The "Doctor Who" Season 8 premiere airs Saturday, and with all the anticipation it can be easy to forget what exactly happened last season on BBC America's hit sci-fi series. While we are starting with a new Doctor, the events of "Doctor Who" Season 7 affect Clara and her relationship with Peter Capaldi's Doctor.
Specials And More Specials
Looking back, "Doctor Who" Season 7 seems a bit disjointed, as there were two huge specials that aired months after the season concluded. There was the "Doctor Who" 50th anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor," followed by the Christmas special, "The Time of the Doctor." The anniversary special saw the return of David Tennant, as well as a few more surprises, plus the very first look at Capaldi as the Doctor -- granted, it was just his eyebrows.
"The Time of the Doctor" also introduced a new Doctor, the War Doctor, who slots in just before Christopher Eccleston's Tenth Doctor. This revelation is important as that means Matt Smith's Doctor is actually the Thirteenth Doctor. David Tennant's Doctor used two regenerations, which means he is on his last life.
"The Time of the Doctor" sees the end of the Smith era and the true introduction of Capaldi into the show. This episode is chock-full of "Doctor Who" history and brings back Trenzalore, Gallifrey, the crack in time and the Silence. The Doctor stays in the town of Christmas and serves as its defender for 300 years to prevent the hundreds of ships circling the planet from destroying Trenzalore, out of fear the Time Lords will return and restart the Time War. Building off the "Doctor Who" Season 7 finale, "The Name of the Doctor," and the 50th anniversary special, the Doctor knows he will die on Trenzalore and cannot regenerate.
After 900 years on Trenzalore, and a few more revelations from Tasha Lem, Mother Superious of the Papal Mainframe, the Doctor grows old and the Daleks remain in orbit around the planet. Clara, after getting stranded by the doctor for a second time in the episode, returns to find an old Doctor resigned to death. As the Daleks make their final attack on Trenzalore, the old Doctor confronts them while Clara pleads with the Time Lords through the crack in time. Luckily, the Time Lords listen to Clara, granting the Doctor a new set of lives and with the renewed power, the Doctor defeats his greatest enemy.
Departures And Arrivals
"Doctor Who" Season 7 is one of sad goodbyes and new faces. The first half of the season is dedicating to setting up Clara as the "impossible girl" while setting up the farewell to Amy and Rory Pond. The Ponds get pulled back in time by the Weeping Angels in "The Angels Take Manhattan." Clara, showing up as Oswin Oswald in "The Asylum of the Daleks" and Clara Oswin Oswald in "The Snowmen," gets properly introduced as the Doctor's companion in "The Bells of Saint John."
In addition to the "big bad" of the season, the Great Intelligence turning the Doctor's victories into defeats, much of "Doctor Who" Season 7 focused on Clara, the impossible girl. In order to defeat the Great Intelligence, Clara enters the Doctor's timestream, interacting with the previous Doctor incarnations. In the season finale, "The Name of the Doctor," viewers spend much of the time inside the tomb of the Doctor, which was opened by River Song. The finale also serves as a goodbye to River, who has been communicating via a psychic link but appears to the Doctor with a final kiss and "Goodbye, sweetie."
The season also was the last for Smith. In "The Time of the Doctor," Smith regenerates, hallucinating one final goodbye with Amy Pond, and Capaldi is introduced as the new Doctor. Clara is disheartened about losing her Doctor and is frightened by the Twelfth Doctor as he exclaims "Kidneys!"
The season ends with this uneasy alliance, setting up the "Doctor Who" Season 8 premiere. Clara does not know who this Doctor is, and while there's a deep bond between the two, he is completely different from the previous Doctor.
The "Doctor Who" Season 8 premiere, "Deep Breath," airs Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT on BBC America. BBC has also set up midnight screenings in select cities.