Deep Breath was the first episode of the eighth series of Doctor Who produced by BBC Wales. After a surprise cameo in The Day of the Doctor and a short appearance at the end of The Time of the Doctor, this episode marked the full first appearance of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor made an appearance at the end of this episode in a surprise cameo set directly before his regeneration.
The episode also introduced Missy, a character whose motives and true identity would remain a mystery until Dark Water, and Courtney Woods, a mischief-making Coal Hill student.
Following the success of the theatrical simulcast of The Day of the Doctor, this premiere episode also received a release in cinemas across the world. It had an extended runtime of seventy six minutes.
Late Victorian London. A tyrannosaurus is rampaging in the River Thames, much to the shock of onlookers. When the Paternoster Gang arrives, the inspector is sure Madame Vastra hasn’t seen anything like this; however, she comments “not since I was a little girl.” Jenny comments the dinosaur is awfully big, with Vastra correcting her on the common size for dinosaurs and its gender; the Tyrannosaurus is a female. The inspector wonders how the dinosaur ended up in the Thames, with Vastra explaining it time traveled.
Seeing the dinosaur coughing, Jenny uses a wrist-worn device to examine it; there is something lodged in its throat. It coughs up the TARDIS, which lands upright on the banks of the river. When the inspector says the dinosaur layed an egg, Vastra rather incredulously, responds by stating; “It dropped a blue box marked police from its mouth…your grasp of biology troubles me”. She then gives him a bagful of sonic lanterns, explaining to put them in 20 foot intervals; the devices will emit a signal that will convince the tyrannosaurus to remain in place in the Thames.
The group descends to the bank, where Strax knocks on the TARDIS door, demanding the occupants come out and surrender. The freshly regenerated Doctor opens the door, shushing Strax. He explains a dinosaur was chasing him, but he thinks he escaped. The Doctor and a disheveled Clara leave the TARDIS, and the Doctor re-familiarizes himself with the Gang – albeit poorly, due to his post-regenerative confusion. He shouts for the dinosaur to shut up, before listening to it; the sonic lanterns are giving her a headache, so the Doctor orders the lanterns’ frequency to be reduced. Strax questions how the Doctor knew, to which the Doctor calls him Clara and announces his ability to talk to dinosaurs. Clara points out the Doctor’s mistake as the Doctor says everything is going dark and wobbily from his point of view. The Doctor decides to pay no mind to his condition, telling everyone to “take five”. He collapses, unconscious, with Jenny asking who he is and where the Doctor is. Clara indentifies the new Doctor as the same man. Vastra comments “Here we go again…”.
Back at Vastra’s house, the Doctor is conscious again and dressed in a Victorian nightshirt, but hyperactive; he demands to know “who invented this room”, since he’s never used a bedroom before, and having an entire room to be unconscious in seems pointless as you’re missing the room. After claiming that a nearby mirror is “absolutely furious”, he becomes annoyed about the accent Jenny and Clara speak with, as his accent is now Scottish. Vastra, however, talks “properly” by adopting a Scottish accent which pleases the Doctor; she tricks him into pyschic-linking with her, bouncing back an image of perfect sleep into his mind.
Putting the Doctor back to bed, Clara wonders how to change him back; Vastra leaves the room, asking Jenny to fetch her veil. Clara explains to Jenny how confused she is about the Doctor’s new incarnation; he’s old and grey, even through its a new body. When questioned how she’d react if Vastra was different, Jenny points out that Vastra isn’t even human before leaving. Watching over the Doctor, Clara hears the dinosaur wailing. The Doctor mumbles in his sleep, seemingly translating its roars. Strax comes in and escorts Clara to Madame Vastra, who asked to have a word with her.
Outside on the street, people are still looking at the giant dinosaur. A man called Alf guesses the tyrannosaurus is part of a government plan, in conversation with his wife. Alf then says to a mysterious man there is something wrong with the dinosaur’s neck, that makes it look unreal. The man replies that Alf has good eyes, and he needs them as a gift to replace his bad eyes. He reveals the other side of his face – it looks like a clockwork robot – and then proceeds to remove Alf’s eyes.
