Incremental progress meets Zeno’s Paradox

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. BerserkRL
    December 25, 2013 @ 12:07 am

    I haven't gotten much out of it so far.


  2. Anton B
    December 25, 2013 @ 1:10 am

    It's not Time yet.

    Happy Xmas everyone!


  3. Bennett
    December 25, 2013 @ 2:27 am

    Time? Funny old business, time. It delights in frustrating your plans.

    Christmas has just arrived, it's still here, it's already gone, it's gone for ages. It all depends on where you are and how you look at it.

    I'm in a quandry and it's about time. Do I stay up all night to bear witness to the Doctor's final bow in the small hours of the morning? Or should I try to sleep, knowing that somehow – in some small way – the man who will wake up will not be the same as the man I am right now?

    The latter seems appropriate.


  4. Reinder Dijkhuis
    December 25, 2013 @ 2:40 am

    It's not linear. It's a great big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey… stuff.


  5. Lewis Christian
    December 25, 2013 @ 6:03 am

    Time is ticking away…


  6. Spacewarp
    December 25, 2013 @ 6:25 am

    Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping…into the future….


  7. Seeing_I
    December 25, 2013 @ 7:30 am


  8. Nyq Only
    December 25, 2013 @ 9:01 am

    Time is waiting in the wings…


  9. Reinder Dijkhuis
    December 25, 2013 @ 10:48 am

    Now that I've seen it, the one aspect of time that is at the forefront of my mind is that you can't get it back.


  10. Anton B
    December 25, 2013 @ 10:51 am

    Well, I thought that was a bit all over the place. Matt Smith's swan song performance stole the show though. I'm gonna need some time to process it before I comment any further, also do we need to worry about spoilers? What's the consensus on how long is enough to wait before discussing details?


  11. Daibhid C
    December 25, 2013 @ 11:16 am

    Well, I enjoyed it, although my sister, who has spent the last several weeks sitting through all the Star Wars movies with my nephew, appears to have been permenantly stuck in "continuity nitpick" mode as a result, and under her interogation I was forced to admit that the actions of [SPOILER] don't make much sense.


  12. Anton B
    December 25, 2013 @ 11:45 am

    I think the only continuity error was how the TARDIS got to Trenzalor in the first place as The Doctor and Clara beamed down without it and it was established that it couldn't break through the shields. I may have to watch again to check though.


  13. Anton B
    December 25, 2013 @ 11:47 am

    He speaks of senseless things. His script is Steven Moffat's…


  14. Chicanery
    December 25, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

    I thought it was terrible. Empty continuity references, unearned pathos, explosive regeneration energy projectiles (I have no idea), half baked resolutions, and unevennpacing glossing over large swathes of character development. Also the make up was embarrassingly executed.

    Capaldi was great, mind.


  15. Marionette
    December 25, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

    Spoiler: every time you think it's about to get interesting, it doesn't. Tries hard to outdo the previous regeneration for maudlin, but thankfully fails. How could anyone make a fight between the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, and the Silence this dull?


  16. J Mairs
    December 25, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

    I haven't quite decided if I'm happy with the origins of the Silents or not.

    Interesting revelation about what was in Room 11 though…


  17. Toby Brown
    December 25, 2013 @ 1:47 pm


    I seem to be one of the very very few people who absolutely adored it. I think people expected it to be more epic, whereas for a quaint little Christmas story it's perfect and I think it's completely aware of that and trades on it; there's one of the most massive battles in the universe going on above their heads, Gallifrey might be coming back, the Doctor's dying and… we get a story about the Doctor visiting Clara for Christmas and helping with the turkey and then chooses to settle down in a little village and repairing toys because he's the Doctor and that's the kind of thing the Doctor does and to him, both literally and figuratively, the fate of one small town is the fate of the entire universe. As above so below.
    Then the regeneration was handled perfectly in my opinion.The bow tie dropping, I will always remember when the Doctor was me, goodnight raggedy man… I was in floods. People can complain about how it's a bit over the top and pulling on the heart strings but a character and actor people absolutely love is leaving, I think complaining about over-emotional is a bit of a stretch.
    Also, my parents and sister loved it and they're the definition of 'casual viewer', so it seems to have worked on that level as well.


  18. Toby Brown
    December 25, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

    Was I also the only who thought it was quite a nice narrative collapse? The doctor gives up travelling and is going to die soon according to the rules of the show and anyway, it would be much more cool to watch the daleks have a massive space battle instead of watching an old guy fix a leaky roof. The solution? The show just shrugs and says the Doctor breaks the rules all the time, so suck on that, let's move along and have fun with this crazy Scottish guy.


  19. Anton B
    December 25, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

    okay then…SPOILERS!!!

