Impressions of Time Heist

Following on the heels of “Listen,” “Time Heist” was always going to face an uphill battle.  Love it or hate it, “Listen” certainly left everyone talking.  From the preview, it was clear that this episode featured yet another dramatic switch in tone.  “Time Heist” is a take-off on heist films, making it another episode that is just for fun.  I would have been fine with a fun episode, but what we got, well…let’s just say it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for.

The gang's all here: Psi, Clara, Saibra, and the Doctor

The gang’s all here: Psi, Clara, Saibra, and the Doctor

The Doctor, Clara, and two others (Saibra, a multant human who can become anybody after touching them and Psi, an augmented human/hacker whose brain is partially computerized) are attempting to rob the Bank of Karabraxos, the universe’s most secure bank.  They are following the instructions of the unknown architect.  They have no idea what the goal of the heist is, or why they agreed to it in the first place, because they have all had their memories erased by a memory worm.  This is a good thing because they have to deal with the Teller, an alien being who can detect guilt and feasts upon guilty people’s brains.

After a series of episodes that were far more character driven, this was the first real plot driven story of the season.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find this plot particularly engaging.  There were some interesting moments, like the idea of the teller, but nothing was really fleshed out.  I never got terribly involved in the heist, so all I was left with were many seemingly interesting ideas that never got developed.  The fellow members of the heist crew seemed like they could be interesting characters, but we learned very little about them, except for their “talent.”  When Psi was willing to sacrifice his life for Clara, the thought that flashed through my head was “why?”  There was no relationship from which to build that kind of sacrifice.  The Teller was another interesting idea that went largely unexplained, as well as the villain, Karabraxos herself.

I also knew the “twist” from quite early on, so the mystery of who the architect was held very little interest for me.  I couldn’t imagine the Doctor being willing to put so much trust in the hands of someone else, so I was fairly confident that he was the architect.  The moment the Doctor said being a leader was his special talent gave me almost 100% certainty that he was, in fact, the architect.  The fact that Clara was there also made me think that the Doctor was behind this, since Clara had almost nothing to do in this episode.  Everyone else had a special talent that made them part of the plan, but Clara just seemed to be along for the ride.  Why would the architect want her there?  After a series full of strong episodes for Coleman, this episode pushed her into a much more traditional companion role, as she basically seemed to be there to ask questions and get into danger.

Karabraxos in her vault.  It seemed like a woman who was responsible for quite a few bad things, got off pretty much

Karabraxos in her vault. It seemed like a woman who was responsible for quite a few bad things, got off pretty much scot-free

I also found the story a bit derivative of  a few previous Matt Smith stories.  The first was “Hide.” I know some people have complained about Steven Moffat’s tendency to make “bad guys” who aren’t really bad, but I haven’t had a big problem with it.  However, the fact that the Teller wasn’t really bad and was just doing it because Karabraxos was holding the only other of his species captive, seemed an awful lot like the monster in “Hide.”  I couldn’t help but think, “Every lonely monster needs a companion.”  Additionally, the fact that the other members of the crew appeared to die, only to be found alive later reminded me of Thompson’s own “Curse of the Black Spot.”

I’m also not sure that I’m really enjoying the Clara/Danny romance, even though we just got a tiny glimpse of it in this episode.  It’s getting a bit too sitcom-ish for my tastes, almost as if Steven Moffat has slipped back into writing for Coupling.  I know some people are probably enjoying it, but I really didn’t like the scene in this episode of the two of them in the classroom.  I think the character of Danny Pink is interesting, I just haven’t really bought into their relationship.  I’m not really feeling a strong connection between them, so it’ll be interesting to see if next week’s episode, where their relationship appears to be front and center, can change my mind.