In Vastra’s study, she questions Clara about how she and the Doctor came to be in Victorian London after Trenzalore. When Clara says that the Doctor is gone, Vastra corrects her by stating he renewed himself; this amuses Clara, who finds it ironic as the Doctor’s new form is aged. Vastra goes on to state that the Doctor wears a face as she wears a veil, and that is to be accepted; she wears a veil to hide her face as a judgement on the hearts of others. The conversation escalates as Clara thinks Vastra is judging her, but Vastra retorts by implying that Clara is judging the Doctor because he is no longer the handsome young man she met. Clara explodes, insisting that she is not so shallow that the previous Doctor’s looks are what made her travel with him. Jenny applauds, surprising Vastra; Vastra laughs that she wondered what Clara would be like when angered. Vastra explains that the Doctor needs all of them – especially Clara – as anchors to find himself again. When Clara realizes that Vastra has removed her veil, she wonders when that happened; “When you stopped noticing it”.
Upstairs, the Doctor wakes up smelling something. After sniffing about on the floor, he finds a piece of chalk. He writes Gallifreyan calculations with the chalk around the whole room, including on the walls and floor. Hearing the dinosaur roar, the Doctor heads to the door; however, he finds it “boring; not him”. He then proceeds to climb out of the window and on to the roof; he shouts across London at the dinosaur, apologizing for getting his time machine stuck in its throat. However, just as he vows to get it home safely, the dinosaur spontaneously bursts into flames and collapses.
Inside the house, Vastra and the others hear the dinosaur wail in agony, and call for Strax to prepare the carriage. Outside, the Doctor jumps off the roof and lands in a tree. Falling from the tree and getting stuck on a branch, he stops a horse and carriage and asks that he will need to relieve him of his “pet”, much to the driver’s confusion. The Doctor replies that he was talking to the horse. Jumping onto the horse, he uses the sonic screwdriver to cut the ropes linking the horse to the carriage. As the Doctor struggles to properly control the horse (and also fails to tell his “new hands” apart), the Paternoster Gang and Clara unknowingly follow him.
The Doctor arrives at the bridge and quietly observes as the dinosaur burns in the flames. The Paternoster Gang arrives, with Clara questions the Doctor’s sudden appearance here; Vastra explains the Doctor goes wherever there is trouble. They wondering who would do such a thing. The Doctor says that’s not the real question, nor is “how”. The question is: “Have there been any similar murders?” Vastra admits there have been many similar ones. The Doctor then asks if humans are watching the corpse burn, then who would be calmly walking by; he points to the mechanical man who stole Alf’s eyes, who is uninterested in the available spectacle. The Doctor jumps into the Thames. Clara worries that he’ll drown, but Vastra explains that the Doctor has taken up the case. They only way to find him again is to do the same.
Clara washes up the next morning, taking notice of Strax’s voice out the window; he is threatening workmen to be careful with unloading the TARDIS. Greeting Clara, Strax explains the Doctor will always come looking for his time machine, and “By bringing it here, he will be lured from the dangers of London to this place of safety, and we will melt him with acid.” Clara retorts “OK, that last part?” Strax apologizes for his verbal fumble, citing it’s an old habit. Clara asks for “The Times” to be sent up to her. Strax promptly throws the paper up to Clara, striking her in the face and knocking her down.
Now in a Victorian dress, Clara makes her way downstairs and meets Jenny, who warns her not to disturb Vastra as she is investigating other cases – including having a child poisoner for dinner (literally, so she best stay out of the larder as it will get noisy later). Knowing that Clara is still worried about the Doctor, Jenny explains that they have the Paternoster Irregulars out in force to ascertain his location.
Clara encounters Strax once again, who offers her water. Clara at first accepts, but then declines when Strax gives her the bucket of water he has been using to mop the floor (and had previously bathed in). Strax then gives Clara a medical examination, finding her spleen to be in enviable great condition. He moves on to her head, stating she’s 27 years old (and is silenced about her life expectancy) and tries figuring out the image he’s seeing in her subconscious. Strax explains Clara may end up serving with him, as London has many dangerous thugs who could kill the Doctor in his current state.
In a dirty alley somewhere, the Doctor examines his new face in a small mirror and rummages through debris. As a disheveled old man stumbles by, the Doctor is confused over why he now has this face. Ranting and belligerent, he asks the man’s input on why he gave himself this face, noting it’s familiar to him. The Doctor asks the confused and frightened man if he has seen his face before; the old man indicates he hasn’t. Intimidated it, he says he doesn’t like the Doctor’s face—the Doctor’s not too fond of it either, due to a new, potent set of “Attack eyebrows” that seem like they want to cede from the rest of his face and “set up their own independent state of eyebrows”. Playing along with the Doctor’s madness, the old man agrees he has mighty eyebrows. The Doctor then notes that he has a Scottish accent, which the man confirms; he rants on that he can now complain about things, before demanding the man’s coat. The man whimpers in fear, until the Doctor brings up a newspaper, showing the article “Fourth Case of Spontaneous Combustion”. The man wonders what “devilment” it is; the Doctor doesn’t know, but says he’d probably blame the English.
