Throughout the episode we were given subtle references of the events of the previous Christmas Special The Husbands of River Song. It seems that during the Doctor’s absence of our screens he’s been spending it with his beloved wife. Throughout the series when River Song has been a crucial character of series, I was left pondering whether the Doctor does genuinely love River. He likes her and cares for her on so many levels but I kept question does he, doesn’t he? The 2015 Christmas Special answered all the questions that needed answering and then The Return of Doctor Mysterio reminded us of his strong admiration for the character. So in a way the 2016 Special had the Doctor in mourning. He was mourning the deaths of a close friend and his wife.
The other nod towards The Husbands of River Song was the return of Nardole (Matt Lucas). Upon the announcement of his return I was expecting to be a bad idea but the way Lucas and Capaldi interact with each other softens the blow of previous events. It is obvious that the Doctor resurrected Nardole to avoid the feeling of loneliest, Nardole even states this in the Episode. Matt Lucas gives us the comedic side of the show. He’s the stereotypical character that you’d find in an science fiction series. He’s travelling the universe but is terrified whenever there’s danger, he also gives a hint of clumsiness but he has an outstretched hand offering the benevolent Doctor something he truly needs - friendship.
The main storyline of the episode is a Doctor Who adaptation of Superman. We have a Lois Lane and a Clark Kent, it was something different from what we’ve seen before. Not to mention the return of an alien race last seen in the 2015 Christmas Special. It is pretty obvious that Steven Moffat had a great time writing this and it can be clearly seen Peter Capaldi had a ball too. The episode was more comedic than what we’ve had since Peter Capaldi took on the role of the Doctor. It took a second viewing of the episode to realise this.
The comedy aspects of the episode does actually make it fresh and much different from what we’ve been given previously. The idea of brains in jars was creepy. It gave that old-school science fiction theme to it, the sort of thing you’d see bubbling away in Dr. Frankenstein’s Laboratory. But with The Return of Doctor Mysterio being the twelfth Christmas Special for “NuWho” it’s an enjoyable and funny story. The Christmas Invasion still has to be my personal favourite but the ending for the 2016 Special makes up for the lack of Festive spirit.
8/10 creepy brain jars. Now to patiently wait for series 10 to begin!