At long last, after a year and a half and two Christmas specials, Doctor Who has returned. There is perhaps just a bit of bittersweetness to it. After all this will be Peter Capaldi’s last run as the Doctor. But The Pilot has a joy to it and feels a bit like coming home for this long-term fan.
The episode serves as our introduction to the new companion, Bill Potts, played by Pearl Mackie. There are some shades of Rose Tyler to Bill. Like Rose, Bill is just an ordinary person, working an ordinary job. Her foster Mum seems to be a single parent, raising the orphaned Bill. She’s plucky and clever and catches the Doctor’s attention.
The first half of the episode serves to establish the developing relationship between the Doctor and Bill. The Doctor is a professor at the University, while Bill works in the canteen. He noticed her in his lectures because “Most people frown when they don’t understand, you smile.” Despite not being a student, he offers to tutor her, which she accepts.
The adventure of the later half begins when a sentient puddle kidnaps a girl Bill has a crush on (A Doctor Who plot if there ever was one). This leads to a chase across the universe which also introduces Bill to the Tardis and what it can do.
“Never underestimate the power of a crush,” seems to be the overarching theme of the episode. And sometimes love means letting go.
For new fans, the show explains the shows concepts in an interesting and engaging way. If someone had never watched the show before, they might not get all the easter eggs and references, but they could certainly follow along.
For long time fans, there are quite a few treats. The Doctor as a university professor brings to mind the unaired episode Shada. On the Doctor’s desk he has pictures of River Song and Susan Foreman, as well as a cup full of sonic screwdrivers. At one point he tosses Nardole what could be the Fourth Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.
The Pilot serves as a solid foundation to the new series. It will be interesting to see where the season goes from here. With Bill now as the companion it feels like a new start for everyone in the same old blue box.
What did you think of the episode? Leave your comments below!