"This is your country. Protect it from the scary monsters. And also from the Zygons."
IN THIS ONE... Twenty million Zygons are living among us in peace, except for a radicalized few who want war.
REVIEW: So we signed a treaty with the Zygons at the end of The Day of the Doctor, but we never bothered to ask what its terms were. Turns out, 20M Zygons were settled, mostly in the UK though some have already emigrated, living as humans. This is apparently what the peaceful ones do, assimilate into other cultures with their shapeshifting skills, and only the bad ones are into invasion, interrogation via duplication, and Nessie. It's a very strange, even unbelievable, idea (though nice to see the Doctor pull it off when he's tried so many times with the Silurians), but one for our time. The Zygons are essentially a combination of Muslims, immigrants and gays seen through the Fox News lens. So in this somewhat muddled metaphor, we've got a radicalized few who make the real mainstream community look bad, who take hostages and make them read statements, who commit terror attacks, are accused of pinching benefits and gang violence, just want to be "who they are", can "convert/infect" your friends and family, and so the military is asked to round up or kill people who might be close to them, but they're a secret minority. Anyone could be a "member", go go paranoia. The two-parter's second episode will make sense of the message, but for now, it seems to throw everything into the same basket and you're left with the sense that it's a political metaphor, but you're not sure where its head is at.
As a UNIT (i.e. alien invasion) story, it's not too bad. I wish UNIT soldiers were smarter (can't someone else have shot the guy's fake mum if he couldn't, for example?), and that Capaldi's confrontation with former The Thick of It co-star Rebecca Front had thrown up more sparks. But the scope of the episode is properly international with scenes in London, New Mexico and Turmezistan, making UNIT seem much bigger than usual, and Kate, Jac and Osgood are all doing well. That's an important point, because I've never been a big fan of Osgood (either in 7th or 4th garb), a character just one step too close to the annoyingly fannish Malcolm from Planet of the Dead, but I'm finally starting to warm to her.
On the other side, Jenna Coleman plays a dual role from the time Bonnie takes Clara's place. It's something you don't quite notice on the first viewing, but all the clues are there to be found on the second. She ties her hair back, she asks too many probing questions, she accesses Zygon technology, etc. It's a fun reveal because it shocks initially, but remains fun to watch after that. Having a human actress play the head Zygon is a good thing, because the monster suits aren't particularly emotive, but making Jenna do it will prove an important advantage in part 2, as we will see. Otherwise, the script makes some odd choices, from the weapon that turns people into staticky balls of hair to the rather precious name of a town coinciding with the Zygons' slogan. But this all leads into enough mysteries (the Osgood box, for example, though the mention of a hybrid is just thematic and slightly irritating) and cliffhangers to keep us watching. And spoiler, we won't be disappointed, which I admit raises The Zygon Invasion's cred a bit.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Props for trying to make an invasion story about something important, but it doesn't quite come together in this first part.