Oh, he’s a clever so-and-so that Steven Moffat. The fans want a multi-Doctor episode to mark the 50th anniversary, so he gives us not one but several. He’s been dripfeeding us echoes of Doctors One to Ten for weeks and when we sit down to watch the series finale, with – let’s be honest – half an eye on the November special, he gives us all Ten (blink and you miss Eight though) and in a way that makes sense.
He doesn’t, of course, tell us the Doctor’s name, because the power of it lies in its mystery. There is no name you can give him that can match his chosen name or the draw of the secret surrounding his other name.
I found lots and lots to enjoy here, from the “What kind of idiot would try and steal a faulty Tardis?” line, right through to the jaw-dropping reveal of a new Doctor.
I have quibbles of course, so let’s get them out of the way first. One, calling Clara a ‘girl’. Now there are probably as many types of feminism as there are women, and I can’t be doing with lighting the flaming torches and digging out the pitchforks every time someone else’s idea of feminism doesn’t match mine, but Clara’s in her twenties, with a responsible job and has already saved the Doctor’s life twice. I get that Impossible Girl sounds better than Impossible Woman, but I say find a better name and stop with the ‘girl’ please.
Two, Steven Moffat can do story and he can do dialogue and he can do heart. He does struggle a bit on the sci-fi bit sometimes though. I had several moments of “what?” and “well, that’s lucky [rolls eyes]”.
That said, I’m the kind of sucker who is willing to overlook this for the sake of a rollercoaster ride of emotion and some funny jokes. But, you probably knew that already.
The story is simple enough – The Doctor realises he must go to the one place a time traveller should never go (his own grave on Trenzalore) in order to save Jenny, Strax and Madame Vastra from the Great Intelligence. The Great Intelligence forces the tomb open (and now we know why the Silence didn’t want that question “Doctor Who?” answered. Clearly they’re not all bad, the long-limbed weirdos) and enters the Doctor’s ‘open wound’ of a timeline in order to thwart every victory and fill his life with pain (more pain than usual, I presume). And, now we know why Clara is ‘impossible’ – she sacrifices herself by following the Great Intelligence and scattering herself across the timeline to put things right.
- That initial montage of Doctors One to Eight – not just for the joy of it, but the cleverness too. Colin Baker’s double striding with just the right note of imperiousness through the shot… The Eighth Doctor there for just a second, mirroring his brief existence in the TV version of the Whoniverse.
- Strax spends his weekends off in Glasgow fighting with the locals. Of course his does.
- River Song’s return. She might not be everyone’s cup of tea (or glass of champagne), but I love her. Her final scenes with the Doctor moved me to tears. I guess this really is ‘goodbye’…
- The Whisper Men – something of the Trickster about them, but pale eyeless hissing creatures are always good for a creepy thrill.
- The ‘little daleks’ outwitting the man with the big brain…
- Matt Smith bringing new depths to his Doctor every week. The sight of a heartbroken Doctor weeping on the sofa will haunt me for quite some time.
- Emphasising the value of simple kindness. The Doctor is willing to risk death for three people who were kind to him after he lost the Ponds. Here’s hoping it catches on (the kindness, not the the dying).
- The Doctor, gazing on an inhospitable-looking planet: “So that’s where I end up. Always thought maybe I’d retire, take up watercolours, or beekeeping or something. Apparently not.”
- There is something deeply poignant about that single cracked pane of glass after the Tardis falls to the surface of Trenzalore.
- Steven Moffat doesn’t stop playing with our expectations after giving us all our Doctors. He keeps doing it. The constant misdirection about the Doctor’s grave is done beautifully on so many levels. Not to mention the trick he pulls with ‘invisible’ River.
- Richard E Grant and Matt Smith being completely mesmerising in their battle of wills.
- Finally, I like Clara. She’s no longer just a bloody enigma with a pretty face. She makes sense and it feels like she’s earned the right to be a companion.
- The Doctor to River’s echo: “You are always here to me, and I always listen and I can always see you.” Me: *sob*
- That ending. Wow. I was looking forward to the November special before they announced the return of David Tennant (I’m hoping the fact he’s been wearing his brown suit means it’s the 100% Time Lord version we’re getting), and now I can hardly wait.
So, several loose ends tied up – Trenzalore, River, Clara’s impossibility, the Silence (if not who blew up the Tardis at the end of series 5 – we haven’t forgotten that you know). It made me laugh and it had tears pouring down my cheeks. A job well done. See you in November!
Posted by Jo the Hat