Cautiously Optimistic with Capaldi
|3 min read
RobynRose's avatar
By RobynRose   |   Watch
8 13 11K (1 Today)
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.
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MillieBee's avatar
MillieBeeHobbyist General Artist
I wanted to throw something at Clara's head when this conversation went down:

CLARA: You're a soldier.  So you shoot people.
POTENTIAL LOVE INTEREST: There's more to modern soldiering than shooting people.
CLARA: So you shoot people and cry about it later.

Jesus Christ, that is just not what you say to an ex-soldier.  Ever.  Normal people would have got a slap, or a 'Fuck off,' but Clara's just so magical she got a date instead. Unimpressed

I think the problem with the Daleks is that they're no longer the show-stoppers.  Back when Rusty Peas Gravy was still running the show, the Daleks rarely showed up unless it was for a finale - much the same as the Cybermen and the Master (neither of which, I believe, have turned up since Moffat started running the show).  The Daleks are less threatening now because their episodes are so much less grand in scale.
iamniquey's avatar
iamniqueyStudent Digital Artist
Stop making me want to go back to Dr. Who. STOP IT!!!! :angry 
RobynRose's avatar
iamniquey's avatar
iamniqueyStudent Digital Artist
viridislament's avatar
viridislamentHobbyist General Artist
When I first heard Capaldi was cast I was hoping for a return to a Pertwee style doctor. It looks like thats the direction it is headed. (I also didn't have the issues with Capaldi's first episode you did, mostly because of the way it mirrored Pertwee's first episode) 
HeatherHitchman's avatar
HeatherHitchmanProfessional General Artist
i too breathed a sigh of relief when i saw this episode, from the start it felt much more like the classic who i love.
the pacing was much better, though it did seem to lose itself a bit at the end, it was a good episode, i even laughed out loud a few times.
manic-medic's avatar
manic-medicHobbyist General Artist
Couldn't have said it better myself. Capaldi's darker, more morally ambiguous Doctor is fab, and finally the writers have woken up to the possibility of Clara functioning as a decent human being as opposed to soppy fangirl. I hope the rest of the series continues with this improvement. I spent too much time last season gnashing my teeth and banging my head against a wall. 
TwistedSynapses's avatar
TwistedSynapsesProfessional Digital Artist
I want to project cautious optimism, but I'm actually quite excited. I need to scale back the cynic in me; Capaldi was fantastic.

Although... I honestly didn't mind the whiz-banging of Smith. The feverish darkness of the character spoke to me. I just couldn't shake the feeling that the series was wasting that potential!

What I see in Capaldi is a new hope. This incarnation has so much potential. Please... please don't let them waste it!

Have you ever watched Tom Baker's Doctor in "Genesis of the Daleks"? Seeing those episodes through the eyes of Doctor present really lends meaning to his feelings toward the irrepressible menace that is the Dalek. My only complaint is that their menace is subtracted by the frequency that they appear now. The episodes that introduced them in Eccleston's run were delightful. After that... not so much. You're just not surprised to see them anymore.
In-saneJoker's avatar
In-saneJokerProfessional Digital Artist
You hit the nail on the head completely. I did not like Clara when she was with Smith much at all, and preferred her as the Victorian nanny or Dalek genius. She just had more to her. Now with Capaldi, you see her working at the situation to live, mainly episode 1 of season 8. It was the first time she looked legitimately scared, alone, and really had to act on her own. I actually liked her then. I am super glad that their relationship is improving, and super glad I'm not the only one that started disliking her XD 

I also agree about the Daleks - I LOVE them, but there's been too many episodes with them lately. I think it's time for a new world with new aliens to be explored again (I'd like to see the Ood again, even). 
RowanF's avatar
RowanFStudent General Artist
I almost stopped watching DW because of the way the writing was going but I gave it a shot and was pleasantly surprised. I'm also feeling hopeful for this season! I LOVE Capaldi and the show seems to be improving for sure. I'm glad we're finally starting to move on from the whole "!!!!THE DOCTOR'S DARKEST DAY!!!!!! silence WILL fall!!!! AGAIN!!!" thing that happened every single episode.

I love that Clara is moving into her own space as a character and developing separately from the doctor. We're seeing more of her thoughts and also her life outside of him. She's being treated more like a human being now rather than some mystery for the doctor to solve.

Overall, I'm actually pretty impressed so far.
Cassy-Blue's avatar
Cassy-Blue General Artist
Capaldi's been loads better than Smith. He seems more conflicted than Smith in terms of his morals which is good. The whole burn from the Dalek, "You make a good Dalek" was probably something that 11 wouldn't have been told, but maybe 10. I liked the darkness and gloom of 9 and I'm seeing that back. Smith was ok in the beginning, but then like I don't know he slid and I started watching it mainly for Amy, Rory, and Clara.
Quco's avatar
QucoHobbyist Digital Artist
im liking Capaldi so far.

i do say i groaned out loud when journey wanted to join the team, and very happy when the doctor flat out refused without even saying sorry.
i kind of want danny pink to be that damaged dalek... i know it would be kind of far fetched and with moffats writing would turn into a probably horrible farce... but it would be sort of amusing, and would give clara and danny a really weird connection, but interesting... know it wotn happen though!

however, seeing as you mention you don't find the dalek scary, neither do i really.... not before at least, but this episode was an emotional rollercoaser for me in the fear spectrum, because either the dalek, or the good dalek was really scaring me, or the doctor was. the doctor actually sort of scared me this episode. 
and i actually quite liked that.

he's not a good man, he's a good dalek. i liked that.
SyliaStingray's avatar
I think Capaldi goes back a few steps to the original Doctor. The first was not exactly the nicest of individuals when first starting out. Ah, good to see the not nice doctor back. :D
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