Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is one that has divided people somewhat. I’ve heard people call him cold, heartless, and unsympathetic; simply because when another character dies – which tends to happen every episode – the Doctor shows very little empathy, and instead chooses to move on quickly and get on with things. I don’t think he’s any of these things at all, and that actually, some viewers are failing to look into his character a little deeper. Let me tell you why.
We’re nine episodes into the latest season now, and rather fittingly the latest episode subtly shows why anyone who thinks the Doctor is cold is wrong. Without spoiling it too much for those who haven’t watched it yet, Clara basically gets the chance to become the Doctor for the day, as Capaldi is somewhat out of action. Naturally, people die along the way, but does Clara stop and take time to mourn those she’s just lost? No. In fact, at the end of the episode, she’s pretty darn happy with herself, as she believes she did a good job as the Doctor. Again, she doesn’t stop to think about those who have died, she’s too busy patting herself on the back. When she says to the Doctor: “Admit it, I was a good Doctor,” he simply replies: “You were an exceptional Doctor. Being good has nothing to do with it.”
He’s saying that the Doctor isn’t a good person. The Doctor has to be selfish, act fast and therefore move on quickly – even if someone has just died – much like Clara did. Sometimes he even has to kill the ‘monsters’, something which he does not like doing, but often he finds himself in situations where that’s the only choice. Unfortunately, that’s what being a hero is all about – making the difficult choices when no one can, or wants to. However, most of the time, he gives the creature in question the benefit of the doubt. He tries to believe everything is good until it proves otherwise. We’ve seen this from Capaldi’s Doctor in several instances so far.
When Clara played the Doctor for herself, she realised that you have to be emotionally detached in order to succeed, hence why she spend no time getting upset over any of the character’s deaths. She had to be brave. She had to run, in order to save herself, the Doctor and the people who were still alive from the ‘monsters’.
I’m not sure what more people want from the Doctor. When someone dies should he stop? Sit down and make himself a cuppa? Cry? There isn’t time. In a war zone, you cannot stop and sob. You have to pick up your gun and keep fighting until you’re safe. They’ll be time to mourn then. Not only that, but it isn’t in this Doctor’s nature to let his feelings show. He covers them up by making fun of Clara, getting angry and concentrating on the job at hand, but underneath, we all know the Doctor is a lot more complicated than that.
The Doctor is older now. He not some young pretty-boy like Matt Smith or even David Tennant, and this was made very evident in the first episode with Capaldi. It was explained almost straight away that the Doctor wasn’t going to be Clara’s boyfriend anymore, nor is going to hold her hand. In a bid to perhaps distance himself from her, as they were getting too close, the Doctor has given Clara a rough time. This may have caused her to, in one episode, to throw her toys out the Tardis, but would she have been able to play the Doctor for a day if he hadn’t had given this reality check? Probably not.
It’s also important to remember the Doctor isn’t human. The whole reason why he has a companion is because he needs that balance. He needs someone to be empathic, to understand what the innocent bystanders are going through. If he had these emotions himself, there would be no need for him to have any assistants. And quite frankly, that would make for a rather boring Doctor Who.
Essentially, the Doctor – or any character for that matter – can’t be taken at face-value. You need to be able to look at a character a little deeper than “he/she is seems mean and cold”. I actually think Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is extremely well-written, as he’s not just a 2D character. There is a lot more to him than meets the eye, I just wish other Doctor Who fans could see that.