Initial Impression: Scariest Doctor Who episode ever
I was going to say since "Blink", but it quickly overcame "Blink" levels of scariness for me. Of course, that may be due in part to living in a large old house that is ostensibly haunted (actually, I'm developing a visual novel based on my own haunted house experiences...moving on though!).
Secondary Impression: Best episode of Series 7. Possibly of Matt Smith's entire tenure. Although it's not hard to be the best episode in Series 7, I adored Series 5 and 6. Still, the episode delivers on all accounts without being too weighty. It delves into the overarching story of Clara a bit, or at least the Doctor's attempts to figure her out, but the episode was complete and self-contained enough to enjoy immensely.
If you're at all as jumpy as I am, you're going to want to watch this with a nice solid wall against your back and not too many dark open spaces to look into. After the first 15 minutes, the horror aspect toned down as the Doctor went into figuring out the mystery, but there were still moments of "oh shit" mixed in.
The acting was quite good from all members, and the character of Clara, although ostensibly not a normal human girl, sure already has enough character development to be more real and human than Amy did in 2 and 1/2 years. It's so refreshing to have a realistic seeming companion as opposed to the wacko Amy that was as nuts as the mad Doctor (although that had its own charm too).
It's possible I may be suffering from oasis syndrome (which is a term I just coined. It refers to how good food tastes when you're hungry or how delicious liquids are when you're thirsty. I think its relatively straightforward in origin, oases are few and far between, so you really appreciate them when you get to one).
Although the emotions were genuine and the entire episode was just extremely satisfying and enjoyable, there were no moments where I was staring at the screen bawling my eyes out after having my heart exposed before promptly ripping it out and stomping on it. For all that, it was just so enjoyable. Even if I am suffering from oasis syndrome, it was a top-notch episode and I am so glad.
Zero's Review: 10/10 A+
Reflection: WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD
What an interesting episode to consider in view of where we know Doctor Who is going and where we've been. It's pretty clear that love was a great theme in this episode by the end, although it was thrown in there in the very first scene between the empath, Emma, and the professor, Alec. In view of the fact that Moffat likes everything to come together and the actions of the TARDIS in this episode, it's possible that the TARDIS is going through a tsundere character arc with Clara.
The fact that Emma revealed Clara is a perfectly normal girl means that it's probably the Doctor's or the TARDIS's fault about what happens to her. A love story for the TARDIS would be something new.
The Doctor himself is getting much rougher about the edges. He's downright cold to Clara after she sees the destruction of Earth, which is even more apparent since we've seen how he comforted Rose after experiencing the same thing! It's quite clear that it is the mystery that is keeping the Doctor going and the person of Clara herself is secondary. Maybe he's still closed off from losing the Ponds, but I am glad that the audience got to see the sliver of ice in his heart almost immediately.
Still, the Doctor acting in such a way makes me worry for the return of the Dream Lord or Valeyard incarnations of the Doctor. His attitude towards Clara might also be why the TARDIS is acting the way it is. I wouldn't be surprised if the TARDIS tells Clara she doesn't like her because the Doctor doesn't like her.
They're really having some rubbery costumes for the creatures this half of the series, huh? At least with the visual effects of the creature in this episode this is not clear until the long shot near the very end of the episode.
Some nice callbacks for longtime Whovians as well this time around, including the Eye of Harmony and a blue crystal from Metebelis III. For new generation Whovians, we are treated to breaking out the orange spacesuit again as well as no dearth of standard Doctor Who conventions.
What were your thoughts?
Note: May want to stay out of the comments if you haven't seen the episode yet.