Alright, back to the Doctor. After getting the youngest actor, to date, to play the Doctor, now we have one of the oldest. And sure, Peter Capaldi is not the first Scottish actor to play the Doctor (he’s the third), but he is the first to get to use his Scottish brogue as the Doctor.
But, in the meantime, a dinosaur has swallowed the TARDIS in Victorian-era London.
Oh, don’t worry, She coughed it up, and sure, this particular dinosaur looks…far bigger than any real dinosaurs I know of, but it does mean that something weird is happening in this era, so it may be up to Madame Vastra and her team of Strax and Jenny to solve the case. Granted, they don’t do much as the Doctor pops out of the TARDIS, followed by a confused and frustrated Clara.
Yeah, Clara is still hanging around. I’m still not really a fan. But she’s confused here how, if the Doctor got a new face, why is it the face of an old man? When Vastra actually accuses her of being smitten with the Doctor’s looks, she rightfully tells that lizard woman off. That was nice. In fact, the episode ends with the new Doctor telling Clara he isn’t her boyfriend, and when she agrees, he says he wasn’t telling her.
Would the previous Doctor have taken Clara along as he was smitten with her? Eh, probably. It explains things as well as anything. But this is a different Doctor. He’s…different. The previous Doctor was hyperactive and immature. This one is more secretive and maybe even a little grumpy. He speaks dinosaur, and that giant T-Rex got a promise from him to put her back where she came from once he recovered from his regeneration. Instead, the beast seems to spontaneously combust, and that won’t work for the Doctor. She was scared and just wanted to go home. Plus, it seems a few folks around London have met a similar fate. Many seem to have met a man with half a face…
By the by, regeneration sickness and the confusion that comes with it are always a thing, and they usually tend to go differently every time. But, funny thing here, this time around he remembers his face as one he’s seen before. There’s some general musings on where the faces come from, and the Doctor suspects his new face, even with its cross eyebrows, must mean someone somewhere is trying to tell him something.
As it is, the Doctor sends Clara a cryptic message, and she meets him at a restaurant where he notices no one is actually eating anything. Or breathing for that matter. When he and Clara get up to leave, the customers all stand up and rather mechanically block their way out. Then a waiter has the chairs secure them because it turns out the Doctor and Clara are on the menu because that Half-Face Man is a cyborg. But in his case, he’s a robot trying to make himself human, not a human giving himself mechanical parts. His face is half missing, and he has two mismatched hands. It turns out the Half-Face Man is from a spaceship called the S.S. Marie Antoinette, sister ship to the Madame de Pompadour, and like the Ship of Theseus, the Half-Face Man is trying to keep things running so he can get back to the Promised Land.
Oh, and there are enough robots looking for parts to make all of the Doctor’s allies look bad. Yes, even with Vastra, Jenny, and Strax as back-up, Clara is soon almost subdued until Vastra suggests they stop breathing, something to throw the robots off. By then, the restaurant took off in a hot air balloon, and the Doctor has to argue with Half-Face about how he’s gotten his programming wrong. Which leads to the question: will the Doctor kill Half-Face or will Half-Face do it himself?
That question is unanswered. And somehow, I don’t think any previous Doctor might have even asked it.
So, the Doctor, after disappearing a couple times during the course of the episode, does come back for Clara and asks her to travel with him. She’s not so sure. He’s different now. But then, through the magic of time travel, she gets a call from the Eleventh Doctor, just before his regeneration, asking her to stick with the new version of himself, so there’s that.
Oh, and Half-Face looks fine somehow. He’s in a nice garden with Michelle Gomez, another Scottish actor, who says her name is Missy, the Doctor is her old boyfriend, and the garden is the Promised Land.
That…sounds like trouble.