Previously on Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor.
Raggedy man… good night.
And ‘good night’ we say — to the Eleventh Doctor, to the raggedy man, the madman with a box, to fish fingers with custard. But even as we say good night, we say hello — to the Doctor. The same man, who will never forget who he used to be. Still is. Always will be. Just with new kidneys.
As with the Anniversary Special, there are so many nods to the Doctor’s past in this — Clara seeing the Doctor without his clothes much as Donna did during the Metacrisis, Captain Jack clinging to the TARDIS all the way through the Time Vortex to Utopia… just that this time the TARDIS was kind enough to extend the shield. And again, the Doctor sends his companion away to keep her safe. What’s new, though: Handles. This Christmas is the time when the Doctor had a Cyberman friend, and we liked him. Poor Handles.
All of this, all of the past from Series 5 onwards led to this: Trenzalore, the graveyard of the Doctor. The Silents, a fraction of the Papal Mainframe that split and really actually confessional priests, were trying to prevent the Doctor from ever coming there, blowing up the TARDIS and creating the cracks in the Universe — which now none other than the Time Lords are using to try and come back. That’s what the Doctor saw in the hotel room marked 11 in Series 6 (The God Complex) — the crack. It wasn’t over yet, it was never gonna end. Until now.
There’s been a lot of confusion about the Doctors and renumbering after The Day of the Doctor, and it appears that someone’s been both miscounting and sort of… not. While Steven Moffat confirmed in Doctor Who Magazine that Eleven will remain Eleven, and Peter Capaldi will be Twelve, the point of the whole thing is which Doctor calls himself the Doctor. There are, however, a few more versions of him that still count as regenerations, physically. Including the War Doctor and TenTwo, we’ve not got the Thirteenth Doctor, technically — which is the last. The Doctor will die, old and grey and looking suspiciously like William Hartnell, and unable to tell anything but the truth.
Trenzalore is enveloped in a truth field, which the Time Lords had counted on Tasha to place on the planet, to make sure that the Doctor, and only the Doctor would be able to answer the question. Remember?
Silence will fall when the question is asked.
The oldest question in the Universe.
Only one man can answer that question truthfully, and only the Time Lords can tell that he’s telling the truth — or so everyone thinks. ’cause that’s not it. It’s his companions that can really answer that question and know the truth better than anyone else. He’s the Doctor, and that’s all you need to know. That name is who he is, who he chose to be so many centuries ago.
Listen to me, you lot. Listen! Help him, help him change the future, do it! Do something! You’ve been asking a question, it’s time someone told you you’ve been getting it wrong. His name… his name is the Doctor. All the name he needs, all you need to know about him, and if you love him — and you should — help him. Help him!
And that’s how the Time Lords know it’s really him. Only the Doctor could inspire such love and loyalty — and it’s right there, in Clara. Tasha came to get her so the Doctor wouldn’t die alone, but then she goes and saves his life, with a little help from through the crack. When was the last time the Time Lords listened to a human without much complaint? So they send the Doctor regeneration energy, enough to blast the Daleks back to hell and save Christmas. Aha! Christmas is saved! And as long as the Doctor’s there, it always will be. I wonder if the Master was up there, hearing Clara’s voice…
So many musical cues, too. We’ve heard Gallifrey’s theme, Amy’s theme, all of that music that Murray Gold has created through the years, that remind us of the things we’ve seen. And then, there’s a new one at the end. A new Doctor’s theme for a new man, and yet the same.
It all just disappears, doesn’t it, like breath on a mirror. Any moment now… he’s a-coming. But times change, and so must I. We all change, when you think about it, we’re all different people, all through our lives and that’s ok, that’s good, you’ve got to keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day. I swear, I will always remember when the Doctor was me.
After Ten’s unholy struggle, this is one of the most life-affirming regenerations we’ve ever got to see. Eleven’s fine, he’s good. He’s made his peace with dying long ago, and now, unexpectedly, he’s got a new chance. A whole new cycle, even, apparently? That’s what the Time Lords gave him, a whole new life, a whole new life cycle. If I understand that correctly, then that’s the regeneration limit gone, and they won’t have to worry about this again until 2063. He saved them, and they remembered. And just this once, they broke the rules. Because it’s Christmas, and the Doctor’s got to save it, for the love of the people. He stayed for Christmas, and he was content to stay. The man who can’t sit still, the man who went mad waiting for the cubes to just do something for one year, sticks around and defends one small town agains the Time Lords’ enemies for 300 years. This song has ended, but the story never ends. The bow tie’s on the floor — but the new man’s got new kidneys.
And now, Gallifrey, we know, is definitely out there, in a parallel universe. They seem to be able to close the cracks at will, so… couldn’t they set up a meet that the whole bloody Universe doesn’t know about? The Doctor knows they’re fine now, and trying to get back to him — but how will he find them now? What will he do? Will they try again? This time, did they really come in peace? We know that the High Council had different plans from what the Time Lords that the Doctors dealt with in The Day of the Doctor did, though both councils were aware of the Doctor running off with The Moment. What if the High Council around Time Lord President (Timothy Dalton) are still thinking of doing what they were doing at The End of Time?
I have a few niggles with this episode: was the bit with Clara’s family really necessary? Was the naked bit really necessary at all? Those awkward moments and the flirty interlude with Tasha — love her, though (very clever of the Doctor to break through the Dalek’s hold on her mind by angering her saying sexist shit he 100% doesn’t mean) — interrupted the flow of the narrative a bit and made the beginning feel a bit cobbled together, trying to be comedic when we all knew how it’d turn out in the end. There’s regeneration eps that managed that very well — this one didn’t, not quite.
