TARDIS Thoughts: Series 7, Episode 14 (Series 7 Finale): "The Name of the Doctor"


Series 7, Episode 14 (Series 7 Finale): "The Name of the Doctor"


Sorry for the belated post...had hoped to post this closer to the finale but that didn't happen.

Anyway...here, finally, is my analysis of the episode we all waited for for ages: the Series 7 finale, "The Name of the Doctor."

Words can hardly describe how epic this episode was. And yet, it was confusing too - I was left very confused after the first time I watched it and had to discuss it to death with fellow Whovians and watch the episode itself a second time before I felt I could do an analysis of it here.

I think part of the confusion is that this episode is sort of a "Part 1" of a longer story, a story which will likely be continued in the 50th Anniversary Special that will air on November 23, since Matt Smith said this episode leads into the 50th. Not all the questions raised in the episode are answered, and even the ones that are don't seem like they're fully explained.

Anyway! Plot!

This episode begins in a rather epic fashion: ON FREAKIN' GALLIFREY.

And by "a very long time ago" (which I admit kinda made me laugh which I initially saw this as a promo photo on Facebook, because it made me think of the classic Star Wars motto "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away"), they mean a LONG time ago. This is First Doctor era, folks. Gallifrey (specifically the famous Citadel) in its PRIME. For comparison's sake, here's what the Citadel looked like during the Time War (from "The End of Time, Part Two" - which granted I have not seen, but since the Wikipedia article on this episode pointed out that we saw the Citadel destroyed in that episode, I figured I'd hunt up the picture anyway):

In this scene, we actually get to see the First Doctor and Susan about to leave Gallifrey in the TARDIS they stole, which is pretty awesome since we never saw that in the show. But just as they are about to (whilst an alert has begun to go off due to the theft), they are stopped by a mysterious (and familiar-looking) young woman, who tells The Doctor he's "about to make a very big mistake."

This is followed by a monologue from Clara, interspersed with clips of her falling through the Time Vortex and various clips of the different Doctors and of her in various period looks:

CLARA [OC]: I don't know where I am. It's like I'm breaking into a million pieces and there's only one thing I remember. I have to save the Doctor. He always looks different.
(The sixth Doctor walks across behind her.)
CLARA: Doctor!
(The fourth Doctor walks past her, scarf flying.)
CLARA [OC]: But I always know it's him. Sometimes I think I'm everywhere at once, running every second just to find him.
(The seventh Doctor is dangling from the ice cliff on the lower levels in Dragonfire.)
CLARA: Doctor!
CLARA [OC]: Just to save him.
(The third Doctor drives past in Bessie.)
CLARA: Doctor!
(The second Doctor, in his fur coat, runs past her in a palm-fringed park. She tries to follow, but falls onto a clear surface, where the fifth Doctor is floating beneath her in the reactor chamber in Warriors of the Deep.)
CLARA: Doctor?
CLARA [OC]: But he never hears me.
(The Eleventh Doctor in Victorian clothes, in Snowmen.)
CLARA [OC]: Almost never. I blew into this world on a leaf.
(The leaf that blew into the face of her father, that made him meet her mother.)
CLARA [OC]: I'm still blowing. I don't think I'll ever land. I'm Clara Oswald. I'm the Impossible Girl. I was born to save the Doctor.
What is this all about then? A hint?

We're left to wonder, sadly. We then go to 1893 London and Vastra visiting a prisoner named Clarence DeMarco, who begs her to use her influence to save him, which she refuses to do, as he is a serial killer. He buys her trust - and a stay on his execution - by giving her information on The Doctor (how he obtained said information is not revealed, though maybe it will come out in the "Clarence and the Whispermen" special that is supposed to be included on the Complete Seventh Series DVD set when it's released later on this year). Distressed by this information, Vastra takes action: she and Jenny (minus Strax, who has the weekend off and has decided to spend it getting into fights with big burly guys in Victorian Glasgow) decide to initiate a "conference call" across time and space, via the use of an unidentified soporific drug administered via a candle that puts you into a dream/trance state. She sends out invitations to said call to Strax (via telegram), River Song (via an unknown method) and Clara (via a letter). Significantly, Clara is about to make a soufflé when she finds the letter (yet another reference to the "Soufflé Girl" motif with her).

