Recap / Doctor Who S34 E1 "Deep Breath"

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Click here to see the Radio Times magazine poster for this episode: 

"How long can you hold your breath?"
The Doctor

Written by Steven Moffat. The first episode of Series 8 and the first episode to fully feature the Twelfth Doctor. Touting a feature-length run time of 76 minutes, this premiere is the most likely reason why Series 8 has only 12 episodes as opposed to the traditional 13, almost taking up the time of two normal-length episodes. It also featured the return of the Clockwork Droids, first seen in "The Girl in the Fireplace".

In Victorian London, a Tyrannosaurus rex has surprisingly appeared in the Thames outside the Houses of Parliament, prompting the arrival of Madame Vastra and the Paternoster Gang to investigate how it got there. When it vomits up the TARDIS, which in turn reveals the newly regenerated Twelfth Doctor and Clara (last seen in the TARDIS as it was crashing), that particular mystery seems to be solved — but when the dinosaur spontaneously combusts later that night, our heroes realise that something more complicated is at work. The incredibly disoriented Doctor launches himself into an investigation of who or what is going around incinerating people (and dinosaurs), and for what sinister purposes, while Clara tries to adjust to the new man that her friend has become and to decide whether or not she can continue to trust him.

This episode marks the first use of a new title sequence based on this fan-made intro by Billy Hanshaw, using the online psuedonym "billydakiduk". Executive producer Steven Moffat himself discovered the video and liked it so well, he hired Hanshaw to do an even more dolled up version of his original concept, and Billy signed on for other projects for the BBC.

An unusual aspect of the first part of Series 8 is that the episodes were filmed in broadcast order. Not only that, but Capaldi's first scene in "Deep Breath" was also his first-ever proper scene filmed as the Doctor. This gave viewers the unusual perspective of being able to watch the actor develop the new Doctor, and Capaldi and Jenna Coleman develop the new Doctor and Clara's relationship, in very close to real time.


Tropes:

  • Accidental Pervert: "May I take your clothes?" Oh, Strax.
  • Adorkable:
    • Clara during her "medical examination" by Strax.
    • Vastra and Jenny during the "art posing" session.
  • Alien Sky: When the unconscious Doctor seems to translate the dinosaur's cries, including that the wind bites coldly and the sky is all different. Although it's later implied that it's himself, not the T. rex, that he was really speaking for.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Lampshaded with the Half-Face Man's death. When he suddenly appears in a place called Paradise, Missy asks if he was pushed out or jumped of his own free will, since that part isn't shown, only the landing.
  • Amusing Injuries: Strax asks Clara if she wants him to send up the paper. When Clara says yes, from the first floor window, Strax pitches it up at her and nails her in the head. (She doesn't appear to be hurt, as a short while later she's seen walking around just fine. She doesn't even scold Strax about it.)
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: From Clara's perspective, the events of the preceding episode, "The Time of the Doctor", the regeneration, the unseen events leading to the TARDIS being swallowed by the dinosaur and heading to London, the dressing down by Vastra, and witnessing the death of the dinosaur as the Doctor vanishes, all take place over the course of a single Christmas Day. (Her Boxing Day is no less eventful.)
  • Apologetic Attacker: The Twelfth Doctor shares Ten's affection for the clockwork robots. "I have the horrible feeling I'm gonna have to kill you." He even offers the robot a drink.
  • Arc Words: The Promised Land, alternatively known as Paradise.
  • Artificial Atmospheric Actions: The clientele of Mancini's are actually robots designed to make unsuspecting victims enter and sit down, and thus ensnared.
  • Artistic Licence -- Paleontology: The dinosaur in the first part of the episode is fairly accurate for a T. rex, but two or three times the size of any therapod that ever lived. This is lampshaded when Jenny and Vastra discuss this very issue, with Jenny claiming that the fossils she's seen don't measure up to the living thing before them, while Vastra then points out that she was there and then and that they were generally that size.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The Half-Face Man, despite getting impaled on the Westminster Palace Clock Tower (the one which has Big Ben in it), wakes up in Paradise unharmed.
  • Badass Boast: The Half-Face Man gets a chilling one as his automata surround the heroes, trying to earn some Card-Carrying Villain cred:
    Half-Face Man: I killed an ancient, beautiful creature for one inch of optic nerve. What do you think you can accomplish, little man?
  • Batman Gambit: Clara thinks the Twelfth Doctor has left her to death and torture at the hands of the clockwork man. In reality, he's disguised himself as one of the droids, relying on Clara's survival instinct to kick in and do the work for him.
  • Becoming the Mask:
    • Hinted to be the reason why the Doctor previously assumed younger faces — to be accepted in society. Twelve is a rare case where the veil comes off and the Doctor shows his true age and merit. This also harks back to River Song calling the Eleventh Doctor a centuries-old god with the face of a twelve-year-old, which perhaps means she would love the new face.
    • Also suggested to be the case with the Half-Face Man. He's gone and added so much flesh to himself that there's more man than machine now.
    • Jenny lampshades how, although her role as Vastra's maid is ostensibly a façade to conceal their lesbian marriage, she somehow ends up being the one who pours the tea even in private.
  • Been There, Shaped History: For something unimportant anyway. Marcus Aurelius, last of the Five Good Roman Emperors, was, according to Vastra, "a superlative bass guitarist. The Doctor really knows how to put a band together."
