“I am Scottish. I can complain about things. I can really complain about things now.”
And just like that, Peter Capaldi stakes his claim as the 12th Doctor….
Deep Breath opens with enough pomp and circumstance fitting of a Doctor Who season opener. This time, however, we find ourselves aboard the TARDIS with a very different Time Lord – different in every sense of the word. One that we haven’t seen since the series returned to the airwaves in 2005. Capaldi brings to the proverbial table a sterner approach, reminiscent of Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor. This is in stark contrast to the jovial, goofy, and boyishly charming 11th Doctor we observed in Matt Smith. In a lot of ways, the 12th Doctor shares similar personality traits with John Hurt’s War Doctor. I can’t help but posit a theory that our current Doctor is the sum total of his most recent regenerative trifecta, beginning with his 9th rebirth. Put differently, Capaldi’s Doctor is a being who’s tired of pretending. Pretending he hasn’t experienced centuries of heartache and loss. Pretending he’s an innocent traveler who hasn’t himself been the cause of other’s dolor. Pretending he wasn’t willing to sacrifice his entire species as a means to an end. He’s the ghost inside who’s been trapped underneath layers upon layers of methodical affectation. Yet, the vulnerability of a being so alone – so tormented, is undeniably present. A vulnerability which Capaldi exudes effortlessly.
A running theme throughout this beginning tale is acceptance. In a beautiful scene between the Doctor and Clara, the Doctor implores Clara to see him. “Please just, just see me.” The Doctor asks. Again, gone are the usual pretenses we’ve become accustomed to, as well as the stubborn belief that he, the Doctor, can make it on his own sans any need of assistance and or friendship. Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor genuinely and sincerely wants help.
One major plot point which stood out – actually more like screamed in my face, is that the Doctor has regenerated into a Scotsman. He now shares the same cultural traits as Amelia Pond. Seeing as nothing in the Who universe is gratuitously thrown into the mix, I wonder – has this any connection to his former companion? Was it a subconscious choice during his regeneration; perhaps a way to honor the little girl who waited? A little girl whose fate may still weigh heavy in the recesses of his mind?
As with every story Steven Moffat writes, I’m sure more will be revealed.