Warning: This blog post contains both personal opinions and especially SPOILERS about the Series 8 premiere of Doctor Who. Reading beyond this point guarantees that you will encounter information regarding the episode that will ruin any and all of its surprises for you. Spoilers…
I want to start this post by helping you understand on what I base my opinions. Everyone remembers their first Doctor and for me, Matt Smith / #11 was mine. Don’t get me wrong – I love all of them. They each have their own quirks and their own specialness that makes them uniquely and completely The Doctor. But 11? He’s my Doctor and nothing will ever change that. You see, I had a friend who tried to get me interested in Doctor Who for years and I didn’t care for it. And then one day, about 5 years ago a very special clip on YouTube caught my attention. Something about the relationship between 11 and Amy piqued my interest. I ran with The Doctor, and I’ve been running ever since.
[gdlr_video url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeJ4Ak2xCkw” ]
I watched every episode I could get my hands on – which back then, was much more difficult than it is now. Once I’d watched every episode of Series 6, I went backwards… I watched a little bit of the 10th Doctor and felt sort of “Meh” at first (all Whovians just blinked, or something). I decided if I were going to do it, I was going to do it right and a full conversion would be necessary. I went back to Series 1 of the Doctor Who reboot. I fell in love with the show more and more with each passing episode. I was hooked and I binge watched Doctor Who for a week.
I watched as The Doctor loved and lost… as companions came and went… Rose, Mickey, Donna, Captain Jack Harkness, Martha, Amy & Rory. Each companion lit up my screen in their own way and made me see so many sides of the same man – how could I not fall in love? I lost The Doctor as many times as I gained him back and fell head over heels all over again. And then it happened… The Doctor, my Doctor. I lost him. He’s gone.
Yes, we can all argue that he’s the same man. Indeed, he is. I know because I watched the Series 8 premiere and I can attest to this – he is in fact The Doctor. But I understand the feeling of loss now. I understand that “he’s coming back” isn’t really true. Not for me. My Doctor is gone.
And here we are, on the last page.
The Series 8 Premiere
It’s no surprise that I wasn’t feeling very excited about the Series 8 premiere. I mean, sure… I knew I was interested still. I knew I wanted to see it. Peter Capaldi who would play what we know as “The 12th Doctor” seemed pretty cool. And Clara? Well, I love Clara. In fact, she’s been one of my favorite companions so far. But excited? No. I wasn’t really all that excited.
My screen glowed and I was faced with a new Doctor. Who is this strange man? He didn’t know so I certainly didn’t. Is that a hint of #4 I see? Capaldi acted out several different mannerisms and personalities The Doctor has had as if he were scrolling through a rolodex. He nailed it. If ever there were a doubt that Peter Capaldi could act… let alone play the role of The Doctor… he crushed it in the first 20 seconds of speaking.
I saw him. There he was. The Doctor. I saw him under the short, silver hair (still not ginger!), behind the lines on his face. This is not my sort of sexy, young, trying to be hip Doctor. No. This is a man who has seen things, done things, lived. Behind those older eyes is a man who has lived for 2,000 years, seen stars turn to dust, watched as galaxies formed and crumbled.
Clara on the other hand was clearly not so sure. She liked the younger Doctor. It was very interesting because it seemed as if she got the opposite deal of Rose who went from an older to a younger Doctor. I very much like the idea of seeing a companion who has been very flirtatious with her time-traveling man friend, having to face his… well, his older face. It wasn’t until Madame Vastra (can I get a hell yeah? I love that lizard lady) called her out on her nonsense that Clara spoke up and showed her true feelings. Although this new transition was hard for her and she wasn’t sure she could handle it, she loved him (platonically) all the same.
Now, I’m not going to talk too much about the plot of the episode. I really would rather stick to the relationship dynamics that are shifting. That said, I so very much love that they finally touched on The Girl in the Fireplace episode again. If you don’t remember, it’s the episode where the 10th Doctor meets Madame De Pompadour via the use of her fireplace which is connected to a space ship piloted by clock-work people who don’t have the parts to fix their ship and instead, start using human parts to patch it up. We see this again when a survivor of that episode has patched himself up to the point that he’s almost not a robot any more because he’s made of so many different human parts.
We have encountered a new antagonist of some sort named Missy who quite frankly, looks like a gothic Mary Poppins. She refers to The Doctor as her “boyfriend” but we don’t have much more to go on at this point. There are a lot of rumors and fan theories as to who she may be – everything from his sub-conscious to River Song. She played a very small part in this episode but it seems she will be in the final 2 episodes of the season so I assume she’s kind of a big deal.
After the plot of the story concludes (which is seemingly otherwise not super important for anything but to fuel the real story), Clara meets up with The Doctor who is freshly dressed in what will be his ongoing attire with a new TARDIS interior. I loved the joke about how he didn’t know if he liked the new decor and that he used to have a bunch of “round things” and wonders where he put them. Very nice nod at past Doctors and their decoration choices. I’m digging Capaldi’s outfit. It’s trendy, clean-cut, age appropriate and has just a little bit of dashing and sexy. Yeah, yeah… we aren’t supposed to find him sexy now, but whatever. I think this Doctor has got just a little bit of sexy.
The most important part of this episode isn’t Clara. It isn’t The Doctor’s clothes or the TARDIS. It isn’t the plot. It isn’t the lizard woman or Jenny or Strax. The most important part of this episode is a phone call. One very, very important phone call.
For a moment, Clara isn’t sure how she feels. The Doctor is ready to run off with her through all of time and space but Clara doesn’t know him. She isn’t judging, but she is still so unsure. Who is this man? Who will he become? He still isn’t the man she fancied. And then the phone rings…
It’s The Doctor. For clarification purposes, it’s Matt Smith portraying the 11th Doctor (best cameo ever). He tells her to be brave and to look after the man she’s with… the man he hopes she’s with. He knows she’s scared but he’s scared too – more scared that she could ever imagine. He needs her to stay with him. He assures her that he’s really him.
I was in tears. Big, dinosaur sized tears. The whole point is to remind the audience that he’s really him… to assure us that we haven’t really lost him. He’s still The Doctor and he needs us.
Well I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.
Farewell Doctor… my Doctor. Thank you again for years of joy, memories and a new outlook on life. Anyone who says a television show can’t change you – they’re wrong. Being a Whovian isn’t just about being a fan of some characters on the screen. It’s about believing in something more – the best in people, the importance of everyone, the potential for greatness.
This episode gets a 10 from me if ever there could be one. I am now so excited for the rest of the season. It once again really sucks that I always work on Saturdays!
Disclaimer: All media belongs to BBC. Screenshots of the show were taken by me for the purpose of writing this blog.