Doctor Who: The Man Between Heaven and Hell, the Roses in The Tardis

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I have watched hundreds of episodes of Doctor Who, both classic and new. I have read dozens of books and comics, heard a similar number of audio stories, and pored over Tardis Wiki daily. I have engrossed myself in this show so deep that I can honestly say I have occasionally lost the divide between fiction and reality.

But never, never in the years have I ever watched an episode before where I turned to my wife and said, "We're watching that again... right now." Never, until "The Name of the Doctor."

By now I will assume that everyone has seen the episode, and if not then please stop reading and go do so. I cannot in anyway comment on the depth and genius of Steven Moffat's masterpiece without mentioning the revelations it puts forth. So past this point, as River would say, spoilers.

Flashback
Review: Nightmare in Silver

Literally everything that has been hinted at since the birth of the Eleventh Doctor comes to its head, answering so many questions but leaving so many more. The Great Intelligence returns for its, presumably final outing, with Richard E. Grant turning in one of those rare villainous performances as The Doctor's equal. Only John Simms and Anthony Head have been able to hold their own as menacing intellectual equals to the mad genius of the Lord of Time, and I am very sad to see him go.

The plot of the Great Intelligence is to lure The Doctor to the one place no time traveler (Save apparently Doc Brown) is supposed to go, the home of his grave. At some point throughout all the universe is the singularity at which you cease to exist, even for such as The Doctor. The fields of Trenzalore, apparently an Arlington Cemetery for the soldiers that fall in The Doctor's last battle, is where the endless story finally ends.

Clara, Jenny, Vastra, and Strax all accompany The Doctor to the ruined hulk of the Tardis, now a rotting giant police box as the transdimensional circuits decay. The Great Intelligence seeks the body of The Doctor, the giant tear in the hole of existence that his journeys have caused, in order to end his horrible disembodied life. He leaps into The Doctor's time stream and subsequently rewrites every victory as a defeat, torturing his old foe with a million, billion deaths across his own existence.

That story of The Doctor, the hero we have followed for 50 years, is the main focus of the episode. Bar none, no opening in any entertainment medium ever has had the pull and grip of the first five minutes of "The Name of the Doctor" save perhaps the opening credits of Watchmen.

We see Clara, scattered across the timeline of The Doctor. She stands on Gallifrey, cautioning the First Doctor to steal the correct Tardis. She calls for the Seventh Doctor as he dangles precariously above a ledge, hails the Third Doctor as he drives by in Bessie, and desperately seeks him when his Sixth and Second incarnations meet. She is scattered throughout all of time and space with one mission, one purpose; save The Doctor.


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5 comments
drusilla.grey
drusilla.grey

I agree that it was by far the best episode of this series. But there are some holes in the Clara wrap up that are bothering me. I'm hoping they get cleared up in November, but rather doubt it will happen.

If she was sent to save the Doctor, then why does she never seem to know who he is (despite this episode's cleaver clipping of their meeting in the Snowmen). And if she is supposedly everywhere as an echo of herself, then each echo should fade once it has completed its mission of saving the Doctor. Not born and miraculously always given the same name then dying. The episode clearly made the point that echos fade. As we are told River is an echo and she fades when he says goodbye.

Also, I hope they address at some point how River died.

Thenonymous
Thenonymous

I guess I missed something. "Between McGann & Eccleston?"

Since the Doctor's entire timeline was being represented - both past and future - I took from it that John Hurt was The Valeyard. Wouldn't that (sorta) make him "the evil yet to come"?

drusilla.grey
drusilla.grey

There are competing theories on this. However, I am with Jef on this one. If he was yet to come, Eleven would not know that what he had done was not in the spirit if the Doctor. Further, his outfit is a cross between what McGann and Eccleston wore. And finally, it will give a definitive answer of what exactly happened to Eight.

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