The whole "conference call" business is a little weird. It makes sense, but it's not something that, to my knowledge, has ever happened in the show before. And it's not clear how the heck River got there, since it was hinted prior to the episode airing - and is revealed later in the episode - that the River Song in this episode is a post-Library River, in other words a manifestation of the data ghost Ten uploaded to the Library's computers in "Forest of the Dead."

Anyway, this conference call. We learn that DeMarco traded Vastra very serious information in exchange for his life: space-time coordinates for a place said to be the location of "the Doctor's biggest secret." He describes it with the words: "The Doctor has a secret, you know. One that he will take to the grave. It is discovered." Vastra also mentions that he got her to trust him with one word (those who have seen "The Snowmen" will remember that Vastra believes truth can only be expressed in single words): Trenzalore.

Yes, THAT Trenzalore...the one we heard about in Series 6. From the prophecy:

DORIUM: On the Fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely, or fail to answer, a question will be asked. A question that must never, ever be answered. 
DOCTOR: Silence will fall when the question is asked.
DORIUM: Silence must fall would be a better translation. The Silence are determined the question will never be answered. That the Doctor will never reach Trenzalore.  

DORIUM: But you're a fool nonetheless. It's all still waiting for you. The fields of Trenzalore, the fall of the Eleventh, and the question.
DOCTOR: Goodbye, Dorium.
DORIUM: The first question. The question that must never be answered, hidden in plain sight. The question you've been running from all your life. Doctor who? Doctor who? Doctor Who. 

River recognizes the implications of this immediately (though I have no clue how she knew about it, OR Vastra for that matter...I guess since it was a prophecy The Silence believed in strongly, and River was nominally involved with The Silence at one point, maybe she heard about it from there).

But just when you think the group's going to discuss this thing further, Jenny starts panicking, sensing a ghostly presence near her astral body. She realizes she forgot to lock the door, and that strange beings are attacking her. She declares, in a thin voice, that she thinks she's been murdered, and fades away.

River takes charge and shocks Team Vastra awake - Vastra with a slap (which has a funny backstory if you watch the behind-the-scenes clip for this episode) and Strax by splashing water (or maybe champagne, since she had summoned some for herself) in his face. Simultaneously in London and Glasgow, Vastra and Strax fall under attack by strange men in top hats and tuxedos, with white, waxy faces and almost vampiric teeth, and are captured (while Jenny is shown lying dead on the floor).

Meet new villains The Whispermen, everyone:

Oh man those guys give me the creeps.

The Whispermen somehow make their way into the astral-plane conference call as well, surrounding River and Clara. They taunt the pair with the words "Tell the Doctor," after which Clara asks them what they're supposed to tell him. A hologram of the Great Intelligence (with the face of Dr. Simeon, as in the Series 7 premiere) then appears, and utters these words:

HOLO-SIMEON: His friends are lost for ever more, unless he goes to Trenzalore.  

Basically meaning, "Doctor - if you ever want to see Team Vastra again, you have to go to Trenzalore." As in the one place he's not supposed to go - a fact River vehemently points out in response to Simeon's statement.

Suddenly, The Doctor's voice breaks into the scene, and Clara wakes up, only to find The Doctor in her house, walking around blindfolded and calling for Artie and Angie. He realizes she's there, and tells her he agreed to watch the kids while their father went next door, and that they had wanted to go to the cinema, but he had said no, they needed to wait till Clara woke up. Clara removes his blindfold and reveals he's been duped: they got him to play Blind Man's Bluff so he'd be blindfolded and not see them sneak off to the cinema. This frustrates the Doctor, who calls them "little Daleks," but his look quickly changes when he sees Clara's face, and he asks her what's wrong.