    The use of magic realism, metaphor and pathetic fallacy is something Moffat has been doing in Doctor Who since The Eleventh Hour. Continuing and tying up the fairy -tale themes and references was a fitting way to end Smith's run whose mise en scene has conistantly been the dark mirror that reveals the liminal space between stories, lies and truth all along. Of course if your preference is for more straightforward Sci-Fi storytelling then I can understand your not enjoying this as much as some of us did. There was no deus ex machina here. The method of the denoument was set up and developed as the main theme of the narrative from the start. The Doctor lies, or rather tells stories, and then crashes into those stories. 'You can't cook a turkey without a time machine' indeed! Really? The mirroring of the inevitable end of this, the most fictive of Doctors was achieved through the various echoing call-backs and references to his past in order to free up his future. No magic potions for the Raggedy Man. It's fish fingers and custard for this folk tale incarnation with his succession of nursery rhyme sing-song prophecies. Ending his life as both Geppeto like old puppeteer and Pinochio puppet (the Doctor lies) was a beautiful image.The narrative was a reflection on how the 'Crack in Time' which brought this Doctor to our world can be both prison and escape route. It'll all be okay though, We can all live happily ever after. Just remember – 'we're all stories in the end'.

    Now. 'Does anyone know how to fly this thing?'


  20. David Anderson
    December 25, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

    As with many Moffat stories I was initially underwhelmed. There were bits that didn't work. But the good bits have been sticking with me all evening.

    (It's a bit tricky – we've been complaining that Moffat hasn't wrapped up all his plot strands, and now Moffat's told us that they were wrapped up and he's spelling it out for us, we complain it's empty continuity. New fan theory: the reason the Doctors have been exploding when they've regenerated in the New Series is that the Time Lords weaponised regeneration during the Time War. Weaponising regeneration would make a lot of tactical sense. Hence this time round the Doctor got the fully weaponised variant.)

    Perhaps not perfect, but it did what it was meant to do.


  21. Ed Azad
    December 25, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

    It was rather standard for Eleven, and of Doctor Who "specials" in particular. "Day" was obliged to epic, but that's an anomaly. And not because it was more explosive, but because it had internal logic and Chekhov's guns and the usual televisual tropes Doctor Who hates. Ordinarily, the show writes us into a corner, declares "let's change the channel!", and the Doctor magically wins via the power of children or jammy dodgers or something.

    But, like, wrestling and kayfabe, I like to pretend the Doctor might lose. Moffat's too shrewd for that. Which might explain Eleven's tenure has been a long, purposeful cock block.


  22. Prandeamus
    December 25, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

    If your theory holds, and I quite like it, it's surely one more thing that The Moff has almost but not quite stolen from Mad Larry. There are allusions to weaponised regenerations …. Or something quite close … In Dead Romance.


  23. Prandeamus
    December 25, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

    Anyone complaining about overwrought emotions has surely forgotten the last ten minutes of Tennant. I loved watching that regeneration at the time but the extended walk through memory lane doesn't bear repeated watching. Will this episode? Well, time will tell, as it usually does. I would like to say a farewell to Matt Smith whose performances have been wonderful and will be missed.


  24. Lewis Christian
    December 25, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

    Mr Gaiman once speculated that regenerations get progressively more and more explosive/uncontrolled as they go through the cycle. That theory kinda works!


  25. encyclops
    December 25, 2013 @ 5:37 pm

    I agree with everything except your last line. I might like it better on the second viewing, but first time through I thought it was dreadful. Come back, "The End of Time," all is forgiven.


  26. encyclops
    December 25, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

    chooses to settle down in a little village and repairing toys because he's the Doctor and that's the kind of thing the Doctor does

    Except that's not the kind of thing THIS Doctor does — see "Vincent and the Doctor" and "The Power of Three."

    As for casual viewers, I watched it with my girlfriend, who's started watching Eccleston and Tennant mainly to understand what the hell I'm talking about, and she hated it too. I'm genuinely glad to hear someone liked it, though.


  27. David Ainsworth
    December 25, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

    The TARDIS key. The Doctor was required to surrender it because it could get the TARDIS past the shields, remember? And he had a second key hidden in his wig.


  28. David Ainsworth
    December 25, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

    I like how understated everything was. The constant thread here has been Moffat trolling the fans. Anyone reasonable expected what we got brief flashes of, a huge war with all of the Doctor's foes involved, a massive confrontation, the Silents bringing a subtle plan to fruition, maybe the return of an old enemy or someone from the Doctor's distant past.

    That story, of course, is the story whose end we've already seen. That's the final battle on Trenzalore. The place of graves. The place where the Doctor dies. And so the story we got instead is the Doctor doing what Clara keeps begging him to do. Changing the future by refusing to allow that final war to happen. Saving a few lives now, because they matter. Christmas is protected.

    And the resolution? The ultimate troll of fans. Count the number of plot contrivances and deus ex machina on order here. Will Tasha Lem turn out to be River Song, here to save the Doctor again? Clara rides through the Time Vortex on the outside of the TARDIS, so will she be Bad Wolfing the Doctor out of trouble? Heck, I more than half expected the Doctor to look like Santa Claus near the end there! But the story confounds us at every turn.

    Instead, we get the ultimate Cold War, which ends (as it must) with the Doctor's death. And we get the answer to the question which could never be answered, the question of the Doctor's name, the question which sat in plain sight right alongside the answer. "The Name of the Doctor" answers the question it poses. I should have guessed that in writing on the Internet or something so I could claim empty glory now.

