The Ninjabot

Doctor Who – “The Name of the Doctor” Review

Posted on May 20, 2013 at 7:29 pm by Amanda Andonian

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After half a season, we finally get some decent pay off where Clara Oswald is concerned, in addition to the return of an old friend who gets a well-deserved goodbye. “The Name of the Doctor” starts off strong and continues to deliver throughout the entire episode. Since a proper review will require discussing some major spoilers, stop reading now if you want to remain spoiler-free. To help you out, I’m even putting my score for the episode up top.

My Score: A

FINAL SPOILER WARNING — CONTINUE IF YOU DARE!

Ever since “Asylum of the Daleks,” we were left wondering just who Clara “Oswin” Oswald actually is. The mystery of her appearances and deaths throughout time has plagued the Doctor, and I felt that the final resolution did justice to Clara’s overarching storyline. We begin with a montage of Clara traveling through time and space, encountering every single Doctor from the first day that he stole the Tardis. How does she do this, you ask? It all starts with a conference call.

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I’ll miss you River!

Once again, we visit Madame Vastra and her companion Jenny, who have come across a raving murder who claims to know something of the Doctor’s secrets. “The Doctor has a secret he will take the grave. It is discovered,” the man tells Vastra, forcing her to call an emergency “conference call” (essentially some kind of dream trance) of the Doctor’s friends. Clara is invited, as well as River Song, finally returning after the disappearance of her parents! Their meeting sets off a chain of events that results in Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax kidnapped with only Clara and the Doctor left free to save them.

When Clara tells the Doctor what happened, he knows immediately that he needs to go to Trenzalore: the resting place of every time traveler in the universe. Unfortunately, the first thing all time travelers learn is that they can never, ever go to Trenzalore because crossing their own time stream so directly has dire consequences. Of course, the Doctor could just refuse to go to Trenzalore, but if there’s anything that we know of him, it’s that he cannot let his friends suffer if there’s anything he can do to save them.

Kidnapping Vastra et al., the baddies of the episode are creepily reminiscent of the Silence, which had me guessing that those guys were somehow back to wreak havoc again. In fact, it’s the Great Intelligence, who’s determined to put a stop to the Doctor’s travels through time by forcing him to visit his own tomb. Although the Great Intellience isn’t wholly wrong in accusing the Doctor of causing great harm to living beings in the universe, namely annihilating races like the Daleks and the Cybermen, he also isn’t entirely right. Those choices the Doctor made when destroying violent races were made in order to save others and attempt to heal the universe–thus his choice in donning the name of “Doctor.”

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Scary lightening!

Inside the tomb, the Great Intelligence gains access to the Doctor’s entire time stream, going back to destroy every iteration of the Doctor from the beginning of time. As the universe starts unravelling around them, Clara realizes, “I was born to save the Doctor,” and she heads into the Doctor’s timeline herself in order to put right everything that the Great Intelligence tried to destroy. Although the Doctor never sees her except for a few rare times, Clara is always there, saving him even when he doesn’t know it.

Throughout the episode, River Song is with Clara through some kind of mind link that was initiated by the “conference call” from earlier on. Counseling Clara because she believes that the Doctor cannot hear her, River guides them through the confrontation with the Great Intelligence. Eventually, we realize that this is no longer the River we left in “The Angels Take Manhattan”–rather this is the echo of River left when the Doctor uploaded her dying consciousness to the great library. She’s been following the Doctor for ages, unable to say goodbye to him because he can’t stand the thought of letting her go. Their final goodbye to each other is probably the best and truest moment between the two characters, and it had me in tears from start to finish.

the-name-of-the-doctorIn the end, Clara saves the Doctor, and he finally saves her for good and all as well. However, even as we learn Clara’s purpose, we’re left with yet another mystery. As the Doctor reaches into his own timeline to pluck Clara out, he encounters one more personal demon that we’ve been unaware of up til now. It’s another Doctor–one we haven’t met–who strikes dread and anger into the heart of the 11th Doctor. Clearly, Stephen Moffat & Co. are gearing up for something truly dire, and they’re presenting us with a whole new iteration of our favorite Timelord. I cannot express how excited I am about what Doctor Who may have in store for us next. Although I’ve felt that this season was just one disappointment after another, this cliffhanger gives me new hope that the show has big things to deliver soon.

We can only wait now for the 50th Anniversary special to see whether all our questions are answered, or whether we have to wait in anticipation for next season. What did everyone think of the final episode of season 7? Did you think it delivered a satisfying ending to Clara’s myriad lives? And what about this new Doctor? What did he do that has the 11th Doctor so fearful? Speculate away in the comments!

Doctor Who: Season 7 Episode 13, “The Name of the Doctor” aired May 18th, 2013 on BBC America.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516.

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