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YMMV / Doctor Who S35 E8 "The Zygon Inversion"

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  • Broken Base: Bonnie's Karma Houdini status has split the fanbase into roughly three groups. The first group agreeing with the Doctor's speech, and stating it was necessary for peace, and/or that no one is beyond redemption, nor should they be. The second group declaring it a cop out that a mass-murdering terrorist doesn't even receive a slap on the wrist for her crimes, despite not even giving a proper apology. The third group agrees it was necessary for peace, but feel the episode failed to properly present the sentiment, and instead opted for an illogical feel-good ending rather than the complicated, mature one it was heading towards. The fact she gets to become Osgood's new sister, despite having kidnapped and tried to murder her (again without giving reason for them to forgive her, beyond backing down, or redeeming her, or even her giving the most basic apology), adds to the fire.
    • "Face the Raven" two episodes later adds more fuel to that fire: When Ashildr betrays the Doctor and unintentionally has a hand in Clara's death in the process, the Doctor first threatens to destroy her, the trap street, and the innocent alien refugees within it if she can't save Clara, and though Clara talks him down he notably never forgives Ashildr onscreen in that episode or in "Hell Bent", in which their paths cross again (though he does let her follow him into TARDIS 2.0 rather than letting her die with the universe). Why does he forgive a mass-murdering terrorist and not a woman who was trying to protect alien refugees in a plan that went horribly wrong?
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    • For that matter, in "Hell Bent" he does not forgive Rassilon and his underlings, the architects of the Last Great Time War who turned out to be the unknown party that Ashildr captured him for and thus indirectly responsible for Clara's death and directly responsible for his recent torture. Moreover, he bloodlessly overthrows them (thanks to his Time War reputation) and banishes them, or at least Rassilon, to wherever they can find a home — and all of this turns out to be a way of getting access to the means to hopefully bring Clara Oswald back from the dead. (He does get chewed out by Ohila and the General over this.) Does this negate his sentiments in his speech or not? Keep in mind that the Doctor is The Mentally Disturbed in "Hell Bent" and not his usual self. Moreover, given that Rassilon is a monster responsible for much much much more horror and death than Bonnie and who doesn't even have a desperate backstory to give context to his actions (the way, say, Davros or the Master do) the Doctor may have a point in making him an exception to forgiveness, especially when he could have easily slain him instead of exiling him and no one would have shed a tear.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Bonnie's Karma Houdini and the episode's moral about forgiving even terrorism and pursuing peace instead of war became this in light of ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris that happened less then a week after this episode aired. To make matters worse, a mass shooting in Southern California the following month not only brought more attention to the issue of radicalized Islam, but spawned increasingly nasty anti-Muslim sentiments by way of response. The cycle of cruelty continues...
    • There's quite a bit of this in-story too.
      • The Doctor noting to Bonnie that Clara Oswald "doesn't leave" one's head, and his admitting to Clara that the few hours he thought Clara was dead was the longest month of his life: "I'll be the judge of time." Two episodes later in "Face the Raven", Clara is Killed Off for Real and from there "Heaven Sent"/"Hell Bent" sees the Doctor Driven to Madness and turned into a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds in a desperate effort to undo this event...which culminates in him losing many of his memories of Clara, the ones that made him love her in the first place. Yet he does not forget her existence or how she shaped him as a person entirely — so it could also be seen as Heartwarming in Hindsight, because he's right about her never leaving his head!
      • "Hell Bent" reveals that while he can forgive Bonnie and others like her due to his experiences in the Last Great Time War, he apparently cannot forgive and forget Rassilon and his underlings' dirty deeds as its architects, choosing to exile them from Gallifrey after bloodlessly overthrowing them. Moreover, he chooses to flee Gallifrey rather than stay as its new leader as part of his plot to save Clara — And Then What? would happen when he created a power vacuum apparently never occurred to him. Will the Time Lords' cycle of cruelty ever end?
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  • Like You Would Really Do It: Woah, the Doctor just said his real name, his actual name! Except this is the guy who lies about everything, including his name, so his credibility is bupkes. Although, that doesn't necessarily disqualify this name, since nothing was said or done to completely disprove it into oblivion. For all we know, it could be his real name...
  • Moment of Awesome: Perhaps a meta one, but Capaldi's acting during the Doctor's speech to Kate and Bonnie deserves to be mentioned. There are good chances you would have already shed some tears when he first mentions the deaths of children, and then he actually mentions his actions in the Time War (this bit is quoted in the recap page). Bonnie would have needed to be a Dalek for it not to work.
  • The Un-Twist: Few were surprised that Kate killed the Zygon and was impersonating her. This is especially the case as they already did this trick before with Queen Elizabeth.
  • Tear Jerker: The Doctor's War Is Hell speech doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know on the Time War or how it affected the Doctor, but Capaldi's terrific acting more than makes up for it.


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