Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Recap & Review of Doctor Who: The Name of The Doctor

Proceed with caution as this review contains SPOILERS from the 11th Doctor's storyline.

The season finale of Doctor Who came with the promise that the Doctor's greatest secret will be revealed.

At the end of series 6 (The Wedding of River Song), Dorium Maldovar prophesied that,

“On the fields of Trenzalore, at the Fall of the Eleventh, a question will be asked. It is the first question in the universe, hidden in plain sight. A question that must never be answered: Doctor Who?”

Does the season finale answer this question? Are other questions from earlier in the season answered, such as who Clara Oswald is and why she is the "impossible girl"?  Read below for all of the answers and more.

The openingto the episode was a phenomenal initial sequence for the season finale. It shows Clara falling through what seems like some sort of void; lost in time. It then moves through a montage of every incarnation of the Doctor, and the fact that she was involved in each of their storylines. The meaning of this intro isn't revealed until the end of the episode. So, let's dive in.

The true opening scene of the show begins with a few familiar character from the Doctor's past.  Vastra calls a meeting with Jenny, Strax, Clara, and River Song, who we haven't seen since "The Angels Take Manhattan" where she left the doctor crying and alone.  This meeting is made possible by a sort of dream conference call in which every member is asleep during the meeting and enters a lucid dream together from a particular fragrance. A little confusing, I know.  Nevertheless, during this meeting they discuss information given to them by a murderer who knows about the fields of Trenzalore.  As I've mentioned, this is the site of the "Fall of the Eleventh" according to Dorium Maldovar, which can't be good news.

During this meeting, The Great Intelligence (GI), send his Whisper Men to kill the members of the conference while they are asleep.  Clara wakes up to find the Doctor in her home. She immediately tells him what happened, which causes him to cry as he knows he must go to protect the lives of Jenny, Strax, and Vastra. However, this is the most dangerous place for the Doctor to visit, as he is crossing his own timeline at the point of his death, which is the most dangerous thing a Time Lord can do.  

Clara and the Doctor travel to Trenzalore, to the angst of the TARDIS. Trenzalore is the site of a large battle it seems as the area is strewn with tombstones, one of which is the remains of the TARDIS, not in it's normal state, but much much larger. When the TARDIS breaks down its dimensions, and it is no longer bigger on the inside.  The TARDIS is actually the tomb of the Doctor. 

The GI's evil plan is to gain access to the Doctor's tomb and insert himself into the Doctor's time-stream to change the past and make all of the Doctor's past successes failures. 

The Doctor, along with his companions make their way to the entrance of his tomb where they meet the GI face-to-face.  The Great Intelligence threatens to kill all of the Doctor's companions if he does not utter his own name, which is the only way to open the door to the tomb.  The Doctor refuses, yet the doors still open. River Song, who is linked to Clara throughout the episode, whispers the Doctor's name, leaving us in suspense as to the ultimate secret, as if we really thought Steven Moffat would tell us that. 

Once inside the tomb of the Doctor, the cast comes upon the time-stream of the Doctor, a mass of whirling lights of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff. The GI goes through with his evil plot and enters the Doctor's timestream which obliterates him into billions of pieces all along the Doctor's timeline, and things begin to change, such as the disappearance of Jenny and Strax becoming evil again.  Clara realizes what she is supposed to do. Her reason for existing is to jump into the Doctor's time-stream to stop the GI from thwarting the Doctor and keeping time as it should be. 

Even more shocking than Clara sacrificing herself, the Doctor then jumps into his own time-stream to find Clara and pull her back out. However, before doing so he looks to River, his ex-wife, who we thought was only visible to Clara throughout the whole episode as she tried to tell him not to go into the vortex of his own time-line. He grabs her hand, and she asks how he did that, that she wasn't really there. In a heartfelt, tender, loving moment, the Doctor exclaimed, "You are always here to me, and I always listen, and I can always see you." These words, written by Steven Moffat, along with Matt Smith and Alex Kingston's faces and delivery in this scene is the brightest spot of the entire series, if not the entire Matt Smith timeline. After they kiss they say their quirky goodbyes and the Doctor enters his own timeline to find and save Clara to bring her out of the never ending void of being born, growing up, and helping the Doctor. 

At the closing scene of the series, the Doctor and Clara come upon a figure, standing with his back turned to them. The man turns and the words, "Introducing John Hurt as The Doctor" come onto the screen.  Just as we thought the questions had all been answered, Moffat brings on another for us to ponder until the next series begins, keeping all of the fans waiting eagerly for the 50th anniversary episode. It will be interesting to see how this Doctor fits in to the series. Is he a future version of the Doctor, or a pre-doctor version? Or perhaps he is the Valeyard? Only one way to find out and that will be to tune in to the next series starting later this year.

Something I've always enjoyed about Steven Moffat's writing for this show is the fact that while the Doctor has amazing abilities and has fought and saved a countless number of times, he still is the one that needs saving from time to time.  This is definitely the case at the fields of Trenzalore. 

It seems that this is probably the last time we will see River Song in the Doctor Who series, and while I'm sad to see her go, I'm glad that Moffat was able to write a proper ending that suited the actors to make a truly beautiful and heartwarming close to their storyline. The Doctor's confession to River about his fear of saying goodbye to her revealed so much about his character and divulged emotional layers that we haven't seen in the past from the Doctor. Which is really why we want to know his name in the first place if you think about it, to find out something new, to see something we haven't seen from him before.  His actions say so much more about him than his name ever could.

I loved seeing Clara interacting with the Doctor throughout all of his incarnations. Seeing her nudge William Hartnell's version of the Doctor towards a specific TARDIS, along with the scenes of her in many of the other incarnations such as Tom Baker, and Patrick Troughton was exceptional.

I'm sure that a lot of Doctor Who fans will be upset with this episode, but I personally found it to be amazing. Moffat delivered on everything that he promised. The story of this episode was about the name of the Doctor, and we did find out who Clara is. This episode changed so much of what I knew about the show, but doesn't detract from the things I've seen before.  To me this series was a little slow, but it packed a punch in the end that is one I won't forget.  Needless to say, I can't wait for the next series and the 50th anniversary special where we will see Matt Smith, David Tennant, and many more of our old favorites. The special is slated to air on November 23rd, 2013.
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