Things I enjoyed about the Doctor Who season 8 premiere:
1. Clara not being coddled and being her own hero. This is the Clara I always wanted to see. THIS is the Clara we should have started with. She was strong and she had to fight and she proved that she could hold her own. What we’d had absolutely shoved in our faces every two seconds up to this point is “CLARA IS SPOOOOOKY AND MYSTERIOUS AND MUST BE PROTECTED AT ALL COSTS BECAUSE SHE IS SO SO SPECIAL LIKE A SNOWFLAKE AND THAT IS IMPORTANT.” Fuck that. She’s a lady and a fighter and she doesn’t need to be babied. I particularly loved the Doctor calling out her flaws and calling her a control freak. New Doctor is super not gonna coddle her.
2. The Doctor fighting to find himself alone. Twelve spent nearly the entire episode absent of friends and companions, working out this new body and mind and personality all on his own. This is the first regeneration in some 2500 years, and the first regeneration he’s spent alone in close to 3000. Ten had Rose and Eleven had Amelia. But in, arguably, the Doctor’s most dangerous rebirth—regeneration thirteen, the Doctor that shouldn’t exist—he is alone. Don’t touch me, I’m feeling feelings.
3. Jenny calling out Vastra on her bullsh. A friend said that he was disappointed in seeing a healthy gay relationship on mainstream television being reduced to “I am superior and you have no agency.” What I think we saw here with Jenny and Vastra was, actually, a distinct step away from that. That isn’t to say there’s not a fair amount of it, especially in Deep Breath. But here’s what we know: Vastra has always felt at least a little superior to humans. We know that Vastra and Jenny were mistress and servant before they fell in love and were married. And we know that to keep up appearances, they maintain that illusion in public. So now all of Vastra’s bullshit about having Jenny still pouring tea in private, having her pose just to “brighten the room,” yadda yadda, is bitchy, but we now see Jenny calling her out on this. We see Jenny saying I’m not your damn servant woman; I’m your fucking wife now. Jenny stands up to herself. Jenny calls Vastra out. Portraying bullshit and having it shot down can be as important as not portraying it in the first place. (see: Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor not even in the general area of fucking around when it comes to evil capitalist regimes.) I’m not saying I’m completely satisfied with the level at which it happened. I want to see more of that dynamic, I want to see Jenny grow, and I want to see a relationship absent of Vastra being controlling. But, I think it’s important to notice the steps towards that happening.
4. Meh-CGI dinosaur à la early new-WHO. I don’t have a lot to say about this. I just really like cheesy CG that reminds me of the RTD era. Green screens and plasticy-looking computer generated dinosaurs. I just find it hugely endearing.
5. New opening sequence/re-orchestration. I’m so totally on board with the clock imagery and the numerical elements in Twelve’s opening, and I like the theremin-y sound. (Though for the record, season 4 was my favorite orchestration. CELLOS.)
6. Robots. I fucking love robots. The creepy clicky cyborgs actually unnerved me. I’ve never actually felt unnerved by a Doctor Who enemy before. And they led into the Daleks in episode 2 very well.
7. The end of the episode. Fucking slayed. And by the “end” I mean the wrap of the episode itself, not the teasery ending. Turns out I’m still not over Eleven. I’m gonna cry forever.
As for the woman in the garden… I have no strong feelings or theories quite yet. I’ve heard both “she’s the Master!” and “she’s River,” though I’m sure she’ll turn out to be neither.
Welcome aboard, Peter.