    Of course the biggest regeneration shock ever blows up the Daleks. Totally an incidental thing, too. This isn't their story. It's about what the Doctor will die for, and why he gets to live. It's about the cracks in the narrative that follow him around and threaten to swallow him up, the tears in the walls of the story which give him life instead of death. It's about the BIGGEST regeneration EVER followed by the actual regeneration, so quiet you can miss it if you blink. It's about how the Doctor and his story live in the cracks, the gaps, the places where the rules break down, where all the people who insist that everything be serious and make sense create graves and tombs and all those still willing to play can delight in the possibility of hope, not as a thing that isn't real but as a fiction that can change the world around us. A place where we can cry when "Handles" dies and where we can later laugh regardless of whether the TARDIS phone is hooked up to the console next series.

    Also, I'm calling it now, the Doctor will eventually travel between dimensions and see Gallifrey again. But not until he's ginger.


  29. BerserkRL
    December 25, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

    My gripe: In "A Good Man Goes to War" it was implied that the Doctor's enemies seek Silence because it's the "perfect answer" to "the man who talks, the man who reasons," and that e.g. the Headless Monks are headless so that they "never can be persuaded," i.e. that Silence vs. the Doctor = faith vs. reason. But here we learn that their reason for wanting Silence to fall has nothing to do with that.


  30. Froborr
    December 25, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

    The absolute worst possible thing that could happen, happened–the Doctor says he has a new cycle of regenerations.

    Which means this ISN'T the regeneration limit finally being taken out back and shot as it should have been from the start, it's the regeneration limit being codified into stone as something that will have to be dealt with again in 2070 or whenever. Blagh.


  31. encyclops
    December 25, 2013 @ 6:31 pm

    all the people who insist that everything be serious and make sense create graves and tombs and all those still willing to play

    I'm so willing to play, dude. I loved the Handles bits. The "we're naked under these holograms" parts were a little embarrassing (fun is more fun when it's less forced) but OK, cool. But even my girlfriend said "this show is too serious" toward the end.


  32. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 25, 2013 @ 6:34 pm

    Given the ease with which it was dealt with this time, I'm not really worried.


  33. John
    December 25, 2013 @ 6:35 pm

    It's a regeneration story. I'm not sure what people were looking for, but I thought it was pretty great.

    But Smith and Coleman were both great, I loved Handles, the Cyberman head companion (anyone else get a whiff of K-9 there?), and I thought the idea of the Doctor staying on Trenzalore until he grows old and dies was lovely. The regeneration scene was great, and I'm intrigued to see what Capaldi does with the role.

    Was it perfect? Of course not, but a regeneration episode pretty much isn't going to be. The conclusion to the continuity was perfunctory, but I thought it held together well enough, and I don't see any particular reason to go much further than that – those stories are in the past, so I don't need much more than a logical conclusion. The whole business with "having to tell the truth" was clever, but completely abandoned within five minutes, but whatever. It's Moffat – there's always going to be way more ideas than he has time for. The regeneration weapon killing all the Daleks was silly, but who cares? The Daleks were just a device; it wasn't their story. The regeneration story is ultimately about the Doctor, and I thought this was a pretty solid capstone to the Smith era.


  34. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 25, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

    Plus, the relevant bit of my Deadly Assassin entry still works.


  35. John
    December 25, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

    Also, given the number of internet assholes determined to give up on the show if it just ignores the regeneration limit, better to do it this way than just to ignore it. Now it's meaningless – whenever the 26th Doctor regenerates (if we ever get to that point, of course), we can just give him a new set of regenerations. And so on indefinitely.


  36. encyclops
    December 25, 2013 @ 6:46 pm

    Was it perfect? Of course not, but a regeneration episode pretty much isn't going to be.

    That was my first thought, but then I remembered how much I loved pretty much every regeneration story except "Time and the Rani" , the TV movie, and "The End of Time."

    I think if Moffat had just been able to quiet down the epic and focus on the heart of the story, which was the Doctor's decision to settle down for the longest base under siege ever (when, as I mentioned above, this Doctor has always been among the most hyperactive and resistant to "settling down" anywhere or anywhen), I probably would have dug it a lot more. I mean, it's Trenzalore, so it can only be so non-epic, but still.

    I'm glad he at least didn't let the Time Lords come squishing through the Crack. I find myself deeply uncomfortable with the idea of them coming back.


  37. Doctor Memory
    December 25, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

    Let's not go mad here. This story had its problems, but at no point did the Master bounce around like an electrified ping-pong ball, nor did Tim Dalton expectorate on anyone.


  38. encyclops
    December 25, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

    Oh come on, "The End of Time" had bigger problems than that. One word: "potions." πŸ™‚ I just watched it again recently so I remember vividly how little I liked it. I'm just saying that "The Time of the Doctor" put into perspective for me how difficult it is to craft a satisfying farewell to a beloved Doctor, and I'm inclined to cut the earlier two-parter a bit more slack after watching this.


  39. John
    December 25, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

    The Caves of Androzani is a great story, but not really a regeneration story – there's just a regeneration tacked on at the end. But, sure, a better story than this.

