You might have noticed that this time last week the internets were alive with various opinions about Peter Capaldi’s proper debut as everyone’s favourite Time Lord. I didn’t join in because, frankly, I don’t think it’s fair to judge a Doctor based on his immediate post-regeneration actions (although just how immediate all this was is unclear, what with him having pulled a dinosaur on his way to Victorian London) and I didn’t want to set a precedent and end up posting every week the same set of thoughts about the episode that must, in an infinite internet, already be posted somewhere.
That said, thoughts worth mentioning about Deep Breath:
- It could have been a nicely meta sort of an episode, acknowledging the uncertainty of fans about such a whopper of a change, but that did get a little bit overdone in the end.
- Apparently somebody complained about the lesbian kiss. Nobody noticed that Jenny was in fact snogging a millennia old lizard.
- Neither did anyone notice that it wasn’t a kiss, it was mouth to mouth resuscitation. But, you know, any excuse to get in a flap.
- Am I the only one bothered that they wedged open a plot-hole wide enough for Eleven’s chin? I mean, timey-wimey and all that, yes, but still… that bothered me. Sorry to everyone who cried at it, but it just made no sense.
- You know what else didn’t make sense? Clara being bothered by regeneration. Didn’t she hang out with all the previous Doctors on Name Of The Doctor? Didn’t it sort of hint that maybe Clara was in fact Ace? And yet… she was bothered by Twelve. Oh well.
- On the plus side, while the Doctor was staggering around London trying to find himself or something, Clara got a grip, stood up to Madame Vastra and actually threatened to become a decent character in her own right, which was nice.
Actually I’ve already gone on far too long about last week’s news: Into The Dalek. I was wondering if the steampunk opening sequence was just in honour of the clockwork robots from Deep Breath, but they seem to be here to stay; another big change from… well, the last 50 years, pretty much. But this is a new era for Doctor Who, a big change from the times of Ten and Eleven, so I guess it’s fitting.
This is Clara. Not my assistant, she’s some other word… Yeah, my carer. She cares so I don’t have to.
And that brings us to this point: the Doctor has had a little time to find himself – or, from Clara’s perspective, lose himself – and while neither he nor Clara are sure at this stage whether or not he is a good man, I think I like him. He’s even funny, but in a deadpan, almost oblivious sort of way; he’s also got a dark streak that Ten and Eleven lacked (or he may just really dislike soldiers).
Philosophically minded Whovians will find a lot to chew over here, not least the matter of Dalek morality (morality as malfunction), or whether it is enough to try to be a good person.
Not to mention Missy, guardian of ‘Heaven’, where people/robots who die around the Doctor seem to be ending up this season. That’s not likely to end well now, is it? I suspect we will return to this sub-plot later in the series.
However, the most interesting point, I thought, was the central conceit of the episode: a ‘good’ Dalek. Interesting to throw that one into the mix after 50 years, to say the least; and as unlikely concepts go, it’s right up there with redeeming Darth Vader. Our good Dalek – Rusty – is naturally predisposed to hate pretty much everyone, but the Doctor is able to work out (and this is where it turns out he really needs Clara) that all remaining vestiges of goodness within the Dalek’s squidgy bits are basically short-circuited by some clever technology.
So the Doctor goes in, flicks the switches, shares his own soul, his sense of the beauty and goodness of the universe, with Rusty, and sends him back into the Dalek fold, a redeemed Dalek.
And this, of course, is metaphorically what God does for us: He gets inside us, right down to our spiritual radiation leaks, and heals our inner wounds. And then because our minds are still short-circuited by sin, He shares His soul with us, so that we can see the beauty of Truth… and be free to follow our own path, instead of that which the masses around us take for granted.
The question which remains, of course, is what can one ‘good’ individual achieve among a corrupt and selfish race?