Peter Capaldi plays a time-traveling serial killer in the Prime Video series, putting a dark spin on the character of the Doctor that fans had wanted.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “The Devil’s Hour” season 1.Peter Capaldi’s latest role as Gideon in Prime Video’s The Devil’s Hour shows how much darker his Doctor Who could have been. Executive produced by Capaldi’s former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat and written by Tom Moran, The Devil’s Hour is a psychological thriller with sci-fi elements. It tells the story of how the life of a social worker, Lucy Chambers (Jessica Raine) collides with Capaldi’s serial killer Gideon, following the disappearance of her son Isaac (Benjamin Chivers).
The Devil’s Hour begins as a fairly straightforward serial killer thriller, but as it goes on, the story touches on elements of both science fiction and supernatural horror. This combination of genres has been key to the success of 60 years of Doctor Who from 1963 to 2023. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Moran’s story caught the attention of former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat and the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi.
How Peter Capaldi’s The Devil’s Hour Character Mirrors His Doctor
It’s revealed in The Devil’s Hour finale that Gideon is, like the Doctor, time-sensitive, and able to see how the past, present, and future coalesce. Murdered by his father as a boy, Gideon became aware that he was living within a time loop, and could therefore begin to take decisive action to change the outcome of each loop. Gideon first decides to kill his father to save the life of his brother and himself. This inspires him to do the same to others, removing bad people from the timeline before they can commit their crimes.
In that respect, Gideon is, like Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor, using his temporal gifts to improve the lives of others. However, Gideon’s approach is far more scorched Earth than the Doctor. In the Twelfth Doctor’s impassioned speech toward the climax of Doctor Who season 10, episode 12, “The Doctor Falls,” he speaks of doing what he does “…because it’s right. Because it’s decent! And above all, it’s kind.” This is arguably also true of Gideon, working to remove child abusers and violent criminals from the timeline, but it’s a grittier and much less forgiving spin on Peter Capaldi’s iconic character.
Why The Devil’s Hour Is Perfect As Capaldi’s Doctor Who Follow-Up
The Devil’s Hour Gideon is a perfect role for Peter Capaldi’s talents as an actor in the same ways that Capaldi’s Doctor Who casting was. In both shows, Capaldi is required to deliver complex sci-fi exposition in an engaging way that doesn’t alienate the audience. In Doctor Who, he did this with a tinge of wonder and melancholy, in The Devil’s Hour, Capaldi delivers his exposition with a gravitas and cynicism about human nature that makes him feel more like Hannibal Lecter than the Doctor. It’s therefore the perfect spin on his Doctor Who role, finally delivering on what those audiences who expected a darker Twelfth Doctor had wanted.
As a family show, Doctor Who could never explore the dark moral questions of removing unsavory characters without a fair trial, and it certainly couldn’t portray the Doctor saving the future by torturing a man who he knows will eventually become a sex offender. In the same way that Capaldi’s The Suicide Squad character combined his iconic Malcolm Tucker and Twelfth Doctor characters, The Devil’s Hour brilliantly subverts the character of the time traveler who will save the world. The role of Gideon is a darker, more complex figure, neither hero nor villain, and will give Peter Capaldi a lot of material to sink his teeth into as an actor in future seasons of The Devil’s Hour.
More: Doctor Who Would Be VERY Different If Steven Moffat Left After Season 9
All episodes of The Devil’s Hour are streaming now on Prime Video.