Finally, the Doctor is back. After waiting since the Christmas special, there’s a new episode of “Doctor Who” and the world has been properly introduced to the new Doctor, as played by Peter Capaldi.
It all started in Victorian era London, where viewers got the return of the Paternoster Gang. They were about as surprised as anyone to find a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Thames. “Doctor Who” was looking to come back big, and what better way than a dinosaur? How it got there is quickly explained when it coughs up that familiar blue box.
Vastra and company go to investigate, when we see Peter Capaldi for the first time in Season 8. His epic first line? “Shush.” Eventually, the Doctor and Clara exited the TARDIS, but they weren’t all that friendly.
The Doctor’s brain is still a bit scrambled, post-regeneration, and Clara is utterly confused by what’s happened to her time-and-space travelling companion. That dynamic is a big part of what drives the episode. Clara has a hard time coming to terms with the fact that the Doctor is different, older. It’s something she struggles with throughout the episode. We’ll get to that, though.
While the Doctor is reacquainting himself with Vastra, Jenny and Strax, somewhere else a half-man/half-cyborg plucks the eyes out of some guy on the streets. It turns out that’ll be the real story, while the dinosaur was an epic introduction to Season 8.
The dinosaur, which the Doctor has affectionately dubbed “big, sexy lady” spontaneously combusts, something Vastra admits isn’t an uncommon happening in London at the moment. That means there’s a mystery to be solved, and your favorite Time Lord is on the case! He takes off alone, which doesn’t exactly make Clara happy.
After hanging out with a homeless man and trying to steal his clothes, but not his scarf because those are too played out, the Doctor is reunited with Clara via a newspaper classified ad directed at the impossible girl. Each thinks the other one placed it, and quickly realize they restaurant they’ve met up in is filled with matrons that aren’t exactly living. In fact, they’re cyborgs, like the eye-picker early in the episode. They also don’t want to let the Doctor or Clara leave. The two are strapped to their seats and lowered to an underground lair where that first mechanical man is asleep.
The machines are mixed with human parts it seems, sort of like the Season 2 episode, “The Girl in the Fireplace.” So much so that the Doctor refers to that event several times, though he has trouble remembering exactly what happened. That’s just one of many nods hidden in the episode to former iterations of the Doctor, including his scarf diatribe. The best is when, while trapped below the restaurant, Clara drops the sonic screwdriver. “Sometimes I miss Amy,” he muses.
They eventually free themselves, but the Doctor makes his escape at the expense of Clara. At least, that’s what he wants her to believe. Luckily, she remembers the Doctor asking her how long she can hold her breath. It seems the machines can’t detect you if you aren’t sucking up air, thus the episode title “Deep Breath.”
Unfortunately, Clara is a human being and can only hold her breath for so long. She’s captured by the machines and questioned by the head cyborg. He threatens to kill her, demanding information on how to find the Doctor. She has some questions of her own and, in typical James Bond villain fashion, he unravels his entire evil plot.
He and the other machines mine parts from humans to keep them alive longer, much like the robots in “The Girl in the Fireplace.” They then cause the bodies to combust, destroying any evidence that they were harvesting parts. It turns out there were cells in the dinosaur that help power them, because they’ve been around that long, so the T Rex had to go. It’s all means to the end of getting to the “promised land” eventually, heaven. They want the Doctor, because his parts could definitely keep them going for a long time. Plus, he’s got two hearts. What a deal that is!
That’s when the Time Lord reveals himself. By means of a clever disguise, which was essentially wearing someone else’s skin, he was there all along. The new Doctor is very clever with his age. He tries to tell them there is no promised land, but it has to end in a battle, because nothing else would make sense.
It’s at that moment that Vastra, Jenny and Strax rappel into the dungeon, armed with swords. In the chaos, the Doctor and the head bot get separated and end up back in the restaurant. That building happens to be the machines’ escape pod, which is also powered by human parts. That’s right, the restaurant detaches from the ground and begins floating away care of a human skin hot air balloon. That’s not creepy at all.
The cyborg begins coming to terms with the fact that he’s been chasing a fable all these years in looking for the promised land. Still, it’s not in his programming to self-destruct, and the Doctor won’t kill him. Whovians may never know what truly happened, but in the end the cyborg was impaled after falling from the flying restaurant. That killed all of the other bots, who were fighting Clara, Vastra, Jenny and Strax. The day is saved!
However, the head bot then wakes up somewhere else, seemingly the promised land he had been looking for. He meets a woman called Missy who claims the Doctor is her boyfriend. However this gets explained in the future will be very interesting, but kudos for planting those seeds early.
With the enemy defeated, the personal issues between the Doctor and Clara finally come to a head. He shows her the newly design TARDIS, which he thinks “needs more round things” on the walls (Yet another nod to the past) and offers to take her home.
Clara’s fear is that she doesn’t believe she knows the Doctor anymore and is prepared to say goodbye to him when her phone rings. It’s at this moment that every single fan of the show let out a squeal of pure emotion as she answered and hear the familiar voice of an old, raggedy man. Yes, Matt Smith’s Doctor was on the other line. It wasn’t just his voice, as viewers were shown Smith in his TARDIS, prior to regenerating. He wants her to know that regardless of who she is looking at, it’s still him and he’s scared.
The Doctor needs her now more than ever, because he needs guidance and his best friend. As good as the conversation between Smith’s Doctor and Clara is, it’s Capaldi who steals this scene a million times over. He looks utterly heartbroken at the possibility of losing his companion and facing this life, and new face, alone. He also brings up at one point that he’s not her boyfriend, which the Doctor admits is something he might need to learn more than Clara.
Luckily, Smith injects a bit of comedy when he gets mad about regenerating as an old man. Clara takes the former Doctor’s words to heart and looks into the new Time Lord’s eyes. She realizes it really was him all along and gives him a hug. He might not be the hugging type, but there’s really no other option. That’s the “Doctor Who” universe accepting Capaldi as one of their own. He is the Doctor.
He’s definitely a different one, though. He doesn’t seem to care for humans nearly as much, especially the English ones. He also rambles a lot and brings a new type of funny to the character we haven’t really seen in the relaunched series. It’s almost a manic energy Capaldi has on display, and one that is beyond entertaining to watch. He will make you laugh, but seems willing to get dark if that’s what it takes. There’s a bit of sadness in his eyes, and an he brings a maturity to the role that’s very new.
Hopefully those two sides continue moving forward in Season 8. This introduction of a new Doctor is easily one of the very best of the series relaunch and has to be seen as a success on all levels. It’s also simply one of the better episodes in recent memory. The storyline was easy to follow, they didn’t try to cram too much in and were able to tell a beautiful, emotional story. Let’s keep that momentum going forward next week when his old friends the Daleks make their return.
While you wait for that episode, take a new moments to marvel at that brand new opening credits sequence. What a special little addition that was? The fact that it was inspired by a fan video is even better. If you haven’t seen that fan-made credits, you can check them out below.