In Vastra’s study, she is busy in front of a board, with Jenny posing for her. Vastra goes on to explain about spontaneous combustion, confirming Jenny’s question if it’s similar to “love at first sight”. Vastra turns the board, revealing a map and the locations of the incidents; Jenny is not too amused that her wife had her posing for no good reason. Clara barges in, which Vastra mistakes as Clara wanting to take Jenny’s place posing. However, Clara shows her the adverts; there’s a notice in the paper addressed to the “Impossible Girl” – the Doctor’s nickname for her. Unfortunately, it doesn’t say where to meet, except for “on the other side”; guesses are: the other side of London, or the other side of regeneration after he’s recovered. However, Clara knows the Doctor isn’t complicated, and “frankly doesn’t have the attention span” for puzzles. Deciding to keep the meaning of the phrase simple, Clara checks the other side of the same page, finding Mancini’s Family Restaurant is the meeting place the Doctor has chosen.
Clara arrives at the restaurant and is soon joined by the Doctor, now wearing the tramp’s coat; he traded his favorite watch for it. The Doctor tries to laugh to lighten the mood, but Clara is angry with him; she asks what kind of person would put a cryptic message in the paper instead of sending a note to someone they’ve known a long time. The Doctor says it would be an egomaniac needy-game player, to which Clara says is something that hasn’t changed; however, the Doctor says he doesn’t want her to change and doesn’t mind playing her games, having figured out the puzzle. They argue over if the message is “for’ or “from” the Impossible Girl, before realizing neither of them placed the ad; however, Clara then realizes the Doctor insulted her.
While Clara is upset, the Doctor is more interested in their surroundings. He makes Clara look at the diners and notice how they are mechanically cutting food and bringing silverware to their mouths – but not actually eating anything. The Doctor then uses a hair from his head, then Clara’s, to test the atmosphere, and realizes the diners are not breathing either. The two stand up to leave, only for every diner in unison to rise and block them off, forcing them to sit again. A waiter comes over to scan the Doctor with an advanced gadget and recite various body parts. Clara wonders why such things would be on the menu, but the Doctor informs her they are the menu. He reaches up to remove the waiter’s face, revealing a mechanical form underneath. He presses the face to Clara’s own to show her – to her horror – it’s an actual human face. The waiter locks them into their chairs as the booth lowers itself into a tunnel.
Finding themselves in a chamber below the restaurant, the Doctor says it functions as a larder; its cheaper to keep them alive until they’re needed for parts. The Doctor plans to drop the sonic screwdriver onto the floor and have Clara pick it up with her feet, then toss it to him. As Clara tries reaching the sonic, the Doctor mutters he misses Amy. Clara grabs the sonic, tossing a bit too low; however, it does land in the Doctor’s lap. Sore in more than one sense, the Doctor frees them, with Clara asking why the sonic screwdriver wasn’t voice-activated before realizing he had forgotten it was.
They make their way to a chamber and find the Half-Faced Droid from before sitting in a chair. Around him are pods containing other droids, all dressed and resembling real Londoners. Examining the Droid, the Doctor realizes it’s recharging and this is not a typical cyborg – but a robot who adds human flesh to himself. The restaurant is their way of capturing random humans to harvest their flesh and organs for themselves, since they require a constant supply of spares to replace their rotting organic parts. The cases of “spontaneous combustion” are their way of killing the victims quickly to hide the evidence of mutilation, including the dinosaur.
The Droid begins to awaken and the Doctor and Clara start to run. A door slides closed between them, Clara begging the Doctor to let her in but the Doctor shocks her by saying it’s better they’re not both captured and leaves her behind. Clara remembers the Doctor saying that the robots don’t breathe and holds her breath as she tries to walk to the exit. She nearly makes it but eventually is forced to take a breath and passes out, remembering taunts from her unruly pupils in the past. She had made the mistake of using the biggest threat she could make (expelling them) first, leaving nothing else to scare the children with. The students proceeded to laugh at her.
