Doctor Who series 9: geeky spots in The Zygon Inversion

Our viewing notes and geeky spots for Doctor Who series 9: The Zygon Inversion...

We’re now eight episodes into this series of Doctor Who, and after tonight you can’t complain that they’re not giving Peter Capaldi enough to do. In an episode unlike any we’ve had before, there didn’t seem to be much room for references, allusions and other such things; the ones we did spot are listed below. Did we get them all, or were we too caught up in Mr Capaldi’s eyebrows to notice some? Let us know in the comments!

Five References Rapid

This isn’t the first time aliens have posed as policemen; in 1971’s Terror Of The Autons, a memorable sequence saw the third Doctor pull off a policeman’s face to reveal a blank plastic dummy underneath. The sequence drew a number of complaints – not least from the police themselves, who asked that the show refrain from making children afraid of policemen. The alien Lytton and his associates also acted as policemen in their two appearances during the 80s.

Fake BBC news bulletins reporting on the Doctor’s adventures have been a regular fixture of the Whoniverse since 2005, but the first such instance of this came in 1966’s The War Machines, in which real-life BBC newsreader Kenneth Kendall covered the machines’ attack on London.

Bonnie walks past a mirror and sees Clara staring back at her. Shortly after regenerating into Patrick Troughton in 1966, the Doctor looks into a mirror and sees William Hartnell’s face – achieved using a photo of the actor pasted into the frame. We’re still holding out hope for an episode in which the Doctor sees actor Scott Bakula’s face looking back at him.

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Kate utters the fan-pleasing line “Five rounds rapid.” This was an order given by her father, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, when confronted by a moving gargoyle in 1971’s The Daemons (Full quote: “Chap with the wings, there – five rounds rapid.”). Though the line was only used once, it proved memorable among fans and even ended up becoming the title of actor Nicholas Courtney’s first autobiography.

This week we receive confirmation that the Z67 gas was indeed created by former naval surgeon and companion Harry Sullivan. The Doctor refers to him as ‘the imbecile’, recalling a famous moment from 1975’s Revenge Of The Cybermen The actor who played Harry, Ian Marter, sadly passed away in 1986; in an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, Sarah pays tribute to her old friend (who is implied to have passed away in-universe as well), noting that he went on to create vaccines which saved thousands of lives.

Osgood claims that she’s heard a few different versions of the TARDIS acronym. There has been some debate over the years as to whether TARDIS stands for ‘Time and relative dimension in space’, as stated by Susan in the first episode and used on many occasions since, or the plural ‘Time and relative dimensions in space’, as first used by Vicki in The Time Meddler and referred to through to the end of the sixties. Though the latter sounds less awkward, the former seems to have won out among official sources.

When the second Osgood appears at the end of the story, not only is she wearing the seventh Doctor’s jumper but she’s also sporting a red scarf and brown duffel coat similar to those he donned in The Curse Of Fenric.

There is precedent for a Zygon taking the place of a dead character; in the 2007-2011 Big Finish audios featuring Paul McGann as the Doctor and Sheridan Smith as his companion Lucie Miller, it is revealed that Lucie’s Aunty Pat died in 1984 and was replaced by her husband, a Zygon warlord named Trevor. When Lucie discovers this deception, it causes a rift between her and the Doctor that reverberates through the rest of the series.

The Black Archive

It’s little wonder that Clara has learned how to check whether something is a dream or not; last year’s Christmas special, appropriately titled Last Christmas, saw the Doctor and Clara trapped in an Inception-style series of dreamscapes induced by face-hugging space crabs.

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Despite what he tells Osgood, the Doctor has only actually been exterminated once – in 2008’s The Stolen Earth the tenth Doctor was too focused on running into the arms of Rose Tyler to dodge a Dalek blast. This caused him to regenerate into… well, himself, risking the ire of list-making fans everywhere.

The ties between this story and The Day Of The Doctor continue in this episode as the Doctor and co find themselves returning to the Black Archive underneath the Tower of London, where reference is made once again to the nuclear failsafe sitting underground ready to destroy most of London. As well as the many pictures of the Doctor’s companions adorning the walls, there is now a Mire helmet from The Girl Who Died taking pride of place in their collection of alien artefacts.

The Doctor reminds his friends that the Zygon peace treaty was created on an important day for him, the day which saw Clara help him realise there was an alternative to destroying Gallifrey in order to end the Time War.

The fate of Kate remains ambiguous until halfway through the episode, when it’s revealed that she was posing as a Zygon posing as herself all along. There was a similar situation in The Day Of The Doctor, with Queen Elizabeth I defeating her Zygon counterpart and taking her place in order to determine the Zygons’ plan.

The Doctor tells Bonnie “Gotcha”. This was a catchphrase of sorts for the eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond during the first year of their friendship. Of course, it’s possible that this is a reference to the Gotcha Oscars from Saturday night BBC One show Noel’s House Party – one of which was awarded to third Doctor Jon Pertwee.

Osgood isn’t the first person to turn down a ride with the Doctor. Other notable ones have included engineer Perkins from last year’s Mummy On The Orient Express, Dr Grace Holloway from the 1996 TV movie, and of course Harry and the Brigadier at the end of Terror Of The Zygons, who decide they’ll be safer in the hands of British Rail.

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The Spy Who Loved References

The Doctor escaping the explosion using a Union Jack parachute is a nod to everyone’s favourite spy misogynist James Bond, whose Roger Moore incarnation opened 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me with a downhill ski chase which ended with a leap into the air and a very British parachute stunt. Similar parachutes were used by Daniel Craig’s Bond (and the Queen) during the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.

The name ‘Zygella’ is presumably a reference to evil TV cook Nigella Lawson, who at the time of writing does not appear to be a member of any alien species.

Petronella is a real first name; fittingly for a character as dependable as Osgood, it means ‘rock’.

When he’s not analysing Doctor Who in too much detail, Pete presents and produces Geeks Say Things, the Den of Geek podcast. You can subscribe and download all four episodes so far here.