Doctor Who: Deep Breath

Title: Deep Breath
Episode: 8.01
Earth--June 1898

Companion: Clara

Guests: Neve McIntosh {10}
Catrin Stewart {8}
Dan Starkey {13}
Peter Ferdinando

Writer: Steven Moffit
Director: Ben Wheatley

Rating: ***
The 12th Doctor and Clara end up transporting a dinosaur to 1890's London where they run into The Paternoster Gang. The Doctor is still fuzzy and confused from the regeneration and isn't sure who they are, or himself for that matter.Vastra indicates that she has seen at least one other form of The Doctor before, even though we've only ever seen her with the 11th Doctor.

This whole episode deals with the acceptance of change. In the obvious this speaks at the fans that have criticized the change of the past Doctors. The subtle version is dealing with personal changes or changes within friends, either physical or psychological, and realizing that you/they are still the same person.

The dinosaur story was short-lived, and left to feel cheap, with a quick fiery destruction that lead to the real B story. I found this story took a long time to get going, about ten minutes. In the restaurant things pick up with some of the best dialogue in the episode. There is some talk about the trade of The Doctor's watch for a coat. The watch in question would have been the one he put his memories in, in Human Nature (3.08 10th Doctor). When they discover that each of them didn't place the advert in the paper, they figure out that they're in some kind of trap, The Doctor's new apparent catchphrase is used for the second time. "That's Not the Question."

Under the restaurant The Doctor and Clara get separated and she has to fend for herself. I love the depiction of her holding her breath, the strained-watery eyes, red/yellow flashes at the edges of vision. Once she blacks out she is surrounded with visions of her classroom, and first day of students. Their defiance provides her with the strength to defy the droids. The Doctor jumps in with a dramatic entrance, asking why the droids invited them with the newspaper ad. The Doctor hates being wrong and we are left to wonder who did place the advertisement.

Lady Vastra and Jenny make a great entrance, twirling out aerial silks and revealing their Samurai swords. Suddenly a long scream and Strax plummets to the floor with a thud. While this provides The Doctor with a back-up and a team to help fight off the multitude of robots, its also great comic relief. Once back upstairs we discover a connection to The Girl in the Fireplace (2.04 10th Doctor).

The main droid and The Doctor argue back and forth about the droids end, both claiming it is against their "programing" to end the droids life. At the end of the fight The Doctor says, "You realise of course, one of us is lying about his basic programming." in the next scene the droid is dead on a spire of St. Paul's Cathedral, we still don't know who caused the death.

A refreshed TARDIS returns to Madam Vastra's home, and Clara discovers a new look to the interior. "You've redecorated, I don't like it." This turns the issue at the heart of the episode full circle. The Doctor changes, physical form and characteristics, the interior of his spaceship, its all very different. The inside of The Doctor, and the exterior of the TARDIS, are still the same. The surprise phone call from the 11th Doctor helps her place it all into better perspective for her, as to who he is.

I think the people that have expressed dislike of this episode don't like the many open questions:
-Who are these droids?
-Who caused the death of the Control Node droid?
-Who put the advert in the paper?
-What is the message he's trying to send himself?
-Who gave Clara the number to the Police Box? (help line)
-Who is the woman that is keen to see them to stay together.
-Is it the same person who calls herself Missy?
-Who is Missy?
-Why does "Paradise" look like the gardens in the Two Streams Facility of The Girl Who Waited(6.10 11th Doctor)?
-How is The Doctor, Missy's Boyfriend?

For those having trouble with the episode I say, wait and see. This is an opening episode, not a final. Things will be answered, not right away, but slowly.

Opening: 8
Setting: 9
Conflict: 6
Plot: 8
Dialogue: 8
Aliens: 5
Costumes: 8

Next time on Doctor Who: Into the Dalek

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