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"Doctor Who" Season Finale Recap: A Jelly Baby By Any Other Name Would Taste Just As Sweet

By C. Robert Dimitri | TV Reviews | May 20, 2013 | Comments ()


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It was almost thirty years ago that I first watched Doctor Who. They syndicated the Tom Baker and Peter Davison years on my local PBS station, picked up the story with Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy not long after their episodes first aired, and went back to fill in some of the blanks on Hartnell, Troughton, and Pertwee. My adolescence saw many late solitary Saturday nights in which I enjoyed the show and reveled in my Whovian nerdery, and never do I once recall wondering or caring what the name of The Doctor might be. The Doctor's past and Gallifreyan background were interesting facets of the story, but what mattered the most was the present, or as much of a "present" as a time traveler can have. Here was a dependable Time Lord who was -- to paraphrase Cuato from Total Recall -- defined by his actions and not by his memories.

Even though "Doctor Who?" had remained little more than a recurring quip to me over the years, I did find it to be an impressive MacGuffin when Steven Moffat dropped it on us at the end of last season as that oldest question that must never be answered. Tackling it carried an ambitious promise that superseded the reliable formula of so many adventures and companions over the years. Ultimately, though, a MacGuffin is all that I wanted the question to be. He is "The Doctor," and he has been exactly that too long for me to want more or less than that in his name.

Thankfully, "The Name Of The Doctor" ultimately leaves the question unanswered for the audience, and in further service to fans of those many years of classic Who, weaves an unexpected amount of the show's old history into its story. As we find out, Clara Oswald has been helping our nameless hero from the very beginning of his journeys in an absconded TARDIS. "Asylum of the Daleks" and "The Snowmen" were only the tip of the iceberg; she was there for a scarf, she was there for Bessie, she was there for a stalk of celery, and she was there for a multi-colored patchwork coat. How did she arrive at all these places to nudge The Doctor's fate in a particularly helpful direction each time?

Vastra, Strax, Jenny, Clara, and the projection of River's spirit from the library network convene in an emergency conference call that plays like a seance across time and space. Haunted by mysterious whispers, an imprisoned convict in Victorian London told Vastra: "The Doctor's greatest secret, which he will take to the grave -- it is discovered." Before the circle can fully ascertain the implications of this revelation, Vastra, Strax, and Jenny are captured by the Whisper Men, a creepy new enemy that work as agents of the Great Intelligence, back for vengeance after being thwarted by The Doctor in "The Snowmen" and "The Bells Of Saint John."

Clara awakes to her present-day self and finds The Doctor in the midst of playing the role of conned babysitter to Angie and Artie. Clara tells The Doctor what happened, and he realizes they must travel to Trenzalore, the site of The Doctor's future grave, which has now been discovered (as opposed to the secret). The Doctor tearfully informs Clara that there is no more dangerous place for a time traveller to go, but he owes a debt to these friends that saw him through his dark post-Amy-Pond period and must attempt to rescue them. Trenzalore is a battle-ravaged planet that hints at a non-peaceful resolution to The Doctor's life; there is no easy retirement for him in this future. The Great Intelligence and his Whisper Men, who have the distinct advantages of no permanent corporeal form and the ability to reach into your body and squeeze your heart to death, are waiting for them there. Fortunately, River Song's networked self -- still linked to Clara's mind -- is also there to guide them.

They find their way to Vastra, Strax, and Jenny, but they are all cornered and threatened by the Whisper Men at the gates of The Doctor's tomb, a dying version of the TARDIS, out of control in its physical proportions. The entrance can only be accessed by utterance of The Doctor's name. The Doctor refuses the Great Intelligence's demand for the answer to the question, even with his friends' lives in the balance. River opens the gate instead, uttering his name out of our earshot.

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Inside they find what remains of The Doctor -- a glowing dance of light that represents the "scar tissue" remaining from all of his travels across time and space. The Great Intelligence dives inside, destroying itself but also attacking all The Doctor's past selves at once and preventing all his victories. Stars go out in the sky, signifying the destruction of worlds that were no longer rescued by The Doctor; Jenny disappears from existence; Strax reverts to his most brutal Sontaran self without The Doctor's influence and attacks Vastra. Clara realizes what she must do and also dives into the matrix of The Doctor's past to prevent the Great Intelligence's vengeance and close the loop on her mysterious origin in The Doctor's life. The Doctor shares a poignant goodbye with River Song, whom he had been pretending not to hear to spare themselves pain, and then enters his own timestream to save Clara.

