Since I’ve finally caught up with Doctor Who I thought now would be a good time to introduce Doctor Who-esdays. Every Tuesday during the season I’ll provide some thoughts and insights into the previous weekend’s episode of Doctor Who. It’s nice to finally be caught up so that I can participate in the conversation instead of recusing myself to avoid spoilers.
The Doctor made his return in “Deep Breath,” the first episode of the eighth series. “Deep Breath” was also the debut of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. I’ve been looking forward to Capaldi’s debut for months. I wasn’t disappointed but I’m definitely excited to see how his Doctor develops over this season.
Here are some thoughts I had while watching “Deep Breath.”
The oldest reason there is for anything: to be accepted.
The conversation between Clara and Lady Vastra highlighted one of the main tensions in “Deep Breath.” Like other companions before her, Clara had to wrestle with a new face on her old Doctor. Instead of the dashing, young Eleventh Doctor, the Twelfth Doctor is older, with gray hair and a lined face. The older face unsettled Clara. Vastra said that the Doctor had chosen a younger face for the oldest reason: to be accepted. Our need to be accepted goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. As soon as Adam and Eve sinned, the first thing they did was cover themselves up to hide their shame. Adam and Eve hid who they were so that they could be accepted. Vastra followed their example with her veil, the Doctor followed it with his face and we often follow it by donning any number of masks. We don’t need a mask to find acceptance, though. We simply need to turn to our Heavenly Father who accepts us just as we are.
It’s a superstition that you have picked up from all the humanity you’ve stuff inside yourself.
The cyborg in “Deep Breath” was looking for the Promised Land. He had potentially been waiting for the Promised Land for millions of years, never dying and never reaching his destination. Despite the Doctor’s objections, at the end of the episode the cyborg found something akin to his Promised Land. The idea of his Promised Land gave him hope to keep pressing on, even if pressing on meant harvesting human organs. In Christ we have our own Promised Land: the new heaven and the new earth promised at Jesus’s return. We don’t simply hope that one day we’ll be transported away from this place; we hope that one day this place will be made right, that all sadness, pain, disease, hunger and selfishness will be wiped away. The cyborg had to constantly renew his body in order to reach his Promised Land. We know, though, that everything will find full renewal when our Promised Land comes here. When Christ returns he will bring the Promised Land with him, the new heaven and the new earth, where God’s kingdom reigns.
You probably can’t even remember where you got that face from.
I loved the shot when both the Doctor and the cyborg were looking at their reflections in the silver platter. Both the Doctor and the cyborg refreshed their faces over and over again, potentially forgetting where the faces even came from. After the premiere I saw some grumbling about the Doctor always being disoriented after his regeneration. The grumblers wondered if it was necessary to always spend a new Doctor’s first episode dealing with his confusion. I think it’s necessary for the story but it’s also necessary for the audience. We spent three seasons with Matt Smith as the Doctor and we need to go through a process similar to that of Clara and the Doctor in “Deep Breath.” It would be jarring if the new Doctor showed up and didn’t address any of the tensions of having a new face and new mannerisms. Processing is important; it helps us come to terms with whatever reality we’re facing. Instead of internalizing the Doctor’s regeneration, we need to walk through the process of his transformation. And instead of internalizing situations in our lives, we need to process through them so that we can address them in a healthy manner.
I enjoyed “Deep Breath,” especially the back-and-forth between the Doctor and Clara. This episode definitely created some new mysteries, as Moffat likes to do, and provided some direction for the rest of the season. I’m excited for what’s to come as we see more from the Twelfth Doctor.
What did you think about “Deep Breath?”