Well, it’s officially over. This season of Doctor Who. And although I had fears it would end with silence, and a whimper, it actually ended with a loud bang. And although I have not always liked this grand story arc concerning the Doctor’s death, it came to a satisfying conclusion. Read no further if you want to avoid spoilers.
The episode begins with a skyline view of London. There’s just one problem, though: there’s a steam train running through the Gherkin building. We eventually discover, via Ian McNiece reprising his role as Churchill, that time has completely stopped. Churchill, who is Caesar of this time-stopped world, calls for his soothsayer, who turns out to be the Doctor.
The Doctor explains his story, but as we know, this all happened because of a woman. Isn’t that always the case? Or as the Doctor describes her, “Hell in High Heels.” At this point, we know he’s referring to River Song. I quite liked that description of her, by the way. Very fitting.
The Doctor begins to tell Churchill that he was busy during the day of his death, visiting old acquaintances (including the Tesselecta and a headless monk) and obviously making plans. Because we are now being shown that the Doctor was not resigned to his ultimate fate and death. The Doctor is starting to try to figure out a way to cheat it. Not like last week, when he seemed to be ready for it.
We also discover that in Silencio, the younger River Song (in the astronaut suit) refused to kill the Doctor. And because it was a fixed point in time and the Doctor was fated to die, the entire time of the world stopped.
Of course, once the Doctor has told Churchill about all of this, the Silence monsters put in an appearance. Amy shows up and saves the day (again) and whisks the Doctor off to Cairo.
River Song awaits the Doctor there, but refuses to touch him, as it will send them both back to Lake Silencio and force them to re-live that scene. But if she still chooses not to kill the Doctor, time will eventually dissipate and everyone will die. But River has sent out a beacon to the entire universe because she refuses to let the Doctor die without at least knowing how much he is loved. And it’s obvious that he is loved by the response that beacon gets. The Doctor ends up marrying River Song and whispering a secret to her. And when they kiss, they are finally forced to go back to that point in time where she kills him.
And she does. Sort of. Although what River killed was actually a Tesselecta. And this was the secret the Doctor whispered to her as they married.
River doesn’t keep the secret, though, as we knew she wouldn’t. She tells her mom and dad, Amy and Rory. Who are pretty happy that things worked out in the end.
In the final scene, we see the Doctor returning the headless monk to his resting place. But there’s still the issue of the un-asked question and it’s answer. Which was supposedly why the Doctor had to die in the first place.
But it has something to do with “Doctor… Who?” This is what the headless monk repeated several times.
Although this plot got a little complicated and dragged the series down this past season, I have to admit it came together fairly well at the end. My only problem is that all of the surprises have been taken away from us. We already knew River Song was the killer, we were practically handed the fact that she was Amy and Rory’s daughter, we already knew she’d get married to the Doctor and we already knew he wouldn’t die. In fact, I pretty much had figured out how he’d survive this episode once I had seen the scene with the Tesselecta.
Who needs fans giving us spoilers when Stephen Moffat’s been doing that all season? And I’m a little disappointed that the mysterious River Song from “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” is now someone we know too much about. I preferred her as an enigma. She’s so much less interesting now.
However, with all of that being said, I still enjoyed watching the episode. It proved to be a fun adventure-packed roller-coaster of a ride, which is what I like in my Doctor Who episodes. And I’m looking forward to next season, which I hope will feature much more of Matt Smith and a little less of everyone else, as I keep complaining about. Matt is a fantastic Doctor and needs more screen time.
My favorite part of this episode, by the way, was the look on Amy’s face when she realized that she was the Doctor’s mother-in-law. That was priceless. I think Amy has finally grown on me.
Visually speaking, watching the episode was like dropping acid. There were rows and rows of skulls that were still sort of alive, a headless monk, the Silence monsters and people in eye patches. The world where all time was stopped was also quite a trip: pterodactys flying over London, floating cars tied up to hot air balloons and Egyptian pyramids with steam trains riding into them. Lots of imagination went into making this episode look good.
And I guess, I have to admit, it was pretty good.