#917 – Doctor Who-esday: Deep Breath



Since I’ve finally caught up with Doctor Who I thought now would be a good time to introduce Doctor Who-esdays. Every Tuesday during the season I’ll provide some thoughts and insights into the previous weekend’s episode of Doctor Who. It’s nice to finally be caught up so that I can participate in the conversation instead of recusing myself to avoid spoilers.


The Doctor made his return in “Deep Breath,” the first episode of the eighth series. “Deep Breath” was also the debut of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. I’ve been looking forward to Capaldi’s debut for months. I wasn’t disappointed but I’m definitely excited to see how his Doctor develops over this season.

Here are some thoughts I had while watching “Deep Breath.” 


The oldest reason there is for anything: to be accepted.

The conversation between Clara and Lady Vastra highlighted one of the main tensions in “Deep Breath.” Like other companions before her, Clara had to wrestle with a new face on her old Doctor. Instead of the dashing, young Eleventh Doctor, the Twelfth Doctor is older, with gray hair and a lined face. The older face unsettled Clara. Vastra said that the Doctor had chosen a younger face for the oldest reason: to be accepted. Our need to be accepted goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. As soon as Adam and Eve sinned, the first thing they did was cover themselves up to hide their shame. Adam and Eve hid who they were so that they could be accepted. Vastra followed their example with her veil, the Doctor followed it with his face and we often follow it by donning any number of masks. We don’t need a mask to find acceptance, though. We simply need to turn to our Heavenly Father who accepts us just as we are.

Promised Land

It’s a superstition that you have picked up from all the humanity you’ve stuff inside yourself.

The cyborg in “Deep Breath” was looking for the Promised Land. He had potentially been waiting for the Promised Land for millions of years, never dying and never reaching his destination. Despite the Doctor’s objections, at the end of the episode the cyborg found something akin to his Promised Land. The idea of his Promised Land gave him hope to keep pressing on, even if pressing on meant harvesting human organs. In Christ we have our own Promised Land: the new heaven and the new earth promised at Jesus’s return. We don’t simply hope that one day we’ll be transported away from this place; we hope that one day this place will be made right, that all sadness, pain, disease, hunger and selfishness will be wiped away. The cyborg had to constantly renew his body in order to reach his Promised Land. We know, though, that everything will find full renewal when our Promised Land comes here. When Christ returns he will bring the Promised Land with him, the new heaven and the new earth, where God’s kingdom reigns.


You probably can’t even remember where you got that face from.

I loved the shot when both the Doctor and the cyborg were looking at their reflections in the silver platter. Both the Doctor and the cyborg refreshed their faces over and over again, potentially forgetting where the faces even came from. After the premiere I saw some grumbling about the Doctor always being disoriented after his regeneration. The grumblers wondered if it was necessary to always spend a new Doctor’s first episode dealing with his confusion. I think it’s necessary for the story but it’s also necessary for the audience. We spent three seasons with Matt Smith as the Doctor and we need to go through a process similar to that of Clara and the Doctor in “Deep Breath.” It would be jarring if the new Doctor showed up and didn’t address any of the tensions of having a new face and new mannerisms. Processing is important; it helps us come to terms with whatever reality we’re facing. Instead of internalizing the Doctor’s regeneration, we need to walk through the process of his transformation. And instead of internalizing situations in our lives, we need to process through them so that we can address them in a healthy manner.

I enjoyed “Deep Breath,” especially the back-and-forth between the Doctor and Clara. This episode definitely created some new mysteries, as Moffat likes to do, and provided some direction for the rest of the season. I’m excited for what’s to come as we see more from the Twelfth Doctor.

What did you think about “Deep Breath?”


4 comments on “#917 – Doctor Who-esday: Deep Breath”

  1. While I agree with you that some type of confusion or transition needs to be made for the Doctor’s regenerations, I think that it could be done with more variance (although I don’t mind that much). The very first regeneration was followed by Patrick Troughton’s intense certainty, but he was never confused. Just the opposite-they did the transition in an interesting way in that Troughton essentially ignored the regeneration and acted like nothing had changed-making his companions to be the ones who were confused, rather than himself. That’s one thing that I am not sure if I like about the new Doctor-there are a lot of situations where he needs help from others, and times when it seems like others are actually more wise and know what’s best for him more than he does. But, he’s supposed to be the wise and knowledgeable one. I haven’t fully decided how I feel about it yet, but I’m not sure I like it.

    1. I never saw the Doctor’s first regeneration. It sounds interesting.

      It is different for the Doctor to need the help of others, but I think that also comes with age. A younger Doctor could have been more headstrong but as he’s gotten older perhaps he realizes that he needs the help of others. I know that the more mature I’ve become, the more I realize I need the help of others.

      1. An interesting way of looking at it. But, the Doctor doesn’t ask for the help now. From what I’ve seen, original Doctor was much wiser than current doctor. I’m hoping Capaldi changes that. And, I suppose this time he did ask for help, So there you go.

  2. I’m glad you’re caught up, too! Looking forward to the ongoing conversation.

    The processing of a new Doctor is important, but I’m beginning to realize that, for all he changes, he is essentially a static character. Whatever character growth he might experience in one “incarnation,” he’ll probably have to go through it again a few faces down the road. It’s the companions who can grow and change for real.

    Do you think Missy’s “heaven” really is a promised land, though? I am betting “no” on that one…!

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