Dec 25 2013 10:00pm
Raggedy Man, Goodnight. Doctor Who’s “The Time of the Doctor”

Doctor Who, The Time of the Doctor, Weeping Angel

Another regeneration, another era over. It never gets any easier, does it? I’ll cop to being weepy while I type this, and while I expected that, I didn’t expect why I would feel this way.

So let’s talk about the Fall of the Eleventh.

Spoilers for “The Time of the Doctor” below.

In brief recap, there’s a message coming through on a planet that many races have come to investigate. On arriving, the Doctor finds a town called Christmas and the same reality crack that has been chasing him around the universe since season 5. The question being asked is in Gallifreyan, the Question that the Doctor was previously warned about: Doctor Who? The planet turns out to be Trenzalore, the place where the Doctor saw his grave in “The Name of the Doctor.”

Doctor Who, The Time of the Doctor, Eleven, Clara

It turns out that the Time Lords are on the other side of the crack, waiting for an answer to that question to be certain that this is their universe. If they return, the Time War will begin again because all their enemies are on the other side waiting, so the Doctor is forced to wait there and protect the people of Christmas from those enemies for hundreds of years. He has no regenerations left, and will soon die of old age. In his last stand against the Daleks (the only enemies who stay behind after all that time), Clara returns to find him on the brink of death and asks whoever lies on the other side of the crack to help the Doctor. He is given a healthy dose of Atron energy and uses some of that regenerative power to destroy that Daleks. Then he finally regenerates, after receiving an imagined goodbye from his dear Amelia Pond.

While Steven Moffat’s mythology-building has been pretty darn shaky throughout his tenure, it was shockingly rewarding how he pulled it all together in this final adventure. We finally learn who was responsible for destroying the TARDIS in Eleven’s first season, why Madame Kovarian and her specific group of Silents were after the Doctor, and why the Doctor is destined to meet his end on Trenzalore. Additionally, the importance of the question “Doctor Who?” is finally put to a better use, as it is tied to the re-emergence of the Time Lords. Suddenly the seeding of that question from “The Girl in the Fireplace” onward has a brand new relevence that feels so much more clever than it did before. The universe was trying to clue the Doctor in to the survival of his people this whole time—he just never wanted to listen.

Doctor Who, The Time of the Doctor, Eleven

We find out that the Silents are basically confessors, and that Kovarian’s group were rogues of a sort from a splinter sect. Their function is actually fascinating from a religious perspective, and makes them so much more than the Monster of the Season that they were before. Having them fight alongside the Doctor was an excellent touch, turning a feared enemy into comrades. The same is true of the Doctor’s cyber-head friend. It’s too bad that he (it?) hadn’t been around before because he’s a great sidekick.

But the real heart of the episode is how Eleven’s regeneration is addressed. After the epicness of the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration with all those goodbyes, many fans were concerned that Eleven’s might end up retreading a lot of the same ideas and emotions tied to a Doctor’s death. Instead, we get a real slow burn of an episode, watching the Doctor age, watching him choose to stay in one place and be a sort of village hero. He watches generations come and go, he holds the line and lets the town of Christmas get on. He repairs toys and yells at villains. He simply grows old. He spends his life on the slow path that he so often lingers over.

Doctor Who, The Time of the Doctor, Clara

And it’s a beautiful way for Matt Smith’s time to come to an end. Not all fire and rage and fear, but with surity and acceptance. It is, in fact, a beautiful juxtaposition to Ten’s farewell—when Eleven gets his regeneration, he’s at peace. He’s not afraid of this mad thing that he can never control, just glad that he’s getting another shot at it. And he comes to the realization that his life is not much different from anyone else’s, that we all grow and change over time. He will remember being the Eleventh, and he carry that with him. Just as he carries all those voices with him always.

One last bowl of fish fingers and custard. One last look at little Amelia Pond running off to play. One last farewell to a Raggedy Man in a blue box.

And like a shot, Capaldi is suddenly there, and it’s just as jolting for us as it is for Clara. But he’s still the Doctor. And we’ll learn to adjust to this new voice the same way that he does.

Doctor Who, The Time of the Doctor, Twelve, Clara

Some odds and ends to linger over:

Slight plothole possibly: If the Time Lords hand over some Artron energy to give the Doctor another regeneration (or a whole new cycle, we’re not actually clear on that one), wouldn’t they then just come on through? They were looking for proof that this was their universe, hence the question. If they listened to Clara, that would indicate that they received the confirmation they required. Do they require a pair of helping hands to shove Gallifrey back where it belongs? Otherwise that’s a pretty big gap.

The Doctor’s “greatest fear” housed in Room Eleven from “The God Complex” is revealed to be that universe crack. Are we happy with that reveal? It doesn’t seem likely that that’s the Doctor’s greatest fear, not by a longshot. It felt a bit too package-neat and I was a little let down by that one.

Doctor Who, The Time of the Doctor, Eleven, Clara

Holographic clothes! Also, “I’m wearing a wig!” It was so lovely that Moffat put a shoutout in there to Matt Smith’s lack of hair, especially since fandom was so concerned when we found out that it wouldn’t grow back in time to film that special. Surprised that they didn’t make a deal out of Karen Gillan’s wig as well. (Just kidding, no one is surprised by that.) Also, the mention of Matt Smith’s poor faint eyebrows, which Tumblr is forever obssessing over.

