The struggle in terms of the strange

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Jarl
    August 23, 2014 @ 5:56 pm

    Clara thinking Vastra was hitting on her
    "Nothing's more important than my egomania"
    The delivery on "There's something else they're not doing. Breathing."

    I love this episode. I wouldn't say it's as good as any of my favorites, but it's easily something I'd go out of my way to watch again.


  2. Bennett
    August 23, 2014 @ 5:59 pm

    Enjoyable, exciting, humorous and occasionally horrific. Delivered everything it promised with plenty of nice surprises and characteristic thoughtfulness. How would I score it though? The temptation to compare it to The Eleventh Hour and find it wanting is strong but in many ways misled. The Eleventh Hour was all about the new broom making a clean sweep, while this time its just the head that's been replaced. Question is, is it still the same broom?

    Though many of the signifiers of the Smith era remain – the TARDIS, the screwdriver, the gang – it feels like there's a completely different engine under the hood. The pace has most definitely been overhauled – sedate, but never sedentary, with longer scenes prepared to linger in pauses. Whether this will only be true of the feature-length premiere remains to be seen, but it is the kind of refreshing shift that marks a departure from what came before.

    The Clockwork Droids were quite a clever, non-obvious choice of villain for Capaldi's first outing – fitting the need for a simplified opponent the Doctor can shape himself against while also tying into the episode's larger thematic concerns of appearance and disguise. They are useful in stripping the new Doctor down to see what has changed behind the face, because to them skin is only transport. They casually look past a Sontaran in their ranks but one breath from within puts them on high alert.

    The Half-Faced Man also provides an interesting counter-point to the new Doctor – and not just in the way the episode pauses to reflect upon. We have a villain whose mind we can see right through, and a Doctor whose mind we cannot. The critical piece of information the audience needs to suss him out is kept secret from us, even in death.

    There's a lot more anxious to jabber on about – how the Paternoster gang can now function as a strand of normality, how beautifully Clara's domestic life was used to defeat the monsters, the new companion dynamic established in that wonderful cafe scene – but I feel like I've gushed enough at this point. Phil suggested a wider fan reaction of "well-liked, not an insta-classic". But fans have become so jaded to regeneration stories, so quick to deconstruct them into tropes and compare the different ways the change is handled, that they always miss the most important thing.

    There were children whose Doctor died at Christmas, and they need to be reassured that he is still right here – standing in front of them.

    And he is. Welcome back, Dr. Who.


  3. nimonus
    August 23, 2014 @ 7:23 pm

    Any thoughts on the power dynamics and class implications of Vastra / Jenny's relationship, which have become text rather than subtext as of this story?

    Deep Breath made a point, on several occasions to have Jenny question the class and power issues in her relationship with Vastra. They obviously love each other, but it seems there is something a bit off about the way Vastra continues to treat Jenny as a servant, even in private.


  4. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 23, 2014 @ 7:25 pm

    I just assumed they were kinky, frankly.


  5. jane
    August 23, 2014 @ 7:34 pm

    This gives me much food for thought. But considering all the wine-colored beverages I've had to drink tonight, I'm not sure i've actually digested it all. Have to go back, watch it again, and definitely consider the mirrors. And eyes. And veils.

    The veil, especially. There's a kind of Truth — aletheia I calls it — that shows what is true indirectly, not in a literal one-to-one correspondence, but as an uncovering. Not representation, but revelation. And this story is definitely oriented towards the latter.

    And I definitely need to get a handles on what Wheatley was doing.

    More tomorrow.


  6. TheSmilingStallionInn
    August 23, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

    The garden is indeed lovely…


  7. TheSmilingStallionInn
    August 23, 2014 @ 7:57 pm

    'but the in-your-face instagram, facebook, twitter, information overload, has mostly gone'

    BBC America and commercials has somewhat ruined that for me, but within the episode itself, oh yes, it was a nice, fresh bit of air.


  8. TheSmilingStallionInn
    August 23, 2014 @ 8:02 pm

    Oh yes, I loved those bits where the cyborg controller is thinking and you can see the ticking of his brain…

    Personally, the question to me is: Who lied?


  9. nimonus
    August 23, 2014 @ 8:04 pm

    But Jenny objected to the dynamic, twice in the course of this episode.


  10. TheSmilingStallionInn
    August 23, 2014 @ 8:23 pm

    There's a thread about size. The dinosaur really pops out at you from the beginning with how large it is, but then later, it seems to shrink in size, trapped in the heart of London, alone, and then dying in the flames. When the Doctor gets out of the TARDIS and confronts Strax with the name of Disney's Seven Dwarves, Clara is exactly 5'1" and she is about the same height as Strax, when the Doctor remarks how big Handles has gotten, and when the clockwork leader (I almost wrote Cyber-controller) is overlooking London, it's small from above compared to how big it is below. Mismatched hands, one is larger than the other.

    Missy's garden is definitely a shout-out to the console room in my opinion with the fountain, a more organic, earthly version of the TARDIS and she co-opts the Doctor as her boyfriend in a manner more outrageous than River Song did, or playing up that angle a bit.

    The flames with the burning dinosaur over the water and the Doctor diving down into the Thames, vanishing into London's underworld. I don't know if you can make anything out of the Doctor's eyebrows wanting to secede and form their own country, but that could tie into his Scottish identity as a Time Lord. He is a Scottish Time Lord in some aspects.

    Smells. The Doctor's tramp coat stank versus him smelling that bouquet of flowers, trying to remember Madame du Pompadour, and then forgetting about her. The visual tinges to Clara's vision as she begins to pass out from lack of oxygen, and how the juxtaposition of her failure as a teacher on her first day, leading up to her potential downfall at the hands/torches of these droids, leads to her taking a stand against the droid leader and exposing his heavy threat as the fallacy/bluff that it was by calling him out on it. She attempted to overcome her emotional, fearful side and play to his logical strength by arguing for a less heavy approach that would give her the opportunity she (and the Doctor) needed to find out more.

    The Doctor literally took on the mask of a dead man when he disguised himself as a droid. And there is probably a lot of symbolic strength in the kiss between Vastra and Jenny and one of the first professions of true love that they had blatantly stated…oh, I don't know, I maybe wrong there. The untwining silk dance (I don't know what that acrobatic movement is called) was also an interesting entrance into the underground lair. Strax has the ability to see too deeply into a person with his diagnostic sonic screwdriver, yet he cannot comprehend the surface details of a person, if that is their hair or a hat.

    Jenny's pose as an artistic muse had some classical style to it. And the mechanical movements of the rich people/droids dining in that fancy restaurant, all of them standing up at once and moving towards the Doctor and Clara as they try to leave, operating in an efficient coordinated manner, like a dance. I seemed to notice quite a few busts and statues here and there, the opulence and style of Vastra's lifestyle juxtaposed with the poor and even middle-class of Victorian London.


  11. TheSmilingStallionInn
    August 23, 2014 @ 8:35 pm

    And I just had a thought that the Scottish Time Lord said, "Amy could have done it better" when they were struggling with the sonic screwdriver. They mentioned that woman in the shop who gave Clara the Doctor's phone number in The Bells of St. John…definitely going to be a mystery here. Now I'm wondering if Missy will turn out to be that woman.

    The Doctor's reflection, of course, he doesn't know where the face came from, and showing the droid leader's face to him. Droid leader had a throne of sorts in his underground chamber, a kingdom of sleeping knights/guards underneath the hill like in the old folk tales. They mentioned Parliament Hill.

    Now in this episode, they did not call Paradise 'heaven', but the Christian symbolism was apparent in some areas, 'the promised land' and the droid-leader was pierced upon the cross on top of Big Ben. Big Ben…size! The clock tower is big, as big as the dinosaur was, and Jenny did remark that T. Rex surely wasn't that big. She's seen the bones, Vastra disagrees, but maybe Jenny is right here to a certain degree. Did something enlarge that T. Rex?

    And of course, female dinosaur carrying the female TARDIS inside of her, the policeman called it an egg. Even though the biology is wrong, it might have been an egg for the future generations of constables that will call for assistance or house prisoners inside similar police boxes, and the TARDIS itself has been a heavy source of feminine symbolism for years now.


  12. Sean Case
    August 23, 2014 @ 9:41 pm

    Of course, on a purely superficial level, Amy had much longer legs…


  13. Nick Smale
    August 23, 2014 @ 10:53 pm

    Seems like the leading theory on Missy is a female Master.

    "Missy" = "Mistress"? Seems possible…


  14. dm
    August 23, 2014 @ 11:17 pm

    It was sickening to see Clara shamed for the possibility that she might have been sexually attracted to the Doctor as a pretty boy, only to counter that it's okay, actually, because she's always been more into older men. What a disgusting piece of writing, what obvious fuel for the STFU Moffatt crowd. And it wasn't the only time in the episode that Moffatt directly addressed and shamed a section of fandom that was largely invented by worried, pathetically sexist, virginal fanboys anyway. Almost everything I liked about the episode (brilliant performances, the slower pace and the more low-key use of incidental music in the first half come to mind) was tainted by these scenes and that title sequence.


  15. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 23, 2014 @ 11:19 pm

    I don't think the point of the Marcus Aurelius bit was that she's attracted to older men… I mean, on the whole, I think the suggestion was that Clara isn't attracted to Peter Capaldi in the same way that she was to Matt Smith. So I'm not really sure what you mean.


  16. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 23, 2014 @ 11:20 pm

    It seemed very much like banter to me, though, as opposed to like a sincere objection to her treatment. Honestly, the "pretty good pretense" bits were the parts that felt most like the lifestyle BDSM couples I know.


  17. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 23, 2014 @ 11:23 pm

    I agree, tentatively, but I think there are also things the episode does that very much come from the ultra fast pace that was developed over late S6/S7. The handling of the cyborg's death, in particular, felt like something that came out of the experiments with pacing the series had previously done. Similarly, the way in which the Doctor's pseudo-abandonment of Clara plays out felt to me like a consequence of S7.


  18. dm
    August 23, 2014 @ 11:28 pm

    Hmmm. I've watched it twice and the implication seems to be that Vastra is annoyed with Clara for abandoning the Doctor as she no longer has the hots for him, and Clara reassuring her that she never did, as if she needed to defend the point in the first place. I may have misread the Aurelius bit but the shaming of Clara for her potential sexuality is pretty overt.


  19. dm
    August 23, 2014 @ 11:33 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  20. dm
    August 23, 2014 @ 11:37 pm

    There is a reading that places Vastra as the voice of those fanboys, for making assumptions about the sexual attractions of others based on her own predilection for young, pretty women, but I don't buy it.

    I'm usually opposed to Work For the Dole schemes, but if Moffatt wants to continue to receive Benefit of the Doubt, he needs to work a little harder to prove that he's even trying.


  21. Tony Macklin
    August 24, 2014 @ 12:09 am

    Just a quick thought on the new theme music. It felt like a real tipping of the hat to Joe Meek and, given that in Meek we have a gay man deeply influenced by the space race and futurism, there seems to be a tacit nod to a whole section of fandom. In Stuart Maconie's excellent series, The Peoples Songs, on BBC radio 2 he makes the assertion that both Meek's work and Dr Who are rooted in the same fertile soil of early 60's ideas concerning technology and the future. It may just be a happy accident, but if it isn't, then it's a great nod.


  22. Nick Smale
    August 24, 2014 @ 12:19 am

    I'm hearing many bell sounds in the arrangement, which feels appropriate given the clock visuals.


  23. Tony Macklin
    August 24, 2014 @ 12:57 am

    I can hear a lot of vibrato, underneath the chiming bells, that is very Telstar, particularly as you get towards the end of the titles.


  24. Daibhid C
    August 24, 2014 @ 1:35 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  25. J Mairs
    August 24, 2014 @ 1:44 am

    I prefer "Missy" = "Mistakes"

    I think she's Death. She has a line: "I like his new accent, I think I'll keep it". I think, like the Half-Faced Man, she wears a form assembled from the iconography of the recently deceased. In this instance, as a purple Mary Poppins, she's "dressed" as the Eleventh Doctor.

    The Doctor has cheating his final death in Time of the Doctor.


