Zygon Inversion: Break the Cycle

War, what is it good for? Whether it be between two people, entire countries, or between races of beings…absolutely nothing. “The only way anyone can live in peace, is if they’re prepared to forgive.”

Clara has found herself within a dream before. She knows what to do. “Dream checks” we hear her saying as she flips through an unreadable paper where she finds a message from the Doctor and the ominous words that have been with us since last episode — truth or consequences. Those words may have added psychological weight to every fan in the Whodom. Who among us will not carry them within?

Following Clara’s dream check she turns to see Bonnie ready to blast the Doctor’s plane from the sky. She is able to knock her off balance and the shot misses. Despite Clara’s attempts to manipulate the trigger when Bonnie reloads and takes second aim, Bonnie was able to overcome the mind meld and hit her target. Short and surreal, the opening sequence left us wondering how the Doctor would manage to get out of this fine mess.

In the Mix

Bonnie is on a mission to convert all Zygons back to their original form. We find her following an unfortunate shape-shifted Zygon to make him the first that humans will see in Zygon form. Still, if he is going to be the first to “make the humans see” why is it that the four unsuspecting young people who are confronted by the Zygon act as if they cannot see him at all? There is no reaction, no movement, no recognition of anything out of the ordinary as the Zygon stumbles off. In the background we can see a mother and father with a baby carriage who are also still as statues. I’m making the assumption that Bonnie had this set up for video purposes. One would think, however, that a video would have been more effective if the “normalized” Zygon would have caused panic to the bystanders. At this point all that was missing was a white, corded earpiece for Bonnie and my flashback to Agent Smith in The Matrix would have been complete.

In Clara’s stuck-in-her-flat lucid dream, she is able to zoom in on the television screen and see two parachutes drifting away from the in-air wreckage. It’s a good thing that time is timey-wimey because I’m not sure how the Doctor and Osgood got their parachutes on so quickly. But they’re lucky that they did as they appear to be the only survivors. They touch down on a beach and the Doctor climbs from a Union Jack parachute, ala James Bond, and hands over his sonic glasses for Osgood to use since hers were broken when she landed. He warns her not to look at his browser history. Of course we all want to know what is in the Doctor’s browser history now. If only we could get a peek through those sonics.

Osgood speculates at Bonnie’s misfire, certain that her connection to Clara’s mind would instill the knowledge that there should be no hesitation in killing the Doctor. The Doctor, still in “hope phase,” doesn’t want to talk about Clara, doesn’t want to think about the possibility that she may be dead. Without the stereotypical romance aspect of relationship, we are, perhaps, better able to see loved stripped to the bare core — deep, still unexplainable, and always present. Yet, isn’t that in its essence romantic? Maybe…maybe romance is more than our attachment to the concept of a relationship that includes sexual intimacy.

Clara is busy focusing on a mind meld that will allow her to contact the Doctor. The Impossible Girl is always, of course, successful and texts a message to the Doctor stating that she is “awake.” He is sharing his view of the revolutionaries with Osgood, describing them in this way: “Don’t think of them as rational, they’re different. They don’t care about human beings. They don’t care about their own people. They think the rest of Zygonkind are traitors,” when his text sound is heard. He doesn’t believe that it could really be Clara, but Osgood does. Ok, it’s a theory, but Osgood believes it.

What Bonnie hasn’t yet understood is how mentally strong Clara is or how Clara has been able to infiltrate her. She does a double-take when walking by a mirror where Clara’s reflection appeared. Bonnie is in search of the Osgood box to break the ceasefire and finds a video. The video reveals that the Osgoods have lied and the box is not at the location it was thought to be. “There’s a reason it’s called the Osgood box,” they tell us. How many of you had, by that point, figured out that there were two boxes?

Bonnie throws a childish temper tantrum and smashes the computer. Doctor John Disco is flashing psychic paper at unresponsive people until he figures out that something is not right and he and Osgood walk away. Osgood calls Bonnie on Clara’s phone, which is a set-up to get a message to Clara. The Doctor refers to Bonnie as Zygella, a name that she denies. The strange, unresponsive people are closing in on the Doctor and Osgood, and since a van just happens to be parked on the deserted road, a car theft via sonic sunglasses seems to be exactly what the Doctor ordered. Before you continue to groan at my phraseology, at least I didn’t call myself Dr. Puntastic.


At first it appears that Bonnie/Zygella seems to have no idea that the Doctor is communicating with Clara. He becomes blatant when he tells Clara not to let Bonnie get to her memories. After he hangs up, Osgood reminds him that Bonnie heard everything he said. “The mind of Clara Oswald, she’ll never find her way out,” The Doctor says and smiles.

