Knowing someone is going to pass out of your life can be a blessing and a curse. I have been putting off thinking about what Doctor Who will mean to me once Matt Smith leaves but I had to face my fears whilst watching the Doctor Who Christmas special, The Time of the Doctor. I actually watched this episode without the usual rose tinted glasses thinking I was protecting myself from a broken heart. So how did that work out for me?
The premise was pretty straight forward, the Doctor visits a town called Christmas on a planet that is under siege by old enemies. He later finds out the planet is in fact Trenzalore and it’s his time.
The episode was jam-packed with stories attempting to tie up lose ends as best it could. I have to say in some places it could have done better. As an experience, watching this episode was quite a ride and it did indeed bring my feels bubbling to the surface however, despite my tears I can still take a step back and say it was too much story crammed into an hour and could have been done better.
My main beef is with the Trenzalore prophecy. We’ve seen a lot of foreshadowing in season six about the silence and their promise to kill the Doctor before he can speak his name.
In The Wedding of River Song, Dorium Maldovar told the Doctor that he would visit Trenzalore and that it would be “the fall of the Eleventh”. He prophesied, “at this time and place no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer. Here, the First Question in the universe would be asked.”
During the stand off I really expected the Doctor to do just that and release Gallifrey from the time lock, but of course that didn’t happen. Steven Moffat totally skirted around this in The Time of the Doctor.
I expected the Silence to play a much bigger part in this considering all the foreshadowing before. The Silence completely freak me out and I would have loved if there was more of them. The silence had their balls snipped off in the Impossible Astronaut but they were still formidable enemies who recovered enough to be scary in The Wedding of River Song. They were totally relegated in this episode and I feel a bit cheated. It’s like when Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced the Borg and then castrated them by giving them emotions when they got too big. Here we find out the the Silence are confessional clerics genetically engineered to make you forget your confessions.
The Doctor lived out 300 hundred years of his life in a truce to save the people on the planet known as Christmas. I get that it was the right thing to do. He couldn’t allow another time war to happen between the Daleks and the Time Lords but I still feel cheated. Such a big prophecy promising oodles of conflict only for the Doctor to essentially die of old age.
The battle of Trenzalore turned out to be a 300-year stand off until the Daleks swelled their numbers and converted everyone in the Papal Main Frame into Dalek hybrids and tricked the Doctor into a parley. Then everything became about the Daleks and the potential release of the Time Lords. I frikking hate the Daleks. I lost my childhood fear of them a long time ago!
Despite being in a truth bubble the Doctor managed to ignore the question from the time crack in the wall. So somehow the Doctor could fail to answer the question and he also managed to lie a couple of times especially when he told Clara he wouldn’t send her away again and did exactly the opposite.
I went into this episode interested to see how Steven Moffat would get around the regeneration issue and I’m not sure how I feel about the solution. Clara spoke into the time crack pleading with the Time Lords to help the doctor so they sent him more regeneration power, essentially breaking the rules Moffat said couldn’t be broken. I don’t mind really as at least it means the Doctor can continue. But I don’t know what this means.
At the end when he was regenerating, the Doctor talked about never forgetting his past lives and the fact that the new Doctor can’t fly the TARDIS makes me wonder if this is even the same branch of the Doctor. Bear with me for a second, as I’m not sure how to explain it. What if this is new guy is like an offshoot or something, like a mini reboot of the Doctor, meaning he is someone totally different but with all the Doctor’s memories. Or maybe he doesn’t even have the Doctor’s memories. Why can’t he fly the TARDIS? Moffat could definitely rewrite the rules if that’s the case. I dunno. I’m so confused. I’m also interested to know if there are limits to his regeneration. Hope we find out in Peter Capaldi’s first episode next year.
I can’t say that I understand why Cybermen and Weeping Angels were both dragged into this story. Even the Sontaran’s showed up. Talk about the kitchen sink! I must admit though, I did love the Doctor’s companion, the Cyberhead he called Handles. I choked up when Handles stopped functioning before the dawn broke. Emotional.
Okay so it seems like I ragged on the episode but there were highlights that broke me and reduced me to tears.
As I said in the beginning this episode attempted to tie up loose ends and some were done with satisfaction and some weren’t really necessary as we already knew or guessed what was going in. For instance:
- The crack in time was explained, and we find out that it was the crack that was waiting in the room for the Doctor in The God Complex. I think they also explained the crashing TARDIS and of course why River Song was created. I loved when the Doctor said “Totally married her.” And “I would not be here if it wasn’t for River Song.” I wonder if we’ll ever see River again. I think it would be weird now that the Doctor is, erm… older.
- When the Doctor acknowledged his previous 12 regenerations calling the War Doctor “Captain grumpy” and then saying how Ten regenerated twice but kept the same face, “I had vanity issues at one point.”
- Seeing the Doctor’s last bowl of fish fingers and custard and Amelia pond. When the Doctor said “the first face this face saw” oh my poor heart.
- When Amy Pond appeared to say “goodnight raggedy man”, my heart broke. That whole scene killed me. I would have been wall sliding if I wasn’t curled up on a bed. Instead I sat bolt upright and burst into tears for a second and almost missed the switch between the Doctors.
- When the Doctor’s bow tie dropped to the TARDIS floor and I died some more. Bow ties are cool and will forever be cool. I’m crying again just thinking about it.
So yes, there where totally some awesome bits but sometimes I need to step back from things that touch my feels and take a good long look so I can stop saying how everything was brilliant when in reality it was just good.
Having said that I have to pay homage to the man behind MY Doctor. Matt Smith was brilliant in this episode given the givens. From his nudity and baldhead through to his old age, he rocked. (No, seriously the rose tinted glasses are still off). This must have been an emotional episode for him and I think it showed in his last moments with Clara when he talked about always remembering how he was. Dude acted his socks off and I love him for it.
Times change and so must I
We all change. When you think about, it we’re all different people all through our lives and that’s OK. That’s good. Gotta keep it moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.
I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear.
I will always remember when the Doctor was me
Goodnight Raggedy Man
I must be the wishy washiest person when it comes to my love for each Doctor but after seven seasons I can honestly say, hand on heart that Eleven/Thirteen (whatever the numbers are now) was MY doctor. Matt Smith brought something to the role of the Doctor that just enchanted me. Maybe it was his doleful eyes, or possibly the fact that despite being the youngest Doctor Who, Matt brought age and wisdom to the role that made you see beyond his youthful face. Amazing. I will miss my Raggedy Man. Capaldi better bring it, that’s all I’m saying!
When it comes to saying goodbye Eleven got absolutely the best lines which made up for the hit and miss episode. Compare then to Nine and Ten’s goodbyes:
Nine said “Rose, before I go, I just want to tell you, you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And you know what? So was I.
Ten said: “I don’t want to go”
What do you think? Did I judge the episode too harshly or do you agree with some or all of my observations.