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Doctor Who season finale recap: 'Death in Heaven'

The Doctor goes head-to-head with Missy and her army of the Cyberdead.

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Doctor Who Recap
Adrian Rogers/BBC

Doctor Who

TV Show
Sci-fi and Fantasy
run date:
Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas
BBC America
Current Status:
In Season

Well, it’s time. The end is upon us in more ways than one. The end of Peter Capaldi’s first season as the Doctor, the end of the Missy story arc over it, and the end of the world. Standard fare for any Doctor Who season finale, but it’s always exciting. This one is no exception. In fact, this may just be the best season finale in a long time thanks to it shying away from the perpetually escalating Dragonball Z-like END OF THE WORLD! situations that plagued the Davies era of season finales and also keeping from Moffat’s tendency for deus ex machina through confusing means in his season finales. That’s not to say this is a particularly clean finale (Doctor Who has always had some pretty big issues with their finales) but it’s sure to satisfy more than any other in recent memory.

The episode jumps right into the action where we last left off, with Clara stuck in the office with a Cyberman. The infamous “Clara Oswald has never existed” line that many have been excitedly rumoring over is used here as Clara attempts to convince the Cyberman that she is the Doctor in an effort to save herself.

Outside the mausoleum, which just so happens to be St. Paul’s Cathedral, citizens everywhere gather around the army of Cybermen standing at attention as if they’re tourist attractions. Posing with them, taking pictures, yammering excitedly. Missy, enjoying it, even offers to take a selfie with the Doctor using her smartphone/murder device thing. A young woman with a bow tie (“Nice bow tie,” says the Doctor) offers to take the picture for Missy since selfies are never as good, snatching the deadly device out of Missy’s hands. But, as we all know, this Doctor is not very good with faces otherwise he would have recognized the woman—it’s Osgood (Ingrid Oliver), UNIT’s brilliant young scientist.

Osgood gives the signal and every civilian around pulls out a gun and readies their weapons on the Cybermen as Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave), UNIT commander and the Brigadier’s daughter, appears on the scene. It turns out everyone there was a member of UNIT and are equipped with weapons capable of taking out the Cybermen. But, uh, they fly away. Nobody was expecting that, least of all UNIT who don’t even try to shoot the Cybermen down. Not a single shot.

St. Paul’s roof opens and more Cybermen fly out. One flies straight up and explodes into a large black cloud. Missy reveals that there were 91 Cybermen in all—enough for every major town and city in the United Kingdom. And there are more emerging from every corner of the Earth so that they can create these clouds all over the world.

Back in the Nethersphere, Danny has been delayed in deleting his self by the presence of the young boy he had killed in his soldiering days. They watch with Seb as the Nethersphere shuts down, sending all the minds stored back into the Cybermen bodies because, as it turns out, this wasn’t really the afterlife. It was more of a net that caught the dearly departing. Meanwhile, outside the cathedral, Missy is curiously unrestrained before both she and the Doctor are tranquilized. UNIT really needs to get their head in the game, letting a prisoner wander free like that. Before the Doctor passes out, he tells Osgood to guard the graveyards.

We see why quickly: The clouds start raining exclusively in the graveyards. We see some of the water bubble up and enter a morgue where a Cyberman wakes up on a table. It sees itself in a mirror and reaches up to touch its faceplate. It grabs the autopsy sheet on the table revealing its identity: Danny Pink.

NEXT: Air Force Twelve