste precious side-plot minutes on getting back into the TARDIS. But on the other hand, I want to strangle the Doctor with his own arrogant manipulation.
Clara is too numb to even be angry that she got played. She utterly betrayed the Doctor and it didn”t even save Danny. She asks “What now?” and Twelve tells her to “Go to hell.” But hahaha, just kidding. It was merely convenient Time Lord literal-ness. He doesn”t want Clara to go to hell. They”re both going to hell to get Danny back. Duh. In a rare moment of sincerity the Doctor questions “Do you think I care so little for you that it would matter if you betrayed me?”
And every Whovian down in Whoville swore the Doctor”s hearts grew three sizes that day.
Throwing caution to the wind, the Doctor turn off all the TARDIS safeties (again) and shoves Clara”s hands into Sexy”s brain (again). I”m actually impressed this plot device came back up. Before long, the TARDIS has telepathically linked itself to Danny Pink and we”re off on an adventure to wherever people go after they die.
I”ve got a bad feeling about this.
Meanwhile, Danny Pink is waking up in Seb”s office in “Heaven.” I”m still not sure if Seb is an auditor of sins or an afterlife orientation guide or what and the show isn”t interested in clearing up my confusion. But it is interested in appeasing me by finally revealing what the Nethersphere looks like. Danny thrusts open the curtains to reveal the afterlife looks like Neo-Tokyo and Blade Runner had a baby and shoved it into a sphere. A city skyline stretches out and up, defying gravity and several laws of physics.
Not that it matters, since Danny won”t be sticking around long. The TARDIS has landed and the rescue party is on the way. Or not. The Doctor warns Clara this isn”t where Mr. Pink is, just the next spot his time stream likely crosses with Clara”s. Twelve also tell her to buck up. I mean, they”re about to get her boyfriend back from the dead…by way of creepy mausoleum.
Sexy has brought her passengers to a never-ending crypt full of fish tank after fish tank of human skeletons sitting in chairs. What is the purpose of this? I mean, other than to be creepy enough to give Pinhead nightmares? Oh wait, it just got worse because one of the skeletons moved to watch Clara and the Doctor walk by.
TIME TO GO.
But since our heroes aren”t privy to the knowledge of the not-quite-dead skeletons, they persist down the hall until they find a book. An empty book with a holographic projection. I see the Nethersphere utilizes the same technology as the Myst universe. Why there”s a book with a welcome message from the corporate entity known as “3W” is a mystery since this doesn”t seem like a high-traffic area. But the hologram spits out some important backstory about this place. When “3W” found out what life after death was really like, they took it upon themselves to improve the lot of the dead. “Afterlife means Aftercare.”
If there is one thing I know, it”s never trust a disembodied corporate voice promising to make your life better. The Doctor agrees and forces Missy to reveal herself. So wait? The book wasn”t a holographic voice? It was just projecting holographic words? What the actual hell is the purpose of that then!? Just put the words on the page! Ugh, whatever.
The Doctor is instantly flustered by Missy”s presence as she introduces herself. Missy isn”t a name, but an acronym. It stands for Mobile Intelligence System Interface. But she”s not a robot. She has a heart, so she”s organic. Wait. Is she the logical end goal of the Clockwork Cyborgs from the first episode of the series? No time to question it because she is making out with the Doctor and, considering this iteration of our favorite Time Lord doesn”t even like hugging, he is frozen in fear and/or lust. Maybe both.
“You”re very realistic,” he quips before agreeing Missy should definitely dial her “intimacy” setting way the hell down.
We also learn Missy is in charge of herself and she is self-repairing, but one Dr. Chang is in charge of her heart. On cue, the good Doctor appears and says he can take them to Danny. In an adorable bit, Clara instantly reaches her hand out for Twelve to hold. Moral support in the face of the impossible. He takes it without hesitation. Awww you guys. These two…
As they walk off, all the skeletons turn to watch. Missy laughs in a way that I feel comfortable describing as “evilly” and looks to a red mechanical eye in the sky. Ominous.
Back in the Nethersphere, Seb is explaining that the wifi works better outside which is all the proof I need to never refer to this place as “Heaven” again. Heaven would have five bars EVERYWHERE. Seb pumps Danny for information about whether or not he ever killed anyone because someone requested to meet Mr. Pink. This causes Danny to have a vivid flashback to a moment in Afghanistan where he clearly regrets killing someone.
On the side of the living, Dr. Chang is explaining how the fish tank skeletons don”t just float to the surface. There”s a metal exoskeleton holding the bones in place but you can”t see it because of the type of water in the tanks. Dark water. Dun dun duuuuuun. Chang demonstrates by sticking his arm into a container. The Doctor and Clara can see his hand, but Dr. Chang”s watch is rendered invisible. Of course, no one thinks to ask what the purpose of this is. Okay you”ve got x-ray water. Super keen. But why are those skeletons set up on display?
In an attempt to move this rescue mission along, Twelve breaks out the psychic paper to get Dr. Chang to open up about “3W.” Interestingly the paper picks up on the Doctor”s internal agitation, which is visualized by curse words. Luckily for everyone, Chang does have an imagination and agrees to answer their questions. Of course, what he has to tell them will change them forever and may scar them for life.
