Doctor Who: The Name of The Doctor Review
Well, Saturday night’s season finale of Doctor Who happened. I’m not really sure how else to introduce it. Even taking a day to digest that episode, I’m not really sure what to think of it. I never went into it thinking that Steven Moffat would give The Doctor a proper Gallifreyan name but that was my only expectation going into this episode.
What we got was an episode that relied heavily on doses of nostalgia and Matt Smith’s acting to get us by. Not surprisingly, it answered some questions about Clara and asked some new ones for the 50th Anniversary Special.
The episode started with a quasi-retrospective of the last 50 years of Doctor Who. We had clips featuring the previous incarnations of The Doctor through time. There was one big difference between the original clips and what we saw last night was that Clara was in each of them trying to interact with The Doctor. So it’s not just this Doctor who Clara has met but all of them. End tease and cut to titles.
As this was a finale, everybody was here. The Super Time Friends, Jenny, Strax and Vastra, were all there, along with River Song. Those four and Clara had a meeting while asleep in a psychic link. Turns out that sleeping on the job was a bad idea because Jenny was (temporarily) killed and Vastra and Strax were kidnapped off to Trenzalore.
Naturally, The Doctor and Clara have to go to Trenzalore to save them but it’s a big risk. Trenzalore is a Timelord cemetery and The Doctor had to force the TARDIS to land there which seemed to really damage the TARDIS. That’s okay because there’s a massive TARDIS on the planet. It just so happens to be the remains of The Doctor’s TARDIS which has grown in size as the bigger on the inside leaks to the outside and change’s the ship’s dimensions as it dies.
Anyway, here the Doctor is confronted by Dr. Simeon from The Snowmen and his faceless Whisper Men friends. Except that it turns out that Dr. Simeon is actually The Great Intelligence and he’s determined to repay The Doctor for killing the Daleks, Cybermen and countless other villains over the year. How does he plan to do that? By entering The Doctor’s timeline in his crypt on Trenzalore and re-writing The Doctor’s history so he never defeats his enemies.
And we end by going back to the opening the tease. Somehow, Clara follows the Great Intelligence into The Doctor’s timeline. And somehow, she’s able to undo all of the Doctor killing that the Great Intelligence did in The Doctor’s timeline and somehow gets killed a lot herself.
In the end, Clara’s still alive inside The Doctor’s timeline which The Doctor enters to rescue her. And while he was on his brief rescue mission, The Doctor encounters John Hurt- I mean, himself. The Doctor says he’s The Doctor before he called himself The Doctor. And cut to credits.
Well, the ending sets us up an intriguing follow-up to this in the 50th Anniversary Special. I don’t really understand how Clara isn’t dead from getting killed repeatedly in The Doctor’s timeline or how the universe didn’t end when The Doctor crossed into his own timeline despite the fact that crossing timelines is one of those universe ending type of issues… Sometime. Remember the sonic screwdrivers in the fifth season finale?
I kind of get the feeling after watching this episode that I’m going to be one of the few who wasn’t a fan of this one. There were some fantastic fan service moments but I was often just confused. Plenty of cool looking things were happening but I didn’t find that much made sense. Trying to figure out what was happening took me too far out of this episode to really enjoy it.
Other random points of note:
- Remember how excited everyone was for a Vastra, Jenny and Strax spin-off? Anyone else feel their excitement for that cool off a bit after last night?
- It’s probably for the best that they never mentioned The Doctor’s proper name. It wouldn’t have been the big moment that we all were hoping for.
And that ends this season of Doctor Who. Steven Moffat and team will be back for Season Eight of the show. However, it looks like the next season of Doctor Who won’t be coming out until 2014. An announcement on the BBC’s Doctor Who website said that we can expect the 50th Anniversary Special and the 2013 Christmas Special before next season.
Speaking of the 50th Anniversary Special, it’s coming our way on November 23rd which is exactly 50 years to the day of the series premiere of Doctor Who. David Tennant returns as the Tenth Doctor to join forces with Eleven to take on the unnumbered John Hurt and the Zygons. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for this one.