12 Great Moments From Deep Breath
Mark McCullough picks out his twelve greats for Twelve’s debut.
Note: Episode spoilers naturally!
In honour of the Twelfth Doctor’s first full appearance in the magnificent Deep Breath, I have selected what I believe to be twelve of the best moments from the episode. Without farther ado, let’s begin the countdown at number twelve:
The Opening Scene
The moment that announced Doctor Who’s return to the screen after an eight month break. It’s always going to be a memorable scene, but Deep Breath’s is even more so, a blend of hectic humour, character reintroductions and a sense of unfamiliarity. Capaldi’s first moments as the Doctor are rather confusing yet amusing as he struggles to adapt to his new world even forgetting the name of his companion. When the camera panned to reveal the dinosaur, it was hard not to think to yourself ‘I’ve missed this’ and by the time the TARDIS was spat out of the mouth of the dinosaur, it was impossible not to be grinning. A great scene to ease us back in.
From the start of the episode to the end, our next top moment is what I assume to be our tease at the arc that is yet to come. Throughout the episode the Half Faced Man references the Promised Land then in the denouement to the episode we see him arrive in what appears to be a garden of some sorts. Here we are introduced to Missy who appears to have an unhealthy obsession with the Doctor (I’m sure we can relate). She informs the Half Faced Man that he is in heaven. It’s a a little confusing and leaves a lot of questions, but at this stage that is the point. It succeeds in whetting our appetites and sending our minds into overdrive.
Clara Takes a Deep Breath
The title of the episode was an intriguing one which gave little away about it meaning. The scene that reveals it is a very well executed one. Clara is alone and afraid, she finds herself in grave danger with the robots and the Half Faced Man aware of her presence. She takes the titular Deep Breath to present the appearance that she isn’t breathing so as she can escape. Ultimately she is doomed to fail and the directors to a good job in presenting a tense scene which realistically conveys what would happen to Clara as she runs out of Oxygen.
The Dinosaur Burns
I really like the dinosaur and the narrative drew some interesting comparisons between it and the Doctor. Ultimately it is the Doctor who brought it here, so its fate rests in his hands. He is aware of this and the rooftop scene is quite comical as the Doctor shouts across London that he will get it home. When the dinosaur spontaneously combusted I honestly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. What the scene did serve to remind the audience however is that the Doctor’s life is dangerous, innocent people (and dinosaurs) get hurt and his actions have consequences. The scene manages to deliver this message in a way that combines humour and pathos.
“Nothing is more important than my egomania!” “You actually said that.”
There were so many wonderful scenes between the doctor and Clara in this episode that it was difficult picking just one for this list. I have gone with the above quote because it had me in stitches laughing and shows how astute Moffat is in his writing. I could equally have chosen the moment were Clara reaches her hand out in expectation of the Doctor grabbing it, or perhaps even the conversation in the TARDIS at the end of the episode. What this wide selection signifies is how the relationship between the Doctor could and Clara is shaping up to be excellent. Their combination of clashes and moments of genuine friendship within the episode makes their relationship seen real and engaging. If this continues they could quickly become my favourite TARDIS team.
The Phone Call
Going into the episode blind you can only imagine my shock at this scene. It is a nice touch that Moffat had this planned from The Time of the Doctor leaving the TARDIS phone off the hook in one of the scenes. Hearing Matt’s voice again was so magical and excepted that it elicited a rather large emotional response as it afforded Clara and her Doctor to have a proper goodbye scene. Suffice to say tears were par for the course especially with Murray Gold’s wonderful score complimenting the scene. The only slight issue is that having the previous Doctor in the same episode of the debut of his successor may undermine it for some. Despite that it is a wonderful moment which tugged at the heartstrings.
The Veil Scene
The reason I like this scene is because despite being simple, it give an insight into multiple characters. For Clara it showed that she was judgemental despite not intending to be, she had been hit hard by the Doctor’s regeneration and was unwilling to accept the new version as who he was. We also glean a little into Vastra’s plight living in a human world as a green skinned lizard. Moffat uses powerful imagery of Vastra’s veil only being there when Clara sees it to be there. The writing is also top notch and allows the characters to showcase a range of emotions. A consequence of the scene is that it also makes the viewer feel a little guilty for judging Capaldi against Smith so in a way gives him a clean slate.
Clara Draws Strength from her Past
I love this scene, not just because it gives a rare glimpse into Clara’s life without the Doctor but because of the development it shows within her character. It adds a new flaw to her as it showcases her inability to control her class and her failed use of empty threats. Fast forward to her confrontation with the Half Faced Man and uses her experience in the classroom to reassert some control on the situation. This shows us how travelling with the Doctor has changed her, she learns from her mistakes and has the confidence to act even when extremely scared. It is one of many scenes that present Clara as a much more rounded yet flawed individual whom many of us can relate to. A wonderful scene, which could serve as a lesson for its viewers.
Strax’s attempted sacrifice
I’ll admit that I didn’t notice this one until it was pointed out to me after the episode. However once I realised what had actually happened it was obvious that it deserved a mention here. As the Paternoster Gang are surrounded by the robots, under Clara’s instructions they hold their breath so as the robots assume they are robots too. Strax however has difficulty with this and the scene subtly shows him raise his gun to his own head so as he doesn’t betray his friends. As pointed out to me this goes against the very nature of a Sontaran and is a true testament to the strength of the bond between the Paternoster Gang. Perhaps it’s surprising that the mainly comical Strax features in one of the most poignant scenes in the episode. The direction plays into this further as it only through the reaction of Vastra that we actually realise what is happening.
The Alley Scene
The alley scene was perhaps the most packed of all the moments on this list. It has three outstanding aspects to it. The first is the discussion on faces and what the Doctor’s choice of face means; it doesn’t really answer anything but does provide for a funny scene. Particular kudos to Brian Miller (the late Elizabeth Sladen’s husband) as his portrayal highlighted the Doctor’s insanity through his body language. The second moment was another laugh out loud one as the Doctor engaged in the obligatory putting his new appearance down scene. This time the unfortunate aspect of his biology was the eyebrows. The third shows how he can go from being comic, to being cold in an instant as he demands the coat of a homeless man. The alley scene allows Capaldi to showcase the range of his character and his talents as an actor, he does not disappoint.
“Too slow, no point in him catching us both”
This moment really took me by surprise. I have grown so accustomed to see the Doctor place the safety of his companion above himself, so to see him abandon Clara to apparently save his own skin shows just how different this Doctor is. I imagine its inclusion was to drum home the message of a darker Doctor as rumoured throughout the build-up to the series. I would imagine it would have been controversial to the fandom had it not proved to be part of the Doctor’s master plan which showcased his intelligence. What is also served to do was question the companion’s (and the audience’s) trust in the Doctor, we always suspected he would save her but could not be sure. It is this uncertainty which gave the scene its edge.
The Half Faced Man Dies
This scene is not just one of my favourite moments in Deep Breath, but quite possibly the entire show. Right from the tense conversions between the Half Faced Man and the Doctor we get a sense that there is only one outcome. Yet both men claim that it would be against their programming to do so. They reconcile that one of them is lying as the scene cuts back to Clara and the Paternosters. When we return we see the Half Faced Man is already dead and the scene is left ambiguous. This is the fact that makes it. With a new man, who has been presented as more cold and ruthless, the audience are genuinely unsure as to how far he would go. To leave it open lets you make up your own yet certainly casting a darker shadow over the character.
Making these choices were extremely difficult as there were so many good moments within the episode, I feel I have overlooked a lot. Do you agree with my selections? Or do you feel there are any I left out?