A new season, and a new Doctor. Peter Capaldi takes over as the 12th doctor in his first “real” episode (His first appearance being in the Christmas Special Time of the Doctor). Here is the season premiere episode recap, with a smidgen of review mixed in for good measure. WARNING: SPOLIERS AHEAD. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED, DON’T READ!
The episode opens with a dinosaur trouncing about…19th century London (Of course). As a crowd gathers, Vastra, Jenny, and Strax arrive to investigate. Suddenly, the dinosaur begins to hack, and coughs up something. What else could it be but the T.A.R.D.I.S.? The Paternoster crew go to the well-known blue box and out comes the newly regenerated Doctor, still disoriented from the change. He is followed out of the T.A.R.D.I.S. by Clara. After a bit of rambling to both his friends AND the dinosaur, the doctor finally passes out.
- 12’s regeneration, as you will see through the rest of the episode, was jarring to the Doctor. When 10 became 11 (if we weren’t Whovians, all this number speak would be a pain), the transition did not take nearly the toll this one did.
Back at Lady Vastra’s home, the team is trying to get the Doctor to get some rest, but like any good time lord post regeneration, the concept of a bedroom will not let the Doctor relax. He finally falls asleep, thanks to some psychic nudging from Lady Vastra.
- The Doctor is also confused in this scene by the fact that Clara is speaking with an English accent. It’s when Lady Vastra speaks to him with a Scottish accent that he accepts that he is speaking to someone who is using a normal voice. Yes, the 12th Doctor is Scottish. Not sure why I said it that way. Oh well. I didn’t mean anything by it, so there.
Clara seems to be having a hard time with the “new Doctor,” asking how they can change him back. She doesn’t understand why his new face is an older face. Vastra sees the pain that Clara is going through, but leaves the room. (She left because it was part of her plan to snap Clara back to her old self). As Clara sits with the sleeping Doctor, he begins to translate what the dinosaur is saying, as he can speak dinosaur. He says that the dinosaur is alone. It makes you wonder if he was really translating the dinosaur, or if he was talking in his sleep about himself.
The scene then cuts to the streets of London where a man is murdered…for his eyes…by a cyborg. More to come on that one.
Clara is in Vastra’s sitting room, relaying what happened to the Doctor and her from his regeneration to when they popped out of the dinosaur’s mouth. Using her veil as a way to “judge” others, Vastra is able to get Clara angry enough to snap out of her “depression” back to the assertive Clara we all know. In the meantime, the Doctor has woken up, and started scribbling mathematical equations on the floor of his room with some chalk he found by, as you might have guessed, smelling for it. As of right now, it’s hard to tell if the math was to help the dinosaur get home, or for something down the road in the season.
The Doctor then climbs to the room of Vastra’s home and lets the dinosaur know that it is safe and the Doctor will get it home. This is followed by the dinosaur spontaneously combusting. What else would happen?
As the Paternoster crew and Clara take the carriage to the “crime scene,” the Doctor has already arrived, jumping off the roof of Vastra’s hose and commandeering a horse.
- It should be noted that the sonic screwdriver, at least in this episode, is the same as 11’s. We will see next week whether or not that has changed.
Surveying the scene, the Doctor notices that the entire crowd is in awe of what they are witnessing, save for one person, who just walks away without showing any emotion. This is the cyborg from earlier in the episode. As Sherlock would say, the game is afoot, and the Doctor and the rest of team separate (Involuntarily. The Doctor jumps off a bridge) to investigate what is actually a murder. Yes. A murder of a dinosaur.
- The transition from the boyish 11 to the darker 12 begins here, as he refers to Earth at one point as a planet of pudding brains. The separation of him from humans is starting.
The next morning, the T.A.R.D.I.S. is brought to Vastra’s home, to attempt to lure the Doctor back. Strax then gives Clara a “medical examination”, as anyone he fights with needs to be in peak physical condition. The scene cuts to the Doctor rummaging in an alleyway looking for clues. He sees his new face in a broken mirror, and seems to recognize it.
- This is either a nod to The Fires of Pompeii, or a tease of what’s to come. I hope it’s the latter. This scene also shows the Doctor is again really struggling with this particular regeneration. As I said earlier, when 10 turned into 11, it seemed a lot smoother. That’s probably because of the similarities both those Doctors shared. With 12 being a different type of Doctor, it would make sense the regeneration would be harder for him.
Back at Vastra’s house, they deduce that the murders (it is discovered that there have been a rash of similar humans meeting the same fate) are committed this way not to hide who was killed, but to hide what the murderer took. Clara then notices an ad in the morning paper referring to “The Impossible Girl.” Thinking it was from the Doctor, she cracks the ad’s code and meets him for lunch at a restaurant in downtown London.