A jump cut later, Clara is making tea and has apparently told the Doctor everything that occurred at the conference call. The Doctor is distraught over the fate of his friends, to the point of tears (something we rarely see from him!), and ultimately runs out of the house. Clara follows him, finding him under the console room of the TARDIS. He sadly says he always suspected what Trenzalore was, but never wanted to actually find out - but that River always knew what it was. He connects Clara directly to the TARDIS's telepathic circuits (pay close attention to that - it becomes important later) so as to retrieve the coordinates DeMarco gave from her memory. After he does so, Clara pushes The Doctor about Trenzalore:

CLARA: Okay, what is Trenzalore? Is that your big secret?
CLARA: Okay, what then?
DOCTOR: When you are a time traveller, there is one place you must never go. One place in all of space and time you must never, ever find yourself.
CLARA: Where?
DOCTOR: You didn't listen, did you? You lot never do. That's the problem. The Doctor has a secret he will take to the grave. It is discovered. He wasn't talking about my secret. No, no, no, that's not what's been found. He was talking about my grave. Trenzalore is where I'm buried.
CLARA: How can you have a grave?
DOCTOR: Because we all do, somewhere out there in the future, waiting for us.
(They go up to the console.)
DOCTOR: The trouble with time travel, you can actually end up visiting.
CLARA: But you're not going to. You just said it's the one place you must never go.
DOCTOR: I have to save Vastra and Strax. Jenny too, if it's still possible. They, they cared for me during the dark times. Never questioned me, never judged me, they were just kind. I owe them. I have a duty. No point in telling you this is too dangerous.
CLARA: None at all. How can we save them?
DOCTOR: Apparently, by breaking into my own tomb. 
Which they then proceed to do, a process which takes the bulk of the episode. They get to Trenzalore (after a LOT of resistance from the TARDIS, who knows all too well what Trenzalore is and that The Doctor should not go there), which, it turns out, is a pretty freaky-looking place:

The TARDIS having refused to land, The Doctor's only option is to crash-land onto the planet, which he does by turning off the anti-gravs (the only thing the TARDIS hasn't turned off yet) with his Sonic.

They land finally and walk out into a dark and scary graveyard, which The Doctor identifies as a battlefield graveyard, with different-size gravestones depending on the rank of whoever's buried there:

The graveyard is dominated by a massive monument in the form of a TARDIS, which, as it turns out, is The Doctor's tomb -- AND his TARDIS from the future:

(Apparently he never will get that Chameleon Circuit fixed).

Clara and The Doctor then proceed to break into the tomb. Oh, and just in case we forgot about her, River shows up again!

She looks really substantial for a data ghost, if you ask me. If I didn't know any better, I'd think that was River, alive and in the flesh, standing there.

River accompanies the two into the tomb, supposedly seen by only Clara, who has a mental connection to her from the conference call. (I say "supposedly"...more on that later).

Meanwhile...Vastra and company wake up inside the antechamber of the massive tomb. Strax, in classic Strax fashion, starts barking military orders:
STRAX: This base is surrounded! Lay down your weapons and your deaths will be merciful!
STRAX: This planet is now property of the Sontaran Empire. Surrender your women and intellectuals.
Vastra, on the other hand, could care less about Strax's military ambitions - cause she's found Jenny, her beloved wife, and she's dead. Nothing Strax's handy-dandy Sontaran handheld medical scanner/defibrillator can't cure, though; soon enough, she's back to normal. Well, as back to normal as you can be after being revived from lethal, shock-induced cardiac arrest. They don't have time to celebrate, though, because they are soon confronted by Whispermen once more. And guess who their leader is:

Well, hi there Dr. Simeon. Or Mr. Great Intelligence, rather, taking the form of Dr. Simeon (as shown earlier in this episode and in "The Bells of Saint John").

This brings on a confrontation between Vastra and Simeon:
SIMEON: I see you have repaired your pet. No matter. I was only attracting your attention. I presume I have it.
VASTRA: Doctor Simeon. This is not possible.
SIMEON: And yet here we are, meeting again, so very far from home.
JENNY: But he died. You told me.
VASTRA: Simeon died, but the creature that possessed him lived on. I take it I am now talking to the Great Intelligence?
SIMEON: Welcome to the final resting place of the cruel tyrant. Of the slaughterer of the ten billion, and the vessel of the final darkness. Welcome to the tomb of the Doctor.

