Well, who was expecting that? I review The Name of The Doctor, the season finale of Doctor Who’s 7th Season. Like all the reviews for Doctor Who I’ve written, this review contains spoilers.
Doctor Who: S7x13 – “The Name of the Doctor”
I’ve been going on all Season about how whilst the episodes of Season 7 have been at best entertaining, there isn’t anything here that you’d fit in your Top 5, or even Top 10, unless you were a fan of the Amy and Rory and were awed by their departure, which seemingly managed to prevent several from seeing that it was essentially a medicore episode, that saw the Weeping Angels suffer the same fate as the Daleks before them – they’re just not scary, not a threat anymore.
Thankfully, The Name of the Doctor, like The Wedding of River Song, doesn’t rely on the use of classic monsters/villains that Russel T. Davies seemed to love including in his finales. (The Emperor led-Daleks, the Cult of Skaro-led Daleks & Cybermen, the Master, the Davros-led Daleks, The Time Lords), and introduces a fresh new concept in the Whisperheads. Whilst they’re not as scary as either the Weeping Angels before Angels Take Manhattan or the Silence, they still are a formidable threat to the Doctor – lead by the Great Intelligence (who okay, is a classic villain, but hasn’t been as abused as much in the recent series as the aforementioned A-Listers, the Master being a possible exception.
We were promised two main things going into this episode. The first, that we would find out who Clara is – and that’s true, we find that out that she’s The Impossible Girl – Born to Save the Doctor, in the Pre-Credits sequence alone, and the second, that we have no two-parters in this Season, despite the fact that they were missed. I think, we may have just been given a Two-Parter, because If John Hurt appearing at the end as the Doctor Who was responsible for the death of his own people in the Time War, isn’t a fantastic cliffhanger, then I don’t know what is.
There are several strong elements at play here. We get a Post-Library River Song, Clara gets something to do, and Vastra, Strax and Jenny are back. I think every time they appear I will always insist that they get their own spin-off. How awesome would that be? Or even their own novel/comic series would be nice.
Trenzalore, as first mentioned by Dorian in The Wedding of River Song, turns out to be the Tomb of the Doctor. It kind of makes sense doesn’t it, after all – if you’re a time traveller, as stated in this episode, the one place that you never ever go, is your tomb. And that poses a problem for the Doctor, for his friends are being kidnapped one by one, and taken to the Tomb. I was half expecting a previous companion/Jack Harkness to show up at one point, but of course, the only not really current one that we get is River, whose arc ties up incredibly well with this episode and it makes me wonder if this is her final hurrah.
Of course, there are some questions left unanswered. River mentions she is connected to Clara, leaving with the word, “Spoilers” – suggesting that this quite possibly isn’t her last adventure, and we’ll see Clara interact with a younger River at some point, which will be interesting – as like the Doctor, she knows that River is dead, yet she doesn’t.
There was a lot of fan-service here. We see every single Doctor at some point in this episode, including a memorable scene where Clara informs William Hartnell’s 1st Doctor to change the TARDIS that he steals, taking the malfunctioned one over the one that he was initially going to take. This sort of reminds me of that scene in Firefly’s Out of Gas, where the seller is telling Mal that the ship that he’s trying to sell will stick with him for the rest of his life, but Mal decides to go with another ship, the battered one, Serenity instead.
There are some things that don’t quite work out here. For instance, the scene where Jenny vanishes and Strax reverses to average Sontaran clone is a little bit underwhelming as is the Great Intelligence himself, but that was really the only weak point for me. A particular highlight has to go out to River’s first meeting with Clara, where Clara mentions that she never realised that “Professor Song” was a Woman, to which Strax promptly adds, “Well, neither did I.”
And I gave it a 5 despite the flaws. It’s still the best episode of Season 7, and one of the only episodes so far that I’ve seen that has granted near total reaction of “that was awesome” from most of the reviews, the Twitter feed and incredibly some of the comments on said reviews. Also, it’s not only the best episode of Season 7, it might just be one of my Top 5 episodes of the entire Series since 2005. My list would probably look something like this: Blink, The Name of the Doctor, The Waters of Mars, Dalek and The Doctor’s Wife.
DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7 EPISODE GUIDE – Part 1: S7x01: Asylum of the Daleks, S7x02: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, S7x03: A Town Called Mercy, S7x04: The Power of Three, S7x05: The Angels Take Manhattan CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: The Snowmen PART 2: S7x06: The Bells of Saint John, S7x07: The Rings of Akhaten, S7x08: Cold War, S7x09: Hide, S7x10: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, S7x11: The Crimson Horror, S7x12: Nightmare In Silver, S7x13: The Name of The Doctor