  • Berserk Button: In the same scene, Madame Vastra calls out Clara for her crush on the Doctor, which pisses her off to the point where she gives a pretty awesome Reason Why You Suck Speech to Vastra for assuming she knew everything about her.
    • Jenny makes it into a Crowning Moment of Funny by applauding. Presumably, very few people have the nerve to put the missus in her place.
    • She then gets just the tiniest bit jealous when Vastra flirts with Clara for losing her temper.
    Jenny: OI! (smacks Vastra in the head, who hisses in response) Married!
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Strax turns his gun on himself when he is on the verge of failing to hold his breath and it looks like the drones will kill them. Vastra calls him off, and the drones deactivate seconds later.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Played with; the Paternoster Gang arrive at the lower level of Mancini's and proceed to kick ass and take names. Vastra and Jenny gracefully arrive by descending to the floor on ribbons like circus acrobats, while Strax fails to pull it off quite as stylishly and crashes straight to the floor. Vastra tells him to stick to taking the stairs.
    • Lampshaded when Clara says that if the Twelfth Doctor really is the Doctor then he's right there waiting to save her in the nick of time. He is.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: A long-awaited one between Vastra and Jenny when Vastra shares some of the oxygen she has stored in her lungs so they can both pose as Clockwork Droids and avoid dying in the thick of battle.
  • Big Entrance: The TARDIS is coughed out of a T. rex.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Twelve puts a ton of Lampshade Hanging into 'em:
    Vagabond: I don't like it!
    The Doctor: What?
    Vagabond: Your face!
    The Doctor: Well, I don't like it either! Well, it's all right up until the eyebrows — then it just goes haywire! (points two fingers at his brows) Look at the eyebrows! (wiggles them) These are ATTACK eyebrows — you could take bottle tops off with these!
    Vagabond: They are mighty eyebrows indeed, sir.
    The Doctor: They're CROSS! They're crosser than the rest of my face. They're independently cross! They probably want to secede from the rest of my face and set up their own independent state of eyebrows!
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: The Half-Face Man's drones all have spring-loaded wrist blades, and the Half-Face Man himself has a flamethrower concealed under his right hand.
  • Body Horror: The Half-Face Man is a misshapen kitbash of flesh and blood parts and mechanical and clockwork parts. His eyes and hands do not match up, he has a whole section of his head with no discernible skin on it and we don't even know what level of Frankenstein's monster-like horror is going on with his anatomy underneath his clothes.
  • Bookends:
    • Clara's first and last interactions with the Eleventh Doctor are over the phone. In fact, it's the same phone.
    • From a production standpoint, the surprise appearance by the Eleventh Doctor in the first Twelfth Doctor story echoes the surprise appearance by the Twelfth Doctor in the penultimate Eleventh Doctor story, "The Day of the Doctor".
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: The password used by the Doctor and Clara to bring the Paternoster Gang into action happens to be the Eleventh Doctor's old Catch Phrase, "Geronimo". The Doctor even correctly guesses it.
  • Break the Cutie: Clara gets put through the proverbial wringer in this one. Having to deal with a regenerated Time Lord is one thing, but she also has to deal with killer robots, being nearly abandoned by the Doctor, and Strax. She also has to put up with quite a lot of insults, both from Vastra (who is, admittedly, performing a Secret Test of Character on her) and the Doctor (who appears to have got a lot more blunt in his new body).
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: After dealing with the Half-Face Man, the Doctor looks directly into the camera and at the audience.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In "The Time of the Doctor", Clara calls up the Doctor saying in a panicked tone that he is her boyfriend and the Doctor agrees with much glee. Here, in what is later revealed to be the most Blatant of Blatant Lies, the Doctor bluntly tells her that he is not her boyfriend.
    • Toward the end of "The Time of the Doctor", before entering the TARDIS the last time, Clara notices that the phone handset is hanging from the TARDIS door. At the end of the episode, the 11th Doctor calls Clara from Trenzalore and asks her to look after his future self. Clara realises that that's why the handset was hanging there; the Doctor had called her one last time.
  • Brief Accent Imitation:
    • Vastra, who already speaks with a slight Scottish lilt, exaggerates it for the Doctor's benefit.
    • Clara briefly (and poorly) attempts a Scottish accent at the end.
  • Bring It:
    Vastra: It is our intent to leave. If it is your intent to stop us then I suggest we get down to business.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": Clara isn't cross, but it'd be the Doctor's fault if she was. Ok, she's cross.
  • Call Back:
    • Great minds — or sprockets — think alike. Looks like the sister ship of the S.S. Madame de Pompadour had similar problems with its repair 'bots. Both episodes even feature the Doctor referring to people being on "the menu", and commandeering a horse.
      The Doctor: You can't patch up a spaceship using human remains. This is really ringing a bell.
    • The police box telephone was dangling off the hook when Clara returned to the TARDIS. Since it still wasn't patched back into the console unit, Eleven tugged it by the cord into the entrance of his ship to make sure the call was private, sat down wearily, and began a final conversation to Clara so she would know everything will be all right. He didn't put the phone back because he didn't have time for it.
    • The Doctor mentions the phone call which first led Clara to Eleven, then asks how it is she was given the number to his TARDIS when it was supposed to be for a tech support line.
  • Came Back Wrong: Clara is concerned that this might be the case, but it's mostly just the Doctor trying to break his new body in and adjusting to his new personality.