The Doctor and Clara meet again in a cavern, a "place" only inhabited by echoes of The Doctor's selves. There they find a mysterious individual that is not one of the eleven Doctors we know, all of whom Clara mentions seeing. The Doctor tells us that this is the one who broke the promise of "The Doctor," a name chosen as a sort of covenant with himself. This person is his secret. The figure tells us that he committed the acts he committed in the name of peace and sanity. The Doctor counters that might be true but that the choices made were not done in the name of The Doctor.

The figure turns, and a title card informs us that this is in fact The Doctor, portrayed by John Hurt. Is he a splinter regeneration from some alternate past? Is he a past incarnation that was concealed from us all along, perhaps involved in the pre-Eccleston Time War? Is he the future self that was entombed on Trenzalore, the blood-soaked, war-tested darker self mentioned by the Great Intelligence?

I do not know the answer, and I have no strong inclination toward a theory or explanation. Now that the "Impossible Girl" is solved (dashing my earlier bold but completely wrong prediction of a surprise regeneration with Jenna-Louise Coleman as the new Doctor, as did the official announcement by Smith this past week that he will be returning for another season), we have a new mystery to ponder for the 50th anniversary special in November, which promises to feature at least three Doctors, including this new one. The Internet is abuzz over this, so please continue the buzz here.

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As for this episode, I did find it to be quite satisfying, but as you might have concluded from my other columns, I am something of a sucker for Strax's one joke. I'm also a fan of River Song, and I thought her farewell a fitting one, even if it only seemed to be the last one.

I wonder about all those Claras strewn across the universe. How much of a life do they have outside of their critical moments with The Doctor? How much conscious awareness do any of them have, if any? For example, the Claras of "The Snowmen" and "Asylum of the Daleks" seem to stumble into the adventure with their own full backgrounds and an awareness only coming in death, while the Clara that sends William Hartnell's Doctor on his way in the correct TARDIS seems much more conscious of the scheme. It must be a tragic thing to exist in each instance only for that interaction, but with so many possibilities and opportunities in the universe, tragedies can always be placed in the appropriate perspective.

I also do wonder if the fan service for the classic Who folks might not have resonated as well with those that have only watched new Who, but for me it was a rewarding conclusion to a five-decade legacy. Doctor Who has had its ups and downs, but I feel optimistic about its future, and I am happy that I have given it so much of my time.

C. Robert Dimitri plans to fill some of the time before the 50th anniversary special by introducing himself to the Doctor Who Big Finish audio dramas. May your days in the next six months be filled with the spirit of the TARDIS and all your relationships carry the double-heartedness of a Time Lord.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • BWeaves

    I've finally figured out what really bothered me about this episode.

    It tells that the Great Intelligence jumps into the Doctor's lives and muddles with them, but doesn't tell or show you a damn thing about what he actually did to screw up the Doctor. AND, to make matters worse, when Clara jumps in, it doesn't show a damn thing about what SHE does to fix it. NOTHING. Everything that's important about this particular story happens in the final minutes and happens off screen.

    It's like the old Greek tragedies where some soldier or maid will come in and tell the king what happened in gory detail, but you never see it acted out. Oh, and then the deus ex machina comes and fixes everything. Oh, shit. Moffat just likes writing Greek tragedies, damn him. Next thing we'll find out is that River Song is the Doctor's mother.

  • Marsupial

    No, I'm actually thinking that Clara is the Doctor's mother (watching over him all the time) and John Hurt is the Doctor's father, as shown by the all-knowing father / rebellious son conversation they have.

  • A. Smith

    I'll trump you. One of the many Claras became River Song. How else is she and Clara connected?

  • They are connected 'cos River tells her and the Doctor that she linked herself with Clara.

  • ExUSA

    I recently rewatched 9's series, and I was able to pinpoint why I have not enjoyed Moffat's run. Fundamentally these big emotional moments aren't earned.

    RTD for his MANY flaws, allowed us to get to know the companion, and the doctor, he started us at the beginning. 9 was horribly damaged by the Time War, and through Rose he was able to heal. Whether or not you agreed with that, you got to see their relationship grow and evolve. Same for Martha, same for Donna. You can't watch their episodes or seasons out of order, because the relationships changed after each episode.

    I can't say the same things about Amy/Roy and Clara. They are props to show how clever the Dr is. It's also my problem with River. We're TOLD River and the Doctor have this great relationship, but we're never shown it. It's the small moments where the relationships get fleshed out, not the big ones. I'm not opposed to River being the great love of the Doctor, but you had better damn well prove it to me, instead of just telling me.