Eleven’s grandstanding in his final speech to Daleks was such a great nod, considering that it was one aspect that was particularly unique to this Doctor—they all make speeches, but no one liked to shout down armies the same way he did.

Doctor Who, The Time of the Doctor, Eleven

Like Ten’s final farewell was to a young Rose on the brink of her own adventures, Eleven must say goodbye to Amelia Pond, the little girl who made him the Doctor he was. A perfect bookend to his time on the TARDIS, and the tipping point if you weren’t already sobbing at his finale.

Raggedy Man, Goodnight. We loved you well.

Doctor Who, The Time of the Doctor, Eleven, Amy Pond


All right, everyone—Capaldi is coming! How are you faring after this farewell?

Emily Asher-Perrin has finished writing and she’s still crying, dammit. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

1. turtleidol101
During the regeneration, the song 'Wake Up' was playing in the background. I think it was the second episode with Clara as a companion when a little girl had to sing the song for a 'God' that was just an alien feeding off of time energy. That made Amy's 'Goodnight' so much more emotional to me.
Walker White
2. Walker
The Artron energy is not the plothole. There are all sorts of ways to explain why they could send that energy and nothing else.

The real plothole is his physical aging over only 300 years. As we learn in the Snowmen episode, he spends nearly that amount of time in Victorian London sulking over the loss of Amy, and he does not age a day.
Matt Ries
3. mattries37315
I need to see a repeat in the next few days (probably won't be a problem given how much Doctor Who BBC America is showing this week), but I'm pretty sure The Doctor said he had gotten a new cycle and then starting crowing about regeneration 13 was beginning.

Now that my first Doctor's run has finished (as in I saw all his episodes a they premiered not in repeates like Ecclestone and Tennant), I can say that Moffat succeeded to pulling nearly all the lingering plot threads during Smith's run (how the rebel Silence were able to blow up the TARDIS still bothers me...unless the explanation is they just entered one day and hit the "big red self-destruct button"). I loved Smith's talk at the end and seeing Amy one last time (perfect bookend to his run) then deciding not to make the change a real big visual event and just pop on a new face.

I would have liked to see Smith and Jenna Coleman interact another season, but Peter Capaldi is going to be something different than we've seen since the New Who began in 2005 and that makes me intrigued. Unfortunately we have to wait at least 8 months if not a little longer!
Jack Flynn
4. JackofMidworld
I agree with mattries37315, I'm definitely going to have to watch this again to make sure the little bits I missed. I've been watching the Doctor on DVD for the last few seasons but went to watch the 50th anniversary and Christmas special at a friend's house, so I can actually read stuff without having to try and avoid every single article about it for months. Yay friends and technology!

I was worried when the Doctor started blasting daleks with his regeneration energy, but a full 'reboot' to Regen #1 made it a lot more understandable. Found myself wondering if Galifrey is still on the wrong side of the crack or if it managed to come through and is just out there somewhere.

I loved Amy popping up at the end, a touching moment and just plain nice. Matt did grow on me (though I still miss Chris Eccleston, it's true that you never forget your first doctor), but I'm looking forward to the next season. Should be fun to see how Clara deals with the change.
Alan Brown
5. AlanBrown
The episode did a good job saying goodbye to Matt Smith, who has done a great job for the past few years. And there were some nice touches.
But I felt like the story left way too many loose ends, and far too many questions unanswered (and not just the question of, "Doctor Who?"). Supposedly, the planet was surrounded by hosts of Daleks. Did the Doctor destroy all of them with his super-regeneration energy?
If we are going to have to wait 9 months for the next episode, I for one would like to have a few less balls still in the air...
6. Narvi
That was good! I was expecting it to be shit, then it was good. I like it when that happens. I was not expecting to actually get teary during Eleven's last seconds... I felt mostly relief when Ten went, after all. Then again I didn't like Ten that much. Too many stupid episodes.


I think you're mistaken. He spent a few centuries wandering around before the attempted River assassination, but I don't think the Snowmen was that long.
Brian Haughwout
7. bhaughwout
@1 But this time he doesn't have his TARDIS. The times we see the Doctor ever visibly aging -- whether 1st or 11th or anywhere inbetween are when he's deprived of his TARDIS for large portions of time. I've always assumed that it's a function of the "temporal grace" or simply part of the temporal relativaty (similar to the spatial relativity inside) comparative to world outside. A Time Lord ages much slower than a human, but one left on a planet without an Eye of Harmony-based source of temporal harmony for "centuries" (the episodes) was unclear of the specific length of time that passed) WOULD age the equivalent of significant decades as seen here, while one within the confines of a TARDIS at most times might only age the equivalent of a few years.
8. Blanc
The real plothole is why didn't the Doctor just bundle all the townspeople into the TARDIS and leave. Or if Tasha Yar was so concerned about the issue why didn't she just evacuate the town. Then the baddies could blow up the planet to their pleasure.
But, like pretty much everyone else, those final moments of his goodbye had me in tears.
9. Narvi
Aging because of the stress of three centuries of constant siege warfare isn't really absurd, anyway. There's probably wrinkle cream in the TARDIS which he doesn't have access to.