    Logopolis seems to me considerably more disappointing than this, although better than End of Time. The War Games is great in its way, although I'm not sure it's a proper regeneration except in retrospect. But, at the very least, it has some serious pacing problems. I've never seen Tenth Planet or Planet of the Spiders, so I can't comment. But I don't think at this point they can close out a Doctor without some attempt at epicness. But I thought the epicness was largely a shaggy dog – it seemed to me that it was about as quieted down and focused on character as a giant Christmas special regeneration extravaganza could be.


  40. Bennett
    December 25, 2013 @ 7:14 pm

    Will Tasha Lem turn out to be River Song, here to save the Doctor again?

    Before watching the episode, the thought occured to me that Tasha Lem – with her very anagram-looking name – may be an incarnation of the Master. I dismissed it as crazy offhand, but….

    Well, the 'psycopath' and 'she doesn't like aging' lines suggest River so strongly, while also applying to the Master as well – it would work so nice as a bluff.

    On the other hand, there's the whole River's-projection-remaining-on-Trenzalore-after-Clara-leaves thing emphasised in The Name of the Doctor….which her being Lem could go towards explaining.

    Basically, after four years under Moffat's tenure I literally have no idea what to expect any more. I find that good.


  41. UrsulaL
    December 25, 2013 @ 7:14 pm

    This episode had a rather odd place in the progress of the program as a whole.

    A month ago, we had the 50th anniversary. They had been building up to it for a year. They went utterly nuts with promoting it and celebrating the show for the last month. It was supported by some fantastic material. "The Doctor Revisited", "An Adventure in Space and Time," and "Night of the Doctor." It went into theaters, it was in 3d, it was something that was far beyond a mere TV episode.

    Not to mention "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot." Which if not the most lavish of the anniversary celebrations was in some ways the most celebratory, with countless people pitching in, many unpaid, to do little bits to be part of the event.

    Now, all of that is over.

    What we have is still a special, but just another Christmas Special, not a half-century extravaganza.

    One of the trickiest things this episode had to do is scale back expectations. The program could not possibly sustain the level of excitement that was the 50th.

    So there had to be a letdown. Even if it wasn't this episode, there would, inevitably, come the episode that was no longer part of the celebration of half a century of history but which was simply the next of (hopefully) many more.

    So this was about the rebirth of the Doctor, and the show. The Doctor had lived his life, in fifty years of ours, in two thousand years of his. In the end, he gave up being what we, the audience, know the Doctor as, a time traveling adventurer. He stopped. He spent his last centuries holding back war, unable to stop it, only able to contain it, focused on protecting one small town, on one backwater planet, knowing that this would end with his death and the destruction of everything that he came to love about the town. He became an icon, the thing of the games and stories of children. He was celebrated for his past, by the people of that town, for all the things he had done for them. But he couldn't last forever in that stasis of celebration.

    The Doctor had to sacrifice everything in the end. To die to hold back the war, to accept that his story was ending. Even to say goodbye to the very thing that made him beloved, both the protection of the town that made him beloved to the townspeople, and to his adventuring with Companions that made him beloved to the audience.

    And what saved him, in the end, was a gift. The Time Lords, reaching through the Crack, with the gift of another set of regenerations. Something he didn't expect, wasn't trying to earn or win or buy or steal.

    This wasn't a gift without strings. The Time Lords know that the only thing that could bring them back was the Doctor. They, thanks to Clara, came to realize that he wasn't going to be able to bring them back without restarting the war, that continuing as they had been, pleading through the crack for him to say his name and free them, would only doom them to the very destruction that he had saved them from. They came to realize that he was dying, and if they continued as they had been, he would die, and with him, any chance of him being able to save them.

    But, in an act of grace, giving the Doctor a new set of regenerations, they gave him the ability to end the stalemate. They gave him another 12 regenerations. Perhaps another two thousand years. Maybe, just maybe, enough time and life for him to bring them back to a peaceful place in the universe.

    And so he starts again, with a new face, and a new lifetime ahead of him.

    But he's also no longer the face we call Eleven. That story, the 50th anniversary, the Doctor's first lifetime of 2000 years, is over. He's starting again, at the beginning of a lifetime, once again a Time Lord in a stolen TARDIS he doesn't know how to fly.

    The stories won't be the triumph of a Time Lord lifetime that we've just had. They'll be regular episodes again.

    And this episode brings us back to storytelling on that scale.


  42. John
    December 25, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

    To add to this – I think that there's just inherently different expectations for what a regeneration story will be in the modern era than there was earlier. With Eccleston, they could get away with it, because the regeneration ultimately ended up being just as much part of reintroducing the show as anything else. But with Tennant and Smith they couldn't just have a random adventure that ends with regeneration, as most earlier doctors did (and where Androzani is obviously the gold standard, in that the random story was arguably a microcosm of what the Fifth Doctor's story should have been, if not what it actually was in practice).

    They had to use that episode to really try to close out that Doctor's whole story, which is enormously difficult. I certainly much preferred this to End of Time, which had its moments (I still kind of love the part where Timothy Dalton's narrator turns out to be Rassillon speaking to the Time Lord High Council at the end of Part 1), but was super-bloated and much more self-congratulatory.


