tardis AND capaldi deep breath

Reaction to “Deep Breath” in the Who-verse

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Attention: If you have yet to see Doctor Who’s episode “Deep Breath” please be aware the following article contains episode spoilers.


In addition to the introduction of what promises to be a stellar version of The Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, there were a few scenes in the most recent episode of Doctor Who that lit up the interwebs and forums. While some of the speculation makes sense, other parts do not seem to be as big of a deal to me. Regardless, Deep Breath garnered media attention, from reviews to specific scenes like these:

“Clara, I’m not your boyfriend”

There has been some negativity in the Who-verse over this line. Some fans using it as an attack on fans who they believe only appreciate The Doctor for his good looks and boyfriend-esque personality. The scene takes place in the TARDIS where The Doctor says, “Clara, I’m not your boyfriend.” She quickly replied, “I never thought you were” and he points out “I never said it was your mistake.” To me, if the theory goes that Clara is the audience and The Doctor is the writer, there is no attack on any type of fan girls or boys at all. It is the acknowledgement that perhaps Moffat had written episodes that were too “boyfriend-y” and it would be changed. He claims full responsibility – “I never said it was your mistake,” in other words, it was my own. Not only do I not see this as a victory line against people who may have been attracted to other incarnations, I do not see this as a condemnation of wanting less flirting either. I see it as Moffat saying, “I am changing this character, you’ve gotten used to him being one way, and that is my own fault.” More of a mia culpa than a reflection on either side of the debate.

“I traded my watch for it”

People are debating whether or not The Doctor actually traded anything for the coat, or took it by force in a manic rage, and what watch it may be. Surprisingly, the two that seem to pop up most often amongst speculators are the pocket watch from “Human Nature” with David Tennant’s Doctor (at the end of which, he gives that watch away to Tim Latimer, so we can probably rule this one out anyway), and the wrist watch that, in real life, Matt Smith who wore it as The Doctor gave to Peter Capaldi as a symbolic “passing of the torch.” I don’t know whether or not that is the watch that is being referred to. What I do know, is I am shocked that I haven’t read anywhere about the possibility of it being the gold pocket watch Matt Smith wears in “The Snowmen” when he meets Clara. We do not know if the watch had any significance, or if it ever held his (or any Time Lord) consciousness, as in “Human Nature” or “Utopia”, but we do know that this Doctor has a “different relationship with time” as Capaldi explained in the Doctor Who “Deep Breath” pre show.

An Exchange of Oxygen

When Jenny telepathically tells Vastra she can no longer hold the oxygen in her lungs to avoid being noticed as a non-android, Vastra shares her oxygen in a mouth to mouth style. Incredibly this has garnered attention and condemnation from the media. For me, it made perfect sense to include. Aside from the fact that they’ve been married for as long as we’ve known them, Doctor Who routinely reflects society and the current issues of the time. It’s actually refreshing to see a couple committed to each other rather than the omnisexual Jack who eludes flirtation even after scoring himself Ianto or Amy having to have her relationship tested so many times before she realizes she loves Rory and wants ultimately to be with him more than anything. It allows for us to see how horrific it is when someone we love is in danger without giving the lead characters a soap opera style relationship. I’m still unsure what the fuss is all about.

Who is Missy?

While the audience will not know for sure until Mr. Moffat lets us know, there is wide speculation about who Missy is. I personally believe her to be a version of Tasha Lem, but the theories are so numerous that you would think that she had been in the entire episode. Cleverly, Moffat has Capaldi make the comment about a woman being very keen to keep he and Clara together right before cutting to Missy. Whether this is to let the audience know, “THIS IS THE LADY, you’ll learn more later.” Or if it was a red herring, having us already thinking about “the lady from the shop” and then cutting to the “keeper of the nethersphere” to get our subconscious to link them is up in the air. It has been confirmed she will be shown throughout S8, so we will certainly learn more as the series unfolds.


“The Doctor Abandoned Clara”

Or did he? They had both successfully escaped the room when he turned back and started talking about how familiar everything was. She only returned to the room to retrieve him, at which point he runs out ahead of her, and she is trapped. This could have been The Doctor’s intention all along. He tells her she cannot have his screwdriver because he just might need it (to save her life in a few minutes.) He seems absolutely unsurprised that Clara handled herself with such grace under pressure and cleverly got information out of the cyborg that he would not have been able to. In fact, he even reveals that he knew that the cyborg leader “trying to control a control freak” would backfire, indicating his plan had been to save her the entire time telling the cyborg leader, “5’1″ and crying, you never stood a chance.” Clara also tells the clockwork-droid-man she, despite not accepting the new appearance, she knows The Doctor will always be right by her, and *hooray* he is.

Pushed or Fell?

Another aspect of “Deep Breath” that has set the internet ablaze is whether the cyborg leader ended up on top of Big Ben by jumping, or The Doctor physically or metaphorically pushing him. I find this question to be incredibly interesting. It is obvious we are not supposed to know at this point and it is playing into the “he’s less dependable” angle that S8 has boasted. The Doctor explains that he would be able to push the cyborg, for the same reason the cyborg asks if The Doctor even would kill him. Because the cyborg does not wish to carry on. From that perspective, if The Doctor had pushed him, it may have been out of mercy rather than cruelty (which is against his name – “never cruel nor cowardly, never give up, never give in”). He had offered the cyborg a drink on multiple occasions, could that drink have contained the same “wine” looking “multi-grade anti oil” The Doctor used in “The Girl in the Fireplace” which the cyborg leader refused.  If so, this may have been an effort by The Doctor to circumvent the eventual fall in the first place.  However the story line shakes out, it seems unlikely The Doctor has turned into a cold blooded killer, but Moffat is always full of surprises, isn’t he?

Matt Smith’s Cameo

While this is not precedented in the Who-verse to have the previous incarnation call the companion to reassure them it will be alright, this was a welcome break from tradition. It beautifully tied in the hanging phone from when Clara enters the TARDIS at the end of “The Time of the Doctor” while allowing fans to have one last glimpse of Smith as The Doctor. It also bridged the gap between the two personalities, and reassured the audience, as well as Clara, that no matter how impossibly dark things are seeming, The Doctor will always be The Doctor – through and through. For fans experiencing their first real time regeneration, this reassurance was a nice touch, and beautiful cameo. The tribute was both touching and reminded us that we will desperately miss our young mad man in a box as much as we will surely enjoy our older mad man with a box. Cheers to that.

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