We then cut briefly to The Doctor, River, and Clara - who get in the tomb but are pursued by Whispermen - before cutting back to Simeon, Vastra, and the others, where Simeon proceeds to give us backstory on Trenzalore:
SIMEON: It was a minor skirmish, by the Doctor's blood-soaked standards. Not exactly the Time War, but enough to finish him. In the end, it was too much for the old man.
JENNY: Blood-soaked?
VASTRA: The Doctor has been many things, but never blood-soaked.
SIMEON: Tell that to the leader of the Sycorax, or Solomon the trader, or the Cybermen, or the Daleks. The Doctor lives his life in darker hues, day upon day, and he will have other names before the end. The Storm, the Beast, the Valeyard.
VASTRA: Even if any of this were true, which I take the liberty of doubting, how did you come by this information?
SIMEON: I am information.
JENNY: You were a mind without a body last time we met.
VASTRA: And you were supposed to stay that way.
SIMEON: Alas, I did.
(Simeon pulls at his face, to reveal that he is an empty shell. His clothes tumble to the ground, then a Whisper Man steps forward and becomes him again.)
SIMEON: As you can see.
Oh yeah, The Whispermen are basically just lifeless shells for the GI to inhabit. And any of them can take on Simeon's appearance. Creepy much!!

The Doctor and Clara make it into the upper parts of the tomb, when all the sudden Clara starts feeling dizzy:
DOCTOR: Hey, it's okay. You're fine. The dimensioning forces this deep in the Tardis, they can make you a bit giddy.
CLARA: I know, I know. How do I know? How do I know that?
DOCTOR: Clara, it's okay. You're fine.
CLARA: Have we, have we done this before? We have. We have done this before. Climbing through a wrecked Tardis.
Yes, you have, my dear Clara. In "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS." Remember how I said to pay attention to the fact that The Doctor directly connected Clara to the TARDIS's telepathic circuits, in order to get the coordinates for Trenzalore? Well, that connection went deeper than expected, and now her memories of the events of "Journey" - which she shouldn't even remember because The Doctor rebooted everything - are starting to reemerge:

CLARA: You said things, things I'm not supposed to remember.
DOCTOR: We can't do this now. The Tardis is a ruin. The telepathic circuits are awakening memories you shouldn't even have.
DOCTOR [memory]: Why do I keep meeting you?
DOCTOR: Clara.
DOCTOR [memory]: The Dalek Asylum. There was a girl in a shipwreck and she died saving my life. And she was you.
DOCTOR: Clara.
DOCTOR [memory]: In Victorian London there was a governess, who was really a barmaid, and she died. And she was you.
DOCTOR: Clara? Clara, what's wrong?
CLARA: What do you mean, you keep meeting me? You said I died. How could I die?
DOCTOR: That is not a conversation you should even remember.
CLARA: What do you mean I died?
The transcript doesn't do it justice; you really have to watch the scene. It's very well edited together, with the flashbacks and everything, and the panicked way The Doctor reacts to the fact that she's remembering these things.

Anyway, The Whispermen start coming after the two of them again, so they don't have time to dwell on this revelation. They make it to the antechamber where Simeon and the others are, and a rather epic scene ensues where Simeon reveals the only way to open The Doctor's tomb is if The Doctor says his name, something he refuses to do. Simeon tries to blackmail him into it by having The Whispermen attack Vastra, Jenny, Strax, and Clara. The Doctor is clearly disturbed by this, and finally literally begs Simeon to stop:
SIMEON: Doctor who?
DOCTOR: Please! 
Ironically, just after he says "Please," the tomb's doors open, much to the surprise of everyone, The Doctor most of all.

Everyone in the room assumes The Doctor said his name, since that's the only thing that can open the doors (this led to a popular meme online where people claimed The Doctor's real name was "Please"). But, as it turns out, he DIDN'T say his name. But if he didn't, who did?

Well, we all know there's only one other person who knows his name, now don't we?

Yep, River's the one who said it. Only we didn't hear her say it. So we still don't know what it is. Pooh.
RIVER: The Tardis can still hear me. Lucky thing, since him indoors is being so useless.
STRAX: Why did you open the door, sir? I had them on the run.
DOCTOR: I didn't do it. I didn't say my name.
RIVER: No, but I did.
The confusing part here is that River enters the scene from inside the tomb, which leaves one to wonder how the heck she got in there to begin with. Maybe she got in by speaking The Doctor's name earlier, or maybe she can phase through walls since she's a ghost. Not sure.

