Doctor Who season premiere recap: 'Deep Breath'

A new Doctor contends with a series of strange murders, his companions, and himself.
Ep. 01 | Aired Aug 23, 2014


At this point, the plot and general themes start pouring out. Here, we get the first reveal of the villain au jour, the Half-Faced Man: a robotic-like Jack the Ripper type with a hint of Jeepers Creepers as he takes the eyes of his victim. Vastra berates Clara for judging the Doctor by his face, accusing her of being too shallow to look past appearances and recognize that he is the same man inside. Clara, understandably, takes offense to this and fires right back to Vastra that that’s simply not her and that Vastra herself has misjudged Clara’s own face. The Doctor, meanwhile, recovers for the most part and attempts to reconnect with his dinosaur lover (remember, he’s not quite all there yet). That is, he tries to until the beast goes up in flames. Again, literally. Yes, really.

The immolation causes the Doctor and his companions to rush to the scene where the Doctor’s drive to help the innocent kicks into gear. He quickly deduces that there are a series of murders at play and promptly disappears after the case. The companions are left to return home and try to figure out what to do next, which is accompanied with some amusing sequences where Clara bonds with the others over newspapers and subconscious readings.

The most important scene of the episode is when the Doctor spends a long time agonizing over his new self until he finally comes to grips. Much of his consternation has to do with his face: "It's covered in lines. I didn't do the frowning. Who frowned me this face?" The Doctor recognizes that the face itself is a point that he has made to himself—but a point he can’t remember at all. In his mania, we get many glimpses of the goofiness that Eleven and Ten captured so well but with a more cantankerous and sharper edge. He retains the erratic machine-gun-like thought process that Eleven expertly rattled off, but it’s no longer whimsical and confident—it is sharp and worried. He is no longer the self-assured Doctor like the past few incarnations but, instead, one that is about as unsure as the Ninth Doctor. If Nine was the PTSD Doctor, Ten was the Lovelorn Romantic, and Eleven was the Grandfatherly Goof, then Twelve is the Uncertain Doctor. Everything out of his mouth so far is a question with no easy answers. Why that face? What’s the point of a room just for a bed? Why don’t people of similar heights just use labels?

NEXT: The plot must go on

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