Season Recaps/Season in Review: Doctor Who Season 8

doctor who

These season in review posts are to benefit those that have already seen the season. I won’t be giving away every detail but there will be spoilers in these posts.

I’m rewatching shows and writing about them prior to their new season premiere’s and the first show that will premiere will be Doctor Who. So, it’s the first up. These are my thoughts and comments on the 8th season of the Doctor Who revival series.

801 Deep Breath

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Peter Capaldi’s first adventure as the Doctor starts out with a T Rex in London. She coughs up the TARDIS with Vastra and company as witnesses. When Strax knocks on the TARDIS door out comes the Doctor and a flustered Clara. The Doctor is a bit confused. He’s having trouble with names and faces. After a bit of ranting, he passes out.

It’s an interesting start. I must admit after the first adventure of the 11th Doctor it’s a bit of a let down. That isn’t to say that the 12th Doctor isn’t amusing. He is very amusing. The story is just not as well written as I think a first adventure should be. The Doctor himself is great, though.

Clara is much more disappointing. Her confusion and upset by the Doctor’s regeneration is a bit ridiculous. Of all the companions she is the one that should not be bothered by the regeneration. She has walked through his timeline and seen every incarnation of him. Of all of the Doctor’s companions and friends she should be the most accepting. I get that she had a bit of a crush on the 11th Doctor and his aging so much was a bit of a throw but….she should recover from that quicker than she does. She should know that he IS the Doctor and not keep acting like the Doctor is gone. She has seen his whole life. She shouldn’t be so affected by his regeneration. Vasta says as much to her but she isn’t the most accepting of him even after this.

I do love Vastra’s explanation for why the Doctor looked young. He wanted to be accepted by everyone. People prefer young humans, not ancient Time Lords. She speaks the words to Clara but she is talking to the audience. They made the Doctor young to bring in new fans and now they trust those fans to accept the older Doctor. They are daring us to dislike him, to criticize him as Clara does. They are already judging us if we don’t like him. They are saying, “If you really love the Doctor, you will still love THIS Doctor.” He IS still the Doctor.

His appearance is also discussed with some interesting clues dropped. He says he has seen his face before and that it’s like he is trying to tell himself something. Presumably, this is referencing Peter Capaldi’s previous appearance in the episode Pompeii. While this is never explained in this season, I assume it may be in the upcoming 9th Season. So, these are useful things to remember.

As far as the episode’s central story, outside of the new Doctor adjusting to his new self and Clara getting use to his new look, has to do with a series of bodies reduced to ash and flames. It’s not a very interesting story. Which is unfortunate since it features the return of the clockwork creatures from The Girl in the Fireplace. I think it would have been better suited for the middle of the season when the story could be given more time.

In conclusion, the episode works well as an introduction to the Doctor but casts Clara in an inconsistent and irritating light and features a lackluster central story.

802 Into the Dalek

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This time we open with a space battle. A ship is destroyed by the daleks. The woman from the ship is picked up by the TARDIS. When she is taken back to her people they take the Doctor hostage and insist he treat their patient, a Dalek, by being shrunk and sent into the Dalek.

Back on Earth in our time, Clara meets Danny Pink, another teacher at her school. They’re both very awkward with each other….that seems to be the extent of their story at this point.

When the Doctor picks up Clara. Once they have gotten some stuff straightened out, like why he left her in Glasgow 3 weeks ago, the Doctor asks Clara “Am I a good man?” and she says she doesn’t know. Again Clara is doing what the companions were always meant to do, being the audience surrogate. Whether the Doctor is a good man is definitely up for question.

What is “good” and what is “bad”? This is a question brought to play in this episode, the Dalek that the soldier want the Doctor to repair surprises him by saying that “all Daleks must die”…making it a “good” dalek. Or rather a “bad” dalek since dalek’s are supposed to be evil and this one is not. The Doctor really wants to believe that their could be a Dalek that isn’t evil.

I find this odd…..he has met a non-evil Dalek before. The very first time he met Clara Oswin Oswald she WAS a not-evil Dalek. She saved the Doctor and Amy and Rory. She doesn’t remember this (as evidenced by her not knowing who “Amy” is when the Doctor mentions her in the previous episode) but the Doctor does. I guess maybe….maybe this is why he is so open to the idea of all Daleks not being evil. His memory still seems a bit glitchy but he DOES remember things.