Anyway, Simeon, eager to see inside the tomb, prompts The Doctor to show them in:
DOCTOR: ...Now then, Doctor Simeon, or Mister G Intelligence, whatever I call you, do you know what's in there?
SIMEON: For me, peace at last. For you, pain everlasting. Won't you invite us in?
Now, as the viewer, you might think, what the heck is he doing, letting the GI into his uber-secret tomb? In retrospect, I wonder that myself. I guess he figures there's no point in refusing to let him in, since Mr. GI will probably force his way in anyway.

So The Doctor pushes the doors open with both hands and leads the party in. They then proceed up a staircase (the same one we saw leading down to below the console in The Doctor's regular TARDIS, notably) into the console room. Or, rather, what's left of it:

Nothing but a derelict console room, with railings overgrown with plants (I'm assuming those are plants anyway) and that big glowing column in the center where the console itself would usually be.

I admit, I was quite surprised by this. I was expecting a tomb in the traditional sense. Like with a coffin or a dais with his body on or in it. It's not like Time Lords don't do traditional tombs, after all; in "The Five Doctors" we see the Tomb of Rassilon, and in Doctor Who: The Movie The Doctor is taking The Master's ashes to be interred on Gallifrey, which means they must do cremation as well. Not surprisingly, The Doctor recognizes that the others (and the viewers) are wondering this, and says:
DOCTOR: What were you expecting, a body? Bodies are boring. I've had loads of them. Nah, that's not what my tomb is for.
So instead of a body, there's this glowing column of light, all twisted and thorn-like. Despite this, Jenny calls it beautiful, while Strax, being Strax, asks if he should destroy it. (A welcome funny line in a very serious scene). The Doctor then explains:
CLARA: Doctor, explain. What is that?
DOCTOR: The tracks of my tears.
SIMEON: Less poetry, Doctor. Just tell them.
DOCTOR: Time travel is damage. It's like a tear in the fabric of reality. That is the scar tissue of my journey through the universe. My path through time and space from Gallifrey to Trenzalore.
"Tracks of my tears" likely referring to the famous Smokey Robinson song:

Anyway, to prove his point, The Doctor zaps the column with his Sonic, and we start to hear voices coming from it, representing all the Doctors up to this point:
DOCTOR 1 [OC]: Have you ever thought what it's like to be wanderers in the fourth dimension?
DOCTOR 4 [OC]: Do I have the right?
DOCTOR 6 [OC]: Daleks, Cybermen, they're still in the nursery compared to us.
DOCTOR 2 [OC]: There are corners of the universe that have bred the most dangerous things.
DOCTOR 9 [OC]: You were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.
DOCTOR 10 [OC]: I'm the Doctor. I'm from Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous
DOCTOR 11 [OC]: Hello, Stonehenge!
DOCTOR: My own personal time tunnel. All the days,
DOCTOR 3 [OC]: It was the daisiest daisy I'd ever seen.
DOCTOR: Even the ones that I, er, even the ones that I haven't lived yet. 
The audio we hear, by the way, comes from, in order: "An Unearthly Child," "Genesis of the Daleks," "The Ultimate Foe," "The Moonbase," "The Parting of the Ways," "Voyage of the Damned," "The Pandorica Opens," and "The Time Monster." (Thanks to Wikipedia for this list).

However, just about now, the paradoxes and such that make this tomb the one place The Doctor should never go catch up with him, and he collapses:

The GI, taking advantage of this, decides he's going to step right into this glowing time tunnel. Which, it's implied in the dialogue, he's been planning to do all along anyway:
DOCTOR: No. No. No. What are you doing? Somebody stop him!
SIMEON: The Doctor's life is a open wound. And an open wound can be entered.
DOCTOR: No, it would destroy you.
SIMEON: Not at all. It will kill me. It will destroy you. I can rewrite your every living moment. I can turn every one of your victories into defeats. Poison every friendship. Deliver pain to your every breath.
DOCTOR: It will burn you up. Once you go through, you can't come back. You will be scattered along my timeline like confetti.
SIMEON: It matters not, Doctor. You thwarted me at every turn. Now you will give me peace, as I take my revenge on every second of your life. Goodbye. Goodbye, Doctor. 
 The GI then steps into the beam and is consumed by it.

That is one creepy shot right there.

