Deep Breath: Initial Reactions

Doctor Who Series 8

There are two types of post-regeneration stories – ones that feel as though they have something to prove, and the ones that don’t (there’s also the ones that really need to be proving something but fall flat on their face, but we won’t go into that now). For example, the Third Doctor’s debut in Spearhead From Space successfully worked to show the BBC that the show could survive and didn’t warrant cancellation, while The Eleventh Hour focused on proving to an audience of skeptical Whovians – both ones that were attached to Tennant and others who believed the new Doctor was too young – that Matt Smith would be a great Doctor. Deep Breath, however, had that feeling of content; it was more about establishing Capaldi as the Doctor than proving that he was capable of taking on the role. Because, let’s face it, nobody’s really skeptical about his performance – instead this year more doubt seems to lie with Steven Moffat’s writing.

A Few Initial Reactions

  • I liked the pacing of this one – both literally and metaphorically. It seemed fitting that Twelve took a little bit longer than Eleven to recover from his regeneration and figure everything out, I felt as though it was setting a slower overall pace for Capaldi’s Doctor – more about working through the problem, and less about blowing everything up in the last minute like the most recent incarnations. It somewhat reminded me of the First Doctor, which made me happy as he’s one of my favourites.
  • The episode length felt like a breath of fresh air (no pun intended). It really made me miss the two-parters, I liked how it had the time to spend 45 minutes properly establishing the characters before really digging into the plot. That’s really been missing from the series lately, it’s a shame the only two-parter this year will be the series finale.
  • I’m not going to comment on the new credits right now. I need time to have a better look at them, but so far I prefer both the previous theme and visuals. I find the clock face annoyingly unnecessary, but I like Capaldi’s eyes.
  • I’m really liking the new enemy (the one at the end of the episode). Theories that she’s the Rani are great, it would be cool if she also had some connection with the Valeyard. I like how it was made pretty clear that she was “the woman in the shop” in the 21st century that gave Clara the Doctor’s number, and again the one that put the ad in the paper in the 19th – she clearly has some sort of time travelling ability, which supports the Rani theory. I hope she becomes a clearly developed arc, and not just chucked to the side until the season finale “Dark Water/Death in Heaven
Annoyingly OTT, but kind of in a good way...seems like the Rani to me...

Annoyingly OTT, but kind of in a good way…seems like the Rani to me…

  • Once again, Clara proved herself as my second favourite companion ever (between only Romana and Steven), boldly standing up to Vastra, but later still willing to admit weakness when confronted by the droid. I really liked how regneration wasn’t a new concept for her, she really does “know the Doctor best”. At first I was taken aback by her reaction to Twelve – I expected it to be a bit more mature – but I realised that it reflected the reaction of a new-ish fan suffering the death of their Doctor. She was aware of the other faces, she’d even met some of them, but she still had trouble accepting the fact that her Doctor wasn’t the Doctor anymore – he wasn’t the one who she’d get to have new adventures with everyday. I still think she has a little while to go before she properly accepts Twelve, but the phone call definitely helped her along (more on that in a second).
  • The Paternoser Gang annoyed me this time. Every time Vastra opened her mouth I wanted to shut her up. Strax is becoming less funny by the day.
  • Really, this episode used the classic Moffat formula – bring back a monster, don’t really explain how it’s connected to the previous episodes, defeat them in a rushed and simplistic climax. Basically it was The Snowmen all over again – now don’t get me wrong, that’s one of my most favourite episodes, however the similarity was a bit underwhelming. It was about what I expected, which is fine, but I was really hoping for something mindblowing.
  • I liked the TARDIS scene, I thought the way it established Twelve as a darker Doctor was cool. The costume looks really good, but I still can’t stand the button on that stupid coat…JUST UNDO IT FOR GOOD. PLEASE. Another highlight was the 50th anniversary jokes – “you’ve redecorated…I don’t like it” (that one goes all the way back to The Five Doctors) and “I need more round things on the walls…I used to have a lot of round things.”
Two buttons: fine. One button: EW.

Two buttons: fine. One button: EW.

  • I’m going to become an immature fangirl now and say that this episode confirmed the existence of Whouffle. It’s not that I actually wanted Eleven and Clara to end up together, but I really liked them as a ship, and I loved how Twelve acknowledged that there was something there.
  • On that note, I loved the phone call at the end of the episode, the fact that I knew it was coming was a bit disappointing but it was adorable all the same. Once again, that was placed there as much for us as it was for Clara – it sort of represents a plea to fans suffering the loss of their Doctor to accept Capaldi. It was a really nice timey-wimey touch.
"Clara, please, for him. Go on. And don't be afraid" The moment a thousand Whovian hearts broke.