The mission of repairing the Dalek doesn’t go the way they hoped it would. Even the Doctor’s plan to fix things when they go wrong still doesn’t go exactly as planned but…..as usual the outcome isn’t awful.

Personally, I still think the Daleks are silly. A trashcan with an egg beater and a plunger for arms just is not scary. I don’t care how many times you say it is scary……..it just is not.

803 Robot of Sherwood

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The Doctor asks Clara where she wants to go and who she would want to meet if she could go anywhere and meet anyone. She wants to meet Robin Hood. The Doctor says he is not real but Clara insists so they go to England, Sherwood Forest in 1190 AD.

And they meet Robin Hood. Clara acts like a giggling fan girl and the Doctor remains skeptical.

It’s the first fun episode of the season. A brightly lit, light hearted comedic romp. Well, light hearted for Doctor Who.

Clara dresses like she is going to a renaissance fair. Her dress is red and gorgeous. She has the long tasseled hair to match. Although, I’m not sure where she got hair extensions from but perhaps she stores all kinds of things in the TARDIS. Who knows.

Robin introduces the Doctor and Clara to his “merry men” and everyone laughs and enjoys themselves, much to the Doctors annoyance. The Doctor is determined that something is amiss and that Robin Hood and his story are not real.

I like fun stand alone episodes. Although, the Doctor and his crankiness is a bit much. Even if he is correct that something is amiss.

Robots are apparently abound in Nottingham. Which really shouldn’t be a surprise given the episode title.

I, like Clara, always loved the story of Robin Hood. I’ve seen every movie adaptation of the story that I am aware of existing. While this isn’t my favorite version of the story, it’s certainly a fun episode of Doctor Who. The Doctor and Robin squabbling like children is entertaining and the story is simple and fun. Well….simple for an episode of Doctor Who. The ending is a bit bland and I think they wasted the opportunity for a better use of the character of Robin Hood, though.

804 Listen

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The episode you shouldn’t watch alone in the dark.

I am not easily scared but this episode has some truly creepy moments.

Although, I argue that the proof of a creature capable of perfect hiding is that we sometimes choose to speak aloud when we are alone. I speak aloud to my pets and my baby and when I was a kid I talked to the posters on my walls (I was an odd kid who didn’t really have friends that I was comfortable talking to about some things….so shush….the posters were basically my versions of having an imaginary friend). I think some people just like to talk aloud. People who are not super social but who sometimes need to speak often speak aloud to themselves….I don’t think it’s a sign that we are not alone.

Not the point…..I know. It is a sort of metaphor….or something. I just think that some people talk aloud is something easily misunderstood by those that don’t do it.

Introverts who spend a lot of time alone are easily misunderstood by super social extroverts.

The Doctor himself is the epitome of the introvert. Clara asks him, when he tells her his theory that everyone has a silent companion that is always with them, “how long have you been traveling alone?”. The Doctor shouldn’t be alone to long. It’s not good for him. He is very human in that sense. Very much like the human introvert, who craves time alone but who also needs to be with other people. The constant struggle of the introvert.

I wonder if this is a trait he has always had or if all his years of traveling with humans, interacting with them…saving them….has rubbed off on him.

Of course, the Doctor does have a silent companion…..sometimes at least……the audience. We are his silent companion. We watch. We listen.

This episode brings up some weird questions about timelines. We will get back to that later in the season, though.

This very creepy episode shows us another moment from the Doctor’s timeline where Clara, his impossible girl, shows up where she shouldn’t be. Funny how she does that even after she isn’t supposed to be popping up in random places anymore.

This is one of my favorite episodes of the season. I love the foray into the actually scary. Although, I know they got some flack about it because it was to scary for small children but surely if the children could handle all the sad moments from past seasons of the show’s revival then they could also handle the creepy. Sadness is not less haunting than monsters under the bed. For me as a child, monsters would have much less scary, less confusing, than something that twinged at emotions like loss, emotions that I didn’t understand yet. Children understand fear. Fear isn’t going to hurt a child. If anything this episode could comfort a child’s fears.

805 Time Heist

doctorwho time heist

This is my favorite episode of the season. It’s brilliant. If the last episode was Doctor Who’s version of a horror movie then this is their version of action heist movie. It’s fast. It’s fun. It’s awesome.

