So, there’s been a lot of differentiating opinions about the series 8 premiere of Doctor Who. Some loved it, some hated it, and some were a bit in-between. Personally, I felt it was incredibly interesting. Overall, I think the journey they’re going to take the Doctor on this season is going to be a very personal one. It will be less focused on a Big Bad per se, but more on who the Doctor is, what he wants to be, what parts of him will always stay the same no matter what. I also believe that because of this, it’s going to be a much darker season than we’ve seen in the past, as we see the conflicting levels of good and bad inside of him. It will be very fascinating, indeed.
However, let’s just focus on 8×01 ‘Deep Breath’ for now. This episode was entertaining, sad, adrenaline-inducing, and intriguing all at once. We had an incredibly disturbing villain – one of the extreme highlights of the episode, in fact. This villain mirrored the Doctor in a very creepy way: the whole “what parts of you are even original anymore?” thing. The scene where they had a ‘battle of wit’s in the restaurant was written and shot SO well, especially the one part where the robot held up the platter to see its reflection, and the Doctor’s face was shown on the other side. Capaldi’s acting was FANTASTIC at that moment. I could truly see the second of shock as he saw his reflection, followed by the uncomfortable looking away. I also enjoyed the call back to the episode The Girl in the Fireplace, one of my favorites. It was interesting to see how the villains of this episode were related to the villains of that episode. Finally, the scene with Clara and the Doctor in the restaurant was terrifying. Curiosity took hold of me as the Doctor told Clara to study the various restaurant patrons closely, and as the realization suddenly hit that they were not, in fact, eating. I felt my skin crawl. I even gave out a little squeak when they looked up and saw the ‘waiter’ standing directly in front of them, towering over them. It was really creepy.
Another wonderful aspect of the episode was the relationship between Vastra and Jenny, as well as the characterization of Clara. Vastra and Jenny have always been two of my favorite characters on Doctor Who, and this episode showcased a side of their marriage we haven’t gotten to see much yet. We saw them really, truly being loving towards each other (THAT KISS!!) as well as bickering in a very realistic way. I especially loved the line, “I don’t like her, Miss, I LOVE her”, said by Jenny to Clara. It was so simple, yet so beautiful, and it really showed us how much they care for each other.
Clara was (in my opinion) wonderful in this episode, though I may be biased because she’s my second favorite companion. I thought her fear and nervousness when with the Doctor was spot on, and a very accurate portrayal of how someone would feel in that situation. I also liked her NOT being perfectly okay with it and not judging him at first, because that wouldn’t be realistic. The symbolism of ‘lifting the veil’, as well as paralleling the Doctor to Vastra, was SUCH a brilliant move, and was a great way to show how Clara was treating the Doctor. I was also happy when she used her experiences as a teacher to trick the robot into not killing her – it was an awesome tactic. Another highlight for me were the scenes between the three women, especially including the aforementioned ‘lifting the veil’ scene. It was beautifully written, and Clara’s small explosion of anger at the end was great. Also: this episode passed the Bechdel Test, something I’ve always been very appreciative of.
The only thing I wasn’t very happy about was the Doctor’s slight rudeness to Clara in certain moments (again, biased). When she was crying her eyes out after he had seemingly left her for dead, he made a very impolite remark, causing her to be seen as too overemotional, even though she was reacting perfectly normally to the situation. The comments were very belittling, and it made me scared about whether I would grow to like Twelve or not. However, the second-to-last scene changed that, and I now adore him.
The second-to-last scene was very bittersweet. The line that Twelve says to Clara about how he’s right in front of her, not on the phone – it broke my heart. You could feel his desperation, his nervousness, how upset he was, thanks to the awesomeness that is Peter Capaldi. But everything is put right when Clara hugs him (one of the cutest moments ever, in my opinion) and makes him understand that she knows it’s still him, that even though the face and mannerisms changed, it’s still the same Doctor. My heart was metaphorically put back together again. The very last scene, however, made my curiosity pique completely. What is that ‘heaven’ place? Is it really haven? Or is it something entirely different? And who is this mysterious woman?