My review for the latest episode, the finale, of Dr. Who – series 32 [or series 6 depending on which Who you believe], episode 13 – has been a long time coming because I wasn’t entirely sure about it.
At first I was underwhelmed; on second viewing, I was endeared; and now, on third viewing, it was all of the above and the two things it wasn’t before – heart-warming and entertaining.
“Fixed points in time can be changed.”
“No they can’t! Who told you that?!” (The continuity stuffs)
The reason I’ve left the clause within a clause in my first sentence is because, not only does Moffat keep telling us that he lies and The Doctor lies but, it’s a question of where you sit in the Whoniverse as to whether or not you’ll like both this episode and what Steven Moffat is doing with his tenancy.
In short, the long game.
Yes, this review is thus far full of contradictions much like that last sentence, references itself and comments on said reference…a lot. Like then. Did I mention that it likes referencing itself?
So too does Moffat and so too will you like Moffat’s New Who if you’re a fan of the old series of Doctor Who…mostly.
If you’re only a fan of the RTD era, this finale will put you off quicker than a human sized fish giving you a lapdance – no, not the sexy mermaid fish kind; the “I’m a mansized trout, my head is as big as your chest due to my messed up anatomy and my lack of proper legs means a lapdance is more of a wet patch waggle” kind.
Moffat’s playing the long game by not only putting questions in at the start which won’t be answered until the end but also planting something into the mainstream that has been on the fringes of the unconcerned Whoniverse for some time: namely, naming.
As he’s now opened an old can of worms as to what the Doctor’s name is, he’s making his mark on Doctor Who by making the name itself into something BIG BAD & UGLY –
“Suppose there was a man who knew a secret – a terrible, dangerous secret – that must never be told. How would you erase that secret from the world, destroy it forever, before it can be spoken?”
I wish he wouldn’t.
Partly because I’ve my own designs on the damn thing but also because he’s either got to make it harmless by having The Doctor lie about it for the entirety of the next season ONLY TO REVEAL *dum dum dummmm* it’s harmless [it is at this point that squibs would drop from the sky and Moffat would receive a shit-ton of wet-fish in the post]or that it will NEVER be revealed or he’s made the Doctor’s name into a big bad Timelord secret – unless he’s made it into a secret that undoes and resolves the Time War, not good.
“Why is this so ‘not good’?” It traps all other writers before and after him. We’re left with a ‘fixed time point’ (to use the now overly used phrase) that can be neither escaped nor ignored. This revelation or lack thereof on the fields of Trenzalore will mean that anyone with a mind to write anything continuity will now have to consider this as being present in all versions of The Doctor. If you’d like to write a Tom Baker era piece, you can forget that back then The Doctor joked about the shortening of his name.
Though it’s a little frustrating for me as a writer – as a viewer, this was one hell of a way to end a series and especially this episode.
“…the monks they turned on me.”
“Well, yes. They rather did…a bit.”
So, onto the episode itself: not so sure about the ‘other reality’ usage for the second time in as many series finale or the Live Chess; however cool flesh-eating-skulls though; and it was good to see Doriam & Churchill both back with us and back on form; “She said you…were a…Mr Hotty.” Hah; all the lovely little bits made for satisfying set-pieces; yes, even the Teselecta being the get-out clause was a nice nod to the earlier episodes [though the ‘Doctor in a Doctor suit’ didn’t impress much even on third viewing – it just seemed too easy, too slick and too much of an ‘aren’t I clever for hinting at the moon and giving you a stick’ ending.]
That’s all the little bits out the way.
The Silence are the ‘Sentinals of history’, eh? Well well well, didn’t The Timelords once consider themselves as such? Or were they simply the observers? More questions are always welcome.
“…worse, it’s stupid! You embarrass me…”
I know now that my initial problem with this being a series finale wasn’t the Teselecta being the get-out or the alternate time bubble repetition of last series but the lack of a connection to The Doctor at a critical moment of warmth.
I think Matt Smith might have dropped the ball on being so angry at River throughout the ‘beacon’ bit: he had a good opportunity to show his care for River, Amy and Rory by being more sympathetic – [from] “…worse, it’s stupid! You embarrass me…”
“I’ll suffer if I have to kill you –“
“More than every living thing in the universe?”
“River…River, River – why do you have to be this? Melody Pond, your daughter. I hope you’re both proud!”
I think he could have revealed The Doctor’s deep care for River and the universe itself by being moved and upset and relieved by the universe’s care for him and his for it. That way, the episode would have seemed so much more beautiful for those extra minutes it needed after River ‘killed’ him. Ah well.
“On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the 11th – where no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer – a question will be asked; a question that must never ever be answered”
Now it’s all to look forward to – catch you at Christmas.