written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
A brand new Doctor with a whole new slew of adventures. Capaldi has officially taken over as The Doctor in the first regeneration episode since "The Eleventh Hour." Going in, I believe I should mention that "The Eleventh Hour" is still one of my favorite episodes of New Who. Even Tennant, a huge fan favorite, took some getting used to... but I was hooked on Matt Smith from the moment he said; "basically, run."
The episode opens with a T-Rex rampaging all over ye olde London Towne. Fan favorites Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, and Strax show up to address the rampaging prehistoric animal. Of course with a T-Rex showing up in old London, somehow The Doctor is responsible. The T-Rex coughs up the Tardis with a bran new face on the timeless character, Madam Vastra says it best; "here we go again."
At least from the first episode, Capaldi felt very familiar. This was very much The Doctor with a brand new face and personality. Noticeably older than the last three incarnations, this further made the childish nature of The Doctor stand out that much more. He was adjusting, and honestly the low notes of the episode are quite excusable seeing this is a regeneration episode, and honestly... how can ya ever top "The Eleventh Hour" when it comes to regen-eps?
Twelve was equal parts befuddled and angry, even questioning where he got this face... perhaps an allusion to The Doctor regenerating with the face of someone he may have met in space and time. During Tennant's turn as The Doctor, he met a man in Pompeii who was portrayed by Capaldi at the time, perhaps this is a way to further incorporate a new bit of lore in the legend of the Time-Lords, or just a fun little Easter Egg decorated with a "ya see what I did there?" sentiment. Clara struggles with the new face and questions whether she still knows The Doctor, something Rose struggled with after Nine's regeneration. He was a very different man and Capaldi's Doctor has a fierce and dark quality that Smith's Eleven never really had.
The primary villain was a new villain, an ancient robot that utilizes human parts to replace failing mechanical components. The key difference between these cyborgs and actual humans is that they don't breath. Some gripping moments where Clara has to hold her breath while sneaking past them had me at the edge of my seat, while not as gripping as the Weeping Angels and the urge not to Blink, Moffat manages to make a terrifying plot device out of holding one's breath. Come the end of the episode, the main baddie felt a bit bland. While I enjoyed the Half-Face Man and thought the concept of holding your breath was novel, further plot development is needed before I can truly call them as terrifying as the Weeping Angels.
The Impossible Girl story is further referenced with some new mystery added to the pot, this looks to be a long road for The Doctor and especially after a surprising cameo at the end that helped Clara to accept this new face... like how battling a blood controlling alien helped Rose accept Ten as The Doctor... this is absolutely The Doctor.
Packed with action and absurdity, this was a great way to introduce a new face to the iconic character. I felt Capaldi played The Doctor well, though I keep comparing it to "The Eleventh Hour," I still felt that "Deep Breath" was a good episode... setting the stage for what's to come.
Oh... and I love that Capaldi kept his Scottish accent!