DR. WHO: SEASON 8, EPISODES 1 - 8 RECAP
Sorry miss, heaven must wait.

written by Jermaine Lowery

Hello I’m the Doctor.
Dr. Who? That is the question burned into the minds of Dr. Who fans across the world!  With the onset of season 8, we are introduced to yet another regeneration of the ancient Time Lord, played by Peter Capaldi. With each regeneration, the Doctor is faced with the enigma of himself, and often asks - “Who am  I?” “What kind of man am I?” Capaldi brings a sense of darkness to forefront that his predecessors only revealed in very small doses. If I had to sum this Doctor up in one word, it would be deliberate. The fluff of Doctor’s past has blown away as this Doctor means business, and does what he must to get things done. You may not want to be standing in his way.

Armed with two hearts, a sonic screwdriver, and angry eyebrows that can open bottle caps, the Doctor is accompanied by his fashionable companion, Clara Oswald, portrayed by Jenna Coleman. Together they set off through all of time and space using brilliance to overcome catastrophic situations without dying.  It’s tougher than it sounds.  Season 8 does not disappoint taking us through the journey of learning to love a new Doctor,  while enjoying the spacecapades he and Clara endure. Yes I said spacecapades, moving on. 

Keywords:
Intentional, emotional, perplexing, morally ambiguous, intense, brilliant.

The Good:
The mystery surrounding the Doctor
The  show’s divergence away from the normal cast of characters
Character development of the new, no nonsense Doctor
Creative plots and exciting  delivery

The Uncomfortable:
The Doctor’s overbearing, calculating nature
The unfamiliar tension between Dr. Who and Clara
Clara’s delicate balance between life with the Doctor and her new love interest Danny Pink

The TARDIS Ride:
This week brought the 8th episode of the 8th season of Dr. Who. Our new Doctor has stumbled into dinosaurs, robots, Daleks, more robots, fear itself, bank robberies, Clara’s school, the moon, and mummies. That’s a lot to take in while still looking for your moral compass, but Capaldi does so in a fashion that’s all his own. Spinning around in the TARDIS and flashing the red-lining of his fancy suit jacket, the Doctor plays each moment like another move on the chessboard.  Sacrificial pawns are all around and we are introduced to a concept new to Doctor Who… the afterlife in heaven. We are also left wondering, who is this mysterious woman in heaven to greet everyone, and what string connects these seemingly random events from one adventure to the next - and just who is pulling it?

Episode 1 - Deep Breath
A disoriented Doctor and a confused Clara appear in England after being coughed up by a startled T-Rex. The Doctor is greeted by some old friends, Madame Vastra, her wife Jenny, and the pride of the Sontaran Empire, Strax. Having just regenerated the Doctor is in desperate need of rest. After waking and finding the dinosaur he promised to save burst into flames, the Doctor moves to solve the case.  Robots who have been repairing themselves with human and dinosaur parts for millions of years surface as the key to the Doctor’s new puzzle. A glimpse of the Doctor’s cold, calculating self, forged over the past 2,000 years peeks through the cracks when he utters the words, “I have a horrible feeling I’m going to have to kill you” with his drink in hand. The storyline also lightly touched on the tumultuous inner conflict of the Doctor that asks, after you’ve replaced the parts so many times, is there anything left of the original? That is what we will find out as the season unfolds. 

Clara, with a little help from the previous Doctor and a firm pep talk from Lady Vastra, begins to find it in her heart to trust this new Doctor. As trust is a long term task, Clara is having a difficult time letting go of the past and accepting the possibility that the Doctor’s change has left any part of who he was before. The Doctor isn’t making it any easier… he’s Scottish!

Episode 2 - Into the Dalek
Into the Dalek shows the doctor in a role that he seldom embraces, a medical doctor. His patient also happens to be his worst enemy, a Dalek. On the brink of death, the Dalek spouts his words of hatred, as they always do; though this Dalek shared a hatred all too familiar to the Doctor, a hatred of the Daleks. Unable to resist a good puzzle, the distrustful Doctor agreed to be miniaturized and enter the Dalek that begs so desperately to be healed. The Doctor continues to wonder if he is a good man as he flies to the rescue of his worst enemy.  If asking a man to take on a task like this isn’t a test of his character and heart(s), I don’t know what is. Unfortunately, the same rules don’t apply to a Time Lord, so the question remains unanswered. The Doctor is driven deeper into the mystery of himself when he is deemed to be a good Dalek by the healed Dalek. Equipped with a unique connection to the Doctor and knowledge of the true depths of his hatred for the very creature he has saved, one must take this statement as one from a valid source. While the Doctor and his brows try to figure themselves out, Clara is introduced to her new love interest, Danny Pink, a retired soldier turned school teacher. Knowing how the Doctor despises soldiers, there are sure to be interesting times to come.