    I really really miss the character development. I miss seeing how the companions changed the Doctor. 11's run just doesnt do it for me the way 9 and 10 did. I haven't seen 11 evolve at all, and that's sad.

  • BabyBearStrikesAgain

    Exactly! And how the Doctor changed THEM. Ignoring the heartbreaking ending, Donna went from being an annoying secretary to a KICK ASS companion... which I guess in turn made the ending that much more heartbreaking. Martha is constantly overlooked as one of the smartest and best companions the Doctor has ever had. And Amy? Amy traveled with the Doctor and became... a model? Really?

  • foolsage

    Amy never really had any plans for herself; she just waited for excitement to show up. She was a fun character but was hardly one of the more able companions.

  • k op

    Well stated. Donna is my favorite companion of the modern series, just because her arc was fascinating and heart breaking.

    Yeah, Amy becomes a millionaire model. That's incredibly lame. It fits with an undertone of Moffat's writing in general that women are a nuisance unless they are chirpy and supportive.

  • foolsage

    I wish we'd had a short while longer with the Doctor-Donna. Would one episode be too much to ask? Sigh.

    Donna's arc, and Wilf's much shorter one, were masterful.

  • meadowdancer

    Wow that is exactly my feeling. Thanks for articulating that so well. 9 and 10 you felt their loneliness. 9 intrigued Rose enough so that she would come with him since he missed having a Companion. 10 was hurt when Rose didn't want him anymore but she still went with him. We had 10 missing Rose through the Martha days and you felt for Martha since she was constantly feeling as not good enough. With Donna the doctor let her know he wanted a friend a companion again. No domestics. Also Donna helped 10 be less cynical and cold. After Donna left I just haven't liked 11 or the Pond era Doctor at all.

  • k op

    I'm only familiar with New Who. The Old Who we would watch if the babysitter was too distracted by her phone conversations to put us to bed on Saturday nights. The Who-verse at large is lost on me, except for very basic conceits. One thing that sinks this last season (and perhaps the one before) is the fiddling around with basic Doctor Who constructs. If Moffat continues to use time travel to post-fix current dilemmas, then I don't feel he is really writing for the true Who-verse.

    As this show progresses, it feels more and more like loopy fan fiction. As much as I enjoyed The Name of the Doctor (which is the first time I can say that this season), I'm weary of Inescapables being easily escapable, Forevers being merely temporary, Utter Destruction of Everything being resolved with a sprained wrist.

    One thing that made Doctors 9&10 so poignant is that the consequences of their merry travels could be so devastating for mortals and other temporal beings. There is a steep cost to joining the Doctor's jaunts or even being one of his saved races. The Doctor could be quite a menace and indifferent to consequences. And the people he effected were REAL, fleshed out, complex characters even if they only occupied 10 minutes of play time (can anyone tell me one temporary character who matters or is memorable this season?)

    Moffat is creating a Disney universe here, where Mary Poppins/The Doctor knows best though it might take a bit of bother. Matt Smith is fun and boyish. He's a toddler in a man's body, which could be interesting if anyone took notice. Instead, I'm supposed to believe that Clara and Amy take him seriously as an adult male? At least Rory was occasionally doubtful but never with any consequence. I don't get any feeling from Matt's Doctor that he is aware of the larger universe at all, or the multitude of life forms. He isn't large enough somehow. He bumbles. Which would be okay if that caused a moments doubt in anyone around him.

    Doctor 11 seems like he fix anything if he just wishes hard enough (and clicks his heals.) Moffat is destroying the character itself by making him omnipotent, which is to say Doctor 11 is beginning to disintegrate under the desperation of Moffat's search of big effects and repetitive stories.

    Is Moffat hoping for a deal with a theme park outside London, where children can visit without fear or any sexual overtones?

    About this episode in particular, it was better than average. River Song breathed some life back into the old beast. Who doesn't love Strax? But I'm not a fan of Clara. I don't know what makes her a better fit for The Plucky British Lass over any other. I'm ready for someone to argue with the Doctor rather than being Amy Pond 2. Right, Clara talks fast and is chirpy. Yep, she'll make a great Disney figurine. She practically seems born for it, merry as a wren.

    Why not give the episode two parts? There was lots of unexplored areas here that could have been marvelous. Why only see the worlds going out as stars disappearing? We've seen that before, it's old hat. Why not see a universe dominated by Daleks or Cybermen?

