Thoughts on: Oxygen

Jamie Mathieson for showrunner.

No, seriously, this was brilliant. It easily takes the prize for the best episode of Series 10 so far—which is really saying something, because this series has been superb and nearly unblemished so far. Even the somewhat trite Knock Knock is rather fun in a weird sort of way, in the same way Closing Time is unfortunate yet oddly fun. But this is now four of four astounding scripts Jamie Mathieson has turned in. Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline were the definitive episodes of Series 8, and, while The Girl Who Died has its detractors, I thought it was brilliant and, if not for Heaven Sent, would have been my pick for the superior episode of Series 9; I’d rank this one above Flatline, on par with Girl but below Mummy. Mathieson is heads above the other regular writers as non-showrunning fan-favourite, and he’s frequently accorded the flattering honorific of “Moffat’s Moffat”. For me he’s the obvious choice for showrunner after Chibnall. Bewilderingly, though, it is looking like this may be the last we see of Mathieson for some time.

Let’s get something out of the way first, though. This was an especially political episode. It was one of the more overtly political scripts of modern Who, and it’s reminiscent of Malcolm Hulke’s stories in its unabashed promotion of ideology, but without Hulke’s taste for analogy. I don’t agree with its politics, but equally I’m damn well not going to mark an episode of Doctor Who down for promoting a political message I disagree with. The episodes with forceful political themes have been some of the most arresting and effective, I’ve found: see Malcolm Hulke and Robert Holmes. A Doctor Who that doesn’t allow writers to be as political as they want to be (just, not too obnoxious, please) is not a Doctor Who I think I really want to watch. But I mean, it’s also that you can practically guarantee that if something on television carries a political message, whatever it is, I’m almost certainly going to disagree with it anyway, so there’s that, too (The Zygon Inversion is the rare exception).

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So, no, this episode’s politics had nothing to do with why I liked it. Since it does take a fairly conspicuous jab at capitalism, though, and since everyone seems to be joining in on the capitalism-bashing, I think I’ll just say briefly that we supporters of the voluntary exchange of goods and services don’t like what’s happening in this episode any more than ye virtuous socialists do. This wasn’t capitalism, for one thing: it was a murder house, it was industrialised serial killing. That would come under the definition not of any particular economic system, but of ‘crimes against humanity’.

What I will object to about the politics in this episode, though, is the way it made the Doctor an ideologue. The Doctor has acted in the service of various writers’ ideologies before—he’s led revolutions, undermined corrupt systems, bid for peace and generally stood up for the oppressed—but he’s never come out as holding dogmatic political views, except against the incontrovertibly evil. His instincts have always been anti-authoritarian and progressive, but equally the Doctor has always given the impression of being sceptical of dogma and the dogmatism of ideologues: he has far too much experience of the world to think it can be explained by any political ideology. But here he is, a smug socialist exalting in the end of capitalism. My entreaty to Doctor Who writers is that they can have carte blanche to be as political as they want (as long as they write good scripts), but all I ask is: can we please just hold back from making the Doctor come out as a Corbynite? (Or indeed a Trumpite).

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But anyway. This episode worked. It worked in a way I was sceptical that it would after seeing the ‘next time’ trailer, which gave the impression of a run-of-the-mill unmemorable monster runaround in a spaceship (see: 42). The writing was deft. The dialogue absolutely sparkled throughout the piece, which went a long way to holding it all together between the plot beats. The humour in this one merits a right honourable mention: there was lots of it, and it was genuinely funny, leaving me unexpectedly appreciative of the presence of Matt Lucas.

Jamie Mathieson’s first two scripts shared the device of a very clever conceit at their heart—in Mummy a monster visible only to its victim, and in Flatline a creature inhabiting the second dimension. He took after Steven Moffat in his fondness for clever and intriguing gimmicks. The Girl Who Died was very different stylistically, but Oxygen represents something of a return to the use of clever conceits in the “oxygen countdown”. It’s not as high-concept as Mummy and Flatline, but it makes for a very interesting distinction from the usual gamut of space monster runarounds. “The scareder you are, the faster you suffocate. So, relax or die.” Just riveting. To be fair, more could have been made of the oxygen countdown: it could have made for some very gripping viewing if we’d seen the thinning oxygen begin to affect the characters (like in Smith and Jones), but there was never a moment when the diminishing oxygen ever felt like a real, urgent threat, unlike the zombies-which-weren’t-actually-zombies (but which were still very good).

