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‘Doctor Who’ recap: 12×08 “The Haunting of Villa Diodati”

Doctor Who recap: Season 12, Episode 08, “The Haunting of Villa Diodati,” Aired Feb. 16, 2020

Nobody mention Frankenstein, and nobody interfere. And nobody snog Byron.

Team TARDIS headed to the Villa Diodati for a night of ghost stories and fun with Byron and the Shelleys, but something wasn’t right. Shelley is indisposed, and the writers were far from where they should’ve been for Mary to create Frankenstein

Also, I love the connection with the rest of the season; the Doctor met Ada Lovelace earlier this season, and now she’s spending some time with her father, Lord Byron.

“The Haunting of Villa Diodati”

The Doctor immediately got a vibe from the house, which made her think it was evil.

The group shared a dance and some gossip before learning that a 15th century soldier’s remains in the mansion were haunting the group via moving skeleton parts. Also, people moved around only to arrive back where they were. Graham saw ghosts. Plus, Percy Shelley was seeing visions. 

“Words matter”

Shelley’s visions were of a lone Cyberman traveling through time. Uh-oh. Calling Captain Jack!

This Cyberman never finished the conversion (no emotion inhibitor!), and he was after something in the house. That something was the Cyberium, which took up residence inside Percy Shelley – the knowledge of all Cyberman history and future. This Cyberium would destroy Shelley if it was left in him, but Captain Jack was clear: Do not give the lone Cyberman what it wants. 

Unfortunately, the Doctor is never one to heed warnings, so rather than let Shelley die to keep the Cyberium from the Cyberman, she gave the Cyberman – Ashad – what it wanted and saved Shelley’s life. Words matter, you know. Oh, and she saved Shelley by pushing his mind to his future death (by drowning – yay for historical accuracy) to trick the Cyberium into letting go of its host.

This episode was particularly clever basing Frankenstein off of the almost-Cyberman, with its partial human quality and the use of lightning to recharge. It’s really not that far a stretch to connect those two. Super well done. 

“She was the universe”

The Doctor just endangered the entire future. Captain Jack said not to give the lone Cyberman what it wanted at any costs, and she just gave it what it wanted. In doing so, the Cyberman was able to take the Cyberium and disappear to the future, where the entire human race is at risk. And despite the Doctor’s warnings, her companions aren’t about to let her go into a Cyber War alone.

The things the Doctor does to keep history exactly as it always has been.


Next week begins our two-part finale. I expect we’ll see Captain Jack return, and maybe some other familiar faces from earlier this season. I hope we see the Master’s return, and I am dying to know more about how this all connects with the Timeless Child. High hopes for an epic finale!

Next week:

What did you think of “The Haunting of Villa Diodati”? Let us know at @PureFandom on Twitter!

Doctor Who airs Sundays on BBC America at 8/7c.


Jordan Alperstein

Jordy has a degree in English literature and communication studies. When she isn't attending concerts, she's watching way too much TV for her own good and fangirling over fictional characters. Jordy is a self-proclaimed optimist and bookworm, and she's a sucker for fantasy, superheroes, and good old-fashioned villains.

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