Doctor Who Season 8
Doctor Who, or the “New Who”, is a very unique TV show, as any fan will tell you; but it is unique for reasons other than being awesome, or featuring a mad spaceman travelling in a blue box and saving the universe with a glorified flashlight – yes, we know, it’s a screwdriver. No, Doctor Who is unique, because every so often, the main character and the main supporting cast, sometimes both at once, are replaced by another. Through the power of regeneration, the Doctor changes his face, and gets a new actor. This is sometimes followed by a complete make-over of the show, as a new director and writing team takes the reins. Because of this, you might say that Doctor Who finds itself in a very interesting position, where even on its 8th season (not counting the classic show that preceded it), it still feels completely new: we have a new Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, and as such, the series is going in a different direction. But there’s the question resting on everybody’s lips: where is Peter Capaldi going to take this Doctor, and what can we expect from the show moving forward?
To understand the Doctor of Peter Capaldi, we need to first take a look at his predecessors. Without spoiling anything, there is one aspect that the previous three incarnations of our beloved Time Lord shared with one another. They were all goofy in some way, but mostly as a front for their wounded heart. There is one undesirable perk to being immortal and confronting the countless perils of the universe on a daily basis: through time, through your enemies, or through your own actions, you end up losing the ones you love. The Doctor has lost many companions, and he has made many mistakes that cost him dearly, but he is now through with putting up a false front, and this is what Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is all about. Gone are the heroics of David Tennant; gone are the goofs of Matt Smith. This new Doctor is a cold one. He is old and exhausted (at least psychologically), but determined and solid. He’s not there to flirt with you, but to make it all right.
That’s not to say that this Doctor is more boring than the old ones, or simply “not fun”. Whereas the past Doctors relied on their alien way of thinking and epicness to make us laugh or root for them when the going got tough, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is a whole different number. As evidenced in the past episodes, the Doctor’s comic relief moments now come when he’s plain wrong about something, or being conservative. Whether it’s his companion’s slap in the face to remind him to open his mind – that’s a new one – in Episode 2 “Into the Dalek”, or better, his refusal to believe for just a second that Robin Hood is more than just a story in Episode 3 “Robots of Sherwood”, it’s clear that our Time Lord has gone through a drastic change. In fact, it’s not quite clear yet if we should root for him at all.
Where is the show going with all this? We did get a few sneak-peeks at an underlying plot: a woman who calls herself the Doctor’s girlfriend, who seems to pop up whenever someone close to the Doctor dies, welcoming them into “Heaven”. It’s not evident whether she’s well intentioned or evil yet, but you could say the same of the Doctor. We’ve seen many examples of the Doctor not acting the good part. After a bit of action off-screen, we’re left to wonder if the Doctor pushed the clockwork robot to its death, or if the robot jumped on its own in Episode 1 “Deep Breath”, and in Episode 2 “Into the Dalek”, we witness the Doctor apparently helping a soldier survive a deadly encounter, only to see the soldier die and immediately find out he was only ensuring his own survival. It appears that our Hero does not yet know whether he’s a good or bad person, and when he asks his companion Clara, she herself can’t say. This is a dark Time Lord, very different from his previous incarnations, and we’re not supposed to agree with him outright. Perhaps this is why the 1st Episode “Deep Breath”, thought it appropriate to allow for one final goodbye to Matt Smith, the 11th Doctor. We, like Clara, are being introduced to a character we’re not quite sure we should trust.
There’s a rumored departure, scheduled for the end of this season. Jenna Coleman, the actress playing Clara Oswald, the Doctor’s “Assistant”, is said to leave her role, although no specifications have been given as to who will replace her, or how she will go – quite obviously so as to not spoil anything. Will Clara leave the Doctor of her own accord, perhaps because she doesn’t like what he’s becoming? This season has been dedicated to building up her character so far, perhaps in preparation for her departure. There’s no telling what’s coming next. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is an unexpected, yet welcome change to the series. There are many mysteries yet to be solved, and that’s part of the magic in Doctor Who. This show still has a lot of fire left in it.