After watching the Series 8 finale, I had a startling realization: somewhere along the way this season, Clara became my favorite companion. Ever. And that’s saying something because I still cry at the thought of Rose leaving the show. But I love Clara’s flaws. She also knows how to be the Doctor, something that was recognized by the fact that Jenna Coleman’s name was listed before Peter Capaldi’s in the title sequence. The credits also showed Jenna Coleman’s eyes rather than Peter Capaldi’s. I’m probably just using this as proof to solidify what I’ve been saying all season: Clara is the most important companion we’ve seen. She influenced every single one of the Doctor’s choices when she became the Impossible Girl, and she is the one who told the Doctor to use his fear, thus sending him out into the world.
The episode picks up right where “Dark Water” left off, with Clara being pursued by the Cyberman in the office where she was last seen talking to Danny via Wi-Fi. When the Cyberman goes to kill Clara, she attempts to trick the Cyberman, using those lying skills she’s been working on all season. She tells the Cyberman she is not Clara Oswald, but rather the Doctor. (Which if this was “Flatline,” it wouldn’t be a complete lie…)
Back on the streets of London, Cybermen are lining the streets. Missy the Master pulls out her remote control (I don’t know what the heck that thing is called, but it controls the Cybermen, so I’m sticking with it), and as it looks like a cell phone, a young woman, who we find out is named Osgood, shows up to offer to take a picture of Missy and the Doctor. Ms. Osgood is sporting a bow tie (because they’re cool) and converse sneakers, channeling both Ten and Eleven (where’s the shout out to Nine, huh?!) Anyway, it turns out she works for UNIT, and we see Kate Stewart is there to try to stop Missy the Master and the Cybermen. However, before UNIT can really make a move, the Cybermen take off flying in to the air and form a dark cloud that spreads throughout the world.
In the Nethersphere, Danny and Seb notice the clouds spreading, and Seb tells Danny that he really isn’t in the afterlife. Rather, his consciousness has been uploaded to a data cloud (which is weird considering they’re still connected to their bodies, but maybe that’s part of the Timelord technology). Seb then tells Danny that he will be returning to his body.
Back in London, Missy tells the Doctor that the dead will be returning. Before she can explain too much more, a UNIT soldier tranquilizes Missy. The Doctor starts to get upset, as he needs to know what is happening. However, he is soon tranquilized himself. Before he is completely knocked out, he tells Osgood that UNIT needs to monitor cemeteries.
Sure enough, the dark clouds begin to roll in over graveyards, and it starts to rain, but only within the grounds of the cemeteries. Water then starts to roll down the streets, and we see it flow into the funeral home where Danny’s body is being held. He sits up, now as a Cyberman, knocks out the funeral home attendant, and takes a piece of paper to help show the audience it is, in fact, Danny.
At UNIT headquarters, the Doctor awakes to Kate telling him they had to ensure his loyalty to the people of Earth. The Doctor wants UNIT to help retrieve Clara, calling Clara his friend, correcting Kate after she referred to Clara as his assistant. Kate puts the Doctor on a plane, and begins to refer to him as President. It turns out, the leaders of Earth reached an agreement. If the Earth was invaded, then someone needed to be in charge for the whole planet, and everyone agreed it should be the Doctor. This essentially means the Doctor is in charge of an army, which as we know, isn’t really his thing considering he isn’t big on soldiers.
Back inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, Clara lists off facts about the Doctor to three Cybermen to try and convince them she’s the Doctor. The Cybermen are still not entirely convinced, until Clara goes to mention the Doctor’s real name. Another Cybermen shows up and insists that Clara is in fact, Clara, and begins to state facts about Clara’s life. Clara claims she’s a liar, and the Cyberman says he knows. He then knocks Clara out, and kills the other three Cybermen.
Back on the UNIT plane, the Doctor explains the rain coming from the Cybermen cloud is actually pollen. Once that pollen comes in to contact with compatible living matter, it can resurrect the dead as Cybermen. He also explains that Missy the Master went back through human history to insert the concept of an after life into human history. Now, that afterlife is emptying, and the consciousnesses of the deceased are returning to their bodies.
