Who Review – The Time of the Doctor
Here we are Evil Geeks, time to unwrap the best present we get every Christmas: The Doctor Who Christmas Special!!! I’ve been looking forward to this with both limitless anticipation and unlimited dread because we’re getting a new episode of Doctor Who, which is guaranteed to be a spectacular one; but at the same time we’re losing our current Doctor. It’s Matt Smith’s farewell to the TARDIS and knowing Steven Moffat, there’s going to be a ton of tears when it’s all over. This is going to be amazing and incredibly rough at the same time. For the last time, Evil Geeks: GERONIMO!!!
I can’t help but wonder if Steven Moffat only took the lead writing job of Doctor Who just so once a year he’d be able to emotionally sucker punch every Whovian right in the stomach. Does he spend like 5 minutes writing the main series episodes, then spend the rest of his free time plotting out a Christmas episode that is sure to leave us all quivering mounds of crying Jello? Obviously that isn’t true because we get some memorable episodes of the series in addition to the Christmas special, but damn if it doesn’t feel like he’s tormenting us for his own enjoyment sometimes. This episode starts off happy and goofy enough with Clara using the Doctor as a stand in at Christmas dinner for the fictional boyfriend she told her family she has. Before that though, we see that the Doctor is up to trouble as always is the case as he’s randomly boarding ships that are amassed over a shielded planet. The Doctor keeps encountering his enemies in the ships and finds that they have traps for him on each of the vessels. The Doctor takes a break from the seemingly impossible situation, to answer Clara’s request for help at her family dinner. The Doctor and Clara slip out of dinner for a moment so that they can use the TARDIS to cook a turkey via exposure to the time vortex, a fateful decision that will come back to haunt the Doctor in the not too distant future. The Doctor has something of a new companion this episode in the disembodied head of a Cyberman whom the Doctor refers to as Handles. It’s clear that Handles is no ordinary Cyberman part because it has a much gentler demeanor than your average Cyberman. I’m not sure if it’s a Cyberman that contracted some kind of computer virus or maybe just a Cyberman that used the brain of a person with an infinite reserve of will power? Handles will end up playing the Wilson role to the Doctor’s castaway and just like in that movie, you never think you’re going to get all emotional when an inanimate object “dies”, but damn it all; when Handles’ number gets punched later in the episode, you can’t help but feel like the Doctor is losing his only friend at that point. Handles indicates that the shielded planet is Galifrey, which naturally raised a red flag with the Doctor. How can it be Galifrey, if it’s supposedly stashed away in another universe? I don’t want to give away the entire plot of the episode, so to cut a long story short, the Doctor ends up stranded on the planet and hey, surprise: the planet is Trenzalore. We learned in The Name of the Doctor, that this is the place where the Doctor will fall in battle. We also find out that the people responsible for shielding the planet will eventually become the Silence. They started out as the guardians of the Papal Mainframe, but because of what happens during the episode, they will eventually become the Silence. We find out that Madame Kovarian and her lot were a breakaway sect of the Silence and her main mission was keeping the Doctor from ever reaching Trenzalore (they were in fact the people who blew up the TARDIS back in Smith’s first season). Silence Fun Fact: The reason nobody can remember seeing the Silence, is because they were bred to be confessional priests; genetically engineered to make people forget the sins they have confessed. The reason that ships filled with the Doctors greatest enemies and the reason that Handles identifies the planet as Galifrey is because of a certain crack in space and time that we first saw WAY back in Matt Smith’s first season as the Doctor. The crack in Amy Pond’s wall, has now found a home on Trenzalore. We learn that the crack was actually caused by Galifrey attempting to return to this universe and that pretty much everything that’s happened to the 11th Doctor has been a result of this crack in time. The crack is emitting a signal that when translated asks the universes oldest question: Doctor who? Only the Doctor has the ability to bring Galifrey back to this universe by speaking his name to the rift, which would be seriously bad news for anyone who’s ever had a beef with the Doctor. Even though Galifrey would be returning with peaceful intentions, the Whoverse baddies are willing to do anything to keep that return from happening; even going so far as to start a new Time War. The Doctor must stay behind on the planet to protect the people who live there and at the same time, prevent a universe-wide war from starting if Galifrey somehow finds a way through the split in time.
