Monday, May 20, 2013

Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! The Doctor Who finale was magnificent. There, I said it.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me say something coherent. This episode of Doctor Who not only felt like an adventure but it answered some pretty major questions and posed some massive new ones. The support cast were excellent and Clara really came into her own.

For spoilers and discussion please join me under the jump.

The episode started with Clara, the Impossible Girl, interacting with all of the Doctor’s other faces. It was a fantastic way to set the scene and make us excited about the upcoming 50th Anniversary special.

My favourite trio of Vastra, Jenny and Strax are back and they call a conference call through time and space because Vastra has received a message about the Doctor. Clara is summoned to the conference and we get a surprise visit from River Song.

I have never been a big fan of River’s storyline. I find it to be complicated for the sake of being complicated, adding little to no value to the mythos of the show other than the fact that she is the Doctor’s lover. On my first viewing I paid very little attention to her, aside from feeling awkward during the snog she has with the Doctor. Upon second viewing though, she bothered me less. It seems that this is River post death, contacted from the Library that we saw her saved to in David Tennant’s last full season. River does not have a corporeal form to return to and stays psychically linked with Clara to help her and the Doctor when they travel to the site of the Doctor’s grave.

Clara and the Doctor arrive at the Doctor’s grave on Trenzalore, a place he should never visit because of the massive time paradox it would cause. Upon arriving at the battlefield where his tomb lies, the Doctor is reunited with Strax, Vastra and Jenny. They gave me a real fright killing Jenny, if only temporarily. I love her. The Doctor does too and his compassion and tenderness for her this season has been wonderful to watch.

The Big Bad for the episode? Richard E. Grant as The Great Intelligence. Some of you may know that Richard portrayed the Doctor in cartoons before Russell T. Davis rebooted the franchise and is therefore an unofficial Doctor. It’s nice to see him in this season, even if The Great Intelligence is not the greatest of foes. His henchmen however, were pretty awesome and scary. I wish they had done a little more in the episode though.

The Great Intelligence demands that the Doctor speak his name in order to open the tomb, the dying TARDIS. When the Doctor refuses River, who cannot be seen by the others, does this for him. I think this plot is a little convenient and is basically just a reason to have River back, but I’ll let it slide.

Once inside, the crew are shown the dead Doctor, a series of time wounds represented in tendrils of light. All the days that he has had, and all the ones he is yet to have.

The Great Intelligence decides to step into this time stream, killing himself, but scattering echoes of himself throughout the Doctor’s timeline to destroy him for eternity. Clara realises what must be done and what she has already done to prevent the Doctor from dying. She must run into the stream as well, effectively killing herself, so that her echoes can save the Doctor in all of his incarnations, across time and space. Jenna Louise Coleman is great in this episode and her relationship with the Doctor is finally tangible and genuine. It might be that only Moffat and Gaiman know how to write for her. Before she runs into the time stream she says “Run you clever boy. And remember me”, her trademark words and I literally got goose bumps. It was a beautiful moment. We see her saving all of the Doctors and restoring Jenny and Strax, who had been deleted as a consequence of the Doctor’s timeline being rewritten.

The Doctor enters his own time stream briefly to save her, after saying goodbye finally to River. Inside the time stream she is lost and afraid. He reaches her and is taking her out when he sees another version of himself. One that not even Clara, who has seen them all, has seen.

The Doctor tells us that what this incarnation did was not in the name of THE DOCTOR. It seems this is a version of himself that he does not approve of and has suppressed in his memory banks. This is the secret he took to the grave.

We see a shot of the man and the text, Introducing John Hurt at The Doctor. It rocked all viewers. Who is he? What version? WHAT IS GOING ON???!!!!

Before I discuss speculation about who he might be, I just want to say, what a fantastically executed finale. I was yelling at the screen and on the edge of my seat. Seriously. The image of the Doctor walking away with Clara in his arms perfectly mirrored the season opener where we see Amy Pond cradled in the same position. These are the people he fights for. These are the ones he saves.

The only thing overshadowing this image is the one of our new Doctor, John Hurt. And as a fan of Merlin I have to say, after the initial shock, I was like “But... he can’t be the Doctor. He’s the Dragon in Merlin. I cannot imagine him legitimately being ANYTHING ELSE!”

I loved this episode, especially hearing all the Doctor’s voices. When I heard Eccleston’s Doctor say “Fantastic” I yelped. Well done team!

If you want to know some theories and rumours about who John Hurt might be playing, check out Paul Verhoeven’s wonderful video blog post here: Paul Verhoeven's Video Review

For my own money see below for spoilers.

I think it would be very complicated if he was the actual ninth doctor and I feel a little protective of the Doctor’s who are currently filling the spaces in the new line. Paul Verhoeven makes a very good point that we never see Paul McGann’s Doctor and this version is wearing a waistcoat similar to his. I think it would be good if it was an aged version of McGann’s Doctor and the Doctor’s disgrace at the things he did in the Time Wars. Similarly, if he was one of the originals and did things before taking the name Doctor that would be cool. Though looking at Matt’s performance there is a touch of “this happened after I was the Doctor”, in there.


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