Tonight’s series premiere launches a new chapter in Doctor Who history. Peter Capaldi shows that the Twelfth Doctor is more than just a guy with intimidating eyebrows. [Photo courtesy of the BBC.]
SPOILERS BELOW THIS LINE
The plot itself was far more horror inspired than recent series episodes. In between Twelve stumbling around in a post regeneration stupor, the Doctor and Clara struggle against androids who are salvaging human body parts. However, this plot in my mind took a back seat to the character development.
The heart of Deep Breath is an identity crisis. Clara is struggling to cope with how much the Doctor has changed. She reflects the audience members who are still unsure of what to make of Twelve. She doesn’t understand why the Doctor appeared older post regeneration. Through her struggle she realizes that her previous assumptions about the Doctor were wrong. He’s a 2000 year old Time Lord hiding his past. As the episode develops, Clara gains reassurance that the Doctor’s essence is the same. She realizes so much of her perception of the Doctor was based on superficial appearance and not his personality. Along with coming to terms with the Doctor’s change, she also becomes more assertive and confrontational.
Twelve so far definitely has a more confrontational attitude than Eleven. He’s not approaching traveling through space and time as child’s play. He pushed the main android out of a hot air balloon to certain death. He also has a mad energy that needs motivation and or someone to steer him in the right direction. He sees Clara as a friend and an ally. He refuses to be characterized as Clara’s boyfriend but still acknowledges he needs her support.
Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax return for another adventure. Their appearance was highly effective in establishing continuity from Eleven’s era to Twelve. Although Deep Breath appears to be an earlier incident in their timeline, Twelve can still count on the trio’s support and friendship. Fans who wanted to see more from Madame Vastra and Jenny definitely get what they wanted. Strax has more one liners that will quickly become fandom memes. They are key in not only outsmarting the androids, they also assist Clara with coming to terms with the Doctor’s change
Deep Breath was an excellent post regeneration episode, however I am cautious about judging the entire series off the introduction. So far, Clara is stronger and Twelve is a different brand of eccentric than Eleven. I am incredibly wary of looking at either those who are excessively hyping up this series as well as those who are excessively critical. It’s too soon to tell if the foundation laid in Deep Breath will continue throughout Series 8.