Timey Wimey Talk: Doctor Who: Series 9: Episode 7: The Zygon Invasion
It’s just a generally accepted fact that almost every Doctor Who episode since the moment BBC restarted the series has been strong. In over 100 episodes I’ve yet to see an episode that rated less than a seven from my perspective. That’s a true testament to the writing, directing, and acting on this show. One of the better episodes in recent memory was “The Day of the Doctor.” Or as I like to call it the Doctor Who nerdrection episode involving both Matt Smith and David Tennant. Just to refresh your memory the episode revolves around a race of aliens named Zygons. In a crazy episode that saw The Doctor become the President of the World and 20 million Zygons relocating to Earth, crisis was averted and peace established.
Like the old saying goes though, “Some motherf$#kers just always trying to ice skate uphill.”
Unfortunately the Earth (particularly the U.K.) ends up subjected to a splinter group of Zygons looking to claim the entire planet for themselves. This truly is the Nightmare Scenario that Osgood foresaw.
Going back as far as The Day the Earth Stood Still, science fiction has often served as allegory and social commentary for real life events. It represents a mirror reflecting society’s current fears. “The Zygon Invasion” reinforces this. It’s not a stretch to compare the splinter cell Zygon faction to ISIS, or a radical military group in Israel, or even the KKK in the United States. Zygons, like the groups I mentioned, make people paranoid–including one of The Unit commanders in this episode. Her solution is just to bomb every Zygon and sort out the wreckage later. Yet at the same time The Doctor acknowledges how inherently dangerous this thinking is. It’s prejudice against an entire species based on the actions of a few fundamentalists.
That’s why I think the whole idea of the two Osgoods was such an elegant solution. You never know which one is human and which one is Zygon. It’s a literal bridge between two species and illustrates a metaphor of cooperation. This is re-emphasized by the fact that the Zygon high command are made up of grade schoolers. It demonstrates that though they may be knowledgeable in the ways of their own people, they are children still learning when it comes to human beings.
Despite the heaping helping of metaphor and social commentary we receive in “The Zygon Invasion,” there’s quite a bit of humor too. I think my favorite line might have been The Doctor saying, “I like being ponced about in a big plane,” and then pulling a semi-Richard Nixon salute as he enters the plane. And referring to himself as Doctor Disco? Classic.
What sets “The Zygon Invasion” apart from previous episodes this season is that it’s essentially divided into three stories. We have The Doctor visiting the mid-East trying to rescue Osgood (which he does, with a Zygon in tow), The Unit Commander visiting Truth or Consequences, New Mexico where the splinter group originated, and Clara and a Unit subordinate investigating nefarious Zygon machinations deep under London. Everyone is off doing their own thing rather than working as a team.
However, what ties all three-story lines together is that each contains a deception/betrayal. In The Doctor’s case the military men storming the town are deceived by Zygons masquerading as family members, The Unit Commander is duped by a local sheriff who turns out to be a Zygon and kills (?) her, and the biggest surprise of all–Clara has actually been replaced by a Zygon. Just to comment on that last one, how freaking creepy and sly was that smirk Zygon Clara gave to The Unit subordinate when she realized the deception? And whether or not you hate Clara, ending the show with her firing a rocket launcher at The Doctor’s plane was one of Coleman’s better moments on the show and cooler than an actual Doctor Disco.
Judging by next week’s episode title, “The Zygon Inversion” things are about to get even more upside down than they already are.
On a scale of 0 to 10 Sonic Sunglasses this episode rates a 9
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