  26. Alex
    August 24, 2014 @ 2:08 am

    I did enjoy the mild re-invention of Madame Vastra as something of a lech.

    "Ah, Clara, excellent. Just pop your clothes over the chair."


  27. Anton B
    August 24, 2014 @ 2:14 am

    Thank you Phil. An excellent, thoughtful and characteristically incisive review. Your, presumably pre-planned, decision to come at the episode from a particular angle (the timing of sunset) really paid off. That a was canny choice considering there was no way issues of age and regeneration (the setting and rising of the sun) wouldn't be directly and obliquely adressed in the narrative. I wonder if sun imagery will be a theme for Capaldi as moon imagery was for Smith.

    I really like the new title sequence. Its 'spiralling through clockwork' imagery seems to shift the emphasis to the temporal as opposed to the spatial dynamic of the old cosmic vortex. I wonder if this signals a more past/future dynamic to the Doctor's travels. The music is a huge improvement. Replacing the bombast with eerie vibrato. Almost a call back to the Delia Derbyshire/Ron Grainer original.

    Capaldi was everything we expected but Jenna Coleman was a revelation. She'd showed us her talent in Asylum and then got sidelined by overly complicated story arcs and less than adequate characterisation from the writers. Here she was allowed to shine and she did. Plenty of praise also for Neve Cambell and Catrin Stewart. Every appearance by Vastra and Jenny reveals more about their relationship. It can't be an easy thing, writing a credible interspecies gay relationship for a pre-watershed audience. All praise to Moffat here for some deep and affecting writing here. The 'veil' speech being particularly deserving of a close reading.

    The themes of body horror particularly the face-swapping, skin-hopping, parts-stealing clockwork droids more than served their purpose of mirroring the regeneration trauma of this new/old Doctor who hits the ground running with complaints about the colour of his kidneys and awareness of his own crotchetyness while hurling body judgemental insults at everyone in his sights.

    The dinosaur in the room of course was the dinosaur in the room. Another metaphor for Doctor Who, this time for the show itself. An anachronisticly displaced anomaly which should be extinct floundering around London or a vibrant spectacle fascinating the masses while confounding the authorities? I did wonder how the populace of Victorian London were reassured though. They're not going to explain this away with Derren Brown. (Which only served to lampshade the poor creatures metaphorical purpose). However, am I the only person wishing for a giant T-Rex/Cyberking fight of the (19th) Century?

    So if the Doctor's Scottish now does that make him a Time Laird?

    Then a series arc coda with Michelle Gomez bringing her unique physical acting style* to the part of the Gatekeeper.
    My only regret is purely personal. Missy is the name of a character in a chidrens novel I'm writing. Gomez's performance here has forever tainted that name now but I must forgive her because she's brilliant.
    *Check out her frankly weird performances in Green Wing. (Brit hospital sit-com, a kind of more surreal Scrubs)
    Finally, Do we think think the Matt Smith cameo was necessary? Clearly its purpose was to reassure younger viewers as much as Clara that this funny old man was still the Doctor but I felt it rather undermined Capaldi. No other actor has needed the affirmation of the previous incarnation in their debut episode. I couldn't help but read this scene as a crisis of confidence by Moffat.


  28. Sean Case
    August 24, 2014 @ 3:28 am

    The poor forgotten model posing uncomfortably and/or nude while the artist works on something unrelated is a very old gag.

    In this timeline, did Madame Vastra invent the conspiracy wall?


  29. Aylwin
    August 24, 2014 @ 3:33 am

    Never mind the Doctor – after the ho-humness of most of season 7, I'm immensely reassured that he really is still the same Steven Moffat. Oodles of stuff going on, which with the dopey brain I am currently fitted with is too much put into coherent order, at least without another viewing, more thought and probably quite a bit more sleep. Anyway, I'm excited. More please.


  30. AuntyJack
    August 24, 2014 @ 3:36 am

    It's the Rani and the garden is her console room, maybe?
    The line about her 'boyfriend' does lean towards Iris, though.


  31. Aylwin
    August 24, 2014 @ 3:54 am

    I think it's being made more obvious…well, probably partly because Moffat can't help himself, and the more allusions you make to something the less discreet they are liable to become. But more significantly it seems partly meant to flag up a kind of (ostensibly non-sexual) power-play thing between Clara and the Doctor, with the coffee stuff in the final scene calling back to the tea business. When someone like Moffat writes someone like Vastra saying something like "Give him hell – he'll always need it", there's got to be something going on.

    The idea that one thing the Doctor needs companions for is in some way to stop him getting out of hand has been explicit since at least The Runaway Bride. Moffat's predilections give him an inclination to develop that notion of keeping a check on the Doctor in a particular direction. Enter the governess.


  32. Aylwin
    August 24, 2014 @ 4:00 am

    A question for visitors better able to keep track of things than me: is the juxtaposition of "heaven" at the end of the episode and "hell" at the start of the teaser for next week the first time the series has played that particular kind of game, or have we seen this before?


  33. The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca
    August 24, 2014 @ 4:04 am

    I'm going to disagree and say that the direction here was really, really bad in places. The scene on the bridge, the roof-run/pratfall into the tree, the chase with the horse, and finally the attack in the spaceship – every time the action kicked up, the visuals fell flat, either looking totally artificial (as Capaldi does every time it goes to a closeup of him on a 'horse'), or stops being comprehensible, as it does in the spaceship. That latter scnenes problem is, I think, too many characters int too small a space: the camera has nowhere to go to capture scale, so it just runs into people and makes a mess of it. I liked the episode, and loved the second half, but the direction was rubbish.


  34. xen trilus
    August 24, 2014 @ 4:30 am

    I don't think it was about undermining Capaldi. Capaldi had the job of assuring everybody he would do a fantastic job as the 12th Doctor, which he did, entirely on his own (not that we even needed much convincing to begin with). Which is all very well and good for us, but doesn't necessarily extend to the relationship between him and Clara.

    With 12th by nature being a more emotionally closed off incarnation, 11th's phone call offered a way of communicating to Clara the vulnerability and fear 12th was feeling but would never admit to.


  35. jane
    August 24, 2014 @ 4:32 am

    Clara's first day of school, and on the white board she's got "Metaphor."


  36. jane
    August 24, 2014 @ 4:45 am

    The repeated use of "the Other" was very interesting.


  37. Anton B
    August 24, 2014 @ 4:57 am

    I don't believe I suggested that it was 'about' undermining Capaldi. Even Moffat wouldn't be perverse enough to deliberately sabotage his new lead actor in his debut appearance. It's clear what the reasons for the scene were. I just didn't think it necessary or effective.


  38. Aylwin
    August 24, 2014 @ 4:59 am

    I agree with both comments, though I'm one of those literalists who don't think that a beautiful metatextual superstructure justifies the construction of a text that fails to make sense at ground level, even in an epsiode as much concerned with addressing the audience over the heads of the characters as this one (apart from anything else, if the bottom storey is structurally weak…). It's hard to imagine the Clara who discerned how much younger than the other two the War Doctor was freaking out like that.

    Given that Clara has (with some justice) been described as functioning as a generic companion with little distinctive characterisation, it's ironic that the story gets into trouble here because she is required to do a generic companion task, questioning and then accepting the continuity of a new Doctor on behalf of the audience, in a way that conspicuously conflicts with her own established personanlity.

    Of course, we are given much better reasons for doubt later on. The abandonment scene remains troubling, perhaps more so than it was meant to. After all, he had no way of knowing that they would not simply kill her if they caught her, and leaving without a hint of reassurance was distinctly callous, whether out of indifference or calculation. I remain uncertain whether this was meant to leave us with genuine qualms about him or whether it was meant simply to raise doubts and then quell them, in which case it did a rather poor job.


  39. Anton B
    August 24, 2014 @ 5:04 am

    I forgave the 'horse' but I agree the fight scene was cramped and clumsily directed. Could it have perhaps been a second unit director on this scene not Wheatley? Seems unlikely. The problem should have been spotted in the edit actually so I'm laying the blame on post production.


  40. Anton B
    August 24, 2014 @ 5:12 am

    I thought Clara's flashback scene was very effective. This was Moffat using his teaching experience to provide a moment of truth to the script As a sometime supply teacher I could totally empathise, for me it was one of the scariest moments in the episode. She's right. Never open with your ultimate sanction.

    On a related note was this actually the first use of a secondary character illustrative flashback sequence in Doctor Who since Ian and Barbara discussing Susan in An Unearthly Child? If so it's nice that both take place in Coal Hill school.


  41. Aylwin
    August 24, 2014 @ 5:27 am

    Indeed. One bit of comment I saw previously, before hastily averting my unspoilt eyes, said that the episode indicates that all the "darker Doctor" speculation was overblown. Hardly! The climax (and the restatement of its anbiguity in the epilogue, for anyone who missed the point) loudly proclaims the heavily-trailed "am I good man?" issue as The Big Question for the series – with even a Significant Look right at the audience to hammer it home! (That's not really snow, it's the tiny fragments of the Fourth Wall finally returning to the ground.)


  42. Ozy Jones
    August 24, 2014 @ 5:35 am

    Strangely enough, though I enjoyed the 'timey-wimey' (hasn't that expression gotten old) aspect of the call, and the chance to see Matt one more time, I did think it was unnecessary.

    However, I was at the cinema with my 5 year old, watching Deep Breath and then the MS cameo was over, he finally got it and burst out, to the actual delight of those seated around us, "It's the same Doctor! He just looks old now!"… so maybe we older fans forget just how new this concept is to the real new, newbies.


  43. You Know Who...
    August 24, 2014 @ 5:48 am

    I think you're all misreading the teaching dream sequence. I don't think it's a literal representation of her first day. It's a teacher dream. I'm a teacher, and I've had many of those before.


  44. Ozy Jones
    August 24, 2014 @ 5:49 am

    A refining, or evolution of the previous techniques, then? A new director to Doctor Who as well, of course, so perhaps cherry picking what worked from before and heading in a new direction.


  45. evilsoup
    August 24, 2014 @ 5:56 am

    Yeah, it was great to see Moffat back on form. I haven't enjoyed an episode this much since… I think the first Silent two-parter. I hope they stick with this pace for a while — I could see the Capaldi Doctor being the one to finally match and improve on the Eccleston Doctor, if they build upwards from here.


  46. Aylwin
    August 24, 2014 @ 6:01 am

    Incidentally, it's interesting that (as far as I know) commentary on Vastra and Jenny in terms of diversity representation has focused overwhelmingly on them as a gay couple, of a sort said to be exceptional in the Moffat era (as, in Doctor Who, it was in the Davies era, though the anti-Moffat polemics tend to skate over that). But attempting to present, even by allusion, a BDSM relationship, as opposed to just titillating/comic/sinister references to or portrayals of kinky goings-on, is surely very unusual in TV as a whole, let alone teatime family sci-fi. I don't know how much kinkiness figures in the MSP agenda, given the limited social impact of what people do behind closed doors, as opposed to who they do it with, but depending on how things go on from here it could be worth future consideration, especially given its recurrence in Moffat's work generally and its relationship with the vexed Moffat-and-feminism business.

    Less high-mindedly, am I a shallow person for finding "That's more like it!" funny?


  47. Aylwin
    August 24, 2014 @ 6:14 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  48. Aylwin
    August 24, 2014 @ 6:17 am

    Surprised not to see any comment on the "vanity trap" stuff about puzzles, given its extreme pertinence to the coverage of the Moffat era in the Eruditorium. It's another bit of Moffat directly addressing the audience, and not one I particularly like.

    The stern admonitions in the payoff of the Clara "mystery" could be read as a mea culpa on Moffat's part, especially given the author-insert tendencies of his Doctor and the wider patterns in the arcs of his author-insert characters which our host has talked about. At this point I'm finding it rather harder not to start seeing it as Phil does, as supercilious "Hah! Made you look! Proud of yourself, are you?" finger-wagging at the audience, which is an unlovely look on any writer and seems simply perverse in the one who introduced the whole twisty-turny puzzly-wuzzly approach to Doctor Who in the first place


  49. Bennett
    August 24, 2014 @ 6:57 am

    "I think you're all misreading the teaching dream sequence. …"

    I think that scene is presented as 'literally' as the scenes it is juxtaposed against. Heightened and coloured by Clara's emotional state, sure, but definitely a "here's something she learned from teaching" moment and not "here's something she learned from…a dream…about teaching".