  • The Cameo: A very weak and tired Eleventh Doctor returns to bid Clara goodbye before regenerating on Trenzalore. He tells her he's just as scared as she is about the new guy and to help out his regenerated self. But he's not too keen on becoming older or, worse, grey.
  • Catch Phrase: The Eleventh Doctor's "Geronimo" gets one final outing when Clara borrows it as a code signal.
  • Character Development: The Doctor's conversation with Half-Face man does a good job at lampshading the Doctor's shifts in attitude since meeting Clara, and all the events that followed. In contrast to his impotent raging at the unfairness of life in "The End of Time" (". . . and this is my reward!") and his cold, simmered-out surmise that "the universe doesn't care" how much work he puts into it in "The Snowmen", he now tells us that he long since stopped "expect[ing] to reach the promised land" or any sort of gratefulness or reward, but presents this not as a reason to give up on the world, but as a reason why it would be wiser not to cross him as he has nothing to lose or gain but the relative safety of the humans below and already endured (and destroyed) so much for their sake that nothing that he and Half-Face-Man could do to each other would make a difference.
  • Cliffhanger Copout: The cliffhanger of the previous episode (TARDIS crashing, the Doctor unable to remember how to pilot the ship) is switched out for a new one, the T. rex. It's implied that they crashed into Vastra's home era (or thereabouts) and either landed in the T. rex's throat or were swallowed shortly after.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • The Twelfth Doctor's first moments are this up to Twelve as he suffers regeneration insanity to a greater extent than most of his predecessors. He mistakes Clara for both Handles and Strax (after initially thinking Strax to be one of the Seven Dwarves). Later, he rants incoherently about the pointlessness of bedrooms and thinks everyone with an English accent has developed a fault. He also tries not to flirt with a dinosaur (although that, like his conversation with a cab horse, might just be an "all you Earth creatures look alike to me" thing). He gradually calms down, and by the end his final personality, while not without eccentricities, seems a lot more grounded and down-to-earth than his previous incarnation.
    • Strax is in fine form. He throws a newspaper at Clara's head (hard enough to knock her over), bathes in slop-water which he graciously offers Clara when she says she's thirsty, mistakes Clara's eye for her mouth (remember, he's supposed to be a nurse) and her hair for a hat, and plans to melt the Doctor with acid when he comes back for the TARDIS. When challenged about the acid thing (force of habit!) he clarifies "we will not melt him with acid" with exactly the same villainous relish.
    • The police detective who witnesses the dinosaur barfing a blue police box and then suggests she just laid an egg.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Even Victorian Britain had them, as Alfie is convinced the government is somehow behind the Attack of the Fifty Foot Dinosaur. The neck is totally unrealistic!
  • Continuity Nod:
    • An amnesiac Twelfth Doctor tries introducing Clara to Vastra's posse, getting everything wrong, until he ends up mistaking Clara for Handles. ("You've really let yourself go.")
    • While rooting around an alleyway for clothes, the Doctor starts pining for "a really long scarf", then rethinks it. "No! I've moved on from that. Looks stupid."
    • Vastra is yet again having a criminal for dinner.
    • He has a Ninth Doctor moment on the bridge when the T. rex is killed and a human mob comes to gawk at the scene. "Why can't I find a decent species? Planet of the pudding-brains!"
    • When Clara drops the sonic after they're both tied up and her legs aren't long enough to reach it, Twelve mutters, "Times like this, I miss Amy".
    • When Twelve redecorates the TARDIS, Clara doesn't like it . . . and Twelve mentions he wishes there were more round things on the wallshe had a lot of round things once.
    • The Half-Face Man is a patchwork of misshapen and unwillingly salvaged body parts, not unlike Auntie and Uncle, and comes from the SS Marie Antoinette, which is the sister ship to the SS Madame de Pompadour.
    • The Doctor acknowledges that he's seen his face before. So have we, a few times.
    • Speaking of faces: "It's a face." "Ew!"
    • When Madame Vastra first sees the newly-regenerated Doctor, she sighs, "Well then, here we go again."
    • The Doctor's rant on the absurdity of bedrooms and that he catnaps while other people are talking is a nod to when Rory asked him if he had a bedroom and he didn't answer.
    • Also, some of the Half-Face Man's clockwork components look like Roman handiwork to the Doctor, which means Rory wasn't the only man/construct hybrid to have been hanging around London waiting for a device to work since that era.
    • Twelve's starter wardrobe seems to intentionally evoke the First Doctor in "An Unearthly Child": fingerless mittens, a black overcoat, and (later) a black tailcoat.
    • When the Doctor hits on the fact that he has a Scottish accent, he says, "Oh? Oooooooh!" in a low rumbling timbre that harks back to the Tenth Doctor whenever he had a Eureka Moment. The Tenth Doctor, of course, was played by David Tennant, who is himself Scottish.
    • Twelve's delirious murmuring that "the world is grey" is reminiscent of the despair he'd experienced while ascending the mountain for his childhood encounter with The Hermit.
    • Strax's repeated "melt him with acid" might rate as this: some of the last Sontarans to appear in the classic series were, themselves, melted with acid ("The Two Doctors").
    • The Doctor admits that he once thought of himself as Clara's boyfriend. Clara passing the Doctor off as her boyfriend with her family had been a Running Gag in "The Time of the Doctor".
