The finale of Series 8 of New Who cashed in on a season of substantial character development and might have been Moffat's best as showrunner. What follows is spoiler free so long as you have already seen "Dark Water," part one of the finale.
Though I and many others groaned about the use of the Master in "Dark Water," and though I still think the character didn't quite get to realize the breadth of what she is capable of, the character's presence delivered a lot of unforgettable villainous moments, as well as eliciting a couple of very powerful scenes from our beloved Doctor. Also, Michelle Gomez kills it as the Master.
The twist on Cybermen that I was looking for in the review of the previous episode showed up right on our doorstep, and I think it was enough to keep our favorite heartless tin men fresh; of course, it kept them fresh for this episode, but I really need a break from them going forward.
Essentially everything I complained about in the previous review was improved upon, even if not as fully as it could have been. Since I at least acknowledged that was a possibility, I take no blame for being a little pessimistic. Let's be serious here: Moffat doesn't have the best track record of writing tight, satisfying finales that manage to put a neat little bow on the Series.
This time was different. Though he harped on the afterlife bit with Missy in his usual heavy-handed style of foreshadowing, this series actually brought the development of several character-driven threads to a compelling climax that made sense and wasn't based on anybody being an "Impossible Girl," or a "Horny Ginger with a Stupid Boyfriend."
Though I thought Moffat indulged himself a little too much on the number of speeches during the climactic moments of the episode, there was still a shooting gallery of emotional payoffs (read: emotional wrecking balls) that harken back to the soul-crushing finales that goaded the sadist in me to become a fan of this show in the first place.
Previous finales have made me ambivalent as to whether or not I caught this show the next time it was on, with one finale in particular getting me to give up my Whovian card before begrudgingly catching up to give this current Series a chance. I am beyond glad that I did. I cannot wait for the Christmas special, nor can I wait to see what else Moffat, Capaldi, and company have in store for me.
Expect a spoiler-ridden recap of the Series, including more gushing about all of the threads that got resolved in the finale, my favorite and least favorite episodes of the Series, and my predictions, however woefully inaccurate, for the Series to come!
Writer: Steven Moffat Saturday’s 9:00pm ET/PT on BBC America