    (Plus…well, if you like ambiguity in your Doctor Who look away now, but the scene direction given in the leaked script reads "INT. COAL HILL SCHOOL – CLASSROOM – FLASHBACK – DAY")


  50. elvwood
    August 24, 2014 @ 7:36 am

    Aylwin, I have no doubt we are meant to be unsure of the "safety" of this new Doctor. This and the "did he jump or was he pushed" bit work hand in hand, one directed at his friends and one at his enemies, both ambiguous.

    As for Clara's attitude, I spotted the metatext for once (I'm usually fairly oblivious on first viewing) but didn't think it was too far outside the realms of possibility for her characterisation. There's a difference between seeing (and getting on with) visiting past Doctors and having your best friend replaced by a new person. If he had regenerated into the War Doctor her reaction should have been more like this. It's a bit of a "meeting your groom's best man at the wedding" vs. "marrying the best man because the groom died" sort of thing (pardon my patriarchy, it's the first analogy that came to mind – I'll go wash my mouth out later).


  51. nimonus
    August 24, 2014 @ 7:42 am

    Interesting. Perhaps it is my unfamiliarity with BDSM as a lifestyle which made me immediately think "classism" and "awkward power dynamic," which I am much more conversant with.


  52. BerserkRL
    August 24, 2014 @ 7:51 am

    The skin balloon sailing past the top of St. Paul's was reminiscent of the opening chapter of G. K. (not Ian) Chesterton's The Ball and the Cross — as is the robot leader's fate, though the ball-and-cross he ends up on is that of Big Ben rather than St. Paul's.

    Re Amy: yes, I assumed the reference was to Amy's having longer legs.

    Re Clara's flashback-or-dream: the particular student who defies her is referenced again in later scripts so I do think it's a flashback.


  53. elvwood
    August 24, 2014 @ 7:51 am

    I have to agree regarding the action scenes – particularly the fight scene – but on the other hand I thought the creepy stuff when Clara was alone with the robots was lovely. And, in fact, most of the quieter shots focusing on one or two people, such as the Doctor in the alley or with Clara in modern times. So one thumb up, one down for the direction from me.


  54. Alan
    August 24, 2014 @ 7:54 am

    [Capaldi's performance] seems to draw more on Peter Cushing than anyone else

    If I'd been drinking, I'd have done a spit take there. I watched this with a friend who was not a hard-core Whovian and who had never even heard of the Cushing DW films, and he made the idle comment at one point that Capaldi reminded him of Peter Cushing.


  55. Alan
    August 24, 2014 @ 7:58 am

    He was outright mean to everyone but Rose. He was quite kind to Nancy and the other kids, and surprisingly kind to the young married couple in "Father's Day." I think Nine reserved his meanness to antagonists, which he broadened from the actual villains to include anyone who got in his way or challenged his authority, including the mother of his 19-year-old companion.


  56. Alan
    August 24, 2014 @ 8:01 am

    My only major objection to Murray Gold at the moment is "Clara's Theme," which I find incredibly schmaltzy compare to the prior companion themes.


  57. Bennett
    August 24, 2014 @ 8:01 am

    BerserkRL – I hate to have to be the spoiler police, but would you mind deleting and resubmitting your comment without the mention of "later scripts"? I appreciate that you haven't given much away, but I'm sure many readers of this blog are still trying to avoid any hints about their content. Dangerous thing, foreknowledge.


  58. BerserkRL
    August 24, 2014 @ 8:05 am

    Could she be the Valeyard?


  59. nimonus
    August 24, 2014 @ 8:08 am

    "I'm finding it rather harder not to start seeing it as Phil does, as supercilious "Hah! Made you look! Proud of yourself, are you?" finger-wagging at the audience, which is an unlovely look on any writer and seems simply perverse in the one who introduced the whole twisty-turny puzzly-wuzzly approach to Doctor Who in the first place"

    I think you've rather missed the point of Dr. Sandifer's analysis. I'm sure he can speak for himself, but as I've understood his reading of "narrative substitution" in the Moffatt era, it has nothing to do with showing how clever he is, and everything to do with making the audience question the kind of stories we tell as a culture: "That rape-revenge male power fantasy you've been enjoying, not only in this show but in virtually all action-adventure media? Think for just a minute about what that means. Isn't it kind of deeply problematic? Here, this is a much better story instead."

    And ultimately, that is a perfect expression of Alchemy as Material Social Progress, because the stories we tell and enjoy reflect who we are and who we want to be. Prompting the audience to re-think that is a very worthwhile goal, regardless of how many people who wanted the rape-revenge fantasy to play out feel "cheated" in the end.


  60. Alan
    August 24, 2014 @ 8:09 am

    There were too additional factors that, to me, explained her initial reaction. (1) She had apparently assumed that each regeneration started the Doctor off "young" again and he would age over time (not an unreasonable theory given her experience with Eleven), and so she was concerned that an "older Doctor" meant something had gone wrong. This was exacerbated by (2) the fact that Twelve had no idea who she was to the point of thinking that she was a severed Cyberman head that had let itself go. I'm sure on some level that she was afraid that her Doctor was gone, and she was faced with the prospect of developing a new relationship with this strange mad man who might well abandon her in Victorian London and who, in fact, did so twice in the course of the story.


  61. Aylwin
    August 24, 2014 @ 8:17 am

    @elvwood – The scene between them at the Tower does go rather further than meeting or getting on with him though. The insight which she displays into the ongoing person beneath the changing exterior suggests that she has taken the nature of regeneration on board at a level too deep for what we see here to really work for me. But YUMMY!, as they say in these parts.


  62. Adam Riggio
    August 24, 2014 @ 8:26 am

    I really think you've misunderstood that scene, if you think they're only talking about sex. Vastra thinks Clara's attitude to the Doctor is only about sex; that Clara's doubting her relationship with the Doctor simply because she isn't attractive to her anymore. Clara's response isn't, "How dare you think I'm not attracted to him!" It's "How dare you think sex is all I care about?" A sexualized image of an older male would have been Pierce Brosnan or Idris Elba. Marcus Aurelius is a sign that she's a thinker, deeper than Vastra seems to think she is.


  63. Anton B
    August 24, 2014 @ 8:29 am

    Yeah, I spose. I liked Twelvey's reaction too –
    'I wasn't listening in that was me talking to you!'


  64. Turnip
    August 24, 2014 @ 8:57 am

    Was the "other murders" line definitely meant as just a joke? This episode has a few instances of the Doctor treating animals as people and of people being treated in ways that animals are, and I wondered if this suggested that Capaldi!Doctor is going to have a sense of morality that's much less centred on humans than in the past. I also thought the Doctor and Vastra's attitudes to humanity had the effect of further increasing Clara's alienation, and had the neat effect of making Victorian London – notionally the most familiar place the show could go – seem extremely strange and unsettling, as even here humanity is not quite in control.

    I was a huge fan of this episode, as is probably clear from the above. One thing I'd be interested in hearing is the Woman's perspective on the episode as an allegory about caring: as someone who's been a carer, I found Clara's situation a punch in the gut. The episode is so good at exploring the grief one feels as a loved one's personality changes while remembering to say that this grief is never more important than the person being cared for that I found it very affecting indeed, and I'd like to know if she felt that this was a supportable reading.


  65. Alan
    August 24, 2014 @ 9:14 am

    Two other factors at play here. (1) Vastra is something of an Unreliable Interrogator here, deliberately asking questions not in order to obtain information but to provoke an emotional response. I felt as though she wasn't trying to get Clara to admit to a sexual attraction so much as forcing Clara to confront and articulate exactly what the nature of her relationship with the Doctor was. (2) Also, I get the feeling from this scene and from the conference call scene in Name of the Doctor that Vastra honestly doesn't like Clara that much. And I wonder if it's because she's judging Clara in relation to the other Clara that Vastra knew, the one from The Snowmen who, frankly, was a much more interesting character than Clara-Prime was for most of Season 7b.


  66. Alan
    August 24, 2014 @ 9:17 am

    My thoughts after an hour of brainstorming:
    1. The Master as a female.
    2. The Rani.
    3. An evil manifestation of the TARDIS.
    4. The Black Guardian.
    5. An evil future incarnation of Clara (who was accused repeatedly of viewing the Doctor as her boyfriend)
    6. Something I haven't thought of yet.


  67. Aylwin
    August 24, 2014 @ 9:24 am

    I was thinking more specifically of the narrative-substitution reading applied to Name and Time, including the latter's dismissively cursory tying-up of the loose ends of Moffat's long-running plots and mysteries as part of a message that you shouldn't get hung up on such things when it's people that matter, hence implicitly criticising anyone who minds not getting a more satisfying pay-off of the things that Moffat set up at length and encouraged people to care about.

    I have other problems with the interpretation of AGMGTW, as I said at the time, but if the interpretation is valid then what Moffat is doing amounts to a subversion of an ancient and widespread cultural archetype. For him to go beyond self-critique and include the audience in his field of fire when applying such subversion to a more rarefied type of storytelling of which he has been one of the most conspicuous recent exponents is a rather different proposition.


  68. Josh04
    August 24, 2014 @ 9:32 am

    Gorgeous first episode, high hopes for Capaldi.

    The tone was inconsistent because the nature of the show changed over the course of the episode; in the absence of the Matt Smith Doctor, the show sticks to the viewpoint of Clara, and the first 30 minutes of the episode is the story of what Clara does now she's no longer a companion. The Doctor doesn't recognise her from Strax, and he's off having his own adventure down an alley with a tramp for a companion. Clara has to tag along with Vastra et al as they do their generic episode secondary-cast schtick but as the main plot – they even get their own secondary cast (the bumbling policemen) to play against. It's amusing and kinda plays out like an alternate-universe Sherlock but it is pointedly not Doctor Who. Why does the show linger on Strax examining Clara with his sonic-health-screwdriver? So that the absence of the Doctor, who we're shown just enough of to know that he's off Actually Doing Things, creates so much pressure that when Clara meets the Doctor again in the restaurant and they re-companion-up, the anticipation of Doctor Who things happening is great enough that Capaldi and the show just sink straight into the role, completely unlike the sequence from Capaldi leaving the bedroom through to him jumping into the river. There, neither Capaldi nor the show feel like Doctor Who. But as you can tell from all the reactions in the thread which say exactly this, once they're in the restaurant, it's almost effortless.

    The plot, the sequel to Girl in the Fireplace, isn't the story of the episode and that's why the script makes light of it; the tension isn't between the robots winning and killing the cast vs the cast winning and killing the robots. It's whether or not the story is a Paternoster Gang story where they ninja-fight the robots to death and then laugh with the confused policemen or whether it's something ultimately more interesting – a Doctor Who story. The episode only works at all because you can see exactly how the episode ought to be resolved at different points. This is hammered home by the way the episode completely flips off any normal resolution for the Doctor/Robot dude scene – if this were, say, a Disney film, they'd struggle and the robot's hubris would result in it slipping and falling. Or else the Doctor would push the robot but feel bad about it. Either way, the resolution is the robot embarking on the fall. Here:


  69. Josh04
    August 24, 2014 @ 9:33 am

    We don't see what happened, we don't see the robot fall, we see instead two bits we're not meant to see at all. The antagonist, dead, with shit-all to distract us and the protagonist, looking at us from the camera, almost daring us to complain. But not in a cheap, grim-dark way where we now have an angry Malcolm Tucker Doctor who's going to have no feelings and be aloof and the year is 1974 again. In a way where the Doctor has compassion even when he's realising things can't be resolved without the person he's talking to dying. And where the Doctor recognises that his youthful appearance was a cheap way of having his companions do the work of building his relationships with them.