This season adds to my list of guest stars I wish could become companions. Psi, the augmented human, would be an awesome companion. He would also be very useful. I wonder what happens if you hook up an augmented human to the TARDIS?

I would like to see one of the companions be someone not 100% human….augmented human would work perfectly. I’d like someone alien but since the companion is the audience surrogate they seem to want to keep them human. So…..augmented or mutant human would be an interesting twist.

The Doctor seems very cold and logical in this episode but that isn’t unusual for him. I’ve definitely seem Vulcan-like traits throughout the Doctor’s history. Only in the end, he isn’t really being that cold buuut to get to that part he has to be a Vulcan.

The reoccurring appearances of Missy continues in this episode. We’ll get to her later. I feel like the minotaur looking alien that feeds on guilt will reappear eventually.

I really love this episode. It’s like an episode of Leverage that the Doctor and Clara randomly popped in to.

As the season progresses the Doctor does seem to be thinking more clearly. So, that’s good.

806 The Caretaker

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Just as Clara is thinking she can’t handle juggling adventures with the Doctor and dating Danny Pink, the Doctor says he won’t be going on trips anymore for while with Clara. He has to go under cover. Clara thinks she will finally get some time to focus on Danny….only to find out that the Doctor is undercover at her school.

The thing is….she acts so relieved to have a break from trips with the Doctor but he isn’t forcing her to go. She is going of her own volition. It’s a choice. She is basically happy that her choices are being taken away. She no longer has to decide to choose the Doctor or Danny. She can just focus on Danny but…….shouldn’t she be able to make that choice? Amy chose Rory over the Doctor.

I have trouble investing in Clara and Danny. I like Danny but them as a couple is just never developed enough to make me truly care for them. There is plenty of time to do it…it just isn’t done very well. So, since this episode is largely about them it isn’t one of my favorites.

One thing I did like was a brief mention of River Song. It’s in passing when talking Clara but then mention is interesting since there has been talk of bringing River back. River is a character I really liked the idea of but had trouble getting into her story due to how it was told. I would be interested to see how her and Peter Capaldi interact. I do hope that she pops up eventually.

Also, the Doctor seeming to shop around for new companions is a small preview, I think, of the fact that Clara has been around a long time. He knows she won’t be around much longer. This coming season will make her the longest standing companion of the show revival. Jenna Coleman seems to continue to rethink her leaving but eventually I think the writers won’t give her a choice.

807 Kill The Moon

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The Doctor, Clara and Courtney go to the moon. It sounds simple enough……only….of course it isn’t.

In the future, the moon is behaving…oddly. It has gravity, something is happening to it and no one knows what is happening or why. It’s causing chaos on Earth. So, of course we react the way we always do….we decide to blow it up.

The TARDIS materializes on the shuttle headed to the moon with the bombs. The Doctor has a knack for just sort of showing up during things like this, doesn’t he? Go out for a fun romp to the Moon end up in the middle of an Apocalypse.

This is a interesting little episode. It isn’t the weakest moment of the season (that one is yet to come) but it isn’t the strongest (that would be Time Heist). It is always fun to have someone new in the TARDIS. So, that part is cool. Although, I don’t think Courtney would be a good companion. It is just a bit creepy taking children on adventures like that…..It’s pretty much kidnapping….even if they are back before anyone notices. Plus, it would cause them to noticeably age faster than they should. What if you got stuck somewhere for a couple years? How would they explain that to their parents “Yeah mom I know I was only gone 5 minutes but I met a time traveler you see and we were stuck on an alien planet”……I don’t see that going over well. But anyway….moon spiders……fun episode. Fun twist ending. Fun all around.

Okay maybe it isn’t fun…it’s actually about a pretty intense moral dilemma.

You can not blame a baby for kicking” is what Clara says and it is a good analogy for a lot of things. In this case of course she means it fairly literally.

808 Mummy of the Orient Express

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The Doctor takes Clara on the Orient Express, an exact replica of the original Orient Express that travels through space, for her last adventure in the TARDIS. Naturally, a Mummy is killing people on the train and only the person being killed can see it. Once you see it you have 66 seconds to live.

Clara once again has a random costume complete with wig. She looks very cute. So, that is a plus. I still would love to see her costume closet inside the TARDIS. I hope the next companion stumbles on to it. Or maybe it is someone else’s costume closet and she stumbled on to it. Either way, I’d love to see it. It must be awesome. She always has an outfit for every time period and every location.

