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April 30, 2017

“Thin Ice”: What does this mean for Capaldi’s Doctor?

by Niamh Crosbie

The latest episode of BBC’s Doctor Who saw our hero and his new companion, Bill, land on the Thames during the last great Frost Fair – London, 1814. We see Bill (literally) make a splash in this episode written by Sarah Dollard (who also penned the emotional season 9 episode “Face the Raven”). But does the episode also offer us a few hints of what’s to come this season? Here are a few of my thoughts on what “Thin Ice” might mean for the future of Capaldi’s character.

Will upcoming episodes delve deeper into the Doctor’s interference with time?

As a fan of fantasy and science fiction herself, Bill is tentative about interacting with her surroundings after they leave the T.A.R.D.I.S., explicitly referring to the theory of the butterfly effect, worrying that if she steps on a butterfly she will alter the future of humanity.

This sounds a lot like foreshadowing for the remainder of Peter Capaldi’s reign as Doctor, especially when paired with his bumping into a vegetable grocer whose wares topple over the side of the bridge and into the Thames, disturbing the hungry creature in its depths.pompeii

It’s also interesting to note that Capaldi previously played a character in “The Fires of Pompeii”, and it is believed that the Doctor purposefully took on the same face as this character to remind himself of the consequences of his actions and shortcomings.

Is the Doctor growing more ruthless?

The Doctor is growing continuously more destructive, not only in his disregard for (or his “caring, then moving on” from) the deaths of those around him, but also in his apparent readiness to punch a guy in the face, and to sacrifice an indeterminable number of 1800s Londoners for the sake of releasing the trapped creature living in the Thames. He leaves the decision of what to do about the giant creature with Bill, but in my opinion he phrases the question with the intention of drawing a specific answer from her. It feels as though the Doctor’s journeys with Bill might take a dark turn in the episodes to follow.

What about the vault?

The episode concludes when Nardole, after providing the Doctor with his tea (flavoured with some coffee), checks on the vault that the two have been guarding in thevault university for decades now – and grows comically disgruntled as three loud knocks came from the other side of the vault. The eagerly-awaited return of the Master may be afoot, by the sounds of things…. But this poses the question of why the Master is sealed inside the vault, and, more disturbingly, how he intends to break free.

The interplay of serious and humorous tones makes a lot of promises for the episodes yet to come, especially as Peter Capaldi’s arc will be concluded by the end of the season. As a Capaldi fan myself, I’m interested to see what the show’s writers have in store for his character.

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