  43. John
    December 25, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

    I didn't think of it at the time, but Tasha Lem turning out to be a somehow regenerated River would be quite an interesting twist somewhere down the line. Although surely increasing the Ontological confusion with River's story – since River will now have been raised by a breakaway sect of a religion which a later version of her was the head of…my brain is starting to hurt. A genderbended Master would also be neat, although require a lot more explanation.


  44. encyclops
    December 25, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

    I'll cheerfully agree that few of the regeneration stories in the classic era did what I wanted from this one, though I think "Caves" is one of those that actually kind of managed it, along with "Spiders" — though the former is almost universally admired and the latter generally isn't (I love it, myself), both at least appear to have something to say about the Doctors they're killing off. This one wants to, and maybe when I watch it again I'll feel it's a bit more coherent on the topic.

    I loved Logopolis, too, though I don't think it had much to say about the Fourth Doctor as a character, except that he lived like he could go on forever, and no one lives forever. The War Games is long, but I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed this, or, yes, The End of Time.


  45. Doctor Memory
    December 25, 2013 @ 7:42 pm

    Hand-waving madly here: the Silence that we encounter in AGMGTW and earlier are, per this story, a schism from the original Church of the Silence (itself an "unscheduled faith change" from the Church of the Papal Mainframe) — and we don't know how long ago or after how many pitched battles with the Daleks et al that the Kovarians split off.

    By the time the Doctor encounters them on Earth, it could have been several centuries or more (potentially much, much more, since the Silence are also time-travellers) since they split from the main group at Trenzalore, and their official theological reasons for wanting the Doctor silenced could have "evolved" considerably (as most theologies do) from the original difference of "stay on Trenzalore and try to keep him quiet" versus "go back in time and try an increasingly silly series of plans to keep him from ever reaching Trenzalore."

    Or perhaps with less handwaving: maybe Madame Kovarian just didn't share the real story with most of her minions.


  46. Ibu Profin
    December 25, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

    Of course, to be absolutely accurate, you mean the 23rd Doctor. This is presuming that there won't be any incarnations in this next cycle who aren't given a number (such as had happened with the War Doctor) or that will keep their face for vanity reasons (such as had happened when Ten chose not to change his appearance during the Stolen Earth incident.)

    A new cycle means that the 11th Doctor (in actuality the 13th incarnation, having undergone 12 regenerations) has now been granted an additional cycle of 12 regenerations – and that takes us to the 23rd Doctor… at which point the Doctor finally does die – unless yet another extension to his life is given.

    I appreciate the idea that the Doctor continues to have limits placed on his life, as the show has made no secret that immortality is a curse and not a blessing.


  47. John
    December 25, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

    BTW, what people think of our little glimpse of Capaldi? He reminded me most of Tom Baker, I thought.


  48. encyclops
    December 25, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

    What he actually said reminded me of the newly regenerated Matt Smith; we had the "new kidneys" line followed by "we're crashing!"

    The manner in which he said it reminded me of the Silence, in that I forgot how he'd said it as soon as he'd said it. πŸ™

    I'm crossing my fingers that he'll be great, though, honestly. I didn't like Smith until after he'd crashed in The Eleventh Hour, and then I loved him in under five minutes.


  49. Ed Azad
    December 25, 2013 @ 8:15 pm

    Truthfully, I expect a similar vibe to Tennant (being that they're both infectiously funny, and scary, and Scottish). The actor himself will be gunning for Hartnell, with what I'm assuming is Clara/Susan 2.0. That'll be interesting.


  50. Chris Gonzalez
    December 25, 2013 @ 8:20 pm

    Regeneration energy projectiles have a precedent, no? "The End of Time" destroyed the console room. A regeneration that is essentially against all laws of Time Lord physiology should at least do something flashy.


  51. John
    December 25, 2013 @ 8:25 pm

    Watching The War Games is such a different experience from watching The Time of the Doctor that I'm not sure I can even meaningfully compare them. Even Caves or Logopolis, which are closer to new show stories than anything from the 60s, are just aiming for very different things. I will say that the Jamie & Zoe memory wipe in War Games would be absolutely hated by fans if it happened today and was never revisited.

    I actually thought this story did a really good job of exploring the 11th Doctor. It was certainly overcrowded with stuff, but at the point when we go into our first long narration covering several centuries of activity before Clara's first return, it becomes fairly clear that none of that stuff is what the episode is actually about.

    There were certainly things I didn't like – the Angels shouldn't have been brought into this, certainly; the Doctor sure seemed to lie to Clara in the no lying zone more than once; I'm not convinced there's not several gigantic retcons going on, although I'd probably have to watch the key Moffat episodes from seasons 5 & 6 to know for sure.

    But really, as a whole, I thought it held together well, and was certainly much better than The End of Time, which is really the only comparable story.


  52. Froborr
    December 25, 2013 @ 8:44 pm

    anyone else get a whiff of K-9 there?

    Very, very much. At times I almost expected him to build a robot dog body for "handles." Which, now I think about it, is a pretty good name for a dog.


  53. Seth Aaron Hershman
    December 25, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

    Heh. His first end-of-cycle is 11. His second, barring any exception, will be 23. I wonder if there's any way it could work out that his third end-of-cycle will be 63…


  54. quislibet
    December 25, 2013 @ 10:09 pm

    I hope that the speech about how he would always remember when the Doctor was him followed immediately by his not knowing how to fly the TARDIS don't together signal an amnesia plot. I think that would be tedious.


