This story has just about the most shocking opening of any Doctor Who story. A major character, Danny Pink, dies in a senseless accident. When Clara's grandmother tries to comfort her, Clara points out how boring Danny's death was. And she is right. There was no monster, no great evil, no alien presence, just a car.
But what follows is a stupendous story as the Doctor tries to find a way to help Clara. The Tardis telepathic circuits take them to a mausoleum where they encounter Missy, who claims to be an interface android. Something is quite off when she kisses the Doctor as part of the official greeting. The incident throws the Doctor off and he never really recovers for the rest of the story.
We also see that Danny is in the afterlife and he has a visitor. In a flashback, we see Danny in war and his face when he killed someone and his visitor is the boy he accidentally killed.
We are introduced to Dark Water by Dr. Chang. It filters out all non-biological material so only the body shows. The mausoleum is filled with liquid filled tomb with skeletal occupants, but at Missy's command, the water starts to drain.
In quick succession we learn that the Tombs contain Cybermen (a nice reference to the Troughton story) and that Missy is short for Mistress and she is the new incarnation of the Master.
The Cybermen take to the streets when they are greeting by a seemingly insane group of people who take selfies with the Cybermen. But it is quickly revealed that these are undercover UNIT soldiers led by Kate Stewart. The Cybermen take off on Missy's command and on Kate's order, both the Doctor and the Master are drugged.
The Cybermen have flown into the sky, one to each major population center of the world, and then exploded, creating a cloud that seems to only rain on graveyards. In the afterlife, Danny is told he is going back and his body has had an upgrade. Cybermen rise from graves all over Earth. Danny, still in a funeral home, sits up, encased in silver.
The story seems pretty straight forward. The Master is using Cyberman technology to conquer the world, but this is the Master and all is not as it seems. That plan would be too simple. Instead the Master has something else in store.
The writing is outstanding, as it has been all season (or series for my UK friends). The emphasis has been on the characters, their interactions, and how they deal with the monsters. This story brings that theme to the front by making that the key aspect of the story. The Cybermen aren't important (and they really aren't true Cyberment since they are Missy's creations) as much as what they signify is.
When it comes down to the end, not only do we have a huge chunk of character development happening for the Doctor, Clara, and Danny, but for Missy as well. Even her story carries over from her last appearance. Missy is trying to force the Doctor to be like her, to use power. But like the Doctor's oldest friend and bitterest enemy always does, Missy underestimates what the Doctor is capable of.
The finale of this episode was poignant and emotional. The Doctor sees the solution and takes it. Happiness is not the goal - survival is. The Doctor and Clara come away scarred and going their separate ways. We'll see if that holds for the Christmas Special.
The acting this season has been amazing. Capaldi carries off a very alien and Timelord performance and Coleman nails a companion who knows the Doctor probably better than any other. Gomez has been intriguing as Missy and has pulled off the witty yet insane part of the Master's latest incarnation.
And as an added bonus, I complied the facts Clara gives about the Doctor and the facts Danny gives about Clara.
I was born on the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I'm a Time lord, but my Prydonian privileges were revoked when I stole a time capsule and ran away. Currently pilot type 40 Tardis. I've been married four times, all deceased. My children and grandchildren are missing, and I assume, dead. I have a non-Gallifreyan daugher, created via genetic transfer.I'm the Doctor.My name isn't Doctor.I don't even really have a doctorate. Well, Glasgow University, but then I accidentally graduated in the wrong century, so technically...
Clara [Oswin] OswaldBorn: November 23rd, 1986.Father: David James OswaldMother: Elena Alison Oswald