I haven't been so happy with a Doctor Who episode in quite awhile. Maybe it's because my emotional state has been all over the place and I was just in the mood to really love something today, or maybe it's that I went back and watched some Matt Smith episodes and that sated my Eleven cravings and gave me new appreciation for Twelve at the same time, or maybe it was something awesome about the actual episodes that I will reference in a minute, but anyhow, I adored the 9.3 and 9.4 two parter story.
We are late on the scene with this one because I've had a rough couple of weeks and wasn't up to handling anything spooky until today. Which turned out to be a great decision because we got to watch the whole story without a break, which was really cool.
Prepare yourself for lots of ALL CAPS.
If you know me, you probably have already guessed my favorite part of the episode.
GUYS. GUYS. GUYS. THERE WAS A DEAF CHARACTER!!!!!!!!!! AND SHE WAS AWESOME AND HER DISABILITY WAS TOTALLY ESSENTIAL TO SAVING THE DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The moment the ghosts appeared and were inaudible, I knew that her deafness was going to be the key to communicating with them. For the record, I tried to lipread them myself, but there were no clips long enough and clear enough to make it out until Cass interpreted. Pretty sure they did this intentionally so no lipreading viewers would figure stuff out faster than any of the characters.
It's really hard to put a disabled character into a story. It is especially difficult to put them into action stories, because how do you make them team members and not the weak link? It takes a skilled storyteller who really understands the disability to do what Toby Whithouse has done here and make that disability a vital part of the story. Yes, Cass has vulnerabilities because of her lack of hearing, but she has learned how to compensate. The scene where she can't hear the ghost, but feels the vibrations was AWESOME. AND she even got a love story!!!
My signing skills are pretty basic; I use hearing aids and extensive lipreading to communicate. However, when watching ASL I can still pick some stuff up. This is the second time I've seen non-ASL signing used (Call the Midwife did a deaf storyline last year) and it was more jarring this time not to recognize any of the signs, even when I normally would. BUT it is cool to be reminded that the deaf and hard-of-hearing in every culture around the world have developed their own language, just as their hearing counterparts have. Anyhow, my main point here is that I didn't have any extra "insight" here, because the sign language was just as foreign to me as to most of you! (I'm sure the deaf over in the UK had a blast, though!)
ANYHOW. The other major geek out moment was when MARTHA was mentioned by name. We've heard other companions referenced before, but to the best of my memory, this is the first time anyone in Steven Moffat's reign has referred to Martha by name. As you may know, she is my favorite New Who companion and I had to stop the show and explain to my husband why I was freaking out.
So often the "trapped on a station with a group of new actors" DW episodes can be the weak ones. Sometimes, like "Silence in the Library" they are awesome, but a lot of times they can be a little overwhelming with characters and underwhelming with plot. This one did a good job of setting up the distinct characters, and pulling some really cool timey-wimey stuff. I also have to say, I am really digging the rock god vibe Capaldi's Doctor is incarnating. It works tremendously well. I said to Nathan, "They put the young actors in suits, and the old actors in rock clothing, and that's what makes them the DOCTOR."
Guys. I'm excited about Doctor Who again. I loved this episode, it made me so happy the whole time. I can't wait to watch the next episode when it gets online in the US tomorrow.