Doctor Who Season Finale Review: “The Name Of The Doctor” (Series 7, Episode 14)

doctor who name of the doctor

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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Comments (17)

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  1. Chromatiquesays:

    HI – great post, but I don’t understand what you mean when you write “The name was simply to open his own tomb, which contains the time tunnel through which history can be rewritten. And it’s to avoid getting there that the Silence tried to kill the Doctor in Series 6. The Silence were never the main villains like I thought they were. The secret at the center of this episode just happened to come out through the events of this episode, but we’ll get to that soon.”

    I don’t see the connection to the story line which included the Silence? Can you elaborate? Thanks!

    1. Juansays:

      Yes, gladly. Sorry if I wasn’t clear enough.

      The Silence wanted to stop the doctor from ever answering the question that is ‘doctor who?’. but it wasn’t because his name was so dangerous. it is always a secret, but the silence weren’t afraid of his name, they were afraid of him opening his tombstone. because the only way it could be opened was by saying his name. but since river knew the name she opened it for him without him having to say it. they didn’t want it to be opened because his tomb contained his entire history in the time tunnel, which is dangerous because u could go in it and change all of history. All the Silence were trying to do was avoid that from happening. it still happened, but Clara was what saved the day. The real secret that was meant to be revealed in this episode was not his name, but the Doctor at the end of the episode.

      Now I’m purely speculating here because I could be wrong. But it’s all starting to come together and it’s making a bit more sense. Hopefully we’ll get more answers about the silence soon and they’ll be back! Hope that clears it. 🙂

      1. Chromatiquesays:

        Thank you! I understand now – thanks so much for explaining. I hadn’t made the connection. Wow – this really s such a bigger story arc than I ever thought. That’s what makes this the best written show ever!

      2. Juansays:

        Yes, it does seem bigger and more connected. I’m sure there’s a lot more to be learned and revealed. And it is! Thanks! 🙂

  2. Pechesays:

    I loved this episode. I can’t wait to see what happens in the 50th anniversary special now. November is so far away! I sadly wasn’t home to watch the finale tonight because I was on my way home from my shift at DISH when it started. I have the DISH Anywhere app on my iPad though, so I was able to watch it while I was on the bus. It’s really cool being able to use this app to watch live or recorded television wherever I go. It definitely makes my commute a lot more fun.

  3. Chromatiquesays:

    Hi again, Juan. What do you think he meant when the Great Intelligence said to the Doctor “You thwarted me at every turn.” I’ve seen all the episodes, and the GI didn’t feature prominently in any except two. What do you take that to mean, that we as an audience haven’t seen all that has happened between the Doc and the GI? Thanks!

    1. Juansays:

      I think there might’ve been more off-screen, or maybe he just meant those two: In The Snowmen, and the one time in the Classic Series. I think when he went into the time tunnel, that’s how he shows up in the Bells of Saint John.

      So I think this is the order of his appearance:

      The Snowmen—>Classic Series appearance—>Name of the Doctor—>The Bells of Saint John

      Hope that made sense. 🙂

  4. krissays:

    I think he knows who the “new Doctor” is because River told him a long time ago that she knew what every regeneration of the Doctor looked like…Maybe she told him in her book of spoilers…if she is dead, it would be ok to read it now.

    1. Juansays:

      Interesting theory, but then how come Clara did not see him? (agh too many questions!)

      1. krissays:

        she didn’t? she was staring at something (or someone) then passed out.

      2. krissays:

        she didn’t? she was staring at something (or someone) then passed out.

      3. krissays:

        she didn’t? she was staring at something (or someone) then passed out.

      4. Juansays:

        i mean when she went back all through his history, she never went into his. The first time she saw him was right before she passed out.

      5. krissays:

        that’s true, I’m thinking that she didn’t get to him because by the time she got to the current doctor in the time line, it was actually the doctor coming to rescue her…maybe he is the future doctor. I don’t know, a lot of things don’t add up. lets go with my theory that he is a future doctor and the current one knew because of Rivers book, its possible. of course he could be a past one that is hidden on the time line because the doctor is so ashamed of what this past reincarnation did he somehow wiped him out form his line (don’t know how but whatever, its science fiction!) Not sure but I can’t wait to find out.

      6. krissays:

        that’s true, I’m thinking that she didn’t get to him because by the time she got to the current doctor in the time line, it was actually the doctor coming to rescue her…maybe he is the future doctor. I don’t know, a lot of things don’t add up. lets go with my theory that he is a future doctor and the current one knew because of Rivers book, its possible. of course he could be a past one that is hidden on the time line because the doctor is so ashamed of what this past reincarnation did he somehow wiped him out form his line (don’t know how but whatever, its science fiction!) Not sure but I can’t wait to find out.

      7. krissays:

        that’s true, I’m thinking that she didn’t get to him because by the time she got to the current doctor in the time line, it was actually the doctor coming to rescue her…maybe he is the future doctor. I don’t know, a lot of things don’t add up. lets go with my theory that he is a future doctor and the current one knew because of Rivers book, its possible. of course he could be a past one that is hidden on the time line because the doctor is so ashamed of what this past reincarnation did he somehow wiped him out form his line (don’t know how but whatever, its science fiction!) Not sure but I can’t wait to find out.

      8. Juansays:

        can’t wait to find out for sure!

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