234 – Doctor Who – The Zygon Invasion and The Zygon Inversion

It’s the Orange Scare!  20 Million Zygons live amongst us and nobody knows who they are, but when a radicalized splinter group forms, it’s the Nightmare Scenario!

Ben and Eugene discuss the two-part story The Zygon Invasion and The Zygon Inversion.

19 thoughts on “234 – Doctor Who – The Zygon Invasion and The Zygon Inversion”

    1. It’s possible, but it could also be argued that Capaldi was just imitating every embarrassing loud mouth “celebrity” in America.

      1. I automatically assumed it was a Hughie Green, not a dig, but I guess it depends on your cultural reference point. What Capaldi/Nettheim intended I don’t know, but if offence was given I guess the intention doesn’t change that.

  1. Hi there! Never knew how planes and beaches were framed was in correspondence of where they go in us-movies. I think in british and a lot of other European countries it does not work this way, mostly because there is in General much more north south travelling.
    You dont go to LA in britain, you probably go north to Liverpool or scottland. Same with the beaches. The Beach at the canal is facing south.

    1. Hello!

      I’ve been thinking about that quite a bit since we recorded the podcast – largely because what one says on the spur of the moment while recording tends to lack the nuances that the situation calls for. 🙂

      I remember when I first read about this in the classic old cinematography text, The Five C’s of Cinematography (1965, Joseph V. Mascelli.) Up until that very moment – and I’d been watching TV and movies at least 30 years by that point – not once had this concept ever occurred to me – but once I knew about it, I see it everywhere. Fully 75-80% of the time (when a direction of travel can be assumed from the script) at the very least, the first shot of plane travel in the air will be in the “correct” direction. “Correct” meaning, oriented in your mind the same way you orient a map.

      East-West travel is simple because of the way a TV screen is laid out. North-South travel is more difficult, and is often staged diagonally: northward travel being lower left to upper left of the screen, southward being upper left to lower right.

      It’s not by any means a law or a inviolable rule, it’s just a very simple way to help establish directional continuity to the audience. Once established, there are lots of techniques used to “turn” the direction to get the shots they want.

      It’s just funny, once you know about it, you tend to see it, and for some reason Zygons really messed with my spacial perceptions. (or perhaps I should say, “preconceptions?”)

      1. This had never occurred to me, so I don’t know either. But now I guess I too will be thinking of it every time I see an aeroplane on the screen. This is the aviatic equivalent of an earworm!

        It’s only a shorthand, so I guess the details don’t matter, but in the shot from the cliff that plane is low – it is landing. So it’s almost certainly no longer oriented in the direction it had been flying. Also I’ve often noticed when I’m crossing over the British coast there’s a course adjustment, maybe something to do with the flight paths over densely populated areas of the south east?

  2. I haven’t finished listening to the podcast, but I need to write some things before I forget them.

    I don’t see how this idea that zygons can recognise other zygons in disguise is plausible. If they could do that, you don’t only have the question of why they didn’t recognise Kate, but also why do they need UNIT and the database? They could have put their plan into action years ago just by systematically going around and sniffing everyone (or using whatever sensory apparatus they’d recognise each other by…)

    On the question of which Osgood, Ben makes some very important points: keeping the secret is symbolic, and represents the peace (and the veil of ignorance behind which it was forged). Also, Osgood probably would have told the Doctor if it was important to – and I’d agree, we were about to see that. Additionally there are a couple of problems with Eugene’s theory that it would have been helpful to know: firstly, I didn’t see any occasions where it would have been particularly useful for Osgood to turn into a horse; secondly this assumes she is a zygon, and as we subsequently discover she’s not, so telling wouldn’t have helped anyway. Also, I don’t think the Doctor is ever terribly convincing that it is important that he knows. Maybe he’s just asking because he’s curious, the mischievous imp. Most importantly, even if the Doctor needed to know, we did not. She could have whispered it, or told him off camera.

    I know you said we wouldn’t go there, but I have a theory (admittedly totally unfounded) that the reason Moffat got co-writing credit for the second episode, and not the first one is for writing a particular 10 minutes in the second episode that we all enjoyed. I won’t pretend it’s anything other than speculation – we certainly won’t know for some time – but maybe we’ll find out in 10 years when someone writes a book and reveals he had that speech sitting in a drawer for 2 years, until he gave it to Peter Harness to write a two-parter around it based on an outline conceived of while writing Day of the Doctor… So I’m just going on record with my theory in case I turn out to be right and can point back to this comment…

    Kate Stewart’s position is she’s willing to kill almost 20 million innocent people just to make sure she gets the bad zygons. That’s equivalent to the population of New York. I’m curious – if the situation had been different, and she had known the terrorist zygons were hiding somewhere in New York, and destroying the city would be the (only) way to wipe them out, would her position still be justified? Personally, I don’t think so, and therefore I don’t think her position was justifiable in this case either.

    Like both of you, I did like the fact that the Doctor talked her down first, and then Bonnie too.

    1. I think you’ll hear elsewhere in the podcast the conclusion that the whole conceit breaks down if Zygons can recognize each other when disguised; however, how they can ever get anything done (like reproducing) if they camouflage themselves so well that they can’t identify others of their own species seems to be an unanswered question.