Waking up, Clara is confronted by the Droid, who demands to know where the Doctor is. Knowing it’s logical, Clara states she will not talk and killing her will have the same result – loss of information. Clara offers the Droid a deal: a question for a question. She asks why he killed the dinosaur and is told it was to harvest its optic nerve. Clara realizes the Droid was specific, knowing exactly what a dinosaur’s organs were like, and asks how old it is. The Droid states they have been working for millions of years to rebuild themselves over and over, all in search of the “Promised Land.” It threatens to kill Clara but she remains strong and defiant despite her obvious fear; it then decides torture would be an effective way of getting information from her.
When it asks once more where the Doctor is, Clara replies that if the Doctor is still the Doctor, he will be right behind her and extends her hand behind her. She whispers for him to be there and suddenly, one of the robots grabs her hand. He pulls her back before peeling off his mask to reveal himself as the Doctor in a new suit who thanks the “Rubbish robots from the dawn of time” for “all the gratuitous information.” He places his sonic screwdriver into the charger, warning the Droid he will blow the entire room if he sees one thing he doesn’t like “and that includes karaoke and mimes so take no chances.” Clara is still upset over being left behind as the Doctor states he’s not really sorry about that. The Droid asks why they are there and the Doctor replies because of the ad in the paper. The Droid’s confusion makes the Doctor and Clara realize he didn’t place the ad, with the Doctor hugely embarrassed at his blunder.
The Doctor tells Clara to “say the word” and with reluctance, she touches her brooch, which lights up as they both intone “Geronimo.” From a hole in the ceiling, Vastra and Jenny (in leather catsuits) twirl down attached to curtains; Strax falls after them. Vastra reports the restaurant has been “disabled with maximum prejudice” and the police summoned (with Clara asking the Doctor why they never call the police, saying they should start). The Droid calls in more robots as the Doctor states killing isn’t their way. Clara protests the restaurant is a slaughterhouse and the Doctor shrugs it’s no different than any other restaurant. The Droid declares they are in search of the Promised Land, but the Doctor snaps that after millions of years, he should know it doesn’t exist. The Droid makes his way to the booth elevator and rises up with the Doctor hanging on to its bottom while Vastra, Jenny and Strax fight the other robots.
The police are in the restaurant, stunned at its mess when the Droid informs them it is closed, showing off his flame-thrower arm. The police leave, the head detective declaring the restaurant off-limits to anyone before ordering one of the constables to get reinforcements. The Doctor is sitting at a table, pouring a drink into a glass. He tells the Droid he is afraid he is going to have to kill him and offers it a drink first. The Droid moves to a control panel with the Doctor following and observing the controls. The Doctor states there is no way to escape, the Droid stating that the escape pod is there. The Doctor insists the pod cannot have enough power but the restaurant shakes. As the police outside stare in shock, the restaurant rises up, lifted by a hot air balloon made of human skin. Below, the rest of the group continues to fight the robots, who keep rising up after stabs and laser blasts.
The Doctor examines a control button that fell off; this pod belonged to the SS Marie Antoinette, sister ship to the SS Madame de Pompadour, but despite how familiar it all is, he cannot place it. The Doctor realizes the ship fell through time, crashing in England millions of years earlier, the only survivors the service robots who began their cycle of repairing themselves over. He tells the Droid to look out the window at London, the Droid noting how small the city is but the Doctor responds that humans are never small to him and he will fight for them.
The Droid continues to talk on the need to find “the Promised Land” as the Doctor rails on him for the fact that he’s rebuilt himself so many times that all trace of his original self has been lost, comparing him to a broom that is broken and rebuilt but still not the same broom. He holds up a silver plate to say the Droid does not even know where he got that face from. As the Droid stares at his reflection, the Doctor does the same. He finishes by saying that he knows that killing this Droid will stop all the others and will do so for Earth. They struggle at the window as below the Gang are overwhelmed by the robots. Clara suggests they hold their breaths, the robots freezing as they do. It’s too much for Jenny, Vastra giving her wife a long kiss to share oxygen. Just as Strax is about to take his own life, all the robots collapse. Above, the Droid is shown impaled on the spire of Big Ben as the Doctor looks out, his expression grim.
The Gang return to Vastra’s home to find that the Doctor and the TARDIS have both vanished. Later, Clara (back in her modern clothing) asks Vastra if she’s got a vacancy since it looks like she’s stuck in Victorian times, but Vastra assures her he’ll be back; she even further points out that Clara has changed in preparation for returning home. She’s proven true as the TARDIS returns, telling Clara “Give him hell; he’ll always need it.”