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Still, I liked the idea this episode played with of making space itself the primary threat. With space so frequently presented in Doctor Who as a magical, whimsical plane of endless adventure and possibility, it’s fun and interesting to see it cast for once as the suffocating, lung-exploding, blood-vessel-rupturing, saliva-boiling deathzone that it is. And, speaking of exploding lungs and boiling saliva, wasn’t Bill being exposed to the vacuum of space just brilliant? Wasn’t it just bracing? It was a stroke of screenwriting genius to put that bit in, and the direction (not to mention the acting) rose to the challenge by making that one minute or so of the slow-motion tearing of Bill to shreds by the vacuum of space absolutely stupefying. I don’t get properly scared by Doctor Who any more, regrettably (that doesn’t mean I can’t tell when the right audience, children, would be, though), but I was genuinely afraid for Bill. I thought she was going to die. Props to Jamie Mathieson and the show for actually managing to convince me for once that a main character was going to die, unlike, you know, every other week where the show doesn’t even manage to convince itself, let alone the audience, when it pretends to put the Doctor or the companion in mortal danger (looking at you, Under the Lake/Before the Flood).

This episode is full of unexpected and interesting turns, though. The other obvious one is the Doctor going blind. In Jamie Mathieson’s Reddit AMA I linked to above, he said he keeps shelves full of ‘How to Write’ books, no doubt saturated with the kinds of tricks and devices writers are enjoined to employ to make for more interesting story-writing. No doubt there’s something in at least some of them about taking something fundamental away from a character to render them vulnerable and weakened, like their eyesight—not to mention their sonic screwdriver. Taking the Doctor’s vision away from him does look like it’s come straight from a ‘How To’ book and boy, did it work. It didn’t have much work to do in the narrative apart from raising the stakes in the episode’s latter half and putting a spin on the usual Doctor-does-clever-things-and-saves-the-day sequence of events that typically kicks in around that point, but it made things really interesting. And Twelve has never been more heroic and, frankly, more outrageously bombastic than when he was blind. All that grandiloquent soliloquising about dying well made for one Twelve’s most riveting sequences, and Peter Capaldi, as always, rose spectacularly to the challenge.

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To say something about Series 10, though, I’m really liking what this episode represents as a distinct tonal shift for Series 10. This one was properly dark and bleak and gritty, and it’s exactly the kind of Doctor Who I was anticipating and hoping for in the Capaldi era, when we first embarked on it four years ago. With the exception of The Pilot, everything this series has been fairly sober and fairly gritty. It’s miles away from the fairytale aesthetic of Series 5 (which was great in itself) or the material pitched more at children in the RTD era. It’s also a significant development from Series 8, which still felt like it had one foot firmly placed in the Matt Smith era. This is good, and it’s exciting, and it’s so very different from the braindead fluff I was expecting from this series this time last year.

I’m also interested by what the Doctor’s almost fatal recklessness in this episode portends for the rest of the series. It’s unexpected, because we’re looking at the man who lost Clara last series because of a combination of her recklessness and his willingness to indulge her recklessness out of devotion to her. I get that the point of making the Doctor lose his memory of Clara was to avoid the obligatory post-companion brooding and the boring “I can’t let you get killed like the last one” stuff this time round, but this is reckless and audacious even for the Doctor. I wonder if it portends anything about the fate of Bill. I don’t think she’ll die, but at the very least it might end with Bill choosing to part ways with the Doctor after brushing inches from death just one time too many.

But anyway, though, fantastic episode. Can’t wait to see the vault open next week. #MathiesonForShowrunner

Rating: 9/10.

How Maisie could still be the Rani

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Debunked? I THINK NOT.

It was deceptive. It was sly. It was oh-so clever. The mastermind Moffat almost had us there. We were almost fooled into believing that Maisie Williams’ character wasn’t a returning character. It was to be expected, of course. A good showrunner never plays his hand in advance of time. But this fan was too quick for you, Moffat. I’m an old hand at this game, you see; I’ve grown savvy to your tricks, Moffat, old mucker. I know what this is all about. I know that Maisie’s character is actually the Rani.

Oh, you almost had me going. What with Maisie’s character being presented as a teenage Viking girl called “Ashildr” (that was really my first clue — no one’s called “Ashildr”), and “Ashildr” being entirely ignorant of anything outside her little 10th Century village, and the fact that Maisie’s character didn’t regenerate before she died. It was a very thorough job you did of duping the audience into thinking Maisie’s character had nothing to do with any returning character. That she really was actually a Viking girl the Doctor made immortal with a piece of alien technology, as the episode appeared to suggest. I mean, putting it like that just shows how entirely laughable the notion is, doesn’t it?

