Ah, Ah, Ah… Spoilers
Gallifrey “A Long Time Ago”. A pair of grease monkeys watch a video screen on which William Hartnell is stealing a TARDIS. Clara appears by his side advising him that he is about to make a very big mistake. Then a voice over and we see her follow Doctors through various incarnations, attempting to save him. She was born to save The Doctor… we’re getting answers!
A prison, London 1893, a man in chains is chanting about something called “The Whisper Men” when Vastra appears outside his cell. He is a serial killer yet he wants to make a bargan – she refuses until he offers some information about The Doctor. She returns to see Jenny and they begin their plot to save The Doctor again. Strax has gone to Glasgow for a weekend of drinking and fighting; he receives a telegram from the pair at which point he asks his opponent to knock him out. Jenny and Vastra enter a shared trance like state; they are soon joined by Strax who asks them who else is coming.
Back in the modern day, Clara receives a letter from Vastra which explains that there is a soporific in a candle and on the paper that will allow her to enter the trance to communication with them. But there is one more to come…. it’s River. Hellllo Sweetie… introductions are made and Clara is surprised to see learn that Prof. Song is a female… oops, naughty Doctor! The look on River’s face is very much of the “I’ll kill him” variety.
The serial killer has given them co-ordinates in exchange for his life and the group discuss various issues (including his name), a place called Trenzalore (somewhere that has come up several times already as a place he must never go). when Jenny apologises deeply… she didn’t lock the door and now it seems she has been murdered! River slaps Vastra to wake her up, throws water over Strax to wake him up but they are both cornered by the Whispermen leaving only River and Clara in the trance. The Whispermen appear and repeat over and over “Tell The Doctor”. When River enquires what, The Great Intelligence replies “His friends will be lost if he does not go to Trenzalore”
Clara wakes up on the floor of her bedroom and The Doctor is blindfolded and looking for the two children… but of course they have done a runner. Clara summarises the events of the trance and mentions Trenzalore to which The Doctor bursts into tears. He runs off to the TARDIS; Clara follows him and he explains… the secret has not been discovered… Trenzalore is the grave and THAT has been found! Going there is the only way he can save Vastra, Jenny and Strax. He is going to break into his own tomb. The TARDIS is resisting but they make it under extreme protest by her. They crash to the surface and land in a graveyard. They see a giant replica of the TARDIS. It is enormous and The Doctor explains that it is the TARDIS and the large size is the time/space compression leaking out.
River appears at Clara’s side, explaining that the link is still active and that she cannot tell The Doctor that River is there – only Clara can see and hear her. Returning to Clara, he asks why she isn’t hurrying and he spots River’s grave. The pair discuss the woman briefly and then a group of Whispermen arrive. The Doctor tries to use his sonic screwdriver on them but it doesn’t work; River figures out that it must be a secret entrance and tells Clara to tell The Doctor that! It opens and the pair make their escape.
Vastra and Strax wake up in a chamber along with the body of Jenny but Strax revives her. Just in time The Great Intelligence arrives with a group of Whispermen. Jenny is shocked, she thought Doctor Simian was dead; Vastra explains that he died but that there is a creature possessing his body. The Great Intelligence describes the cruel and violent history of The Doctor. He also demonstrates the purpose of The Whispermen – spare bodies for him.
Walking through some catacombs, The Doctor and River explain her story to Clara but the two are also being chased by Whispermen. Clara’s memories are starting to return, events of the “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” are back in her memory. She challenges him – how can she die more than once?!
Finally, The Doctor and Clara arrive at the tomb. The Great Intelligence demands he opens the tomb – tell me your name. He refuses so The Whispermen are ordered to kill the others by stopping their hearts. The Doctor cries “please!” and the doors open. But he can’t understand it, he didn’t say his name… River did and still nobody but Clara can see or hear her but it seems that the TARDIS could sense her.
The group enter the tomb. It is a reconstruction of the TARDIS console room and at the centre is a mass of energy. It is a “body” of his journey through time and space. Getting too close would mean a paradox and being in the room is causing him pain. The Great Intelligence proclaims that he can destroy The Doctor, undo everything that he has done. He steps in and disappears. The Doctor screams in agony as he dies at once in every incarnation. As time is being rewritten, Jenny disappears and Strax attacks Vastra. She disintegrates him to stop him killing her. She is the only one who can remember anything.
Clara realises what she has to do – step in and save him! River advises her against it but Clara tells her it is the only way to do it. She is the soufflé girl… she is the impossible girl… and she goes in to save him in every incarnation where The Great Intelligence has destroyed him. Hurrah! We see a montage of her being heroic with most of the incarnations.
The Doctor wakes up and declares that he must go in to save Clara, giving the now-returned Strax and Jenny instruction on what to do if he doesn’t return. River pleads with him and tries to slap him but he grabs her arm. He could see her and hear her all along! He didn’t speak to her because he felt it would have hurt him too much. The pair kiss. Oo-er Mrs Robinson! Then he realises how odd that must have looked considering how nobody else could see her. She is an echo, an image from the library where he left her. Goodbye Sweetie…
Following saving all of time and space, Clara wakes up in a strange world with mist on the floor and various incarnations of The Doctor running past her. She hears her Doctor speaking – he tells her he is coming for her and despite the risk, he will not leave until he has her. He sends her the leaf before appearing behind her, he calls her to him. She runs over and the pair hug. But who is that in the background… a very ominous looking character with his back to them. The Doctor explains that “The Doctor” is a name you choose, a promise. That Doctor is the one who broke the promise. The two Doctors converse very briefly, the other Doctor attempts to justify his actions but is Berated by our Doctor and the pair leave.
So here we are, the grand finale and what a finale it was! This more than makes up for the three lacklustre episodes in this half of the season.
The implications of any Timelord visiting their own grave is clearly of the most terrible danger for space and time so it is no great wonder that this plot device was used for arguably the most dramatic season finales in recent Doctor Who history. It added a further edge, sprinkled in a little bit more shock value and made us wonder about what we might find.
Clara – the impossible girl made possible. So, these were not relations of hers. They were not ancestors or descendants. They were her, in some small part, one way or another each of them was her split across time and saving him across the generations. In one small plot point so many questions have been answered and how well they have been answered! We can assume that she was not turned to a dalek but had occupied the body of the one that was chained up knowing that it would make her assistance easier. The same goes with Victorian London. So yes, she was an ordinary girl and all the ambiguity of that is gone because she can at once be completely ordinary and impossible. Well done Moffat!
I doubt this is the end of The Great Intelligence; some small part of him is bound to have survived simply because we could and did save Clara from the timeline. He is a classic villain, one not seen for many years and I doubt it is the end for him.
But it is John Hurt’s Doctor that provides the biggest intrigue and it seems that The Sun got it spot on (despite claims that John Hurt had said it himself I was still a little doubtful, perhaps they had taken a few things out of context but seemingly not). Clearly, Hurt is not a future incarnation and must be one from the past – one that had been forgotten until The Great Intelligence fiddled with the timeline. This sets up an intriguing 50th anniversary special where Tennant and Smith will do battle with Hurt.
“What I did, I did without choice.”
“In the name of peace and sanity.”
“But not in the name of The Doctor.”
This Doctor (presumably the forgotten 9th) has done something terrible, something so terrible that he removed the incarnation from his memory. This can only be the Time War – he can only be the destroyer of the Daleks, or of the Timelords, or of both. I am hoping he is going to be a tragic character rather than a villainous one, a man burdened and then broken by a difficult choice. Roll on November and three Doctors in one story.