Sure enough, Clara awakens in a cemetery to find that Cybermen are arising out of gravesites. It’s terrifying: Cybermen + Zombies = Terrifying and oh so deadly (thus perpetuating the cycle of creating even more Cybermen, and wiping out all of the human race).
Because UNIT is comprised of the best and brightest, they decided to bring Missy the Master on the plane. She starts talking to Osgood. In the process, she’s able to free herself and kills Osgood, and the two guards that were supposed to be guarding her. Good job, you guys! Missy then picks up her remote control and summons Cybermen who begin attacking the UNIT plane.
In the graveyard, Clara notices that newly created and zombified Cybermen are kind of out of it, walking about almost like newborns. She spots one Cyberman who seems to be fully in control. Clara asks if he is the Cyberman that brought her to the graveyard. When the Cyberman says he knows Clara is the Doctor’s associate, Clara corrects him telling the Cyberman she is the Doctor’s best friend. She also tells the Cyberman she will never give up the Doctor because he is the one person she will always forgive, the one person she will always trust, and the one man she will never lie to. Because the Cyberman is actually Danny, this last detail breaks his heart, and he pulls off his mask. He tells Clara that he wants her to turn on the emotional inhibitor because he doesn’t want to feel anymore.
On the plane, Missy tells the Doctor she’s been up and down his timeline, meeting the people who will sacrifice their lives for him. In a way, his soldiers, though he does not wish to think of them in that way. The phone on the TARDIS begins to ring, and Missy explains to the Doctor that she was the one who brought he and Clara together, and kept them together. Clara is the control freak trying to control the man who can’t be controlled. Missy points out that the Doctor would go to hell for Clara (and in fact, he did).
And, of course, the Doctor answers the phone. Clara tells the Doctor Danny is a Cyberman, and she needs his help to turn on the emotional inhibitor. She feels she needs to do it because she’s the reason Danny is hurting. The Doctor doesn’t want Clara to do this. First, he’s afraid she’ll die. Second, he loves Clara and the last thing he wants is to see her sad. She tells the Doctor to either help her or leave her alone.
Following the conversation with Clara, Kate informs the Doctor and Missy the plane is being attacked by Cybermen. Missy then causes part of the plane to break off, sucking Kate out into the sky. Missy teleports herself away, and the Doctor soon is sucked out of the plane as well. Missy watches from the Nethersphere, disappointed this is how the Doctor is going to die. However, he is able to use his sonic screwdriver to fly his way to the TARDIS, very James Bond-like. When Seb demonstrates his appreciation for this skill, Missy kills him.
The Doctor takes the TARDIS to the cemetery and tells Clara not to turn on the emotional inhibitor. Doing so will mean Danny kills her. Danny promises he won’t harm Clara. The Doctor, referring to Danny as PE, seems genuinely sad to see Danny in this state. The Doctor tries to convince Danny to keep his emotions, explaining that the pain the Doctor feels is the thing that kept the Doctor from turning into the Master. Danny questions if the Doctor can feel pain, and the Doctor assures Danny that he can.
The Doctor tries to figure out the Master’s plan through Danny, considering he is now connected to the Cyberman hive mentality. Danny explains that his emotions need to be turned off in order to completely understand the plan. The Doctor is faced with a dilemma: allow Danny to go full Cyberman to try and save the day, or try and save Danny only to have all of humanity die. Clara knows that she has to do this for Danny, and insists the Doctor give her his screwdriver. Before she uses it to turn on the emotional inhibitor, she tells Danny “I wasn’t very good at it, but I did love you.” Like at the beginning of “Dark Water,” she promises Danny she won’t ever say those words to anyone else, and Danny reminds her he won’t either. She then uses the screwdriver to turn on the inhibitor, and then runs over to hug him. The Doctor freaks out, thinking CyberDanny will kill Clara, but he doesn’t. He tells the Doctor that the rain will fall again, causing all of humanity to die and rise again as Cybermen.
