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Doctor Who recap: The Zygon Invasion

The Zygon peace treaty breaks down, along with everyone’s trust.

Posted on

BBC America

Doctor Who

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

“Truth or consequences” is the phrase of the day on Doctor Who — which is fitting, because consequence is something the past few seasons have lacked. Amy and Rory still lived out their lives in peace; the Eleventh Doctor was granted a whole new supply of regeneration energy; Kate Stewart was saved; Gallifrey stands. A few of these saves worked in context — Kate’s life was balanced out by Osgood’s death, and as much as the events of “The Day of the Doctor” were the most egregious example of the way that, lately, everybody always lives, I can’t not love it. If Doctor Who of all shows can’t be optimistic on its 50th anniversary, then when can it be?

But there are consequences even for the act of undoing a consequence, and it’s time to deal with one of them. (Not Gallifrey.) Operation Double, the peace treaty that the three Doctors helped facilitate between the humans and the Zygons, allowed for 20 million Zygons to live on earth, permanently taking the form of the nearest available human beings. Most of the action, naturally, took place in England. So have there just been a lot of identical doubles living parallel lives in a relatively small country for the past two years? How many of them assumed the identities of the people whose likenesses they shared? How did this work?

Obviously not well. The treaty is breaking down, and Osgood — the remaining Osgood — is kidnapped after calling the Doctor for help. To clarify: The Osgood we saw die last year is still dead, but her “sister” Osgood lives on, and there’s no way of knowing whether this one was originally human or Zygon. That distinction doesn’t matter to her anymore; they were linked in the signing of the treaty, so now she’s both: a hybrid. And no matter who she once was, she shares Osgood’s thoughts and functions like Osgood in the Doctor’s life. Another consequence (half) undone.

But what about the effect the Doctor has had on Clara? Is that being undone, too? So much has been made lately of how she’s becoming him — how she can’t stop running toward adventure on other planets — but here she is back on earth, missing 127 of the Doctor’s calls. (Someone’s been listening to Adele.) I’m sure he managed to make them all in record time, but what is Clara doing without the Doctor in the first place? She’s about to return his calls when she sees a boy in her building sitting alone on the stairs. Of course she knows every kid in her neighborhood; she’s Clara. She helps Sandeep find his parents, who both seem suitably creepy, and meets up with the Doctor and the team at UNIT.

After a debriefing on the current state of Operation Double, the Doctor comes up with a plan: Kate, who’s getting trigger happy, will go to the actual town of Truth or Consequences in New Mexico. Clara will stay in England with Jac from UNIT while the Doctor goes to the settlement in Turmezistan where Osgood is being held. The situation in Turmezistan is just as confusing as it is in England — there’s no way to tell the innocent children (or people’s own mothers) from Zygons pretending to be innocent children and people’s own mothers. As Osgood explains when the Doctor finds her chained up in a basement, Zygons can now take the form of people in others’ memories, even if those people are dead. That disproves the Doctor’s theory that she must be the human Osgood — she could still be either one, and she’s still not telling.

NEXT: Trust no one