Dark Water showed an important aspect of the Time Lord's regeneration process that had been mentioned before, but never seen on screen: the possibility for a change of gender to occur. Missy, a mysterious figure throughout the series, was revealed to be a female incarnation of the Master, showing for the first time in the history of the series a Time Lord who had been portrayed by male actors, now being portrayed by a female actor. It also saw the return of the Cybermen, and the Twelfth Doctor's first encounter with them and the Master.
The events of the episode centred around the sudden death of Danny Pink after a fatal accident, his transition into an existence beyond his body and the effect his bodily demise had on Clara. The story also explored the concept of an engineered afterlife and revealed the identity of the victim unintentionally killed by Danny when he was still a soldier.
Dark Water, and its follow-up episode Death in Heaven, were shown in cinemas in 3D as a two-night event on 15 and 16 September as a run-up to prepare for series 9. The screening also featured a prequel scene to the ninth series.
In the mysterious world of the Nethersphere, plans have been drawn up.
Clara is ready to confess to Danny the adventures she's been having with the Doctor, despite telling him she wasn't; she's left post-it notes around to keep track. The moment she asks Danny if he would be able to forgive her for keeping a secret, the phone goes silent. A woman picks up on Danny's phone, explaining that a car came out of nowhere and ran over Danny. Clara is left numb by his passing, trying to call the Doctor. As she watches her phone ringing on her kitchen counter, Clara is visited by her Gran. When consoled over Danny's death, a rather passive Clara says that it's not his death that's bothering her, it's that it was so ordinary and boring. The Doctor finally picks up on his end, asking Clara what's going on.
Later, the Doctor picks up Clara asking her where she wants to go, almost immediately sensing something is wrong. She asks the Doctor to take her to a volcano, all while collecting up the TARDIS keys that are hidden in the console room. She asks for a sleep patch since she's having trouble sleeping; he turns her down without looking, allowing Clara to place the patch on his neck and knock him out. The Doctor seemingly wakes on a volcanic planet, and Clara tells him what's happened and that she is holding the seven TARDIS keys hostage.
Clara then reveals that she knows lava can destroy them and if the Doctor doesn't let her try to save Danny she'll throw them all into the crater in order to prevent the Doctor from ever re-entering the TARDIS, proving that she's serious by throwing one straight away. The Doctor point-blank refuses to save Danny since his death is part of her personal timeline, changing that event will lead to a paradox. He tries to take control of the situation by goading her to throw another key in the lava. Clara then throws all but one in, and when the Doctor still won't help she throws the last in before suddenly being overcome by the enormity of what she's done.
The Doctor then reveals that she didn't actually knock him to sleep and the two are still in the console room, with this being a telepathic test to see how far she'd be willing to go to be with Danny again. When Clara asks about the state of their friendship, the Doctor says "go to Hell". Seeing this as a justified ending of their relationship, a guilt-ridden Clara starts to leave, but the Doctor clarifies that he actually meant going to the afterlife. Almost every culture in the universe has a concept and maybe Danny is there. Seeing the extremity of her desire to see him, despite his fury at her betrayal of him, the Doctor agrees to do everything he can and connects her to the TARDIS's telepathic circuits, as her time stream's connected to Danny's. The TARDIS takes them to wherever she thinks Danny now is. Clara is overwhelmed by the Doctor's generosity of forgiveness.
The TARDIS has taken the Doctor and Clara to the 3W Institute, where they see skeletons seated in watery graves. They're greeted by Missy. Stating that he clearly didn't receive the official greetings package, she kisses the Doctor, and claims to be a Mobile Intelligence Systems Interface. Missy lets the Doctor feel her heart, evoking a reaction of quiet surprise from the Doctor.
In the Nethersphere, Seb asks Danny if he's ever killed someone, due to a request from someone Danny could have killed in the army. Remembering his "bad day", the child Danny accidentally killed is revealed to him.
Danny meets with the child, who runs away when Danny tries reaching out to him. He and Seb hear a man screaming, which Seb explains to mean he left his body to science.
Chang then explains to the Doctor and Clara that the 3W was established after a discovery from television static, that their founder, Dr Skarosa, translated to be distant voices. Believing them to be the voices of the dead, Skarosa isolated some of them. Chang plays a recording of the voice that inspired 3W's founding: “Don't cremate me”. Chang tells them the dead are still conscious and aware of everything that happens to their body. The Doctor mocks such an idea.
Seb is explaining the same to Danny, who constantly feels cold because he's still connected to his body, which is being kept in a cold place.
The Doctor states that the dead don't come back, and Chang establishes a communication signal to the Nethersphere, and Clara is able to speak to Danny, with Seb's assistance. The Doctor tells Clara to ask Danny questions only to which would he know the answer.
Missy activates the tanks, and the skeletons stand. When Chang and the Doctor arrive, Missy reveals she was only pretending to be an android and kills Chang. As the tanks begin to empty, the Cybermen are slowly revealed.
Clara asks Danny to name the restaurant that they went to on their first date – but he can't remember.
