Doctor Who Review: ‘The Zygon Invasion’

Following the character driven “The Woman Who Lived” The Doctor returns with a big event episode in the form of “The Zygon Invasion”, acting as a follow up to “Day of the Doctor” and “Death in Heaven”.

After a quick recap of the events in “Day of the Doctor” – where Humanity and the shapeshifting Zygon race have signed a peace treaty and UNIT has had to managed the relocation of 20 million Zygon on Earth. UNIT scientist Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) and her Zygon doppelganger are the key to the peace. But when one of the Osgoods dies in “Death in Heaven” the peace breaks down and Zygon extremists have gone to war. The remaining Osgood sends a distress call to The Doctor and he comes to Earth to try and find a peaceful solution while UNIT prepares to go to war.
doctor who - the two osgoods
“The Zygon Invasion” does share similarities to movies like The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing and Men in Black and the miniseries V. The episode does act as a fine mash-up of these properties and the ability of Zygon to shapeshift into any human form leads to a certain air of mystery and distrust – ranging from love ones to people in authority. One of the cruellest tricks the Zygon can pull is take the form of the family member so they attack someone or psychologically manipulate people into their bidding. One great little moment being the Zygon taking the form of drone controller, preventing her from shooting. But this theme is killed when A UNIT soldier faces off against Zygon’s pretending to family members of the soldiers. It was directed, written and acted in the most cheesy way possible and it leads to two major questions: number one, wouldn’t UNIT soldiers be smarter than the way they were portrayed and second how would the Zygon know who to copy and how did they get their bodies in the first place? It could have been more impactful if it turned out that the Zygon doppelgangers were actually telling the soldiers and could have made for a more suspenseful episode.

“The Zygon Invasion” is the second episode to be written by Peter Harness who’s name should make any fan of Doctor Who shudder because Harness wrote “Kill the Moon”, one of the worst episodes of the rebooted series. “The Zygon Invasion” is a big improvement over his previous effort, actually  being believable within the world of Doctor Who: to put it into context the plot of “Kill the Moon” was the Moon was really an alien egg. There are still some problems with his writing such as the aforementioned plot hole and Harness need to inject political commentary. These bits are when its mentioned that the Zygon rebels are an extreme minority and the majority of the Zygon want peace. It is the younger Zygons being radicalized and if UNIT bomb their base it would radicalize the whole population. There is nothing wrong with Doctor Who being political occasionally but this was just trying to fit a square peg in a round hole just to force thought a message about modern international politics.
doctor who - rocket launcher babe
The previous episode “The Woman Who Lived” was a comedic episode with moments of seriousness, “The Zygon Invasion” goes the opposite direction, being an episode that plays it straight yet has some comical moments. Again Peter Capadi seems more comfortable as The Doctor, playing “Amazing Grace” on the electric guitar and saying he likes to ‘ponse about in a big plane’. His interactions with Zygon high commanders, disguised as two seven year girls was a mix of funny and creepy.

Osgood was a popular character when she was first introduced to the series – when she was first appeared in “Day of the Doctor” – and was the fan’s favorite to become The Doctor’s next companion: so it was a huge shame when she was killed off in the Season Eight finale. Fortunately the show have found a way to bring the character BACK in a convincing way – well a convincing way with Doctor Who logic. Oliver is fantastic screen presence as the earnest, geeky scientist who uses previous Doctors as style icons. Some of Oliver’s best moments are at the beginning where she has to interact with herself – which is a tough job for any actor – and she pulls it off brilliantly.

“The Zygon Invasion” is a solid episode in a solid season of Doctor Who. It works as a continuation of “Day of the Doctor” and referencing to the wider Doctor Who canon. It is great to see Osgood return to the series

Kieran Freemantle
Kieran Freemantle
I am a film critic/writer based in the UK, writing for Entertainment Fuse, Rock n Reel Reviews, UK Film Review and Meniscus Sunrise. I have worked on film shoots. I support West Ham and Bath Rugby. Follow me on Twitter @FreemantleUK.