Take a deep breath, don't hold it, we're going into the Dalek (Doctor Who S08 E01 E02 review)

By: (plus.google.com) +David Herron; Date: 2014-08-30 21:54

Tags: Doctor Who

Doctor Who is finally back on our screens, and I'm going to squeeze my episode reviews together. It's a bang-up opening for Peter Capaldi as Doctor #12 (or is it #14), so it sure looks like this new guy will do well with the role. As for the content - the main theme so far is "identity". Who am I? Why do I choose this face to show the world? That sort of thing. And then there's the question of "who the heck is Missy?" Heaven? Surely that's a setup for the end of the season, so we'll have to be patient about that.

First episode - Deep Breath - that took care of the typical business immediately following a regeneration. The Doctor is a little confused about who he is, how to interpret things, and so on. The scene where they're trying to get him to go to sleep was priceless. Dismissing bedrooms as a waste, that you have a whole room just for sleeping, that's something to think about but it is what we do. Well, that's also where we store our clothing.

In any case, the main theme in Deep Breath was - Faces. It came up repeatedly in a couple ways. The clockwork robovillians who were stealing body parts, of course had stolen their faces, which the Doctor mentioned several times. Then the Doctor stole a face off one of the robots in order to hide. The Doctor, as well, kept questioning why he chose that face, why did that face seem familiar, what is he trying to tell himself by choosing that face, etc. Then to hammer home the point, in the pre-climax just before the end (did the robot jump or was he pushed?), the Doctor demanded of the Robot (while holding up a double sided mirror) if the Robot remembered whose face it was.

In that scene we first saw the Robot reflected in one side of the mirror, then the camera changed so we saw the Doctor's face reflected in a mirror as well.

Was the Doctor asking himself (as well) if the Doctor remembered whose face he's carrying?

We have to break the fourth wall to consider this point. The person playing the Doctor, Peter Capaldi, had himself played a character in a previous Doctor Who episode. It was the Fires of Pompeii, and it was Peter Capaldi's character who bought this strange blue box in the market and brought it home, thereby becoming a character in the drama.

It was possible that Steven Moffat would just ignore that coincidence. After all, when Colin Baker played Doctor #6 did they make anything of the fact that he played a minor character in a previous episode? No. But, Moffat will be Moffat, eh? Clearly this coincidence of Peter Capaldi's face having previously been in the Doctor's timeline will be woven into the storyline somehow. It will be said that the Doctor chose that face over some lesson he learned in Pompeii about saving peoples lives when he can.

Another part of the first episode - which I thought was gratuitous and unnecessary - was the nearly risque sexual undertone. This is supposed to be a Family Show suitable for Children, remember? Why did they spend so much time talking about peoples' love life, and repeatedly asking Clara to take off her clothes?

One of the key lines of the first episode was during The Doctor's interrogation of the head robovillian. He asked, if you take a broom, then replace the brush, then replace the handle, then do that over and over, do you have the same broom? Hmmmmmm... that's worth pondering a few hours. In effect we do that with our bodies, because every day part of our body is replaced, and within a few years there are no atoms left from our original body, but are we the same person?

Skipping over the scene with Missy, let's get to the second episode - Into the Dalek

After that character-heavy episode, it was welcome relief to see a regular adventure story. But this one, while touching on things the Doctor has done in the past, brought us to a new place - the inner workings of the Dalek. And, the episode reminds us of the value of infinite acceptance of all things (Divine Love, Divine Grace) that in theory should be accepting even of the Dalek's. But, instead of being accepting of the Daleks, we see the Doctor has a complete and huge hatred of them.

I wrote about this problem a few years ago when (davidherron.com) reviewing The Victory of the Dalek's. Normally the Doctor practices an interesting form of acceptance of all creatures, and often approaches the ugliest and nastiest of creatures with an open hand, offering help and acceptance. In some past episodes the Doctor has seemed like an Avatar or Demi-God, showing a huge amount of wisdom and dedication to truth.

But often when he is faced with the Daleks, not always, he turns into a madman. The Victory of the Daleks was one such time where as soon as he saw the Dalek, he started screaming and banging it with a pipe.

In Into the Dalek, that's what we saw ... at first, the interior of the Doctor was truly full of divine space, divine wisdom, but then we saw this extreme supreme hatred of the Daleks. Does an infinitely accepting being have hatred for anything? No.

Hence, the Doctor is a Good Dalek, again.

Now it's time to write about Missy.

Twice now we've had someone die in an episode, and they end up in Missy's Garden, which she calls Heaven. Presumably Missy will show up in every episode. Looking at the episodes titles for the season we see the finale title is Death in Heaven. Presumably that episode will involve a trip to Missy's Heaven, eh?

Theory: Missy is the Master? Reasoning: "Master" is "Mr." while "Miss" is the female equivalent title.

Maybe. Maybe that's too obvious. The last we saw of the Master, he was trapped in Gallifrey. For the Master to return, would that mean Gallifrey would have to return?

Which raises the question of - what happened to Gallifrey's attempt to reach through the Crack in the Name of the Doctor? As you may remember, the Doctor found the Crack again. The same Crack in the Universe he found in Amy's bedroom way back in the 11th Hour. In the Name of the Doctor, we learned that Gallifrey wanted to come through the crack but held back for some reason. Further, Gallifrey had some control over the crack's position and was able to send a new regeneration cycle to the Doctor through the crack.

Hence, the crack probably still exists and the timelords have some control over it?

Does that mean that Gallifrey is free to send other things or people, such as the Master, through the crack? And if Rassilon is still in charge of Gallifrey (by dint of possessing the Hand of Omega etc), giving the Doctor a new regeneration cycle wasn't just a matter of Love - it's a matter of, what's in it for Rassilon/Gallifrey?

« Into the Evil of the Daleks - Doctor Who S08E02 and OldWho #038 Peter Capaldi's earlier career as an ice cream salesman? »
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