Doctor Who Profile: Peter Capaldi

Jason O’Toole

Photos Courtesy of BBC

Way back in December of 2013, the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor regenerated and Peter Capaldi made his first full appearance as the titular Time Lord. New ground was broken as Capaldi became the first doctor beyond original regeneration cycle, long thought by fans to be impossible. We were immediately reminded of the classic story as the new doctor was an older man than fans were used to at that point in the shows history. His companion, Clara Oswald, was hesitant about the whole regeneration process. She was unsure if the man she now traveled with was the same man she once cared for. This leads to a beautiful moment between the Doctor and Clara in the first episode of series 8. Clara receives a phone call from the eleventh doctor explaining that she needs to help him. That he is afraid and needs Clara’s help. The Doctor responds with a touching monologue,

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“You can’t see me, can you? You look at me and you can’t see me. Do you have any idea what that’s like? I’m not on the phone, I’m right here standing in front of you. Please, just….just see me.”

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Clara realizes what fans have always known, the Doctor may change his face, but the heroic nature of his being will always remain. The ironic nature of Capaldi’s doctor was even though he appeared older he was, as the first new regeneration in the cycle, still very much a child. We got to watch this new Doctor mature and try to deal with his legacy reborn into a universe that sees him as a threat. Allies old and new came along to help our hero on his journey. His adventures led him to places he had never been before like the most secure bank in the universe to the inside of a malfunctioning Dalek. Ultimately, he once again came face to face with the newest regeneration of the Master, a female Time Lord named Missy. She would also test him in ways he had never imagined.

Eventually, the Doctor parted ways with Clara Oswalt and met Bill Potts, a young woman the Doctor took to tutoring. During this final stage of his journey, the Doctor started to question if he should get to live forever. Together with Bill and a cyborg named Nardole, the Doctor embarked on a season that made him reassess his impact on the universe. This led to some of the greatest episodes of Steven Moffat’s 8 year stint as the showrunner. He brought the Doctor full circle and introduced him to his original incarnation, revived by David Bradley. Bradley’s striking resemblance to the original actor William Hartnell allowed him to bring a near perfect performance as the first Doctor to the screen. They help each other to understand the importance of their lives. The peoples of the universe would have long ago destroyed themselves if not for the Doctor. All of this led to the inevitable end for the Doctor, the regeneration. He leaves his future self with a few parting words,

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“Never be cruel, never be cowardly, and never ever eat pears. Remember, hate is always foolish, and love is always wise. Always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind. Oh, and you mustn’t tell anyone your name. No one would understand it anyway...except children. Children can hear it, sometimes, if their hearts are in the right place, and the stars are too, children can hear your name. But nobody else. Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind. Doctor...I let you go.”

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This is as much a message to himself as it to his future self. The new Doctor, now played by Jodie Whittaker, makes her first appearance on screen as the titular hero. Her first line as the Doctor echos how we all feel when we realize the Doctor is now a woman, “Brilliant.” Even though this episode marks the end of Steven Moffat’s excellent run as showrunner, we have a bright future to look forward to as new ground is one again broken in this series. Fortunately, we don’t have long to wait as Jodie Whittaker will grace our screens later this year.

 

 

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