Doctor Who Episode Review: Death in Heaven (2014)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the season 8 finale that first aired November 7, 2014.

Synopsis: Missy (Michelle Gomez), AKA the Master, reveals part B of her plan and uses the Cybermen she created to seed the Earth so the dead will rise as Cybermen themselves. The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is unexpectedly named president of Earth and is put in charge of figuring out how to stop her. However, as he once again faces impossible odds, he finds himself without any ideas of how to do that.

Guest Stars

A Lot of Goodbyes

One thing I’ve noticed since this series was first rebooted is the season finales tend to create a roller coaster of emotions. And, this episode really wasn’t any different.

This, among other things, was an episode full of goodbyes. Clara (Jenna Coleman) is forced to say goodbye to Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson). The Doctor, at least for the time being, is forced to say goodbye to Clara and those of us watching had to say goodbye to lovable characters like Osgood (Oliver) and even classic character Brigadier Leftbridge-Stewart.

At the same time, this episode, at least for the majority of it, was a mystery. Missy had a Cyberman army at her disposal, UNIT was incapacitated (and, up until that point, actually surprisingly inept) and, yet, for some strange reason, she held off making her final move. And, when she finally reveals her ultimate plan (giving the Cyberman army to the Doctor as a birthday gift), it was both bizarre and actually somewhat fitting given the Master’s long-time lack of stability.

I think the thing that really affected me most, however, had to be the Clara/Danny storyline. She didn’t just have to say goodbye to him once, she had to do it three times. Once when she turned off his emotions (making him a full Cyberman), once when he became the hero and then again, late in the episode, when he decided not to come back as the Doctor had planned and, instead, sent the child he killed when he was a soldier. How she managed not to be a complete emotional wreck was probably the biggest mystery of all. If this really was her last adventure with the Doctor, I can only imagine what kind of impact it will have on her personality going forward.

That being said, I also was glad to see this episode, like most season finales, end with a little surprise at the very end. In this case, it was a visit from Santa (Frost). It gave us a glimpse of what to expect from the Christmas episode and I honestly can’t wait to watch it.

Doctor Who: Season 8

Doctor Who: The Complete Eighth Series (DVD)

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Final Opinion

This season finale left me sorting out my emotions a bit and it took me a little while to fully understand every plot twist. However, I thought it finished the season on a bang and does a good job setting up the next chapter of the Doctor’s life.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 12/27/2016, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 02/02/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for product lines, pretty pictures and practical information.
This episode interests me since I've seen the Christmas episode.

Cybermen always make me uncomfortable because they really were unsettling in the Earthshock episode with Peter Davison as the Doctor. Were they as relentless in this Capaldi episode?

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