First of all…FINALLY! Though it has only been eight months since the last episode of Doctor Who (which, for Whovians, is not a long time at all) but the anticipation has really been something. New series, new Doctor, and for the first time in a long time, we didn’t really have much of an idea where the show was headed. A lot of loose ends were tied up last year: River Song’s story seems to have (nearly) come to a close, we know who Clara is, we know a lot more about the Doctor (though still not why his name is such a guarded secret!) and all about Trenzalore & the true fate of Gallifrey. That reminds me, I should add a spoiler warning to this post.
Just like for the Doctor, this series is a bit of a new slate. New direction, new side of the Doctor, new characters, baddies and a whole load of new questions that Moffat will probably have us waiting years to find out the answers to. So how did everyone react to the first episode of season 8?
If we hadn’t already guessed from the buzz over the past year, the first episode has confirmed that we’re going to be seeing a darker Doctor, but also one who is on a path to redemption.
The message in this episode is that he’s taking his gifted new cycle of regenerations seriously. He’s forgiving himself for past mistakes, and he’s not going to hide behind a mask of young, good-looking incarnations any more. This was particularly difficult for Clara, who represented the feelings of a lot of viewers who are still coming to terms with the loss of Matt Smith. As much as it was nice to have Moffat try and help us with that, through Clara, many people were annoyed that her reaction was really out of character.
We’ve already seen companions struggle with a new face, Rose being the most recent example. Clara, on the other hand, should not have struggled with this change. She has been splintered into a thousand pieces, she has rescued every incarnation of the Doctor multiple times, less than a year ago she saved Gallifrey with three incarnations of the Doctor. She didn’t have a problem with it then, so why did she struggle so much now?
But it’s no secret most of us have been constantly disappointed with her character, mainly just due to the writing. Frankly, I’m quite happy she’s leaving at Christmas.
Capaldi will be difficult to get used to for viewers who are used to the happier and quirkier Doctors like 10 and 11. But if you’ve watched Classic Doctor Who, you’ll know that the Doctor’s harsher side is just as much a part of him as his whimsy. Just look at Hartnell, or Colin Baker, arguably the most difficult Doctor to love.
But I love an anti-hero. I’ve enjoyed our fun few years. I’ve loved 10 and I’ve tolerated 11, but I’ve kind of reached my limit of whimsy and quirk. I’m ready for darkness. I’m ready for a Doctor who can be a bit of a dick sometimes, because it’s time the Doctor accepted who he really is. And, just like anyone, he is flawed.
Of course, the second biggest piece of news is the appearance of what seems to be our new villain: Missy. This is where my favourite part of being a Whovian kicks in: I just love the speculating.
All of the usual suspects have been named. Whenever a new character comes into play we all shout out “The Master! Omega! The Rani! Romana!“. It never happens, but it never stops us.
Personally I’d love the see the Valeyard. And there’s a fairly strong argument for Romana with the tiny spec of info we have to go on. But it’s important for us to remember that Moffat doesn’t tend to bring old characters back. He’ll bring monsters back sometimes, but he likes to create his own characters for his evil purposes. So I’m 95% sure this Missy is someone we have never seen before.
What were your thoughts on the first episode of season 8?