Two years ago, Steven Moffat cast Peter Capaldi as the twelfth Doctor. This wasn’t Capaldi’s first brush with the Whoniverse as an actor; he had previously played the Roman Caecilius in “The Fires of Pompeii” and British government functionary John Frobisher in Torchwood: Children of Earth. There was a reason, Moffat said, why the twelfth Doctor looked the way he did.
Last night, we got the explanation.
Let me be frank. The explanation for the Doctor’s face is nonsensical. We are supposed to believe that the Doctor chose the face of someone he met briefly two regenerations and 1,200 years previous in his life.
Seriously? I’m calling shenanigans.
Two regenerations. Twelve hundred years. I’m hammering away at these numbers because they’re important. That’s how long, give or take a decade or so, passed in the Doctor’s life between meeting Caecilius and his family in Pompeii and his new regeneration cycle on Trenzalore.
Twelve. Hundred. Years.
To put this in perspective for us, twelve hundred years takes us back to Charlemagne.
It would have made infinitely more sense if the Doctor subconsciously took the form of someone on Trenzalore. After all, he’d seen everyone there, for nine hundred years, be born, grow old, and die. He lived with them daily in a way that he never lived with Clara.
Sometimes I think Moffat forgets that marooned the Doctor on Trenzalore for hundreds of years, because the twelfth Doctor never acts like it. His relationship with Clara has never felt like it has that kind of discontinuity in it; he picks up in “Deep Breath” like the Christmas dinner with her family was a few days previous instead of, from his perspective, nine hundred years earlier. He treats Clara like she’s his best friend, when in reality she’s an utter stranger to him. To put nine hundred years in perspective, we’re back to the First Crusade. That’s how long the Doctor was confined to Trenzalore.
This explanation is like the fourth wall breakage last week. It’s something meta that makes sense in terms of television and its production. For the audience, the Doctor meeting Caecilius was seven years and about sixty episodes ago. The audience could have watched that episode on DVD yesterday or last week. But, in-universe, for the Doctor living his life, it makes zero sense. None.
Twelve hundred years, Moffat! Twelve. Hundred. Years.
If Moffat doesn’t take his universe seriously, why should his viewers?