  55. BerserkRL
    December 25, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

    Also: we were originally told that at the Fall of the 11th no one would be able to speak falsely or fail to answer. If that were so here, the Doctor would have to give his name and open the crack. But instead he's merely unable to speak falsely, which is an important difference.


  56. Alan
    December 25, 2013 @ 10:48 pm

    "A regeneration that is essentially against all laws of Time Lord physiology should at least do something flashy." The fact that the High Council casually offered a new regeneration cycle in The Five Doctors in exchange for doing them a favor (and presumably they DID give him a new regeneration cycle during the Time War) seems to belie that statement.


  57. David Anderson
    December 26, 2013 @ 12:43 am

    End of Time is about we know the Doctor's going to regenerate at the end of this – the question is how is that going to happen. Whereas Time of the Doctor is about mortality and death and change all the way through – apart from the comedy bits about holographic clothes that didn't come off. There was that lovely bit about Clara's gran's story about how she fell in love with her husband while her dad wants the comedy story about the pigeon. Then there's a third type of regeneration story where the story is about oncoming death, but not about facing mortality. Caves of Androzani and I think Logopolis are about that. Planet of the Spiders works like Time of the Doctor. Parting of the Ways like End of Time. Night of the Doctor closer to Caves of Androzani. I don't know whether contemporary audiences knew that Hartnell was retiring.

    And yes Handles did say Affirmative a lot.


  58. Anton B
    December 26, 2013 @ 1:43 am

    Totally missed that, thanks #too much brandy butter.


  59. David Anderson
    December 26, 2013 @ 1:45 am

    I don't think anybody is saying, what I really miss about Matt Smith will be the comedy impatience from Vincent and the Doctor and Power of Three.
    A lot of people are saying is that they'll miss Matt Smith's brilliance and generosity in bringing out the best in child actors. There are a lot of child actors in Matt Smith's era – the only one I can think of who is an embarrassing child actor isn't interacting with Matt Smith. So repairing toys seems entirely appropriate for the Eleventh Doctor people will remember and love.


  60. Julian
    December 26, 2013 @ 1:45 am

    Another nice move was the episode introducing and removing the complication of the end-of-regeneration-cycle in one fell swoop. We all know it was going to have to be dealt with sooner or later, but by underplaying it and removing the anticipation it won't end up overshadowing the whole of Thirteen's run.

    And was I the only one who got unduly excited when the Seal of the High Council turned up out of Matt's pocket? No? Just me?


  61. Julian
    December 26, 2013 @ 1:48 am

    There is the argument that the only reason the High Council can offer (and eventually did) give the Master a regeneration cycle with a degree of surety is because he isn't in a Gallifreyan body by that point.

    This also could awesomely tie in with the theory that if Ten is both the 11th and 12th incarnations of the Doctor (with the War Doctor bumping everyone up one), MetaCrisis!Ten could be described as coming between his twelfth and final regenerations… and he's only half-Time Lord.

    Could David Tennant maybe age into Michael Jayston? πŸ˜‰


  62. 5tephe
    December 26, 2013 @ 2:16 am

    Meh. It felt like an exercise in ticking boxes.

    And frankly, I think that Moffat has been greedy.


  63. J Mairs
    December 26, 2013 @ 2:41 am

    Why does a "new cycle" automatically mean he has another 12 set of regenerations πŸ˜‰

    Surely the Time Lords would provide him with Nth regenerations???


  64. Chicanery
    December 26, 2013 @ 2:44 am

    I really don't think precedent makes the regeneration projectiles a good idea, especially if the precedent is The End of Time. It was stupid back then, and it's worse now.


  65. J Mairs
    December 26, 2013 @ 2:45 am

    I am deeply angry. As I predicted, Moffat did not wrap up the plot tumour that is the Leadworth Ducks. Grrr! Why oh why oh why can't Moffat resolve his story arcs???



  66. J Mairs
    December 26, 2013 @ 2:46 am

    "And was I the only one who got unduly excited when the Seal of the High Council turned up out of Matt's pocket? No? Just me?"

    I did. Mostly because I thought it meant all bets were off in terms of what would be referenced before the Doctor died.


  67. Chicanery
    December 26, 2013 @ 2:47 am

    Well, he's never really shown much competence with regards to TARDIS. I wouldn't be worried.


  68. Chicanery
    December 26, 2013 @ 2:50 am

    Don't worry, I just realised that now. There was too much stuff happening to remember it all sober.


  69. Assad K
    December 26, 2013 @ 3:00 am

    If there really is a regeneration limit based on a line from Classic Who, why do we ignore – also from Classic Who – Romana casually trying on regenerations til she finds one she likes? Wouldn't that be a form of suicidal ideation? Should she in in a Gallifreyan institution?


  70. Lewis Christian
    December 26, 2013 @ 4:05 am

    Dorium was spreading rumours and misheard/got some stuff wrong. Or Moffat forgot his old line. You pick.

