Finally! I get to share with you (the Internet) my thoughts about Peter Capaldi’s first episode as the twelfth Doctor. What a man. That accent. That sass. Those eyebrows.
Similarly to David Tennant’s first appearance in The Christmas Invasion in 2005, his companion doesn’t know just quite how to react to the Doctor’s regeneration. Aging about two decades, Capaldi, 56, is a refreshing contrast to the former Time Lord Matt Smith, 31, who at the time of his casting was the youngest Doctor ever at 26.
Goodbye geek chic and hello attack eyebrows.
But back to the comparison. Yes. There’s that vulnerability and that confusion – how do you react when the man you’ve been travelling with and relying on suddenly changes faces?
There’s less hand holding (“I’m not your boyfriend”), less hugging (“I’m not a huggy person”) and less giggling (“I’m not your boyfriend”). Now, finally, we get to hop on board a new kind of dynamic: it’s more thoughtful, challenging and intense.
He’s not afraid of telling her that she’s narcissistic nor explain the reasons behind his mood swings. He also doesn’t have to do a whole lot either to evoke gravitas. The scene at the restaurant where he’s explaining to Clara what’s happening and when he’s negotiating with the robots – just goosebumps. He’s serious without having to be overwhelmingly so.
The scenes don’t jump back and fro like they used to and more time is spent developing what exactly is happening and how the characters are reacting. At the press screening with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman a few weeks ago, Capaldi did say that he rather not know what’s going to happen further down the track because he wants to be in the moment and react like the Doctor would, rather than act out a forced reaction.
Another thing I enjoyed about the episode were the early parallels drawn between this episode and previously Moffat-penned ones.
We all know that Capaldi has appeared in the Whoniverse before. Before he was the Doctor, he was Lucius Caecilius Iucundus in The Fires of Pompeii and as John Frobisher in Children of Earth. Obviously there’s a story arc here and a reason why Twelve has chosen the face he has. It’s hinted that it’s a way of him telling himself something important without actually saying it. Confusing.
Then there’s the reference to The Girl in the Fireplace, potentially my favourite episode of Doctor Who. The villains in this week’s episode piloted the spaceship SS Marie Antoinette, sister ship to the SS Madame de Pompadour. The confrontation at the end of the episode gives us a look at a slightly darker Doctor, reminiscent of Eccleston’s.
What put the cherry on top though was Matt Smith’s cameo at the end of the episode – completely unexpected. “He’s scared. He needs you. Look after him,” he begs Clara as Twelve looks on.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this relationship develops from the flirtatious one shared between Clara and Eleven.
There’s not much I didn’t like about Deep Breath. The only thing I hated was the new opening sequence. Hated it.