    I don't get the logic of Clara entering the timeline to save the Doctor yet being able to leave it so easily again. If she leaves, not one of her iterations but the real her, is the Doctor than destroyed? Wouldn't the Doctor entering his own timeline have a consequence or two that River might be aware of? The episode needed time to explain little details like that, or we are left with an Omnipotent Doctor who can do anything, which means he's basically destroyed as a character.

    While watching Doctors 9&10 I absolutely knew I was watching great television. Even at it's weakest, it never made me cringe with embarrassment. I hate to think that Moffat is killing the series but he sure seems more involved with Sherlock at this point and less committed to anything but messes of The Doctor story lines.

  • meadowdancer

    I still weep when I see "The End of the World" when Jabe sacrifices herself to save the Doctor. The fact that Jabe knew who he was and what happened and Chris Eccleston's emotion in that scene just killed me. Why can't we have more episodes like that?

  • k op

    Or the nameless stewardess in Midnight - one of the scariest episodes of DW, because it DIDN'T answer all the questions and the Doctor couldn't magically fix everything. He was totally duped by an alien species and that flaw of the Doctor killed a much better, and braver, person.

    Or Girl in the Fireplace, in which the Doctor blithely enjoying romance and his time adventures causes great anguish.

    Even Moffat, in his individual episodes, is capable of conceiving of more than a Mary Poppins Doctor. He was one of the best at writing independent episodes. But he's shit at seasonal arcs or sustaining a deeper characterization of our doctor.

  • pajiba

    I suppose this is considered a spoiler, but as I was doing research for my own theory recap over on that other site, I ran across an article where John Hurt dropped some quotes, and combined with some other theories and "inside source" info, it was fairly easy to surmise precisely who John Hurt is meant to be. It's fascinating and fun, and will explain lots about stuff we haven't bee privy to, but it does take some of the mystery out of the 50th Anniversary episode.

  • foolsage

    I hadn't seen that. Nifty! I think a lot of fans will be pleased.

  • BWeaves

    I love spoilers and looked it up. Well, ain't that an interesting way to handle it?

    I always wondered if actors (and anyone working on a show, actually) are required to sign a confidentiality agreement so that spoilers don't get out. And if so, how do you handle it when someone just has loose lips?

  • meadowdancer

    I will take care to avoid. Spoilers :-)

  • BWeaves

    1. John Friggin' Hurt. I am not an animal. I am the Doctor, or maybe not.

    2. As much as I love Richard E. Grant, I've found The Great Intelligence to be a very lame monster of the week. He's never shown actually doing anything.

    3. The Victorian, Vampire, Sock puppets reminded me a lot of The Silence. Again, they seemed a bit lame.

    4. My favorite Victorian, lesbian, lizard lady, her kickass lover/maid, and my favorite NRA card caring Sontaran. "The heart is an easy thing to fix." "Not really."

    5. OK, well that solves Clara. I'm really getting tired of the companion being the most important person in the universe. The companion should be the stand-in for you and me. They take us along for the ride. They are not the impetus for the show. The adventure the Doctor goes on should be the show.

    6. I also thought the entire episode was just a buildup to the last shot where John Hurt turns around and suddenly: STARRING JOHN HURT as THE DOCTOR. It really took me out of the episode, but also made me wet my pants in that good way. Since BBCA shrinks the credits and scrolls them by at 100 mph, there's no way that putting that info in the regular credits was going to work.

    7. I was a bit bothered by River Song appearing, supposedly AFTER she's died. Since the Doctor and River's lives go in opposite orders, this was just wrong, based on the existing canon. This particular River could only have appeared to an oblivious David Tennant. Yes, I'm being picky. I want her hair. It fascinates me.

    8. Oh, NOW they give us a cliffhanger. I really miss the shorter 1/2 hour episodes with cliffhangers at the end of each episode.

    9. I also wish they would drop the tease of the Doctor's real name. Years ago, the Doctor said he'd forgotten it. (Or I might be making that bit up, or he could have been lying.) Having River whisper it out of earshot was quite the cheat.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Re: 7. I don't think River and the Doctor are living strictly back to front. They've said that a couple of times, but in practice it appears to be more, "Generally back to front, but there's a lot of weird twistiness in the middle there." Which, yeah, actually kind of doesn't entirely work, but whatever, I'm cool with it for the most part.

    Though I still agree it's silly that River was appearing as her dead self. I think it's Moffat wanting to temporarily close the door on her but still leave room to bring her back, by having this particular "goodbye" occur outside of the continuity living River alluded to. This way, if she never turns back up, it's fine, but if she does Moffat has the out of, "I never showed the Doctor's last night with her," if people object that they already finished their time together.