Clara finds the interior changed, with a lighter shade of mood lighting in the time rotor and some furniture about. The Doctor admits he’s not sure about the new look himself after Clara says she doesn’t like it. He then mumbles that he used to have more round things, wondering where they went. The Doctor tells Clara “I’ve lived for over two thousand years, and not all of then were good. I’ve made many mistakes, and it’s about time I did something about it.” He tells her that he is not her boyfriend, which she interprets as her being at fault, until the Doctor addresses that it wasn’t her mistake.
The Doctor puts the TARDIS in flight, takes a step back, and partially unbuttons his new suit jacket, exposing a flashy red lining inside to show off his new look to Clara. She grins in approval, and then the Doctor gets right to business, wondering how she got the TARDIS telephone number. Clara asks who put the ad in the paper and the Doctor reminds her of the woman in the shop long ago who gave her the number of a computer help line that instead connected her to the TARDIS. It seems someone wants the two together and maybe they should find out who.
The TARDIS lands, and the Doctor wonders how Clara feels about staying on as that mystery woman seems to want. Clara, still having mixed feelings at this new incarnation of the Doctor, is unsure if she wants to stay his companion, convincing herself she doesn’t think she knows him anymore. Once she says that, her phone rings, and the Doctor teasingly suggests she should get that call, because it might be her boyfriend. Staring away from the Doctor, she bitterly urges him to shut up because she doesn’t have a boyfriend, and walks out of the TARDIS to take the call in private.
Clara walks out of the TARDIS in modern times to answer the call, and hears the voice of the Eleventh Doctor. He explains he’s calling through time from Trenzalore just minutes before his regeneration. Clara, remembering how she found the TARDIS telephone dangling off the hook from the call box, is shocked to the point of tears from hearing from him again as he says that the man before her is still him – just changed. Holding back her tears, Clara asks him why he would do this. The Eleventh Doctor explains that he’s phoning her because he thinks this regeneration “is gonna be a whopper”, and that if she’s afraid, the new Doctor will be even more so and needs her help to handle all this. She should not be afraid, for his sake. The Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors respond to each other, both asking if it’s the Doctor on the line. When he hears the voice of his future self, the previous Doctor groans over “turning old”, which makes Clara laugh, as she also indirectly confirms his hair will be gray as well. He’s not at all impressed at the discovery that he’ll have gray hair, knowing how young he was in his soon-to-change appearance, but braces for the change with an endearing smile as he looks forward toward more adventures with his “impossible girl”. The Eleventh Doctor says a final goodbye to Clara before he hangs up and meets up with his Clara to regenerate.
As Clara realizes the Doctor had planned this to help her cope with his regeneration, the current Doctor comes to her and says he remembers the call – after all, he made it – and that what he (as the Eleventh Doctor) had said is still true, and asks her in person if she will help him. Upset that she’s looking right through him but doesn’t view him as the same person, the Doctor begs, “Just see me.” Clara walks up to the Doctor and gives him a good look over, and when she concentrates on his eyes, she recognizes him as the Doctor – her Doctor – and beams, thanking him for phoning from the past.
Clara hugs him, which the Doctor says that in his current incarnation isn’t his thing, looking a bit confused and wondering where he should put his hands, but she’s unsure he’s entitled to a vote. Clara offhandedly says they’re not at her home, and the Doctor apologizes. He reveals they’re in Glasgow, Clara pointing out he’ll fit in with the accent and they go off in search of chips and coffee… with the Doctor revealing Clara will have to pay for them as he has no money. However, she thinks he’s the fetching sort. Although the Doctor is willing to debate this, Clara still isn’t sure he should get a vote. They stroll off together in search of coffee, the Doctor still hesitant.
Elsewhere, the Droid awakens in a beautiful garden, replaces his top hat on his head. A mysterious woman calls out to him, introducing herself as Missy; she inquires if the Droid killed himself or if the Doctor pushed him, since she couldn’t tell. Missy goes on claim that the Doctor is her boyfriend, and that she likes his new accent. Over his initial discombobulation, the Droid then asks where he is. Missy laughs, asking him where he thinks he is; she goes on to explain he finally reached the “Promised Land” at long last, and that it is a paradise. The woman grandly introduces his new home, “Welcome… to Heaven”. She chomps her teeth fatuously, then begins prancing and twirling around an ornate fountain with an umbrella in hand…