Review of Deep Breath
Warning: This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.
The new Doctor has officially arrived, and I can release the anticipatory breath. My biggest fear was that Capaldi would not live up to all my expectations. That one, at least, I can put to rest.
As for the remainder of the episode... Well, let's just say the more things change, the more they stay the same.
It's a series opener, so we all knew before the list of titles, writers, and directors was released that this was going to be a Moffat story. I had my fingers crossed, but it came out true to form. On my first viewing, I really enjoyed it; certain details niggled at me, but I was able to ignore them and enjoy the ride. On second and later viewings, the flaws started to do more than niggle, and it became ever more difficult to enjoy certain scenes. That, for me, is the classic Moffat signature.
Before I go any further, let me be clear: I thought Capaldi's Twelve was bloody brilliant. I love him already. He was everything I hoped for (with the possible exception of some overly friendly chatting up of a lonely female T. rex), and I can't wait to see more of him.
Clara, however, was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, she really stepped up her game, executing a very Doctor-ly bluff-calling when set against the Half-Face Man (more on that later) and standing up to Vastra. On the other, she—the Impossible Girl, who had saved the Doctor time and again in his many incarnations—couldn't get over the fact that he wasn't the same man anymore. On the whole, I think she came out net positive for me (her improvements outweighing the backsliding), and I'm hoping she continues to grow into a character I could miss.