    And in amongst all this the episode has a series of lengthy ruminations on the many ways in which a person can change and be perceived. Vastra is rightly angry at Clara when she thinks that Clara is treating the Doctor differently because she sees him differently. Vastra, whose existence as a lesbian is so ignored by Victorian society that it physically manifests itself as a veil, would be a bit touchy about rejecting people after learning facts about who they are, yeah. The Doctor is scared by who his reflection is, pulls the face from a man to reveal a robot, wears a face to disguise himself as a robot, and finally looks at his own reflection as he asks a broken-faced robot if any of the original parts still remain. I mean, this is GCSE-level list the things that were the same but the episode was just packed.

    So yeah, I think a lot of people are missing the forest for the trees. An episode all about the value of Doctor Who and the Doctor as opposed to any other series, which clearly did it's job because the general response has been that Capaldi was good but the rest of the episode was weak, which amounts to saying Doctor Who is good but the rest of television is weak.


  70. Josh04
    August 24, 2014 @ 9:38 am

    This is my post from Something Awful copied over here : – My line of thinking has been strongly influenced by Dr. Sandifer, so much credit to him.


  71. Nyq Only
    August 24, 2014 @ 10:11 am

    Well I'm guessing she is a robot/cyborg thing of some kind as that seems to be a theme of this series. OK Daleks and Cybermen turning up doesn't need much of a pretext but Deep Breath was the return of the clockwork spaceship repair psychos and we know there are more robots coming in the Robin Hood episode.


  72. jane
    August 24, 2014 @ 10:19 am

    "Why does the show linger on Strax examining Clara with his sonic-health-screwdriver?"

    The imagery is strong enough, though, to consider it a thematic highlight. First we have Clara's eyes made distinct from each other, in a Half-Face sort of way. Then Strax puts the light over her third eye, and references her subconscious — casting the symbolism in a Jungian sort of light. Then her chest, but we don't see her heart — no, it's all bones and emptiness.

    Curious, too, is that all this transpires behind a bucket of water. Water, the still mirror, but this water's been muddied with mopping (hmm, brooms) and Strax bathing. And doesn't Strax's examination rather put him in the Doctor's role?


  73. Andrew
    August 24, 2014 @ 10:32 am

    "Why does the show linger on Strax examining Clara with his sonic-health-screwdriver?"

    That, plus it was created by a Blue Peter competition winner. So there was an olligation to spend time doing something with it.


  74. Josh04
    August 24, 2014 @ 10:43 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  75. Josh04
    August 24, 2014 @ 10:45 am

    @jane the whole section serves, I think, as a Doctor Who-like show built from spare parts – Strax has a screwdriver and a medical inclination, Vastra has a companion and an ornate secret plan, Clara is disjointed in time and (as proposed in the main review above) has just been regenerated. So, broken reflections aplenty.

    @Andrew the hat pin and gauntlet get comparatively short shrift, though!


  76. Harrison Cooper
    August 24, 2014 @ 10:46 am

    To me, it seemed that the veil scene had a lot of interesting things to say about Jenny and Vastra as a couple. Vastra says that she wears the veil in public, not out of fear of being judged, but rather as an act of judgement against the people of Victorian London for being unable to see past it. This is obviously meant to be read in terms of the Doctor's new face. (Especially his later pleading that Clara "see him.") But I think it is also really interesting as a commentary on homosexuality and being "in the closet." Instead of making it about a fear of being outed, it turns everything on its head, becoming a dismissal of a society that would reject someone for their sexual preferences or reptilian-ness.


  77. Harrison Cooper
    August 24, 2014 @ 11:06 am

    I definitely got an animal rights vibe off of this episode. For one thing, the Doctor was the only character to treat the tyrannosaur as an animal and not a monster. In fact, the thing that seems to call him back to himself is his desire to help her get back home. His anger over her murder is another moment of respect that others are confused by.

    The other bit comes in the basement of the restaurant, when The Doctor points out that all restaurants are built on slaughterhouses and "last I checked you weren't a vegetarian." This didn't come off as a condemnation of eating meat so much as pointing out that it is important to remember where meat comes from.

    I found that very interesting and am curious to see if it is followed up on later in the series.


  78. nimonus
    August 24, 2014 @ 11:21 am

    I still think that implicating the audience is precisely the point, and it is a valuable thing to do. Encouraging self-reflection and self-critique is one of the most important functions of art. Setting a trap for the audience to set that up seems a perfectly legitimate tactic to achieve that, IMO.

    WRT Time and Name, our host has already explained the problems with "epic" storytelling (which, I would argue is not in any way "rarified" nor something particular to Moffat, in popular culture) and the way Moffat circumvented them with the story of the man who, knowing he is facing his own death, keeps doing what he always did, trying to save one more life in Time of the Doctor. We haven't gotten to Name of the Doctor yet, but extrapolating from what Phil has said in the comments of his Time essay in dialog with others such as Jane and Ursula about the character, it seems likely that this is another case of narrative substitution, with the trope of the Manic Pixie Dreamgirl, the bubbly woman who brings the brooding male hero back to vitality, but who exists as a mystery rather than as a genuine human being in her own right, being interrogated and found wanting. Treating Clara as a "mystery" rather than a character was a mistake on the Doctor's part, and it is a mistake we were all encouraged to make, precisely so that we could come to recognize it as a mistake. It a ritual deconstruction of the mythic narratives of our culture (which again, are NOT somehow unique to Moffat, so long as your frame of reference is broader than Doctor Who).


  79. prandeamus
    August 24, 2014 @ 11:40 am

    A little late to the party, but my tablet ate my previous attempt at a comment…

    Marcus Aurelius. Contrast Amy's out of the blue announcement that she loves sexy Romans, with Clara's almost-from-the-blue devotion to Marcus Aurielus. I believe MA had a shout out in the anniversary special, but otherwise this is the first reference (correct me if not correct).

    At the risk of gross oversimplification, is an attraction to Stoic Philosophy at odds with being a control freak? One represents acceptance of the way the world is, and steering a noble path through through it. The other is a worldview that perpetually seeks to micromanage others. I'd be interested to hear thoughts on this.


  80. Alex
    August 24, 2014 @ 11:44 am

    "The other bit comes in the basement of the restaurant, when The Doctor points out that all restaurants are built on slaughterhouses and "last I checked you weren't a vegetarian." This didn't come off as a condemnation of eating meat so much as pointing out that it is important to remember where meat comes from."

    He also asks the robot waiter about the availability of sausages – and who wants to know how those are made..?


  81. liminal fruitbat
    August 24, 2014 @ 12:18 pm

    Clara being a Stoic would require her to control herself, though, and since she's never really demonstrated any signs of control freakishness that I can recall, it's a not unsatisfactory way to explain that alleged character trait.


  82. prandeamus
    August 24, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

    Yeah. When has she been a control freak?


  83. Ed Azad
    August 24, 2014 @ 12:39 pm

    Occam's razor. A younger Madame Kovarian.


  84. Iain Coleman
    August 24, 2014 @ 12:44 pm

    And then, of course, there's the Scottish Agenda.

    On 18 September, the people of Scotland will vote on whether or not Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom. If they vote for separation (and all the opinion polls show a majority for remaining in the UK), this will be the most significant event in British politics since the Second World War.

    The Scots have an ambiguous relationship with Britishness. The Union of England and Scotland was a fundamentally imperial project – enabling Scotland to join in the pursuit of Empire in which England had already had some success, while the Scottish attempt to emulate this with the Darien expedition had ended in humiliating failure. Many Scots did very well out of the empire, and the Scottish regiments were the spearheads of imperial military power. Scotland's cities grew rich with imperial trade, especially Glasgow, and Scottish intellectual life benefited from the increased cultural and scientific exchanges with England.

    And yet, this same imperial power persecuted the Highland Scots in the 18th century, before patronising them as noble savages in the 19th and beyond. Scotland was always the junior partner in the relationship, generally taken for granted, and if the imprudent exploitation of Scotland's oil fields in the 1980s wasn't bad enough, the Thatcher government's rule of Scotland as if it were a recalcitrant colony engendered bitterness that lasts to this day and that fuels many of the most passionate pro-independence voices.

    So into this political context, at this very fraught pre-referendum moment, Scotland's greatest popular dramatist gives us a new Doctor who does not just have a Scottish accent, but whose Scottishness is emphasised and double-underlined throughout the course of the drama. And at this moment also, Neve McIntosh is finally able to use her natural accent in a scene that is all about Scots/English differences, and indeed the character groupings are all revealed to be a Scottish leader with English followers once the Half-Face Man is revealed to be merely an adjunct to the Scottish-accented Missy.

    It's important that all of this takes place in Victorian London. It's the height of the British Empire, that great Anglo-Scots project, and London is the heart of that empire. Indeed, London has long been more a British capital than an English one, its cosmopolitan nature transcending the insularity and xenophobia of much of England.

    Madame Vastra explicitly identifies her cause with the British Empire. It's here that Moffat most clearly evokes the idea of the empire as a project that unifies Scots and English into a greater whole, one in which Scots can be leaders, not just subordinates or junior partners.

    So in the story on screen, we have the invoking of an earlier time when Scotland was a vital force in the British Empire, and when Scotland gained economically and culturally from that union. But what it shows actually happening in the present day is talented Scots – Moffat, Capaldi, McIntosh, Gomez – achieving success on a global stage that they could never have managed if they had stayed in an isolated Scotland.

    It's the most immediately political story Moffat has ever written. I don't imagine it will shift many votes on 18 September, but it does very strongly indicate the way Moffat believe the Doctor would vote if he happened to be on the electoral register in Glasgow next month.


  85. heroesandrivals
    August 24, 2014 @ 12:58 pm

    It's the gloves he wore.
    (Nah, I saw a lot of Cushing in him too.)


  86. Nick Smale
    August 24, 2014 @ 1:13 pm

    I do wonder if there's a danger in making the Doctor so explicitly Scottish. If the referendum does pass (and that's a huge if) then I'd expect a wave of anger and anti-Scots feeling to sweep the rest of the UK. Is it wise of Moffat to risk the unpopularity that might come from having a Scottish lead?


  87. Iain Coleman
    August 24, 2014 @ 1:21 pm

    I see your point, but I imagine that all concerned would have more pressing concerns in that scenario. The imminent 10% reduction in the BBC's license fee income, for a start…


  88. jane
    August 24, 2014 @ 1:44 pm

    Come back tomorrow. I might have changed my mind.


  89. prandeamus
    August 24, 2014 @ 1:55 pm

    Maybe I'm equating control freak with obsessive compulsive disorder. With apologies to any genuine sufferer of the latter condition.


  90. Whittso
    August 24, 2014 @ 2:04 pm

    Wonderful article Phil, and wonderful discussion everyone else.

    Any thoughts about the title? There were several actual deep breathes, plus the constant focus on breathing, but it also seems like an allusion to the theme of a leap of faith which came through strongly to me.


  91. Whittso
    August 24, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

    Is Alec Salmond not promising people that they can still share the BBC as well as the pound? (Genuine question as I've not followed it but would assume might).

    Iain, you've missed the most blatent nose tweak of the yes camp…. The whole eyebrow secession riff.


  92. Iain Coleman
    August 24, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

    Yeah, I meant to include the eyebrows thing but I was half cut so I forgot it. Can you do me a favour and just pretend it's there?

    As for Salmond…yes, it's another of his promises that assumes "negotiation" means "we say what we want and everyone else agrees". I dare say some sort of pay-for-content deal would eventually be done, but it would be at the very least a major source of financial uncertainty and risk for the BBC for several years. By contrast, the license fee is basically guaranteed income.

    Salmond has been keen to reassure undecided voters anxious about the BBC, the NHS, the Pound, UK pension schemes, the EU rebate, etc, etc, that none of these things will change with independence. It's getting to the point where his own most logical position would be to vote to stay in the UK – after all, that's the best way way to ensure that Scotland retains full access to UK institutions.


  93. TheSmilingStallionInn
    August 24, 2014 @ 3:09 pm

    One thing I was thinking of with the fight scene and four against twenty or more (guesstimate)…okay, Strax is firing at all of the robots, Vastra and Jenny have their weapons, but Clara is practically defenseless with a ton of robots around her.

