Peter Capaldi hasn’t been the Doctor for terribly long–he took over rights to the TARDIS when Matt Smith left Doctor Who at the end of series seven, and has only been around for two seasons (and one SUPER long hiatus). Despite that, we’re going to miss Capaldi and his self-described furious eyebrows after his upcoming final year as the Doctor. So before we gear up for one last set of adventures with Twelve, let’s look back at his first two years, focusing on the episodes that have already cemented themselves as classics of his era.
Be warned, there will be some Doctor Who spoilers ahead from seasons 4-9!
This episode was a truly unusual one. Nearly the entire story had Twelve locked in the (hilariously tiny) TARDIS while his companion, Clara, got to wield the sonic screwdriver and save the world from the onslaught of two-dimensional aliens. This gets the rank of “Capaldi classic” because it was one of the first times we got to see this Doctor playing the role of the supporting player to his companion. The episode shook up the way the show normally flows–aliens attack and the Doctor saves us all–and instead had the Doctor literally locked away from most of the action. The episode’s unique format let Capaldi expand who Twelve was beyond just a clever (albeit grumpy) Time Lord, and let his companion flex her muscles a bit.
“The Husbands of River Song”
From the moment we all saw the episode “Forest of the Dead” in series four–you know, the one where we see River Song die–Whovians were champing at the bit to see River’s final moments with the Doctor before the library. “The Husbands of River Song” allowed us to finally witness that time, as the two spent a final evening together on the planet Darillium (an evening that happens to last for 24 Earth years, no big deal). And while the episode was rife with Christmas special fun, watching Twelve and River together was also a beautifully tragic bookend to the Doctor’s romance with his companion.
Every Doctor from the modern era has had that one episode that stands out as the one that should surely captivate new Whovian viewers just jumping in to the series. “Listen” might very well become that episode for Capaldi. The episode is simple but marvelously creepy, and it takes you literally to the end of the universe, showing the huge scope of Doctor Who‘s reality. “Listen” came at a great time in series eight, just as viewers were starting to fully settle in to the Capaldi era of Who, and this story just sucked you in and creeped you out. Welcoming a new Doctor can be hard, and this episode reminded viewers that the fun and adventure was not about to stop with the Smith era.
There were a lot of Whovians who not only had trouble adjusting to Capaldi as Doctor, but also to Jenna Coleman’s Clara as the new companion. While Twelve and Clara’s first season together may have had its rocky patches, “Last Christmas” felt like a far better beginning to the pair’s journey together. The episode had the regular fun you’d expect from a Christmas episode–even featuring Nick Frost as Santa himself–but it also had heart. With rumors swirling over the episode being Coleman’s final adventure in the TARDIS, we got to see Twelve and Clara really start to connect as friends. Sure, Twelve was (and will always be) a bit crusty and sarcastic, but his gruff nature became more endearing rather than this stark, often unpleasant change from Eleven. It is a classic episode for Capaldi because it has a feeling of an episode where he and Clara truly chose to continue traveling together post-regeneration. Clara is the first companion of modern Who since Rose Tyler who has had to make that choice. This episode was the moment where the two seemed to really choose one another, and truly care for one another.
This will go down as one of my personal favorite episodes of Capaldi’s time as the Doctor. The episode is almost entirely Twelve, alone, trapped on an island as he mourns the loss of Clara. Twelve has to survive a long series of trials to get himself off of this island, which is in its own unique corner of time and space and bears its own unique laws of time and physics. The Doctor spends years upon years upon years here, trying to find his way out, trying to figure out how to solve this stark puzzle, and it’s the episode where Clara’s advice for the Doctor (“Be a Doctor”) really starts to sink in.
“The Zygon Inversion”
When Peter Capaldi steps away from the TARDIS and Doctor Who for good, if only one thing gets remembered from his time as the famous Time Lord, it will be the speech he gives in this episode. It perfectly articulates the Doctor’s mission on Earth and his aversion to war and guns, but it also is incredibly poignant for us, the viewers. But I’ll just let Capaldi speak for himself on this one:
Agree? Disagree? Which episodes of Capaldi’s run do you think have already become Whovian classics? Tell us in the comments, and be sure to tune in to the premiere of the new season of Doctor Who on BBC America on April 15!
Featured Image: BBC America