Oh, I'm sorry; sub-temporal microboderesonation cream.
10. Narvi
What I want to know now is how the whole 'grave on Trenzalore' thing works.

I mean, there was a timestream there for Clara to jump into, what's the Doctor going to do, get the Time Lords to stick one into a TARDIS simulacra?
11. Mea
This episode was all inside baseball. I usually like the Christmas specials, but this one was (as a stand-alone episode) dull. Other specials work even without being drenched in the fandom. This one was 100% fan service. And loose ends. No flying sharks or flatulent aliens....and Britain wasn't invaded at all.
12. TomT
Actually it was 300 years between the first time he sent Clara home and she came back. At that point he looked a bit middle aged and was sort of using a cane some of the time. We don't actually know how long it was between Clara going back with the Turkey and her return when The Doctor was dieing. So we don't know how long it was physically. We have seen that Time Lord appear to typically go 700 - 1000 years between regenerations if they don't get seriously injured.

Doctor 1 was old and what around 700 - 800 years old at that point. Eleven regenerated and had about 300 - 400 years before the start of Time of the Doctor. So his aging isn't out of line for what we know of Time Lords.
13. Al C
I wept like a child when David said "I don't want to go". I tried to hold myself better this time.

Hello beautiful Amy ...Hold out man!...

"Raggedy Man, goodnight." ...OUCH! Okay, that was only 1 tear...

The bowtie is undone, and dropped to the ground ...Uh oh, here we go, the waterworks have started...

Did the actual switchover from Matt to Peter seem abruptly violent to anyone else? That lurch/switch defenitely unsettled my nerves.
Shelly wb
14. shellywb
This tried to cram too much into an hour. It was all over the place, and for the most part resulted in a frantic mess I found unwatchable. Any other episode and I'd have fast forwarded through the thing to the last 5 minutes, but since it was a regeneration episode I made myself watch the entire annoying thing until the end. It was like a series of last 5 minutes of other episodes strung together, which was meaningless when there's no build up. I suppose it could be considered the climax to 11's time, but as a show it just was exhausting.

I didn't feel like he tied together loose ends. I felt like he went back and looked for things he could bring into this episode to make it look like he'd planned it all along, but I could see the wires and it ended up looking like a hastily tossed salad.

I really wish they'd let someone else have the show now. I like Capaldi, and want him to have someone with a new vision directing his arc.

I did love the part when Clara's grandmother talked about her husband and echoed what Clara was feeling. It was one of those quiet moments where Who just gets you in the heart. It was the only part of the episode that made me cry. When 11 regenerated I only felt relief that it was finally done.
15. JEFF.
Amy as a child and adult appearing to himjust before he 'left" was a bit of a tear jerker .A good way to book end his tenure. But if you really want to water your cheeks ,watch the un produced final scene of angels in manhattan on this site if you haven't already!You'll come away appreciating your dad alot more!
Robert Dickinson
16. ChocolateRob
The time lords may have got a confirmation that this was their universe but it was clearly not safe for them to come through there and then as the time war would have started up again putting them back to square one. They did the only thing they could, they helped the Doctor then closed the crack. They need the Doctor to find a time and place for them to come through safely, he's their only hope but now is not the time. With the crack now closed there is no need for the invaders or defenders to remain in that place.

The real plot hole, as others have said, is that there is now no grave for him on trenzilor despite his past self having been to it already. Lady Pope may have claimed she was trying to change the future instead of the past but it was already the Doctors past and should not be changeable. (The future is always the past. It cannot be changed, only shaped.)
17. Athreeren
From what I understand, the Time Lords wanted to be sure that the place was safe, which explains why they didn't come back though it was the right universe; they cannot be sure that the Doctor indeed destroyed all of their enemies. The crack can be the Doctor's greatest fear: it is the death of the Tardis, and the destruction of the universe through his fault.

What I especially like about Stephen Moffat's run is that for once, the Doctor is allowed to die of old age. It's only the second one to do so. With twelve regenrations, Time Lord should have a life expectancy of about 9000 years, but most Doctors have lived for a few years at most. From what I understand, Time Lords do not age for a few centuries, then age very slowly.

It is a new cycle of regenerations, and that's why we see Matt Smith young again before we are introduced to Peter Capaldi. I have no explanation for how the Silence managed to blow up the Tardis, how Tasha Lem is able to fly the Tardis, and why the Doctor only hears now a message that has been sent to all of space and time (and for that matter, if the Silence has been given the order to kill the Doctor in all of time, why is he invited in the Church a few century before the order is given?)
F Shelley
18. FSS
I felt the 50th anniversary show hit all the marks Moffat wanted (aside from moving completely away from the framing plot of the Zygons so we never learn what the treaty turns out to be - I mean - are we living with them now?!). This show...not so much. Add me to the folks who thought it was all over the place. Despite that, it was enjoyable enough.