    Would have been a good idea for Vastra or Jenny to have an extra weapon on hand, just so Clara isn't just standing there. Or the other three could have made more of a circle around her as she is the weak point, but she was only back to back with…Jenny, I think. Robots completely surrounded them, or so it seemed, one could have gotten her.


  94. TheSmilingStallionInn
    August 24, 2014 @ 3:13 pm

    There was a flashback for Adelaide in Waters of Mars. The Master, if you can call him a secondary character, got a flashback in Sounds of Drums. Torchwood is different, but they did have their flashback episode for most of the team, Fragments. Um…I really cannot think of anything with the old series.


  95. TheSmilingStallionInn
    August 24, 2014 @ 3:25 pm

    I didn't even see or remember the hat pit. I saw and remembered the gauntlet, which Jenny did use to scan the T. Rex. at the start.


  96. Aylwin
    August 24, 2014 @ 3:46 pm

    We haven't gotten to Name of the Doctor yet

    We have actually.

    Anyway, and to reiterate, I would have thought my original comment made clear that I was not talking about "epic" or "rape-revenge male power fantasy", those not being the elements of the narrative-substitution interpretation which the dialogue I cited was actually about. It was about puzzles, and how you can miss the important things (and can be suckered into doing so through intellectual self-congratulation) when you put too much weight on solving them. In the context of fiction, and of a self-referential Moffat quip, those remarks seemed to point at the kind of elaborate storytelling laden with cryptic clues and foreshadowings that has been a notable feature of TV drama in the age of internet fan discussion, and which the Clara-mystery critique seemed to have in its sights. The TOTD blog post inferred an expansion of that critique by Moffat to encompass the resolution of the lingering mysteries of the arcs of seasons 5 and 6, and by extension to the whole idea that paying off their own plot set-ups was ever a significant duty of a writer or a worthwhile concern of their audience.

    Moffat's own fondness for that sort of intricately-structured writing makes it an odd target to aim at, unless he is primarily aiming at himself. The extent to which he introduced it to Doctor Who is pertinent because this is not a cult show favoured chiefly by dedicated fans sifting over every detail but an enduring institution with a long-established mass audience, meaning that he is not by and large addressing people who have been drawn to what he is showing by their enthusiasm for this style. Indeed, many had previously been vocal in their criticism of his elaborate arc-plotting and called for something less demanding of sustained attention. This could make an attack on prolonged puzzle-plotting and mystery-pay-off-craving look less like a revolutionary act and more like covering a retreat. "Shame on you for failing to flee from this thing I put in front of you which a lot of you don't actually like! Shame most especially on all who had the attention-span not to give up on it!" is a fairly contorted message. (The grumbles about Clara's lack of characterisation were also a bit of a snag when trying to finger the audience for not being interested in her as a person.)

    I'm not really qualified to discuss MPDG, since outside of films starring Audrey Hepburn I can't think when I've encountered it other than in arguments on the net, though I'm a bit dubious about whether it quite qualifies as a "mythic narrative of our culture". Perhaps I need to watch more romcoms.


  97. TheSmilingStallionInn
    August 24, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

    I was watching a Youtube video by Emergency Awesomeness, discussing the episode, and there may be some later series spoilers if you see that video, but…

    He was discussing Missy and the garden, and even though fans have different theories, he pointed out Missy's garden is the same garden as the one on the resort hospital planet in The Girl Who Waited. They may have been reusing a location, but thematically, it could be a big link. The Doctor left behind Amy Pond to age, and then he abandoned the older Amy Pond to die to save the younger Amy, so…oh boy.


  98. Ozy Jones
    August 24, 2014 @ 4:03 pm

    I remember watching this scene in the leaked version and thinking, 'well, I'm sure they'll fix the editing of that in the final version, it'll just be a place-holder, like the VFX shots."



  99. TheSmilingStallionInn
    August 24, 2014 @ 4:05 pm

    I had this comment in another thread as well, but I'm excited about it and I want to share it.

    TheSmilingStallionInnAugust 24, 2014 at 6:02 PM

    I was watching a Youtube video by Emergency Awesomeness, discussing the episode, and there may be some later series spoilers if you see that video, but…

    He was discussing Missy and the garden, and even though fans have different theories, he pointed out Missy's garden is the same garden as the one on the resort hospital planet in The Girl Who Waited. They may have been reusing a location, but thematically, it could be a big link. The Doctor left behind Amy Pond to age, and then he abandoned the older Amy Pond to die to save the younger Amy, so…oh boy.


  100. Doctor Memory
    August 24, 2014 @ 4:13 pm

    Karen Gillan is 5'11", Coleman is 5'1" (and this is mentioned in the episode); the line about missing Amy was definitely a reference to their relative heights and leg lengths.


  101. jane
    August 24, 2014 @ 8:21 pm

    "Like breath on a mirror…"

    Psyche comes from the Greek psykhe: soul, mind, breath — the invisible animating force of the body.


  102. Andrew
    August 24, 2014 @ 10:33 pm


  103. Jarl
    August 24, 2014 @ 11:01 pm

    I feel it was a bit redundant, because the exchange "Any second now, he's a-comin'." "Who's coming?" "The Doctor." had managed both to sum up the nature of the Doctor as a polycorporeal being, and to repair all the damage done by the End of Time regarding other men sauntering away in the Doctor's clothes.

    Men other than Jack, that is, who can totally get away with it. In fact, there's a mental image for you, Jack answering the Tardis doors wearing eleven's shirt…


  104. Jarl
    August 24, 2014 @ 11:05 pm

    I'm sure it's happened before, back in the days of RTD, but the example that always stands out to my mind is the end of A Good Man Goes To War. A tremendously moving and serious series of scenes taking us from the horror of a baby dissolving into goo, the drama of a young soldier dying while begging the Doctor to remember her, the tension of the Doctor and River's confrontation, the dawning realization of her true identity, and just as we feel we've been treated to the full gamut of serious dramatic emotions…



  105. Jarl
    August 24, 2014 @ 11:24 pm

    The Marcus Aurelius thing doesn't seem to come from nowhere, it was pretty distinctly flagged in Day of the Doctor by connecting him to the Doctor twice, first in the use of (and, via the see-through whiteboard, visually highlighted) "No More", and then by use of the old "a good man" schtick Eleven's been rocking since AGMGTW.

    As for Clara being a control freak, I think that's part of her character that didn't really make it through the creative process of 7b. The only hints of it we get before Deep Breath are the way she treats her relationship with the Doctor and her description of herself as a bossy control freak in Time of the Doctor, while under the effects of the truth field.

    Speaking of, this is silly fanboy nonsense, but every time the Doctor says "I haven't seen X in ages!" I secretly suspect he's referring to the same event every time. So, something involving blood control and a truth field…


  106. Jarl
    August 24, 2014 @ 11:30 pm

    Missy is the reincarnation (regeneration?!) of the t. rex. The Doctor promised he'd protect her and then she died in pain and horror, alone and very far from home. This is why Missy growls at the end of the episode, and why she refers to him as her boyfriend. As we only heard one half of the Doctor's conversation with her at the start, it's easy to see how we got confused as to who was interested in Who.


  107. Daru
    August 24, 2014 @ 11:44 pm

    Some interesting stuff there – like the sound that sounds to me like a single chime of a backwards cloister bell. Some dark edges to her with the spiked bracelet, etc.


  108. Daru
    August 24, 2014 @ 11:49 pm

    Personally I found the music from Gold much more subtle and supportive.


  109. Daru
    August 24, 2014 @ 11:57 pm

    I think the "in-your-face instagram" type of storytelling was partially wrapped around Matt Smith, which I enjoyed. The pace and experimental nature is still there, but it feels different as we have a Doctor whose delivery is different. We are still I think being shown scenes as Phil says, that have built upon the same panache as in S6/7.


  110. Daru
    August 25, 2014 @ 12:58 am

    Thanks Iain, great response (I'm a Scot myself) to the episode and a reading I agree with. The scene after Clara chats to Doctor 11 is interesting alongside your reading, as you have the Doctor who in that moment could represent Scotland saying simply "just see me", and in my reading asking for both acceptance in his own right as he is now and some kind of Union. Scotland and England meet, albeit with an awkward hug.


  111. Daru
    August 25, 2014 @ 1:10 am

    There was something else I meant to mention! At the end at roughly 1'13"19s I am sure that my ears hear Clara say "I'm not sure your'e gonna vote". I could be miss-hearing it, but she then says a similar phrase as they walk off.


  112. Anton B
    August 25, 2014 @ 1:25 am

    Ah, those are good calls. I think the classic series remained steadfastly linearly diagetic throughout, apart (strangely) from the opening episode. The production values on old school Doctor Who were pretty simplistic multi- camera studio for the most part. Maybe the writers thought the use of flashback would confuse in a show that, ostensibly but rarely in practice, dealt with time travel and the directors probably considered the effect to be too cinematic. Phil Sandifer examined how Lost changed the visual language of flashbacks and flashforwards with the audible 'whoosh' and visual whip pan replacing the audible harp and 'mists of time' or wobbly effect visual in his pop between realities post on that show.


  113. Daru
    August 25, 2014 @ 1:34 am

    I loved the episode and my partner and I watched it in the cinema in Edinburgh. Ben Wheatley's direction was beautiful on the large screen and I felt immersed in the photography, the colours and especially in the faces.

    I have not studied the whole episode, but in passing two striking images from the Tarot that the Doctor embodied came to me: The Fool and The Hanged Man.

    The Hanged Man appears when he climbs out of the window and falls into the tree. As with Odin who hung on the tree Yggdrasil and gained wisdom through the runes, The Hanged Man represents an initiatory journey, where one can see into the Otherworld accomplished through one's entire worldview being upended. Appropriate for a new Doctor – more especially as it is the card numbered 12, but is the 13th card in the major arcana as The Fool is 0 (some un-numbered incarnation appearing here?)

    The Fool is the beginning and the end, the one who steps off of the cliff into a new cycle of adventures after taking a deep breath. As with Capaldi at the point where he leaps into the Thames his feet and legs are often bare, representing his innocence, Along with this there is often a sense of freedom and courage, and the sense that this is a character who asks us to trust.

    Is it right (from someone's comment above) that the robots mentioned Parliament Hill?

    Interesting if they did then as not only is London filled with all manner of hidden/lost magical places but the old name for the hill was Llandin (Welsh), llan is ‘sacred’ and din is ‘mound' or similar. Indicating then that this was a sacred mound, a place of ancient worship tying in with the call-backs to prehistoric/ancient times and the religious themes of the story's main plot.

    I believe from this London derived its name. Thus in the heart of the setting of the story sits a site of sacred origin, a place that for millennia was used to connect both visible and invisible.


  114. ferret
    August 25, 2014 @ 3:45 am

    Jarl, I don't know if you're joking or not: it's utterly insane, but it fits the facts!


  115. John
    August 25, 2014 @ 5:27 am

    There was definitely a Cumberbatch/Freeman dynamic to their conversation at the restaurant.


  116. Froborr
    August 25, 2014 @ 5:36 am

    I went into this almost completely unspoiled. I knew only the title of the episode, had seen a picture of Capaldi in his new costume, and I assumed Clara would be in it.

    But the theater I saw this at showed Doctor Who trivia beforehand… and SPOILED THE SEASON FINALE. Bastards.


  117. Froborr
    August 25, 2014 @ 5:46 am

    I'm sorry to see so many people dismiss the T-Rex as unnecessary. I thought its purpose was obvious: to remind us of the last time the Doctor encountered dinosaurs, "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," which is also the most blatant case of Eleven committing murder. In other words, the T-Rex was there in case we'd forgotten Rule 1, and needed help figuring out which of the Doctor and Half-Face was the liar.

    Overall, I think my friend Simon summed this episode up quite well: this wasn't so much a story as a sequence of random events, but I'll take a sequence of random events happening to Capaldi's Doctor any day.


  118. Froborr
    August 25, 2014 @ 5:52 am

    She says "I'm not sure you've got a vote" both times. I remember it quite clearly because it annoyed me–how dare she hug someone who doesn't want to be hugged? That's straight-up assault.


  119. Froborr
    August 25, 2014 @ 6:03 am

    IIRC the Lost post was actually a guest post.


