WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS!
It’s a twist that was surprising despite actually being fairly predictable at the same time (if that makes any sense whatsoever)! I mean, come on, it didn’t take a genius to guess that Missy was not going to be as straightforward as just being “Missy” and when she was revealed as the Master, it did still leave an impact, even if you sort of saw it coming. It was also a good idea to team up the new incarnation of the Master with the Cybermen, and whilst we won’t be seeing them in full flow until the concluding episode this Saturday, the wait will hopefully be worth it.
The eighth season has been one of the most divisive seasons to date and Dark Water has proved to be incredibly divisive once again. This episode killed off Samuel Anderson’s Danny Pink in a way that was unexpected, but the impact didn’t really feel as shocking as it could have done given the fact that he shows up in the “Promised Land”, which is effectively as we learnt in this episode, a way of converting the dead into Cybermen. It was handled very well with the reveal being great, and from the moment that all-too familiar Murray Gold Cybermen theme could be heard, you knew one of the Doctor’s oldest enemies had returned. I just wish their appearance hadn’t been spoiled in the previews, but despite that, it remained a pretty good episode that packed plenty of punches despite its flaws.
Let’s get to Danny’s death first. As I’ve already mentioned, it didn’t feel that shocking. Maybe in a few more seasons when we’d come to care about the character, but there simply wasn’t enough development for him so far this season and with the negative reception that his character has received the effect of the death isn’t there. Plus, also like I’ve already mentioned, the Promised Land reveal meant that we know it’s not going to be the last of this character. More than likely, Clara and the Doctor will figure out a way to stop the Master/Mistress and the Cybermen (with the help of UNIT) in the finale, and somehow Danny will be restored to full health. This was the least interesting part of an otherwise fairly strong episode, so it was good to see that when we got to the main bulk of the Nethersphere stuff, the storyline did improve a lot.
Like with Peter Capaldi being the New Doctor, we now have a new Master in the form of Michelle Gomez, who’s older and creates some pretty good chemistry with The Doctor. It’s a shame not to see John Simm back though, as he was excellent in his role. However, that could just be that we don’t really have enough exposure with Gomez to compare her to Simm yet, and it’ll be interesting to see how her character is handled in this episode and hopefully she’ll stick around for more.
Also, there’s something that Doctor Who hasn’t got around to covering yet and that’s The Doctor heading off on the search for Gallifrey which he saved in The Day of the Doctor. I guess we can only hope that this will be addressed in Season 9, given that there’s presumably too little time left in 8 to deal with it.
So this episode has left a lot of stuff to wrap up in the next hour, and a lot of unanswered questions. We know who Missy is, yes, but how did The Master survive the fate of the fellow Time Lords in The End of Time? Does that mean that Rassilon is out there somewhere as well? How will they wrap up the Cybermen invasion? How will the Master’s plot be resolved? Will Danny return to life? It’ll be interesting to find out for sure, and it looks like it’s going to be pretty packed. Time will tell whether it turns out to be a rushed ending or not, though.