The Doctor Who season 7 finale was the kind of epic, revelatory, game-changing episode fans have come to expect and love. It took us to Trenzalore, the mysterious location of “the fall of the Eleventh” where the question would be asked. It let us know how Clara became the Impossible Girl. And, most importantly, it introduced us to a NEW Doctor. Or perhaps an OLD one.
Clara Through the Years
The finale opens with a brilliant homage to the show’s 50-year history as scenes from all the past Doctors are shown, with Clara now sprinkled throughout time saving him from the very beginning. Yes, the Impossible Girl has been saving the Doctor’s life long before “Asylum of the Daleks.”
The Great Intelligence’s Master Plan
Madame Vastra gets a message from a prisoner about Trenzalore and organizes a time-traveling dream-fueled conference call with Clara and River Song. However, their meeting is interrupted by the Whisper Men, creepy alien creatures working on behalf of the Great Intelligence. The message is simple: Tell the Doctor that if he wants to save the people he loves, he must go to Trenzalore.
What is Trenzalore? It’s the location of the Doctor’s tomb. So now the Doctor must do the impossible, the one thing he must never do, and cross his own timeline by traveling to his grave. It’s a warzone and, in a fitting tribute, it turns out the Doctor is entombed in the TARDIS.
In order to gain access to the tomb, the question must be answered, the first question, the oldest question, hidden in plain sight. Doctor who? The name of the Doctor is the password to open the tomb.
The Doctor refuses to oblige, but River Song, whose disembodied spirit has a psychic link to Clara (because she is still in the Library, her final resting place after the Doctor saved her) speaks his name to open the tomb. Luckily we don’t hear her, because even though the episode is titled “The Name of the Doctor,” actually hearing his name would inevitably be a disappointment.
The Doctor’s Grave and the Origin of the Impossible Girl
Everyone goes inside and we see that the Doctor’s body isn’t there. Instead, it’s a bright spiraling light, described as the “scar tissue” of the Doctor’s many adventures through time and space. The Great Intelligence’s plan is to jump into the scar tissue so that he will be scattered throughout the entire history of the Doctor’s timeline and can undo everything he’s ever done, thus erasing the Doctor from existence.
It’s a pretty good plan, but the one thing he doesn’t count on is the Impossible Girl. As you’ve certainly guessed by now, this is how Clara existed many times before, and died all of those times. If she jumps into the scar tissue she will travel throughout the Doctor’s history and can save him from the Great Intelligence. It’s rather brilliant, because even though we met Clara after she died twice, this version is the original.
Before jumping in, she gives us her catchphrase, but adds one important word to it. “Run, you clever boy. And remember…me.”
The New Doctor
That should be the end of Clara. She jumps into the scar tissue, gets split apart and scattered into a million different versions of herself throughout time and space to save the Doctor from the Great Intelligence, and that’s it for her in the present. But the Doctor HATES endings. So he jumps into his own timeline to save her.
Inside the Doctor’s timeline a scared Clara sees visions of all the past Doctors. She hears the current incarnation calling for her, there to save her, and he grabs her. But then they see a shadowy figure. It’s not any of the 11 versions of the Doctor we’ve ever seen, but since everything inside this timeline is the Doctor, it must be him. The Doctor explains that this man is him, but he’s NOT the Doctor.
“My name, my real name, that is not the pint,” the Doctor explains to Clara. “The name I chose is the Doctor. The name you choose, it’s like a promise you make. He’s the one who broke the promise.”
That’s when the shadowy stranger speaks. “What I did, I did without choice. In the name of peace and sanity.”
“But not in the name of the Doctor,” the Doctor responds, providing a clever double meaning for the episode’s title.
That’s when the shadowy man turns around and it’s none other than Oscar-nominated actor John Hurt. “As The Doctor.” Now that’s how you end a season.
What does this mean? We’ll have to wait until November 23 for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special. It seems logical that he’s probably the original Doctor, number zero if you will, the one who put an end to the Time War by destroying the Daleks and Time Lords. Whatever the case, Doctor Who is certainly paying homage to its history this year and the 50th anniversary special is sure to be a big event with lots of revelations about the Doctor.
(Image courtesy of BBC)