Doctor Who: Deep Breath

Doctor Who is back! And because it’s a new Doctor the episode was packed full of other characters we already know, to give a bit of continuity. As well as a time and place we’ve seen before.

SPOILERS AHEAD! Hover mouse over text to read, or read on entry page:

So I’ll get the nitpicking over and done with first. I’ve never been fond of the manic/messed-up Doctor of the immediate post-regen episodes. I do understand that it makes a certain amount of sense (changing one’s body and personality all at once seems likely to be reasonably traumatic, and anyway it always happens at times of stress for the Doctor) but I find it rather tedious to watch. I also thought that Clara is one of the few (new Who) companions who’d be able to cope fine with the regeneration – even if she doesn’t remember all the lives she had where she saved the Doctor during his regenerations she must surely remember that she went into the timeline to save all the previous hims. So I didn’t really buy her surprise and trauma over the whole thing. Also – the Matt Smith cameo, given his regeneration came as a surprise I’m not quite sure how come he could ring her a few hundred years before it happened (remember he got old on Trenzalor).

OK, nitpicking done.

I liked the various sets of mirrors the episode set up – some were rather unsubtle, some more so. The Doctor sleep translating the dinosaur for instance, where it’s clear how much he identifies with the dinosaur. But that also parallels the clockwork cyborg, who’s also alone and out of his time and struggling to cope. And Madame Vastra, for that matter. And all of them have their own ways of dealing with that – Vastra has Jenny and her detective stuff, the Doctor has his companions and his version of detective stuff, the cyborg is looking for Paradise (which is a less useful coping device) and the dinosaur hasn’t quite figured it out yet (and never gets a chance to, poor dino).

Concealment, masks, facades, disguises and seeing things truly were the major theme of the episode, of course, whether in the plot or the character development. Quite impressive how they tied everything into that from the small stuff to the obvious big things (like the Doctor’s new body).

References galore, both in and out universe. The most obvious being the recurrent theme of Vastra as Sherlock Holmes and Jenny as Watson, or them both as the Avengers. With, obviously, the differences that being a lizard makes. And callbacks to previous Doctor Who episodes – notably Girl in the Fireplace, and I wish I could remember how that ended and where the ship ended up. Was it the Doctor’s fault the ship was in Victorian London? And was landing in Glasgow at the end another call back – to the end of Sarah Jane’s run.

I guess we’ve seen the hook for the season arc – who is making sure Clara & the Doctor meet up? Presumably the sinister Mary Poppins-esque figure who welcomes the cyborg to “Paradise” and introduces herself as the Doctor’s girlfriend. Which of course is another parallel in reverse, because we’ve just finished the “I’m not your boyfriend” scene (and a big yay! to that as I was getting a bit fed up of the Doctor-picks-up-cute-girl-and-flirts trope). J and I were wondering if this could be Tasha Lem, although in the Christmas episode she seemed more on the Doctor’s side than the woman did in “Paradise”.