To believe Ashildr was who she seemed to be, though, would be to neglect a critical line of dialogue in the episode, at 26 minutes 28 seconds in:

“I’ve always been different. All my life I’ve known that. The girls all thought I was a boy. The boys all said I was just a girl. My head is always full of stories. I know I’m strange. Everyone  knows I’m strange.”

There. Right there. Maisie’s character practically CONFIRMS that she’s the Rani. Or, at least, that she’s pretty obviously NOT who she says she is. She could have just meant that she was an odd child (as, admittedly, she was), but if you believed that, you’d have to be stupid.

Rather, it’s the line “my head is always full of stories” that should have sent alarm bells off. What does that remind you of? A TIME LORD CHAMELEON ARCH. The technology the Doctor used to hide his Time Lord essence in a fob watch in Human Nature/The Family of Blood, and the Master in Utopia. Both the Doctor and the Master in those stories, despite changing themselves into humans, were haunted by memories of their Time Lord lives. This is what Maisie’s character was referring to. Obviously, Maisie’s character is a Time Lady who removed her Time Lord consciousness with the use of a chameleon arch, becoming the human girl Ashildr.

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What about the fact that Ashildr seemed to have a father? Well, that’s pretty easily explained. A perception filter. The Rani is supposed to be the Time Lord equivalent of a genius. A kind of Time Lord, female Sheldon Cooper. Doubtless she could have designed a perception filter powerful enough to make not only a Viking man believe she was, and always has been, his daughter, but also to make a whole village accept her “sudden” presence among them without a second glance.

What would compel the Rani to hide herself away in a medieval Viking village like that? This is where the theory is less robust, but that’s only because we don’t have all the information yet. I fully expect that we will find out why the Doctor’s old enemy holed herself away among grubby Vikings in the next episode, or at least by the end of the series.

But the Rani’s becoming immortal is surely significant. Granted, Time Lords are already practically immortal, but maybe she planned this. MAYBE she was on her last regeneration and this was her means of procuring immortality by other means. MAYBE she knew the Doctor would come to the village and fight off the Mire (she has a Tardis after all), SO she strategically inserted herself into the situation, courted the Doctor’s affection, got herself bumped off, and reawakened (as she knew she would) with eternal life.

When you think about it, it’s all so obvious. It’s a damned sight more plausible than the idea that Maisie’s character is an immortal Viking girl. I mean, seriously, now.

Thoughts on: The Girl Who Died

Warning: spoilers.

[Note: I know there was a “To be continued” sign, but I’m treating these two episodes as separate stories, not a two-parter, albeit with a linked narrative, mainly because they’re obviously distinct situations, rather than a single story told over two episodes; they were also written by different writers.]

I must confess that I was a bit nervous about this one. That’s a new feeling for me—I can’t remember, as much as this, wanting an episode to be good but feeling so sceptical about what the finished product would look like. It boasted a promising lineup of personnel: first and foremost the stellar Maisie Williams, who would doubtless bring her natural acting talents into her role, not to mention some of that Game of Thrones stardust. There was also the dreamy writing partnership of Jamie Mathieson (of Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline fame) and Steven Moffat, the former being the most exciting Doctor Who writer since Moffat himself. But it was the content of the episode that made me apprehensive. Vikings — with horns. And what looked like the most pantomime aliens since the farting Slitheen in Series 1. “Please, oh, please don’t let Maisie’s episode be as rubbish as it looks,” I prayed. “Please, God forbid, don’t tell me Jamie Mathieson has been lumped with the filler episode. Anything but that.”

I shouldn’t have worried. This episode was great. Especially so given that it could have easily been a fairly mediocre episode. I should have trusted that Jamie Mathieson could take even a nondescript story idea as, admittedly, this one was, and make a riveting and absorbing episode out of it. Granted, this was Mathieson’s least impressive script yet, but that is emphatically a compliment: it was a great episode, and the man has a flawless run of stories so far, much like Steven Moffat did before he took over as showrunner (*nudge* *nudge*). If anything, this script is an exemplar of Mathieson’s versatility: he’s shown in his two scripts for Series 8 that he can do the serious storytelling and the hard science fiction, both staples of this show, but in this episode he’s shown he’s just as adept at a traditional romp, Doctor Who’s reliable mainstay. Mathieson’s take on the romp is distinctive, though, in such a way that raises it above the likes of Tooth and Claw and *shudder* The Crimson Horror. It has all the comedy and camp silliness of a conventional Doctor Who romp, but it’s also an involving and well-composed narrative, punctuated by a handful of—genuinely well-written—poignant and intelligent little moments.

