In his 12th regeneration, Doctor Who has finally accurately captured and portrayed a companion’s struggle with change. The change of somebody you’ve known for the longest suddenly changing and quite literally getting a new face. Of course, for all intents and purposes such a drastic change is not possible in real life, but then again that’s what fiction is for: to explore (emotionally, in this case) what isn’t possible. I was able to viscerally bond with Clara’s struggle to accept change as that is something I have trouble with myself. Again, not as drastic, but still very similar. How Clara so wishes for things to go back is relatable to anyone who wishes to go back to the past.
The episode made me consider for the first time what regeneration must feel like for a Doctor. To have all those around you, your closest friend, not be able to see you in the same fashion, despite the fact that deep down you know you are the same person.
Some critiques: I found it slightly odd that Vastra and company seemed to be so well adjusted to regeneration. More so, than Clara, who one would think would be more understand and adept. Though necessary, Vastra and company felt too campy and reminded that Doctor Who is a children’s show.
As for theories to who Missy at the end is: my wildest guess is that it’s a jaded River Song-esque character from the future. If death is going to be a theme this season, it would make sense that Missy will use all the people the Doctor has let die to guilt him in the end in the final confrontation.
Again, Doctor Who tried to deal with the more than platonic love between the Doctor and his companion. This episode firmly resolved Clara’s resolve as a non-loving companion.
The episode dealt with the Doctor’s age quite well. The question left to answer is why the regeneration cycle gave the Doctor and old face. Maybe as a reminder that he is not really young and shouldn’t let surface appearances get the better of him. I hope this question gets answered in future episodes.
I need Peter Capaldi to cuss. The shades of Malcolm Tucker were there one the Doctor was made.