In Hell – because what else do you call a depressing office with bad Internet reception – Danny confronts the kid he accidentally shot during a mission. However, despite requesting to meet his murderer, the young dude is not very talkative and flees the scene pretty much as soon as Danny tries to make amends by apologizing. Farewell, the physical embodiment of Mr. Pink”s military angst, you”ve served your role well.
As someone shrieks in agony in the distance, Seb deadpans “Someone left their body to science.”
Yep, that”s right. Dr. Chang confirms the worst. The dead remain conscious, fully aware of what”s happening to their bodies. Ask for cremation? Gonna feel all that fire. Leave you body to science? Have fun feeling them cut you up. But how does Chang know this? White noise from the television, obviously. “Poltergeist” was right! If you tune to the right frequency, you can hear the dead screaming for help…or just talking.
Twelve is justifiable skeptical. He doesn”t get a chance to ask questions though, so I will stand in his stead. Does this mean the dead can feel themselves rotting? What happens once there no longer IS a body? Were the Egyptians right to mummify their dead to extend the afterlife experience? If you donated organs, such as your eyes, can you still see the world of the living since that body part isn”t technically dead?
But these questions and more never get answered because Dr. Chang plays modern day medium and summons Danny via afterlife iPad to Skype with Clara. There”s just no sense of pride in one”s work these days. No candles. No ambiance. No mystery.
Outside with the creepy fish tanks, Missy claps and the skeletons stand in unison. Including the one in Dr. Chang”s office. Shit is about to get real.
The Doctor is still skeptical that Danny is real and not a psychic projection of Clara”s memory so he and Chang skeedaddle. That way Ms. Oswald can make Danny prove he”s real by asking hard – aka personal – questions. No on notices to the standing skeleton. Powers of observation, thy name is not Time Lord.
In the hallway, Missy orchestrates the activation of her skeleton army and the dark water begins to drain. It is revealed Dr. Chang works for Missy and not the other way around. But in her own twisted way, Missy clearly has feelings for the man so I”m guessing she wasn”t technically lying when she said the good Doctor took care of her heart. Not that something like emotions will stop her from murdering Chang now that he”s outlived his usefulness.
Either Dr. Chang is an idiot, he”s not really dead, or he wanted to die because Missy clearly states she will not kill him until he says something nice. So what does he do? IMMEDIATELY says something nice. He”s vaporized instantly. Twelve realizes too late the dark water was concealing the true nature of the human skeletons. They are Cybermen.
Cybermen aren”t big on following orders from humans, so my theory about Missy being a Clockwork Cyborg remains for now.
Oblivious to the nightmare outside Dr. Chang”s office, Clara is trying to get Danny to prove he”s real but it”s not going well. Danny tells her “I love you” but Clara declares anyone could say that. She begs Mr. Pink to prove himself. Because if he can, she”ll do anything to be with him again. This notion terrified Danny because it would mean Ms. Oswald was dead. So when Clara swears she”ll disconnect the call if Danny says he loves her one more time, of COURSE that”s what he does. To save her.
Which should prove to Clara that Danny is real, but she suffers from a case of plot-convenient stupidity instead.
Completely emotionally wrecked by the realization he”ll never see the love of his life again, Danny openly weeps. Seb offers an easy solution to all these messy emotions and hands Mr. Pink the iPad. Blinking on the screen are the words “Danny Pink. DELETE.”
Um, wait one second Mr. Auditor. You can”t delete yourself out of existence. It”s almost as if the Nethersphere is a false reality where the souls – or copies of the souls – of unfortunate humans are stored in a giant sphere until Missy can stuff them into a Cyberman shell casing.
Speaking of Cybermen, Clara finally sees the one chilling in Mr. Chang”s office and responds appropriately. By screaming for the Doctor. Oddly enough though, the Cyberman has made no move to attack Ms. Oswald, nor join his fellows in the fish tank hallway. Danny Pink, is that your skeleton?
We end with the Doctor running outside the mausoleum, warning people to run away*. I can”t tell but it looks almost like the building Danny walked by at the beginning of the episode. If so, perhaps the sphere can only collect souls from within a certain radius. Or, if Missy is using humans to power the Cybermen, that would explain her consternation at the Earth not being engulfed in flames last week.
*Apparently, in an attempt to keep the reveal under wraps, the screener version of “Dark Water” that this recap was based on removed the reveal that Missy is indeed the Master reborn. Thank you to eagle-eyed readers, for bringing me up to speed! Interesting that Moffat would solidify that Time Lord gender is fluid, thus opening the door for a future female Doctor. Also, that kiss has some interesting implications, yes? Despite their loathing of each other, Missy and Twelve could technically jumpstart their race. Time Lords are like “Jurassic Park” dinosaurs. Life finds a way.
Well, what did you guys think? With only one episode left, who do you think Missy truly is? Will the elves return to save the humans from the Cybermen? Will the kid Danny murdered stop Mr. Pink from deleting himself? Or is Danny even actually dead at all?