On the positive side, this episode did have some clever lines. I particularly liked the lines the Doctor delivered when the Teller was scanning his mind.  “Big scarf, bow-tie.  A bit embarrassing.  What do you think of the new look?  I was hoping for minimalism, but I think I came out with magician.”  I would be very surprised to learn that that was not a Steven Moffat line.  I will also say that I thought it was well-directed and had a few striking visuals.  The Teller was an impressive creature, visually, and I enjoyed seeing him on-screen.

This episode also continued the interesting dynamic between CLara and the Doctor.  While there is nothing romantic between them, I do think the Doctor is jealous of the other man in her life.  I really don’t believe that the Doctor is as clueless as he seems.  Most of the times he insults Clara it’s about ways she is trying to look nice for Danny.  The exchange where he asks if Clara is taller, and upon learning that she is wearing heels, asks if she needs to reach a high shelf is a perfect example.  Yet, in “Listen,” he parked his TARDIS in her bedroom, so he would be out of the way if her date went well.  It seems to me the Doctor is quite deliberately hoping to get in the way of Clara and Danny’s budding relationship.  At the end of the episode, when Clara leaves the TARDIS he quite proudly challenges her date to beat the experience she just had.  He seems to be concerned that Danny will get in the way of his relationship with Clara.

Really, this episode was the best of the three scripts that Steve Thompson has written for Doctor Who.  The aforementioned “The Curse of the Black Spot” was one of the low points of series 6 for me, while last series’ “Journey to the Center of the TARDIS” was one of my least favorite episodes of new Who.  This held my interest and didn’t leave me hating the characters afterwards, so that was an improvement.  Of course, this episode was co-written by Steven Moffat, so I’m not sure what, exactly, his contribution to the script was.

The Doctor and Clara come face-to-face with the Teller

The Doctor and Clara come face-to-face with the Teller

Overall, this episode wasn’t horrible, it just left me cold.  It’s the kind of episode that is almost instantly forgettable.  I was hoping to enjoy this one, since I do enjoy heist movies, but it never had me on the edge of my seat, the way a great heist movie can.  Instead, since I was watching this one quite late, I found myself trying not to nod off during it.  Ultimately, I guess it was a successful “time heist” because it stole 45 minutes from me…and left me with almost nothing in return.

Advertisements

Impressions of Listen

This week’s episode of Doctor Who, “Listen,” was destined to stir up controversy.  Some people were bound to be upset that we visited the Doctor’s childhood; others were sure to become enraged that Steven Moffat had the audacity to insert himself into “An Unearthly Child” by making it that the first Doctor is quoting  something that Clara said to him.  Add on to this the “was there a monster or wasn’t there” debate (I’m on the no monster side), and opinions were sure to be divided.  While I didn’t think this was the greatest episode of all time, I thought it was a very good one, and there was a lot to admire.

Clara, Rupert, and the Doctor try to figure out what is under Rupert's bedspread

Clara, Rupert, and the Doctor try to figure out what is under Rupert’s bedspread

Unusually, this episode was structured as a series of vignettes, each depicting a character or characters dealing with fear.  While the vignette structure worked, I felt that it left the episode feeling a bit disjointed.  The driving force of the story is the Doctor trying to find out why we sometimes feel and act as if someone is there, even though we know there’s no one around.  He eventually settles on the answer being linked to the dream that people often have of someone hiding under their bed. Running parallel to this story is one involving Danny and Clara on a disastrous first date.  The Doctor is waiting when Clara returns from her date, hoping to use her memories of having the dream to find out what is, actually, under the bed.  However, due to Clara’s preoccupation with her date, they end up visiting a young Danny Pink (here called Rupert) who is having the dream, followed by a visit to one of Danny’s descendants, a time traveler lost at the end of the universe.

