So far series seven of Doctor Who has been a series of ups and downs, with some of the shakiest episodes since the show returned. However, the final episode ‘The Name of the Doctor’ comes along and delivers what was one of the most amazing episodes to watch in a very, very long time. An episode that makes it feel like a celebration of the 50th Anniversary already and stunningly sets the stage for the 50th Anniversary Special in November.
‘The Name of the Doctor’, whilst an amazing episode in its own right, is nothing more than set up for the special, but when the quality was that good who cares? So full of nostalgic look backs on the history of the show giving us clips and sound bites of previous Doctors and references galore it services long term fans in such without alienating the new.
|Right back to the beginning.|
Okay, the episode wasn’t perfect, their were things that didn’t quite make sense and a couple of Strax lines that ended up feeling forced and detrimental to what was happening but these faults couldn’t take away from those other moments that made this the best episode since the show returned with Christopher Eccleston way back in 2005.
The episode begins with an amazing pre-credits scene that goes a little towards explaining who and what Clara is without revealing all too early and is sure to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand on end. After that it takes us a while before we see the Doctor, but the slow build to his arrival, the set up of the central mystery and threat and ramping of tension makes this first section jump out of the screen with energy. It also provides us with what is only the first of many moments of heartbreak as poor Jenny Flint comes to the realisation that she’s been killed during the groups ‘psychic call’.
|The Great Intelligence and the creepy Whispermen.|
From here on out the heartache doesn’t stop and we get to see some of the absolute best acting that Matt Smith has ever been given during his tenure on the show. The moment he realises what Trenzalore is and that he has to go there is one of the most frightening, not because of any kind of monster or threat but because we see the Doctor afraid, truly terrified to the point of tears.
River Song is also used wonderfully well throughout the episode, unable to interact with anyone but Clara she’s reduced to a ghost, which is appropriate as this is the River from after her death in ‘Silence in the Library’. The moment when the Doctor and her say goodbye is so tender and so sad that it will guarantee to make even the hardest of fans cry. We get to see that despite their strange start the Doctor and River really do love each other, and that her loss has deeply affected the Doctor. With her final line in the episode ‘Goodbye sweetie’ and this being the latest version of River leads me to think that this is probably the last time that we will be seeing her. It is a shame if that is true as I love her character, but this feels like the perfect ending to her and the Doctors story.
|A goodbye to River?|
After all of the spectacle and wonder of the rest of the episode Moffat had a hell of a task giving us the spectacular ending he promised, boy did he deliver. The slow reveal of Doctor we had not yet seen, the man whose actions mean he does not deserve to use the name Doctor was so stunning and sets up so perfectly for the upcoming special.
|Roll on November!|
Despite not revealing the Doctors name (something which I am grateful for) Moffat has set up such an intriguing mystery that the wait to November is going to be one of the toughest six months. An amazing episode that made up for the fairly lack lustre series so far and left me shocked, stunned and in tears. 10/10.
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