    • The first episode for a new Doctor that begins with the TARDIS arriving in London in a fashion that surprises some supporting characters; the Doctor stumbling out, blathering some non sequiturs and then fainting, causing one of the supporting characters to wonder "Who's this? Where's the Doctor?", and his companion responding "That's him. Right in front of you."; the Doctor spending some time unconscious and in sleepwear; and the Doctor having a physical confrontation with the villain on a ship hovering above London, in which the villain ends up falling to their death? Sounds familiar.
  • Covert Pervert: A scene opens with Vastra supposedly painting Jenny, who's in a low-cut dress and in a pose that displays a fair amount of cleavage. It's then revealed that Vastra is actually working on a pinboard of the Half-Face Man's murder locations and only had Jenny posed and dressed as such because she "brighten[s] the room tremendously". Suffice it to say that Jenny is upset. Vastra lamely tries to excuse it as "art". Then, when Clara comes in, Vastra tells her to put her clothes on the stool.
  • Crazy Homeless People: While rummaging through junk in an alley, the Doctor terrifies a genuine homeless person (drunk, not crazy) with his fearsome eyebrows, manic babbling and demands for the man's coat. (Fortunately, it's later revealed that the Doctor bartered his watch for it.)
  • Critical Research Failure: In-Universe: The policeman who thinks a dinosaur vomiting up a large blue box with "police" written on it has laid an egg. Vastra is concerned about his grasp of basic biology.
  • Cultured Badass: Twelve quickly establishes himself as one by renovating the TARDIS: bookshelves, furniture and a fireplace, similar to the TV movie's console room. He decides to switch the colour of the neon piping in the time rotor from blue to orange, promoting a Darker and Edgier feel, but also evoking a warmer feeling. He picks a new costume that gives him a cutting figure, instead of a dorky one (No more bowtie).
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Inverted with the Half-Face Man, a robot who is implied to have gained a soul as he replaced old parts with human parts. Either that or he had one the whole time.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Doctor makes several seemingly mad and self-depreciating statements about his new face being more aggressive, wondering what he's trying to tell himself by regenerating into such an aggressive-looking person, and his personality is a lot more confrontational than Eleven's (though this might be him adjusting to his new personality; regeneration trauma you know?). Later, he abandons Clara in the room full of human-harvesting robots with no reassurance that he'll come back for her (though he does get around to it). He later grapples with the Half-Face Man after announcing his regret at the possible need to kill him and may have (it's left ambiguous) thrown him from the escape pod to his doom.
  • Dead Hat Shot: The Half-Face Man's top hat comes off and tumbles to the ground right after he gets skewered on the Westminster Palace Clock Tower, falling past the clock face of Big Ben.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: It's been months for the audience (and several centuries for the Doctor), but to Clara only a day has passed since the beginning of "The Time of the Doctor", meaning from her perspective it's Boxing Day.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Doctor goes on a riff about his Big Ol' Eyebrows wanting to go for independence. The Scottish-sounding Doctor says this, a few weeks ahead of Scotland's independence vote.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The Doctor and Clara do a passable impression of the drones by staggering around in Victorian clothes. The Doctor goes one further and wears a transplanted face-mask.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: As the TARDIS bounces around out of control, it arrives in the distant past long enough to get swallowed whole by a big honkin' T. rex, which gets dragged along for the ride. Then it upchucks the TARDIS. The Doctor can even understand it and knows that it's female. She is later killed by being burned to ashes for a small piece of optic nerve that the Half-Face Man droid needs to mend his ship. The Doctor takes this very poorly because it was an innocent and scared creature feeling lost and alone after being plucked from her time period and put somewhere totally unfamiliar.
  • Exact Time to Failure: Defied. Strax has acquired a new medical contraption that lets him gauge the prospective lifespan of whatever he scans. Strongly disturbed by this, Clara refuses to know her potential expiry date. Nevertheless, Strax says, "Oh you're going to do quite well, but watch out for fluid retention later — it's going to be spectacular."
  • Extremely Short Timespan: For Clara, the first act qualifies. The entirety of "The Time of the Doctor", for her, took place more or less over the span of Christmas dinner, and then she immediately went into the events of this episode, not even getting a chance to change her clothes until she beds down for the night at Vastra's place.
  • Eye Scream:
    • At one point, the Half-Face Man is shown about to take the eyes from a man in the street. We later see close-ups of those eyes after they've been installed.
    • In order to blend in with the clockwork drones, Clara has to hold her breath and keep her eyes open. Her eyes become bloodshot and start watering. Perhaps some Tears of Fear mixed in, too.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama:
    • Vastra and Jenny rappel down in a Big Damn Heroes moment. Strax thumps to the floor a moment later.
    • "Destroy us if you will, they're still going to close your restaurant. [beat] That was going to sound better."
  • Failed a Spot Check: Victorian Londoners don't notice a Reptilian and an outer-space potato-man among them because they're busy gawking at the huge dinosaur. A minute later, the Doctor fails to notice the dinosaur itself because regeneration has scrambled his neural processes.
    "I was being chased by a giant dinosaur, but I think I've given it the slip!"
    (glances up)
    "You have a dinosaur, too?!!"
  • Fainting:
    • Moments after regenerating, the Doctor suddenly drops like a lead weight after feeling himself blacking out. He does it several times more off-screen as he keeps waking from his bed and passing out repeatedly, then gets rendered unconscious by a backfiring psychic piano drop on Vastra.
    • Clara passes out after holding her breath for too long. That tight corset likely hindered her here.
  • Fast-Roping: The Paternoster Gang arrive in the base underneath Mancini's via swift descent with ropes. Rather, Vastra and Jenny do. Strax just falls.