A few items:
1. I had managed to convince myself and my family that the lady leading the "Church of the Mainframe" was River Song...right up until the Dalek eyestalk appeared in her head. I mean, it's a church...of "the Mainframe"...and where does River live? In a computer! And she wanted the Doctor naked ;). And she could fly the TARDIS. Honestly, I thought she was a Holographic projection of River, again, until that stupid eyestalk came out and ruined my whole theory.

2. Here is my loose end: In "The Lodger" and "The Day of the Moon" we learn that someone (probably the Silence) were building TARDIS consoles. Why? What happened there? Did I miss a reveal (possible - I know)?
Jeremy Biggs
19. kick2k5
I still think Tasha Lem was River Song, I just assumed that she found a way to take on physical form at some point after the Library became the Papal mainframe. Too many hints dropped for it not to be. The flirting, the flying of the Tardis, the comment about controlling a psychopath inside (or something like that, I need to watch it again), not to mention that Lem backwards is Mel. They were just way too familiar with each other for it not to have been her.
20. Narvi
@16 I can let it go. Remember the Christmas episode with the shark where the Doctor was changing the timeline on the go? The Time Lords have more power and can do more, I assume.

@16 and @17 I've been assuming that Doctor Who is using a multilayered timeline with time constantly in flux around fixed points. So the universe (in totality) is different during the Fourth Doctor's point in time and different during Eleven.

This is really the only way to explain how Ood can have bad dreams about Gallifrey in another timezone and Gallifrey manages to teleport into Earth orbit for about five minutes without anyone hearing about it.

There is ONE thing I've been wondering about; the Silence splinter groups experiments with time capsule technology. I think there's a bit more to it than we've seen so far.
F Shelley
21. FSS
ooooh! I had missed the whole Lem = Mel backwards!

stupid eyestalk...i mean, she could have been downloaded into flesh or something, but still, that just seems to be a deal-breaker...
Sky Thibedeau
22. SkylarkThibedeau
Seeing Amy makes me wonder if Tennett's Doctors walk down memory lane at the conclusion of "The End of Time" was all a Phantasm too?
23. uberfrosch
Ten encountered with his former companion's in their own specific environments, and he made things happen there. This was just a goodbye, like a more peaceful version of the visions of former companions Five had when he regenerated. (Right? I admit it's been a few years since I last watched "Castrovalva.") I'm not the biggest fan of Ten's regeneration, but the handling seems different enough that I can't make this regeneration retcon that one.
Emmet O'Brien
24. EmmetAOBrien
I thought it was an ungodly mess - as well as all the other plotholes listed above, while I suppose the Daleks have seniority as villains go it still irked me that the snow angels just got lost in the shuffle, and I don't for an instant believe in Christmas Town staying so much the same for all those centuries.

Kind of hoping that "Can you drive this thing ?" and "No sir, all thirteen." have the potential to define an interesting arc between them, but really, Moffat should just go write Sherlock from now on.
26. radagastslady
Did anyone else feel the female narrator in the scene describing the wait in Christmas town was River Song's voice?
27. Narvi
@26 No? That was Lem. She just sounded like Song because Moffat (and so, the Doctor) have a Type.

That actress has a nice voice and delivery.

Heather Dunham
28. tankgirl73
From the article:
The question being asked is in Gallifreyan, the Question that the Doctor was previously warned about: Doctor Who? The planet turns out to be Trenzalore, the place where the Doctor saw his grave in “The Death of the Doctor.”
1) The question was not in Gallifreyan -- the Doctor would have understood it right away. He did need a Gallifreyan High Council seal in order to decode it. And Handles was able to identify that it was a Gallifreyan source.

2) Don't you mean "The Name of the Doctor"? "The Death of the Doctor" is an episode from the Sarah Jane Chronicles. I think that's the one where he lies to a kid about having 507 regenerations.

3) It is indeed very clear that it's a new cycle of regenerations. He says "a whole new regeneration cycle! It's taking a bit longer." First there was the 'reset' with the big explosions where he absorbed the new cycle, then he had his actual regeneration.

4) Regarding the quickness of the actual transformation -- I wonder if regeneration is less violent when the dying Doctor is willing to go, accepting it gracefully rather than fighting with everything he's worth a la 10.

5) Regarding Tasha being River, my own pet theory is similar to #19's -- I posit that Tasha was a real physical person who ascended to Mother Superious, and when someone takes on that role they are uploaded with the data from the Papal Mainframe, becoming its physical avatar. The Mainframe had the data from the Library and had River Song, and she got uploaded into Tasha and so Tasha sort of takes on River as well. I would further posit that she added the second name "Lem" at that time -- to acknowledge that she is a 'mirror' of Melody.

The tricky part in all this is figuring out how the Doctor knows, and how you square that against his being all depressed about saying goodbye to River not all that long ago, and about her being suprised at his "new body". But as for the Dalek inside her, the last time we see her she is successfully repressing it, so it's not inconceivable that eventually they're able to get rid of it.

6) The 'plot hole' of the fixed point of the Doctor's tomb at Trenzalore and Clara jumping into the timestream etc -- that's not a plot hole, it's a paradox. (It's not a bug, it's a feature. Heh.) The Doctor has often said throughout NuWho that when the Timelords were around, they were able to handle paradoxes without the universe exploding. And indeed he says it in this episode -- he cannot change the future here; maybe if there were Timelords around he could, but since they can't come through then he can't. Well, they didn't come through, but they did get involved. And somehow that makes it okay. Both timelines can 'exist' simultaneoulsy. Just as with The Wedding of River Song -- did it really happen? If you can remember it, then it happened.

In fact, I would argue that it's only because of the timeline where they went to the Tomb, that they were able to accomplish what they did here. Clearly, in that timeline, Clara was not able to convince the Timelords to send help (maybe she wasn't even THERE), and the Doctor died - leaving his time swirly thing. Then Clara jumped into the time thing, spread herself throughout his timeline -- which included his 'future' right up until his death at Trenzalore -- always being there to save him.

So 'this time around', god-friend Clara talks to Gallifrey. The future is 'changed' but it was still always like this and always like the other. It's not linear, remember, it's a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff. Which is an easy copout, true, but it is fun. :)
29. Erik Dercf
I hope there is no build up to the end for the next doctor I hope they off him suddenly without warning. The endings for Mr. Tennent and Smith were emotional I am hoping for something shocking the next time around Mr Smith went out well and the episode was good yet somehow lacking the cheer of Xmas. I wonder if the Doctor did fix the phone like the Cybermen told him too do? I also hope that more writers get to write episodes next season. Finally I will add three wishes for the new season.
1. Captain Jack is back
2. The Doctor tries a kilt with an England hoody
3. The Doctor is less romantic and more a lonely neighbor.
30. Weils Ng
When 'Rest Now' from Rings of Akhaten started playing in the background during Eleven's farewell speech, I completely lost it. My flatmate and I once had a conversation about songs and the Doctor's regeneration. Before Ten's time ended, the Ood said to him, 'The universe will sing you to your sleep.' While in Rings of Akhaten, the song was all 'rest now' and 'wake up'. It was just a funny ol' theory in my head but when the song came on, I just blubbered.
Emily Asher-Perrin
31. EmilyAP
Hey all,

Good to know that it's a new regeneration cycle! My television didn't pick up that line, so it skated right past me.

In terms of the plothole of his grave still being at Trenzalore, I'm not sure that's a problem--the whole point is that Clara keeps telling the Doctor to change the future in order to survive. He claims that he can't, only the Time Lords can at this particular juncture because it's his personal history. Then the Time Lords do change the future by handing over the regeneration cycle. So that grave he saw in "The Name of the Doctor" just never happened.
32. U.N. Owen
To me, those last few minutes were such a big payoff to what had been (sadly) a not so 'special' special.

I was a sobbing mess when David Tennant left, and thought; 'there's NO way you can top that sort of exit.'

What I thought was an extremely bit of brilliance on the part of Messers. Moffat and Smith wasdoing the exact opposite - and being very quiet.

Having the Doctor address US - yes, he REALLY WAS breaking the 'fourth wall,' and was speaking from his heart(s) to ALL of us around the world about his (Matt's? The Doctor's?) time as the 11th, and it was that (big) wink to us which made this such a more immidiate, and intimate farewell.

I think Mr. Moffat's writing (during Mr. Davie's tenure) was terrific - it was dark, clever. It took risks.

I think wen he was handed the whole show, however, it's a much different place to be put in.

But, Mr. Moffat's been smart to allow some very new blood to help stir up the mythos of Doctor Who.

As an example, I loved 'The Doctor's Wife,' written by Neil Gaiman.

Wow - I watched that last night (got a Roku), and found it so well done, I Still get tickled watching it

At the sane time, there are a few klunkers, but - what's great about this show is that - unlike here (the States), where the networks will yank anything off the air (except 'reality' garbage) asap if it doesn't get huge ratings immediately, Doctor Who has such a vast history, and has generations of fans (while I grew up knowing of it, I never watched until David Tenant, and then, I went back to the Christopher Eccelston episodes. I was hooked) - with MANY more to come.

By the shows very nature, each actor, and each show-runner brings with them a new 'book,' and while the principal parts of the show remain the same, just like the Doctor himself (or, perhaps one day - soon - herself), it's reinvented, and reborn.
Alan Brown
33. AlanBrown
OK, there is one thing minor thing that bugged me about the ep, and it has to do with the Silence. They were a great spooky monster, and basically, their whole schtick was unraveled by the explaination that they are that way so they can be the perfect folks to receive confessions, because then the confessors don't remember what they said. But (other than the whole getting right with God thing), isn't the big value of confession the act of getting something off your chest? And if you immediately forget that you got it off your chest, wouldn't that negate the value of the confession?
I would think that the ultimate person to receive a confession would be the one who loses their memory of the act. The person who confesses never has to worry about the confession being held against them. Kind of the perfect version of priests, pyschologists and spouses not being compelled to testify against someone, and all that.
So it seems to me that whole thing was kind of backwards.
And I still wanted a bit more resolution for the people of the town of Christmas. Or to see something more done to protect them. For pity's sake, they fought alongside the Doctor for centuries, and he dashes off without even a goodbye.
And does the fact that his tomb is on Trenzilore, does that mean he will be going back at some point? Or is this yet another "Well, we told you the Doctor would die, but he didn't," like with the Impossible Astronaut?
I started out saying one thing bugged me, but I guess there were more, and I could go on, but I hate to be negative, so I will quit (at least for now).
Ursula L
34. Ursula
Or to see something more done to protect them. For pity's sake, they fought alongside the Doctor for centuries, and he dashes off without even a goodbye.
The Doctor spent centuries protecting them. When he left, he'd managed to kill off the attacking Daleks, so they were safe from that threat, and th Time Lords had stopped shouting through the Crack, making the place uninteresting to those opposed to the Time Lords, so they were safe from that. How much more should he have done, particularly since he was in the process of regenerating, and far from at his best?

The Doctor only went into the TARDIS in the end because he was regenerating. The TARDIS is very much the Doctor's home, a place he feels safe. During the uncertainty and trauma of regeneration, he'd rather be there, because it is a safe place physically and emotionally while he is vulnerable.
35. Bluedarky
@34 - We don't know everything about the Silence, perhaps it's possible that their memory modification abilities extend beyond removing themselves from people's memories and allow them to remove the memories of the doing things they're confessing about as well.

@17 - The Order that split away to kill the Doctor was a rogue order of the Papal Mainframe, as far as Lem was concerned the Doctor was still a friend and a potential ally.
Don't forget, if the common theory about Lem's identity is true, then she could consider Gallifrey a home too.
Alan Brown
36. AlanBrown
@34 We saw the Doctor destroy a single Dalek saucer, albeit an especially big one, and a few Daleks on the ground. Assuming that means a military victory and safety for the people of Christmas takes a big leap in faith. Another giant loose end, from my perspective.
Ursula L
37. Ursula
Or to see something more done to protect them. For pity's sake, they fought alongside the Doctor for centuries, and he dashes off without even a goodbye.
The Doctor spent centuries protecting them. When he left, he'd managed to kill off the attacking Daleks, so they were safe from that threat, and th Time Lords had stopped shouting through the Crack, making the place uninteresting to those opposed to the Time Lords, so they were safe from that. How much more should he have done, particularly since he was in the process of regenerating, and far from at his best?

The Doctor only went into the TARDIS in the end because he was regenerating. The TARDIS is very much the Doctor's home, a place he feels safe. During the uncertainty and trauma of regeneration, he'd rather be there, because it is a safe place physically and emotionally while he is vulnerable.
Ursula L
38. Ursula
I don't think that the lack of a grave on Trenzalore is a huge plot hole. One of the things that the show has made clear is that time can be rewritten, provided it is not fixed point.

The GI was not a major player in the universe. And its actions were promptly undone by Clara. I doubt that this is significant enough to be a fixed point.

So the Doctor's grave is not there, the GI can't carry out that plot, and Clara doesn't have to undo it.

But she is a time traveler, so she retains the experiences of having time rewritten around her. So she remembers what happens. And the Doctor, also a time traveler, remembers what happened, and remembers his interactions with the Clara-Fragments of Oswin-Dalek and Victorian-Clara in his past.


What I find interesting is the way that this episode dealt with some very specific and technical story-telling issues coming out of the 50th.

Barely a month ago, we had the 50th anniversary special. It was being built up for months. It came with a variety of conncted celebratory television and internet events. "The Doctor Revisited" on BBCA. "Adventures in Space and Time" reviewing the early history of the program. "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot" for pure fannish pleasure. It was wonderful, exciting, and overwhelming.

It was also a level of intensity that the program could not possibly maintain. How do you help people enjoy a season of ordinary episodes, after all of that?

In this episode, we see the Doctor as the hero of the town. He is celebrated and adored. Just as he was, in real life, in the excitement of 50 years. But in being celebrated and adored, he also wound up in an odd sort of stasis. He stopped traveling. He stopped moving forward. The things he did were a holding action, keeping the surrounding foes from destroying the town, never letting the Time Lords return. The Doctor spent centuries in this holding action, aging to the point of dying of old age. He couldn't save his people, he couldn't stop the endless war. He could only fight a holding action. Keep one small town on one backwater planet safe for one more day.

In the end the Doctor wasn't merely regenerated. He was reset.

The Time Lords stepped back from demanding that he save them, realizing, thanks to Clara, that if the Doctor brought them back there and then they would be brought back to the point of utter destruction he saved them (imperfectly) from. The new set of regenerations gives the Doctor, and the Time Lords, time. Time for the Doctor to move on, away from the deadly stalemate of an endless, bitter war. Time for the Doctor to study the situation. Time so that, in his next set of 12 regenerations, in his next 2000 years of life, in our next 50 years of viewing, he might eventually see an opportunity to bring back the Time Lords safely.

And meantime, by bringing the Doctor away from the triumph of a half century of celebration, this episode serves as a step to bring viewer expectations back to a reasonable level.

A level suitable for an ongoing program, rather than expecting the show to constantly continue to build from and exceed the excitement of the anniversary. This brings the show back to its original scale.

