The one thing that made itself quickly apparent in “Deep Breath” was that there was a lot of confusion going about. Whether it was Vastra and Jenny confused as to why the Doctor arrived with a dinosaur along the Thames, or Clara confused by what has just happened to her Doctor that no longer made him the man she knew, or simply the fact that the Doctor doesn’t seem to have any idea of what was going on. All around it was a great lot of confusion. However, that is entirely understandable after the troubling event of a Time Lord regeneration. It was played well by all including Peter Capaldi, who seems to be enjoying the beginning of his tenure as the Doctor. And who wouldn’t love his Scottish brogue?
So far, the Doctor seems to be struggling with keeping things straight and not entirely freaking out. Honestly, after going through the traumatic events of “The Time of the Doctor” and then regenerating, I might be a bit out sorts as well. Everything seems odd to the Doctor as he deals with not only the new stimulus, but also the sheer amount of information floating around in his head. This Doctor isn’t one who gives his companions an indication of what he will do next. Instead, his erratic behavior is self-contained in his own mind and everyone else must just figure it out in due time. This included jumping into the Thames to find out more about what was going on. The Doctor is being forced to relearn everything and it’s interesting watching him going on this journey. I was also quite glad that we got an explanation as to how the Doctor now looks exactly like Caeceilius and John Frobisher (The Doctor takes the faces of people he’s seen in the past).
With the change we also saw a side of Clara that we haven’t seen thus far. While Clara may have previously been plucky, and fun, the Clara that came out this episode was filled with despair, anger, and her own brand of confusion that was still laced with the desire to protect and help the Doctor. In an instant, Clara was travelling with a young looking Doctor, but now is one that almost acts as though he has Alzheimer’s. In capable of recognizing or remembering her from moment to moment. And despite his, she still wishes to help. It speaks a lot to how well Clara managed to cope with the situation as nothing she attempts to do seems to get through to him. It takes a bit and it’s a struggle, but Clara sees that it is still her doctor in this new form.
The dynamic between Clara and the Doctor was also fantastic. The initial behavior seemed be one of an erratic person with no memory and their caretaker who’s grown weary of the antics. Clara was frustrated and it fed the Doctor. Once they came to terms with who the Doctor now was, the dynamic progressed. Now The Doctor is more clear, but Clara is now more willing to accept that the Doctor she once knew looked different and acted a bit different, but was still the same person. The banter between the two is fun. It was interesting to see how much shade and how many digs he threw Clara’s way. His humor is dark often at the expense of whoever he is talking to and gone. The two have the banter of a good relationship between a young indignant daughter and a flakey, eccentric dad.
As always, Lady Vastra, Jenny, and Strax are a welcome addition to the cast on any episode of Doctor Who. Lady Vastra is highly intelligent and benevolent, but not without the harshness that seems a common undercurrent for Silurians. Lady Vastra is nearly as cunning as the Doctor, while Jenny is very much her own plucky companion. Jenny provides just the perfect balance to the harsh truths Lady Vastra deals. While Strax maintains the humor. His Sontaran nature came out in stride with numerous vocalized wishes for various sorts of violence. Strax always manages to shine when he’s in an episode and this was no exception.
Not to forget a large part of the episode, there was a dinosaur in the Thames. It isn’t an everyday occurrence, especially not in the past. The dinosaur was seemingly hurt or ill as it moaned in pain and caused no real harm to the citizens of London. Even so, the dinosaur was seen burning in the night. It was only the beginning to the eerie happenings that seemed to be popping up in the city. Clara and the Doctor were summoned to a restaurant run by robotic like people. The robotic people weren’t just robotic, but composed of multiple people. They consumed bits and pieces of a person making it their own and poor Clara had to deal with a brunt of it on her own as the Doctor left her with only her belief in him. Of course, he pulled through and the result was seeing how the 12th Doctor now operates. He is a smooth talker and his words are hi weapons. He is the Doctor because he makes things better and this was Peter Capaldi’s first shot making the Doctor shine. When you see those eyes flash at you, there is no doubt that this is the Doctor and he is every bit as capable as his predecessors.
The new set up was plainly acknowledged. The Doctor is not Clara’s boyfriend. In order make this clear, we even got one final appearance from the 11th Doctor. It was sad and moving as Matt Smith’s Doctor encouraged Clara to not be afraid to help the new Doctor.
There was a new opening sequence to go along with a brand new doctor as well. While it is fresh on me, I’m rather torn. The gears and time were a nice little change to the sequence. While the music seemed to have lost some of its timey wimey flare.
What did you think of the series 8 premiere (“Deep Breath”) of Doctor Who?