Edit, because Inkie mentioned it and I just hadn’t connected the dots until she said it: getting definite River vibes from Tasha — not just because of the flirting, but because she knew how to fly the TARDIS, knew the Doctor so very well, and because of this:
You’ve been fighting the psychopath inside you all your life.
It would be just like River to infiltrate the Papal Mainframe after being used as a weapon by a split fraction… I don’t know if this is valid, but the use of ‘psychopath’ twice within a short span of time triggers the implication.
Be that as it may, I’m so very much looking forward to Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor — the post-regeneration confusion, the new internal organs, new everything! Well, not all new. He’s still our Doctor. Always will be.
Next: Series 8.
Yeah, I agree we could have lived without much of the first 10 minutes. I appreciate the desire to give Clara some back-story now that she’s no longer just the ‘impossible girl’, but I’m not sure this was the time and place for it. As for the naked bit, yes, well.
Truth be told, I thought the story itself was pretty shabby, and while I appreciated Moffat’s effort to tie up loose ends I thought this made it confusing for casual viewers and some of the explanations were tenuous in the extreme. (The God Complex reference, for instance – we now know he saw the crack in the wall, but his comment at the time was “Who else?” rather than “What else?”)
Nonetheless, as a fan I loved all the little internal references and echoes of stories past, and I thought this was a fantastic farewell from Matt Smith, who has always played the true age of the Doctor behind a young face well and here does the same with an old face with just as much conviction.
So, a huge flawed special – but I still found ways to love it anyway. Farewell Matt, hello Peter.
True, there are many bits that don’t add up — I always thought the Doctor had simply seen himself in that hotel room. “Who else” would only work if he meant that the Silents were behind the cracks at the time and that he was referring to them. They were trying to kill him, after all, and at that time he was still running.
The other bit I don’t understand is what this means for Trenzalore as the Doctor’s grave — I suppose that he’s just changed his future because he would have actually died there, and the Time Lords’ interference hadn’t happened yet when he was there during The Name of the Doctor. Now that he’s got another 13 lives to mess around with, he’s got to find himself another cemetery.
Anyway, I wouldn’t called it hugely flawed (I had a lot more issues with The End of Time as a leaving/tying up loose ends Special), but plot-wise it could have done with some more coherence. Ah, well. I’m just glad that this Doctor died feeling safe and loved. 🙂
I think the final trilogy of Name/Day/Time got weighed down a bit by the series’ own mythology and trying to make nods to its own history while setting up Matt’s departure. Only Day really carried that off for me – and while there was much to love about Name I think it struggled from trying to be all things to all viewers, an impossible task.
I found the central story here to be too thin and too secondary to the Doctor’s individual story. I loved the wooden Cyberman and the Angels in the snow but it was just a shame that they and the Sontarans (and to a lesser extent even the Daleks) were reduced to a single beat in the narrative. It was like one of those musical mixes where you hear only a snippet of lots of your favourite songs.
It’s a shame a lot of people online have focused on the negatives of the episode rather than the positives though. Time didn’t work in many places – but in many other respects it was superb.
Yes, one would think that making it a trilogy would help to distribute the load of combining a Doctor leaving with the celebration of the 50th Anniversary — I guess both at the same time just got a bit much, bless them for trying.
Mmh, yes, the plot felt a bit disconnected… though I wasn’t sure while watching whether that was the script or just me still haggling with the first ten minutes, which sort of fractured it for me. It didn’t have the bang of other stories presenting the background for something like this — but then, he’s just saved Gallifrey, finding the right scale after that seems an impossible task as well. (I’m very good at blissfully ignoring/not even finding the negative reviews this year :D)
Matt and Peter saved the day, though (hehe).
Oh yes, and I hated the ending of The End of Time – way too self-indulgent. The ending here hit just the right notes.
THANK YOU. I’m so sick of people going on about how perfect David’s exit was — I’ve even seen people accusing Eleven of milking it and making it too much!?!
The End of Time was so incredibly self-serving… I understand that they wanted to give David Tennant/the Tenth Doctor a big send-off, but they lost sight of what that means for the character as a whole, and for the show. “I don’t want to go” — I can’t stand that line, not in combination with that near mental breakdown and that parade of visiting past companions. I get that the Doctor grieves for having to die, especially Ten, but that episode was one of the big reasons why so many fans got swept up in demanding David back — and they still do! Much as I love both David and RTD, they did the show and the production team taking over from them a huge disservice. It suddenly became all about David leaving — when it should have been about the show moving forward. There’s a fine line there, and they crossed it with both feet. I’m glad that Eleven is welcoming the change, and hopefully that will carry over into the world beyond the fourth wall.
Waiting until August will be painfully long while waiting to see Peter Capaldi and his version of the Doctor.
A lost opportunity in the story btw Clara and Tasha – I mean, the horror of Tasha’s loss if nothing else, but then I suppose Clara doesn’t recall her imprisonment as a Dalek organism. That, and the Doctor would be the only one to know of the resonance – besides millions of viewers.
Very excited to see Capaldi, very glad to see Smith get a big fond farewell kiss from Moffat, Gatiss and associates. He achieved a great deal with a role much more ‘serious’ actors might not know what to do with. Of course, since Capaldi’s such an avowed Whovian, we should have slightly raised expectations.
The truth field was from Gallifrey, not from Tasha. It’s explained by The Doctor in the episode.