This episode, and, in particular, the visit to the Doctor’s past at the end of the story, further develops our understanding of this Doctor.  Once again, he proves himself to be quite stubbornly fixed to his ideas.  He becomes obsessed with his theory about a creature who can hide perfectly and he is willing to risk just about everything to prove that it is correct and solve the mystery.  Seeing him as a small, frightened boy shows us that the Doctor can be afraid too.  The moment with Clara is also likely the moment in which he discovered how to be brave, resulting in him growing up to be the Doctor that we know.  We also see how much he respects and has faith in Clara, despite the barrage of insults he seems to constantly hurl at her. He listens to her at the end of the story and leaves without asking any questions, a trust that I think very few Doctors would have placed in their companions. Furthermore, I feel that Capaldi’s Doctor, even though he has become more alien, is less god-like.  This season we have seen that he can be afraid, and he can be wrong. However, as “Robot of Sherwood” proved, he is still a hero, despite his flaws.

This episode also featured some interesting developments for Clara.  Her interactions with Danny show us that she is not perfect.  Perhaps due to all the time she spends with the Doctor who is almost impossible to offend, she tends to blurt things out that end up hurting Danny’s feelings.  After her comment about teaching children to shoot somebody and then cry over it didn’t go over so well, she probably should have known better than to causally make a joke about him saying he wants to kill someone .  I, however, think that her and Danny’s problems (and overreactions) were showing another kind of fear; they were both afraid of getting close to somebody, so they let their fear drive them apart, which shows another aspect of the theme for the week.

Clara and Danny on their ill-fated date

Clara and Danny on their ill-fated date

However, this episode still displays many of Clara’s positive traits,such as her compassion for children in need and her overall cleverness and bravery.  At this point, Clara and the Doctor are more like equals that any other pairing I can think of, except for perhaps Barbara and Ian with the first Doctor.  In some ways, Clara and the Doctor have switched roles this year.  He is the more mysterious, unknowable one, while she often takes charge and is the logical one.  She is the one who solves the mystery of what’s under the bed, not the Doctor.

The main strength of this story, however, is its structure; it’s a story that I’m still trying to unpack.  There are many examples of parallels and foreshadowing.  This story seems to suggest that the Doctor and Danny Pink have some similarities in dealing with childhood fears, and in aspiring to be a man who is so brave, he doesn’t even need a gun to fight (clearly shown by Clara giving each of them the broken soldier toy).  There is also the Doctor searching for Wally (or Waldo, as he was known in the U.S.) in a non-Where’s Wally book; I thought this was a reference to the Doctor who is searching for monsters in a monster-less story. An example of foreshadowing is when Clara tells Rupert that she is what’s under his bed, which foreshadows the fact that she literally becomes the monster under the Doctor’s bed.  The more I watch the episode, the more examples I catch.

The only scene that I felt might not aid the story was the monster under the blanket scene.  It was the scariest scene in the episode and well shot, but it seemed to lean towards their actually being a monster, which, as I will explain in a moment does not support the theme as I saw it.

I felt that the theme of the episode was that everyone is afraid, but fear doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  Through the various stories, we see that everyone is afraid at some point, and there is nothing that they can do about it.  However, fear can unite people, it can give you “superpowers,” and, ultimately it is your fear that makes you brave.  As the first Doctor said, fear is your “constant companion,” so you’d better learn to deal with it.  And, despite the Doctor’s attempts to explain it, fear is, by it’s nature, illogical.  Sometimes, you will feel fear, for reasons that you can’t explain away, no matter how hard you try.  If you don’t face your fear it can become a “monster,” particularly if you are alone.  Still, no matter what you do, you have to accept that fear is a part of life for everyone.

Clara becomes the monster under the Doctor's bed

Clara becomes the monster under the Doctor’s bed

Overall, I appreciated the episode more than I enjoyed it.  It has all the trademarks of a Steven Moffat penned episode (the concept of time being central to the story, the exploration of a bigger idea, the intricate plotting and structure, the mix of tones), except that I found it lacking in the one aspect that Moffat is usually very strong in: emotion.  This episode didn’t emotionally engage me.  Usually, if nothing else, Moffat’s episodes hit all the right emotional notes, but this one left me a bit cold.  While the structure is great and the story unique, my emotions were never really engaged.  While it certainly an episode that has lingered in my mind, it doesn’t reach the heights of “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances” or “Blink.”  Or maybe my expectations were just too high.  If this were written by another writer, would I have ranked it higher? I guess time will tell if my opinion shifts.  It does, however, continue this season’s run of solid episodes.  Let’s see if next week’s can make it five in a row…

