Television: Doctor Who, "The Name of the Doctor"

We watch Clara bounce through time in repeated attempts to save The Doctor. But apparently he's  never noticed her . . . Until now.

Also, some guy named Clarence (who seems to think he's Gollum) is in prison. He staves off execution by telling Vastra about The Doctor, giving away the location of The Doctor's greatest secret, prompting Vastra to make a "conference call." Jenny, Strax, Clara, and River Song all brought together via dream trance. But Jenny is murdered during their chat by some Buffy throw-backs who also threaten Strax and Vastra and tell Clara and River Song (you really kind of have to use both names with her, don't you?) that they must tell The Doctor to go to Trenzalore.

Apparently this is a bad idea, at least according to River Song.

The Doctor tells Clara it's where he's buried.

The TARDIS rears and bucks like an unhappy horse. (Good girl!) But The Doctor forces the issue and they crash land. In a soldiers' graveyard. River Song's grave is there, too. And a gigantic TARDIS, the TARDIS from the future, slowly growing like a rooted tree. And it is The Doctor's tomb.

Turns out River's (ha! one name! I did it!) grave is actually a secret entrance to The Doctor's tomb. But River really is dead, now existing only as so much collected data in a library.

The Great Intelligence, taking the form of Walter Simeon, brings Vastra, Strax, and a resuscitated Jenny to Trenzalore as well. He gives the age-old lecture about how The Doctor is really the murderer of millions, etc. He insists that The Doctor open the door to his own tomb. The Doctor is the only one who can do it, and the key is a word: The Doctor's name.

When The Doctor refuses, even as his friends are being heart-strangled, River Song speaks the name and opens the doors. (No, we don't get to hear it.) We do get to see The Doctor's "body," or basically what's left of his being, which is a collection of ropes of light that mark The Doctor's path, his travels through time and the universe. Simeon is determined to enter it, though The Doctor warns Simeon he will be destroyed if he does.

Simeon does it anyway, of course.

As he "rewrites" The Doctor's timeline, the lives and worlds The Doctor has saved begin to fall, cease to exist with no Doctor to have stood up for them.

And Clara realizes her duty is to go in after Simeon. Which is how, it turns out, she becomes The Impossible Girl. Fragmented over time in order to save The Doctor again and again.

And then The Doctor goes in after her.

Clara, having done her work (does this mean the Great Intelligence is finished? and are we ever going to get back to that Clarence/Gollum dude?), lands in a foggy part of The Doctor's "timestream," which is collapsing in on itself because The Doctor has entered it. He tells Clara he won't leave until he's got her, sends her the leaf that brought her parents together, is on the brink of saving her, and then John Hurt turns up.

Well, really it's The Doctor but without the name. That is to say, it's . . . the part of himself that never accepted, or perhaps rejected, his role as The Doctor. Kind of an evil twin, or one's dark half or whatever.

The Doctor (as we currently know him, in the form of Matt Smith) hauls Clara off. Apparently we're saving John Hurt for next season.


Not much of a story, really. After all the buildup about Trenzalore, I wanted and expected more. But the whole Anti-Doctor idea holds a modicum of appeal, if it's handled well. If not, it will likely play out like a bad soap opera. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

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