Brent: Hey there, everybody! Welcome back to Second Opinion, where the non-fan and fan collide to discuss the new season of Doctor Who. We’re looking at episode 7, “The Zygon Invasion.”
Jerry: Last week, you gave us a quick rundown of where people have seen the Zygons before. To save our users the tedious task of clicking the link provided, can you tell us where we’ve seen the Zygons previously?
B: We originally in one of Tom Baker’s first stories as the Fourth Doctor. They didn’t appear again until the 50th Anniversary special in 2013, “The Day of the Doctor.” They were featured mainly because David Tennant had loved the Zygons as a child from their appearance with the Fourth Doctor. Steven Moffat wrote it as a special treat to Tennant, to actually give him the very next Zygon story.
J: So asking for your personal opinion here, but do you like the Zygons?
B: I do! I was thinking about this the other day, because we had spoken about how you thought the Daleks look kind of goofy, and they’re not a serious threat. A lot of Doctor Who monsters are like that for some reason. When you first become a fan, you think the monsters look ridiculous, but then you grow to love them in a weird, awkward, retro sort of affection. So when you see them again, you really do love the Zygons.
I think they’re a pretty cool design. I like all the suckers, and their big triangular heads. It cracks me up a lot of times to see them transform into a human to say all of the pivotal lines, and emote, and carry on a conversation with another person. Then the minute there needs to be some action, they shift back into Zygon form and menacingly stalk across the room.
What are your thoughts about the Zygons?
J: Ehhh. It’s an interesting concept. I would have liked to have seen the full transformation. At one point, when Kate Stewart is in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, she is talking to the local police officer asking about back-up. We see the look come across Kate’s face as she realizes that there will be no back-up, and the police officer is one of the Zygons. Now the camera pans from the police officer to Kate, but when it turns back, there’s the Zygon. Just show me the person changing into the Zygon; that’s what we really want to see.
B: Doctor Who is very careful with their budget. The only consistent set they have is the TARDIS. We see the school hallways where Clara works. Otherwise, it’s a new set with every episode; new costumes with every episode; and so on. So to protect the budget, you might get to see that transformation once or twice, but then all of the rest happen off-screen.
You can tell which episodes are running tight on budget. You’ll hear the TARDIS landing sound, then the camera will pan over to the Doctor outside of the TARDIS. That’s saves the show from having to build the effect of the TARDIS arriving. In fact, more often than not these days, the camera starts with a shot of the TARDIS, establishing that it’s there, so they don’t have to actually show the materialization.
J: Makes sense, but I still want to see them transform!
So with the Zygons, do they always do the twin thing?
B: That’s their regular modus operandi. They capture a human and plug them into some mucus-covered sucker-filled technology. They establish a link with that human, allowing them to transform into that human. In the past appearances, they had to always keep the human alive, to maintain a link in order to maintain the image. But in this episode, the newest generation of Zygons have figured out a way to mentally pull images from people’s heads, transform into their loved ones or someone that’s important to them, and maintain an image without having to have a live link to the captured human.
So one thing you did not see from the previous season involves Kate Stewart. She is the daughter of longtime companion and friend to the Doctor, Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart. Kate Stewart is now the head of UNIT. Run by the United Nations, during times of invasion or crisis, the Doctor is named as President of Earth, with the authority to make decisions that affect what happens on the planet during times of alien crisis. So the Doctor gets to fly around on this big jet liner — but not quite as cool as the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier but still neat, nonetheless.
There was a brief time in the 1980s where the Doctor was President of Gallifrey, but then he ran off and abandoned his post. So being president of two worlds looks pretty good on your job resume.
J: Let me focus on the Osgood twins. My understanding is that they have little references to many of the other Doctors with their costumes.
B: Yes! The first time the original Osgood appeared was in the 50th Anniversary special. She was wearing a Tom Baker scarf. In this episode, one of them was seen wearing a red bow tie (Matt Smith reference) and red Converse high-tops (Tennant reference). Later in the episode, she has question marks on her collars (Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Doctor references). Finally, the Zygon posing as Osgood was wearing a pullover jumper sweater covered in question marks (Seventh Doctor reference).
So there were a lot of callbacks to previous Doctors in this episode. When we first saw the UNIT safe house in south London, there is a portrait of the First Doctor hanging on the wall. At one point, Capaldi slyly mentions that he is wearing question mark underpants, which is a reference back to an Eighth Doctor comic strip from the 1990s.
On the whole, I thought it was great episode! I totally did not even think about the fact that Clara might be a Zygon until it was revealed. I loved that she looked directly into the camera as if to say,”I’m a Zygon, bitches!”
J: I really liked the amount of humor incorporated into the episode. It felt much funnier than any of the six previous ones we’ve watched this season. The little things like all of the voice mails that the Doctor was leaving for Clara, or her answering machine message. It kept a light-hearted feel to the show, even as the Zygons takeover the Earth.
B: To me, it almost felt when you’re watching the classic Star Trek straight through, you’ll get six episodes where someone’s heart gets broken or a world has died or Edith Keeler gets hit by a bus, but then the next episode you have is “The Trouble With Tribbles”. It’s almost a pure comedy episode with a thinly-veiled action plot involving the Klingons.
It’s interesting to note that this is the second episode in a row where the character of Clara Oswald is limited to cameo appearances. In episode six, we only saw Clara for the very last-minute or so of the show, with Maisie Williams being featured in the story. With this episode, Clara shows up, but immediately gets taken down and duplicated by a Zygon. For a character whose days are numbered, we’re seeing precious little of the actual character on-screen these days.
J: I guess that’s one way to look at it. They did a good job of it, because her character is still on-screen the whole time. No clues were being dropped about what had happened.
So by the end of this episode, the Doctor is in a dire situation. He’s lost his companion, the aliens are everywhere, and Earth may want to impeach their president. What is he going to do to get out of this mess?
B: I guess we’ll have to watch tonight to find out. That’s part of the fun with Doctor Who cliffhangers. Sometimes you can speculate on what’s going to happen, and you can at least draw your own conclusion as to how it works out. (Sometimes your conclusions are a little better than the show’s conclusion!) Then you have examples like this episode, and we don’t know how the Doctor will get out of it. I’m kind of just enjoying not knowing until tonight.
Last thing I wanted to mention here. I absolutely laughed my ass off at the fact that the heads of the Zygon faction on Earth are named Jemima and Claudette. I thought that was hysterically funny.
J: I hope you find a way to work those two into a future appearance in That Time on Doctor Who.
B: I’m sure they’ll show up at some point.
So tonight’s episode is titled, “The Zygon Inversion”. I’m totally digging the fun they’re having with pairing the titles for the two-parters.
J: And I’m having fun rehashing these episodes with you each week. On behalf of Brent and myself, thank you to everyone who made it this far, and we hope you come back next week to read our Second Opinion on episode 8!
#ThatTimeOnDrWho is created mostly weekly by Brent Kincade for Word of the Nerd Online!
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