Mathieson made the shrewd decision not to make the Mire the focus of this story, who were a singularly uninteresting villain, apart from the gruesome detail that they harvest warriors for their testosterone—appreciated only for their self-consciously pantomime quality. Instead, we get a fun and engaging story about the Doctor training a ragtag band of ill-equipped and, as it turns out, particularly hopeless Nordics for battle against one of the mightiest warrior races in the galaxy. It’s Dad’s Army in the 10th Century, and it makes for delightfully funny viewing. Mathieson milks the situation for as much quality humour as he can: the Doctor’s (unconvincing) impersonation of Odin; the Doctor promptly being upstaged by an enormous, comical apparition of Odin’s face in the sky, complete with beard and eyepatch (the most camp thing Doctor Who has ever done? Quite possibly); the Doctor giving the Viking villagers amusing derisory nicknames (ZZ Top was my personal favourite). It was all great fun.

But, as I said, it was an intelligent and involving script as much as it was an entertaining one. Moments like the Doctor’s translation of the baby’s (surprisingly poetic) wailing, the Doctor’s brooding over his effect on Clara, and Clara’s inevitable end, and, of course, Maisie’s poignant scene with Capaldi, gives this episode proper emotional heft. At the top of the list is that scene, where the Doctor finally understands why he “chose” his face. He goes from brooding, surely feeling the weight of his impossibly advanced years as keenly as ever, over the loss of yet another person close to him, resentful that he couldn’t do anything about it (or, rather, wasn’t allowed to), to deciding that he would save Ashildr, whatever the cost, astonishingly quickly. The spur was remembering where he got his face from, and what it meant. And we’re treated to a wonderful, hair-raising flashback to the Tenth Doctor in The Fires of Pompeii. “I’m the Doctor, and I save people!”

It was a fist-pumping “Doctor” moment, as good as any, but at the same time there was an ominous “Time Lord Victorious” vibe about it—the other side of the coin to the Doctor’s defiance of the laws of time. The Tenth Doctor defied the laws of time in Pompeii in a small, imperceptible way, remembering which was what spurred the Doctor to save Ashildr, but Ten also went on to become the Time Lord Victorious. The Doctor belatedly realised this when he expressed doubts over what he did to Ashildr, whether he’d done too much. It’s set up what looks to be an intriguing arc surrounding Maisie’s character to be carried over into the next episode, perhaps even further. That final scene, the pan around Ashildr with the universe respiring around her, her expression passing from joy to something quite chilling, what looked like bitterness, even hatred, was visually glorious as well as ominous and foreboding. And, yet again, this is the third instance in as many stories of the idea of defying the laws of time to save someone. I’m becoming more and more confident about my hunch that the finale will involve the Doctor going back in time to change history in order to avert Clara’s death, perhaps leading to another horrifying “Time Lord Victorious” moment.

Some final thoughts. Maisie tho. She really is a phenomenal young actress. She has buckets of screen presence, and her scene with Capaldi in her tent was mesmerising. Even if I weren’t a Game of Thrones fan, I’m sure I’d be proud to have her as an honoured member of the Whoniverse. Her character was obviously conceived as much like Arya, but Maisie was good enough an actress to clearly distinguish the two characters. Ashildr is definitely a very different character from Arya, which is not so much down to the writing as much as Maisie’s own acting instincts. There are many parts that Maisie could have simply played as Arya, but chose to do very differently, and she’s to be commended for that. Peter Capaldi, too, has to be praised. Sublime performance, as ever. I haven’t found the space so far this series to make this point, but Capaldi’s portrayal of his Doctor has markedly improved this series. I think Capaldi might have been allowed more freedom to forge his own interpretation of the character this series (reflected, not least, in the outfits). Series 9 Twelve is definitely more reminiscent of Tom Baker’s good-humoured bohemian vagabond (except with much better acting) than the tetchy, crotchety old man that Twelve was in Series 8. That’s a good thing, in my book, and Capaldi is quickly shooting up my “favourite Doctors” list.

Rating: 9/10.


Quote of the week:

“I’ve got too much to think about without everybody having their own names.”

