It’s been just about eight months since we watched Matt Smith’s Eleventh doctor regenerate into Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor during the 2013 Christmas Special, The Time of the Doctor. Tonight, series 8 of the hit BBC show Doctor Who finally premiered, and we got our first full episode with the Twelfth Doctor.
And boy did this episode start with a bang. Right off the bat we watch as the Tardis flies from the mouth of a huge T-Rex in the middle of Victorian London.
The Doctor is newly regenerated and is somewhat out of sorts, as he always seems to be just after a regeneration (and he’s Scottish now!). Madame Vastra explains that the Doctor usually uses a youthful appearance in order to fit in and gain acceptance, but it seems like this time he’s thrown that care out. Maybe this Doctor isn’t going to worry about fitting in so much as fixing things. As he later says, “I’m the Doctor. I’ve lived for over 2,000 years and not all of them were good. I’ve made many mistakes and it’s about time that I did something about that.”
We also see the dynamic of Clara and the Doctor’s relationship changing in this episode. Toward the end of the episode when they’re leaving in the Tardis, the Doctor tells Clara “I’m not your boyfriend.” To which she responds: “I never thought you were.” We can see that maybe, at some point, the Eleventh Doctor may have become in some way romantically attached to Clara, responding by saying “I never said it was your mistake.” Things are changing. He’s not the same Doctor that Clara first met and has spent most of her time with. Their relationship is being redefined.
At one point, when the Doctor has left Clara behind and she’s trying to figure out what to do next, she tells Vastra, “I don’t think I know who the Doctor is anymore.” I think this is true for everyone right now. We don’t know this Doctor yet, we’ve only been given a glimpse so far. It seems as though even the Doctor himself isn’t quite sure who he is anymore.
Another interesting thing that comes up in this episode is when the Doctor asks a question that has been on many people’s minds. Who gave Clara the Doctor’s number? When she first called him, thinking it was a technical support line, how did she get that number that led her to him? Whomever it was that gave Clara that number, the Doctor thinks that that same person is responsible for putting the ad in the newspaper that brought them together during this episode. Whoever it was, it looks like that is another mystery we will have to wait to figure out.
The biggest surprise this episode came in the last minutes, as Clara got a phone call from what was unmistakably the Eleventh Doctor’s voice saying “It’s me. It’s me Clara. The Doctor.” He was calling her from Trenzalore just before he regenerated, to tell her that this new Doctor that she’s just met needs her. He tells her to help him and to not be afraid. It was a sweet moment watching as Clara came to terms with the fact that her Doctor is gone and that this new Doctor could maybe fill the void he left.
I started out the episode pretty apprehensive of this new Doctor. I’ve only been watching Doctor Who for less than a year now, so I’ve never experienced a regeneration without already having had some idea of what the new Doctor would be like. By the end of the episode, however, I had already begun to find new things I loved about Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, and I loved the chemistry between him and Jenna Coleman. Though it’s no longer a romantic connection, they still light up the screen when they’re together.
I for one am excited at the prospect of figuring out who this new Doctor is over the next few months and learning to love him in his own way, just as I have for all the previous Doctors.
Tune in to BBC America Saturdays at 8/7c for more Doctor Who, and check out a preview of next week’s episode, “Into the Dalek,” below: