Update: Now I'm sitting here retching as the feels are getting to me as I'm scrolling down my Tumblr dash.
Update #2: My hands are trembling.
Update #3: My stomach is tight but I think I'm calm enough to start writing this review.
Title: The Name of the Doctor
Writer: Steven Moffat (finally)
After an urgent and disastrous contact with Jenny, Vastra and Strax, the Doctor and Clara must travel to the one place that the Doctor, as a time traveler, must never go: Trenzalore. There, they must face old enemies and meet with old friends, endangering the Doctor's greatest secret, one that he will take to the grave.
As you would have seen from my reaction at the beginning, I am completely frozen. I was bracing myself for this episode--the episodes leading up to this have been deproving and just getting worse. But this was a miraculous comeback after head writer Steven Moffat finally wrote the episode on his own. While he tends to overcomplicate his story plots, this, I think, was one of the best series finales ever. It was exciting, adventurous and clever without being overwhelming or overdramatized.
I guess I can talk about the beginning. It was... amazing. We see clips of Clara, photoshopped into clips of past Doctors, of ways she saved his life over the years. We see her encountering various versions of the Doctor, from the first to the current one, in various situations and ways. Then we hear Clara in voiceover, explaining that she was born to save the Doctor. AND THEN-
Alright I will review this systematically so that I won't explode and become a babbling mess, because that's just what I'm on the brink of doing every passing second.
Awesome and amazing and perfect and I can't even describe. It was a tad predictable at some parts, especially how the many incarnations of Clara Oswin Oswald came to be, but that never ruined the plot. Wonderful writing, even for a Steven Moffat episode. It was touching and brought back things that I thought were lost from the series forever. The action scenes, while not huge in scale, were suspenseful and I was frozen in front of my computer.
Matt Smith. How do I begin to describe Matt Smith? He was amazing in this episode, especially opposite River Song. I should elaborate on River's position in this episode. It's post-Library, so she's technically dead, even though her consciousness can exist outside the Library's database. She had a psychic link to Clara and so she could appear to Clara, and as it happens, the Doctor too. They had a beautiful emotional scene that brings back Library River, from the first time we as viewers ever met her, and the acting there between Matt Smith and Alex Kingston was amazing. I had been getting sick of River in the past few episodes, as she kept getting further and further off character from the Library version of her, but this was just beautiful. Se also brought back the sweet and teasing character that we loved from Silence in the Library. I hope Alex Kingston decides to come back.
I should also talk about Clara and River's meeting. Since this version of River is dead, it explains why she hasn't appeared earlier or the Doctor hasn't mentioned her. Their meeting was the perfect awkwardness that we hoped for and anticipated.
Which brings us to Clara: Jenna-Louise Coleman's acting in this episode just excited me so much I couldn't move. Clara was brave in this episode the way a lot of companions weren't, and it explained a lot, as well as letting us know her character a bit more--it's been rather neglected in the new series. She was vitally important in this episode and the climax to Clara's character was probably the best plotline/story arc climax that Moffat has written.
Jenny, Vastra and Strax: They're always entertaining and hilarious and
I didn't like the Great Intelligence. They were never really built up as a proper villain and were destroyed way too easy. But the white monster things were terrifying and their slow approach was subtle and creepy--very Moffat. While they really were pretty insignificant in this episode, it marked the end of that particular plotline and gave a lot of room for the whole Clara thing, leading to the ending....
Ending (this is the hugest thing you ever saw so don't read this if you haven't yet watched the episode):
HOW DID THEY MANAGE TO KEEP JOHN HURT'S APPEARANCE SECRET OH MY GOD I JUST-
*slaps self* stoppitstoppitstoppit you have your readers to think about.
Well, when we found out that John Hurt was playing a new, secret incarnation of the Doctor, we all freaked. "Steven Moffat is ruining everything and throwing everything off", "we hate him", "he needs to be sacked"... Actually to be completely honest I took part in some of this. But I take it all back right now. He managed to weave his way around the canon, so that all the Doctors that we know and love are still the "Doctor"s in the right order: Nine is still Nine, Ten is still Ten. But the emotion, oh my god the emotion in that last scene, it was perfect. It's like the most human reaction that Matt Smith could possibly have portrayed in that one moment. And it finally explained the title of the episode.
And oh gods the cliffhanger. The mysterious John Hurt was explaining that he had to do what he did (what is that) for the sake of peace and sanity, and Matt Smith was explaining that it was his greatest secret... And I was there just like whatwhatwhatWHATWHAT KEEP GOING
*wails* That was simply to leave us in agony for the 50th Anniversary right?
I will be holed up in a corner.