      It’s interesting to hear you draw a distinction between Osgood providing the information to audience as providing the information to the Doctor. I never even considered that position because I am passive, invisible observer and play no part in the story. I was speaking entirely under the premise that Osgood was withholding potential important intelligence data from the Doctor. In that, the Doctor had every reason to ask and having an answer might have made a life or death difference. Yes, ultimately, it didn’t matter, but again, from the point of the story, the Doctor hasn’t read the script, he’s living the situation and its a reasonable question to ask and largely unreasonable to refuse to answer.

      I was uncomfortable with the choices given Kate, they were not exactly analogous to the choices given Bonnie, which did make that a little bit unbalanced. Kate choices were both to kill millions – either humans or Zygons. Bonnie’s choices were to out millions of Zygons who just want to live in peace or permanently hide them. This disparity may also partially be why Kate backed down first.

      1. I was speaking entirely under the premise that Osgood was withholding potential important intelligence data from the Doctor.

        I didn’t see anything to suggest that we should accept that premise, though.

        I am passive, invisible observer and play no part in the story.

        This whole story was about challenging you, the viewer. How do you feel about 20 million displaced people coming to live among you – would you turn them away? Could you launch an air strike that would kill children as well as terrorists? Would you be willing to kill millions just because they were of another race?

        The question Osgood’s mystery poses is – what difference would it make if she were human or zygon? How would our attitude change? Just as we might ask how our attitude changes if we find out someone is gay, or straight, or bisexual, or transexual? The challenge there is to confront the many in the audience (and there were many, as is apparent from social media) who feel they have to know, have a right to know, who want to put Osgood in a box.

        She does not want people to know.

        What is the message to the audience if the storyteller acquiesces to their prurient desire?

        1. Hmmm, let’s see. One Osgood is an ordinary – no, let’s say “extraordinary” – human being and the other Osgood is an identically extraordinary human being, who can also shoot lightning bolts and change their form at will. I would say, hands down, knowing which of those assets you potentially have at your disposal makes a difference. An asset, which, I might add, working on the premise Zygons cannot tell each other apart, could easily impersonate Bonnie and get the rebels to stand down.

          Yeah, it was important.

          And a story challenging and engaging a viewer is not the same as the characters interacting with the viewer. That’s what George Burns did overtime Gracie Allen said something wacky, but it’s not what a character in this type of production does. Either Osgood is breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the viewer or she’s talking to the Doctor. I see no evidence that she was doing anything other than talking to the Doctor.

          If it was meant to be aimed as a lesson to the audience, it was poorly handled. If the lesson was, “it’s none of your business” it fails because it was the Doctor’s business because of Paragraph One above. Ham-fisted and ill-executed in an otherwise excellent story.

          If the two Osgoods had been identical and equally-abled twins, I would agree.

          1. As Ben said in the podcast, and as I echoed in a previous comment, Osgood would have told the Doctor if it was important, if it would have made a difference, so you don’t have to persuade me of that! Indeed, it seems likely she was convinced it was important at the point it seemed she was going to tell him. All I’m saying is I wasn’t convinced at any point! Had circumstances changed, I might have been (eg. if the availability of a horse would have made a critical difference to our heroes’ plans).

            Ah, no, I’ve not made myself clear. Breaking the fourth wall is not what I’m talking about at all. What I’m trying to say is a writer doesn’t have to have the character talk to the audience in order to talk to the audience, if you see what I mean.

            it fails because it was the Doctor’s business because of Paragraph One above.

            No, not really, because, as I say, telling the Doctor isn’t the same as telling the audience.

      1. If the Osgood from Truth and Consequences was a zygon, where did Bonnie get the Osgood print from? There’d have to be some hitherto unrevealed mechanism for zygon-zygon body print transmission, no?

        If I’ve misinterpreted, it’s because it’s a mess. I don’t really see how the extra-Osgood epilogue benefits the story dramatically.

        1. They can now pull an image of a loved one straight from someone’s mind. Why not Zygon pull from Zygon mind?

          Although that raises other questions… Zygella is now the sum of Bonnie and Osgood (or Zygon Osgood I) She must clearly remember what happened as Zygon Clara, so… memories stay… do they remember everything they’ve ever imitated? Each person is the sum of their memories… like twins, when you know them, you can tell them apart because they are not the same person. The deception couldn’t stand long.

          1. Yep, too many questions, and for what? Even if it didn’t muddy things, it undercuts the dramatic narrative to provide a faux-happy ending. It’s like Rose’s cardboard cutout Ten; an ‘instant’ replacement for Osgood’s dead sister.

            Ham-fisted and ill-executed in an otherwise excellent story.

    2. I know you said we wouldn’t go there, but I have a theory (admittedly totally unfounded) that the reason Moffat got co-writing credit for the second episode, and not the first one is for writing a particular 10 minutes in the second episode that we all enjoyed…So I’m just going on record with my theory in case I turn out to be right and can point back to this comment…

      *points back at comment*

      I was right!

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