The Name of the Doctor
Original Air Date: May 18, 2013
Maria – Associate Staff Writer
Clara is scattered through time and space, always running to save the Doctor. We see all the regenerations of the Doctor, utilizing old footage or focusing on the outfits of each Doctor. Clara was there for it all, and this week, we will learn how.
In Victorian London, Silurian Vastra has caught a murderer, made mad by the “Whisper Men”. He barters for his life with coordinates in Time and Space for Trenzalore, saying “The Doctor has a secret he will take to the grave. And it is discovered.”
Vastra calls a conference call, taking place on a dream plane. The conference calls consists of Vastra and her wife, Jenny; Strax, who was in Glasgow engaging in some violent recreation; Clara Oswald who read a letter from Vastra in April 2013 which knocked her unconscious; and River Song, who died but had her consciousness saved to The Library. Awesome!
What isn’t awesome is that Jenny forgot to lock the door in the real world. It is a chilling moment when she announces “I think I’ve been murdered.” River realizes Strax, Jenny and Vastra are under attack so she wakes them up with a slap or by throwing champagne in their face. They wake to find the Whisper Men, creepy faceless men in suits, attacking them.
Clara wakes to the sound of the Doctor’s voice, playing Blind Man’s Bluff with Artie and Angie, who took the opportunity to go to the cinema instead. The little daleks. Clara tells the Doctor about the secret he will take to his grave, and it is discovered. She tells him about Trenzalore and the Doctor breaks down in tears. He explains that Trenzalore isn’t his secret. It’s his grave.
The Doctor must go to Trenzalore to save his friends, if it’s still possible. He links Clara’s memory to the TARDIS and gets the co-ordinates, but understandably the TARDIS does not want to go there. He crashes her onto the planet, causing massive damage which will allow the TARDIS interior to have a makeover next season. He’s also cracked a window pane. Oops.
At Trenzalore, there is a massive monument to the TARDIS, but the Doctor explains that it’s not a monument, it’s the actual TARDIS, a future version, complete with the same broken window pane, close to death so the dimension barriers have given out. And that’s where Strax, Jenny and Vastra are.
River calls out to Clara. She kept the line from the conference call open, but only Clara can see or hear her. The Doctor wonders who Clara is talking to and then he notices “River”. He’s seen her grave, but it’s impossible. They would never bury his wife on Trenzalore. River prompts Clara who then prompts the Doctor to realize it’s not a grave, it’s a second entrance to the Doctor’s tomb, just in time since the Whisper Men are coming.
Inside the dying TARDIS, Vastra gets Nurse Strax to revive her wife. Jenny regains consciousness just to be confronted by Doctor Simeon, but she knows Dr. Simeon died. It’s the Great Intelligence. The Whisper Men are also the Great Intelligence, and it wants inside the console room. It’s blocked by a door which can be opened by the Doctor’s name. He orders the Whisper Men to stop the hearts of the Doctor’s friends. The Doctor screams “please” and the door opens.
No, please is not his name. River said his name, but thankfully the TARDIS can still hear her. Inside the console room lies not a body, but a bundle of light and lines. It’s what is left of the Doctor, scar tissue from his travels through time and space, his life exposed like an open wound. The Great Intelligence enters that wound, killing himself in the process, but allowing him to attack the Doctor at every point of his existence.
The Doctor is in agony, all reincarnations are dying at once, and so are the stars and the people the Doctor helped to save. Jenny dies, and Strax goes back to being a villain before vanishing too. Only Vastra remains with her memory intact as she scans the timeline, watching the Doctor die at the Dalek Asylum, in Victorian London killed by Doctor Simeon, and so many more times, simultaneously.
Being inside the dying TARDIS has awoken Clara’s memories. She remembers being told that she saved him all those times, and now she understands. The Great Intelligence gave his life to destroy the Doctor, and Clara realizes she must do the same to save him. She tells the Doctor that if it works, “run you clever boy, and remember me.”
It does work. The stars, Jenny and Strax are restored, as is the Doctor, but he knows Clara is lost in his timestream, and will die like the Great Intelligence unless he guides her back out. River warns him not go, he can’t enter his own stream, but she’s just an echo of herself. Except the Doctor can hear her.
The Doctor always hears and sees River, even though she’s dead. The only reason he never spoke to her was because it would hurt. It hurts to love a dead person, and River is dead but she refuses to fade because she hasn’t said goodbye. They kiss goodbye in a most spectacular way, before the Doctor realizes nobody else can see her. I was giggling through my tears. River points out another thing before she leaves. She’s connected to Clara via the conference call. Clara must still be alive, or River would have faded long ago.
So the Doctor enters his own time stream to pull Clara out. Clara is so lost. She has done her duty but she can no longer remember herself. So the Doctor sends her the leaf, the leaf which Clara kept all those years, the leaf which brought together her mum and dad, the leaf which saved the day in The Rings of Akhaten. It reminds her who she is, and gives her the strength to stumble to the Doctor. The moment The Doctor has her should be a celebratory one, but there is a man in the Doctor’s time stream.
Clara has seen all the Doctor’s eleven faces, but she had never seen that man before. The Doctor acknowledges that that man is himself, it’s only him here, but that man isn’t The Doctor. That man insists he did what he has to do, in the name of peace and sanity. But, as the Doctor insists, not in the name of The Doctor. This man did something so bad, he had to renounce his name and has been disowned by all other reincarnations. We don’t know who he is yet, but we know he’s played by John Hurt!
What a splendid season finale. It made me laugh, it made me cry. It wrapped up some questions whilst asking new ones. It resolved the identity of Clara Oswin, an ordinary girl who did an extraordinary thing to save the Doctor; it showed us what happened on the Fields of Trenzalore and it provided some much needed closure between River Song and the Doctor, between husband and wife.
Who do you think John Hurt’s Doctor is, and what do you think he’s done to deserve such treatment? Do you think there’s more to Clara and River’s bond than meets the eye? What are the moments that made you laugh or cry during this episode? Please, leave a comment with your TwoCents on this packed finale.