  • Fiery Coverup: The Half-Face Man burned the bodies of anyone he took body parts from, leading to the newspapers reporting a rash of cases of "spontaneous combustion". Vastra points this out.
  • Flashback Echo: While being threatened by the Half-Faced Man, Clara flashes back to her first day as a teacher, when she threatened to have the whole class expelled, and a girl dared her to go ahead and do it. This gives her the key to dealing with the Half-Faced Man.
  • The Fog of Ages:
    • The Doctor chose his new face for a reason. However, at two-thousand plus years old, and with his brain still cooking, he can't remember for the life of him what that reason was. The reason for the face is later revealed in "The Girl Who Died". It ties back to "The Fires of Pompeii"; to remind himself that being the Doctor means saving people's lives, first and foremost.
    • He also can't quite place where he's encountered organ-stealing Clockwork Droids from a time-travelling 51st century spaceship before. Mind you, he never found out what the SS Madame de Pompadour was actually called, so that doesn't help; not to mention that the clockwork droids have been on Earth so long they no longer look anything like their original form, except for still being clockwork.
  • Foil: The self-replacing Half-Face Man is a deliberate parallel to the newly-regenerated Doctor. Lampshaded visually by the use of a silver tray that reflects both of them at once.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Jenny warns Clara early on not to go into the larder since Vastra will be "having someone for dinner". This is more or less what is happening in the restaurant basement, which the Doctor refers to as the larder.
    • Strax's medical scan of Clara's internal organs is a Played for Laughs precursor to the more menacing one performed by the clockwork waiter.
    • The Doctor describes whoever put the ad in the paper as an "egomaniac, needy, game-player". Clara is offended, but it turns out that the person who actually placed it fits the description far better than Clara ever could.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The mask the Doctor was wearing while hiding among the androids bears a striking resemblance to his previous incarnation, especially noticeable when he's pulling it off.note 
  • A Friend in Need: At the end of the episode Clara is still very uncomfortable with the Doctor's new personality and is on the verge of leaving. She then gets a temporal phone call from the Eleventh Doctor, asking her to fulfill this role for him once again, as the Twelfth Doctor is more frightened than she is.
  • Genuine Human Hide: The escape pod, its mechanical component having long stopped working or been recycled, is kept aloft by a hot air balloon made entirely from human skin.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • When Strax scans Clara's subconscious, he sees what he generously interprets as "men playing sport." (Given Strax's terrible track record at identifying the genders of humans, of which his tendency to call Clara "boy" is only one example, it might not be men "playing sport".)
      Strax: Well . . . it could be sport . . .
    • Considering the episode first aired less than a month before a contentious (and, at the time of broadcast, "could-go-any-way") referendum on Scottish independence, the Doctor's jokes about being Scottish, blaming the English and complaining, and the fact his eyebrows want to separate from the rest of his face are all surprising inclusions in a show aired by the state-run broadcaster, although BBC news has been criticised for its apparent pro-union bias (which, if true, makes it even more surprising an inclusion).
    • The Doctor pours himself and the Half-Face Man a stiff drink on camera. Nothing too "crappy" in that, until you remember you're watching Doctor Who, which up to this point rarely showed anyone drinking anything stronger than wine.
    • The Groin Attack gag (see below) is also something the series would never have gotten away with a few years ago.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    Half-Face Man: Your friend is intelligent. He'll know better than to follow me.
    (Cue a shot of the Doctor hanging onto the bottom of the Half-Face Man's escape pod for dear life.)
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • The man murdered for his eyes is not shown being burned by the Half-Face Man when he "accepts" them as a "gift" to replace his bad eyes, which are rotting from the inside out. Nor do we see him replace the body part.
    • We aren't shown the dinosaur's burning remains, and its spontaneous combustion is shown from a distance.
    • The Doctor puts a face mask on Clara and tells her it's a real face. Camera angles hide anything gory related to that.
    • The skin balloon is only seen fleetingly.
    • We don't witness the Half-Faced Man's death, only its immediate aftermath.
  • Groin Attack: Clara accidentally gives the Doctor one by kicking his sonic screwdriver up . . . into his lap.
    Clara: [boots the screwdriver and it lands sharply on top of a delicate place]
    The Doctor: [grits his teeth and tilts his head, wincing in pain]
    Clara: Sorry. Did I hit something?
    The Doctor: Oh, the symbolism.
  • He's Back: The Doctor steadily regains his senses while upgrading his wardrobe: pilfering a nightgown from Vastra, a coat from the tramp and a tailored suit from one of the clockwork drones; it is when he finally dons that last (and symbolically removes a face mask resembling Matt Smith's face that he finally gets back up to speed. Than, at last, he goes back to his TARDIS and cements his new outfit as an indigo-toned suit with a red velvet lining and is fully aware of who he is. The hard part is getting Clara to see the Doctor underneath the new look.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Jenny breaks out her battle suit for the third time. As it turns out, Vastra has an identical leather outfit to her wife's which is seen for the first time.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: A message is left in the local paper: "Impossible Girl: Dinner on the Other Side". Knowing the Doctor doesn't have the attention span for a complicated riddle, Clara holds the message up to the light, revealing the restaurant it's referring to on the other side of the paper.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: The kiss between Vastra and Jenny has been edited out in some international broadcast (even though it technically is no more a kiss than artificial respiration is) but the nature of their relationship is still clear without it. Even if you haven't seen any of the previous episodes that they appeared in, they explicitly speak of themselves as married and in love so this might technically be a case of But Not Too Gay.
