Published: August 31, 2014
This past episode was delightfully improved. I felt a breath of Who again. Someone behind the scenes made a note to cut the fanfiction out and we had a solid episode with a plot that went from A to B. Not perfect, but watchable. I also noticed that this week's episode had a co-writer.
So far I like Danny, even if his Tragic Past(TM) was like being hit in the face with a Sadness Water Balloon. Repeatedly. He has potential to be a good love interest and potential to grow. I only hope he doesn't become Mickey 2.0.
At this point in the shows as a whole, or maybe just because I'm an adult, I'm not really surprised by or scared of Daleks anymore. I know they're iconic, and the show would never get rid of them. I'm not even saying I dislike them. They're just sort of the Team Rocket of Doctor Who. They show up. They always show up. They're defeated, and they show up again. It's hard to keep a good Dalek down.
I guess what I'm tired of is there always being a "final solution! If we break this morality code, we can defeat the Daleks once and for ALL!" Except they don't. The Daleks will never go away. And so you know that all the 20-40 minutes of moral hand-wringing is just inevitable time-wasting plotiness.
The interaction between the Doctor and Clara has greatly improved with Capaldi's take on a distant, more self-absorbed character. He has ideas of his own and Clara can either try to pry, or leave him to himself. This space gives both characters room for personal growth and friendship. It's far removed from obvious, forced, inevitable sexual attraction that we usually know is going to happen to whatever two main characters by whatever mid-season finale.
Gosh, it's almost like once you take away Clara fawning over the doctor, she actually has things to do. This should be obvious to many writers, but unfortunately even in 2014 a lot of creative professionals need to be reminded that women aren't just for decoration. Clara had a significant role in saving the day through decided actions, and not just a magical, coincidental existence. Clara is at her best when she is, like Rose or Martha or Donna, an absolutely ordinary person thrown into extraordinary situations. She is realistic and funny. We don't need a magical companion, we need a relatable one. A human one. The companion has always been the humanity to offset the Doctor's alienness.
I liked this episode. I have hope for the show if producers and writers can wrangle in Moffat's Fanfiction Train. I want the show to be good, and I want to love it as I once loved it in the past.
On Capaldi being a Jerk Doctor(TM): I sort of expected this from both Capaldi and Moffat. Capaldi is ok with embracing a darker, more authoritarian doctor without romantic entanglements. I like this. And I'm also used to it. If you look back, Matt Smith's doctor was exactly this darker, authoritarian doctor the whole time. You just probably didn't notice as much because he was whizz-banging around with childish antics. And Childish antics and genocide don't really mix well. This is the same Matt Smitth doctor minus the goofy whizzbang. Same moral dilemas, new eyebrows.