Doctor Who – “The Zygon Inversion”: Truth or Consequences?

  • Writing
  • Use of Clara
  • Monsters


Season 9, Episode 8

Aired: Nov. 7, 2015

Director: Daniel Nettheim

Writer: Peter Harness and Steven Moffat

Sadly, these days I often hear friends and people online telling me that they are underwhelmed with Clara. While I admit that the writing, particularly last year, hasn’t always done Jenna Coleman a lot of favors, I’ve always found her charming and her take on Clara to be fun and intriguing.

Because of those critics, I really loved that Coleman got a chance to branch out and play something completely new – the Zygon leader posing as Clara. And frankly, I thought she nailed it. She played the villain a bit broad at first – smirking at the carnage she created, overly confident – which felt appropriate given the grand scheme of her plans. But, most impressively, she really dialed in to the character’s internal struggle as she stood across from Kate Lethbridge-Stewart with both their hands over their respective buttons.

Speaking of that scene, man was it a great one. It’s a ballsy move revisiting this Zygon plot considering how fantastic the 50th anniversary special was. Doing any sort of sequel to that (especially without David Tenant and Matt Smith) was going to be tough to pull off. But I thought Peter Capaldi really sold the conflict and the high stakes in that final scene as he talked about war and redemption and the fact that it’s never too late to do the right thing.

Capaldi has found his niche as the Doctor by being professorial. He’s at his best when he’s lecturing, whether it be character in crisis or the audience. So having him talk the Zygon and Kate through their problems, using the boxes as a perfect metaphor for war, it really worked for me.

I thought it was a great twist that this had happened many, many times before and each time the Doctor wiped everyone’s memories. That made it even more rewarding when he didn’t wipe the Zygon’s, since hopefully she has now finally had the breakthrough that will keep this peace permanently.

And, once again, we are left with two Osgoods – one human and one Zygon. Plus, the show very sweetly went out of its way to appease the fans who were hurt by seeing Osgood killed off last season. Not only did the Doctor invite her aboard the TARDIS, but he also told the two Osgoods that he was a very big fan of them. It was a nice moment that shows that, even though Steven Moffat often gets a bad wrap, he does listen to the fans and care about them.

And another thing …

  • So I was right in my prediction that the Osgood we saw last week was the human one. Though my reason for guessing it was off. I thought her using her inhaler was the telltale sign, but we saw both of them using the inhaler at the end of this week’s episode.
  • If these negotiations have happened all those times before, has Clara been kidnapped every single time? Maybe that’s why she’s so good at controlling the Zygons from within.
  • Obviously, the boxes are a metaphor, but does anything happen if you press one of the buttons? Does it knock you out with an electric shock or some kind of gas so the Doctor can wipe your mind and start the process over again? Or does it play a foghorn sound to let you know you screwed up? I think the boxes should do something.
  • Clara’s two-way street of mind control gives us some insight into how the symbiotic relationship between the two Osgoods might work. Are they constantly just in each other’s heads?

Written by Joel Murphy. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact Joel at

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