We begin with Clara, who has been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of planning and clearly has something on her mind…
Danny Pink has a phone call. It’s Clara, who has written a lot of cryptic Post-It notes on her shelves and wants him to shut up so she can speak. It’s all very difficult to explain, but she wants to tell him one thing. She loves him. She really, really loves him. She won’t ever say it to anyone else, so she’d be interested in his response…
…there’s a pause…
…and eventuallya new voice comes on the line. A distressed woman who has found Danny’s phone in the street. Because Danny has been hit by a car. Danny is dead.
Some time later, surrounded by cards and flowers and best wishes, Clara rings the Doctor. Someone owes her a better future, and he’s just the man.
As she enters the TARDIS, Clara systematically clears out the Doctor’s supply of spare keys (including one hidden in a copy of The Time-Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffnegger), and pinches his supply of “sleep patch things,” which she uses to knock him out. He awakes outside the TARDIS, with Clara facing him, holding the keys. She demands that he undo Danny’s death, or she will destroy each of his keys in the lava from the volcano. He says no, and each time he does, she throws a key in until eventually there are none left.
Except this is a dream. The Doctor put a patch on her hand, induced a suggestible dream state and allowed him to watch her enact her plan in her mind, just to see if she will. Clara is chastened. There’s a bleak moment where it looks rather like the Doctor has told Clara to go to hell for her betrayal, but actually that’s where they are headed, or the nearest afterlife equivalent, to go and get Danny.
Using the TARDIS telepathic interface, Clara steers the ship to an unknown location. Meanwhile Danny wakes up in the office of a man called Seb (remember Seb? He was the official who met the dead policeman in “The Caretaker”), and is immediately offered coffee. Looking out of the window, he sees a dizzying vista of skyscrapers, the ultimate metropolis. He demands to know where he is, and Seb tells him he’s in the underworld, or the nethersphere. He’s dead.
The TARDIS arrives in a mausoleum full of fishtanks. Fishtanks with human skeletons sitting on chairs. Human skeletons with heads that turn and watch as people pass by. Opening a book, the Doctor extracts a promotional message for a company called 3W. And when it finishes, he meets Missy (remember Missy?). In the midst of answering questions she presses the Doctor against a wall and passionately kisses him (three times on the nose for luck). Missy claims to be a robot called MISI with overdeveloped intimacy settings. She introduces the travelers to Doctor Chang, who offers to take them to meet a dead person of their choice.
On the balcony, Seb continues to question Danny, about his past as a soldier, explaining that there has been a request to meet him, from a young man he accidentally killed in the heat of battle. A young man he now has to face. He tearfully tries to apologize, but the boy runs out of the room.
Then Doctor Chang explains the fishtanks. It seems they are filled with dark water, a substance that can see through inorganic matter, so the humans in the tanks are actually on display inside exoskeletons that keep their bones from separating. He also reveals that the 3W in 3W refers to the three words, hidden in the white noise on TV sets and uttered by everyone after they die, once they realize that their minds and sensations are still connected to their dead bodies: “don’t cremate me.”
As the Doctor scoffs, Danny’s voice comes through into the office, and the skeletons in the tanks stand up. Clara is left talking to Danny, asking him questions to prove his identity, while the Doctor goes back out into the fishtanks mausoleum, only to find that the tanks are emptying and Missy is standing there. Doctor Chang reveals she’s no robot, she’s his boss, and then she makes him say something nice before she kills him. So he does, and then she does.
As the water leaves the tanks, a familiar shape emerges. Those exoskeletons are Cybermen! That’s why all the windows look like Cybermen eyes! And the nethersphere is no heaven, it’s a matrix data slice, made by Time Lords, and used by Missy to store and upgrade dying minds while Cyberman bodies are being prepared for their use.
Danny struggles to reassure Clara that he really is Danny, and he doesn’t want her coming after him in any case, not to this dreadful place. So when she demands that he stop saying he loves her or she’ll break off their connection, he says it again, and she shuts him down. He breaks down in tears. Seb offers him the chance to erase, sorry, DELETE his memories, to heal the pain, and who knows? He might even press that button.
Meanwhile the Doctor finds out exactly who Missy is. She’s a Time Lady, someone the Doctor abandoned, left for dead, and as he makes his way out of the mausoleum, he discovers it is actually St Paul’s cathedral in London, and the Cybermen are marching out behind him.
Because Missy is short for Mistress, as she’s the regeneration of the Master.
Next week: “Death in Heaven”
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