  • meadowdancer

    I don't understand why River was from the Library either since I don't remember River and her Doctor going off to have their last date night before she traveled and she met Ten.

    Also last series River said she would stay and travel with the Doctor for a while. I wish we could have seen any of that.

    River and the Doctor's kiss was all kinds of hot though.

  • bleujayone

    Here's my 11, but I'm not committing all of them to the episode...

    1. I think this would have been more accurate to have called the episode "Tomb of the Doctor". The whole name thing was basically an Open Sesame password and little else. The Doctor visiting his final resting place was intriguing enough without the tease/threat of revealing his name.

    2. As scarey as they looked and the hopes that a new monster would be good, the Whispermen were largely underused as just non-corporeal henchman. Nobody can explain to us how they can touch people if they have no bodies, why they bother revealing themselves to anyone the Great Intelligence has no use for, or how they were able to transport themselves and the Doctor's allies from Earth to Trensalore. And speaking of non-corporeal, how does dead computer copy River Song dream herself into the group conference?

    3. Why would there be a secret back door into the Tomb/shipwrecked TARDIS, and what was the point of having it if the Doctor and Clara were just going to walk right back out again and then be forced to use the main door anyway?

    4. I have no doubt Moffat went out of his was to say the Doctor's timestream history is a "scar on the universe" since he was called out by so many fans who proved he had written himself into a corner when he said the Ponds couldn't be rescued. *sigh Let it go Steven. The universe of Doctor Who is loaded with discontinuity and contradictions. It happen with most shows eventually. Especially when writers and runner change hands. You goofed. The Ponds could have been rescued. You didn't want to admit it was possible. Fine. Don't bring it up again then.

    5.I know it would have required a much longer story and an immensely larger budget, but it would have been helpful to see the GI and Clara both killing and rescuing the Doctor in his different incarnations. Chalk this up to another mostly tell and not show tactic that we've had to go through throughout Moffat's run. One of the things in the Classic Who is that even without a budget, Special FX etc. they at least tried to show everything they could- sometimes they even were impressive despite limitations.

    6. Since Matt Smith is coming back, I'm going to assume Moffat is too. Since that's the case I have many fantasy requests for next year- not that I thin any of them will come to pass. The first is stop trying to make the situation a mater of life or death of the entire universe. Most adventures of the Doctor's involve him either landing somewhere for fun or landing somewhere by chance. While he's there poking around, he finds something sinister to right. That's it. Maybe it will threaten a planet or maybe just a handful of people. Not every story need to be the end all be all.

    7. The best companions were the avatars for the audience. They were/are us. They are what we would say or do if it was us in the TARDIS. The Doctor is the hero, the companions are the friends tagging along for the ride- blissfully ignorant of the dangers. I don't want the show to be about them nor do I want them to be the universe's secret Messiah.

    8. I challenge Doctor Who to go one year without reusing or recycling past Who monsters. Some of the best episodes are one-offs. I don't want a story to be pigeonholed because a monster/villain form the past comes in and makes things have to go a certain way. Be unpredictable. Be original.

    9. The entire season does not need a all-encompassing story arch. Too often a story has been sacrificed by using valuable time to remind us that "Everything is somehow connected!" Sometimes a story need not connected to the grand scheme of things.

    10. Bring back an occasional two-parter. If for no other reason than some stories would benefit from more detail and development. Many of this year's stories would have benefited from more time.

    11. I know some of you feel I'm being harsh of Moffat, and you're right I am. But he's done some of the best individual stories and he does have a good actor in Matt Smith- and I admit he took some doing to grow on me. But Moffat makes a better story righter than a showruner. I have been more frustrated than disappointed because there have been things that potentially could have been great, but fell short, often for simple reason that would be easy to fix. I want the show to be fun again, and some of that involves throwing away the far-reaching arches, forced cleverness when natural clever will do and a very rushed feeling when watching it. It's still not enough to completely sour me, but it is enough to feel unsatisfied and wanting more.

  • Three_nineteen

    "3. Why would there be a secret back door into the Tomb/shipwrecked
    TARDIS, and what was the point of having it if the Doctor and Clara were just going to walk right back out again and then be forced to use the main door anyway?"

    I assumed River put it there, since she knew all about it. The Doctor is the only person alive who knows where River dies (even Donna doesn't remember). She found The Doctor's grave while she was alive, built the tunnel, and put her grave over the entrance so no one would suspect. Also, the back door was to the TARDIS, not The Doctor's tomb, which is the control room. They went through the TARDIS to get to the tomb, which is what needs the key. They needed to take the back door to the tomb because the bad guys were on the main road.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I agree on all of them, much to my surprise, especially on 9. Moffat just sucks at metaplot (and I liked the Silence; whatever happened to them?).

