Can you believe it’s tomorrow? After a year long hiatus (minus The Return of Doctor Mysterio of course), the Twelfth Doctor is back with Nardole and new companion, Bill. What do I expect will happen in this episode? Read on to find out…
Series openers have a lot riding on them, mainly because these are usually the episodes with the highest audience, along with the finale. When people say that Doctor Who is ‘event television’, to the “normal” person, this either means the first episode, especially when there’s been a change, whether it be a new Doctor, a new companion, or both; or the finale, where the stakes are the highest they’ve ever been. Personally, and largely thanks to the marketing of Series 10, I reckon that The Pilot will get a slightly higher viewership than Series 9’s opener, The Magician’s Apprentice. I also think that due to the 7:20 time slot (and what a brilliant time slot it is, I hope that the BBC decide to keep it the same for every other episode) will mean that more families will be able to sit down and watch Doctor Who together at broadcast.
Now I’ve talked about the viewing figures, let’s talk about the episode itself. What do I think we’ll see in The Pilot? Well, first and foremost, and perhaps most obviously, we’re going to meet Bill. If you look at other episodes that feature just companion introductions in New-Who, Rose, Smith and Jones, Partners In Crime (although not really, but trust me) and The Bells of Saint John, they all give us more time with the companion than the Doctor. I think that The Pilot will do the same. I expect that we see a lot of Bill in her “normal” life this episode, so we can contrast it with the mad life she’ll adopt with the Doctor and Nardole later in the series.
I also think that we’ll see a different version of Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor in this episode, especially because Bill (and Nardole) are the only companions that are solely his (for now). When the Eleven regenerated into the Twelfth Doctor, Clara was right by his side, and the Twelfth Doctor already knew how Clara worked, meaning we don’t get to see that bond grow as organically as it could have done; with Bill however, we’re starting anew, and I think letting Peter Capaldi have those scenes that he’s been denied for two series, like the introduction to the TARDIS and announcing that he’s a Time Lord with two hearts, and explaining what a Dalek and a Cyberman and an Ice Warrior is, will really allow Peter to shine more than ever. It’s just a shame his time is limited.
From what I’ve read, I don’t think that we’ll see too much of Nardole in this episode either, and I think that that’s a wise move, allowing the viewer to focus more on the relationship between the Doctor and Bill, and meaning that Nardole can be somewhat of an outsider looking in, like the viewer is. I’m not saying I think that Nardole will be so underused throughout the series, I just think that having him be less integral to the opener would be a smart move.
Another thing that I’ve noticed is that there’s little to no mention of the Daleks being in The Pilot for the public, and I don’t think it’s because they want the casual viewer to be surprised by their appearance. Usually, a Dalek episode features them predominantly in marketing to draw in more viewers, but I have a feeling that The Pilot will be more of a story featuring the Daleks than a Dalek story. Personally, I have no issue with this whatsoever, as I feel that they’re being overused as a villain and that they’ve lost the fear factor. Giving the Daleks a rest for a while and coming up with a much grander storyline for them to feature is fine by me, but I understand that they might be being used in The Pilot to show the Doctor at his most Doctory.
Overall, I have high hopes for The Pilot, I don’t think it’ll necessarily be the best episode of Doctor Who ever, but then again, I don’t think it needs to be. As long as it sets out the basic tone for the series and introduces Bill well, I don’t think we can ask for much more. I have a feeling that the story will be a story in the mid-80 percent for my Initial Thoughts, coming on Sunday.
What do you anticipate from The Pilot? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @GallifreyRchive.