Alekx Watches Deep Breath
Ever late to the bandwagon, I finally finished watching Deep Breath and I can definitely say for myself that It. Is. Brilliant. Brilliant in ways I honestly never expected. It was smart, funny, witty, dramatic, and action-packed without being too messy and convoluted. Its polished Moffat at best and I loved it.
I am particularly glad that Deep Breath was both a continuation and exploration of where we left Clara and the Doctor, with respect to their relationship with each other. Central to this aspect of the story is harking back to the chemistry between Eleven and the Impossible Girl, which in my opinion really took advantage of the “Are They, Aren’t They” trope.
For the longest time in season 7 and the specials that came after, I’ve always thought that Clara was on the “they are” end of the dynamic, while the Doctor was on the “they aren’t”. She did say that she tricks herself twice a day out of falling in love with him in the “She Said, He Said” prequel so just imagine my surprise (and delight) when this dialogue comes up:
“Clara, I’m not your boyfriend.”
“I never thought you were.”
“I never said it was your mistake.”
and after her phone rings and he says,
“Better get that. Might be your boyfriend.”
which only later on turns out to be (spoiler alert) himself when he was still Eleven.
Plot-wise, season 7 was really incomparable to Moffat’s storytelling as of Season 5 and even during David Tennant’s era (Blink anyone?). But, at least to me, what made it entertaining was the very cheerful and flighty yet deep and steadfast dynamic between these two people who remain to be loyal to one another in spite of their early lack of knowledge of one another, and so I’m really glad that all those hand-holding and eye contact and hugs and suggestive dialogue don’t just get thrown out of the window the moment that the new guy steps in (thank you Moffat).
I’d like to think that Series 8 is quite the opposite because there’s also much in Deep Breath indicating that the binding ties of Doctor and Clara will be better revealed and fleshed out in the coming episodes.
In my opinion, the fact that Twelve flat out rejects his previous self’s attitudes towards Clara and sets the boundaries tells me that this is one thing that will be touched upon. If it wasn’t so important, why say it out loud? Clara also gets crap on the whole thing from Madame Vastra (to which her response is in my opinion a little weak). Again, if it wasn’t so important, why say it out loud? There was also the matter of that tunnel scene, and how, in part, I think its meant to assure Clara that the Doctor is still the Doctor she knew - the Doctor who won’t leave her no matter what. Who will be difficult, yes, but who will always be there. And among my favorite: that reference to the first phone call between Clara and the Doctor and how she got her number through the woman in the shop (side note: I honestly thought we’ll be getting some answers, goodness me I’m itching), to which the Doctor concludes, “then there’s a woman out there who’s very keen that we stay together.” I don’t think that’s going to be the last we hear of it.
Speaking of phone calls, Clara received a phone call in this episode as I had mentioned earlier. No less from Eleven himself.
And I cried. I bloody cried like I never cried before in the history of all the tears I’ve shed for Doctor Who. I didn’t think I would because there’s too many darn spoilers on the internet and Tumblr so I had been prewarned about the whole thing.
But I think I am grateful for all those spoilers, otherwise I never would have not seen it coming as I had last night. Was it me, or the phone call didn’t really feel like a goodbye from Eleven but rather a goodbye from Matt Smith?
To tell you honestly, I wasn’t particularly fond of his regeneration in The Time of the Doctor (for pretty selfish fangirl reasons) and I hadn’t gotten attached to it as I hoped I would. But this one - well, this one is different.
Dear god I cried simply thinking “Matt’s gone. Matt’s gone. Matt’s gone.” I think that if there were any definitive moment where I finally accepted that the Eleventh Doctor, my Doctor, is good and gone, then this would be it.
Out with the old and in with the new. Peter Capaldi’s introduction as the Doctor has got to be among the most brilliant in the history of Who (and I’m guessing on mere gut as my lack of Classic Who knowledge still remains insatiated).
But I do deeply and truly think that it is brilliant. Not in the rather bouncy way as David Tennant’s and Matt Smith’s, but in its own smart, sharp, and distinct way. I’m glad that I was finally able to see for myself the terror and boldness that Peter Capaldi’s incarnation holds, which has been so repeatedly emphasized in every journalistic advert for Series 8.
But I also feel that all those just do not give him enough justice. There’s something so unspeakably frightening about this Doctor and to where his stories are going that I have never been more afraid of the realization that watching the episodes are actually going to make it difficult for me to sleep at night.
What always attracted me to the two previous incarnations were their hearts (literally as the Doctor has two) and how open they were to the different people and robots and monsters and aliens and other indistinguishable lifeforms (because we do not discriminate) that they encounter. With respect to Twelve, I can better understand it now why it wasn’t so difficult to get attached to Ten and Eleven, simply because they wanted me to get attached to them.
But with this new Doctor, its different. He keeps his heart overcast, which is something I find interesting to respond to as a viewer.
That is not to say he doesn’t ever bring them out in the light. Can we all just appreciate for a moment how the Doctor’s face falls when Clara says “I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry, but I don’t think I know who you are anymore”? Or how despondent he is as he says “You can’t see me, can you? You look at me and you can’t see me.” Moments. Just moments when you probably weren’t looking.
Deep Breath was probably one heck of a sport for competitive Doctor Who nerds alike - a testament to how well does one pay attention. There were so many references - so many. Immediately after watching the show (well, after drying my tears and shaking off the horrible villanous epilogue), the first thing I did was go on the sites to check how many references I managed to catch and how many I missed (mostly Classic Who, of course, which only begs me to watch the episodes from 1963).
There were several ones I liked:
-SS Marie Antoinette - I swear I figured that out before it was revealed
-Another Rose parallel: “Chips” (could be another indication of what’s to come for whouffle?)
-Landing on Glasgow instead of Clara’s home
-“I don’t like it”
-Phonecalls - the first and last conversations of Clara and Eleven
-Clara entering the TARDIS after the Doctor comes back, very reminiscent of a scene from The Bells of St. John. I expected her to say “So, he comes back does he?”
The answer is of course “Yes, Clara. Yes, he does.”