Doctor Who: Deep Breath

The Doctor suffers the usual
regeneration confusion in the first episode of Peter Capaldi’s run, Deep
Breath.
Much like previous regeneration
episodes of the New Who, we spend most of the time seeing the doctor getting
his head around who he is now. He spends much of the first half of the episode
being confused and forgetful. At the same time Clara spends the first half of
the episode not knowing how to handle The Doctor’s change to an older form.
We touch again on the theme of
Companion abandonment, both physical and emotional, as Clara comes to terms
with The Doctor’s wholesale change and later when he runs off, gets a taste of
that “what now” feeling we’ve seen companions deal with before.
It’s made clear fairly early on
that there will be no hanky-panky with this Doctor, leading to the final scene
in which he makes it emphatically clear that he is not Clara’s boyfriend. Early
on, Vastra lays it down wonderfully, putting Clara, and by proxy certain
segments of the audience, in their place.
For all her protestations, much
of Clara’s issue with The Doctor’s regeneration does seem to relate to physical
looks, so that whole scene is quite gratifying in many ways. On the other hand,
Clara’s implication that she’s into older blokes could be a worrying indication
that we’ve not seen the end of the Companion puppy love.
Bringing the Clockwork People
back was an odd choice and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I always thought
more could have been done with them, but this felt a bit ham-fisted. Why did
they need to be from a sister ship? In The Girl In The Fireplace it was
established that it was the destruction of the mission computer that caused the
maintenance droids to start cannibalising the crew. Are we to believe this
happened twice? I’d have rather seen this as the same group of droids that had
all come through a time window and become trapped.
The dinosaur was a bit of a
nothingness though. It served almost no purpose in furthering the story, apart
from a very public immolation. I suppose it did bring the Paternoster Gang
there, but I suspect a blue box crashing into the middle of Victorian London
would probably have done the same thing.
This episode went to great
lengths to show the parallels between The Doctor with his multiple
regenerations and the Clockwork Man with the constant replacing of its own
parts. The broom analogy was a good one, which coincidentally I had seen used
only recently as I read Terry Pratchett’s I Shall Wear Midnight. I’m not
sure if the silver tray scene was taking this too far or not. I think I liked
it though. I do worry that this “who am I” business will become a
sub-plot that takes up too much of this season.
There are a few choice
innuendos between Vastra and Jenny, but nothing excessively crude. I even
chuckled at a few points. Sadly, by involving Clara in these, Vastra and
Jenny’s relationship is somehow marginalised. The cool thing about Vastra and
Jenny’s relationship was not that is was a cross-species same-sex one, but that
it was seemingly strongly monogamous. By showing that Vastra is into other
girls too, really ruins what was a lovely duo.
And finally The Doctor thinks
to ask the question he should have done in The Bells of Saint John.
Who gave Clara his number? This really is all the tease for the season arc that
we need. Unfortunately that’s not spoon-feeding us enough, so they elected to
have an entire epilogue scene introducing Missy, the Gatekeeper of the
Nethersphere. In a far more tragic turn of events, she refers to The Doctor as
her boyfriend. Goddamnit!
And I just need to take a
second to comment on the new opening credits. Do. Not. Like. There’s a hint of
something interesting there, but all the cogs and clocks is just a bit too
clich├ęd for me. There’s nothing wrong with the good old time vortex with flying
names. It’s a classic for a reason.
As nice as it was to see
Capaldi take on the mantle of The Doctor (and I think he did it well), this
episode was just too riddled with issues to score particularly highly from me.
Score: 6/10

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