Impressions of Robot of Sherwood

“Robot of Sherwood” is a loving tribute to the swashbuckling heroes of old.  It even references Errol Flynn and his huge…ego (that’s the second penis joke of Capaldi’s tenure, by the way).  Much like the adventurous stories that it is emulating, it is a fun episode, full of action and adventure, but not meant to be taken too seriously.  There are sword fights, archery contests, murderous robots…well, maybe the latter wasn’t in the original stories, but this is Doctor Who.  It’s a clash between the simpler, noble heroes of old and the more  complex heroes of today.

Clara is thrilled to meet Robin Hood, but the Doctor...not so much.

Clara is thrilled to meet Robin Hood, but the Doctor…not so much.

In “Robot of Sherwood” the Doctor learns that if given her choice of anywhere in time and space to visit, Clara would like to visit Sherwood Forest and meet Robin Hood.  He takes her to Sherwood Forest in 1190 to prove that there is no such person, but, of course, Robin Hood is the first person that they meet upon exiting the TARDIS.  The Doctor and Clara then have to work with Robin to foil the Sheriff of Nottingham and his robot henchman in his plan to murder the king and seize power (and possibly blow up half the country in his attempt).

Every now and then it’s good for the Doctor to have what is basically a fun romp.  In this episode, you are never really worried for his or Clara’s safety and the stakes feel pretty low.  However, after the rather dark “Into the Dalek,” this was a nice, if a bit jarring,  lighthearted change of pace.  As in the first two episodes of the season, the plot is secondary to the momentum of the characters, but it is a fun ride.  It was entertaining enough to make me willing to ignore the leaps the plot took or the plot holes that occurred. To learn how the sheriff gained control of the robots or just how the Doctor and Robin got out of those chains would slow the story down, and this story is like a soufflé, an insubstantial plot needing just the right touch or the whole story will simply collapse.

Although this story features an appearance by Partick Troughton, (in the collection of Robin Hood images in the ship’s databank, since he was the first to portray the character on television) this story has far more of a Pertwee-esqe feel to it again.  He is the first Doctor to come to mind when you think of sword fighting, after his memorable fight with the Master in “The Sea Devils.”  However, I loved that Capaldi’s Doctor put his own unique twist on it by doing it with a spoon.  The Doctor also demonstrates his Venusian Aikido when he disarms Robin, another throwback to Pertwee.  The story even references the miniscopes last seen in Pertwee’s “Carnival of Monsters.”

I don't need a sword.  I am the Doctor...and this is my spoon.

I don’t need a sword. I am the Doctor…and this is my spoon.

I also loved the contrast between Robin Hood and the Doctor.  Since this Doctor is a man who never seems to smile (although we do get an almost smile about halfway through this episode), it is perfect to create a foil who is always laughing.  I’m not sure this episode would have worked as well with another Doctor.  The clash of two wholly dissimilar temperaments is what makes the story work.  The fact that the Doctor really can’t stand being around these merry men brings a great deal of the humor to the episode.  The fact that Tom Riley is an incredibly charismatic Robin Hood helps a great deal as well.  He is aggressively cheerful without crossing over into annoying. Despite the Doctor’s professed dislike for banter, the exchanges and bickering between him and Robin were quite memorable.  I couldn’t help but feel that the real reason the Doctor didn’t enjoy the laughter was because it was, once again, a man putting up a bit of a mask to hide his pain, something with which the Doctor is all too familiar.

