The Name of the Doctor
I feel a little conned. I did NOT learn the Name of the Doctor. River Song knows it, and seems to be the only one that does. When did he actually tell her?
However, apart from a niggling manipulation of our expectations, this episode was almost an epic conclusion to the series and prequel/ lead-in/ cliffhanger for the 50th Anniversary story.
I say “almost”. This is a story that you don’t want to step back and think about too much. Motivations for the Conference call between Madame Vastra, Jenny, Strax, Clara and River seem somewhat spurious. The whispermen are not really explained. The Great Intelligence’s Great scheme to wipe out the Doctor seems a little simplistic and considering how terrible and dangerous mucking about with time is, the Doc seems to make easy work of doing just that.
On the plus side – there is tremendous pace – the Whispermen can’t be stopped by a wave of the Sonic screwdriver so when they’re after you, you’d really better run. Trenzalore is brilliantly realised and the colossal expanded Tardis is a sight to behold.
The opening is one for old fans (such as myself) to love – the scene where the First Doctor goes to steal a Tardis with Susan (which surely tells us that Susan is a Time Lady – could she regenerate at some point?. One assumes she still lives on future, post Dalek Invasion Earth). And then, fleeting glimpses of the other Doctors and Clara – she is The Impossible Girl, destined to save the Doctor over and over again.
The explanation is a classic bit of Moffat timey-wimey-ness; she has to throw herself into the Doc’s timeline to counter-act the Great Intelligence’s effect after he threw himself into the Doc’s timeline, which is why she can keep on turning up to save the Doctor’s life. Which begs a paradoxical question – so where has she been all this time?
And then, the explanation of the episode title – not the Doctor’s name as in first name and surname, but “IN” the name of the Doctor – all of which sends us charging into the forgotten Doctor, as played by John Hurt (and with a big shiny caption to make sure we understand who he is), which will roll into the BIG 50th anniversary.
I could criticize this episode – essentially it’s a load of running around heading ever closer to a terrible place with terrible consequences – but when they get to the terrible end, it’s really a chance for a load of exposition and it’s all sorted out by a leaf. But it’s done with a lot of style, so we’ll let it go.
And now that we know who Clara is, hopefully she can stop being a story arc and finally step up to being the sassy and saucy wonder that we loved in Asylum of the Daleks. With the announcement that Matt Smith will be leaving us after the 50th Anniversary story and then the 2013 Xmas episode, we should get to see Clara usher in a new Doctor. Exciting stuff ahead.
Next week, I’ll chuck together a rambling appraisal of the whole of Season 7. In the meantime, we’ll bring in the last episode of our flash-fic/ fan-fic. I was completely stuck for an ending, having written myself into a total hole. BUT, hey, we have a fresh new slice of Who canon to work with now....
Consequences of Time Episode 8
“What about reversing the polarity flow?” said Clara.
The Doctor paused. Had Clara always been there? Did she get out of the van with Graf? No time to care. Graf didn’t seem fazed.
The Doctor ran to the big box. Graf took a step, Clara caught him.
“This won’t hurt a bit,” muttered the Doctor. He made an adjustment, fired up his sonic screwdriver.
The thundering soundwave floored them all.
Time flickered. As the Doctor, Graf and Clara stood, a crowd of bewildered people stood around the machine. The wind was rising. No-one was dying. No-one had died.
And there we have it. Once again, the value of pre-planning comes to the fore and would have meant me not having a colossal cop-out, reset button ending. However, if it’s good enough for Steven Moffat, it’s good enough for me.
Tomorrow – a wee tribute to the Great Iain Banks, who has sadly passed away, although one assumes he has been uploaded to the Culture.