In this episode -- the beginning of another two-part story -- the consequences of Osgood’s death in the season 8 finale come to a head. Ever since the Zygon attack in “The Day of the Doctor,” UNIT and the Zygons have fabricated a peace, allowing 20 million Zygons to duplicate people and coexist on Earth (without the knowledge of the larger public). However due to the death of one of the Osgoods (we aren’t sure if human or Zygon), this peace has broken. The Zygons decide that they would rather inhabit Earth as themselves, hating the fact that they have to hide who they are. They start a revolution, with the catchphrase “Truth or Consequences,” in order to get rid of UNIT and take over the Earth for themselves. The Doctor, Clara, and Kate (the head of UNIT) split up in order to figure out how to defeat the Zygons. However, the episode ends with Kate having been attacked by a Zygon and Zygon-Clara (aka Bonnie) having destroyed UNIT in London and shooting down the plane the Doctor and alive-Osgood are on.
I think one of the reasons I’m liking season 9 so much is because of the continuity between seasons and earlier episodes. I loved the Ashildr episodes because there was a connection to season 4 and Donna; I liked O’Donnell in the ghost episodes because she knew about all of the Doctor’s past adventures, and even name-dropped Rose and Martha. Even the premiere episodes showed continuity with the Doctor giving young Davros his sonic screwdriver. This episode showed a direct connection to the 50th anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor,” bringing back the Zygons, while also connecting to Osgood’s death in the season 8 finale. I love how Osgood and her Zygon copy became more or less twins, though it was kind of confusing how the two of them became both human and Zygon. It could be a figure of speech, but it seems weird that only Osgood and her copy had a connection while the others who were in the negotiation didn’t. Anyway, I don’t want to poke too many holes in it because the idea of the two Osgoods being the embodiment of peace is really cool (and also means that it’s Missy’s fault that the Zygons are acting up in the first place, since she’s the one who killed one of the Osgoods). In the past, the terrifying nature of the Zygons mostly seemed to fall in their ability to become anyone, but now they also have these weird lightning hands that turn people into little “tumbleweeds”. Their physical powers are kind of corny and scary in a Dalek/Cyberman kind of way, but their psychological powers are way more interesting and terrifying. The fact that there were 20 million of them pre-revolution and the fact that they can turn into anyone, including friends and family are what makes them terrifying. The UNIT soldiers let their guards down around the Zygons that turn into their parents, children, friends, because they know they can’t kill them. At the same time, the Zygons goal is pretty valid: they want to be able to live on Earth as themselves and to be accepted as such. The only thing that isn’t cool is the fact that they’re killing humans to do so.
A few other unconnected thoughts:
the American calling the Zygons the “Brits” was really reminiscent of the Revolutionary War to me, but that could in part be because Hamilton has taken over my life
A Zygon called Bonnie is posing as Clara!
Is this the story where Clara leaves/dies? I know she’s supposed to leave at some point this season, and this kind of seems like the time...
I feel this season is really starting to hit its stride. I will probably need to rewatch this episode again to absorb everything we have learned but I was really happy with this episode. I appreciated the nod to "The Day of the Doctor" - the second look back this season. I feel as though last season really tried to wipe the slate clean and because of that it seemed disconnected and disjointed. The Zygons are an interesting monster and the dilemma brought up by their rebellion seemed to be very political and I appreciated the depth added to the story without anyone having to die or challenge the Doctor (yes, that is not-so-subtle shade to Danny Pink). I loved the opening with the human- and Zygon-Osgoods laying out the terms of peace and I understood the reasons behind the Zygons mounting a rebellion. Wanting to be your authentic self and not hide within the larger society is a relatable goal and I understand the Zygons point - however, they reached a peace because they Zygons had tried to conquer Earth before, so maybe be your authentic self on your own planet?
I was confused by the hybrid Zygon argument Osgood made to the Doctor, however, I think they became so close that they decided it did not matter who was human and who was Zygon. That is how they came to embody peace. It only makes sense that Missy, Queen of Chaos, messed all of that up. At the end of the episode we find out that Clara has been captured and replaced by a Zygon named Bonnie. They also were able to capture Kate Stewart, head of UNIT, and plan to start a war. I’m unsure of how they will conclude this story in next week’s part two but my hope is that it is Clara’s last episode and Osgood takes her place on the TARDIS. I really do like Osgood. I’m interested in how they will find a solution to the assimilation they have forced among the Zygons in order to sustain peace. It’s been awhile and though the true form of a Zygon is very reminiscent of a tongue, I hope that humans can adapt to these new residents and leave in peace together.