Ah, yes, it’s a regeneration episode!
At its core, each one tries to establish their Doctor, and assure viewers that, yes, it’s still the Doctor. Generally the Doctor has to impress their companion slash audience surrogate while also saving the world (i.e. Earth), or at least that’s how it’s done in New Who, and anyway it’s a tall order for anyone. It’s not necessarily so formula: “The Christmas Invasion” leaves the viewer in suspense until David Tennant comes and solidifies his presence in a single scene, and “The Eleventh Hour” had to introduce all-new companions and present a new “era” of Who.
But needless to say there’s some sort of theme of “identity” in each. Where Capaldi’s intro episode differs is that it is far more focused on that specific theme rather than simply just establishing Twelve, and even sets up a series arc about it (as well as the Doctor’s own ethics). Even the villain of the episode, unlike the standard generic villain to be thwarted, plays into this theme. It’s less “prove yourself the Doctor” and more a slower examination of identity, which may actually play into the episode’s title.
Ah, but how is identity presented? Let us begin… Continue reading