A rather scary sequence ensues as the GI wreaks his revenge on The Doctor, striking him all over his timeline. We see him appear in pretty much every place we saw Clara show up in the cold opening, plus a few others (like a scene from the First Doctor episode "The Aztecs"). And The Doctor feels it, oh does he feel it. He writhes as the GI does his work, while Vastra monitors the GI's actions (somehow...how she does it is not explained), which worries Clara:
CLARA: What's wrong with him? What's happening?
VASTRA: He's being rewritten. Simeon is attacking his entire timeline. He's dying all at once.
However, one of the places Vastra mentions being The Doctor dying in is the Dalek Asylum, which rings a bell for Clara due to her memories from "Journey" having returned. Finally, The GI finishes his work, and the glowing column turns red:

Vastra (who apparently knows everything) realizes what this means:
VASTRA: Oh, dear Goddess.
JENNY: What's wrong?
VASTRA: A universe without the Doctor. There will be consequences.
She rushes out with Jenny, where she points out that stars are disappearing as a result of The Doctor's timeline having been rewritten (basically stars and planets The Doctor had saved, but which now he hasn't saved thanks to the GI turning all his victories into defeats). But it's not just stars that are affected. Jenny, whose life The Doctor had saved in a previous episode, disappears. Strax, now not remembering he and Vastra are friends (their friendship having also come about thanks to The Doctor), runs out and tries to attack her. She pleads with him to remember their friendship, but fails to move him. She then lifts her weapon to shoot him, but before she can, he too disappears, since, like Jenny, he would be dead if not for The Doctor.

Clara, meanwhile, is cradling the dying Doctor, and tries to ask him what to do:
CLARA: The Dalek Asylum. You said it was me that saved you. How? Victorian London. How, how could I have been in Victorian London?
After the scene with Vastra, Clara looks at the timeline and decides she must save The Doctor, whatever it takes. This leads to a great scene between The Doctor, Clara, and River (who pops in again unannounced):
CLARA: I have to go in there.
DOCTOR: Please, please, no.
CLARA: But this is what I've already done. You've already seen me do it. I'm the Impossible Girl, and this is why.
RIVER: Whatever you're thinking of doing, don't.
CLARA: If I step in there, what happens?
RIVER: The time winds will tear you into a million pieces. A million versions of you, living and dying all over time and space, like echoes.
CLARA: But the echoes could save the Doctor, right?
RIVER: But they won't be you. The real you will die. They'll just be copies.
CLARA: But they'll be real enough to save him. It's like my mum said. The soufflé isn't the soufflé, the soufflé is the recipe. It's the only way to save him, isn't it?
(River's image nods.)
VASTRA: The stars are going out. And Jenny and Strax are dead. There must be something we can do.
CLARA: Well, how about that? I'm soufflé girl after all.
DOCTOR: No. Please.
CLARA: If this works, get out of here as fast as you can. And spare me a thought now and then.
DOCTOR: No, Clara.
CLARA: In fact, you know what? Run. Run, you clever boy, and remember me.
DOCTOR: No. Clara! 
Despite his protests, our plucky Impossible Girl goes through with it anyway. Of course.

The sequence from the cold open plays again, with some new scenes added. But now we have the proper context: that sequence is showing how Clara is split into thousands of pieces across The Doctor's timeline, and that with these echoes she intends to save The Doctor from the GI's scheme.

She ends the montage by saying:
CLARA [OC]: I just know I'm running. Sometimes it's like I've lived a thousand lives in a thousand places. I'm born, I live, I die. And always, there's the Doctor. Always I'm running to save the Doctor again and again and again. Oi! And he hardly ever hears me. But I've always been there. 
CLARA [OC]: Right from the day he started running.  

There's a whiteout, and we return to the tomb, with The Doctor alive and standing once again and Jenny and Strax alive. River is still there too, unseen by everyone but the viewer. But Clara, of course, is gone. The Doctor, naturally, wants to save Clara by entering his own timestream, but both Vastra and River tell him not to. He insists, and finally River's ghost begs him:
RIVER: There has to be another way. Use the Tardis, use something. Save her, yes, but for God's sake be sensible.
She then tries to slap him, but he, amazingly, catches her hand before she can!

River is shocked. Remember, the whole episode she's been saying that only Clara can see her. But if that's so, how was The Doctor able to catch her hand?