Upon meeting the Doctor at the restaurant, we discover that the Doctor thought CLARA left the ad in the paper. They were led into a trap. All the other patrons in the restaurant are robots. They are then restrained at their table and are taken down a secret elevator to an underground chamber, which is also filled with robots, these ones actually armed for combat. The Doctor and Clara deduce that the robots are harvesting human organs for their own use. When the door to their attempted escape closes, leaving Clara trapped with the robot leader, the Doctor abandons her. Holding her breath to pass as a robot herself, Clara attempts her own escape, but she is not able to hold her breath long enough to get away, and is recaptured by the cyborg leader.
Proving she is worthy of being a companion, Clara outsmarts the cyborg leader into revealing himself, that his “race” was trapped on Earth since the dawn of time, and are just waiting for their proper timeline to reappear by using humans to “regenerate” their bodies. The Doctor then reveals himself, having disguised himself as one of the robots, also revealing to Clara that even though his appearance and demeanor may be different, he will always have her back. It is also discovered that the cyborg did NOT send the message in the paper either, leaving that mystery still ongoing.
When the Doctor and Clara are cornered, Clara shouts her secret word GERONIMO!! The Paternoster gang leap down from the upper level. Well, sort of. Strax kind of falls. The gang fight off the horde of activated robot soldiers as the Doctor follows the leader back to the upper level to prevent his escape. The leader activates an “escape pod,” which is actually a hot air balloon. What is the balloon made from? I am glad you asked. Human SKIN.
The Leader keeps professing that he is going to take his people to the “Promised Land,” but the Doctor realizes that this is just confusion in his programming from years of stealing parts from human beings. He tries to reason with leader, making many comparisons between the leader and him. In a final confrontation, the Doctor professes how he cannot kill, while the cyborg leader states that self-destruction is against his programming. The next scene we see the robot soldiers shut down before they overtake the Paternoster gang. The cyborg leader has been impaled on top of a clock tower as the Doctor looks on. It is not revealed what caused this result.
As the Paternoster crew and Clara return to Vastra’s house, the T.A.R.D.I.S. is gone. The next day, it returns and Clara enters. The Doctor has changed both the “desktop theme” as well as his wardrobe. Clara decides that the change is too much and that she doesn’t know the Doctor anymore. As she leaves the T.A.R.D.I.S., she receives a phone call. It is from 11. He is calling her from Trenzalor, moments from his regeneration. He gives her is “dying wish,” that she help 12, as he is more afraid than anything she has ever seen. After having one final goodbye with “her Doctor,” she realizes that even though there is a different man standing in front of her, the same soul she befriended is still there. The two of them go to share a cup of coffee, and whole new set of adventures.
The final scene of the episode finds the cyborg leader waking up in a garden. He is greeted by a woman named “Missy,” and is told that he is in “Heaven.” She then asks him questions about her “boyfriend” the Doctor (Who in the what now?) (Also, the WHO in the previous parentheses was not a pun) . The episode ends as Missy dances around the garden, giving us a glimpse in what I can only guess is the “big bad” of season 8.
“Your concepts of biology are left to be desired.”
“This is one of those times I wish Amy was here.”
“We will lure him back here and BURN HIM IN ACID.” “What’s that last part?” “We will NOT BURN HIM IN ACID.”
“I usually take standing up catnaps.” “When?” “Usually when anyone else is talking. I wait until it’s my turn. I find it moves things along faster.”
“I’m not much of a hugger, now.” “You really don’t get a vote.”
- I liked the new intro. It sounds a tad retro without sounding like the early 1980s.
- He was great, and a worthy successor.
- Capaldi/Coleman chemistry. Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman were so great together, that is was hard to imagine another person fairing as well with her. It’s not that hard anymore.
- The “Different” Doctor. With 10 and 11 being very similar in both age and attitudes, the darker tone and age that 12 brings is refreshing. Not Sprite refreshing. I don’t want to confuse anyone.
- We were spoiled by the Day and Time of the Doctor. You could tell that the VFX in this episode were back to TV quality. They were good, but not as good as the last two specials.
- While I really liked the episode, I sometime feel that Steven Moffat goes to the same well to many times. Evil villain, Doctor has no idea what’s going on, Doctor then know EVERYTHING that’s going on, saves the day.
- There was no epic Doctor Who theme. 11’s theme was so iconic from the time it debuted. I hope 12 gets one of his own. (I am not talking about the intro theme song. I am talking about the actual theme of the Doctor.)
I really liked the episode. Peter Capaldi did not disappoint, and the chemistry between him and Jenna Coleman was wonderful, and that’s what I was worried about the most. I hope going forward that Moffat starts breaking from his formula. I want to see another Blink out of him this season.
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