Thoughts on: Flatline

It can’t be said that Jamie Mathieson just got lucky or that he just had a good day on his first writing stint for the show, which produced the instant classic Mummy on the Orient Express. His second script for Series 8 was another surpassing effort, and, at least to my mind, another classic for the Doctor Who annals. There are plenty of inspired ideas that this script plays with. Apart from the monsters themselves, the “Boneless”—riveting, high concept creations—this episode sees Clara try her hand at being the Doctor after it splits the Doctor and Clara up in the most amusing fashion possible (this episode surely ranks as one of the most eminently gif-able of them all?) I think this episode definitely benefits from a rewatch. It benefits from taking it all in over two or three viewings, from putting it in perspective and coming to see the story in a more holistic sense, as the sum of its parts. I’ll admit it took me as much as three viewings to properly appreciate the story for the superb piece of writing it is, after feeling somewhat nonchalant towards it the first time round.

Mathieson’s two stories so far have relied on simple but ingenious conceits in their monsters—in Mummy the idea of a monster only the victim could see; and here the monsters existed only in two dimensions. The “Boneless” were an inspired creation, and they were explored and realised fascinatingly onscreen, when they finally adapted to three dimensions, by creepy, malformed bodies materialising out of the earth and slithering menacingly like the living dead. One of my favourite moments of the Boneless was when the Doctor and Clara were trying to communicate with the creatures using the loud speakers, and heard in response a macabre high-pitched tremolo, like a message from some arcane alien intelligence from beyond the stars. It sent a shiver down my spine—maybe because it made the aliens (or whatever they were) feel more eerily real than any of the preposterous Sontarans or Daleks that look like they’ve come from a Marvel comic book; I could imagine hearing that in real life and freezing as I realise I’m hearing something unmistakably alien.

Clara is forced into the role of the Doctor after our eyebrow-wielding hero gets himself stuck in his miniaturised Tardis. And what ensues is very revealing. As the Doctor himself admitted, Clara made a fine Doctor. She took charge of the disoriented group, deploying her wits and asserting her personality to rout the threat and save the day. But in the course of saving the day, she was forced to do some very typically Doctor-ish things indeed. She lied to the group, gave them false hope, and let at least two of them down. This all builds into the running theme of Clara increasingly understanding what it is to be the Doctor, to be forced to be cold and cynical, even heartless, if it means saving people’s lives. The Doctor, clearly somewhat uncomfortably, admitted as much when he “reviewed” Clara at the end. But the fact that it all came so easily to Clara increasingly indicates that Clara herself is becoming like the Doctor, especially given her use of lying to manipulate both Danny and the Doctor. It was all really riveting writing, and added a depth to the conceit of Clara’s playing the Doctor that made it more compelling than if it were just done for pure novelty’s sake.

The moment the Doctor, restored to full size, stepped out of the Tardis and repelled the Boneless, was a brilliant, furious coup de grâce. It was one of those spine-chilling, fist-pumping, hair-standing-on-end moments when you can only stand in awe of the Doctor. Like in The Christmas Invasion, the fact that the Doctor was more or less absent for most of the episode made the moment when he finally appeared and repulsed the baddies so much more dramatically satisfying. But it was also significant for another reason. This is the second week in a row we’ve seen the Doctor play the exultant, conquering hero. The Doctor finally seems to be getting back into his stride. And just listen to his speech to the Boneless: “You are monsters. That is the role you seem determined to play. So it seems I must play mine. The man who stops the monsters.” This is a long way from the Doctor’s agonised navel-gazing at the beginning of the series over whether he’s a “good man” or not. The Twelfth Doctor’s character arc over this series has been very subtle (I’ll admit I didn’t pick up on it the first time round), but still consummately executed, and really effective. It’s been genuinely engaging and satisfying watching the new Doctor’s emotional development over this series.

Some final thoughts. I know it’s become a standard trope of mine to gush over Capaldi’s acting in these reviews, but I don’t do it without justification. He really is a superb actor, and here he delivered another sublime performance. Ironically, being confined to Clara’s purse for most of the duration of the episode actually gave Capaldi even greater opportunities to display his acting skills, and the several Doctorish monologues he delivered to the empty Tardis console room were captivating to watch. The characters in this episode were very well written. Rigsy was an engaging and relatable character, played endearingly by Jovian Wade, while Fenton was a singularly disagreeable man, and the fact that Christopher Fairbank made me hate his character so much is a credit to him. Finally, this must have been Missy’s most intriguing appearance yet. “Clara, my Clara. I have chosen well.” Eek. Cue wild speculation.

Rating: 9/10.

