Bullet Points – Dr. Who 07:13

A leaf. Blowing in the wind. Scattershot. Without direction  Never knowing where it’s going or where it’s going to land.

The life of Clara Oswin Oswald, or a general reaction to this half of the series?

While I enjoyed this episode quite a bit, there were some issues with it that highlighted problems that the second half of the seventh series of Doctor Who.

But before I go into the details of the episode, I do have to put a major SPOILER warning up because there are a lot of plot details that need to be discussed in order to talk about this episode. So, if you haven’t seen it (especially the truly shocking ending) then please turn away.

All right, here we go.

* Once again we see the return of the Paternoster Gang having a “conference call” with Clara and River Song. I said it earlier this season and I will say it again; I would love a spin-off with the adventures of Madame Vastra, Strax, and Jenny. And I had to giggle at Jenny’s line about the new desktop theme of Vastra’s conference room (which was a nice callback to the reference of calling the TARDIS re-designs desktop themes).

* And a welcome return to the (late) Professor River Song. It’s always a treat to see Alex Kingston tear up the screen and she and Matt Smith have such crackling chemistry that it’s delightful to watch. Their final (?) scene together was touching as hell.

* It was interesting watching Dr. Simeon – excuse me, The Great Intelligence – rattle off some of the less flattering names and deeds to the Paternoster Gang. This has been a constant refrain, especially in Nu-Who: to his friends, the Doctor is a wonderful protector, but to his enemies he’s a blood-soaked murderer. You will recall that this is the man who basically ended the Time War and wiped out not only the Daleks but also the Time Lords as well. Hold that thought for later.

* So we finally see Trenzalore, the planet that was referenced in the prophecy at the end of Series 6. And we see what the battle-scarred planet holds, the tomb of the Doctor. What a brilliant idea that the Doctor’s tomb wouldn’t house his body but his own personal time stream in a massive masouleum-sized TARDIS. Especially when he turned the sonic screwdriver to it and we heard audio clips from all of the past Doctors. And how fitting that the time stream scar was in the place of the console.

* So we now know the mystery of Clara as she said the correct version of her catchphrase, “Run. Run, you clever boy. And remember me.” And we now know that she inserted himself all throughout the Doctor’s timeline to save him. While it was cheesy to see Clara green-screened into past adventures, it lent a nifty effect, especially when she told the First Doctor which TARDIS to steal. That said, even though we know who Clara is, we still don’t know anything about her really. As a character she is basically a cipher; a glorified plot device with no real wants or desires. It is a testament to Jenna-Louise Coleman’s charismatic performance that we the audience don’t really notice the character flaws thanks to her performance (and her strong on-screen chemistry with Matt Smith).

* Speaking of performances, everyone across the board was in fine form acting wise.

And then there was this at the end…

***If you haven’t seen the episode, stop now as this is one of the biggest spoilers of the episode. And now that it has aired, we know why show runner Stephen Moffatt was so upset that DVDs of the finale had leaked prior to airing. Seriously. Stop now.***

***

Last Warning.

***

And there it is; the moment that made all of Who fandom rise and in one voice declare “WTF?!?” It has been long known that John Hunt would be featured in the 50th Anniversary Episode, but the exact nature of his role has been top secret. Well, now we know. The question is; who is he exactly? There has been talk that this might be some lost, hidden regeneration between the Eighth and Ninth Doctors and that this one did something so unspeakable to end the Time War that he didn’t go by the name of the Doctor. Another theory is that this could be a different version of the Doctor (like the Valeyard, which was referenced in this episode).

Alas we have to wait till November, with the forthcoming mini-series An Adventure In Space and Time to console us, as well as provide a history lesson on the creation of the show.

Until then, I will see you on November 23 for the 50th Anniversary special.

Originally Published on 20 May 2013 as part of my column “The Idiot Box” for l’etoile magazine.

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