It’s fitting that the first episode of the season is titled “The Pilot,” because creatively and companion-ably it feels like a fresh start — not only for the show, but for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor in particular. After all, the last two seasons of his tenure have been critiqued for being too dark, and his Doctor not as fun. But as we see in Saturday’s season starter, Time (and a new season) can really help “regenerate” the show’s general tone.
A lot of this has to do with our latest companion: Bill Potts. When we first meet her she’s been summoned to the Doctor’s office, because he’s put the silent Ph.D. in Doctor and become a university professor at St. Luke’s in Bristol for the 50 years, lecturing on quantum physics and poetry — or as he notes to Bill when he finally does put his guitar down and talks to her, are the same thing.
Turns out he’s asked her here because he doesn’t know why she attends his classes since she works in the university cafeteria serving chips (a.k.a. “fries”). In response, Bill ends up asking why he called her. She’s not the only one to unofficially audit his classes. Everyone loves his lectures. He answers that she smiles instead of frowns when she doesn’t understand something. The long and short of this is that he wants to be her personal tutor. And he’ll see her every weekday evening for classes. Doctor “What” also warns her that he’s “very particular about time.” LOL.
When Bill is not in class she’s at work, dealing with her foster mom, or at a bar flirting with another girl in the Doctor’s class, Heather. In fact, Bill runs into the star-eyed girl (she literally has a defect in her iris that causes a star-shape) after a brief escapade tailing the Doctor (and Nardole) as they fiddle with a hidden Gallifreyan vault — but more on that later. Heather seems upset about something. After Bill inquires what, she says she wants to leave Bristol and go anywhere else. She also wants to show Bill… a puddle? This might not be the most romantic excursion in the world, but Bill goes along anyway because the things we do for our crushes. Sigh.
Once at the puddle, Heather asks Bill to tell her if she notices anything about it. Bill senses something but can’t quite put her finger on it. But she doesn’t give it much thought — though she really should, given the creepy voice we hear emanating from it — until the next time she sees Heather gazing at it. (Honestly though. Girl. Needs. Hobbies.) She asks Heather not to go anywhere and goes around to join her, only when she does so, Heather’s vanished. Though a closer inspection of the puddle would have revealed Heather floating in it because it too is bigger on the inside. As the Doctor would probably note in his lecture, “Time and Relative Dimension in Space!”