This review/recap will be all over the show, as I am still smarting from the episode. In the end Smith’s performance held a rather crazy episode together, I have to admit that during the first half I wasn’t sold but the last 11 or so minutes had me. See what I did there?
Firstly, who would want to live in a town called Christmas? Especially one located on a truth field? Nope. And yet, it exists and the Papal Mainframe, a space church headed by Mother Superious Tasha Lem, someone with an interesting relationship with the Doctor indeed, have the Doctor go investigatin’ a town called Christmas. Which happens to be located on a planet that Handles (a severed Cyberman head) called Gallifrey. I suppose Handles was confused by the crack in the wall, really a split in the skin of reality- scar tissue from the 26th of June 2010 when the TARDIS blew up and took the universe with it, projecting a request for information. A question. Doctor Who?
The oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight. Doctor Who? If the Doctor speaks his name the Timelords will be able to come back into this universe, and what’s wrong with that? Well, according to the Doctor it would be “Hell, all hell. That’s what happens if the Timelords come back.” Basically if the Timelords were to come back the Time War would begin anew. They’re asking for his help through the crack in time, but if he says it all of his enemies will destroy Tranzalore and all the people on it- including the town of Christmas. The first thing the Doctor does is trick Clara, who he’d picked up from Christmas dinner with her family after giving them a full monty, into going into the TARDIS and sending her home.
With a bit of exposition the Doctor confirms what Moffat had been saying and we’ve been trying to wrap our heads around, that Hurt’s doctor counted as did Ten’s regeneration, even if he’d kept his foxy face- making Smith’s doctor the last. Well. Unless of course the Timelords help a Doctor out.
The Doctor has been stranded on Christmas (yes that’s the name of the town on Trenzalore) for over 300 years. The TARDIS took ages to get back to him, after he sent Clara back to earth on it, because she clung to it when she realised he tricked her. What on earth is wrong with him? Last time he tricked a companion into safety, Rose, she hacked the TARDIS console and absorbed the time vortex and became some all powerful being- this time Clara did a Jack Harkness and the TARDIS had to use power to keep her alive while they were in space.
With some more exposition, courtesy of Mother Superious (who’s actually really dead and now a Dalek unit) we discover that the Papal Mainfrain’s, now the Church dedicated to Silence, Kovarian branch were responsible for the TARDIS blowing up and thus creating the cracks in time when they tried to kill him and prevent him from ever making it to Trenzalore to this Christmas hell- I mean to the town of Christmas. This episode has been rather here there and everywhere- but an origin story for the Silence sect? Moffat, are you even trying?
The crack disappeared from the wall when Clara begged the Timelords on the other side to help the Doctor who was walking up the clocktower to his death. Irony, the Daleks have been trying to kill him for how long- and what does him in is old age. Love it. The crack reappears in the sky, as the Timelords do as she had asked and help the Doctor who’s dying from old age. The question is, however, did the Timelords send him one regeneration or a whole new set? The doctor, finally looking his [old] age, dances around on the clock tower, singing ‘regeneration 13’ before using regenerative energy to destroy the Dalek mothership. He then returns to the TARDIS to complete the regeneration cycle.
‘Times change and so must I.’ Smith’s final speech as the Doctor was heartbreaking, if beautifully done. The regeneration had begun and it reset the Doctor’s appearance so he looked young for his goodbye speech- it seems Ten wasn’t the only vain guy.
When we saw the fish fingers and custard and Amy and she says “Raggedy man, goodnight.” I about lost my grip on my tears- despite not being able to get over their wigs. However in the end it was rather apt, Smith’s farewell. And the regeneration itself was pretty quick, while there were tears during his speech he didn’t mess around about changing.
Any moment now, he’s a comin’.
And here he is, Capaldi’s first words are ‘Kidneys, I’ve got new kidneys!’ His Scottish accent intact which is more than I can say about his knowledge of flying the TARDIS!
And now? We wait.
– So that’s what was behind his door, huh? The crack in time. Which emits a message, ‘Doctor Who?’
– Handles though, Handles was my favourite this episode. ‘When- when.’ Oh Handles! RIP Handles. Who’d been with the Doctor for a good 300 years. Um longest serving companion?