Doctor Who returns to BBC America this month for season 9 – and Peter Capaldi’s second as the 12th Doctor. This year, you’re going to get to see the Doctor enjoy himself, even though he knows that there’s always a problem around the corner.
Read on for more scoop from Capaldi, including what to expect from the Doctor, his relationship with Clara, and his relationship with Missy.
The Doctor in Season 9
“He’s actually growing all the time,” Capaldi said about the Doctor. While season 8 was about him “trying to understand himself – because, with regeneration, that’s what happens, you don’t know who you are,” in season 9, “he has come to some understanding of that and also realized that even [for him], life is short.” And even though “the universe is fabulous [and] time and space is fabulous,” he knows that “darkness is coming.”
“He’s always aware that at some point, he’s going to be called upon to deal with terrible evil or be placed in terrible danger,” he continued, and because of that, he’s decided to go out there and enjoy himself. “He’ll throw himself at danger and be really reckless and there’s a lot of big, spectacular, epic stuff, which is a lot of fun,” but “you can’t have fun forever.”
That said, “there’s an enthusiasm” about the life of the Doctor, being able to see everything he does, and Capaldi wanted to show what he sees as common to all the Doctors, that “there’s a sort of joy in it, but it’s a joy that spreads from something very domestic or very mundane,” like watching the sunrise or feeling the wind on his face. “I think we plug into that joy much more now.”
The Doctor’s Relationship with Missy
The relationship the Doctor has with the Master/Missy, played by Michelle Gomez, who is back in season 9 despite the end of the season 8 finale, is definitely complicated. “I think they have a very close relationship, so there’s an emotional part of that is really never exposed, which has to do with their closeness,” Capaldi shared.
“They come from the same place and we don’t know exactly what their relationship was, but obviously he does and they do, so I think she distresses him,” he added.
The 12th Doctor and His Companion
The Doctor does still struggle with some things (like his social skills with humans), and that’s where Clara comes in, though her attempts to “improve him generally as a social animal” may not work so well.
As for the Doctor’s relationship with Clara this season, “they remain very deeply bonded,” Capaldi shared. She is the Impossible Girl, and the Doctor doesn’t forget that she saved his life. While the 12th Doctor would have been perfectly happy traveling on his own – if he makes the offer to take someone along to see all of time and space and they hesitate, he’s not the type to hang around – Clara keeps “drawing him back,” which he attributes to her being “bolder” than some of the other companions.
“She pushes him around and he’s begun to see that he can measure himself against her and she can be a little bit of a moral compass for him,” he said. “I think they’ve realized they like to be together and also I think they’ve realized they can have fun together, so that’s almost like a new thing that’s come to him. ‘Oh I can have fun in this incarnation, I can have fun, let’s have fun,’ and she’s the person who makes that happen.”
That said, don’t forget that the Doctor is an alien. “Sometimes she trips up over something that reveals his alien side and is not human friendly,” he said, teasing that in season 9, he does things that are “not very friendly, not very Doctor-y, but it’s who he is.” Clara knows more about him than she did last season, but at the same time, he knows everything about her. “[It’s] a weird situation to be in, if you know everything about your best friend, including their future, so he stays with her as well because he knows her future,” he admitted.
Doctor Who season 9 premieres Saturday, September 19 at 9 pm on BBC America.