A superb finale that provides satisfying resolution and generates fevered anticipation for the show's 50th anniversary
After what's been an unspectacular run of episodes, there was a lot of pressure resting on this episode, show runner Steven Moffat and this season as a whole. Thankfully this episode not only ensured this season's place in the show's history, but it re-invigorated the show just in time for its 50th anniversary.
Within the ramblings of mad man, Madame Vastra hears a word that she knows to hold a great significance to The Doctor; Trenzalore. She calls together a group of The Doctor's closest friends to help him in his hour of need.
It's a low-key opening that neatly brings the characters together and establishes the significance of the threat. The Whispermen, all teeth and no eyes, rudely interrupt the conference. If we were in any doubt of the raised stakes, the Whispermen kill Jenny without a second's thought. Although she is ultimately revived, Steven Moffat takes this episode into a darker territory that has been missing from most of this season's adventures.
|The Doctor's grave... sort of (picture courtesy of sfx.co.uk)|
The episode also brings River Song back into the frame. Except this a post Silence In The Library River Song, the River Song that was saved onto the computer in the library when she sacrificed herself to save The Doctor. After the complicated plottings of season 6, it was important for the show to rest the character. River Song guides The Doctor to Trenzalore. Trenzalore is not the location of his secret, but his final resting place. It's a suitably spooky and desolate place, and The Great Intelligence is waiting at the door to the most important tomb in the universe.
Moffat has faced a lot of criticism for his complex season long plots (though I am personally a fan). For the 2nd half of this season, Clara has been the mystery at the heart of the show. Except the mystery hasn't been as engaging as others and I was worried that Moffat would have a lot to do in this last episode to bring it to a satisfactory end. As it turns out, the mystery behind The Impossible Girl wasn't as complicated as I had expected and the resolution is believable and entertaining.
|That all important timeline. (picture courtesy of sfx.co.uk)|
This episode also felt like the end for River Song. The scene where the Doctor finally had to say goodbye had a finality to it that hasn't been seen in previous episodes, and it was a beautifully understated end. Despite River's parting indication of further developments up ahead, I hope this is the end for River Song. The character has been great for the show, but to bring her back again would weaken the impact of that lovely scene.
Clara's jump into the Doctor's timeline has restored the universe, but she has become a fragment of who she was. The real Clara has been sacrificed to save the Doctor, and he is not happy with that. So he jumps in to save Clara and joins her in some sort of cave. How this works I do not know, but the build up to the reveal of John Hurt pointed towards a story line that's worthy of being a part of the show's 50th anniversary celebrations. The episode title indicated towards some revelation about The Doctor's name, but it was a neat twist to bring up what has been done in the name of The Doctor and what John Hurt has done otherwise.
|No caption necessary (animated gif courtesy of headoverheals.com)|