There are plenty more factors in play in this episode that I haven’t discussed for the sake of brevity and not spoiling everything, but I do want to get in-depth on my thoughts on the regeneration so be warned of spoilers. The Doctor ends up spending hundreds and hundreds of years trapped on Trenzalore. He’s there long enough to start showing signs of aging and just before he shuffles off this Time Lordian coil, he’s a frail old man who knows he’s all out of regenerations. He’s so dedicated to helping and protecting people, that even though he knows he’s out of regenerations, he still stays behind and sacrifices the remainder of his life, just to protect the people of the town called Christmas. He’s a worn out old man at the end, but he’s still fighting for the little guy. He’s doing the thing he’s done his whole life, standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. A man who’s never stayed around one place or time too long, has spent a hundreds of years in one place just because the people there need him to keep them safe. He’s gone from traveling the universe with a lone companion, to not going anywhere and having dozens upon dozens of companions. The people of Christmas become something of a family to him, which is something he’s never been able to have before. One of the most heartwarming moments of the episode comes when the children of the town swarm the Doctor to give him a great big hug. Conversely, watching the 11th is making his final stand was one of the saddest moments of having to see Matt Smith go. He’s so old when the Daleks are finally overrunning the planet, that he can’t even fight them any more. He’s got no more clever plans, no more tricks up his sleeve, and simply doesn’t have the ability to save the people in his care any longer. He can do nothing except watch his people die while he begs for death. In other words, he can’t be the Doctor anymore. He’s staring down certain death but I was totally ok with him dying at that point. It wasn’t sad or tragic, it was earned and it was just his time. He’d no longer have to be the pale shadow of his former self and he’d finally be at peace. Then, thanks to Clara and the Galifreyans behind the rift in time, the Doctor is granted a new regeneration cycle, allowing him to regenerate. In that moment, once he’s got the regeneration ability back, he instantly becomes the Doctor again. He’s born anew before he’s actually born anew and we get one final amazing “COME AND GET ME!!!!” shit talking speech from Matt Smith before he air guitars right into his regeneration. The massive amounts of energy leaving his body lays waste to the attacking Daleks and their mothership. Right when you’ve accepted the Doctor’s death and had a chance to say to yourself “Whew, that wasn’t as depressing as I thought it was going to be,” that’s when Moffat delivers the mother of all emotional sucker punches. Clara, who’s just witnessed spectacular blast, rushes to the TARDIS hoping to find a newly regenerated Doctor. What she finds instead is a rejuvenated Matt Smith, looking like his normal, non-old self, one last time before he regenerates into a new face. He’s got just enough time to say his good-bye to Clara, before the regeneration starts. HUGE SPOILER COMING: I was getting misty eyed as it was when Matt Smith was saying his good-bye to Clara, but then the Doctor sees the young version of Amy Pond who’d he’d met immediately after the 10th’s death. Young Amy runs around the TARDIS, eventually giving way to the fully grown Amy Pond, who wishes the raggedy man a final good night before he’s gone for good. Once Karen Gillan showed up, to quote one of my favorite comedians, Dana Gould, “I cried like a sissy who was also a little girl”. Clara has been a great companion, but the Smith era has mainly been defined by the Doctor’s relationship to Amy and Rory. Having the now departed Amy show up to usher the 11th into the afterlife could not have been a better close to this story. Right before he goes, Matt Smith gives us one final line saying that he will ALWAYS be the Doctor and that he’ll always remember when the Doctor was him. Then, just like that…boom, Capaldi.
It was definitely an emotional ride and as sad as I am to see Matt Smith hang up his sonic screwdriver, I’m excited to see where Peter Capaldi is going to take us. He’s an older, more intense Doctor, which is a stark contrast to Smith’s younger, goofier Doctor. Plus, when this episode is over, the Doctor has got to be nearly 2,000 years old or so. I wonder how that additional age and wisdom will play into future stories, but only time will tell. Such an emotional episode, Whovians! The wait until Capaldi’s first full episode is going to be a killer, but once they do return, you can always head back here to get the latest Who Review! Thanks to Matt Smith for a memorable stint as the Doctor. We laughed, we did ALOT of crying, and we watched him kick ass. He’ll certainly be missed.
Wanna catch up on past trips in the TARDIS? Read On…
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Posted on December 26, 2013, in Features, Geekology, Reviews, TV, Who Review and tagged 11th Doctor, bbc, BBC America, Clara Oswald, Doctor Who, Doctor Who Christmas Special, Jenna-Louise Coleman, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi, Sci-Fi, sonic screwdriver, Tardis, The Doctor, Who Review. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.