  • foolsage

    They were eliminated by the humans; they sent a subliminal signal telling all earthlings to kill them on sight. And so it happened. The Doctor's trickery was of course involved.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Yeah, but wasn't it indicated that the organisation is still out there?

  • foolsage

    We didn't hear anything about them after they told the humans to kill them all on sight. Granted, you're right; it was supposedly a wide-ranging organization and one would have expected some of them to be off-planet at the time.

  • Tinkerville

    *slow clap*

    So many of these are the exact same issues I have with Moffat's run, especially #9 and #7. I've ranted about him at length on many occasions but you summed up the bare bones of what his primary faults as a showrunner are. I desperately just want to sit back and have fun with it, but his need for heavy-handed "complexity" takes so much away from stories that could be brilliant.

  • BabyBearStrikesAgain

    Number 6 is the one I keep coming back to. I went back and watched some old episodes yesterday and I kept being reminded how much fun it was to have just a small story. Save the world ending stuff for season finales, keep the rest of the season to small stuff.

  • BWeaves

    YES to everything you said.

  • meadowdancer

    YES to number 6, 7, 8, 9 and definitely 10!

  • meadowdancer

    I liked the entire episode and resolution. I liked that we found out that Clara (Prime) became the Impossible Girl by jumping into the timestream and that in all the other worlds she grew up, lived, and sometimes helped/found the doctor.

    I think people right now are angry because 1) it seems like without Clara there would have been no Doctor and therefore she is the most special companion that ever lived 2) it negates what other companions have given up and done in the past and 3) it messes up the show's canon e.g. having Clara pick the Tardis for the Doctor.

    I don't agree with 1 or 2 but do agree that Moffat should have considered 3 more. You could still have Clara helping the doctor but not have her overshadow everything that came before.

  • Tinkerville

    Agreed. I didn't get the sense that it negated what other companions did because of all the wibbly wobbly timey stuff going on, but the TARDIS scene absolutely bothered me. The fact that the Doctor stole the TARDIS he did is so important to his connection to it. Having Clara help him pick it took away some of the beauty of that, especially since in The Doctor's Wife the TARDIS told him that she "chose him" not the other way around.

  • Pentadactyl

    I think it still works b/c Clara was just undoing what Simian did. So, presumably the default state is the story we got in The Doctor's Wife. Then Simian swings it one way, and Clara swings it back. What Simian and Clara did cancels out and underneath that, the story of the Doctor and the TARDIS remains the same.

  • foolsage

    The TARDIS didn't choose him until he tried to enter though. I think that's the crucial point that allows this to remain in continuity. The TARDIS still let him enter, and let him more or less pick destinations.

  • Kathleen Allen

    thank you, YES! they totally negated the history between the doctor and his ship. SHE borrowed him because she wanted adventure and he was mad enough to take her. smith's doctor has taken great pains to examine and extoll this relationship and now in one episode, it was all clara?? i don't think so.

  • ExUSA

    There is no room for your logic or consistency here, sir. This is MOFFAT. HE IS CLEVERER THAN YOU.

    you hit the nail on the head though.

  • meadowdancer

    Agreed. That was probably the main thing that bothered me the entire episode I was like hey! Did you not see that episode?

  • Tinkerville

    "Is he a past incarnation that was concealed from us all along, perhaps involved in the pre-Eccleston Time War?"

    My money's on this theory-- that he's a previous incarnation between Eight and Nine that we didn't know about who brought about all the destruction of the Time Wars. Regardless of who he actually is, I find his presence fantastic and can't wait to see what they do with him.

    I've written a fair bit on how disappointed I've been with this season. For a while into this episode I didn't see that changing at all, but the introduction of John Hurt as an evil incarnation of The Doctor who didn't deserve the title of made up for a great deal of it. However, I do really wish they had spent less time on the "what is the Doctor's name" plot of the season since every time they asked "Doctor who?" I wanted to punch the screen. It caused so much annoyance leading up to the finale that even if they ultimately handled it well, it decreased me enjoyment of the episodes leading up to it.

    There's a lot of discussion on if the Doctor can now change the way he dies, which is what I wondered about as well. There's always the "time can be rewritten" part of the show, but a lot of people are saying there was a definite finality to the TARDIS tomb and the Doctor's grave. If that's the case then does the Doctor now know when and how he dies, and that's that? Doesn't that lower the stakes of the show?

