Doctor Who: “Deep Breath”, Moffat’s Long Con and the Right Questions


S08xE01 “Deep Breath”

On Saturday, Whovians everywhere (including my own living room) sat in from of the telly to watch Peter Capaldi begin his run as the Doctor on the longest running sci fi show in all of humankind (Chris Hardwick’s words, not mine). The episode after regeneration is always a bit rough, as we are all getting to know this Doctor as not just a renewed version of the Timelord, but also a special incarnation with unique characteristics all his own. It has taken me a few days to mull over what I wanted to do with this series in terms of writing. I don’t particularly want to pen recaps each week, instead I will touch on a few really interesting points and look at the overarching continuity of Doctor Who. Yes, friends, I’m going meta. (Spoilers ahead!)

The Clockwork Droids

Twelve and the Paternoster Gang made a slew of past Doctor references, some of which I got and some of which I missed. Let’s start with the most obvious, the clockwork aliens who use living parts to work themselves and their spaceship. In series 2, the Tenth Doctor, Rose and Mickey Smith met Madame de Pompadour in “The Girl in the Fireplace” and the clockwork droids attempting to harvest her brain to pilot their space ship, The SS Madame de Pompadour. We find out that the ship posing as a restaurant is none other than the Marie Antoinette, the sister ship to the Pompadour, which, although viewers may recognize the connection, the Doctor does not. In “Deep Breath” Twelve cannot remember why the clockwork aliens are so familiar, and leaves the mystery for another day. Amnesia isn’t out of character for a regenerating Doctor. We know that the regeneration process shifts the thinking and interacting skills of the Timelord, and no two Doctors have quite the same personality quirks, including what they choose to remember as important from their previous regeneration. As Twelve might say, the question is not why he doesn’t remember, but who are these clockwork droids and why are they back?

Steven Moffat wrote “The Girl in the Fireplace” in 2006, and we know the writer is aces at long term continuity (may I present you the story of RIVER SONG), so it isn’t surprising that he has an overarching plot point originally addressed eight years ago. Moffat is king of the spiderweb plot, in which he weaves intricate storylines together over a long period of time. Mostly, he picks them back up and blows our minds, and so I am looking forward to seeing how this particular plot point will effect series 8.

The Impossible Girl

We all know that Eleven called Clara “The Impossible Girl” because of the fact she broke apart and traveled through his time stream, seemingly everywhere in space and time. This was an important enough fact that Twelve did not forget it, and so when they see the ad in the paper addressed to “The Impossible Girl,” both go to the meeting point, assuming the other placed the ad. Neither did and the droid had nothing to do with it, either.

So who, then?

This is not the first time the Doctor and Clara have been reunited by a mysterious entity. In “The Bells of St. John,” Clara is given the phone number to the TARDIS by a “woman in a shop” whom she does not know. This could be a coincidence, and that shop keeper could be one of the threads Moffat drops and never addresses again. It could also have nothing to do with the advert in the paper….

But this is Moffat, and there are no coincidences.

Again, Moffat is pushing viewers to ask the right questions (which I really hope is Twelve’s tagline). The question is not who placed the ad or gave Clara the phone number but why does this person want Clara and the Doctor working together? If you remember in “The Bells of St. John,” the antagonist ended up being The Great Intelligence. I’ve been saying that this plot point could be very important to series 8 and the new Doctor. While TGI was not mentioned after “The Name of the Doctor”, we must remember that TGI/Dr. Simeon also traveled through the Doctor’s time stream and effectively destroyed him, until Clara came to the rescue. It is unlikely that such a powerful entity as TGI/Dr. Simeon will just disappear from Moffat’s Whoniverse. So, my question then becomes, who is the woman in the shop and is she the same person who placed the ad? Is she Missy?


Leave it to Moffat to toss in a strange and intriguing character in the last 60 seconds of the first episode of series 8 and tell us nothing about her except she considers herself the Doctor’s “girlfriend”. When the clockwork droid jumps/is pushed by the Doctor and “dies”, he is transported to what Missy calls “Heaven”. First of all, how did the droid get to this pristine garden when it was obviously falling out of the sky at rapid speeds? Perhaps I am not asking the right questions, eh Twelve? I suppose what I really want to know is. how does Missy know the Doctor? Why does she save the droid? Where is “Heaven”? I love a good mystery, and Moffat is superb and confounding viewers with his love of the long con. Good on ya, Moff.

With an entire season of new Who ahead, I am excited to watch the threads of Twelve’s story carefully unwind. Next week’s episode is called “Into The Dalek” and it’s written by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat. I don’t think I will ever get sick of the Daleks, and I’m curious to see how Twelve interacts with the mortal enemies of the Timelords, especially after that business on Trenzalore. 

xoxo Your Friendly Neighborhood Wholigan

The Collectiva Diva

Nerd out over Doctor Who on Twitter with me! @collectivadiva


For more info on the DW references scattered throughout this episode, visit Den of Geek.