I've had a little problem with Doctor Who's Series 7. Specifically Moffat's strict "no-two parter, no story arc" rule. Unlike Series 5 and 6, Series 7 feels a bit... unfocused. I come in watching and I end up wondering where the magic went.
There's no "what the hell are the cracks in the universe" or "how will the Doctor escape his death" central mystery. Sure, there's Clara, the impossible girl, who dies and shows up in another place and time with no memories of the Doctor and her adventures with him, or the central mystery of the Doctor's name, but these story arcs are not as explicitly stated as the previous series' mysteries.
Basically, there was no build up to "The Name of the Doctor" at all. And this worried me as I had no idea how the show will address Trenzalore, the Doctor's identity, the Clara problem, and the Great Intelligence in 45 minutes.
And then I watch it, and once again I realize I shouldn't be doubting Steven Moffat.
Spoilers from this point onwards!
The cold open alone made me a believer. The episode opens in pre-Time War Gallifrey, in the junkyard where the broken TARDIS is about to be stolen by the First Doctor. A repairman looks at security footage of WILLIAM HARTNELL HIMSELF walking over to the TARDIS, and he goes "What kind of idiot would try to steal a faulty TARDIS?"
There has never been a scene where it is shown how the First Doctor stole the TARDIS. Old footage of Hartnell, carefully edited and spliced on new CGI background, suddenly interacts with Clara, who warns him that he is about to make a huge mistake. Hartnell looks properly worried.
Wait. How did Clara end up in pre-Time War Gallifrey? And why is she wearing Gallifreyan attire?
Then we see Clara, in different outfits, interacting with all the incarnations of the Doctor. Then we get to the voiceover: "My name is Clara Oswald. I'm the impossible girl. I was born to save the Doctor."
Anyway. The mystery of Trenzalore. After an awesome conference call involving Strax, Vastra, Jenny, Modern-Day Clara, and River, (I swear, Strax, Vastra, and Jenny should have their own spin-off show) it is revealed that the Doctor must never visit Trenzalore because it is the location of his grave, and that is the ultimate crossing of one's timeline.
Anyway. The Whispermen kidnaps the Doctor's friends and brings them to Trenzalore. The Doctor and Clara follow them and they find that the Doctor's grave holds not his body, but his timeline. An open wound in time that shows every single moment the Doctor lived and where he manipulated history. The Great Intelligence jumps into the Doctor's timeline and he manipulates the past and turn all the Doctor's victories into defeats.
With the Doctor dying, Clara jumps into the timestream to save him, despite knowing that she will be broken into a million pieces and live and die a million times. Then we see the montage of Clara encountering all the previous incarnations of the Doctor.
Finally, the Doctor jumps into his timestream to rescue Clara. They encounter an incarnation of the Doctor who he prefers to not acknowledge, because when he took up the name of The Doctor, it was a promise. That incarnation broke the promise.
- The Great Intelligence was an amazing villain, and if this episode really means a permanent death for him, I will be bummed out.
- The Clara mystery. Such a satisfying reveal.
- The timestream is such a clever way to go back to the Classic Doctors without breaking the Time Lock
- I am so excited to see John Hurt play the evil Doctor So... is he the Valeyard?
- John Hurt could be the Doctor who was in the Time War (sorry Eight, looks like you're shafted again) or he could be an incarnation before the Hartnell Doctor. Either way this incarnation did unspeakable things that later Doctors disowned him.
- David Tennant comes back for the 50th anniversary you guys!
- I have never felt this giddy for a season finale since "The Big Bang."
- The Whispermen were
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- WE STILL HAVE NO IDEA WHO BLEW UP THE TARDIS BACK IN SERIES 5 AND WHY GOD DAMN IT
Overall, such a good episode. This makes up for the really aimless season, and I hope we get something like Series 5 again.
What are your thoughts on "The Name of the Doctor?" Leave a comment!