Then, Missy shows up all Mary Poppins like. She tells Clara she must feel like Death (like with the scythe and everything), and pulls out her remote control to turn Clara into a Cyberman. The Doctor knocks the remote control away, allowing Clara the opportunity to grab it when Missy isn’t looking, then resumes hugging CyberDanny. Missy demonstrates the ability her bracelet has to control all of the Cyberman, instructing all of them to move in unison, except for CyberDanny. Missy reminds the Doctor it is his birthday, then slaps the bracelet on his wrist, giving him full control of the Cyberman army. Basically, it’s the Doctor’s worst nightmare. Missy explains to the Doctor that she doesn’t need an army “because armies are for people who think they’re right, and no one thinks they’re righter” than the Doctor. Now, the Doctor will determine every battle, war, and invasion with his Cyberman army. Missy asks if the Doctor trusts himself, and there are see flashbacks throughout the season: The Doctor asking if he’s a good man; Danny saluting; talking to the Dalek.
Finally, the question that’s plagued the Doctor all season is answered. He isn’t a good man, and he’s not a bad man. He’s not a hero, and he’s not a president. He’s not an officer. But he is an idiot with a TARDIS and a screwdriver and his companions. He doesn’t need an army with his companions by his side. He tells Missy that love isn’t an emotion, it’s a promise and points out that Danny didn’t move according to her instructions. Danny will never hurt Clara. We then see CyberDanny reciprocate Clara’s hug. The Doctor then throws the controlling bracelet to Danny, giving him full control of the Cybermen. CyberDanny explains that the army of the dead will now protect the living, and he and the other Cybermen fly up, and burn themselves and the clouds covering the Earth, and ending the threat.
Missy then gives the Doctor the coordinates of Gallifrey, telling him it has returned to its original location. Missy tries to insist that she and the Doctor can return together. However, Clara has Missy’s remote control and is about to use it to kill Missy. The Doctor stops her, and Clara says if the Doctor lets Missy live, then everything that happened happened for nothing. As the Doctor goes to kill Missy, Missy asks that he say something nice. He simply says, “You win,” because if the Doctor kills her, Missy does win. She wanted to show that she and the Doctor are cut from the same cloth, that they both have this darkness in them. Killing Missy will show that it is in there. But before the Doctor can kill Missy, a Cyberman appears and kills Missy, thus sparing both Clara and the Doctor’s souls.
The Cyberman then points to a direction in the graveyard, and Clara and the Doctor run over to find Kate lying on the ground. The Doctor realizes the Cyberman was Kate’s father, Alistair. The Doctor salutes Alistair, the one thing Alistair always wanted from the Doctor while he was alive.
Two weeks later, Clara awakes to the sound of Danny’s voice. It turns out the bracelet CyberDanny used to control the army of Cyberman can also be used to travel between worlds. Clara thinks this means Danny is coming back, but Danny tells Clara there is enough power to send only one person back. He sends back the little kid he killed during the war, telling Clara she needs help find his parents. Danny apologizes to Clara, but tells her he had a promise to keep.
The Doctor shows up to met Clara. He notices that she’s wearing the bracelet, and assumes that means Danny has returned. Clara tells the Doctor she has bad news. Rather than let her explain, the Doctor thinks now that Clara and Danny are together, it means she won’t be travelling with him anymore. He tells her it is ok because he found Gallifrey, though we see that he didn’t actually find it. Clara then does the thing she said she would never do, she lies to the Doctor, telling him that she and Danny will be fine. She asks for a hug, and the Doctor consents. Clara asks the Doctor why he doesn’t like hugging, and he says, “Never trust a hug. It’s just a way to hide your face.” And sure enough, we see Clara and the Doctor both tearing up hiding from one another.
As the Doctor goes to get on the TARDIS, Clara tells him travelling with him made her feel really special, and she thanks him for making her feel special. He says, “Thank you for exactly the same.”
So, that’s it until the Christmas special. It’s a heartbreaking finale. Truly. I’m excited to see Nick Frost as Santa Claus, and how he will reunite Clara and the Doctor. And while I am DEVESTATED that Danny is dead, I hope they keep him that way. If the show runners somehow bring him back to life, it just further cements my concerns that the show runners are too intimated to have any real deaths and consequences. I don’t want Clara to be alone, but bringing Danny back seems like an easy way out.