Here’s the thing. Peter Capaldi is a great actor. I mean, really, really great. I was expecting him to pull out a similar kind of tour-de-force debut that Matt Smith gave us in The Eleventh Hour, but it just wasn’t that great. He had some great lines and some great scenes between himself and Clara but . . .
The Paternoster Gang outshone him.
Clara outshone him.
Matt Smith got to do the emotional punch that was missing in his swansong and outshone him.
Could it be that the weight of expectation destroyed any possibiity of it being good? I dunno. Probably.
There’s was some startling stuff in there. The Godzilla sized T.Rex stomping round London mournfully, for all the world looking like a cousin of the ‘Beast from 20,000 Fathoms’ was a lovely as it was preposterous. Personally, after the translation, I wanted her to be a companion, but you know, that was never going to happen.
The Paternoster Gang, surely a contender for a spin-off show, actually sort of over stepped the mark with inter-species lesbian fanboy pleasing kiss – for God’s sake don’t let them go down the Captain Jack route! As it was, the reason for the kiss was spurious at best and contributed little to the show. I’m all for artistic integrity. I’ve no problem with anything as long as it progresses the narrative and has a point within the story. The key phrase, I think, is ‘shoe-horned’. If you took that scene out would it fundamentally change the story or the status of their relationship? I’d say no. It can’t even be put down to a character piece as that aspect of their character has been explored, at length, in previous seasons and even earlier in this episode. It served as nothing more than titillation. Much of Captain Jack and Ianto’s relationship suffered from the same thing in Torchwood. If it sits seamlessly within a narrative, then, yeah, attitudes will change. Nothing ‘unusual’ is seen. Stick it gratuitously and it becomes something that jars and seems ‘not normal’.
I wasn’t offended *because* it was a lesbian kiss – I’m gay myself, this sort of think doesn’t shock me – simply because it was gratuitous. I feel the same way about straight, bi, gay, whatever gratuitousness. Jenny and Madam Vastra have declared very openly in previous episodes, that they are couple, married, etc. There was an extremely funny and incredibly salacious comment/gesture that said more about their relationship than any treatise on sexuality could. The ‘kiss’ seemed like a hugely retrograde step. What has been interesting is that we, as the audience, have been party to their relationship in a way the the ‘outside world’ hasn’t been. I think that might be one of the reasons that the Paternoster gang are so popular. By sharing that secret, we are part of that gang?
The plot was kind of half baked, too. A sister ship to The Madame de Pompadour? Oh get a grip! The whole flustering round the space ship bit was turgid nonsense with the revelation being a surprise to absolutely no one. This was Moffatt showing us how clever he was once; reminding us of his fast waning brilliance. “Look at me! I wrote ‘The Girl In The Fireplace’. For a man who claimed he was going to be doing something completely different this season, this was not an auspicious start.
But then things moved on and that final scene with the whiskey and the ‘I’m not programmed that way’ conversation was sparkling with menace.
The Paternoster Gang, for the most part, were wonderful fun, Strax continues to make me laugh out loud, be it comments about dissolving in acid or bringing up ‘The Times’.
I loved the scene in the restaurant, too. Especially when they tried to leave; that was genuinely creepy.
The end scene between Clara and both Doctors was fantastic and the lead up to Clara ‘meeting’ the New Doctor for the first time was lovely. Actually, Clara was probably the most interesting character, and it’s about tme! I’ve long thought Clara to be little more than a cypher. She’s never really had much in the way of personality, as such. With The Doctor in flux and not having his character defined, someone had to take up the slack. The old Clara would have floundered. Clara, this time ws much better written and performed and if anything, this was her episode. Bravo Jenna!
I have theories about the ‘paradise’ section that I’m not going to share yet, but if I’m anywhere close to being right, it’ll be fun.
Now, you know me I am a Who fan of almost Misery Chastain levels. So it was unlikely that I was ever going to outright hate it, but I do have enough in the way of critical faculty to know a disappointing episode when I see one.
But you know what. I’m going to be watching next week. I know Capaldi can act, I know that he’ll excel once he’s allowed to but it really felt like both the writer and the director was doing everything he could to prevent Capaldi having any decent screen-time.
It was good. Not brilliant and as with most extended episodes, could probably have done with a bit of editing, mostly from the pre-credits sequence. All that stuff running around on the banks of the Thames was really poor. Then the new theme music came in. Ugh.