    It's like the crack behind Door 11. Moff cut the original reveal from Whithouse's script, and as a result the Doctor says "who else?" – Here it's revealed to be the crack, so, um, "who else?" now makes no sense (unless the Doctor's decided to look at the crack as like a pet, maybe he called him/her Cracky).


  71. Lewis Christian
    December 26, 2013 @ 4:07 am

    "If there really is a regeneration limit based on a line from Classic Who, why do we ignore – also from Classic Who – Romana casually trying on regenerations til she finds one she likes? Wouldn't that be a form of suicidal ideation? Should she in in a Gallifreyan institution?"

    Handily explained, I think, by Russell T Davies who invented the "regrow within 15 hours" line. That, or Romana has more control and, as such, can flick through bodies before deciding on one. (The Master seems to be able to control himself, too, choosing to die/becoming 'young and strong'.)


  72. John
    December 26, 2013 @ 4:35 am

    Well, this episode obviously means that the argument that the only reason the High Council can offer the Master a regeneration cycle with a degree of surety is because he isn't in a Gallifreyan body by that point is clearly wrong.


  73. Anton B
    December 26, 2013 @ 4:36 am

    Or 'Crackles'. I read the reveal of the thing he feared most in room 11 to be the Time Lords behind it rather than the crack itself. Therefore 'Who else?' still makes sense.


  74. David Ainsworth
    December 26, 2013 @ 4:44 am

    Artron energy does seem part of regeneration and the Doctor's has been unusually high for a while. But given that the really violent regenerations follow the Doctor's death via Time Vortex energy (ie a lethal dose of artron energy), I'd say they represent a problem with the process. Given the cut to Capaldi, the next regeneration may be quiet again.


  75. David Ainsworth
    December 26, 2013 @ 4:50 am

    Funny things, prophecies. If you treat them as gospel, you end up doing things like bringing them about while trying to prevent them.

    We saw how this story ends, with the Doctor's death and the Impossible Girl. But between them, the Doctor and Clara change the future. That isn't how it was going to happen any more.


  76. Adam Riggio
    December 26, 2013 @ 5:30 am

    Madame Kovarian's plan is basically that of Skynet. I like to think she watched one of the Terminator films on a day off, saw the plot of sending assassins back in time to prevent John Connor from living long enough to form the post-apocalyptic human resistance, and thought, "That sounds like a good idea!"


  77. Lewis Christian
    December 26, 2013 @ 5:31 am

    "Or 'Crackles'. I read the reveal of the thing he feared most in room 11 to be the Time Lords behind it rather than the crack itself. Therefore 'Who else?' still makes sense."

    But, in The God Complex, he had no idea Time Lords were still out there…


  78. Assad K
    December 26, 2013 @ 5:59 am

    Handily explained? I see what you did there..


  79. Prandeamus
    December 26, 2013 @ 6:48 am

    Leadworth ducks is an anagram of "custard whelk do" which I think is self explanatory.


  80. jane
    December 26, 2013 @ 6:56 am

    "Tasha" is short for "Natasha" which refers to "Natal day" — it's a name often given to girls around Christmas. "Lem" derives from "Lemuel" and means "belonging to God." So of course this is a perfect name for the Papess.

    Lem also suggests the Polish science-fiction writer.


  81. jane
    December 26, 2013 @ 7:00 am

    In the God Complex there's also the sound effect of the TARDIS cloister bell — and it's the TARDIS exploding that causes the cracks. "Who else?" referring to the TARDIS isn't inconsistent with the simultaneity of the Crack.


  82. encyclops
    December 26, 2013 @ 7:01 am

    Can I miss both? I mean, the comedy impatience is directly relevant to the themes at hand in this story. The "good with kids" quality is relevant to part of the story, sure; I guess we can assume that a key part of the reason he stays is that he can't bear the idea of the children of Trenzalore dying due to his inaction.

    (I wonder what's happening on the rest of the planet? Is there only one inhabited town?)


  83. encyclops
    December 26, 2013 @ 7:03 am

    Tasha Lem = "Mels (a hat)"

    She says something about the Daleks killing her multiple times, doesn't she? If she's not River, how would that work? If she IS River, how would that work? And how in the world is anyone who's not a deeply obsessed fan supposed to work that out?


  84. encyclops
    December 26, 2013 @ 7:10 am

    Incidentally, the regeneration limit is based on more than one line from Classic Who. Granted, the subsequent lines are based on the original, but it's not just a throwaway anymore. And of course now it's explicitly part of Moffat's Who as well, so there's no longer an "if."

    I have to agree that I appreciated how understatedly the limit was dealt with here.


  85. encyclops
    December 26, 2013 @ 7:15 am

    You wouldn't say Logopolis (a story about entropy) and End of Time (a story about three intersecting schemes to cheat death) are about facing mortality as well?


  86. Anton B
    December 26, 2013 @ 8:08 am

    @David Ainsworth
    'That isn't how it was going to happen any more.'

    Fantastic! You win the 'most timey wimey sentence ever' prize.

    @Lewis Christian
    'But, in The God Complex, he had no idea Time Lords were still out there…'

    That's my point. His greatest fear was their return.