  120. Daru
    August 25, 2014 @ 6:08 am

    Yeah I mis-heard it.


  121. Froborr
    August 25, 2014 @ 6:40 am

    I assumed the control freak thing was what Phil was talking about in regards to "regenerating" Clara: post-Name of the Doctor, it's time to start moving away from her being extruded generic essence of companion and toward being a character. That means she needs personality traits, so let's grab some at random out of the bin…


  122. Aylwin
    August 25, 2014 @ 7:44 am

    Which was presumably a very non-coincidental setting for the angry post-return confrontation.


  123. Anton B
    August 25, 2014 @ 8:06 am

    Yes of course it was. And a good one too. My mistake.


  124. Anton B
    August 25, 2014 @ 8:14 am

    On re-reading I notice I've mis-named the actor who portrays Madam Vastra as Neve Cambell. I of course meant Neve McIntosh. No idea how that happened. Put it down to post cinema viewing excitement. My point about her performance stands of course.


  125. Daru
    August 25, 2014 @ 8:34 am

    On my re-watch today I realise it's meant to sound like the distorted chime of Big Ben – but still interesting that the episode is book-ended with the single toll of a bell. As at the start when Capaldi falls down we hear the single toll of the Cloister bell.


  126. John Seavey
    August 25, 2014 @ 8:57 am

    Was it just me, or was anyone else vaguely discomifted by the examples of essentialism in this episode? I've felt for a while now like Moffat's real problem isn't so much sexism or misogyny as it is essentialism, so I'm willing to concede that these things now leap out at me and grab my frontal lobes, but it seems like there was a lot of it here. "I'm Scottish now, I can complain about things!" "People are apes, men are monkeys." And of course, a Moffat script wouldn't be complete without a vaguely-disparaging-although-never-enough-that-you-can-put-your-finger-on-it set of traits ascribed to a female character. Here, Clara is described as narcissistic, egomaniacal, a control freak, and it's strongly implied that her concerns for the Doctor (who can no longer discern the difference between her and Strax, and who has sprinted off into the night wearing nothing but a dressing-gown) are primarily because she no longer has a fit young man to flirt with. Which stood out because despite Jenna Coleman's best efforts, Clara has been pretty nearly personality-free ever since her introduction. (I don't blame that on sexism, though. I blame it on the last-second decision to make up a new, present-day Clara instead of using the Victorian one introduced in 'The Snowmen' because they got cold feet about using a Victorian setting for an extended period of time. So much of Season Seven makes so much more sense if you view it through the lens of Victorian London and Victorian Clara as a home setting.)

    Again, I'll admit that there's nothing particularly objectionable about this episode (although if I was Scottish I might disagree, no humor intended). It's just that it's gotten to the point where it's a pattern of behavior for Moffat, and it's not one that flatters him in my opinion.


  127. prandeamus
    August 25, 2014 @ 9:30 am

    Bagpipes? Eighties-synthesiser-realised bagpipes? The universe has breed some terrible Glynns. They must be fought.


  128. Thomas Lawrence
    August 25, 2014 @ 9:49 am

    I'm perplexed by the continued willingness of commentators to attribute to Moffat every opinion he has ever scripted for a character. This seems akin to claiming that Paul Cornell thinks people are stupid apes because he wrote the Doctor saying so once.

    I particularly don't think we're meant to agree with the Doctor with any of his quasi disparagements of Clara.


  129. encyclops
    August 25, 2014 @ 10:12 am

    God, that THEME music. Just when it was starting to get better, he goes and channels Keff McCulloch.


  130. IMA Patient
    August 25, 2014 @ 10:21 am

    There's also the bit where he relieves the horse of his pet.


  131. encyclops
    August 25, 2014 @ 10:53 am

    Aylwin: I get where you're coming from and I agree. It's a little like telling a knock-knock joke and then criticizing the other person for being such a conformist sheep that they say "Who's there?" Um, I was just playing along with what you seemed to be asking of me and giving you the benefit of the doubt that it would lead somewhere worthwhile. At most you've implicated me in being a polite and open-minded audience.


  132. encyclops
    August 25, 2014 @ 10:59 am

    My take:

    I’m not entirely convinced that she’s the egomaniac control freak the Doctor thinks he sees; to me this seems like more of a Moffatism, characters diagnosing each other with psychological disorders they don’t actually demonstrate, the way we had “psychopath” defined last season as “a warm, affectionate person who enjoys doing somewhat daring things.” Here she’s just brave, quick on her feet, sure of herself, able to learn from her own mistakes, and, by the end of the episode, willing to adapt in big, significant ways.


  133. Ed Azad
    August 25, 2014 @ 11:00 am

    I've broken a lance or two in the defense of Keff McCulloch, but that aside… The title sequence changes just when the old one starts to grows on us. It is a bit distressing.


  134. John Seavey
    August 25, 2014 @ 11:08 am

    It's not that I attribute every opinion Moffat has scripted for a character to Moffat–it's that sooner or later, the one common factor to all the opinions scripted by Moffat for his characters is that he scripted them. Any given individual statement by the Doctor about Clara might just be a character bit, but taken in conjunction with all the other characters' statements about her (including one where a quasi-magical medical instrument looks into her brain and sees "narcissism and passive-aggression", which is a bit harder to put off as just a character's assessment of another character) it paints a picture of Moffat's views and not just those of his fictional creations.

    In other words, this by itself? Not so bad. This in conjunction with the priest conflating women and demons, and the Doctor claiming that "She's a woman!" is justification for anything River Song might do that's otherwise irrational-seeming, and the way that armed men recoil in terror on learning that the woman pointing a gun at them is a mother looking for her kids, and the way that motherhood literally grants you magical powers that other women don't have, and "You're Scottish, fry something," and Rory being "Mrs. Pond" because he doesn't act sufficiently "manly", and Amy assuming Rory was gay because he didn't act sufficiently "manly", and and and…it starts to look a bit like Moffat has a problem with putting people into boxes and not being happy when they don't quite fit. They're bigger boxes than some, thankfully; he doesn't seem to feel like "a functioning sex drive" shouldn't be in the 'Woman' box, for example. But they're boxes nonetheless.


  135. encyclops
    August 25, 2014 @ 11:18 am

    The first time through I hated the first 30 minutes. Watching Capaldi do Matt Smith jokes was just deeply, thoroughly embarrassing. This doesn't work, I kept thinking. Are they really going to do this?

    And then as soon as he discovers he's Scottish it all clicks into place, and I actually think the episode is really solid after that point. It's the reverse of "The Eleventh Hour," which unlike apparently everyone in the world I think is fantastic up through just about the time Smith gets loose from the radiator and after that is all over the place, vastly overrated.

    That makes me think that first half hour is deliberately embarrassing. It gave me, at least, the same feeling Clara had: oh my god, he's awful, this is never going to work out, no one's driving the coach, we're all going to crash. Without that — well, we've all seen regeneration stories. Even new-series-only fans have seen two of them. We know the drill, we've seen Capaldi be brilliant in other things, and the only way to really sympathize with Clara is to be as off-balance as she is.

    So now I think the whole thing is pretty great. I'll be seeing it a third time tonight, on the big screen.

    Incidentally, I wonder if it's just coincidence that the last time we had a new Doctor exhibiting strong traces of the previous Doctor's personality (as opposed to a series of fleeting impressions) was "Spearhead from Space" (Smith/Troughton regenerating into Capaldi/Pertwee)?


  136. encyclops
    August 25, 2014 @ 11:22 am

    It doesn't address the rest of your points, but surely Moffat is entitled to make "Scottish" jokes if he likes.


  137. encyclops
    August 25, 2014 @ 11:27 am

    I'm sure Keff is quite a nice guy. His take on the theme tune is however my least favorite of all of them, ever, and until "Deep Breath" I didn't think it would ever have any competition.

    Credit where it's due: the title sequence for season 7b was my favorite of the new series by far, both graphics and music, so I agree, distressing. I'm OK with the "clock tunnel" idea — it'll probably grow on me — but if the music had stayed the same I would have been fine with that.


  138. John Seavey
    August 25, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

    Well, I think that's kind of the nature of these issues. Viewed in isolation, without context, any single one is defensible. It's only when you look at the whole body of work that it becomes problematic.


  139. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 25, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

    It seems to me that this sort of essentialism disappears almost entirely in Sherlock, and for that matter Jekyll, in a way that suggests it is related to Moffat's sense of comedy. And I'm admittedly struggling to think of any comedy that is neither bland as hell or trading in part on essentialism. Summing up strikes me as a basic tool of comedy.


  140. Froborr
    August 25, 2014 @ 4:12 pm

    we've seen Capaldi be brilliant in other things

    As far as I know, I've never actually seen Capaldi in anything other than "Fires of Pompeii."


  141. Matthew Blanchette
    August 25, 2014 @ 5:13 pm

    Oh, I dunno; I think a lot of what Smith did in "The Eleventh Hour" was the Doctor slowly shedding the skin of the Tennant personality and finding his own new self — epitomized in Eleven being instantly mortified after shouting "Who da man?", whereas with Ten, it would've been a triumphant "humany-culture-appropriation" moment, and would've been backed by the episode as well, rather than being allowed to deflate into an awkward moment.


  142. brownstudy
    August 25, 2014 @ 5:52 pm

    Saw it twice via iTunes and then tonight at the local googolplex (a nice crowd, but not a full house as it was for the last one). Stray thoughts:

    * Agree with whoever said the art direction and settings didn't look as good as they did in 6 and 7.

    * Loved how Moffat put the theme up front as the Doctor stumbles out trying to identify the gang and saying "Don't pre-judge."

    * The Dinosaur Lady and Clara are both referred to as abandoned by the Doctor. Lots of twinning and echoing going on in the episode, as with Vastra handling a forgery case and "keep out of the larder." The dialogue was thick with keywords.

    * I wondered about the Doctor and the Tramp scene. The Tramp sees him and speaks to him plainly, which Clara hasn't been able to do. And that echo of dialogue from Smith's first episode, "What did I see, I saw, what did I see…"

    * The "Just see me" dialogue when he asks Clara if she knows what it's like not to be seen. Of course she does — #11 saw her for a time as The Impossible Girl and not Clara.

    * My god, I loved Coleman in this episode. This was the Clara episode I'd been wanting to see; I don't remember another episode where she displayed this much range. Where have they been keeping her?

    * Maybe it was me, but when Capaldi ripped the mask off of his face, I could have sworn the mask was of Smith's face.


  143. brownstudy
    August 25, 2014 @ 5:58 pm

    In fact, it struck me like a kind of regular DW episode. It didn't have that pump-the-air moment of Smith stepping through the projections of the previous Doctors and that driving music. "Deep Breath" though had that lovely solo piano music as they're riding back in the coach. There wasn't the triumphal feeling of surviving; the story was more about losses (of memory, history, ability, youth) and going on anyway.


  144. encyclops
    August 25, 2014 @ 8:02 pm

    As far as I know, I've never actually seen Capaldi in anything other than "Fires of Pompeii."

    I apologize for including you in my "we."

    Oh, I dunno; I think a lot of what Smith did in "The Eleventh Hour" was the Doctor slowly shedding the skin of the Tennant personality and finding his own new self

    I'm not sure I see it. I get why you're citing that joke, but at the time even that didn't sound like Tennant at all to me. In fact I remember being relieved that "fish fingers and custard" seemed so completely different from Tennant, particularly since the two of them being too similar was precisely what I was worried about.

    In fact, there is unfortunately another instance of this in "Deep Breath" (the joke about having to close the restaurant). I think it's Moffat thinking it's funny to apologize for a joke, when in fact it isn't.


  145. encyclops
    August 25, 2014 @ 8:03 pm

    It didn't have that pump-the-air moment of Smith stepping through the projections of the previous Doctors and that driving music.

    MASSIVE virtue in my book.


  146. encyclops
    August 25, 2014 @ 8:04 pm

    how dare she hug someone who doesn't want to be hugged? That's straight-up assault.

    She also demands he pay for chips. That's straight-up theft!


  147. Whittso
    August 25, 2014 @ 8:08 pm

    Hard to pick a thread to address this to, so I'm adding this here.

