My most recent post was a review for the season 8 opener 'Deep Breath.' This special was the first full story in the era of Peter Capaldi's Doctor. I maintain a high opinion of the episode. It was initially my plan to post a review for each episode after it aired but life go in the way. In order to correct this I am compiling a short summary on Doctor Who series 8 thus far. To keep things simple I am breaking it down by episode and beginning with episode two.
Into the Dalek
This story being the second in Capaldi's was really the first regular adventure for the new incarnation. Not only was this episode saddled with the duty of keeping the promise made by 'Deep Breath' it also had to do the menace of the daleks justice whilst at the same time establishing a new working relationship between the Doctor and his most hated enemies. Luckily 'Into the Dalek was successful on all these fronts. Capaldi's Doctor is shown as a cold and emotionally scarred who desperately wants to be a good man. This Doctor has clear negative associations with the idea of being a soldier and even rejects a perfectly suitable companion based on this prejudice. This episode is a thriller which reworks ideas seen in both the first Doctor story "Planet of Giants" and the Ninth Doctor's episode 'Dalek'.
Robot of Sherwood
This Gatiss penned tale is one of action adventure and romance but that is only the surface of the episode. This story questions what makes someone a hero and whether or not pretending to be a hero is heroic in itself. The Doctor's negative attitude towards Robin Hood is a reflection of his own self doubt and the belief that all fairytale heroes are fictions. Robin Hood and the Doctor have a lot in common though Robin is a bit more annoying than our favorite Time Lord and their is a very touching conversation between the two at one point. This episode was good but not particularly extraordinary. It seems to me the pacing may have been hurt by the removal of one particular scene.
'Listen' is perhaps my favorite twelfth Doctor episode so far. It's about fear and how it effects people. This story is unique in Doctor Who in that the principle villain is not only most likely not actually real but is also probably just a figment of the Doctor's imagination. While much of the danger may not be real this story is still incredibly creepy and is very important in the overall canon of the franchise. We see the first Doctor earlier in his life than ever before and Clara once again does something "impossible". This is definitely one of my favorite.
'Time Heist' is a fun adventure in the vein of a Hollywood heist film. It sees the Doctor and Clara teaming up with an amnesiac cyborg and an emotionally troubled shape shifter in order to rob the most secure bank in the universe. It may be a wild adventure but make no mistake this episode has its dark moments. The major theme of this episode seems to be coming to terms with you own identity and it is reflected in much of the plot. While examining different manifestations of self hatred takes up a significant portion of the episode it is not one of your emotion based straightforward tales. In the last twenty minutes it becomes clear this story has some very timey wimey aspects to it. This is a very strong episode and definitely would have kept me interested if I was a first time viewer.
This episode is basically "School Reunion" meets "The Lodger." In this story the Doctor poses as a caretaker at Clara's school in the hope of defeating an alien threat attracted to the area by emissions from the TARDIS. The alien looks sort of cool but is really on there to create a sense of danger. The real story is about how Clara attempts to juggle two lives and two old soldiers. This episode has been harshly criticized by some for remarks made by the Doctor especially to Clara's boyfriend Danny Pink whom he is incredibly rude to just because he had been a soldier.
Many people fail to realize that the Doctor is not hating based on prejudice to something he does not know. All the Doctor's remarks are fueled by his own self hatred. The Doctor is a soldier and he has seen things that would scar anyone. He doesn't like to think about that part of himself and reacts defensively when something reminds him. If I'm not mistaken this theme of self hatred and identity will carry through into the rest of this series. Moffat is building to something.