This year saw a transformative season for Doctor Who. And not just because it was Peter Capaldi's first season.
This was the year Clara became three dimensional, the year the Doctor grappled with his own morality, the year Clara (and we) met and fell for Danny Pink, and the year a certain arch-nemesis returned. Let's take a look back at the 10 biggest, most buzzed-about, and flat-out best moments of Season 8.
These were the scenes that kept us riveted, unable to move or even blink.
The Doctor discovers his new face
It didn't get much funnier than this. The Doctor, still newly-regenerated in the season premiere, "Deep Breath," sees his new face for the first time and vaguely recognizes it. He meets a complete stranger in a London alley and argues with him about pretty much nothing. The scene also gave us the line that has already become one of Capaldi's most-loved catch phrases.
The 11th Doctor calls Clara from the past
This was definitely a first. Clara, confused and uncertain about the new Doctor, gets a phone call from the previous Doctor — the one she knew best — from the past. From mere minutes before he regenerated, to be exact. Blatant fan service in favor of a beloved actor? Maybe. But it showed just how much the Doctor — in any incarnation — cares about his Impossible Girl.
The Doctor meets Robin Hood — and can't stand him
Hands down, the funniest episode of the season, "Robot of Sherwood" found the Doctor and Clara encountering the real Robin Hood. And much to the Doctor's dismay, he turned out to be just as irrepressible and over-the-top as the cheesiest of Robin Hood movies suggest. Where Matt Smith's Doctor would have yukked it up and had a grand adventure with Robin, Capaldi's Doctor found him endlessly annoying.
There was a story and even a theme in there somewhere, but honestly, this is one you watch just to see the Doctor and Robin bounce off each other for an hour. It's brilliant.
Clara accidentally meets the Doctor as a child
An inspired episode from showrunner Steven Moffat, "Listen" sent the Doctor after a lifelong obsession: a creature that's perfect at hiding. Clara gets wrapped up in things, of course, and winds up affecting the childhood development of both her boyfriend and the Doctor himself. That moment when Clara realizes the true identity of the little boy in the bed she's hiding under was pure goosebump fuel.
Danny and the Doctor meet — and can't stand each other
At long last, Clara's boyfriend, Danny Pink, meets the Doctor and finds out who and what he is, in "The Caretaker." Clara wants Danny to see the Doctor as a father figure to her, but Danny instead sees him as someone who wields too much power and influence over her. Given the Doctor's dislike of soldiers and Danny's past as one, it was inevitable that these two would clash. But it was still a shocking moment to see just how much they despised each other.
Clara leaves the Doctor, hurt and angry
A confrontation that was long in the making, "Kill the Moon" brought Clara's problems with the new Doctor's way of doing things to a head when shockingly, he left her on the moon alone to make a monumental decision without him. Her reaction when it was all over was chilling — and mainly because Jenna Coleman sold it so well that we felt her pain, too.
Clara destroys the TARDIS keys
Who cares if it wasn't real? This scene from Part 1 of the season finale, "Dark Water," was undoubtedly the most powerful scene of the season. Clara's transformation from plucky girl-next-door into hardened soldier was complete. Danny Pink, the love of her life, was dead, and she didn't believe that the Doctor would willingly use the TARDIS to go back in time and save him. The extremes she went to to enforce the Doctor's cooperation were incredibly shocking — and yet, thanks to so much solid character growth throughout the season, completely believable.
And it made the Doctor's later revelation — that he cares for her so much that her savage betrayal could never change it — truly touching.
Missy reveals her true identity
Long suspected by fans, the season's villainess turned out to be a very familiar face. The closing moments of "Dark Water" unveiled her at last, and even though most of us saw it coming, it was still one heck of a killer moment. Major kudos to Michelle Rodriquez for nailing the stark raving bonkers nature of the role.
The Brigadier catches his daughter
It was a moment so beautiful, a twist so perfect, we should have seen it coming. But no one did, and I defy any Whovian not to tear up at this one. The final episode of Season 8, "Death in Heaven," was full of amazing, unforgettable scenes, but this one is the first that springs to mind because it was so emotionally effective.
The daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, an old ally of the Doctor's who's long dead, was swept out of a plane high in the air by Missy. Kate's fate was dropped and seemingly forgotten for a good half hour while the Doctor, Clara and Danny sorted out Missy's dastardly plot. Only after all was said and done did a lone Cyberman appear — one of many made from Earth's deceased — and point our heroes toward a woman lying on the ground. Kate had been caught in mid-air after her fall by none other than the Brigadier himself. And when the Doctor realized who he was, he offered his old friend the military salute he'd always wanted.
That was narrative perfection.
Top photo: Adrian Rogers; Steve Brown; Lee Binding/BBC Worldwide (cropped)