Summary – spoilers from the start
I had to wait to until the morning after the airing to watch week’s finale episode. I avoided online news, twitter and Facebook to make sure it wasn’t spoiled for me, and thank god I did. This episode was almost perfect and had two stonking reveals; the solving of Clara’s ‘impossible girl’ mystery and the introduction of John Hurt as the Doctor.
I may have avoided spoilers for the episode but I did look at information about John Hurt and the 50th anniversary afterwards. There are leaks that look like they explain who Hurt is and the secrets he represents. I’m not going to talk about them here but if want to find out more, here is a link.
Recap – huge spoilers
This week’s opening really was for the true TARDIS-blue Whovians. It began in a workshop with an alarm sounding. One of the workmen (Work-Lords?) asked the very sensible question “What kind of idiot would try and steal a faulty TARDIS?” The first Doctor and his niece Susan of course! We panned out to see Gallifrey ‘a very long time ago’ and were then treated to a fast and furious journey of Clara trying to interact with the previous incarnations of the Doctor. This as intersected with her falling down a fiery tunnel and explaining “I’m breaking into a million pieces and I know only one thing, that I have to save the Doctor”.
After the credits, we saw Madame Vastra find out something intriguing about the Doctor from a murderer and then call a ‘conference call’ with Jenny, Straxx, Clara and Riversong. The conference was held within Vastra’s dream with people participating from across time and space. Before Riversong has time to explain the murderer’s words, they were attacked by the Great Intelligence (Richard E Grant) with his ‘The Whisper Men’, and Jenny is killed. The Great Intelligence tells them he wants the Doctor to go to Trenzalore and he is keeping the trio hostage until he does.
Clara woke and told the Doctor about the conference. He explained that Trenzalore must be his grave and it is somewhere that he, as a time traveller, must never go. But of course, he went anyway. Once on Transalor they saw a gigantic TARDIS from the future, the Doctor’s tomb. Unseen by the Doctor, Riversong then appeared to Clara and revealed a secret entrance to the tomb.
Outside the TARDIS-tomb, Straxx restarted Jenny’s heart before the Great Intelligence and his Whisper Men turned up. Underneath the tomb, Clara’s memories of when the Doctor explained his ‘impossible girl’ mystery returned to her before they reached the entrance to see the Great Intelligence waiting for them. He wanted entry to the tomb but needed the to Doctor to speak his real name as the password. Within the tomb we saw the wasted future console room with the Doctor’s ‘scare-tissue’ suspended as glowing blue energy in the centre. The Great Intelligence entered the ‘wound’ in the universe to rewrite the Doctor’s entire timeline and ‘turn his victories into defeats’.
Clara then figured out the source of her ‘impossible girl’ nature and entered the wound to save the Doctor. We saw an expanded repeat of the start of the episode including Clara advising the Doctor on which TARDIS to take. Back in the TARDIS-tomb, we saw that Clara’s action had saved them all and then the Doctor revealed that he has always been able to see and hear the echo of Riversong. After they kissed the Doctor entered his own timestream to save Clara.
Before the Doctor pulls her out, Clara spotted a figure who is a previous incarnation of the Doctor that she did not recognise. The Doctor reveals that the figure a regeneration who broke the promise that comes with the name ‘The Doctor’.
Clara then conveniently passed out before the figure turned around and said “I did what I did, without choice, in the name of peace and sanity” and the Doctor retorted “But not in the name of the Doctor.” The figure was then revealed to be John Hurt and “Introducing John Hurt as The Doctor” was stamped across the screen.
Only two small flaws this week: 1) The terrible digital placements of Clara into old episodes felt like they were done by an A-Level student. How bad they were distracted from the fun of seeing her dotted throughout the Doctor’s past. 2) The souffle and leaf references felt very forced. I understand why Moffat had them in there but maybe they could have less corny.
The funny parts – This episode was full of laughs, mainly coming from Straxx. Our favourite Sontaran was on top form and the highlight was his bar fight in Glasgow – a place where he now goes when he has some time off so he can spend it with the ‘pleasant primitives’.
The mystery – the explanation of why Clara was the ‘impossible girl’ was surprisingly satisfying. Ignoring the souffle references, her entrance into the Doctor’s timestream to try and all of his incarnations was exciting, made sense (enough for Doctor Who anyway) and left enough unsolved for us to still find Clara interesting i.e. why was Clara lurking in the depths of the TARDIS as a lava-zombie in episode 10?
The shock – the appearance of John Hurt in the show as the Doctor was kept impressively quiet and took me by complete surprise. It was the perfect set up for the 50th anniversary episode that comes out in November. Which takes me on to…
We will have to wait a little while to see the trailer for this episode but so far we know that David Tennant, Billie Piper, John Hurt and Jemma Redgrave will all star and that we will see Daleks, Cybermen and Zygons. It will be shown in both 2D and 3D and will also air in cinemas across the UK and the US. It is not yet known when the tickets will go on sale, but when they do they will be the hottest geek-gold in the Universe. Expect a tough race against your fellow Whovians – it will be bloody.