Doctor Who Review: "The Name of the Doctor" (Season 7 Finale)
There’s really just one word to describe this season finale – WOW! I mean let’s face it – we’ve had some real up and down quality episodes in this particular second half of series seven, but give a massive round of applause to Mr. Moffat for striking twelve home runs in a row. Boy was this a corker, and probably from a die-hard Who fan’s point of view, probably one of the best episodes ever.
This was a real thrill ride from the off – as we literally travelled down the Doctor’s personal time line with the Impossible Girl – waiting on Gallifrey making sure the First Doctor and his granddaughter stole the right Tardis with faulty steering “to make the journeys more interesting.” Watching the Second, clad in that Yeti coat jogging on Miami Beach, to waving at the Third in Bessie (I really miss that car!), to probably wisely opting to steer clear of eating the Fourth’s jelly babies on ground of invalidating her dental plan. But the revelation of the mystery of Clara’s nature, often thinly eluded to like a mirage in most of this run was only the tip of the iceberg that came rushing to the surface as things progressed.
The welcome return of the Pasternosta Gang starts the final romp to the finishing post with the mutterings of a serial killer in old Victorian London. Vastra calls a psychic conference – nice touch – to summon Modern Clara from her chores looking after the kidiwinks with a psychotropic coated letter – while Strax has to employ a more direct approach; the only real light touch in an otherwise dark and sombre thriller of an episode. But wait! One extra guest to arrive! River Song, but one whose supposed to be dead – a virtual version from the Library (remember "Silence in the Library" everyone?). Deducing that the Doctor’s most precious secret – his name – is about to be revealed - it's all hands to the decks – but things go really dark when the Whispermen arrive – and kill Jenny in her sleep!
Okay, some will argue that the Moff must have been a Buffy fan; there’s a real resemblance to the Gentlemen – but here we find out their echoes of the Great Intelligence – thankfully back giving Richard E. Grant a better stab playing this most enduring foe than he got in "The Snowmen." They were genuinely chilling and creepy – gave me goosebumps that’s for sure!
It was hinted back at the end of Season 6 that the Fall of the Eleventh would happen on Trezalore where the Question would be asked – and yes it was asked by the Intelligence, but never did I imaging the circumstances. I mean as Who fans we all know that Time Lords are not infinite – even the Doctor. Those that escaped the ultimate purge as Galifrey burned at the end of the Time War were still beholden to that core precept in Who law – twelve regenerations and that’s your lot. We always knew somewhere out there was the Doctor’s grave – but not in my wildest dream would I ever have a privilege to see it. And it was fitting that it was his beloved Tardis – now bloated – insides seeping outside – an inspired idea – would be his resting place.
I liked the fact that the Intelligence mentioned the Valeyard – the Dark Doctor – another concept we’ve lived with since "The Trial of a Time Lord" way back in 1986. The dark distillations of the Doctor’s misdeeds – like the Dream Lord – at one point I thought he was going to turn up as well – and maybe he has – but let’s wait a moment before we reach the sucker-punch ending. Because, before that we got to the revelation of how Clara came to be. So the Intelligence decides to merge with the Doctor’s fractured timeline – erasing his history and his existence – and Clara saves the day by being all brave heart and merging as well; fracturing herself through the Doctors’ fifty years – acting as his personal guardian angel making sure he’s safe no matter what face he’s wearing.
The one thing I was very glad about was that despite the story title we didn’t get to hear the Doctor’s real name after all. If that had happened the whole fundamental core structure of the series would have crashed like a multi-dimensional pack of cards and a billion Who fans would have sent numerous hate mails to Moffat and cursed him watching "The Rings of Akhaten" for eternity.
So after a final proper goodbye between The Missus and her Sweetie – lovely seeing Alex Kingston again maybe for the last time unless we really so get to see the story where the Doctor gives her his trusty sonic prior to her final days on the Library – the Doctor opts to step into the light to rescue Clara at last, and we get to see the dark secret at last – John Hurt! As the Doctor (Editor's note: Check out the pic from the episode)!
But which one? Is he the Doctor’s final incarnation – the Valeyard – the one who foresaked his name or is there some timey whimey mischief on the horizon as we wait till November 23rd for the big 50th anniversary special and the return of David Tennant? The next 6 months are going to be agony.
And now to close – my list of in which order I rank this year’s crop. A variable lot indeed but on the whole great TV none the less.
1ST - THE NAME OF THE DOCTOR
2ND - THE SNOWMEN
JOINT 3RD – THE ANGELS TAKE MANHATTAN and ASYLUM OF THE DALEKS
5TH – HIDE
JOINT 6TH – THE CRIMSON HORROR and JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE TARDIS
JOINT 8TH – THE BELLS OF ST JOHN and COLD WAR
10TH A TOWN CALLED MERCY
11TH NIGHTMARE IN SILVER
12TH THE POWER OF THREE
13TH DINOSAURS ON A SPACESHIP
And last and deserving everything it gets - THE RINGS OF AKAHTEN
See you in November!