The Skaro Review Death In Heaven Reviewed by Eddie McGuigan

The Skaro Review

Death In Heaven

Reviewed by Eddie McGuigan


 Death in Heaven

In part one of the finale, the theme was death and the afterlife, and this is taken to the nth degree here with the Master’s evil machinations in full flight… although her actual motives are not what you think. A CyberArmy is released on the world… and the world takes selfies. “We have to warn everyone!” UNIT cries “The world just went weee…,” the Doctor informs it.


So with the dead rising in newly upgraded bodies, much to Seb’s glee, and the Master’s plan unfolding, we find out more about the afterlife in general and the beliefs in it through out Man’s history. “She’s a Time Lord. She must have a TARDIS somewhere… so a LONG time…” the Doctor tells Kate.


Dark Water came under some criticism for examining death and the afterlife, but for me it was not something to particularly criticise. It’s a realm rife for exploitation, and, whilst I understand that people who have sadly recently lost loved ones might not see the sci fi concept behind the idea, I could separate it from real life and the Whoniverse. Unfortunately, Moff blurs these lines in this episode and perhaps takes things a step to far with a heart wrenching cameo. Verging on crass, it’s something done with dignity and huge affection but something some will find a step too far.


Death, of course, in the Whoniverse, is not the end, and here that is the case too, with the Master, the Doctor and, as seen last week, Danny Pink. His fate is beautifully dealt with and very much in fitting with what has gone before in the season, much of which is referenced in flashback, deed or comment. Indeed, things stretching back almost the whole of Clara’s timeline are referenced and much of it tied up in a nice big loose end tidying bow. This episode definitely feels like the end of a chapter for some.


So what of the main plot, the Master and the Cybermen? We’re lucky to get Michelle Gomez in full Master mode here, and she’s fab. I’m a bit concerned we’re renaming as well as transgenerating a beloved character here, so, no, I won’t call her Missy, she’s the Master, pure and simple, and, actually, her whole raison d’être is because  she’s the Master, and the relations she has with the Doctor. She’s not suave or cool she’s plain, straight forward, bananas. And admits it.


The Doctor is on the look out for a new companion, it seems, or at least an addition to the crew, and he seems perhaps he has found one. If only.


This story is epic in scale. Movie epic. It has jet packed Cybermen and jumbo jets being attacked in midflight. It has deaths. It deals with the recently dead. It has a storyline which wraps up what we’ve been watching and wondering for the last couple of years and it opens up a whole new box of “what the heys!!!???” for us to mull over. It’s jam packed with incident, continuity and wow factors. A character even uses the word “squee”.

All the questions you’ve been asking are answered here. Every itch scratched. We find out where the Master has been. We find out what happens to Danny and Clara. We see why this was so important. You won’t be disappointed. The only problem is Steven Moffat actually throws a whole lot of new stuff at us to devour and debate. Oh, and the redesigned opening credits will have some people going pop.


I’ve waxed lyrical about the players this season all series long, and nothing changes here. Everyone is great. Jemma Redgrave fits right back in to things as though she’s never been away, and her opening lines to the Doctor are great. Ingrid Oliver too shows great promise as Osgood, swapping her scarf for a bow tie and impressing the Doctor no end.


For once, too, we don’t have a temporal anomaly to fall back on when it comes to dénouements so we get a straight forward action adventure, albeit one with a bit of brains behind it. The actual concept of the afterlife however may offend religious types, and the treatment of the recently dead may offend some Who fans, but as a concept it was bold and clever.


One last thing. Death In Heaven doesn’t shy away from the horror of the Cybermen. Of how they become what they are. Of the consciousness that makes them. The idea – and the execution – is terrifying. Horrifying. Repulsive. But, in reality, we don’t really get a CyberInvasion here, or real, bonafide, actual Cybermen. We get an army for the Master. And whatever does she want with an army?


