The time of The Doctor has finally arrived as season 8 of Doctor Who hits screens across the world, bringing with it the debut of Peter Capaldi as The Doctor.
While we’ll try to avoid stating too much of what happens in Deep Breath, the first episode of Season 8, there’s still a lot of touchy subject matter which could be considered spoiler territory, so consider yourself warned.
Deep Breath brings the long awaited debut of the twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, and quickly sets about introducing the viewers to this unique character. Some memory issues, strange behaviour and prehistoric problems quickly stress the relationship between The Doctor and Clara, almost mirroring the emotions of fans going into the new season. Clara spends the episode struggling to align this new Doctor with the one from her past and trying to decide if she can still feel the same way about him. Fans can easily relate the episode’s arguments and tense moments to the real world dilemma of having to transition from Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor to Capaldi’s Twelve. It creates an unsure future, but lays the necessary groundwork to let Twelve become his own character.
The actual mystery of the story comes as The Doctor, Clara, Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax investigate a series of mysterious murders in Victorian London. It’s a setting the show has been to many times before, and the villain of the week comes in the form of a robot who uses human parts to keep himself alive. It’s another take on the identity crisis The Doctor finds himself dealing with and creates parallels to questions The Doctor can’t seem to answer. The real problem here is that so much of the episode’s length is dedicated to restoring other relationships, so the villain feels somewhat under-developed. A twist at the episode’s conclusion sets up a larger storyline however, which is sure to last the duration of Season 8.
At the end, Deep Breath is all about ushering in a new age for The Doctor. It’s not Doctor Who’s best episode, but it makes a strong attempt at introducing the world to Twelve. My biggest problem with the episode is that it almost feels accusatory at times. It feels like the message it’s carrying is that the only reason fans can’t see Peter Capaldi as a great Doctor is because they’re too busy noticing he isn’t Matt Smith. Only time will tell whether The Doctor remains a likeable and fun character or something a bit more serious, but time is something The Doctor has always had on his side.