The Doctor used the non-verbal communication he talked about to find Clara and set up Bonnie, and Clara understood. She knew just what to do again. Now that’s a companion. Bonnie goes straight to Clara’s pod to get to the memories. Clara plays her like a fiddle. It’s likely that potential protocol for the nightmare scenario had been discussed previously. The Doctor’s no dummy.

He is, however, fixated on whether Osgood is human or Zygon. In fact he feels that it’s important. Osgood maintains that she is just…Osgood. Osgood with a first name of Petronella (rock, solid), which she revealed after the Doctor threw out that his first name was Basil. Basil is a Greek name that means royal or kingly — fitting, yes? But is it really his first name?

We last saw Kate Lethbridge Stewart in Truth Or Consequences, NM. We thought she was dead. But is she? When she shows up, it appears that the Doctor thinks she may be a Zygon shape-shifter too, but he and Osgood follow her to find Clara’s pod. Once there, they find the pod missing. Bonnie finds two Osgood boxes. Kate contacts her to say she has the Doctor and Bonnie tells her to keep him alive, which Kate questions. When the Doctor and Osgood realize that the guards who had been with Kate were Zygon, Kate reacts by shooting them dead after Bonnie issues an ultimatum for the normalized guards to bring the Doctor to her. In answer to the question of how Kate survived, we see a flashback to Truth or Consequences — she shot the Zygon there, too. Kate apologizes, knowing the Doctor doesn’t approve. “Why does peace keeping always involve killing?” he asks. So far, it appears that the set-ups are all around. Either the Doctor, Kate, and Clara are amazingly good guessers or they’re brilliant strategists — or both.

The Final Countdown

“This is war. You pull the trigger. You may the price.” Now we have two boxes, one Bonnie, and one Kate, and Kate and Bonnie are on opposite sides of the issue. The Doctor, as usual, is in the middle. He launches into an approximately ten minute speech on the horrors of war — and he’s damn good at evoking emotion. “When you’ve killed all the bad guys and when it’s all perfect and just and fair, when you have finally got it exactly the way you want it, what are you going to do with the people like you — the trouble makers? How are you going to protect your glorious revolution from the next one?” He asks Zygella. After her response that they will win, he concludes:

“Maybe you will win, but nobody wins for long…break the cycle.”

Basil has put the ultimate set-up in place, showing small-scale warfare contained in one room. The Doctor wants so desperately to be able to stop people from making the same mistake he did. I flash back to “The Day of the Doctor,” where both ten and eleven keep the double Kate’s in a room, waiting for one of them to call off detonation of explosives.

Then, this man who professes that he is not in touch with emotions, shows how well he can read eyes and expression, how much he recognizes Clara’s emotions when he sees them in Zygella’s eyes and on her face.

Following her surrender to logic and emotion, Zygella takes Osgood form and the Doctor tries one last time to figure out if one of the Osgoods is human. Their response is that they’ll tell him one day…”when nobody cares about the answer.”

Back in the TARDIS, Clara asks him how he felt when he thought that she may have been dead. His response: “Longest month of my life.” Clara is surprised and says that it couldn’t have been more than five minutes. “I’ll be the judge of time,” he replies. Minutes of loss can easily drain us of days, weeks, or longer.

End Notes

Why does the Doctor wipe Kate’s memory clean but no one else’s, with the exception of the Zygon soldiers? Why not Zygella’s memory as well?

Jenna Coleman puts in a superb performance as Bonnie/Zygella and as Clara Oswald in this two-parter. Peter Capaldi is more than on point with his performance. The war speech is long, but it is commanding, intense, and thought-provoking.

The depth of care between the Doctor and Clara deepens with each episode this season. We know that Clara is leaving; therefore, it makes sense, on the one hand, that the writers would build on this emotion progressing toward a profound loss. On the other hand, why wait until this season to punch this home? We are shown the potential for loss when the Doctor thinks Clara may be dead. What we see is love. Fiction mirrors life and, unfortunately, many may never realize their  love or the potential pain of its loss, until loss actually happens. In the Doctor’s case, “luck” reversed the probability of death. In reality, most of us don’t get that reprieve. Care now.

Both “The Zygon Invasion” and “The Zygon Inversion” make global statements that relate to current events, the macrocosm. That is a clear and necessary point. Yet, we’d likely be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t also see the microcosm. Every day we interact interpersonally, relating person-to-person, frequently fighting our own mini wars and/or mini cold wars. One of the most poignant speech quotes is this: “The only way anyone can live in peace, is if they’re prepared to forgive.”

Sit down and talk, the Doctor demands of the characters (and, in truth, of us). Otherwise, “You will die stupid,” he says to Zygella. Why do many of us not yet realize this?

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