    I was a bit confused about what exactly the Great Intelligence was doing to the Doctor throughout his timeline.. Killing him over and over? Just screwing with him so that things no longer played out as they should have?

    Overall I enjoyed it and the farewell to River was surprisingly emotional; in the past I never got the sense that the Doctor really married her out of anything besides feeling like that was how things were supposed to play out, but their connection finally felt real for once. Can't wait for the 50th.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    I do agree that the whole "Doctor Who?" thing they've teased throughout the season is terrible, but at the same time I didn't think this episode was even remotely realistically pretending to go to that question. They pretended like it was for awhile, but it quickly became not "The Name of the Doctor, re: Doctor Who?" but rather, "The Name of the Doctor, re: what exactly do you mean by that?" We're unpacking what it means to him to call himself The Doctor, which is a subject I really do have interest in seeing explored. And I think, if Moffat somehow manages to pull that off well enough, when we actually hit the Fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the Eleventh, when no one can speak falsely, etc., (because I don't think this was that), when someone asks him, "Doctor Who?" again, it will be ridiculously satisfying when he replies with the tried and true, "Just the Doctor."

  • Tinkerville

    I agree completely that it's a great subject to explore and I like how it took that turn. I just took issue with them spending so much time on the damn "Doctor who?" tease. It got old after the very first time it was teased and they wasted so much time on that when they could have devoted more of the stories of the past season to actually developing things like Clara and the Doctor's relationship and better explaining what the various villains were doing.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Oh absolutely, nothing but agreement there. I think the turn they took with it just made me slightly more inclined to let them off that "Doctor who?" hook from earlier than I would've been otherwise. Like, I kind of remembered that while Moffat will undoubtedly mostly fuck things up anymore these days, he does still kind of understand the Doctor, even if he doesn't fully understand how to actually plot the show.

  • I really dislike the whole concept of "written yourself into a corner? Let's just retcon the whole thing and erase everyone's memories of it" that we seem to see way too often with this particular batch of writers.

    Because if the Great Intelligence jumping in so very quickly moved things around, how could Clara jumping in put everything exactly back where it was before? I mean, shouldn't something have gotten tweaked? Even just a bit?

    I do agree about The Doctor interacting with River though. I thought it added an element you didn't really get when River was with them. I actually had a few tears at the "goodbye, Sweetie" bit.

  • vic

    If Clara's been EVERYWHERE in his life, then surely the Doctor would have recognized Clara before even meeting her face-to-face in the Snowmen episode. I mean, the Doctor recognized a fully-grown man from his four-year old self in "Love and Monsters," after all. Worse than that for me, though, was Moffat talked about how much of a paradox it was for the Doctor to jump into the entirety of his life, and then shrugged it off, as if simply calling out the paradox to show you understand it, but then not resolve, is fine. I know I've said it in previous Doctor Who posts here, but I feel it just doesn't work for the show to largely ignore the science aspects that keep it grounded just for the sake of indulging some dark fantasy. But it doesn't matter. After the 50th anniversary episode (mostly because I like John Hurt and David Tennant), I more than likely am going to stop watching this show. It breaks my heart, but under Moffat, it has disappointed more than it pleased.

    But I don't want to be so negative. I didn't hate everything about this episode. I like how Moffat harkened back to the Old Series in this episode, I thought the TARDIS grave was an awesome touch, and hey, Richard E. Grant and John Hurt. As indifferent as I've been to River from the beginning, I did kind of like her send-off here. If it is a send-off. Even if it isn't, I feel like any appearance she'll make will be with a note of tragedy, which works well for a character that seems so indestructible, body and soul. Strange to say that for a character who died when we first met them (which shouldn't be a spoiler by now), but you know what I mean, right?

  • meadowdancer

    I loved Nine and Ten and have been so-so about Eleven. I don't blame Matt Smith but rather Moffat. He needs to stop having things happen with a wink at the audience when he doesn't explain things. It is kind of insulting.

    I tuned in sporadically during the Pond days since those episodes were just awful to me.

    Moffat needs to get back to the fact that the Companion was someone there to help the audience understand the Doctor. I don't want grand mysteries with all of them or them turning into some big Deus Ex Machina every series that has them saving the doctor. I would love it if they allowed the Doctor to be great again. I love Nine since you saw that he was pretty great up until the end of saving/sacrificing himself to save the world. Ten did well too. Eleven seems too bumbly all the time.

