Doctor Who: The Name of The Doctor and My Theories

Have you ever read a book and you’re only halfway through it when someone asks you if it’s any good? I always respond that I don’t know because I haven’t finished it; it could start off well and end poorly or vice versa, so I reserve judgment until the end. This is how I view season seven’s finale “The Name of the Doctor.”

But it’s a finale, it’s the end of the season, shouldn’t I have an opinion of it? To that I really say no. And I say that for two reasons: first being that the first half of season seven was really the extended ending of season six, and the second is a prelude of the 50th anniversary. Second, “The Name of the Doctor” ends with a “To Be Continued…” with no resolution, no closure, and no answers. It’s open ended and we won’t see any resolution for near on six months. Which makes it a two-parter, or really, half an episode. To review half a story would be amiss.

Can I still make commentary on the episode? Yes. Absolutely. And I will. Can I make theories as to what it all means? Yes. Totally. But be forewarned that everything I say and speculate on can be shot down with the 50th or validated. As I was recently told, “fools give you reasons, wise men never try.” To that I counter that all prophets are thought to be fools at first. I still will refrain from total judgment on the arc until it reaches its conclusion. Also I will refrain from the breakdown because there is just too much to discuss!Doctor Who S7 Ep14 Alt Poster

With all that out of the way, where do I start? I guess, like the episode, with Clara and her mystery. I don’t mean to brag, but I kind of saw this coming a mile off with the promo stills and trailers. And honestly I was not impressed. Was I impressed with all the incarnations of The Doctor running about? Yes, please, give me more of that. Who do I make out the check to? But it was flimsy and easy to spot. Then again I have to remind myself, like I do every time I watch Who, is that children have to make sense of everything.

Doctor Who S7 Ep14 Clara Time

The concept of Clara is rather neat, however, it has very little precedent to cash in on. No previous Doctor ever really saw her or interacted with her other than Eleven, because she’s a new addition to The Doctor’s history. We are now told that Clara has always been there when she never was planned to have existed until this season. The scenes where we see her loosely interact with The Doctors don’t add any gravitas to her as a character, either. Maybe it would have been better if Moffat had treated her appearance and subsequent re-rewriting of The Doctor’s timeline like with Sardick having both memories of his original time line and the one that was rewrote.  The problem inherent in doing that is it potentially changes everything we know about The Doctor’s past to a wibbly wobbly blank slate. For those playing at home, this makes twice now that Moffat has changed the whole history of the universe (although does he really change it?) and the third time he’s killed The Doctor.

This doesn’t stop me from liking the character of Clara, I just feel disappointed in her handling and in the reveal of her mystery. Here’s to hoping that with the mystery out of the way we can see more quality use out of her as a companion. Who knows, maybe the mystery part of her actually becomes more crucial and vital as the show progresses. I would be OK with that.

Doctor Who S7 Ep14 GreatI was happy to have the Great Intelligence back as the villain. But I fail to understand how, in all its infinite knowledge, it thought this was a great plan. That’s a huge plot hole for me. I guess you have to come at this idea with the understanding of what later happens in the Great Intelligence’s future/The Doctor’s past. Even brushing up on his use in the Second Doctor serials fails to really give him any need to confront The Doctor in this manner. Had we been given more time with the Great Intelligence over this season, or had we been given more insight to his workings, we might understand the angle he is playing in all of this. And as the one who asks “The First Question,” the one that was teased last season, it’s not rewarding in the least. I would have settled with Daleks, Cybermen, Time Lords, or The Silence. I don’t just mean the forget-me-now grey aliens from last season, but from someone higher up in their religious order. That would have made sense, because of their relationship with the Question and what they’ve been doing the past two seasons (more on this is a bit). Instead we get the Great Intelligence and the Whispermen.

Ah, the Whispermen: what were you even here for? A child’s rhyme (another Moffat staple), or to be scary muscle? If so, then on those counts you were not used to your fullest. I could have done without these monsters. They are a great idea, but unlike the aforementioned Silence, they weren’t used to their fullest realization. It’s another problem that has been rampant throughout this season: one-off monsters failing to be utilized appropriately. Maybe I would have liked it more if the Whispermen were the Silence instead, or at least related to the Trickster from The Sarah Jane Adventures. Admit it: you all thought the Whispermen and the Trickster were related in some way, and it would have been sweet to have The Doctor mention Sarah Jane.

Also, anyone notice that the Great Intelligence and his entourage somehow have the ability to time travel? They attacked the Paternoster Gang in Victorian England and were able to travel across space and time to Trenzalore. If they could do that, then why even feel the need to enter The Doctor’s timeline wound?

Doctor Who S7 Ep14 Gang

While we’re speaking of under realized things: the Paternoster Gang? I loved seeing them again, but they were just a means to an end. Though we all had fun with them in “The Crimson Horror,” the prequels, and “The Snowmen,” I felt they were just another set of hands and eyes, and at the least just bait for The Doctor. When The Doctor mentions to Clara that the Gang had always been there for him during the dark times, I found myself turning to my wife saying, “they should have made a season out of just that.” It would have been far more interesting, and it would have given weight to his words. Anyone want to do a comic book or novel series about this time period? I would gladly pay you.

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