Doctor Who Series 7 Episode 13 – The Name of The Doctor
The Name of the Doctor answered all the questions we weren’t asking. From here on in, as River Song would say, “Spoilers!”
However, before we get to those answers we get pure fan service as in the first few minutes we get Gallifrey, the 1st Doctor, Bessie, the 3rd Doctor’s car and Clara in a large range of terrible outfits all mixed together with brilliantly rubbish CGI. Yes it is difficult to insert new actors into old video footage, especially when it has been colourised but the effects are so bad and therefore great. How Doctor Who use to be. Sadly my favourite Doctor, number 7th Sylvester McCoy, is seen in his least dignified position, hanging off the edge of a literal cliff-hanger. Although arguably the 2nd Doctor got it worse, he looked like he was running through Los Angles in a thick fur coat.
This was then followed by the return of Madame Vastra, Jenny and their manservant Strax (insert obligatory request for a spin-off series here). Strax in particular gets his best introduction so far crashing through a window in Glasgow, a popular Glaswegian hobby I hear. My concerns about Strax becoming one note in my review of the Crimson Horror were totally unfounded. Later Strax gets to do his version of the Black Knight from Monty Python’s Holy Grail when he is attacked by the Whispermen – a truly scary villain. Their rhymes along will send children running behind the backs of the sofas (the other obligatory reference that has to be made when reviewing Doctor Who.)
I hope they come back soon and they bring Richard E. Grant (the only man to play two different doctors!) back with them. The Great Intelligence was just starting to get interesting, plus in the old series they came with yeti. I want me some yeti!
Along with the horror there is also sadness this week. Only a Cyberman wouldn’t have cried when Jenny was murdered during the séance. Along with Vastra’s rage, the Name of the Doctor felt like it had some genuine emotional tension, something we haven’t seen since the end of Series 5. Vastra, however, does get the short straw this week as she did come across like a lizard shaped plot explaining device at times rather than the kick ass double sworded warrior she was first introduced as.
Talking of characters who have suffered since their first introduction, River Song is back. Since Let’s Kill Hitler, River has lost some of her shine. Maybe it’s because she no longer knows the future, or she kind of killed the Doctor (don’t ask, I need a black board, a couple of action figures and some sticky backed plastic to explain the whole situation properly!). Tonight she is back to her old disgraceful self. This is due to her being River from the Library – a future Doctor Who title surely? – so has all that wonderful confidence we love is back. Also it gives the character the farewell she deserves, assuming is her last episode. When you are killed off in your first appearance it is always difficult to judge these things. If it was her farewell then her final words was a greatest hits album of why we love the character, all spoilers and sweeties.
But what about two questions we were promised answers to? Why has Clara popped up in earlier episodes and what is the Doctor’s name. Well both get answered, kind of.
Let’s start with the least interesting one. We find out how Clara is impossible. It is fun explanation that also solves every plot hole in the history of Doctor Who ever. The answer is Clara did it.
The more interesting answer is the Doctor’s name. Moffat doesn’t answer the question we think he is asking. Rather than telling us that the Doctor’s real name is Bob, Moffat is more interested in discussing the nature of the Doctor’s name something he has discussed before. In the Name of the Doctor, he suggests that Doctor is a promise to do good. A mission rather than a name if you will. With this idea in mind the cliff hanger is just huge. I’ll say no more than the episode itself, those six simple brilliant words: