Greetings beloved intrepid troops!
A special greeting as well to all you fellow Whovians!
Tonight I just got done watching two fantastic episodes starring the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith. In this article I will briefly review ‘The Name of the Doctor’ and ‘The Day of the Doctor.’
The Name of the Doctor
In this stellar episode, we witness the dramatic hidden secret of the Doctor: his hidden identity.
The episode begins with a ‘conference call’ initiated by Paternoster Gang. In this ‘call’ Clara and the gang meets River Song. River has been summoned in regards to the ‘Doctor’s secret.’ The interaction between River Song and Clara gets a little awkward. Before much can be revealed the call is interrupted by mysterious faceless creatures.
Clara awakens back in England and finds The Doctor. The two make for the kitchen where Clara asks the Doctor about River Song and the secret. The tone in this scene changes dramatically; mere moments ago, the Doctor was being wacky and there was no music, but his mood changes and the music plays a heavy somber remix of the Gallifrey theme in the fourth season.
‘And it was definitely Trenzalore?’ he asked. The Doctor’s eyes water and he chokes back sniffles and sobs before excusing himself. The grief and pain in his eyes broke my heart. It pained me to see the happy Doctor in such sorrow.
The Doctor reveals to Clara that Trenzalore is where he is buried. Despite emphasizing he should never go there the Doctor tells Clara he must go to save his friends. At this point it is safe to assume they have been kidnapped and taken there by the faceless ones. Clara bravely supports his decision.
When the duo arrives at the smoldering planet they find a large graveyard. In this dark cemetery, they find a bloated decaying Tardis and River Song’s tombstone. River Song herself appears as a projection to Clara and guides them out of harm’s way.
Once Clara and the Doctor arrive at the Tardis they find The Great Intelligence is behind the whole plot and holds the Doctor’s friends to ransom. The Great Intelligence demands the Doctor say his name to open the door. A heart-stopping scene of torture and anxiety follows before the doors crack open. River, having been an incorporeal ghost spoke the word to open the doors. Unfortunately, neither the Doctor nor we the audience get to hear it.
Once inside, the Great Intelligence pulls off one of the most heinous schemes a Dr. Who villain has ever dreamed up. Having found the Doctor’s Time Stream, he enters it to kill the Doctor at every point in time simultaneously. This tortures the Doctor and begins to erase reality. Clara realizing that she has been in other parts of history before decides to enter the Time Stream to stop the Doctor from dying.
The Doctor bids River Song a romantic and deserving farewell before entering his own Time Stream to save Clara. River disappears from existence, a fact that hit me like a hammer to the chest, and the Doctor saves Clara. Clara passes out (from the strain I’m guessing) but before she does she notices a shadowy figure looking away from them. ‘Who is that?’ she asks to which the Doctor summarily describes him. He is the Doctor’s secret; ‘the one who broke the promise.’
How he got out of his own Time Stream without damaging time or himself, which baffles me. But, you can never apply too much logic to Dr. Who.
This episode was very moving and had me gripping my pillow out of sheer anxiety. The ending was bittersweet with River Song forever fading away and the Doctor restoring things to normal. How I wished that River Song and the Doctor could have had more episodes together to develop as a couple and show us the Doctor’s true feelings toward her. In this episode, we learn that he truly loved her and did not want her to ever leave him. Sadly, this reality only comes into play after he has ignored for so long and it is her time to say goodbye.
I loved this episode. It earns a well-deserved 8.9 rating.
The Day of the Doctor
Where do I begin!
This episode was phenomenal!
The story opens with Clara and the Doctor meeting up in grand fashion: Clara rides her motorcycle into the Tardis and a helicopter flies the big blue box over London with the Doctor hanging from it!
The Doctor meets up with the head of U.N.I.T. and looks at their swanky art gallery. Within this fancy gallery we get flashbacks to both the War Doctor (played by John Hurt) and the Tenth Doctor (played by David Tennant).
The War Doctor, on the last day of the Time War shoots up a wall in Gallifrey carving the words ‘No More.’ Once he has finished smashing a few Daleks he steals a Gallifreyan weapon known as ‘The Moment.’ The War Doctor treads across an abandoned plain and sets the weapon on the ground, turning it on.
In a fit of despair the War Doctor has decided that the only way to end the Time War is to destroy both the Daleks and the Time Lords in one fell swoop. The Moment, being conscious, initiates it’s A.I. interface. Thankfully, this interface is played by the lovely Billie Piper (famous for portraying Rose Tyler in seasons 1-4). The Moment questions the War Doctor about his decision to which he resigns to die with everyone as part of his punishment.
Before the War Doctor can go through with this sad affair he is interrupted by a large vortex, which appears above him. The vortex spits out a small red fez. Simultaneously a vortex appears in London with the Eleventh Doctor, Clara and Kate Lethbridge-Stewart watching. The Doctor gleefully throws his fez into it. His fez lands in England in 1562 where the Tenth Doctor is having trouble differentiating between Queen Elizabeth I and a shape-shifting alien.
The Eleventh Doctor, followed by the War Doctor, enter the vortex and appear before Tenth. After many quips and much banter the three Doctors are taken by the Queen’s men into the Tower. There the three of them struggle to put all the pieces together and simultaneously escape the Tower. Before long the War Doctor begins asking his two cellmates about Gallifrey. To both the War Doctor’s and the Tenth’s disgust, Eleven cannot remember the amount of Gallifreyan children murdered that day. The Moment, who has been speaking to the War Doctor this whole time, tells him that his decision created these two Doctors: ‘the one that regrets and the one that forgets.’
That line gets me. I never thought of the two Doctor’s that way before. It really made me realize that one of Eleven’s charms is also his major flaw; his inability to deal with pain. Eleven runs from his pain and chooses to ‘move on.’ He did it when it came to avoiding his death in season six, and he did it again after Amy and Rory were forever taken from him. Ten, by contrast, carried his pain and loss around with him.
Eventually the three Doctors work together to realize that their combined experience and combined time-streams can help them escape the cell. As soon as the three put together a genius plan of escaping Clara easily opens the door. Further raining on their parade is the revelation that the door was unlocked this entire time. Further simplifying the plot is the fact the Queen Elizabeth I reveals she has fooled the shapeshifting Zygons into believing she is the shapeshifter. She explains that using Gallifreyan technology the Zygons have used pictures in time to stay in suspended animation. Once they so choose they can emerge from their stasis and take over the world. The Queen reveals she killed her alien double. She kisses Ten and marries him. Clara joyfully showers them with rice. The gang then leave in Ten’s Tardis for the year 2013 where the Zygons emerged from their stasis.
The Zygons having taken over the Black Archives seek to take over the Earth with U.N.I.T.S. weapons. Kate Lethbridge-Stewart returns and she locks the bunker and arms a nuclear warhead under it. The Zygon double is terrified but unable to flee. After some time jumping and special effects the three Doctors emerge from a stasis cube in time to stop the nuke. Ten and Eleven make the aliens and humans forget who they are, which causes them to agree to disarm the nuke.
Once this conflict is resolved the War Doctor, pleased, aims to finish what he started. Clara talks with him and says he looks younger than Eleven. Returning to Gallifrey (by means I don’t know), the War Doctor has the Moment armed and ready to detonate. He pledges to destroy Gallifrey and take all the blame so that his future selves, which have inspired him, can be exonerated while he alone takes the blame. ‘Great men are forged in fire’ he utters. ‘it is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.’ (If he destroys Gallifrey with himself on it wouldn’t it wipe him out and thus erase his future selves??)
Nonetheless, the two Doctors and Clara show up simultaneously. Feeling sorry for the War Doctor, both Ten and Eleven decide to set the weapon off with him. This deeply saddens Clara. She is beside herself when ‘her’ Doctor (Eleven), known for his kindness and cheery heart, will be the destroyer of billions. This moves Eleven’s heart and the Moment shows them a projection of all the lives that will end if the Moment is detonated.
Eleven, seized with remorse and hope decides to think up another alternative. Together the three Doctors decide to put their heads together and come up with a solution. The three decide to make Gallifrey disappear from the Universe which will protect it and simultaneously cause the Daleks to destroy each other. (They didn’t want to save the Daleks? I thought he wanted to save ALL life.)
Bringing in all thirteen Doctors, the gang manages to make Gallifrey disappear, which destroys the Dalek fleet in the process. For me, this scene depicting all the Doctors unite is one of the most memorable scenes, if not the most in my history of watching Doctor Who.
The three Doctors and Clara return to the museum where they say their farewells. Unfortunately, both the War Doctor and Ten will forget they saved Gallifrey; meaning only Eleven has that knowledge. Eleven is greeted by the Curator (played by Tom Baker) who encourages Eleven to go look for Gallifrey. Renewed with hope and purpose, Eleven sets out to find his way home, no longer running.
This was an amazing episode and an excellent movie. Out of all the movies I’ve seen this year ‘The Day of the Doctor’ earns its place in my top five. ‘The Day of the Doctor’ is packed with energy, excitement, intrigue and driven by its multifaceted characters.
Matt Smith conveys Eleven’s emotions well: charm, fear, compassion and hope all near the tail end of his tenure. This is impressive for Smith especially considering how close he is to the end of his tenure as the Doctor. Rather than phone-in his deliveries he delivers them with as much power and sincerity as though he were just beginning his role as the Time Lord.
Tennant’s presence is a huge boon; he lends to the story by his quirkiness and tenacity. He reminds us that the Doctor still carries the pain of the death of Gallifrey always. This fact was largely repressed by Smith.
Also, not to be ignored is John Hurt’s portrayal of the War Doctor; he is beleaguered, worn out from war and seeking absolution for his weary soul. When Ten and Eleven appear to help, him detonate The Moment they console him by telling him he doesn’t have to do it alone. The way in which Hurt utters the words ‘thank you’ touches my heart. You can hear the overwhelming sorrow in his voice only slightly relieved by their compassion. Hurt captures the emotions of a broken, ashamed and remorseful man brilliantly.
Also, key to this story is Jenna Louise Coleman’s role. As a human character following the Doctor she injects emotion, realism and hope to the otherworldly trio. The look of despair on her face when she realizes Eleven will set off the weapon tore at my heart. Her faith in him is shattered at that point, and it can be heard through the screen with just her face telling the story. It is her shattered faith that moves Eleven to think up another way. In this vein the Impossible Girl really does stake an important role in the Doctor’s never-ending saga.
The action and special effects were quite good too. Thankfully the special effects department gave us a dark and fiery image of Gallifrey not hampered by silly costumes and ridiculous monsters.
Furthermore, witty dialogue and strong character development bound this tale together. This is evident in the dialogue between the Doctors, Clara and the Moment. Even Queen Elizabeth and Kate Lethbridge-Stewart were given good lines.
This is one of the finest movies I have ever seen and one of the finest stories I’ve had the privilege to follow. ‘The Day of the Doctor’ earns a coveted 9.3 rating. I highly recommend you watch ‘The Day of the Doctor’ even if you aren’t a Whovian fan.