    I'm confused as to why writing Clara more clearly as someone who likes to be in control (which she has always clearly been) and as a young woman who found a dashing, good looking and charming man attractive (which she clearly did… Look at the scene with her gran reminiscing about her grandad in time of the doctor) is problematic. These are both very human attributes. They don't define her, they aren't particularly defined solely as criticisms of her. Yes she is chided for failing to see beyond the mask, but given that this is partly directed at the audience I'd say, I don't think this is shaming or humiliating her, it's allowing us all to adjust to a change we intellectually understand but couldn't emotionally prepare for.

    For me, this episode and time of the doctor are where Clara has finally come into focus as a character you can really fall in love with, just as au loved Amy and Rory.


  148. encyclops
    August 25, 2014 @ 8:08 pm

    The hat pin is, alas, Vastra's key fob for her carriage.


  149. Ed Azad
    August 25, 2014 @ 8:29 pm

    The 7b theme was strangled in the crib wasn't it?

    I'm rather embarrassed to admit that I tirelessly sought out a mediafire download of Keff's incidental music. One man's meat…


  150. encyclops
    August 25, 2014 @ 8:59 pm

    Having said all that, I found I minded the new theme less via cinema speakers. It starts the right way now, without that little intro, and it does sound more like the classic series. With just a few tiny tweaks it'd be miles better.


  151. Jarl
    August 25, 2014 @ 9:11 pm

    I was joking at first but as I was typing it up, I thought "Holy crap, that actually makes sense."


  152. Daru
    August 25, 2014 @ 10:43 pm

    This new theme really surprised me at first and I gotta say I love it now and agree with another commenter who mentioned Joe Meek and Telstar overtones. Love the bells/chimes sounds and the 80's feel.


  153. Daru
    August 25, 2014 @ 10:48 pm

    If you listen to the Clara's classroom flashback you can hear one of the kids saying something like "it's her first day" in the background.


  154. Daru
    August 25, 2014 @ 10:57 pm

    I just think like Scotland and England they had an awkward embrace and England had to then bail Scotland out financially. I don't think Scotland, like the Doctor can go it alone.


  155. Daru
    August 25, 2014 @ 11:06 pm

    "Again, I'll admit that there's nothing particularly objectionable about this episode (although if I was Scottish I might disagree, no humor intended)."

    As a Scot who watched the episode in a Scottish cinema with hundreds of other Scots I found the Scottish stuff hilarious. The whole cinema roared with laughter along with the Scottish jokes too, as one thing we have never had a problem with up here is laughing at ourselves – just take a look at the sometimes cringeworthy John Barrowman section of the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

    As for the rest I still think it is all coming from humour for me. Jokes tend to come from some kind of blanket statement that often can reveal flaws in the characters making them.


  156. brownstudy
    August 26, 2014 @ 3:16 am

    And someone cleverer than me can tease out the parallels between Vastra/Jenny and Doctor/Clara. The non-human member of these couples is also the physical/mental superior of the other, yet they need the human partner to complete them. And Vastra is unafraid of her love and its responsibilities, whereas the Doctor skirts those responsibilities.


  157. Katherine Sas
    August 26, 2014 @ 7:45 am

    "I feel it was a bit redundant, because the exchange "Any second now, he's a-comin'." "Who's coming?" "The Doctor." had managed both to sum up the nature of the Doctor as a polycorporeal being, and to repair all the damage done by the End of Time regarding other men sauntering away in the Doctor's clothes."

    Aren't those two scenes saying the same thing, though? That there are distinct personalities? I fail to see how one repairs the damage of the other when it says the same thing.


  158. Leslie Lozada
    August 26, 2014 @ 10:26 am

    I just assumed the Doctor was deflecting his own egomania back at Clara. He regenerated so of course he would be a bit scatterbrained


  159. inkdestroyedmybrush
    August 26, 2014 @ 12:02 pm

    I'm surprised that no one is bringing up, so i will, seeing what companion works with which Doctor. This episode reminded me that Philip had made a very good case that the Master worked with Pertwee as he was a reflection of Jon's Doctor. And this episode reminded me of watching Sarah Jane and Pertwee, and then Sarah jane and Baker. Smith's Doctor, who I really, really loved, worked well iwth Amy and Rory, but not nearly as well with Clara. They weren't brave enough to go with Victorian Clara, which would have been very interesting, but stuck us (and Smith) with modern Clara, who was about as exciting as a dishrag. Jenna seems to work better with Capaldi here, and it could be chemistry, or it could just be script, but it did seem like a big regeneration of Clara, which is interesting, since we were clearly only expecting a regeneration of the Doctor. And while each regeneration is a renewal of the show, so is the chance to renew the dynamic between the cast and create new situaltion and dynamics. Lets face it, Clara has n't had anything to hang her character on since she was introduced. She was a mystery, not a character, just as Sarah Jane was a feminist, not a character.


  160. Alan
    August 26, 2014 @ 1:14 pm

    I actually forgot the most likely scenario given Moffat's paradox fetish: It's someone we won't even meet until the last episode who will time travel back to retroactively become the season's antagonist.


  161. encyclops
    August 26, 2014 @ 1:26 pm

    I agree with everything except possibly your last sentence. The third time watching "Deep Breath" last night, it suddenly struck me that within Capaldi's performance there was a much stronger strain than I'd expected of Tom Baker circa 1974. I was so focused on the Pertwee parallel that I hadn't noticed at all, but I think it's there, and why not? I think your comparison of Lis/Pertwee with Lis/Baker is spot on.


  162. Alan
    August 26, 2014 @ 1:52 pm

    Does anyone else see the dynamic of the Doctor and Clara as resembling that of Adrian Monk and his two carers? The dynamic of that show was always implicitly an older brilliant but difficult man and the young woman who looks after him to help with mundane concerns. It was never sexualized with either companion and gave a very "Classic Doctor + Companion" vibe. Clara even refers to herself as his carer in one of the future episodes, and Twelve's somewhat odd clothing choice of "top button done but no tie" reminded me of Monk even before the episode aired.


  163. Jarl
    August 26, 2014 @ 8:30 pm

    On the contrary, the exchange in Time of the Doctor says that even though they are collections of different varieties of tawdry quirks, that it's still genuinely and unalterably the same person underneath, which is the opposite of what was being said in The End of Time.


  164. Chris
    August 26, 2014 @ 10:10 pm

    When I saw Heaven it immediately put me in mind of The Library, or rather the simulation where people are saved. So maybe River? Though that doesn't explain the use of 'boyfriend' vs 'husband.' I could go on with ways to rationalize that, but it's not worth the effort.


  165. Jarl
    August 26, 2014 @ 11:05 pm

    I think you're seeing it from the other end, there. A long time ago, Phil said that it was folly to assume that some show (was it Jonathan Creek?) was influenced by Doctor Who just because it was about a brilliant eccentric solving problems with the aid of a sassy lady, but I think there might be some truth to that. Monk and Criminal Intent (especially the Goldblum seasons) immediately strike me as being Doctor Who without being Doctor Who, y'know?


  166. Jarl
    August 26, 2014 @ 11:11 pm

    Encyclops, have you seen the audition scripts? Because they're pretty telling in this regard.

    Froborr: You should see Torchwood: Children of Earth. It's really good.


  167. Jarl
    August 26, 2014 @ 11:23 pm

    That's actually a halfway decent idea for a knock knock joke.

    "Hey. Knock-knock."
    "Who's there?"
    "Ugh, 'who's there'? You are such a cliche."


  168. Spacewarp
    August 27, 2014 @ 4:03 am

    Ah but you've got to see that as totally the 10th Doctor's selfish opinion of the situation. His personality is that of a Doctor who totally enjoys the great time he's having as the Doctor, and doesn't want to lose it. He sees regeneration as the death of his personality, and resents the "other man" who will walk away with his life when he's gone.

    Funnily enough, compare this to his attitude towards his possible replacement in "The Next Doctor" and his actual replacement in "The Day of the Doctor". No animosity there. Probably because being grumpy towards future incarnations wouldn't fit the tone of the stories very well.

    However just because the 10th Doctor feels that way doesn't mean that other Doctors will also feel the same. In fact most of the Doctor's regenerations have been welcome events, saving him from unexpected and fatal injury. Certainly most of them were completely out of his control, where as the events leading up to the 10th's regeneration were somewhat different. He had time to think about it, and had to consciously choose to die rather than have it forced upon him.

    One could argue that it was payback for his earlier faux-regeneration where he shamelessly abused the process to save himself from a Dalek blast.


  169. Daru
    August 27, 2014 @ 4:16 am

    I thought the scene with the phone call worked well in the context of understanding the Doctor in all his incarnations as one person. I think it would work especially well for some new/first time viewers as often the new Doctor story is one that folk may use as a jump-off point.


  170. encyclops
    August 27, 2014 @ 5:39 am

    I hadn't seen those! Thanks!

    What do you make of them? To me it suggests that the speech patterns and jokes we've come to associate with Matt Smith's Doctor have come to be associated with the Doctor full stop as far as Moffat is concerned. The second half of the episode suggests to me that he recognized the need for a change — I don't think the difference is all in Capaldi's delivery.

    I've also been wondering whether a lot of the co-writing credits this season are due to writers who'd been doing dialogue and character moments that fit Smith's Doctor, and Moffat doing fairly extensive changes to make them fit Capaldi's Doctor and the character arc Moffat has in mind for him.


  171. encyclops
    August 27, 2014 @ 5:41 am

    Oh, and Froborr, I'd also recommend In the Loop. I barely noticed Capaldi in "Fires of Pompeii," but you can't not notice him as Malcolm Tucker.


  172. inkdestroyedmybrush
    August 27, 2014 @ 8:58 am

    @encyclops – yes, this really did seem to be 'Robot all over again for a new generation. And if that leads us to a new Ark and Genesis somewhere in this season, then bring it on. I've always preferred the Baker from the first two seasons, rather than his later, more jokey persona. That darker, more alien persona that was complaining to Sarah Jane at the beginning of Pyramids was the perfect Doctor for me. I just watched Deep Breath again. last night, focusing on my favorite bits, and it really boils down to the restraunt scene and him offering the drink. It is the script givign him command of the scene the way that hinchcliffe was really allowed to trample on the structure of his predecessor's story. Baker walked through Robot as if he really couldn't be bothered with that sort of story, that he was destined for a different story altogther. Capaldi took this more seriously but seems as if his Doctor is really ready for a totally different story. And i can't wait til we get it.

    Myt last sentence about Sarah and modern Clara was perhaps a bit over the top, but I do feel that both were rather hazily sketched in with a series of traits, and less well rounded in their earlier apearances than they should have been for us to care about them more.


  173. encyclops
    August 27, 2014 @ 2:28 pm

    Once again, I'm with you on just about all of this (and against you on none of it, if you see what I mean). I've always thought Sarah was right to tease the Doctor at the beginning of Pyramids — but that he did get authentically "alien" in the way we mean when we talk about the Doctor later in the story, and yes, the Hinchcliffe Fourth Doctor is my archetypal Doctor as well, partly for historical reasons and partly for aesthetic ones. (Which ought to mean Eccleston is my favorite modern Doctor, but no, it's Smith. Heigh-ho.)

    Over the top is good. I couldn't quite agree about Sarah just because it's been ages since I've watched her first season. I do think she's a fairly easy character to care about by "Planet of the Spiders," if not before; perhaps that's just Lis Sladen connecting the dots for us.


  174. encyclops
    August 27, 2014 @ 2:31 pm

    Incidentally, though it's absolutely ridiculous on just about every level, I'm really charmed every time I see it by Clara's mandatory medical examination. I love how pleased she is about the condition of her spleen, and the way she delivers the line "you're looking at my eye" is extremely the best.


  175. inkdestroyedmybrush
    August 27, 2014 @ 3:10 pm

    @mathhew – i read the 11th hour the same way you did, with smith finding little bits of tennant to show and then discard, and was extremely pleased by his mortification of using the "whose da man?" line. 11th hour is likely, until someone finds Troughton's first story, the very best first doctor story ever. Just look how quickly "fish fingers and custard" turned into a meme. And it wouldn't of had that scene not played note perfectly by both actors.