  • How's Your British Accent?: Vastra briefly adopts a Scottish accent when the Doctor thinks that English accents are a "fault". Vastra's actress, Neve McIntosh, is Scottish and although she plays Vastra with a slight Scottish accent most of the time, she exaggerated it for the scene, giving the impression Vastra adopts a new accent when in fact she is emphasizing her own.
  • Humans Are Morons: The Doctor again shows his frustration with humans. "Why I can't I meet a decent species? Planet of the pudding brains!"
  • Human Resources: The robots are using human parts to repair themselves and blend in. They resort to Organ Theft for this, and have a balloon made of Genuine Human Hide.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: The Doctor pours himself and the Half-Face Man a drink, since he feels that he may have to kill the Half-Face Man and they both deserve a drink if that's going to happen. This is a first in the history of the series; although the Doctor has poured drinks for others, and pretended to be drunk (coincidentally in "The Girl in the Fireplace", which is connected to this one) and has been seen tippling occasionally (such as in "Day of the Daleks" and "The Green Death"), and the Eleventh Doctor had a Running Gag about being unable to drink wine without spitting it out, this is the first time this specific trope has been executed by the Doctor.
  • Impairment Shot: Clara's vision starts to get blurry as she struggles to hold her breath, followed by the edges of her vision going red just before she collapses.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The Half-Face Man lands squarely on the tip of Big Ben.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The Doctor has just regenerated; it is to be expected, though his bedroom speech is worthy of history.
    The Doctor: So you've got a whole room for not being awake in. But what's the point? You're just missing the room.
  • Insult Friendly Fire: Vastra derides the delirious Doctor as a "silly monkey". Jenny takes offence to all humans being classified as monkeys. Vastra clarifies that people are apes; men are monkeys.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: "Nothing is more important than my egomania!" and "I am not a control freak!" sum up Clara. The latter is even funnier to hear considering in "The Time of the Doctor" Clara, while under the influence of Trenzalore's truth field, says outright that she is a control freak.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: The Half-Face Man threatens Clara with this, after she points out that his death threats hold no weight because it defeats the purpose of asking.
  • Keystone Army: When the Half-Face Man is deactivated, all of the drones deactivate with him because he is the control node. The Doctor knows this and exploits it.
  • Kiss of Life: Vastra shares one with Jenny while they're holding their breath to fool the clockwork drones, since her lung capacity is far greater than a human's.
  • Lampshade Hanging
    The Doctor: Sorry! Sorry, it's all my fault! My time machine got stuck in your throat, it happens! I brought you along by accident! That's mostly how I meet girls.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Clara's initial reluctance to accept a new, older Doctor is pretty clearly aimed at addressing any hang-ups that the audience might be having. This becomes especially obvious in a scene near the end where the Doctor asks Clara, and by extension the audience to "Just see me."
    • The Doctor refers to Clara before he can remember her name as "the not-me one, the asking-questions one."
    • The Doctor talking to the Half-Face Man about serially replacing the brush and handle of a broom could be seen as a reference to the show itself replacing its cast over the years. Not coincidentally, as he says this, the Doctor sees a reflection of himself.
  • Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: Mancini's family restaurant turns out to be a front for the clockwork robots' organ farm. Try the veal.
  • Leitmotif: The Twelfth Doctor's theme, "A Good Man", is heard for the first time.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again:
    • Clara would rather her "Nothing is more important than my egomania!" line never be mentioned again.
    • The Doctor requests that everyone forget that he assumed the Half-Face Man placed the advertisement arranging the Doctor and Clara's meeting upon learning that the Half-Face Man has no knowledge of it. "I hate being wrong in public."
    • Clara being clocked by Strax's newspaper is not spoken of when she meets him a few minutes after the fact.
  • Literal-Minded:
    • When Strax asks if he should send the Times up and Clara agrees, he throws the paper into her room, knocking her over. Then again when he asks if she wants some water, to which Strax happily gives her the bucket of water he was using to scrub the kitchen floor.
    • When a man in the street calls his good eyes "a gift", the Half-Face Man takes him at his word and appropriates them as a replacement for his bad ones.
  • Made of Iron:
    • A humourous application. Strax throws a large rolled-up newspaper at Clara's head with enough force to knock her down, but she seems none the worse for wear.
    • A serious application. Clara holds her breath for so long her vision begins to be impaired and she passes out, yet she recovers quickly without any evident ill effects of self-inflicted oxygen starvation. (Most people cannot hold their breath to the point of fainting.)
  • Mirror Scare: It's implied that the Doctor gave himself one upon first catching a glimpse of his reflection in the bedroom. ("Don't look in that mirror, it's absolutely furious!")
  • Mood Whiplash: Strax considering suicide was noted by fans and reviewers as sticking out during what was otherwise a generally light-hearted storyline.
  • Mythology Gag: The episode's title is "Deep Breath". Coming immediately after the cataclysmic events of "The Name of the Doctor", "The Day of the Doctor" and "The Time of the Doctor", its relatively non-epic storyline offered audiences their first chance to catch their breath in some time.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Twelve makes it clear he isn't much of a hugging person in this incarnation. In the latter case, though, Clara says it's not up to a vote, as she hugs him anyway. The Doctor continues to be anti-hugging for the remainder of the season, only to start embracing Clara's hugs (pun intended, plus the rest of her) in Series 9.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: After the Doctor leaves her in the lurch, Clara blends in with the drones by holding her breath. Clara later gives the same advice to the Paternoster Gang.
