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Doctor Who Watch: 8.1 - Deep Breath

We're finally here! After almost a year of waiting, we're back in the TARDIS with The Doctor and Clara once more! When we last saw The Doctor, he was changing into his twelfth face after frying the Daleks at the Siege of Trenzalore. With a new round of regeneration energy bestowed upon him, courtesy of the crack in the universe connecting The Doctor with Gallifrey, the sainted physician changed form into something we weren't expecting. In other words, The Doctor became an older man! Without further ado, let's discuss our first Peter Capaldi adventure, Deep Breath.

Oooh...I'm Scottish. I can complain about things.

With the TARDIS crashing and Clara already traumatized, it was wondered how this episode could even get more interesting. Well, it got a lot more interesting, and it did so in two words: “skin balloon.” This week returned Doctor Who to some darker, more threatening subject matter; and it was a noticeable change. The episode centered itself around a series of spontaneous combustion incidents sprouting up around Victorian London, as well as a random dinosaur dropped in the middle of the city.

With the Paternoster Gang (Jenny, Strax, and Madame Vastra) on the case, The Doctor would be right at home with his old friends... if he wasn't still dealing with the after effects of his regeneration. He can't remember people's names, he's extremely scatterbrained, and he doesn't seem as trust worthy as he usually is. Clara isn't even sure that she can trust him, wanting nothing more than to go back to the last form The Doctor held. Together, but fractured, The Doctor and his team are going to have to get situated before they can even think of solving this mystery.

Look at you! Why can't I meet a decent species? Planet of the Pudding Heads!

The Doctor's current regeneration is not only older in face, but older in approach. With a wardrobe like Three, a demeanor like Four, and an introduction similar to that of Ten; Twelve (or One Prime, if you want to be technical) is different than what we're used to out of The Doctor from the modern series. But he's no less sharp as he figures out quickly that the burnings around London are really a cover up for a race of clockwork men who are harvesting parts from living creatures in order to power their spaceship.

All the while, the Half Face Man is motivated by a singular charge: to get to “the promised land.” Surely enough, we get a glimpse of that promised land, as well as the guardian of that land: a woman by the name of Missy. Dressed like Mary Poppins' evil twin sister, Missy welcomes the Half Face Man into what passes for Heaven. While welcoming him into her kingdom, she talks about all of the changes her “boyfriend” has gone through, and how she does love him. Missy is under the delusion that her boyfriend is The Doctor, and her garden of “Heaven” kind of looks like a TARDIS in and of itself.

I'm not sure I'm a hugging person.

Much like the first episodes of any other season in the modern series, the plot takes a back seat to the new Doctor and his adjustment to the form he's taking. This is where Peter Capaldi shines the brightest, as his angry ostrich of a Doctor is a welcome change of pace from all of the rather “pretty” Doctors we've had. It looks like whatever Missy has planned in Heaven is going to be our big endgame for the year, and judging by how menacing she looked at the end, it can't be good. There are more questions ahead, and the answers are only going to be even more exciting!

We'll see you back here next week for the next installment of Doctor Who: Into The Dalek, which already sounds cooler than Into The Storm. However, if you're interested in sticking around for some extra commentary, click over to page 2 for some Doctor's notes.


The Doctor's Notes

- The Clockwork Men from The Girl In The Fireplace (Season 2, Episode 4) made their return, albeit in a different form. Their primitive nature is probably due to repairing themselves in the Victorian era, instead of royal France.

- Twelve's coat is reminiscent of the Third Doctor's cape, and he remembers his scarf as the Fourth Doctor; writing it off as stupid.

- Clara gets two pieces of call back dialogue in this episode: When she has to introduce The Doctor's new form to the Paternoster Gang, she basically parrots Rose Tyler's dialogue from The Christmas Invasion.

- Speaking of Clara, it was interesting to see the Eleventh Doctor return with a phone call during The Time Of The Doctor. This was rumored to be happening since the production of the season earlier this year, and it sounded like one of those ridiculous rumors that you always hear about a past Doctor coming back. (Like that old rumor where Christopher Eccleston was supposed to return for a cameo in Voyage Of The Damned.) That said, it was a bittersweet moment, but I'm not sure if we needed to see or hear the call. No other Doctor has needed to go out of their way to convince a companion in this sort of way. Consider me on the fence with this scene.

- One final note, I LOVE this new Doctor. Peter Capaldi has basically taken his Malcolm Tucker approach and transcribed it into a character he's known and loved ever since he was a kid. Now that the setup episode is out of the way, it's time to let the Twelfth Doctor's crankiness fly.

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.