My main complaint would be that the Doctor of this episode doesn’t seem to connect to the darker Doctor whom we saw in last week’s episode.  This Doctor is a bit grumpy, but he does not seem to lack empathy for people.  Even Clara, who last week said she did not know if he was a good man, is back to seeing him as her hero, with absolutely no reservations.  After hitting us over the head with the idea that we should question this new Doctor, that thread is completely dropped in this story.

However, we do learn a bit more about the Doctor through his interactions.  It is clear that this Doctor is incredibly stubborn and clings fervently to what he thinks he knows; despite all the evidence to the contrary, he continues to insist that Robin Hood is not real because that is what he believes.  This Doctor also seems to guess wrong more often than his predecessors, as he is sometimes blinded by his stubbornness.  For the second time, he is wrong about his opponent’s plan, believing that Robin Hood was another of the Sheriff’s robots.  The look on his face the first time Clara tells him that he is her impossible hero (which is a great bit of wordless acting by Capaldi) also suggests that this Doctor has emotions, he just chooses not to express them as much as some of his more recent incarnations.

Of course, I can’t neglect to mention that this is another great performance for Jenna Coleman as well.  Clara’s joy at being with her storybook hero is evident in every scene.  Even though it was obvious what was coming, I did enjoy Clara being taken away while the Doctor and Robin both argued about which of them was the leader of the group.  In the moments leading up to that, Clara has very clearly taken charge, using another lesson that I’m sure she learned teaching: how to settle a disagreement between two bickering students.  Clara also has a great scene with the sheriff, in which she manipulates him into telling her what’s going on.  I was also happy to note that despite the time period, there really were no damsels in distress, with both Clara and Marion willing to take matters into their own hands when necessary.

This looks pretty significant to me: the Doctor bathed in light coming from a cross shaped window.

This looks pretty significant to me: the Doctor bathed in light coming from a cross-shaped window.

The “Promised Land” made its now expected appearance, this time as the destination of the robots’ ship. Why are all these robots trying to get there?  Missy was not in this episode, but no one sacrificed themselves or was killed by the Doctor’s actions, so I’m wondering if that’s why.  There are several crosses seen in this episode, most notably the cross-shaped window behind the Doctor, Clara, and Robin when they are being held prisoner.  Even the beam that the robots fired from their heads was in the shape of a cross.  I’m not sure if it’s significant, but I’m still finding many religious symbols and references peppered through the stories this season.   Additionally, the Doctor is once again writing mysterious formulas in chalk, which he has done in every episode so far.  Is it just a habit of his Doctor, or is it something more significant?

Tom Riley as the smiling Robin Hood.

Tom Riley as the smiling Robin Hood.

While it’s not going to go down in history as one of the legendary Doctor Who stories, overall, I enjoyed it.  I would say that it’s on par with Mark Gatiss’ previous historical, “The Crimson Horror,” which was also not meant to be taken too seriously (and which I also enjoyed).  Of course the two are very different in style and tone; “The Crimson Horror” is a homage to penny dreadfuls, which requires darker subject matter and humor, while “Robot of Sherwood” is a tribute to old-fashioned swashbuckling heroes. However, they are both episodes that are honoring a specific type of story.  Therefore, the actual mechanics of the plots are secondary to the feeling Gatiss is trying (successfully, in my opinion) to capture.  What I really took away from “Robot of Sherwood,” I must admit, is a desire to see the encounter the Doctor alludes to between him and Errol Flynn; I think Errol and the third Doctor could have quite a night on the town.

Impressions of Into the Dalek

“Asylum of the Daleks” promised a Dalek asylum full of insane, exiled Daleks.  I had hoped that an insane Dalek might be one who was actually “good,” or at least Daleks who didn’t obey orders.  What we got in that episode was more like asylum of the broken-down Daleks.  Quite unexpectedly, however, in “Into the Dalek” I got what I wished for at the start of season seven; the Doctor has to confront the idea of a good Dalek.

The Doctor and Rusty size each other up.

The Doctor and Rusty size each other up.