  • Non Sequitur Thud: Twelve, while suffering from regeneration trauma:
    The Doctor: Everyone, take five! *splat*
  • Not So Different:
    • In a "Break Them by Talking" lecture to the Half-Face Man, the Doctor passionately argues that it is moving closer to death with each organ it replaces. He then makes the mistake of holding up a dinner tray as a mirror. Both sides are reflective. His words could apply equally to both of them.
    • The Doctor's sleep-translation of the dinosaur — ancient, scared and alone — can refer just as easily to himself.
  • The Nth Doctor: Peter Capaldi makes his debut as the Doctor, while Michelle Gomez makes her debut as Missy.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • While the Doctor and Clara are confronting the Half-Face Man, Vastra, Jenny and Strax storm the restaurant and take out the Clockwork Droids standing guard there.
    • We never do find out how the Doctor and Clara regained control of the TARDIS and ended up inside a dinosaur.
  • Phone Call from the Dead: Not long before his demise, the Eleventh Doctor places a telephone call to Clara in the future to beg her, essentially, not to abandon him once he regenerates.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Clara is all a-bustle in her bustle dress. (Made even more impressive by the fact she somehow manages to put it on without any help right after being knocked cold by a thrown newspaper.)
  • Police Are Useless: Understandably, the police aren't keen to deal with a cyborg with a flamethrower for a hand.
  • Pretend We're Dead: As long as you can hold your breath.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: An In-Universe example: Alfie, who is convinced the government is behind the dinosaur, says its neck is not realistic.
  • Rent-a-Zilla: The tyrannosaur's sheer size is more in common with kaiju than with most fictional depictions of tyrannosaurs; however, the story doesn't really focus on her and she mostly just wanders around the Thames as a background element until she's killed, as it's later revealed she's more scared than anything at being plucked from her time to an unfamiliar era and nowhere near the savage beasts her kind are typically made out to be.
  • Revealing Cover-Up: Vastra deduces that the only reason to completely immolate a body is to hide the fact that you've stolen something from it.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Did the Doctor push the Half-Face Man out of the hot-air balloon, or did he jump? Missy even asks the Half-Face Man about this when he wakes up in Heaven.
  • Room Full of Crazy: A cuckoo Twelfth Doctor scribbles myriad equations and doodles on the floor and walls of a bedroom. It's not clear what, if anything, they're supposed to be for.
  • Secret Test of Character: Vastra chews out Clara for thinking that the Doctor's change in appearance makes him less appealing in her eyes, to deliberately make her angry. Clara defends that she still cares for the Doctor despite his regeneration. Jenny lets her know with some very enthusiastic clapping that she passed the test.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Like most regenerations looking at themselves for the first time, the Twelfth Doctor has some choice remarks about his face and his Big Ol' Eyebrows.
    • Subverted when Clara and the Doctor meet at Mancini's Family Restaurant after Clara finds the riddle in the newspaper. Clara asks him what sort of person he thinks would place a cryptic riddle in a newspaper to invite a friend to lunch instead of just asking them to lunch. The Doctor's response is "an egomaniac, needy, game-player sort of person", and Clara agrees, until she finds that he wasn't talking about himself, because he thought she made the cryptic advert.
  • Servile Snarker: Vastra tells Clara that she and Jenny are married, and they only pretend to be maid and mistress for appearances' sake. Jenny asks why in that case she still has to pour the tea.
  • Ship Tease:
    • It's suggested the Doctor's younger look was to make himself attractive to Clara (and the rest of the universe since he did it before he ever met her). However Anchored Ship (and some suggested Ship Sinking) also applies, with the Doctor adopting an older face and more staid personality, perhaps for this reason. When he talks of fixing his mistakes, he immediately tells Clara he's not her boyfriend, though in such a way that confirmed the ship existed, at least in one direction. Future events paint this in a new light; mainly that both Twelve and Clara had feelings for each other, but Twelve thought Clara would only prefer Eleven, so he was letting her down easy, while Clara would want to be with him regardless and thus was hurt by this seeming rejection, leading to the following lines:
    Clara: I never thought you were.
    The Doctor: I never said it was your mistake.
    • Then, moments later, a supposedly brand-new character is introduced who claims the Doctor is her boyfriend.
    • The Doctor tells Clara to answer her phone as "it might be your boyfriend." It's Eleven. Keep in mind that the Twelfth Doctor remembers that he made the phone call before he changed.
    • Vastra fires across the "ship's" bow when she suggests to Clara that the reason why the Doctor "lifted the veil" and adopted an older face was because he truly trusted her. (After stating outright that she believes Clara saw the Eleventh Doctor as "a lover", something Clara does not deny.)
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slapstick: Probably the last thing you'd expect to see happen in an otherwise relatively serious storyline about Clara having issues accepting the new Doctor is to see her knocked out by a thrown newspaper. It doesn't completely stop there, as the next scene has Clara become Strax's comic foil during his "examination".
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Strax throwing (i.e. heaving) the rolled-up newspaper at Clara's face and knocking her to the floor. It's also worth noting that technically speaking Sontarans have no gender distinctions anyway.
  • The Slow Path: The Half-Face Man crash-landed in prehistoric times, and now he's just working his way through the centuries until he can get his ship moving again.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: The Doctor can speak to dinosaurs and horses. Indeed, he's initially far more polite to them than to any of the humanoid characters.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: The Half-Face Man uses this as a cover when eliminating his targets after harvesting them. He destroys the bodies completely so no one can figure out that he's been taking parts from them.
