The episode begins not at the moment the Doctor has changed but with fan favorites Vestra and Jenny in Victorian London and a raging dinosaur in the Thames river, which then spits out the TARDIS like a furball. I have to wonder what goes on in the mind of whoever wrote that, and did they giggle when they thought of it? Because it was probably the best entrance the Doctor has ever had. He finally arrives on screen as confused as any new audience member might be so that the players, Clara, a lizard, her wife, and a small alien man servant (Strax) have to explain what is going on.
I thought it was a smart move to make Clara have such a hard time with the new Doctor. It gave anyone in the audience someone to relate to who also isn’t on board and they can feel just as much part of the story as the fans that have been waiting for Peter Capaldi with glee since his eyebrows made an appearance in the 50th special. And like Clara, I hope they let go of their reservations by episodes end.
The mystery of the episode itself was creepy and interesting. The writers brought back a “foe” from Tens tenure. The repair bots from Girl in the Fireplace. Sort of. They aren’t the same ones but they were part of the same fleet. I have to wonder though, who built the fleet? They have names inspired by persons from human history, yet the ship in this episode has apparently been on Earth since the dinosaur age as the bots knew the T-Rex from the beginning had something they needed.
The episode had moments of brilliance, most especially the phone call at the end. But I do have a quibble with one shot. The bot on the roof, impaled on the steeple. I understand that the show isn’t actually written for adults and perhaps they needed to make it clear the bot was dead, but even from a distance it seemed more violent then anything directly shown on Doctor Who before. The soften that moment when they bring th bot back alive and talking for a finale moment, supposedly in Paradise, which of course has to be a lie. I was reminded of several things in that scene. The strongest being the computer in The Library after River Song is downloaded. And like River, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Missy. Who is she? Is she the one who gave Clara Eleven’s phone number? Is she the one that placed the ad so Clara and Twelve would find each other again? A guardian angel or a villain maneuvering her chess pieces?
As the mystery of this episode unfolded, Clara is confronted by Vestra about her reservations concerning the Doctor. Every time Vestra and Jenny are a part of Doctor Who I can’t help but again wish for a spin off for the pair. In public they are mistress and maid. But they are equals in their relationship and their proper demeanor while being a lesbian cross species pair seems completely natural and you believe that they would be in love. Strax continues to be hilariously Strax.
I was ready for a more somber Doctor in Peter Capaldi, but he’s as delightfully zany and chatty as ten or eleven ever were. At times I heard him say things just as other Doctors would. His reaction to a room just for a bed was all Eleven. And in the ally as he’s studying his face and a homeless man comes upon him. He has a realization and says, “Oh that’s good. That’s gooooooooood.” and it was David Tennant’s voice and mannerisms. Oh, he’s just as insulting as he always was. Not sure I was missing that trait.But as the episode continues the moments of other doctors peeking out of Capaldi’s face became less as the new Doctor finished cooking and his new personality settles in.
“I am Scottish! I can complain about things!”
I have always had a theory that when the Doctor regenerates his emotional state at the time informs his DNA who to become. At the end of Nine’s tenure, he was in love with Rose and therefor became a Doctor more suited to her. When he changed from Ten to Eleven he was ready for a new adventure, maybe even wanted to wipe the slate clean, and so he became a much younger Doctor that looked at the universe all anew. By the time Eleven was to transform into Twelve, he had allowed himself to age. I think that is why this Doctor is older in appearance right from the beginning. Also, the writers wisely implied that the Doctor can “choose” a face and perhaps he chose one from someone he has seen before as a result, (meaning the father in the Pompeii episode with Donna.) I do hope that somehow the writers will tie that episode in with this Doctor’s storyline. That would be fantasic! (Says I, like Nine.) I also think This Doctor feels more disconnected from Clara on purose. Perhaps because he is a Doctor again that is away from home, but not the Doctor that is the last of the Time Lords and is seeking connection with anyone. He’s not alone anymore in the same way as Nine, Ten, or Eleven. They exist somewhere. Which already gives us two larger mysteries for Twelve to solve, who built the fleet of ships with the over zealous bots and where is Galifrey. And I can’t wait to watch as he solves both.
But next week: Daleks!