Thoughts on: Mummy on the Orient Express

I think we’ve found our next fan-favourite writer. In his debut script for Doctor Who, Jamie Mathieson has delivered an absolute corker, an undoubted classic in my eyes. Mummy on the Orient Express is 45 minutes of truly inspired writing, production and acting, but mostly writing. I’m actually finding it difficult to put into words how much I adore this script, so good it is. Just to give you an idea, it’s one of the few episodes I think I could watch again, and again, and again, and again… I’ve just seen it (for the fourth time in total, by my reckoning) and I’m already itching to watch it again. I honestly think it’s on par with Blink as as close to a perfect single episode story it’s possible to come. I’m very excited about any writer who can have that effect on me on their first writing stint for the show; the last Doctor Who writer who was able to do it was a bloke—you may have heard of him—called Steven Moffat, whom I’ve heard has done rather well for himself since.

Mummy is another episode that has you totally absorbed for its duration; it’s positively dripping with suspense and conspiracy and urgency throughout, as the plot gradually thickens, the layers of the mystery are stripped away, and the deaths pile up, one after another. It has the compelling intrigue of an Agatha Christie murder mystery transplanted into a bewitching sci-fi setting. I often complain that 45 minutes is too short a time-frame for the average Doctor Who story, that it doesn’t give the various elements of a story enough time to breathe, resulting in stories that too often feel rushed, but Mummy utilises the 45-minute time-frame perfectly; for a script like this, where the Doctor is under intense time pressure to stop the deaths, the kind of urgency created by the 45-minute time-frame actually enhances the story. Moreover, the monster of the piece, the Foretold, was horrifyingly realised, a truly eye-poppingly gruesome menace, the hysterical reactions of its victims entirely believable. It was really a triumph of design, and probably the scariest new monster since the Silence.

Even without the character elements of this story, the episode would be an undoubted classic, but, even doing as much as it is, the episode still finds time to weave in the dramatic fallout from the end of the previous episode, as well as quality character development for both Clara and the Doctor. Clara’s uncertainty about how she felt about the Doctor and what she wanted her relationship with him to be, and her increasingly keen regret over her decision to part ways with the Doctor, was all written really well, and was in many ways as compelling a part of this episode as the Foretold mystery. It’s also increasingly clear that Clara has become as big an adrenaline junkie, as addicted to the dangerous life in the Tardis, as the Doctor is—and there’s a distinctly ominous note in the elation of Clara’s sudden change of heart at the end; there’s the sense that this can’t end well for Clara.

No doubt informing, at least in part, Clara’s decision to stay with the Doctor was her coming to understand her friend’s new self more in this episode. The scene on the beach at the end was a magical, cathartic little character moment for the Doctor and Clara. Clara came to see that her new Doctor did things very differently to the Doctor she knew, but that he was, essentially, the same man, driven by the same desire to save people as her old Doctor. He may be prepared to do things his predecessor wouldn’t in pursuit of that end, but ultimately the Doctor saves people, as he always has. And the Doctor’s day-saving was particularly spectacular this time. I think this is the first time this series we’ve seen the Doctor save the day in as emphatic and heroic a fashion as we’re used to, and, gosh, wasn’t the wait totally worth it? As much as I was enjoying his portrayal, I’ll admit it took me a while at first to accept Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, but I think it was at the moment the Doctor confronted the Foretold, saved Maisie and the rest, that I finally saw Peter Capaldi as the Doctor.

Some final thoughts. There are a lot of little bits and bobs knocking about this episode that are worth spending a few words on. Firstly, it was all a real visual treat. I’ve already commented on how fantastic the Foretold looked, but the Orient Express and all the period elements were deliciously sumptuous. With the inclusion of the Foretold, it all actually had a very Hinchcliffe-esque Gothic horror feel to it. And Clara looked just gorgeous dolled up as a flapper. Capaldi was on point, delivering another masterclass of acting; and he looked just fab in this episode, as well, in his tux, and sporting an elaborate Hartnell-style ribbon bow-tie (Eleven would be proud). The Doctor’s offer of jelly babies to Professor Moorhouse was also much appreciated (I would have loved for him to have said “Would you like a jelly baby?” though). I thought Perkins was a brilliant character, played wonderfully by Frank Skinner, a huge Whovian himself who’s clearly just happy to be there. I’m itching to find out more about Gus. Finally, the musical accompaniment of Foxes was nice jazzy inclusion, adding stylishly to the ambiance of the setting.

Rating: 10/10.