Basically, in “Into the Dalek” the Doctor and Clara literally go into a Dalek.  They (and a few soldiers) go through a miniaturization process and sent inside the casing of a Dalek who may actually be a “good” Dalek who has been wounded.  The Dalek needs medical attention, and the suspicious Doctor is there to give it. Is there really such a thing as a good Dalek?  The Doctor doesn’t believe it, but he needs to find out.

“Into the Dalek” has a great premise, and is one of the best Dalek stories of new Who (although there really isn’t too much competition for that title).  Instead of having the Doctor fend off yet another Dalek invasion, the episode explores what is means to be a Dalek and if it is possible for a Dalek to become good.  The radiation leak in Rusty has made it malfunction; thanks to witnessing the birth of a star during an attack, the broken Dalek can now see how futile the Daleks’ quest for extermination of all other life is. Of course, when the Doctor repairs the radiation leak, the Dalek immediately goes back to its old ways of thinking (why does the Doctor seem confused at first? I thought it was pretty clear what was going to happen).  It was great to see the episode explore the idea of the nature of a Dalek.  Could a fully functional Dalek be made to see the light, or can that only happen as a malfunction which cannot last?

Of course, “The Evil of the Daleks” explored this idea as well, with Troughton’s Doctor placing the “human factor” in three Daleks, which made them playful (I still wish that I could see the Doctor playing “train” with his newly humanized Daleks) and made them start to question their orders.  Technically, the Doctor should know because of that experience that it is possible to make a Dalek turn good, but I can see why that experience (from an almost entirely lost episode) would be ignored.  Plus continuity in Doctor Who is always a bit flexible.  Whether or not they believe a good Dalek is possible goes with the personalities of their Doctors: it’s appropriate that the more optimistic Doctor of Troughton would believe that it was possible to  change a Dalek’s way, while the more cynical Doctor played by Capaldi would see them as incapable of change.

The Doctor enters the Dalek eyestalk

The Doctor enters the Dalek eyestalk

I wasn’t completely sold on the whole miniaturization process, but I did manage to get over that once they were inside the Dalek.  This isn’t the first miniaturization of the TARDIS crew that we’ve seen; the first Doctor and his companions were accidentally miniaturized in “Planet of Giants, ” and more recently, in the tesseract during the second half of season six. However, this episode was a rather knowing wink to the film Fantastic Voyage, with the Doctor even remarking that the medical application of miniaturization would make a great movie.  I, however, kept waiting to see Elizabeth Shue show up to examine a splinter (okay, so I went to EPCOT a lot as a child).  All the knowing winks to the movie actually took me a bit out of the story at first, which is why I had a bit of a hard time getting into it at first.

This episode also marks the second time that a Dalek has told the Doctor that he would make or is a good Dalek; both times it was due to his hatred.  The first time was in “Dalek” when the ninth Doctor wants the Dalek to destroy itself so that there will be no more Daleks in the universe.   This time, it occurred when Rusty could see inside of the Doctor’s mind.  At first, it saw the beauty of the universe, but then all it could see was the Doctor’s hatred of the Daleks.  Since Daleks are programmed to hate, this was what Rusty saw as good; instead of completely transforming, Rusty simply switches hatred of everything that is not Dalek to hatred of Daleks.  This was the second time in the episode that the Doctor’s hatred of the Daleks prevented him from transforming the Dalek.  After he fixed the radiation leak, and Rusty reset, the Doctor’s hatred blinded him to the possibility of redeeming Rusty.  Instead of seeing that it was possible to make a Dalek question orders and see something other than hatred, he simply saw failure and a Dalek incapable of change.  His unwillingness to see the hope that should have come from the experience almost caused the death of everyone on the ship.

The ship, by the way, is named the Aristotle.  This struck me as an interesting name for the ship.  It seemed appropriate to me because Aristotle was the father of logic, and it seems as though Rusty is using a syllogism to see the Doctor as a good Dalek.  Hatred is the defining quality of all good Daleks; hatred of the Daleks defines the Doctor (he even mentions how shaped he was by his first encounter with them); therefore, the Doctor is a good Dalek.