“Clara, please, for me…help him. Go on. And don’t be afraid”
The moment a thousand Whovian hearts broke.

  • Finally, the “coffee” moment at the very end was perhaps my favourite of the entire episode. It represented my favourite type of reference in Doctor Who – ‘parallels’ (that is, referencing a previous episode by using the same lines or doing the same thing without making it obvious). I immediately noticed the similarity between Twelve and Clara’s conversation and Nine and Rose’s from The End of the World, and I loved that touch (I put the quotes below for comparison). It represented my initial assumptions about Twelve and Clara’s relationship – similar to that of Nine and Rose. I liked, however, that Clara chose coffee instead of chips, it feels symbolic of the difference between their friendships.

The End of the World
ROSE: I want chips.
DOCTOR: Me too.
ROSE: Right then, before you get me back in that box, chips it is, and you can pay.
DOCTOR: (shrugs) No money.
ROSE: What sort of date are you? Come on then, tightwad, chips are on me.

Deep Breath
DOCTOR: Do you want to go and get some coffee or…chips or… something…or chips and coffee?
CLARA: Coffee. Coffee would be great. You’re buying!
DOCTOR: I don’t have any money.
CLARA: You’re fetching, then.
DOCTOR: I’m not sure that I’m the fetching sort…
CLARA: Yeah, still not sure you get a vote.

Next Week: Into the Dalek

Ugh, it’s a Dalek story. Which is fine, but I’m getting sick of them. I really need to have another good look at the next time trailer (which didn’t tell us much anyway), but it’s looking like coffee is becoming a bonding thing for Twelve and Clara (I love it, maybe I can make drinking coffee from a takeaway mug while watching Twelve a tradition). Other than that I think the story will be great, I’m excited to see it’s co-written by Phil Ford, who wrote some great stuff for The Sarah Jane Adventures (including Mona Lisa’s Revenge and The Curse of Clyde Langer).

Next time: Clara wishes the Doctor brought her chips.

Next time: Clara wishes the Doctor brought her chips.

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Posted in Doctors, New Series Reactions, New Series Tele-Stories, Other Post Types, Projects, Reviews, Series 8, Story Media, Twelfth Doctor
4 comments on “Deep Breath: Initial Reactions
  1. Joe Schnicke says:

    Hi! Excellent review and splendid blog. I just want to comment on your mention of the possibility that the enemy at the end of the episode (“Missy”? “Millie”?) has a connection with the Valeyard. My own long-shot theory is that the Valeyard will indeed be in this series, but played by none other than Peter Capaldi! The Valeyard put The Doctor on trial as part of a scheme to steal regenerations, and was later revealed to be the Doctor himself. Since before the beginning of this series, we’ve been hearing the Doctor ponder, “am I a good man”? Is this foreshadowing judgement? Like I said, my theory is far-fetched, but plausible. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Joe, thanks for your kind comment! That theory is fantastic, it actually makes a lot of sense. Either way I think the Valeyard will return either this year or maybe next, if it’s ever going to be addressed it needs to be now. Also, Steven Moffat has said that a major enemy will be returning, so that would make sense.

      Regarding Missy l also have another rather loose theory that she’s a creation of the time lords. I think that they’ve created a bridge between the pocket universe Gallifrey is in and the real universe, and she’s the ‘gatekeeper’ between the two. For whatever crazy plan they’ve devised now they need the Doctor, so they created her and made her fixated on him in the hopes they can trap him and get him to unlock the ‘gate’ of sorts. It’s a bit far fetched though.

      Like I said, thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts, it means a lot! If you want to read more I’ll definitely have a post for today’s ep up soon :)

  2. Great review! Love how you mention the End of the World parallel.
    I am so happy I stumbled upon this blog; it’s really a lovely piece of work. :)

    • Thanks Elizabeth! I really appreciate your comment, it’s nice to know that others like and support my work :D I try to post regularly but it doesn’t always work out that way, however I’m keen to try and post episode reactions every week. I’m also working on a big project (which I hope to eventually finish) that’s basically a guide for New Series Whovians who want to watch the classics. In other words, stay tuned and feel free to offer any feedback!

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