The Clock Is Striking Twelves: Johanna’s Top Five 12th Doctor Episodes

3 days. That’s literally how long we have left as I’m writing this. On Christmas day Peter Capaldi will depart Doctor Who for good. The twelfth Doctor will be gone. And no, I’m not crying, you are.

It took me a while to warm up to the Capaldi as the twelfth Doctor. A lot more than I ever thought it would when he was first announced to be playing the part. In all honesty I don’t think I truly 100% warmed up to him until “The Husbands of River Song”. That’s not really a fault on Capaldi’s part – I love him as an actor – and is more than likely down to the narrative strength of his first 2 seasons… but that’s a whole other blog post.

The point is, it took me ages to properly like Twelve. So much so that I’ve only had a connection with him for 1 series and 2 soon to be 3 Christmas specials. And now he’s leaving so soon after that it really kind of sucks.

But despite all of this, there are some of his episodes that I really do truly love. So in a tribute to the ‘angry owl’ that was Capaldi and the twelfth Doctor… here’s a list of those episodes in no particular order. If you’re looking for some Twelve nostalgia before or after the Christmas special airs, these are my recommendations.

So long Capaldi, you fanboy. You were a Whovian through and through.

*** Spoilers ahead (especially if you click the trailer links), sweetie. ***

Heaven Sent (Series 9, Episode 11)

Okay, I lied. There may be a slightly bit of order here given this is probably be favourite Capaldi episode ever. Having episodes in a season where the Doctor is own his own, even if he has a companion at the time are not unheard of (David Tennant and Matt Smith both had episodes like this), but those kinds of episodes preceding this one still featured the Doctor interacting with other characters. This episode was purely 55 minutes of Capaldi as Twelve, on his own, trying to mourn a friend and find his way out of his prison world (trying to avoid spoilers as much as I can here, just in case) that he’s been trapped in.

This penultimate episode was supposedly the episode with the lowest budget for Season 9, yet it outshone every single other episode. Yes, it’s basic, it’s all set in one building, there is only one character on screen for most of the time. But it takes that minimalism and makes it the best thing ever. A beautiful blend of horror, mystery, and sci-fi that we all know Doctor Who is capable of and good at when it wants to be.

Not to mention Capaldi’s acting really shines through in this.

World Enough and Time (Series 10, Episode 11)

My God, was this episode a belter.

It shocked me in a way the show hadn’t really done for a long time. And if there hadn’t been any spoilers (thanks BBC, trust you to start spoiling you own shows), would probably have shocked me even more.

Again I don’t want to say too much. Especially on this one given it hasn’t been all that long since the episode aired for the first time. But once again it’s just one very simple location, and Moffat playing around with time in a way that you can actually make sense of for once. You’re shocked from the first scene, and sitting in the edge of your seat for the rest of it only to be shocked even more when the final scene comes around.

I’m honestly glad this was one of Capaldi’s final episodes. And Pearl Mackie’s as Bill, for that matter.

Listen (Series 8, Episode 4)

Trust Doctor Who to play on your most basic childhood fears. Granted, it is/was a kids show… but it will still leaving you creeped out and thinking about the premise even if you’re a grown adult.

The Doctor theorises that everyone has the same nightmare of a hand grabbing you from under the bed and that in a way it is a rational fear, because you are truly never alone. There’s a monster out there that has hiding as a perfected art.

The episode featured the Doctor and Clara trying to hunt down this said monster, with Clara also trying to juggle a date with Danny Pink in the middle. Then of course there’s the character Orson Pink, who if you haven’t watched the rest of series 8 you’ll think you know for sure who he is. But if you’ve watched the rest of series 8 you will know that his origins are actually a bit muddled and haven’t really been properly explained.

Also you see Twelve stripped bare in a way we’ve never been before. This basic childhood fear pretty much makes the Doctor regress into a child… in more ways than one.

The Doctor Falls (Series 10, Episode 12)

It’s been a while that I’ve loved the finale as much as I’ve loved the penultimate episode, but I definitely love the last episode to date. As the famous Rory Williams once said, he’d “forgotten that not all victories were about saving the universe”. And at the root of it all, this episode isn’t. It’s simply about saving a small group of unimportant humans just because it’s the right thing to do.

Like I said it took me a while to warm up to Twelve, and that’s because his personality was constantly changing. At the beginning of series 8, he didn’t seem to care a lot about anyone except for sometimes Clara. In series 9, he seemed to only care about Clara. In series 10 he definitely cared about everyone and I realised that it was actually his character arc, in a way. Getting to grips with himself and working out whether he is a good man or not.

Spoiler alert: He is a good man.

Into the Dalek (Series 8, Episode 2)

Following on from my last point, in this episode I did really enjoy Twelve struggling to figure out his morality, albeit the novelty did start to wear off quite quickly. But this episode still handled it perfectly.

Here we have the Doctor finding it hard to relate to anyone. He sees Clara as someone he has around to care so that he doesn’t have to. But equally he’s questioning himself and his decisions. Given he’s recently regenerated here, it’s a stark contrast to his previous incarnation but a slightly nod back to the very beginning of the reboot with the ninth Doctor.

And surprisingly enough, they have the best Dalek episodes that aren’t series starts or finales. Similar to ‘Dalek’, ‘Into the Dalek’ plays around with idea of the Doctor discussing morality, and the idea that they can be more similar then we and the Doctor would like to be.

Also not to mention the Doctor is literally standing inside a Dalek.


Johanna is an avid writer and lifelong Doctor Who fan living in the UK. By day she is a student, studying Media and Film Production, and by night she fangirls about all things TV/Film related on Twitter and writes posts for a variety of blogs as well as her own lifestyle blog.

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