It’s actually extremely appropriate that Doctor Who‘s “The Zygon Invasion” came out on Halloween. After all, there is something incredibly symbolic about a species of shapeshifters, subtly infiltrating human society, on a holiday that — at least presently in North America — celebrates child, masks, costumes … and the dead.
This episode of Doctor Who encapsulates all of these things. It begins like a modern fairy-tale would: recapping the events of the Zygon-Human ceasefire back in “The Day of the Doctor” with all of its idealism and promise, and then gradually transitioning the introduction into the gritty horror of realizing that this tenuous peace is about to be destroyed. All costumes threaten to come off, even as the masquerade actually seems to expand.
Doctors Ten and Eleven, along with The War Doctor, have left the hopeful party long ago and it is up to Twelve to clean up and keep together the dirty remnants of their dream: and he has to work with UNIT to do so. It’s a dark mask for a grim situation, so perhaps it’s just as well that Osgood is there to help out.
Ah yes: Osgood. As it turns out, there were actually two Osgoods and both of them eventually identified as Zygon and Human. It was part of the peace process and they were entrusted with a device of last resort by The Doctor in case that cease-fire should ever be threatened. And things have gotten bad. Osgood died in “Death in Heaven,” murdered sadistically by Missy and the other Osgood had retreated into grief: completely forgetting about her role in maintaining the peace.
Also, The Doctor referred to Osgood as “something of a hybrid.” That word again. Just where are they going with this?
Osgood’s negligence, along with the bureaucratic incompetence of UNIT, and one accidental reveal of a child Zygon’s true form to an American town leads to … badness. Very contemporary, real world badness. As it turns out, the Zygons — who have been secretly integrated among humankind — have factions that wanted to walk free and openly as themselves. When the revelation of one child leads to that child’s death and the murder of others of their kind, this leads to a radical faction arising … and taking matters into their own hands.
“Truth and Consequences” becomes the buzzword of this new faction: willing to kill humans and “treacherous Zygons” alike. The young of the Zygons are rebelling and have been surprisingly adept at what they do: especially using the forms of their foes’ loved ones against them in an ingenious use of psychological warfare. It’s not so much that they have made an invasion so much as it is a grand level infiltration that almost, just almost puts HYDRA to shame.
Hell, we didn’t even know that Clara was acting more inconsistent than usual as a character until the end where she becomes too calm and collected and too much of a deadly stone-cold bad ass for it to be really her. And somehow even before her abduction she forgot how to answer her phone. But right now, things do not look good for the Earth: with UNIT seemingly all neutralized and infiltrated and the radical faction having masterfully manipulated their rivals into wild Zygon-chases allowing them to manuever their pieces up to this point. It was a diabolical place for a cliffhanger and we’re just going to have to see where they are going with this in “The Zygon Inversion.”