Peter Capaldi acted his heart out in this episode. I’m happy to say “The Zygon Inversion” pulled it all together for me, and even though I wasn’t crazy about the first part, having seen the whole story I can say I really love this episode.
Firstly, it was fun to see the Doctor and Osgood as partners. I’m glad both of them had that opportunity, and they worked well together. Also, it was interesting to see Clara trapped inside a mind again… It calls up the Dalek thing from the first episode, and the facehugger thing from Christmas, but both those things harken back to Clara-as-Dalek-Oswin, which was notably the one time I really, really loved her. So, every time there’s a reference I get really excited, but I don’t know if anything will ever come of it. It didn’t here, but the Bonnie/Clara scene is really good! I’ve always tried to be clear that my beef is with Clara-as-character, specifically with the writers and how they continually fail to make her coherent or meaningful. Jenna Coleman, on the other hand, is pretty much a genius, and I enjoyed seeing her acting opposite herself.
The next memorable bit as an agonizing scene with the Zygon whom Bonnie had forcibly outed. That was the scene where I knew this arc would be okay after all… It drew the line between fanatics and everyone else. Even more importantly, it showed that Zygon’s pain, and made us empathize with him. It gets better, though. First the episode distinguishes between the minority group and its fanatics, but then it brings the fanatics back into the fold of “us” and talks about, yes, truth and consequences. About war and revolutions and personal responsibility, personal trauma. Peter Capaldi was absolutely magnificent in the climax. And the twist, while not the “[insert name] is actually a Zygon” type thing I expected, was totally obvious and brilliantly so.
At first I thought it was a smidge condescending, the Doctor telling the marginalized group how to feel, but because the episode brought it back to fanaticism, it makes sense. More than “sense” — the Doctor takes Bonnie’s role to show her what he means, instead of making her take his and agree with him. And I kinda sniffled a little bit, because Peter Capaldi is the Doctor. He gets it. That’s the line that sums up everything I love and have always loved about the Doctor: “Of course I understand.”
Loved this episode, and despite a few weak first parts among these two-parters, so far this season has been very strong. I was dreading it a little bit, but now I’m sad it’s going to end.