Although, it is n’t the best episode it isn’t a bad episode, exactly. At least not on repeated viewing. I was less fond of it the first time around. It does just feel a bit redundant. It’s like they took aspects from different past episodes and pieced them into one episode.

They use the countdown thing a lot….well not exactly count down but storylines involving time are common this season. I’m assuming there us a purpose or that…reminding us that no one on this show is permanent maybe? The Doctor will regenerate again…Clara will be swapped out for a new companion. Of all the shows on TV is possibly the only one that can go on indefinitely and that no one will be around forever on. Everyone has a ticking clock.

Points for the Doctor saying “Are you my Mummy?”..that makes the 12th Doctor the second incaranation to reference that line since it’s original episode during the 9th Doctor’s brief tenure.

809 Flatline

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This was Clara’s big episode. She got to work a case alone…sort of. This is also one of the weakest episode’s of the season. The storyline is odd…..some kind of beings from Flatland are trying to take over the world. Okay, not from Flatland but some kind of two dimensional beings….it’s all very vague and weird. They’re turning our world two dimensional and they have done something that effects the TARDIS and is making it shrink. The Doctor gets stuck inside and Clara has to be his eyes and legs in trying to figure out what is going on. She essentially IS the Doctor for this episode. It’s a little frightening how good she is at thinking like the Doctor but I guess that makes sense seeing as how she has walked through his timeline and touched every part of his life. That part is interesting but the story itself….

It just feels a bit…..well….flat. It’s not that entertaining. I don’t have much to say about it….

Clara continues to lie to the Doctor about Danny being okay with her traveling with him and to lie to Danny about traveling with the Doctor. Even when he calls when she is on the verge of possibly dying, she continues to lie. Their relationship was always a bit…flawed to me. I am noticing this time around watching the episodes though that this is intentional. They weren’t supposed to be the fairy tale romance (that was Rory and Amy) or even the tragic lost loves (that would be Rose and the Doctor himself). They’re something much more average than that. Two people in love who are probably not really right for each other.

810 In the Forest of the Night

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This would probably be the weakest storyline (tied with Flatline, at least). Which is unfortunate because it is a good episode for Danny. He gets to show that he IS a hero. It’s a foreshadowing of the upcoming finale in that way.

A forest has grown overnight covering the whole world. This is another story that doesn’t cast a great light on humans. We assume the forest is hostile and want to destroy it because….of course we do.

There is a cute fairytale aspect to the story but it isn’t really explored that well. It’s a weak story. It’s probably supposed to be some kind of metaphor. Clara is lost in her life right now…making bad decisions….lying….in this episode she is literally lost in a forest…or it could be a metaphor for humanity in general…I don’t know. It’s all a bit muddled. Moving on….

811 Dark Water

doctor who dark water

Doctor Who doesn’t kill people very often. I mean, it does but it doesn’t kill main important characters. When it does it usually does so in big ways. So, this was interesting. It’s ,as Clara says, boring and ordinary.

Also, interesting, how exactly was Danny Pink an ancestor to Orson Pink if he dies without any children? Didn’t we meet his descendant? Seemingly his and Clara’s descendant? Soooooooooo, how? The only way that makes any sense is if Clara is pregnant when he dies…or goes back in time and sees him again and gets pregnant but that seems like a thing she shouldn’t be able to do. That could be interesting, though…..and a good reason for her to stop traveling with the Doctor.

The whole thing where people who die are still connected to their bodies….they never say if that is supposed to be real or not. It is portrayed as real but it seems like it’s just part of Missy’s scheme. She has all the souls trapped in a Gallifreyan hard drive or something. Keeping them on Earth is likely what is tying them to their bodies….right? It isn’t really all that clear? Which is to bad. It’s an interesting and creepy story all on it’s own….it didn’t need Cybermen to show up and upstage it.

812 Death in Heaven

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I really dislike Missy. I know that it’s interesting that they have introduced the (much debated) idea of gender swapping during regeneration. It opens up the possibility of a female Doctor (much like River Song’s race changing regeneration opened up the possibility of a non-white Doctor). It’s a big thing in the Whovian world…..but she is just so damn irritating. I was happy she was gone but she is apparently coming back next season. So….blah.

