Sunday, 19 May 2013
Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor
“No way my wife is buried out here…”
Nearly twenty-four hours on, and I’m still fangasming. I loved it, obviously, but don’t expect any serious critical engagement with this episode, or indeed reviewing, in this “review”. Instead, I shall flail about like a flaily thing and, uhm, squee incessantly.
At last we know the solution to the Clara conundrum, and it’s a neatly elegant one. She is indeed just an ordinary person, if a little more magnificent than usual, and it’s only when she sacrifices herself, and shards of her persona are scattered throughout space and time that she becomes extraordinary. The other Claras are the soufflés; the original Clara is the recipe. It is at the same time so gloriously complicated and so elegantly simple. And this is what leads to the cliff hanger, as the Doctor heads into his own timeline to save her.
We see River again, or rather a backup of her from after her death in The Silence in the Library two-parter. She is therefore at the latest part in her life, if you can call it that, than we have ever seen her. She has what seems to be her final goodbye to the Doctor and they share a passionate kiss such as has never quite seen before in Doctor Who. Intriguingly, we discover towards the end that River is solid and seems to have a physical existence. This added mystery implies we will be seeing her again. Spoilers, sweetie!
Vastra, Jenny and Strax are brilliantly used, as always. They are the glue that holds the story together. The concept of a séance across time is inspired, and also rather convenient, as this is the means by which Moffat assembles his cast of the Doctor’s friends, and thus allows the plot to happen. We get a touching glimpse into the kinky but loving relationship between Vastra and Jenny. Vastra is distraught when Jenny “dies”, and her comments to Strax are revealing: he remarks that the heart is a simple thing and she replies, simply “I have not found it so”.
Strax, of course, is at his comical best, but in this case this serves as a contrast with his radically different behaviour after the Great Intelligence has begun to erase the Doctor’s time stream, becoming hostile and humorous. And, yes, this is my cue to flail about wildly at all the old clips, old Doctors and such forth.
The continuity porn begins immediately, and has me jumping up and down like a kangaroo on a trampoline on speed, as we see the Doctor and Susan nicking the TARDIS all those years ago! At last, we have it confirmed that Susan was with him at the time and, oddly, he’s wearing the same Edwardian clothes that we see him wearing in An Unearthly Child, un-Gallifreyan though they are. Loads more clips follow, in which all the Doctors appear in varying levels of detail, including an interesting one in which footage of Patrick Troughton from The Five Doctors is inserted in to footage of modern California. Many of the clips look a little odd, as the picture quality does not match modern HD, but it is awesome to see them.
Almost as fangasmy is the fact that we finally get to see Trenzalore and the Doctor’s tomb. We do not, after all, hear the Doctor’s name spoken, but it is both the key to the Great Intelligence’s scheme and important to the final scene, of which more shortly. I expected to see the Silence in this episode, but they are, it is perhaps implied, the good guys in that they only intend to prevent the Doctor being erased from history and the great suffering that would cause. Instead, we get another great Moffat villain in the Whisper Men, who remind me of the Gentlemen from the Buffy episode Hush.
But the thing we’re all really hyper about, twenty-four hours later, is John Hurt’s previously unknown Doctor. Who is he, and why is he so beyond the pale to his subsequent incarnations? We face the challenging task of waiting a whole six months to find out. See you on the twenty-third of November. Excited much?!