Episode 3 - Robot of Sherwood
At the request of Clara, the Doctor seeks out Robin Hood while adamantl insisting that he doesn’t exist. Like Stella, the Doctor is getting his groove back as he defeats the legendary Robin Hood with a spoon, not a spork, a spoon. Robin Hood and the Doctor don’t play very well together as they are easily captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham and his fleet of gold stealing robots, with lasers. It becomes clear that the Doctor, in all his accomplishments, in all his brilliance, doesn’t believe in heroes and legends, because he is still uncertain about himself. Fortunately for him, Clara believes in legends and heroes and is able kick the Doctor back into hero mode where he belongs. A spoon!

Episode 4 - Listen
Faced with a being that is always present, but never seen, the Doctor and Clara attempt to unravel a mystery for the ages. The Doctor asks the question that if there was a being that was always present, and never seen, what would it do? He receives his answer - listen.

Juggling travel with the Doctor and dates with Mr. Pink, Clara finds herself in a difficult situation time and time again. Using Clara’s timeline to chase this unseen terror, Clara gets a glimpse into her future family tree as well as a part of the Doctor’s past that has been well hidden over the years. Diverging from the saving a planet, or universe, this unseen enemy, hidden, listening, proves to be a personal demon of the Doctor. Clara’s presence presents itself to be invaluable in putting this enemy to rest, for now.

Episode 5 - Time Heist
As if we don’t already suspect the man, the Doctor finds himself leading a group, including Clara, in a bank robbery. What would make the Doctor agree to rob a bank? The answer to this remains a mystery until tail end of the episode. The time heist begins with the Doctor and Clara sitting at a table with their memories erased and a clear plan to rob a bank. The bank is armed with the ultimate security system that is able to sense guilt. “Soup anyone?” The rag tag team that the Doctor leads each discover what unique talents they bring to the heist. Motivated and led by the last child of Gallifrey sans TARDIS, this adventure begins in mystery and ends in A-HA!.   

Episode 6 - The Caretaker
Clara arrives to work to find that her school has hired a new caretaker, John Smith, the famous alias of the Doctor. Seeing the Doctor at her school, she thinks the worst, alien invasion, hideous monster, and yes... she’s correct. Though this episode has crazy mechanical alien technology, it’s not what makes this story special. The double life that Clara has been leading between the Doctor and Danny come to a head. Unable to hide it any longer, Clara must reveal her true relationship to Danny, the soldier turned teacher.  Danny doesn’t take to secrecy too well. She also reveals Danny to the Doctor, who returns the favor with scorn and contempt, "a soldier." In their climactic confrontation, Danny delivers some pretty harsh words to the Doctor in an attempt to let Clara see his true nature. With everyone’s relationships being put to the test, the final outcome of what has begun here is uncertain.

Episode 7 - Kill the Moon
Now he’s gone too far. After insulting one of Clara’s students to the point where she may need therapy, like Amy Pond, the Doctor sets out to make things right. A trip to the moon anyone? The seemingly harmless field trip turns into an event that will mold mankind’s very future. Should we kill the moon? Left with an astronaut, a school teacher, a scared teen, and 100 tons of explosives to make that decision, we shall soon find our answer. The Doctor pulls a disappearing act leaving the female trio to live, or die, with the decision they make. Not cool Doctor, not cool. After a season of being treated like an abused caretaker, Clara makes a tough, emotional decision about her relationship with the Doctor.

Episode 8 - Mummy On the Orient Express
Ah the Orient Express, wait, it’s in space? The Doctor and Clara take a relaxing ride on the Orient Express of the future, until people begin to die. As if the weeping angels weren't creepy enough, this creature can only be seen by the person it’s going to kill. An ancient mummy finds its way onto the luxurious Orient Express and the Doctor is forced to figure out its secrets to put a band-aid on the killing. The Doctor reminds us that the time for nonsense is over as he coldly watches the bodies pile up while he searches for his answers.  Can he really be this bad, or is he that good? 

Conclusion:
The Doctor, a name chosen by the Time Lord to stand for healer may take on a new meaning when Capaldi is finished. He embraces all of the scientific knowledge, calculation, and brilliance required to be the best, but his bedside manner resembles that of Dr. Gregory House, without his pills. Not knowing where the Doctor is going with his new demeanor is a source of excitement, wonder, and intensity that is very welcomed by many Dr. Who fans. I believe the Doctor’s kind nature is still in there somewhere, possibly on vacation while he is setting things right in the universe. We have to keep watching to be sure. 

 


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