On the note of Clara and Danny, this ending is very sweet. The Cyberman with a heart of gold….or more so the loyal heart of a soldier in love, I suppose. The image of Clara hugging him was particularly iconic. That one has stuck in my head.

I think it’s important to remember that just because Clara and Danny were not the long lasting, all consuming, great love that was Rory and Amy (or the Doctor and Rose…or the Doctor and River if that is more your taste) doesn’t mean they weren’t in love. I think Clara is acting very young and very naive when she says she will never tell another man that she loves them but I think she does mean it at the time.

The beginning of their story was rushed and it made them hard to invest in as a couple. It seemed like they had just started dating she suddenly she is announcing that she loves him. My first reaction to that was “No you don’t” but that wasn’t fair. She says in the finale that she wasn’t very good at loving him and that is certainly true but she cared enough to put in a lot of energy to hide her adventures with the Doctor from Danny (both before and after Danny knew about the Doctor) and to hide that she was hiding her adventures from Danny from the Doctor (that was a confusing sentence with many grammar errors but I’m leaving it….it fits this show). It just takes to the end of their story to see that love and I think even Clara herself maybe didn’t really understand it until she lost it. When she loses him (in Dark Water) she betrays the Doctor and threatens him in an attempt to try to save Danny. Not a great move but the Doctor still helps her because he cares for her. Then later in this episode she says the Doctor is the one man she would never lie to but that is also a lie.

In many ways Clara has become the Doctor. In both Flatline and this episode she pretends to be him but she has become him in a lot of ways. She is very different from how she started. Maybe it’s from being with him so long or maybe it’s from traipsing through his timeline but she is becoming more like him than I think even he is comfortable with. At the end she lies to the Doctor again. And he lies to her.

Rule Number 1: The Doctor Lies.

813 Last Christmas

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I rarely like the Christmas episodes. I just don’t think they’re that great. This one is probably my favorite of them all, though. So, there is that. It’s a fun episode.

Nick Frost plays Santa Claus. Which is awesome.

Clara wanders out on to a roof in her nightgown and finds Santa and his elves sorting toys. The Doctor shows up and tells her to get in to the TARDIS right now. She does. They go to a remote polar base where 4 scientists are stationed. Creatures, known as dream crabs, are attached to the faces of 4 other people in a room. They attack if you think of them.

This is actually a really really good episode. It’s a very involved and had many false endings and twists. I won’t chronicle all of them. It’s one you should definitely watch. It’s in my top 3 episodes of the season.

Although, I actually wish the last false ending with the Doctor coming to Clara when she is old had been real. I think it would have been a great ending for her character. It’s one that hasn’t been done before and it would have been interesting to have seen a longer scene of the Doctor interacting with the older Clara. The Doctor is so afraid of his companions aging…of them dying…it’s why he always left them before they started aging (the 10th Doctor said as much to Sarah Jane), it would have been nice to see him having to interact with one of them after they had aged almost to the point of being about to die. He seemed tender and sweet but hesitant and distant with her. He said he couldn’t see a difference. She looked the same to him. The 12th Doctor has been having some issues with recognizing age since he first showed up. I have theories on that but none to share right now.

The episode ends with a once again young Clara jumping into the TARDIS with the Doctor to travel again.

doctor who listen

As far as these episodes go, my favorites are, in this order: Time Heist, Kill The Moon, Listen and Last Christmas. My least favorites are The Caretaker, Flatline and In the Forest of the Night. The rest fall somewhere in the middle. 

Jenna Coleman was supposed to leave after this season. Last Christmas was supposed to be her last episode but she decided to stay for another season. So, this may be her last coming up….but who knows. She is now the longest running companion in the series revival. I like Clara a lot but I really think it’s probably time for her to go. The writers are running out of good ideas for her. I’m hoping she exits this coming season.

I’ve had more than enough of Missy, as well. 

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Doctor Who Series 9 will premiere on September 19th..

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2 thoughts on “Season Recaps/Season in Review: Doctor Who Season 8

  1. While Rose is first traveling with the doctor he tells her that he has a closet full of stuff to dress in. It seemed practical enough to me when you travel to different time periods. Time Heist and Listen were some of my favorites too. They come back to back and then the rest of the season is kinda down hill.

    Liked by 1 person

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