There is a question that permeates throughout the episode: is the Doctor a good man? It’s true that with every incarnation, some things stay the same, namely the Doctor’s moral code of saving the defenseless and having a respect and almost childlike awe at the different forms of life in the universe. The question posited does not get answered in this episode. At one point the Doctor abandons Clara to the machines that are, in essence, trying to eat her. But the Doctor comes back at just the right moment, reinforcing Clara’s belief that he always has her back. In the next few moments, though, the Doctor and the head cyborg end up alone, discussing life and humanity before it is alluded that the Doctor murdered the cyborg by pushing him out of the TARDIS, though this, in the end, is equally unclear. Either the Doctor did the deed or the cyborg jumped. If we take one thing away from this episode, it’s that we’re looking at a different Doctor; the knight in shinning armor has been roughed up a bit and this new man is a more gray incarnation (both literally and metaphorically). There's something to be said about the "broom" conversation. If you keep pulling yourself apart and replacing bits and bobs over time, are you still the same man? No, of course you're not. The Doctor is going to be darker, I think, than what we've seen in the past. Did he kill the Cyborg? I'm leaning towards yes. Though, it turned out okay for the Cyborg in the end, given that he ended up in paradise. I have no idea what to make of this bit. Who the hell is Missy? What is this heaven? And what is going on? I'm guessing that's the big mystery of the season.
Was this necessary? At all? I am probably alone in my opinion that the Matt Smith guest appearance at the end of the episode was cheesy. It took away from Smith’s wonderful regeneration scene and magnificent final line, “I’ll always remember when the Doctor was me.” That was how I wanted to remember Matt Smith’s incarnation, not a man making one final pleading phone call, reaching out to a companion who, as I said, shouldn’t be torn about traveling with the Doctor. This just felt excessive and cheap, one final way to get Matt Smith on the screen for all his fans before truly passing the torch. But that's not fair to the other Doctors who regenerated and never got this sort of moment. And again, I have to say, it makes no sense for Clara to be questioning not traveling with the Doctor simply because he regenerated. The 12th Doctor and Clara have a nice little moment where she finally "sees" him and decides to stick around. Overall, this episode was good but not great. It got seriously bogged down in the plot and dragged quite a bit. Peter Capaldi is magnificent, though. He's going to be a great Doctor.
Miscellaneous Notes on Deep Breath
--He may not be a great show runner, but Moffat does know how to write a great line or two. Here's smattering of great quotes:
"It just laid an egg!" "It dropped a blue box marked police out of its mouth. Your grasp on biology...troubles me."
"You remember...thingy! Not me, the asking questions one."
"Sorry it's my new hands! Can't tell them apart"
"MELT HIM WITH ACID!"
"Give him hell, he'll always need it"
--Strax needs his own spinoff.
--Heavy religious overtones are heavy!
--Did you notice all the mirrors? Are we looking at a parallel universe?