After 8 months of waiting, Doctor Who Series 8 has hit the television with Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth (or the 13th if you count John Hurt, or the 14th if you count John Hurt and the second David Tennant) Doctor. So how good is his 75 minute long opener Deep Breath?
Also, spoilers incoming. All my reviews will be in-depth, so make sure you watch the episode first.
Introduction to the new Doctor: Capaldi
As an introduction to the new Doctor, it’s great. From his first word (“Shush”), you can tell that this Doctor will be great. His comedic timing in the first half is funny as Matt Smith’s first few moments and as the episode goes on, Capaldi’s Doctor gradually evolves.
This Doctor is going to be fierce, harsh and 100% awesome. His Doctor seems to be a combination of the Third, Fourth, Seventh and Ninth in terms of screen presence and way of speaking (seeing how the Third, Fourth, Seventh and Ninth Doctors are four of my favourite Doctors, that’s a good thing).
This is not Tennant’s lovable charm or Smith’s childish glee, this Doctor is on a mission and he has the weariness of living for over 2,000 on his face. He even states to Clara that he’s not her boyfriend. It makes me desperate to see more of this Doctor and how he will be different.
If there is one flaw, it’s that this Doctor didn’t have a “Oh yeah, jump out of your seat and explode” moment. The scene in the cyborg’s spaceship is pretty epic with very good dialogue but I felt that he needed a scene to properly introduce him. With Matt, you had this –
The opening: T-Rex rampaging
Still, even without epic music and an epic speech, the Twelfth Doctor has had a solid start. But what about the rest of the episode?
The opening scene is great, with a T-Rex rampaging around Victorian London and spitting out the Tardis.
While there may be a dinosaur, cyborgs and a new Doctor, the main focus is on Clara, as she tries to get used to the new Doctor. She gets some character development while trapped in the cyborg ship and tries to escape by telling the leader of the cyborgs that killing her won’t tell them where the Doctor is and that letting her go will result in them being discovered. It’s always great to see a companion getting to know a new Doctor and see how they adapt to him.
The villain is also pretty good. While his evil plan is rather weak, the idea of a character constantly changing and rebuilding is a nice metaphor for the Doctor’s various changes. As the Doctor points out-
“Question: if you take a broom and replace the handle, and then later replace the brush – and you do it over and over again – is it still the same broom? Answer: no, of course it isn’t, but you can still sweep the floor . . . . You have replaced every piece of yourself, mechanical and organic, time and time again – there’s not a trace of the original you left. You probably can’t even remember where you got that face from.”
This is the best part of the episode. What the Doctor is saying is that even though you change something, it is still fundamentally the same inside. The Doctor has changed so many times but each Doctor (except for John Hurts) has the same rules and determination to save the universe.
The cyborg however, has changed so much that he doesn’t know what he is anymore. The ending of the scene ends with the cyborg impaled on a tall tower. Did the Doctor push him, or did the cyborg jump? There are many layers to this story that slowly get revealed. I personally think the Doctor pushed him, as he realised there is no alternative.
The ending of the episode has two standout moments: the first is Matt Smith’s cameo, talking on the phone to Clara just before he regenerates. I liked this scene as it is basically telling the audience to trust the new Doctor and stay with him.
And the second scene is the equivalent of a Marvel pre-credits scene, where the Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere, revealed to be in the finale, appears in what she says is Heaven. Who is she? The Master? The Rani? An evil Clara? River Song? Or someone completely different? Either way, it’s intriguing.
As for the new opening, well, to be honest, I still prefer the Series 7 Part 2 openings, and the new theme is not as well put together. The music in the episode is unique but it’s not very memorable. Hopefully we can get a definitive theme for the Twelve Doctor.
Conclusion – 9/10. Despite feeling like a Matt Smith story (which is sometimes distracting), this episode establishes the darker, more serious tone which the new series is going to stick with. Next week, it’s Into the Dalek. Sounds good to me!