How Whittaker’s First Scene Mirrors Her Announcement
Like pretty much every other fan on the planet, I spent much of Christmas day eagerly awaiting the 13th Doctor’s first scene. When Whittaker appeared, it was a moment of joy for new things, and sadness at the passing of Capaldi. But also a chance to get a glimpse of what we might expect from Chris Chibnall’s vision of the series.
But what was most immediately interesting to me was the way in which Whittaker’s first scene mirrored her infamous ‘Meet the 13th Doctor‘ announcement video. Directed by Jamie Childs, the scene that told the world who the new Doctor would be came on just after the Wimbledon Men’s final in 2017.
For the purposes of clarity, I will be referring to the ‘Meet the Thirteenth Doctor‘ video as ‘The Introduction‘ and the regeneration scene from Twice Upon a Time as ‘The Episode‘.
Meet the 13th Doctor
There are several striking parallels between the choice of shots and focus used in Childs’ Introduction and Jodie’s first scene from the Episode. Once the scene gets started after the regeneration, the first shot we see is of the Doctor from behind. In the Introduction, it was from a low angle, but in the Episode, from a high angle. Both with a glimmer of light shining past the Doctor.
Now, I could be reading too much into this, but screw it I enjoy reading too much into things. The contrast here is really interesting, as the Introduction is much closer, while the Episode is pulled back to a wider shot, giving a scope of her whole form. A whole new Doctor, you might say. Was that a bad pun? Probably.
The Introduction next focusses on Whittaker’s feet. I remember feeling at the time that this might hint at how we might follow the Doctor’s footsteps in the coming series. Again, I may be over-analysing. The Episode shows Capaldi’s ring falling to the ground, a scene reminiscent of how the First Doctor’s ring no longer fit the Second Doctor.
Speaking of which.
Lending a hand
We get a close up of Jodie’s hand in both scenes. In the Introduction, she is taking hold of the TARDIS key, while in the Episode she is dropping the Doctor’s ring. There’s something wonderfully symbolic here; on the one hand (another pun, sorry) we have the Doctor taking on the mantle, while in the other we have her letting go of a symbol of the past.
It is something of a perfect visual metaphor for passing the baton.
Eye to Eye
The regeneration scenes have traditionally, though not always, taken in the whole face during the transformation. But here the framing was on the upper half, eyes in focus. This ties into the decision to have much drawn from the Doctor’s point of view for parts of the scene as she discovers her new form. We then circle back and look directly into her eye, seeing the reflection of the Time Rota.
That we get two distinct shots that focus on Jodie Whittaker’s eyes in the Episode suggests this is more than just a cool shot decision. Are we going to see more from the Doctor’s perspective in the coming years? Seeing the world through new eyes has always been one of the more interesting aspects of regeneration, so this would make sense to be a thematic choice for the series.
Both the Episode and the Introduction reveal Whittaker’s face slowly, followed by her gradually smiling as the full impact hits the audience. In the Introduction we see this look of wonder with a hint of excitement spread across the Doctor’s face. In the Episode, it is pure joy, surprise, and that same sense of adventure we’ve come to know this Time Lord for.
And with that, we’re off! A new era for Doctor Who! Lets hope it puts a smile on all of our faces!