  • Spot of Tea: When it looks like progress is being made in the case, Vastra orders up more cups.
  • Spotting the Thread: The Doctor picks the Half-Face Man out of a crowd because he's the only one not gawking at the flaming dinosaur corpse.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: When Clara heads to the restaurant, she takes a seat at a back table and waits for the Doctor. Then she smells something awful, looks over, and the Doctor is sitting at the table.
  • Super Strength: It's come up a couple of times throughout the series that Time Lords have much greater brute strength than a human, but it's not normally an issue with the Doctor because he prefers not to physically grapple with his enemies. In this episode, he overpowers the bulkier, robot Half-Face Man and pins him to a wall (and possibly throws him out of the airship), prompting the Half-Face Man to say the Doctor is stronger than he looks. The Doctor hasn't brawled with anyone since Nine knocked out a guard in "Bad Wolf", one of many indications throughout the episode that Twelve's a darker character than his previous incarnation.
  • Take That, Audience!: the entire subplot about Clara having difficulty accepting this older-looking Doctor, and being upbraided by Vastra for it, was interpreted by many critics of the day as being directed at fans who were similarly upset that an older actor had been cast to replace young Matt Smith. Smith's cameo in which he asks Clara to accept the new Doctor was addressed just as much towards the viewers.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Invoked in grand Who tradition, but played with. After his considerable efforts, it's unclear whether the Doctor's quarry willingly fell onto Big Ben's spike or was pushed.
  • Tempting Fate: The T. rex is killed immediately after the Doctor promises to get her home unharmed.
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    • After calling the T. rex his "lady friend", the Doctor immediately adds that she shouldn't get any ideas because it's just an expression.
    • "Nothing is more important than my egomania!" probably sounded a bit less egomaniacal in Clara's head. The Doctor is stunned by it, finally commenting "Right, you actually said that."
  • Theseus' Ship Paradox: The Doctor posits this to the Half-Face Man, and in a way himself, by comparing them to a broom that has had all its parts replaced.
  • Time Abyss: A central theme in this episode, coming to a head when the Doctor faces off against the Half-Face Man and a strong impression of Not So Different. The Half-Face Man is a machine from the 57th century who crashed on Earth at least during the time of the dinosaurs and was harvesting biological parts to hold himself together and wait until he could return to his own time on The Slow Path. But the sheer length of time has the Doctor posit that because every part of its body was replaced it is no longer the same individual and that there is no "Promised Land" ending to the journey.
  • Time Skip: When Clara joined the Doctor at the midpoint of Series 7, she was said to be 24 years old. In this episode Strax says Clara is 27, confirming a time jump of some sort occurred along the way (most likely between the end of Series 7 and "The Day of the Doctor").
  • Title Drop: An unusual onomatopoeic example. The Doctor and Clara have to take deep breaths and hold them to blend in among the Clockwork Droids because they distinguish real people through breathing, but can't tell the difference otherwise. Unorthodox though it may be, it is indeed a title drop.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • Some trailers for the episode show the dinosaur's spontaneous combustion.
    • Averted, in that the editing for most trailers suggested the Doctor and Clara's "Where are we going?"/"Into darkness" exchange occurs in this episode (it happens in the next one).
  • Two-Faced: Half-Face Man, as per his idiom, is half flesh and half metal.
  • Tyrannosaurus rex: The Doctor accidentally brings a giant one to London. The Half-Face Man later kills her for one inch of her optic nerve.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • The Eleventh Doctor makes one last cameo after his last episode. Although it had been rumoured for months that he would appear, the fact Matt Smith actually filmed a scene during production of his own finale a year earlier was successfully kept a secret until broadcast.
    • Missy makes her début much earlier than the BBC itself had publicised, making this the second season premiere in a row to do this after Oswin (Clara) Oswald's surprise debut at the start of Series 7.
  • Unexplained Accent: As the Doctor himself notices, his new incarnation inexplicably has a Scottish accent.
  • Victorian Britain: The TARDIS crashes here, in the perfect position to have the Paternoster Gang help smooth things out.
  • Wham Line: "Welcome . . . to Heaven."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: From Clara's perspective, the last time she was on modern-day Earth it was Christmas Day and she'd just run out on her family in the midst of Christmas dinner. This appears to be forgotten about, as the episode ends with the Doctor returning Clara to the present, both at the wrong end of the UK and clearly not on Christmas Day 2013. We never do find out what happens with Clara's family (we don't see any of them again until her grandmother appears towards the end of Series 8).
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Clara tries to say something in a Scottish accent at the end but comes out with something . . . else.
    "Sco-ish."
  • Why Won't You Die?: Strax asks the stubbornly hard-to-kill droids this during battle; more specifically, "Why can't you stay dead?"
  • The World Is Just Awesome: The Doctor gets the Half-Face Man to admit that the view of London from his balloon is beautiful. The Doctor then states that he prefers the view from the ground, where every detail (and life) is important.
  • Would Hurt a Child: By implication. The family restaurant does indeed have a "children's menu".
  • Your Other Left: The Doctor experiences this trope all by himself while trying to verbally direct his stolen horse. He blames his confusion on having brand-new hands, which is making it hard to tell his left from his right.



http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Recap/DoctorWhoS34E1DeepBreath