(I meant to post this earlier in the week. Ah well. I’ll post it now so that it doesn’t become overdue, what with the next episode dropping soon.)
So who saw the latest Doctor Who episode (weekend of 7th/8th Nov)? As I mentioned earlier, I loved it.
One of the reasons I love Doctor Who is that it explores various concepts and uses the construct of a two-hearted alien in a blue box to do so. A creator of another great series, Gene Roddenberry of Star Trek fame, supposedly once said that, “Although we were in a seemingly simplistic medium (television), this simplistic medium allowed us to really ask very deep questions. And we didn’t always give deep answers, because it wasn’t possible”.
Fiction, perhaps especially science and or fantasy fiction, allows for the exploration of “current” concepts and situations, set in an “alternate” universe of some sort – past, future, another galaxy or world, etc. This perhaps gives more flexibility to explore these issues. You see that in Doctor Who, the most recent example being the past two episodes (a two-parter).
I love that sort of “referencing the real world” trick and will get exasperated or annoyed with those who dismiss ‘fantasy’ fiction as “just fiction” – the implied meaning that it’s not as important because it’s “not real”. Just don’t. It might not be “real”, but the ideas and concepts explored in it often are, whether they’re espoused by aliens or not.
As a fan of Doctor Who I’ve mainly seen New Who. This latest episode was brilliant. So, allow me to geek out a bit. I’ve tried to minimise spoilers, but still some probably are present, beware.
- Let’s start with some of the more superficial though still important stuff:
- While the Osgood box(es) were styled like the Moment from the 50th, I’m sure the colours were a nod to the Matrix too… I actually said, “Red pill, blue pill” when I saw them.
- Overall acting was great this episode, not just Capaldi: Jenna was brilliant. The differences between Clara and Bonnie were clear – though of course, they were still similar enough for the Doctor to know. 😉 Bonnie’s decision was well-played, too.
- I like how Osgood got to be the companion for this episode while Clara was busy. The bit at the end was nicely done.
- Now for the rest. All the references (real-world and in-world) made me so happy. I love it – it shows continuity as well as giving greater impact to the show. Pointed political commentary/ illusions/ inference – mixed with snarky comedy and feels – ftw. Twelve (Capaldi) is a link back: to the classics and to the other “New Who” Doctors. The War Doctor is the bridge between Old & New chronologically, but Twelve is the one with the Knowledge. * More on that below.
- My goodness! Asdfjkl, that speech – all you who have watched the episode, you know the one – was an amazing speech. There are a few people in this world who need that to be given to them personally!
- Capaldi was gold. I’ve been warming to him over the past few episodes, but – as someone else said – that speech was his moment. The one when even the doubters know that he is the Doctor. This is confirmed by the amount of people (say, on the fanpage Doctor Who and the TARDIS for instance) who are geeking out over it. 😀 !! I’d known he was the Doctor already (I’ve seen the spark there earlier), but this finally cements it. This is the speech that is his, the one that will be written down and remembered. I saw it coming, a little, as it built on other similar speeches he’s given in the past, but wow. Three episodes ago, he realised why he had “this face”. Now we do, too.
- * = Reflecting on the speech and the past few episodes, as well as what I know of other eps, I personally realised exactly how Capaldi’s Twelve is the link. Those of who’ve seen the 50th Anniversary Special, please remember for a moment the scene when the War Doctor asks the others if they know how many Galifreyans die if he pushes the button. Their answers are telling. Of the New Who (which I know best), there’s [setting aside the War Doctor for a second]: Nine; the broody PTSD one who believes he’s the Last of the Time Lords by his own hand & has seen the horrors of war etc. He’s bitter and angry and determined to help so others don’t suffer. When that happens, things are “Fantastic!” (One of his Moments among many: the heart-breaking, “Just this once, Rose, everybody lives!”). He wasn’t in the special, but you’d think he’d remember very well. Then Ten; still a bit broody and prone to philosophy, but is a bit happier. He remembers too, but continues on (“Allons-y!” his catchphrase, meaning “Let’s go” in French – the explanation behind his use of it sums him up perfectly). Finally (in this scene), Eleven; the happiest of the bunch, at least at first. He’s still rather reflective, knowing the importance of people. He has losses, but that is paired with a gung-ho attitude and stubborn, geeky pride (“Bowties are cool”, as are glasses – and he wears a fez!). He does not remember the number. When asked by the War Doctor, he says he “forgot”, to the shock of Ten and War Doctor. Of course, the events of the Special change things up – and the rest of his timeline give him his own melancholia. Then, at last, Twelve is added (and – though I missed actually seeing the ep – the way in which he regenerated from Eleven apparently has interesting implications for continuity beyond him). Twelve (Capaldi) knows the secrets revealed in the 50th. He remembers all the lessons learnt. He is determined to do better, with a touch of humour and gravitas – so he will. That is who Twelve is. Capaldi, as shown in the latest episode, fills that role beautifully.
I’m calling it: this (& its predecessor for continuity) is one of those episodes that will go down as one of the ‘favourite’, ‘marker’ episodes – a cornerstone one that’s on the ‘must-watch’ list.
Who’s with me?