  • BWeaves

    "If Clara's been EVERYWHERE in his life, then surely the Doctor would have recognized Clara before even meeting her face-to-face in the Snowmen episode."

    Yes, this bothered me, too.

  • SchmidtUltra

    I think this was KIND OF cleared up in Clara's monologue:
    "I don't know where I am. It's like I'm breaking into a million pieces and there's only one thing I remember: I have to save the Doctor. He always looks different. I always know it's him. Sometimes, I think I'm everywhere at once, running every second just to find him, just to save him. But he never hears me. Almost never. I blew into this world on a leaf. I'm still blowing. I don't think I'll ever land. I'm Clara Oswald: The Impossible Girl. I was born to save the Doctor."
    So in many cases, she could have intervened without ever coming into contact with him.

  • I'm really new to the show. So not much made a lot of sense. But I really enjoyed it nonetheless. I adore Clara. Jenna-Louise Coleman is special. Her and Matt Smith are great together. I'm hooked.

  • BWeaves

    I've been watching since 1963. It still didn't make sense.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    Not much making a lot of sense is pretty par for the course. But it's a damn fun ride.

  • Great recap, as always! I cannot express how utterly thrilled I was to see John Hurt. Though I doubt the possibility, I would positively pee my pants if he could do even just one season as a future Doctor--so I hope there's a set up for that. But the realist in me knows he's probably too busy...

  • BobbFrapples

    One Moffat episode saved my love of this season. Honestly, had this episode not been as good as it was, I might have begun to root for the next show runner to appear.

  • toblerone

    Random:

    I loved this episode.

    "...official announcement by Smith this past week that he will be returning for another season".

    F*CK YES!!! I had not heard this, (I've been actively avoiding any Doctor Who news until the finale aired) and it makes me so happy (dancing like Kenny) because I love Smith so much!

    I wonder about all those Claras strewn across the universe. How much of a life do they have outside of their critical moments with The Doctor?

    I think each version of Clara is unique and not limited to the their interaction with the Doctor. Some die young but others probably live long and I hope happy lives.

    I can't wait for November 23rd and Season 8!

    To all you Moffat doubters and speculators: You can now officially shut your pie holes!

  • NynjaSquirrel

    He's currently got his head shaved for some Hollywood filming - what are they doing with his foppish mop then for next season?

  • BWeaves

    There's these things called "wigs." I hear they've been around since ancient Egyptian times.

  • NynjaSquirrel

    Oh - the sarcasm, that's not what I come here for... oh wait. Anyway - a fitting comment from Mr Weaves, and while I'm fully aware of these newfangled things to which you refer, it seems an odd way to go about things.

  • BWeaves

    Well, considering the alternative is to wait until his hair grows back out, I'd rather he wear a wig. Usually, I can't tell someone's wearing a wig, unless they are John Travolta.

  • jollies

    From recent pictures, I thought Travolta used a black Sharpie instead of a wig ...

  • toblerone

    Don't care I still love him (and season 8 probably won't start filming until late this year so there is lots of time)!

    +The foppish mop was more Amy's Raggedy Doctor then Clara's.

  • NynjaSquirrel

    Either way - I can't wait to see more of Clara... perhaps an episode in a really hot climate, thin cotton, perspiration and lots of heavy-breathing.

  • I'm wondering if part of the big Clara thing is that she dies at the same age, every time. Which is also sad, considering she'd never have anything except saving The Doctor.

    I mean, Amy and Rory got this whole other life together. It would be tragic for a companion to have no need to exist outside of The Doctor and his need. (You could argue the saving of civilizations and planets and the defeat of evil was a greater good. Not to mix my geeky fandoms, but it's a very Spock sort of "the needs of the many" thing.)

  • Joe Grunenwald

    As someone who has only watched new WHO, I absolutely loved the flashes of all of the old Doctors. Its history is one of the things that really endeared the show to me.

    The John Hurt reveal at the end was spectacular, but the text that appeared along with him took me right out of it. I wish that that hadn't been included and that the show had trusted viewers to figure out what was happening on their own.

  • vic

    I agree. They probably felt an actor as big as John Hurt needed his name in lights or something, but they should've revealed his face and then said it just before the credits rolled about tuning in in November or the like. But then, it would probably be awkward to have his name in the credits twice. Eh, they should've just said TO BE CONTINUED and just put John Hurt later in the credits to tease viewers who were all "Oh man I recognize that guy! Who is that?!"

    But yeah, an off-putting way to end the episode.

  • csb

    It was very off-putting, and Hurt's name did appear in the end credits as well.

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