A lone Time Lord in a stolen TARDIS he can't fly, with twelve regenerations in his future. The inevitable disappointment that the intensity of the anniversary special can't last forever has been managed.
39. Andrés Valenzuela
33. AlanBrown

If you listen carefully, they say that the silence-aliens are the perfect preachers, not confessors. That's a huge difference, since the preacher's goal is to indoctrinate. The silence have two treats: you can't remember them, AND they can imprint you with ideas (that you will believe afterwards are yours, since you can't remember them). So, yeah... they are perfect indoctrinators, not mere confessors.
40. DevilsAdvocate
There was another plot hole that really bugged me, one not yet mentioned in this article or the comments:

When Clara first saw the Silence, why didn't she try to kill it? Presumably she's seen the moon landing footage just like the rest of humanity post-1969, so she should be susceptible to the same post-hypnotic suggestion which allowed humanity to drive off the Silence, right?
Jack Flynn
41. JackofMidworld
One thing that bugged me yesterday and still today - did Clara not attack the Silence(s) she saw because she was the Impossible Girl? I mean, she forgot them, like she was supposed to, but she didn't try to kill them...
yo sil
42. catperson
I loved this episode. Yes, it wasn't perfect, but I felt it was a wonderful goodbye to the Eleventh Doctor. I've watched it twice already and the last 15 minutes or so reduce me to a sobbing wreck every time. Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman were absolutely fantastic. I really don't understand why people criticize Clara for not having a personality - to me, she felt like a very real person in the episode! Really loved the way everything was tied up, although I would have preferred that what 11 saw in the hotel room in "The God Complex" to be left ambiguous.

@40-41 - Maybe Clara hasn't seen the 1969 moonlanding footage? Not everyone has. Didn't bother me very much.
Christopher Bennett
43. ChristopherLBennett
I felt this was a pretty good story, though not as impressive as "The Day of the Doctor" was. I found the resolution of the regeneration-limit issue to be underwhelming and disappointingly predictable -- he just inhales a bit of pixie dust and bam, problem solved. It seems inconsistent after "The Deadly Assassin" established that you'd have to blow up half the universe to get a new regeneration cycle. Although, admittedly, "The Five Doctors" claimed the Time Lords could grant such a boon after all. And I guess we don't know what extremes they might've gone to on their side of the Crack to be able to feed him that energy.

But I guess the mechanics of it were beside the point; it was the emotion that mattered. I liked how Clara convinced the Time Lords to help him, how she defined the Doctor's true name in a very satisfying way. And it's fitting that Clara, who "was born to save the Doctor," is the one to save him from his ultimate fate. She's still playing her destined role.

Although I found the "unseen nudity" stuff early on to be needlessly crass, the way the Doctor and Clara were in such close contact in their first minutes on the planet, at a time when they were only in the illusion of clothing. Given that she was uncomfortable with the situation, it was in poor taste to play it for humor.

As for why the town of Christmas is safe, it's not because the Doctor blew up a saucer, it's because the Crack closed. There was no longer anything worth targeting there. The Daleks and others would've had no compunctions about wiping out the town, but they would've been badly weakened by all the centuries of battle, and so once the cause of that conflict was gone, they went home to lick their wounds.

Am I the only person who thought that Clara's grandmother was herself one of Clara's many splinter incarnations? They had very similar faces, and the grandmother almost seemed to recognize the Doctor.

@2: "The real plothole is his physical aging over only 300 years. As we learn in the Snowmen episode, he spends nearly that amount of time in Victorian London sulking over the loss of Amy, and he does not age a day."

A human being goes relatively unchanged from, say, 20 to 35, but changes massively from 60 to 75. It's not how many years pass, it's where in the life cycle they are. Eventually the years start taking more of a toll.

@10: Unlike "The Day of the Doctor," where history was left pretty much unchanged but turned out not to be what we thought it was, apparently this was a case where the Doctor's future was actually changed. So that doesn't happen anymore. As for the causality questions of whether what happened in the past still applies, recall that the Cracks in Time wiped the events of "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End" from humanity's collective memory, but the Doctor still remembered them. The conceit is basically that the Doctor and those who travel with him are outside of time and thus still remember prior versions of history once they've been altered.

@12: Actually, the Second Doctor claimed to be around 450 in his second season ("Tomb of the Cybermen"). Although the series' assertions of the Doctor's age have always been wildly inconsistent.

@17: This is actually the third time the Doctor has "died" of old age; the War Doctor's regeneration was the second. Remember, he said he was "wearing a bit thin," the same words the First Doctor used in "The Tenth Planet."

@23: Both the Fourth and Fifth Doctors saw "visions" of their former companions just before regenerating, but in "Logopolis" they were just clips from past episodes, while in "Castrovalva" they brought back all the actors to record new lines.

@28: Regeneration has been depicted in many different ways over the decades. I think this one was done differently because it was the start of a new cycle, though. It was meant to show that things are changing now.