    I mostly got that from Deep Breath on the shore of the Thames. Once we moved on from that, there was very little of the Smith reference to shed. I got more Baker in Robot, which i've mentioned below in another comment any way. I actually haven't seen In The Loop, but think I'll wait until Capaldi has more time as the Doctor, just to enjoy his performance with no preconceptions…


  176. ferret
    August 28, 2014 @ 2:16 am

    My thoughts stray to the Valeyard – even though it's just about the right era, it seems an unlikely fan-service.

    However, can you imagine the STFUMoffat furore if he's written the first ever canonical female incarnation of the Doctor as wholly evil? It almost makes me think it could be true.


  177. Anton B
    August 28, 2014 @ 6:09 am

    Of all the speculative guesses the Valeyard seems the least likely. Unless there are somehow multiple Valeyards or he has the ability to change sex and appearance (which would surely count as a regeneration? So therefore – no longer the Valeyard). I wonder where this eagerness to ascribe the character, who has already been named as the Keeper of the Nethersphere in the pre publicity, a pre-existing identity comes from? Why can't she just be an original character, linked to the Doctor in some way? Are people still in any doubt that Moffat's series arcs and finale reveals are never solvable because he cheats, witholds information and generally isn't playing the game you think he is so there's no point in trying to join in as though it's a timey wimey crossword puzzle or cosmic pub quiz. I'm happy to go along with him though because the ride is always worth it.


  178. Anton B
    August 28, 2014 @ 6:23 am

    On the other hand…my theory is it's Dodo. She's been plotting revenge ever since the first Doctor abandoned her and never bothered to phone her up to see how she was. She gained a Scots accent when, after being mind wiped by WOTAN, she spent some years in a Scottish Buddhist retreat with Mike Yates, where she developed her ninja umbrella twirling skills.


  179. ferret
    August 28, 2014 @ 2:29 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  180. ferret
    August 28, 2014 @ 2:31 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  181. ferret
    August 28, 2014 @ 2:35 pm

    @Anton B – yes yes, hence all the foreshadowing in Time of the Doctor with WOTAN-like cries of "THE DOCTOR IS REQUIRED".

    One thing I did notice is Missy has the same badge (locket?) around her throat as Jenny does in the opening scenes, although it looks a little bigger. Not saying she's Jenny, but perhaps she takes things to define her own self (like her accent from the Doctor) from all sorts of people and places.


  182. Jarl
    August 28, 2014 @ 5:51 pm

    The joke scientifically and empirically proven to be the funniest in the world:

    Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a gun shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says "OK, now what?"


  183. Anton B
    August 28, 2014 @ 9:27 pm

    Ah! Now you're onto something. Yes I can see her as a collector of tropes.

    On the other hand has anyone considered it might be Captain Jack?


  184. encyclops
    August 29, 2014 @ 10:38 am

    I keep receiving email notifications of comments about Missy, but when I come here to reply to them, I can't find them. Are you deleting them for spoilers, or is something on the blink?


  185. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 29, 2014 @ 11:03 am

    I'm not deleting anything, and there are no spamtrapped comments. The comments thread has gotten long enough that it requires you to hit "load more" at the bottom of the page to see them all, and the interface does not make that as clear as it perhaps could be.


  186. encyclops
    August 29, 2014 @ 11:45 am

    Aha! I never even knew that was a thing. Thanks!


  187. encyclops
    August 29, 2014 @ 11:55 am

    I wonder where this eagerness to ascribe the character, who has already been named as the Keeper of the Nethersphere in the pre publicity, a pre-existing identity comes from?

    For me, it comes from the fact (okay, my opinion) that "Keeper of the Nethersphere" is, as names for characters go, corny as fuck. πŸ™‚ And actually "Missy" isn't much less so. I don't discount the possibility — in fact, I'd call it a probability — that "Missy" in particular is a mislead, and that Moffat is indeed fucking with us as he always does, and there's no way to guess what he has in mind. He knows full well we'll assume it's either the Master or the Rani (or, Christ, please not Romana) and that alone suggests it's not that simple — he just wants us to gnaw our fingers off with anticipation and speculation.

    But if it is an original character, it seems just as unlikely that we can take her at face value. I'm betting that "Keeper of the Nethersphere" is a smokescreen as well.

    For what, is the question? (Neil Gaiman's) Death? Mary Poppins? Yet another vivacious middle-aged female "psychopath" (following River, Kovarian, Tasha Lem) from the Doctor's past/future? All of the above?


  188. Anton B
    August 29, 2014 @ 12:10 pm

    I'd love it to be all of the above. I suspect it's none of them but will be, as you say, 'Yet another vivacious middle-aged female "psychopath".' I love Moffat but he will keep revisiting tropes till he's worked them to death.


  189. Adam Riggio
    August 29, 2014 @ 3:06 pm

    My own hypothesis about the cursory way that all the arc details wrapped up in Time of the Doctor is more of a hasty improvisation becoming a brilliant ethical narrative. I can't be certain about the truth of this speculation, but here goes: I think Matt Smith decided to leave the role a year before Steven Moffat originally wanted him to.

    A central plot arc of Season 5 was the conundrum of the space-time cracks, whose nature remained mysterious. For Season 6, it was the plot to kill the Doctor and the revelation of the question that shouldn't be asked. Season 7 ended with the Doctor discovering precisely what Trenzalore was and discovering one aspect of the diegetic significance of the question "Doctor who?" If Season 8 had been a Matt Smith season, then the spectre of Trenzalore would have haunted it entirely, the true nature of the Silence as a splinter group from the Church of the Papal Mainframe would have been revealed as we explored more about the Church as an institution. The final showdown on Trenzalore would have been the Smith regeneration at the season finale of 2014.

    But Smith, going into Season 7, decided that he would leave at Xmas 2013, a week shy of four years since his debut, because his movie career was picking up. So I believe Moffat had to cram in what would have been a year's worth of investigative story arc into a single Xmas Special. And he did so with his usual framework of narrative substitution to ethically redeem his whole scheme throughout the Smith era of these elaborately planned story arcs. After all, one had just blown up in his own face.

    So we got The Time of the Doctor, the really rather brilliant tour de force that says we should focus on people and their narratives and what they can teach us ethically, not complicated plot arcs. That's also the narrative substitution of Clara's own Season 7 arc, where a complicated plot arc turned out to have its answer in a simple ethical gesture of an ordinary person, remarkable and unique precisely because of her quite ordinary identity and the choices she makes.

    I don't really care if it's so late after the post that only Phil sees this in his notifications. He's really the one I'm talking to here.


  190. encyclops
    August 29, 2014 @ 4:12 pm

    Maybe I shouldn't respond, if Phil's the only one you're talking to. πŸ™‚

    But it seems to me that if Moffat decided to turn an attrition problem into a lesson in ethics, it was primarily a lesson directed at himself. No one in his audience asked for, planned, and executed any of his elaborate story arcs; I'd question how many people actually wanted them. A lot of fans were saying throughout 7b that they were frustrated with Clara's character development. And it was never an either/or proposition: it's perfectly possible to pay attention to both people and their narratives AND try to guess at complicated plot arcs, and indeed I saw most critics (myself included, if I may include myself, which is hardly a given) talking about both. I personally don't really give a shit about complicated plot arcs, but if the writer tells me they're important through the way they're presented, I'll dutifully look at them for as long as I can sustain interest.

    Of course Clara is not an ordinary person — or rather, the pieces of Clara that engendered the plot arc are not ordinary people. Ordinary people cannot insert themselves into countless historical events in another person's lifetime (but their own personal future and past). It's the ordinary person who makes the choice, but her own extraordinary echoes/clones/fragments/whatever they are that do the impossible stuff. The Doctor's error, and our perfectly reasonable assumption, is in assuming Future Clara, Past Clara, and Present Clara are more alike than clones would be, and they are not. Instead of one Impossible Girl, the Doctor has met one Possible Girl who through impossible means becomes two Impossible Girls he's already met and a slew of Impossible Girls in his past that he apparently doesn't remember (nice going, clever boy).

    That's not to say there's nothing moving or wonderful about Clara's choice, or the fact that she herself remains ordinary, or the fact that "ordinary" is not a disappointment. And I love thinking about what season 8 might have been, and I love your thinking about what it might have been. I'm just not down with the idea that there's an ethical or even a didactic dimension implicating the audience in any of this.


  191. encyclops
    August 29, 2014 @ 4:14 pm

    P.S. I hope Missy gets an actual character, rather than being yet another season-long plot arc (if that's a lesson, are we not done with it?). We've only just met her but so far she seems mainly to be the proprietor of a tawdry quirk shop.


  192. Jarl
    September 4, 2014 @ 1:50 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  193. Jarl
    September 4, 2014 @ 1:58 am

    Blogspot's eating my comments. I don't think it likes the joke.


  194. encyclops
    September 4, 2014 @ 6:23 am

    You might have to click "Load more" at the bottom of the page. We've really flooded this post with comments. πŸ™‚


  195. Froborr
    September 4, 2014 @ 8:26 am

    She verbally demands that he pay for the chips. He still has the option to not do so. She doesn't force him, so no, it's not theft, because the choice is still his of whether or not to pay. (Well, it would be if he had any money, anyway.)

    Whereas Clara DOES force the hug on him. He says "no," and she ignores his consent and physically hugs him, which means his only recourse is to accept the hug he doesn't want or physically shove her off him. So in other words, his only options are responses, he has already been touched after explicitly denying consent–so yeah, assault.


  196. brownstudy
    September 4, 2014 @ 8:59 am

    Yeahhhh, but…as was shown in "Into the Dalek" and "Day of the Doctor", Clara is sometimes or often right about the things that contradict what the Doctor believes he's resolute about. And in those cases, he's grateful for her intervention. Maybe he needs a hug because she knows he's scared, despite his Dr. Sheldon Cooper refusals. (And our televisual culture genres etc. likes for characters to give each other hugs, so that appears to be a gravitational field even "Doctor Who" can't escape.)

    After all, Rose taught the Doctor to dance, so…he may finish this series by giving Clara a hug.

    I don't view the hug nor her slapping him in the Dalek story as assaults. Just that character's physical expression of her emotions using arguably hacky theatrical vocabulary.


  197. Daibhid C
    September 4, 2014 @ 12:14 pm

    I understand the thinking behind "If someone says they don't like being touched, they probably really need a hug". I just hate it.


  198. encyclops
    September 5, 2014 @ 4:59 am

    I understand why you're inclined to relate this situation to real-life ones that seem similar to you, but in this case I think it's a mistake to generalize. This is a specific character moment between Clara and the Doctor; it's not about everyone else in the world.

    Here's the transcript:
    (She throws her arms around his neck.)
    DOCTOR: I, I don't think that I'm a hugging person now.
    CLARA: I'm not sure you get a vote.
    DOCTOR: Whatever you say.

    I suppose if they'd just met and this exchange came out of the clear blue you might have grounds to frown a bit. But they haven't and it didn't. Watch season 7b again, for one thing. Consider the fact that she's hugging a man who's just literally begged her — in the past and in the present — to accept his new face and show him she's still as comfortable with him as she used to be.

    Not everyone who says they're "not a hugger" really needs a hug. But I'd say the Doctor does. And, crucially, Clara does too. I think reading this through a lens of "well, what if Dick did that to Jane?" misses everything important about the scene.


  199. Daru
    September 5, 2014 @ 11:32 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  200. Daru
    September 5, 2014 @ 11:37 pm

    "I understand why you're inclined to relate this situation to real-life ones that seem similar to you, but in this case I think it's a mistake to generalize."

    Agreed. I think if I had just been though time in and out of a stand-off in space around a planet where my friend had aged hundreds of years, professed that he was going to die (then didn't), changed his face into someone apparently less friendly, been about to crash in the ship and somehow gotten swallowed by a T-Rex, then seen said friend go through a kind of psychosis (when I thought maybe it should have gone smoother), then finally got embroiled with robots where I thought I was left for dead, and finally had no idea if he was coming back and I would be potentially stuck in another time – I would hug my friend too, even if he was resistant just out of sheer relief!


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