That's right. And, we discover, he's been able to see her the whole episode. He just pretended he couldn't. 
RIVER: How are you even doing that? I'm not really here.
DOCTOR: You are always here to me. And I always listen, and I can always see you.
RIVER: Then why didn't you speak to me?
DOCTOR: Because I thought it would hurt too much.
RIVER: I believe I could have coped.
DOCTOR: No, I thought it would hurt me. And I was right. 
As you might imagine, learning this fact - that he could see her the whole time - makes watching the episode a second time even more painful, because you suddenly pick up on the moments where he clearly ignores her presence. On a first viewing of the episode, you assume it's because he can't see her, but once you know he can and could the whole time, those moments seem way more sad.

The Doctor and River then kiss, passionately:

Mind you, they haven't kissed (that we know of) since their wedding in Series 6...and that wasn't even a real kiss, it was just to fix the messed up timeline...this, however, is a real kiss. A real, loving, reciprocal kiss.

The Doctor then awkwardly realizes that, since nobody in the room can see River but him, that kiss must have looked rather odd. And indeed, Vastra and Jenny look a little weirded out (while Strax is showing no emotion whatsoever):

The Doctor and River then talk in what I think is the most awesome scene I've seen of the two of them so far. If anything screams "The Good Ship Eleven/River," it's this scene:
DOCTOR:...There is a time to live and a time to sleep. You are an echo, River. Like Clara. Like all of us, in the end. My fault, I know, but you should've faded by now.
RIVER: It's hard to leave when you haven't said goodbye.
DOCTOR: Then tell me, because I don't know. How do I say it?
RIVER: There's only one way I'd accept. If you ever loved me, say it like you're going to come back.
DOCTOR: Well, then. See you around, Professor River Song.
RIVER: Till the next time, Doctor.
DOCTOR: Don't wait up.
RIVER: Oh, there's one more thing.
DOCTOR: Isn't there always?
RIVER: I was mentally linked with Clara. If she's really dead, then how can I still be here?
DOCTOR: Okay, how?
RIVER: Spoilers. Goodbye, sweetie.
That moment when she says goodbye is tear-worthy. It's really, really sad. Because she says it like she really, really means it. :(

After this, as Vastra and co watch, The Doctor steps into his own time tunnel.

Clara, meanwhile, is still falling through the Vortex. Finally, she lands in a strange, old-looking, empty room, bathed in yellow and brown hues:

As she tries to get her bearings, ghosts of the previous Doctors run past her, as if running away from something. Finally, The Doctor - her Doctor, the Eleventh - manages to reach her, if only by voice, and informs her that he's inside the timestream himself, and that because of this the timeline's collapsing in on itself (which is what all the other Doctors are running from). Clara tells him to get out then, but he refuses to until he gets her out of there. He then says he's sending her something from her past, telling her to hold onto it tightly, as it will help her get home. But what is this mysterious thing?

Well, does this look familiar?

Yep, it's the famous leaf from "The Rings of Akhaten"! And here I thought the leaf wasn't going to end up being significant beyond that episode. Boy was I wrong.

Clara grabs the leaf, and finally The Doctor is able to appear bodily before her.

She stumbles toward him, as he encourages her:
DOCTOR [OC]: Clara! Clara! Come on. Come on, to me, now.
DOCTOR: You can do it. I know you can.
DOCTOR: Because it's impossible. And you're my Impossible Girl. How many times have you saved me, Clara? Just this once, just for the hell of it, let me save you. You have to trust me, Clara. I'm real. Just one more step.
She manages to reach him, and nearly collapses into his arms. The white column reappears. But just as The Doctor prepares to take her back through it, Clara sees a man standing a few feet away, his back to them:

Clara asks who he is, but The Doctor says "never mind" and tries to distract Clara from the stranger. Clara insists, and finally, The Doctor tells her:
DOCTOR: He's me. There's only me here, that's the point. Now let's get back.
CLARA: But I never saw that one. I saw all of you. Eleven faces, all of them you. You're the eleventh Doctor.
DOCTOR: I said he was me. I never said he was the Doctor.
CLARA: I don't understand.
DOCTOR: Look, my name, my real name, that is not the point. The name I chose is the Doctor. The name you choose, it's like, it's like a promise you make. He's the one who broke the promise.
(Clara faints.)
DOCTOR: Clara? Clara? Clara!
(The Doctor picks up Clara in his arms.)
DOCTOR: He is my secret.
The stranger then speaks up, and The Doctor responds:
NOT DOCTOR: What I did, I did without choice.
DOCTOR: I know.
NOT DOCTOR: In the name of peace and sanity.
DOCTOR: But not in the name of the Doctor. 
The Doctor then turns away, Clara in his arms, back toward the white glowing column, looking somewhat disgusted. As he does, the stranger turns around, and we see an old, bearded man, dressed in simple clothes, who looks at the camera. As he does, text appears:

And with this cliffhanger, the episode ends, followed by a card that reads, "To Be Continued, November 2013" (referring to the 50th Anniversary Special).