@34: The TARDIS may be a safe haven for more than sentimental reasons. After the first regeneration, in "The Power of the Daleks," the newborn Second Doctor explained that his renewal was "part of the TARDIS. Without it I couldn't survive." (At the time, it hadn't yet been clearly established that the Doctor was an alien rather than a far-future human, so the original intent was apparently that the "renewal" was technologically induced.) The majority of his regenerations have taken place inside the TARDIS, and the majority that have taken place outside it have been mediated by Time Lords or their associates the Sisterhood of Karn. The remaining two, his fourth ("Logopolis") and seventh (the '96 movie), were both problematical and hard to recover from. In "Castrovalva," the newborn Fifth Doctor needed the TARDIS environment to stabilize his regeneration. So it seems reasonable that there's something about the TARDIS that makes regeneration more successful/safer.
44. AlexKingstonIsMyAvatar
Tasha Lem is NOT Melody Pond/River Song -- she is an independent strong female character who is more a politically savvy Pope than a killer nun. River is too irreverent to be taken up by the Papal Mainframe.

As to how the Silence blew up the TARDIS, it makes sense to blame River for that -- programmed by the Silence to betray the Doctor, she did so, then promptly forgot what the Silence ordered her to do. She had already sabotaged the TARDIS by the time we see her perplexed by its loss of control.

For those who hate loose ends, River could even have left a recording of a male Kevorian intoning "Silence will fall" to mislead anyone reviewing internal records (does the TARDIS keep a video diary??) into thinking River was a victim rather than an unwitting perpetrator.
Alan Brown
45. AlanBrown
The Silents are perfect preachers? Well, I often am unable to recall what the minister said during church, so I suppose there is a point there... ;-)
Christopher Bennett
46. ChristopherLBennett
@44: I think you're right -- River sabotaged the TARDIS.

I'm not sure what a "Kevorian" is. There was Madame Kovarian, but she wasn't male. I believe the "Silence will fall" voice was the same as the voice of the Silents.
47. DN10
@44 Yeah, except that there'd been a Silent on the TARDIS at least as far back as The Lodger. River didn't have to sabotage it--the Silent could've done it at any point. And said, "Silence must fall." It just makes them look ridiculously incompetent, considering they'd been on the TARDIS for weeks and screwed up by blowing it up while River was onboard rather than the Doctor.
Shelly wb
48. shellywb
These guys summed up my thoughts on this better than I could, especially concerning Tasha Lem and Clara (in brief, Tasha Lem isn't River Song; it's just that Moffat can only write two women, and River/Tasha is one of them so it's no surprise we mistake them for one another).
49. jessica6
My question is why there was such an emphasis placed on the rings Clara's grandmother was wearing and the one worn by Amy. Clara's grandmother is lamenting her love and how she wanted nothing to change while twisting the ring on her finger that looks very suspicously like a very pointed shot of the ring Amy is wearing right before she says goodbye. Thoughts?
Christopher Bennett
50. ChristopherLBennett
@49: I didn't notice the rings, but I think the grandmother is another fragment of Clara herself. Everyone assumes she was talking about her husband, but what actually happened in that scene is that Clara's father suggested that her grandmother tell a story about how she met her husband, then she begins talking about seeing "him" again and the father says "No, I mean the other story" or words to that effect. So I don't think she was actually talking about her husband. I think she was talking about the Doctor. She'd met him before, and that's why she was so struck by seeing him again at Clara's party. We were supposed to think it was a reaction to him showing up naked, but that was misdirection.
51. JamMasterJ
I don't think the possible lack of a gravestone on Trenselore is a big plot hole. To the people who live on Trenselore, the man they knew as 'the Doctor' did die (they seem to be from a simpler time, and probably didn't have a concept of regeneration). It seems natural that the townfolk would put up a gravestone for someone who had been part of their community for so long, and his disapperance (due to regeneration and flying off in the TARDIS) would have been assumed to be a death in the war.
Christopher Bennett
53. ChristopherLBennett
@51: But it's not just the gravestone that was at Trenzalore; it was the Doctor's "corpse," the tear in the fabric of time that he left when he died, plus the dead TARDIS itself serving as his tomb. That no longer exists, because the Doctor's future was changed. The characters will remember it because they exist outside of time, but as far as the rest of the universe is concerned, time has been rewritten and the Doctor does not die on Trenzalore.

This is unlike the situations in "The Wedding of River Song" and "The Day of the Doctor" where the event remained unchanged but turned out to have a hidden truth we and the Doctor were unaware of. As the Doctor said here, he could've changed his future with the Time Lords' help, because they had the power to make that happen. And at the end, he did have the Time Lords' help, thanks to Clara. So he was able to change the future and actually avert the prophecy this time.
54. yatsuhashi
I noticed both rings but didn't make the connection. I was too busy wondering if the other woman in the scene was Clara's mother, the one who died. Then again, my daughter distracted me right then. Proclaiming the woman to BE Clara's mother, and how that wasn't right.
Christopher Bennett
55. ChristopherLBennett
@54: The woman you're referring to is called Linda and she seems to be Clara's stepmother. At least, the DW Wiki says the show's site says she is, but there's a "citation needed" notation on that sentence.
56. somebody
I was really disappointed with this episode. Number 10 had such an (excuse me) amazing death ! Number 11 just slowly withered and died.... except for the whole Amy-Pond-Raggedy-man-bow-tie thing.
I cried so hard, damn it.

One more thing;
Am I the only one who noticed the River Song's name is actually supposed to be Song River?

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