It’s been a long, long wait, but the Series 7 finale of Doctor Who is finally here, and it brings a whole bunch of answers and even more questions. Lots of things happened at once, and the episode just flew by rather quickly, leading up to one heck of a cliffhanger. It felt like a roller coaster ride with new information thrown at you every 2 minutes, with barely a moment to catch your breath and process it. And frankly, it was brilliant.
If you’re like me, the opening sequence caught you completely by surprise. We got to see Gallifrey again and it was amazing, with Murray Gold’s brilliant score in the background. They incorporated Clara digitally into the footage of all the past Doctors spectacularly. It seemed as legitimate as it could be and it was very impressive. This is the kind of thing I expected for the 50th special, but now that they’ve already done it, can we expect even better?
The weakest part of the episode was no doubt the villains, the creepy Whispermen. I don’t see how they could’ve done more given everything else that was going on, yet I wish they did as they seemed like great villains. Hopefully we’ll see them again soon as they have the potential to be great. Then again, that’s what we said about the Silents and we haven’t seen them back yet. For the 50th, hopefully?
The Great Intelligence was a welcome return, played by the wonderful Richard E. Grant, and even though it didn’t have as big an impact as I expected in the end, its story resolved itself pretty well. The whole arc involving the Great Intelligence came together and made sense, and we now know why it was in The Bells of Saint John. The way it was set up there, we assumed it was linear, but of course,, we can trust Moffat to show us it isn’t so. It seems weird now to think that he was the big bad, when in fact he was just a small part of the larger story at play.
Also returning was Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax. As always, Strax was a great source of comedy, I especially loved that he spends his weekends in Glasgow. Madame Vastra and Jenny were also on fine form, with Jenny especially getting a great scene when she tells everyone that she’s murdered (even though she’s brought back to life by Strax later on). The three set in motion the rest of the episode when they invite Clara and River Song through the dream state, because apparently you can travel through time in dreams.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen River, but it’s great to have her around. She’s much better in little doses. It seems this was River after she died in the library, which sort of explains how she made it into the dream-state, since she’s already living in a similar world as a backup of her original self. Truth be told, I was a bit confused about her. It seemed like it’s the last time we’ll see her. I had hoped we’d see her with the Doctor before she left for the library, but I guess not.
Of course, it can still happen. She got a proper goodbye from the Doctor and attained closure since the events at the library, and she likely won’t see him again. The Doctor on the other hand may still run into her in the future. I’m especially hoping we see how she finds out his name. Unless of course it’s just because they got married, as that’s what the episode implied.
Usually watching River and the Doctor flirt feels like watching your parents, but this time it wasn’t that bad. If it was indeed a goodbye to River Song, then it was very well done. But I do feel it was placed at an awkward time as the whole thing was overshadowed by what happened in the rest of the episode.
We don’t see the Doctor for 10 minutes into the episode (if you don’t count the opening sequence), and it all adds to the suspense. It’s times likes these I wish the finale was a two-parter. It would have made the finale go at its own pace without having everything happening at once, and we could afford to have the suspense built up with the absence of the Doctor. But I can’t complain because Steven Moffat handled the entire episode so well as it is, and it all fit together.
Once again, I have to mention Murray Gold for his brilliant score. We heard it in the opening scene, but I was really happy to hear “This is Gallifrey” again over the first scene between Clara and the Eleventh Doctor. It musically linked the Tennant era with the current one and reminded us that it was all one big show with the same old Time Lord. The visuals were also amazing, considering how most of the episode was filled with CGI elements.
So turns out Trenzalore isn’t just any old place, it’s where the Doctor’s grave is. A long time ago Moffat had talked about how after traveling through time for so long, you must’ve passed your own grave at some point. Now, he said this around the time of Series 6 and we all assumed he was talking about the Doctor’s fake death in Utah. But of course, he was referring to the end of Series 7. He’s a master troll that Moffat.
The whole place is a battlefield, because it has to be the place of the last battle he faces. It’s not as intense as the Time War, but it’s enough to kill him apparently. Hope that day never comes. His grave is of course in his TARDIS, looking battered and broken.
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