As abrupt as Twelfth’s regeneration was, so was his first introduction to the world. In a way as hilarious as sharp, Peter Capaldi entered the show as the Doctor by telling our beloved Strax to, well, shut up –more specifically, “shush!”
And that was the moment he won me over. But there was still more than an hour left to reinforce that love.
The plot, as it happens with regeneration episodes, is not as important as the fact that we are getting to know a new Doctor, so Moffat made it as secondary as he could: there is a cyborg that kills people to get body parts for himself to become a human. After this, he burns them (including the dinosaur that had time travelled because she ate the TARDIS). In the end, the Doctor and Clara –after sorting out their differences- save the day and the Doctor may or may not have killed the cyborg. That mystery is still there, but the look Capaldi gave us was nothing but thrilling.
But moving on to the character development. As the TARDIS lands on Victorian London, we are lucky enough to see Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax again. I particularly enjoy the episodes they are in, and this one was full of one-liners that only elevated its quality. Yes, an almost plot-less episode, but like I said, does that matter?
One of the most appealing aspects was the fact that the Doctor could barely remember anything. He couldn’t even tell Strax and Clara apart because they were “very similar heights”! Clearly, he went senile during those 300 hundred years at Trenzalore, and it’s starting to show during the confusing time of his regeneration. But he had both dark and funny moments. Anything he said that was meant to be rude turned out to be comical, including the moment he finds their accents weird, as he is now speaking with a strong Scottish accent (“I can really complain about things now!”)
Sometimes, the thing I fear about regeneration episodes is that the new Doctor won’t appear too much because he is recovering, but thankfully, Capaldi wasn’t like this. No, he went all A Beautiful Mind on the floor right before escaping to the middle of London to find some problems that needed to be solved. Because that’s who the Doctor is.
He even had time to recall things from the past! From Fourth’s epic long scarf to Amy Pond (who apparently is better at being a companion than Clara) to, of course, his “new” face. As he tells a hobo, he’s is certain he has seen that face before, but still doesn’t know why. We all know that is the face of Caecilius* from ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ and John Frobisher from Torchwood: Children of Earth. Of course, it could also be that Eleven was a huge fan of Malcolm Tucker and thought wearing his face was the perfect way of defending the universe!
Either way, it looks like we will see some elements from this episode again. The Doctor mentioned that he had seen all that before (always take a banana to a party), so that means we will see it soon. And then there is this enigmatic lady from Heaven, Missy, whom I am sure has something to do with all those incidental meetings between Clara and the Doctor. Again, we will have to watch the rest of the episodes to know. I’m just so glad the Doctor is back.
I almost forgot! MATT SMITH! How could I not talk about that? His cameo was the perfect way of saying goodbye to his Doctor and convincing a reluctant Clara to stay with the new one, a confused Doctor that needs her help. We already missed you Smith, and now we are going to have to start missing you again.
We will be fine, we have Capaldi now.
PS.If you say you didn’t hold your breath when Clara did, then you are lying. Yes, you are.
-“Sleepy? Bashful? Sneezy? Dopey? Grumpy!”
-“You remember, er..thingy, the, er, the not-me one, the asking-questions one?”
-“Doctor, please, you have to lie down, you keep passing out.”
-“Well, of course I keep passing out, there’s all these beds!”
-“Door? Boring. Not me. (Heads towards the window) Me!”
-“I brought you along by accident, that’s mostly how I meet girls.”
-“By bringing it here, he will be lured from the dangers of London to this place of safety, and we will melt him with acid.”
-“OK, that last part?”
-“And we will NOT melt him with acid. Old habits.”
-“I need clothes, that’s what I need. And a big, long scarf. No, no, move on from that, looked stupid.”
-“Look at the eyebrows! These are attack eyebrows.You could take bottle tops off with these! They’re cross! They’re crosser than the rest of my face. They’re independently cross. They probably want to cede from the rest of my face and set up their own independent state of eyebrows.”
-“Destroy us if you will, they’re still going to close your restaurant! That was going to sound better…”
* I recently read a theory that claims that, by the end of ‘The Fires of Pompeii’, Caecilius’ wife hands him a watch, believed to be one containing the Time Lord’s essence. Of course, back then it was impossible that this was made on purpose, but now that Capaldi is the Doctor they might play with that a little. It would be interesting to see.