Honestly, you should just watch that last scene. I don't think I probably did it justice describing it. Normally, I wouldn't post clips from actual episodes here, just teasers or trailers (cause I'd rather you watched the episodes via legal means) but since BBC America posted this video, I suppose it's all right to share:

Overall, a great and satisfying finale, and worth watching more than once (you really should, because I was confused out of my mind after the first time I watched it). Makes me excited for the upcoming Anniversary Special (which will clearly be "Part 2" of this story, as I mentioned at the beginning), and what it might reveal. Especially about this mysterious "John Hurt Doctor" (who has since been revealed to be a Doctor between 8 and 9).

This episode is more poignant now, actually, because, as you may have heard, Matt Smith is leaving the show. Given that the next two episodes he'll be in are both specials - the 50th Anniversary Special and the 2013 Christmas Special - "The Name of the Doctor" is his last normal episode as The Doctor. And what an episode to end his career as The Doctor on. Well, in terms of normal episodes I mean, ones that aren't specials. I mean, it's a whammy of an episode, so full of drama and suspense and feels, with so many well-written scenes - and Matt Smith pulls it off brilliantly. As our local sportscaster Jerry Coleman likes to say, "You can hang a star on that one, baby!"

Steven Moffat wrote this episode, as I mentioned before that he would. I'm glad he handed off "The Crimson Horror" to Mark Gatiss so he could focus on "The Bells of Saint John" and this episode. The two connect in several ways (the famous "I don't know where I am" line pops up again, for one). And like I said, there are many well-written scenes in here -- which is why I think I included so many quotes. The dialogue really speaks for itself here. (No pun intended). Moffat has done himself proud on this episode for sure.

So...finally, after long last...I have completed this analysis. Which has been months in the writing, because I started it then kinda abandoned it halfway through. My bad. (If the post sounds disjointed, this is why). Anyway, enjoy it now that it is done. Fantastic, Allons-y, Geronimo!

My next new episode to analyze will be the Anniversary Special, obviously, but I won't be idle. I still have Series 3-6 of New Who to catch up on -- which I want to do by the anniversary -- plus I have some Classic Who episode posts yet to write, and will likely write more as time goes by. So as I watch those, I will post analyses of them. Once I get caught up with New Who, I will focus on Classic Who catchup and on the new episodes yet to come -- the 50th Anniversary Special, the 2013 Christmas Special, and the upcoming Series 8, starring Jenna-Louise Coleman (or rather, Jenna Coleman, as she goes by now) as Clara Oswald alongside the as-yet-unannounced Twelfth Doctor, which according to BBC One, is coming next year:

Till next time!

Doctor Who pictures from GRANDECAPS. Quotes from The Doctor Who Transcripts.

1 comment:

  1. Two comments, and a question if you are willing to discuss: First, thanks for all you write, these are fun to read. Second, I think River was inside the tomb with the Doctor and Clara, up from the bowels, and only the latter two came out and shut the door behind them to face those whisper men outside. OR, and here is the question...is there something fishy going on with River inside the Tardis post-library, overall? Can her appearance in the conference call, her presence in and near the Tardis...can it all be explained by "someone" uploading River to the Tardis "computer bank"...to save her, because he cannot let her go? (She indeed should have faded by the end of "The Name of the Doctor"--of course he sees her, because he has been contemplating doing exactly what he sees played out on Trenzalore.) I am excited to think that she can travel through time and space with help from the Tardis (ex. into dreams, projecting her image outside as in the episode "Hide" with the snarky Clara interface, remember that?). River would be with him for as long as he has the Tardis, no longer hampered by a physical body (though plastic is always an option). Thoughts?



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