I also wonder if we will see Rusty again. It leaves the Aristotle to rejoin the Dalek fleet, and plans to continue sabotaging the Daleks.  It could be interesting to see the Daleks have to counter an enemy from within.  There are possibilities for the Doctor and Rusty to work together; it would definitely be interesting to see the Doctor have to work with a Dalek for a change.

Clara and the new maths teacher, Danny Pink.

Clara and the new maths teacher, Danny Pink.

There is also a large part of this episode set at the Coal Hill School, where we meet Danny Pink (played by Samuel Anderson).  He is a former soldier who is now a math teacher, and he clearly has some kind of tragedy in his past, involving the killing of civilians.  It could be interesting to have a companion with a darkness in his past, since we haven’t seen much of that in the new series.  He also seems to have a good chemistry with Clara, who is very clearly the more forward one, asking him to have a drink.  I’m not completely sure it was necessary to give Clara a boyfriend at this time, but the character does have potential.  My only complaint is that we’ve seen the current dynamic in their relationship before from just about every woman Moffat has created (Amy, River…), so I hope their relationship is able to cover some new ground.

I also am enjoying the way that Clara’s character continues to develop.  I think she and Peter Capaldi are a great pair.  It was interesting that she called herself his “carer.”  She cares so that he doesn’t have to.  While this relationship is not completely unheard of, it’s a bit more like the relationship between the first Doctor and his companions, or the fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane.  The tenth and eleventh Doctors may have occasionally needed their companions to remind them to have compassion, but they definitely didn’t need “carers.” This Doctor, so far, seems to need one to remind him of what’s important.   If anyone can stand up to the Doctor, it is Clara.  She continues to be a capable, independent individual; the Doctor even trusts her to come up with clever solutions without his help.

Speaking of the Doctor, this episode continues to make the Doctor a darker figure, one who really does need a carer because he just doesn’t seem to care.  He is a Doctor controlled much more by logic than his emotions, which he seem to keep pretty well hidden.  This Doctor had no reaction to the death of Ross and Gretchen.  Unlike the tenth Doctor, there’s no “I’m so sorry” for Ross when the antibodies come for him.  He just rather coolly accepted that Ross was going to die and used his death to try to save the rest of them.  He is also rather unpredictable; instead of picking up Clara at the times she set up, like Matt Smith’s Doctor, he shows up when he feels like it.  We even learn that he left her in Glasgow, where he mistakenly brought her at the end of “Deep Breath” (which has to be another fourth Doctor/Sarah Jane reference).

This episode also brings up the Doctor’s dislike of soldiers.  I didn’t think that it made a lot of sense for the Doctor to not even consider taking Journey Blue with him, just because she was a soldier. The Doctor has had a rather complicated relationship with soldiers, using them when necessary, while not always agreeing with their tactics. Journey certainly showed herself capable of growth and not just a mindless soldier following orders.  It seemed to me that the Doctor only made that comment to set up some kind of conflict between him and Danny Pink.  My suspicion was further supported by the comment that Danny made about how he didn’t know if Clara had anything against soldiers. It seemed like we were getting hit over the head with this foreshadowing of a future clash.

The Doctor and Clara discuss if he is a good man.  Doesn't the fact that he cares kind of prove that he is?

The Doctor and Clara discuss if he is a good man. Doesn’t the fact that he cares kind of prove that he is?

I was, however, left a bit curious by the prevalence of religion in the recent episodes.  The Doctor has always been pretty staunchly nonreligious, but this season has several religious references already.  Missy welcoming people who have died around the Doctor to “heaven” is the most obvious one, but this episode had a few other, subtle references.  Rusty could see divinity in the Doctor’s mind and the Doctor even makes reference to saving Rusty’s soul.  Is that significant? Or is it just a coincidence? I guess I’ll have to wait to find out.