Missy shows the Doctor the Nethersphere, which is a Matrix data slice housing minds of the deceased in edited forms, while their bodies are used for Cyber-conversion. The Doctor knows the Nethersphere (actually a small sphere within 3W) which is containing the neural patterns is actually Gallifreyan technology, and Missy reveals that she is indeed a Time Lord, or rather a Time Lady as she prefers to be called. The Doctor asks her which Time Lady she is – she's the one he "left for dead", without expecting her to "find [her] way back". The Doctor runs out of the 3W, which is St Paul's Cathedral.
Clara asks Danny more information about her and tells him that if he is Danny, she is determined to find him in the netherworld and threatens to hang up if he says "I love you" one more time instead of answering her questions. Danny tells Clara she must continue her life and not follow him; he repeats the same words for the last time and she disconnects the communication signal. Seb gives Danny the option to delete himself, which would relieve him from the surge of emotional trauma from his call with Clara.
Back in 3W, Clara turns around to see a fully-revealed Cyberman in the water tank. The Cybermen activate, and begin marching down the steps of St Paul's Cathedral. The Doctor yells at civilians to run away, but he's dismissed as an angry Scotsman. The Doctor demands that Missy tell him who she truly is, and Missy reveals that her name is short for "Mistress" as she couldn't keep calling herself by her previous title... the Master. The Doctor initially reacts with disbelief that quickly turns to horror when he realises she is telling the truth and his old nemesis has returned.
In the Nethersphere, Danny is on the verge of disconnecting himself, and sees the child he killed reflected on the screen of the iPad he holds.
- The Doctor - Peter Capaldi
- Clara - Jenna Coleman
- Danny - Samuel Anderson
- Missy - Michelle Gomez
- Woman - Joan Blackham
- Gran - Sheila Reid
- Seb - Chris Addison
- Dr Chang - Andrew Leung
- Fleming - Bradley Ford
- Boy - Antonio Bourouphael
- Cyberman - Jeremiah Krage
- Mr Armitage - Nigel Betts
|Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin|
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
- TARDIS keys can only be destroyed by lava.
- The Cloister Bell rings whenever one is destroyed.
- The St. Paul's Cathedral was made bigger on the inside by Missy, who used it to store ninty-one Cybermen.
- The Doctor and Clara view Xylo Jones' skeleton.
- To convince Clara that he is the real Danny Pink when she receives his call from the Nethersphere, he tells her her birthday is on the 23rd November.
- When asked about having iPads in the afterlife by Danny, Seb responds by saying that they have Apple founder Steve Jobs.
- Clara has a copy of the Encyclopedia of World Facts.
- "Air on the G String" by Johann Sebastian Bach was heard on Missy's introduction when the Doctor and Clara were greeted by her.
- The Cybermen walking from St Paul's Cathedral and through the London streets emulates a similar scene in the same location in the TV story The Invasion.
- This episode marks the first on-screen instance of a Time Lord changing gender through regeneration, although the possibility had been alluded to in The End of Time, The Doctor's Wife and The Night of the Doctor.
- The Radio Times programme listing was accompanied by a small colour head-and-shoulders photograph of Missy and the Doctor, with the accompanying caption “ Doctor Who / 8:15 p.m. Missy and the Time Lord come face to face at last – what will the outcome be?”
- The Hyperscape Body Swap Ticket used to get Clara and the Eleventh Doctor into the Doctor Who at the Proms is shown on Clara's bookshelf among her sticky notes. Discounting the sticky note references to the Paternoster Gang, whom Clara had also encountered in Series 7, and one reading "Impossible Girl" (which was a plot element in TV: Deep Breath), the ticket is the only item exclusive to the Eleventh Doctor era visible on Clara's notes, though the camera does not focus in on all the stickies.
- When the Doctor hands Dr Chang the psychic paper, it says that he is from the government and Chang questions the amount of swearing on the paper. The Doctor responds with "I've got a lot of internalised anger." Peter Capaldi is well known for his role as the foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It and its spin-off film, In the Loop.
- This episode marks the first use of the term "Time Lady" in the revived series.
- At a Royal Television Society event, Steven Moffat revealed a decoy version of Missy's reveal in the episode was shot in case any members of the public overheard: “You know who I am. I'm Missy. Or, if you'd prefer, Random Access Neural Integrator. Rani for short.”
- Even with series 8 running for one episode shorter than normal, this episode still manages to continue the trend of the Cybermen appearing in the penultimate episode of every series since Steven Moffat assumed the role of head writer and executive producer. The Pandorica Opens in series 5, Closing Time in series 6 and Nightmare in Silver in series 7, all of them featuring the Cybermen, were also all the twelfth episodes of thirteen in their respective series.
- From among books in which the Doctor has hidden TARDIS keys, Clara picks up a copy of The Time Traveler's Wife, which influenced the character of River Song and the plot of The Girl in the Fireplace.
- The plot point of the dead being conscious was controversial enough for the BBC to release a statement defending it after receiving complaints from viewers.
