The Doctor has many secrets, but not the least of them is his real name. Other than The Master and other Gallifreyans, few folks are aware of it. River Song knows it, and she’s back in tonight’s season finale. Will we at last learn “The Name of The Doctor”? Find out in my review, after the jump…
Did you hear that “squeeeee”? Yeah, that was me watching the pre-credit sequence of this episode. We see The First Doctor, yeah baby, William Hartnell, and his granddaughter stealing a faulty TARDIS on Gallifrey… before being stopped by Clara Oswald. Then it gets better.
Her voiceover claims she was made to save The Doctor, and then encounters the Colin Baker version, Tom Baker, then Sylvester McCoy, Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton, Peter Davison, then finally Matt Smith, then the other shoe drops.
She says she entered the world on a leaf, the leaf that caused her parents to meet, fall in love, and have her. She’s the Impossible Girl who was born to save The Doctor. Roll credits. If the rest of the episode holds up to the opening, Steven Moffat, you are The Man.
Through the magic of dreams, ‘where time travel has always been possible,’ several old friends return in a magical unconscious conference call. Among them are Madam Vastra, Jenny, and Commander Strax (where’s our spin-off??!), as well as Professor River Song and Clara Oswald.
A murderer has traded his life for a secret to Vastra, one of The Doctor’s secrets. Unfortunately, new monsters, called The Whisper Men, attack the conference call and capture our Victorian London trio. Once again, Moffet has created couchworthy monsters.
Clara returns to The Doctor, relates the tale of a secret The Doctor will take to the grave, that is discovered, and of the place called Trenzalore. It upsets him greatly. Of course he’s upset. When you’re a time traveller, there is one place you must never go. Trenzalore is where The Doctor’s grave is. Whoa.
Hard to get there, as the TARDIS refuses to go, but eventually The Doctor and Clara arrive on Trenzalore. There, surprise surprise, the villain of the second half of season seven reveals himself, Dr. Simian, possessed by the Great Intelligence. He’s holding Vastra, Jenny, and Strax captive in the tomb of The Doctor.
Once inside the tomb, which is the TARDIS of course, albeit super-sized because all the paradoxes that make it bigger on the inside are broken, they encounter The Doctor’s corpse. It’s not a body, but an energy signature of all his trips through time, an open wound in the fabric of time itself.
The Great Intelligence, in a bid to destroy The Doctor once and for all, enters the wound, destroying all of The Doctors all at once, reversing all of his victories into defeats, and erasing The Doctor from history. If you’re following along, you know what happens next.
Yeah, enter the Impossible Girl. She counteracts the Great Intelligence at every turn, saving The Doctor as we’ve seen her do multiple times in different incarnations – and as we saw in the pre-credits scenes of this very episode.
Just when we thought even in death, River Song gets the short end of the stick, she gets a proper goodbye and a hot goodbye kiss, along with a juicy ‘spoilers’ line. Then The Doctor jumps into his own timeline after Clara. Yeah, crazy sumbitch thinks he’s going to save her.
That’s when things get bad. While The Doctor is looking for her, she keeps seeing ghosts of old Doctors. These visions, as well as those in the beginning, including colorized versions of the first two, are very well done by the way.
The Doctor finds her, inside his own time stream, haunted by ghosts of the past and the future. That’s when they encounter John Hurt, credited as The Doctor, and whom Matt Smith names as not acting in the name of The Doctor. Could this be another evil future incarnation of The Doctor, like The Valeyard referenced earlier this episode? Or could it be the incarnation who performed unspeakable acts in the Time War? Time will tell.
The Doctor (perhaps several different ones) returns in November for the big 50th anniversary, and hopefully some answers… And if you can’t wait until then, you could always go see Star Trek. What’s that you say? You missed Noel (Mickey Smith) Clarke in Star Trek Into Darkness? You better get to the theater and see him, great flick!