This finale is in keeping with the season that it ends. It follows those themes of love and death and friendship and loyalty and it neatly puts a line under the first year of the Twelfth Doctor’s tenure whilst opening tantalising doors to the future. After he’s fixed the console that is…


Until Christmas! Adieu!


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  1. Your reviews constantly sound like you’ve just looked at all the other reviews and collected parts and dragged out parts that are fairly obvious from trailers and set reports. Funny how all of your reviews have been posted after a lot of bigger websites too.

    1. I guess Eddie’s reviews are not everyone’s cup of tea but he does watch and comment on the episode( and he sometimes goes against the grain, most people seemed to like ‘In the forest of the night’ while Eddie struggled with it). Like everyone we’re bound by the rules the BBC lays out for each episode, like all the other sites, which probably explains an overlap in what can be talked about. Personally I thought there were very few spoilers this year and what the set reporters found out was quite limited. (no slight on those fine people who brave the elements to watch it being filmed, I just think the production team is getting better at thwarting them). Thanks for reading!

    2. Ohhh give me a break. Doctor Who fans are the most bitchiest people out of the Sci Fi universe.

  2. I must say this is the most spoilerful review I can find on the internet and… I love it ! Lots of clues, lots of hopes, I’m so excited… This season has yet to disappoint me and I’m sure it won’t now. Thank you !

  3. Hello Ellis. You obviously don’t follow me on Twitter then. Thanks for the constructive critique

  4. Oh and I’ll try to dig out MORE dialogue from all those big sites that they don’t publish… ah wait. That doesn’t work…

  5. I apologies Eddie. Didn’t mean that comment to sound rude. I have realised that it’s hard to really write much when it’s spoilers permitted. Had a bit of long day so sorry again. Hope you enjoyed the episode :)

  6. Think I thought that because there was dialogue that others haven’t put out there it could be made up. But i trust you in your review now. Sorry again. :)

  7. is Missy coming back next series?

  8. Thanks so much for this review – I am looking forward to the episode even more than I was already. A nicely balanced review, and I agree with your views re the whole ‘life after death’ issue. The day we stop dealing with fundamental and emotional issues in drama because it might upset someone, is the day that creativity dies. Art imitates life, and that is as it should be.

  9. Nice review Eddie, well done. Does the question of why the Master became a woman get answered as well? Thanks.

  10. I wonder if this ‘heart-wrenching cameo’ could be Amy or Rory because apparently they were filming at the same cemetery and someone apparently spotted their gravestone as well…

  11. Edwin… the Master will ALWAYS be back.
    Trey… nope.

    1. Back as Charles Dance by anychance?

      1. I think people desperately need to get over the fact that the Master is a woman, now.

        Not seen it myself, but from everything I’m reading and hearing, Michelle Gomez will be playing the Master for a while.

        Get over it.

        1. Get over what exactly?

      1. Never mind, I now see that Trey is name of another poster and not the name of a character or actor that’s not coming back

  12. Eddie-do you mean to say the cryptic planets in title sequence tweet by Rachel Talalay is cleared up, and we get a new title sequence?

  13. ”I’m a bit concerned we’re renaming as well as transgenerating a beloved character here” it’s hardly difficult to switch to ”Missy”, come on.

  14. Why do I have a feeling that Amy and Rory are going to make a cameo?

  15. Maybe not Amy or Rory….

    Think about it.

    What blurs real life and the Whoverse?

    What could be the nastiest thing the Master could do, which another review says will break the fandom?

    Answer: A ‘converted’ companion.

    Which one?

    There’s only one – the Doctor’s ‘best friend’.

    Sarah Jane Smith.

    1. Rumors are that it’s the Brig.

      1. I should’ve added… I don’t actually know that. It’s just one of the rumors.

  16. wonderful review. Thank you so much! I cant wait! PS- do we see any back story on the mistrees/the master?

  17. Is it true Romana is back as President Of Gallifrey? supposedly played by Juliet Landau from big finish?

    1. I heard she was back but different actress.

  18. Do we get an answer as to why the Doctor was making all those calculations on his blackboards?

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