- This is the second TV story to feature both the Cybermen and the Master, following The Five Doctors.
- The story Dismemberment would reveal that Danny was run over by Missy on purpose.
- Though Bradley Ford is credited as Fleming in the closing credits of the episode, he does not actually appear. It is presumed that he was in a scene that was cut very late in the editing process.
- The story was edited together with Death in Heaven for a theatrical release. For this release, the story was presented in 3D as a single feature-length story. There were also several small changes made to the sound design of the episode, most notably the ommission of the opening titles for Death in Heaven and the inclusion of additional sound effects in the opening titles.
- 5.71 million (UK overnight)
- 7.34 million (DWM 481)
- When Danny is walking across the park, his phone rings, which means that Clara is calling him. When Clara is shown holding her phone, it displays "Danny calling" which would normally indicate that Danny has called her. Furthermore, her phone clearly still shows the "Danny calling" message even when she is talking to him.
- In a related error, the screen on Clara's phone remains on, partially illuminating her face as she speaks to both Danny and the Doctor. Mobile phones are designed to blank the screen when held up to the ear. In future episodes (such as TV: Before the Flood), this technical error is repeated. (It should be noted that this error is not unique to Doctor Who as many other series and films involving mobile use do this too.)
- When Danny is first shown the iPad with the option to delete himself from the Nethersphere, the icons for sub-functions "speaker," "keypad," etc. are immediately below the "delete" command. When we return to the scene, though no apparent time has passed, the icons are now gone, implying the shots may have been made at different times by a second unit or in post-production.
- In Clara's flat, there are numerous post-it notes with references to Clara's travels with the Doctor, including the Paternoster Gang, (TV: The Crimson Horror) the "Impossible Girl", (TV: The Name of the Doctor) "Dinosaur in London", Half-Face Man, (TV: Deep Breath) "Miniature Clara", (TV: Into the Dalek) Robin Hood, (TV: Robot of Sherwood) the Bank of Karabraxos, Psi, Saibra, (TV: Time Heist) Courtney Woods becoming the president, "Kill the Moon", (TV: Kill the Moon) and the Orient Express. (TV: Mummy on the Orient Express) In addition, there were many post-it notes about Clara telling the truth to Danny. (TV: In the Forest of the Night)
- Among the post-it notes in the shelf, there is a "body swap" ticket. The Eleventh Doctor and Clara previously used one of these to infiltrate the Royal Albert Hall. (Doctor Who at the Proms)
- The Doctor takes a call from Clara using the TARDIS's exterior phone. (TV: The Bells of Saint John, The Time of the Doctor)
- The emergence of the Cybermen from their tombs bears similarities to their awakening on Telos (TV: The Tomb of the Cybermen) and their descending the steps of St Paul's mirrors their earlier invasion of Earth. (TV: The Invasion)
- A female incarnation of the Master was previously mentioned to be among his various incarnations who were captured by the Sild. (PROSE: Harvest of Time)
- The Doctor previously knew of at least one other Time Lord who changed gender, the Corsair. (TV: The Doctor's Wife) The Doctor momentarily thought himself a female upon regeneration due to his long hair, (TV: The End of Time) and was offered an artificially induced female regeneration at the end of his eighth incarnation. (TV: The Night of the Doctor)
- The Doctor uses the TARDIS's telepathic interface to help them find Danny. (TV: Listen)
- The Master previously had an assistant named Chang Lee whom he also killed, although in that case Lee was resurrected. (TV: Doctor Who)
- The dark water shows the human skeletons inside the Cybermen. The Cyberman guarding the Pandorica under Stonehenge revealed a human skull inside its head when it attacked Amy Pond. (TV: The Pandorica Opens)
- Cybermen have converted and housed the deceased before. (AUDIO: The Reaping, TV: The Pandorica Opens, PROSE: Plague of the Cybermen)
- There is a black and white photo on Clara's bookshelf of her and her father. (TV: The Rings of Akhaten)
- The Nethersphere is a "Matrix data slice" related to the Time Lord consciousness storage and virtual reality technology. (TV: The Deadly Assassin)
- The Master previously worked briefly with the Cybermen before, albeit only because he was forced to at that time. He soon tricked that group of Cybermen into their demise. (TV: The Five Doctors)
- In an alternate timeline created by a continuity bomb, the Doctor never forgave Clara for her attempted betrayal and became a ragged recluse, eventually becoming the leader of the Voord. (COMIC: Four Doctors)
Home video releases
- Doctor Who: Series 8 Boxset
- Doctor Who: Series 8 Blu-ray Boxset
- The episode was released on Google Play, iTunes and Amazon Instant Video in HD or SD, also available as part of the Series 8 digital boxset. The digital boxset contains various features: trailer, interviews, The Ultimate Companion, The Ultimate Time Lord, Inside the World Tour and Doctor Who Extra episodes for each episode.
- In the US, the series was released through digital streaming services Hulu and Netflix with a subscription.