    You win something for the phrase 'simultananeity of the Crack'
    Seriously I hope you're going to do one of your referential/metaphorical readings for this episode. I imagine you're spoilt for choice as far as imagery goes.


  87. Nyq Only
    December 26, 2013 @ 8:23 am

    I loved it.


  88. Nyq Only
    December 26, 2013 @ 8:37 am

    I enjoyed it. Things I like:
    1. anti-climatic origin story of the Silence – walking confessional booths.
    2. Handles.
    3. Handles again – if the Doctor had managed to save him would that make him Handles Messiah? [more of an Easter joke I suppose]
    4. The "is Tasha-Lem River Song and if so, how?" thing for people who prefer their Moffatiana unresolved.
    6. The Doctor growing old and staying in one place.
    7. Plot lines resolved but not as big reveal (which would have been jarringly anticlimatic) but with a resigned tone – it was some bozo's stupid plot [which was always the case]
    8. No Great Intelligence
    9. Just about got the shift between jokes and seriousness right.
    10. Hit the same tone as other Christmas specials – a fireside tale of how the Doctor saved Christmas once.


  89. encyclops
    December 26, 2013 @ 8:58 am

    1. anti-climatic origin story of the Silence – walking confessional booths.

    I've never been to confession, so could someone explain to me why it would be at all desirable for you to forget you'd confessed? As opposed to having the priest forget your confessions?


  90. BerserkRL
    December 26, 2013 @ 9:14 am

    Why does a "new cycle" automatically mean he has another 12 set of regenerations πŸ˜‰

    Surely the Time Lords would provide him with Nth regenerations???

    I think Moffat deliberately left it ambiguous whether the cycle was another 12 or something else so as to leave something for future showrunners to decide — since he's gobbled up the "running out of regenerations" story everyone had assumed a future showrunner would get.

    Incidentally, it's a bit odd how 11 was so sure he was going to run out of regenerations in this story when he'd met Tom Baker in the last story.


  91. BerserkRL
    December 26, 2013 @ 9:16 am

    Except that's not the kind of thing THIS Doctor does

    Though just one story ago he was fantasising about retiring and becoming a curator at the National Gallery. (Though really the British Museum seems like a more Doctory place.)


  92. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 26, 2013 @ 9:18 am

    I assume that the Doctor, who, unlike the viewer, did not know that upon reaching his final life he'd get a new cycle of regenerations somehow, did not seize upon Baker's dialogue in the same way as a viewer fully aware of narrative convention did.


  93. BerserkRL
    December 26, 2013 @ 9:20 am

    If Kovarian's group was a breakaway group, that explains why the church militant in "Time of Angels" was pro-Doctor and against River for killing him, when the church militant in "A Good Man Goes to War" was on the other side.

    On the other hand, in "A Good Man" Manton says their mission has been blessed by the Papal Mainframe. Of course he could be lying.


  94. BerserkRL
    December 26, 2013 @ 9:23 am

    Well, this is not a normal religion, so the confessions may be more like an interrogation session.

    Btw, I'm pretty sure you mean "anti-climactic." Unless this is something to do with global warming.


  95. BerserkRL
    December 26, 2013 @ 9:28 am

    The whole duck plotline thing is resolved at 8:20 here:


  96. BerserkRL
    December 26, 2013 @ 9:31 am

    He seems to have made the same mistake he did in "The End of Time" — taking off in the TARDIS just as he's regenerating and thus leaving a mess for his next self rather than just quietly parking somewhere.


  97. Nyq Only
    December 26, 2013 @ 9:34 am

    The c was eaten by a crack in reality.


  98. David Anderson
    December 26, 2013 @ 9:41 am

    It's been a while since I saw Logopolis – over thirty years. So I'm working from distant memory and more recent essays.
    I'm dividing by the primary narrative interest the impending regeneration has for the viewer.
    Case One: apocalyptic – the old order passes and giveth way to new. The setting of the story is collapsing and the Doctor's old generation collapses as part of it. The viewer is interested in the political or philosophical themes raised.
    Case Two: psychological – the Doctor is aware his
    death is coming or that he must become someone else, and is coming to terms with that. The viewer is interested in the psychological or existential-spiritual themes raised.
    Case Three: the Doctor is trying to escape from an impossible situation as per every season finale, or every Saturday even – we the audience know that this time he won't. The viewer is interested in how it's going to happen.

    I think Logopolis belongs more with Caves of Androzani than with Planet of the Spiders. Let me put it like this: the atmosphere in both Logopolis and Caves is apocalyptic. It's a very different apocalypse in Bidmead's case than in Holmes/Saward's case. But in both cases the Doctor's death and rebirth is part of the general atmosphere of the story.

    In End of Time the other schemes to cheat death seem to me not too dissimilar from other end of series finales, or even a mid-season episode like The Lazarus Effect. Being set primarily on contemporary Earth prevents it from achieving anything apocalyptic. And I don't think it's primarily about the Doctor's reaction to going to die – the Doctor's character arc is far more about his relationship with the Master.


  99. Nyq Only
    December 26, 2013 @ 9:41 am

    The Papal Mainframe is what Cal and her library (and moon) eventually evolve into. Tasha Lem is a ganger body with a download of River Song's mind. The Silence were originally librarians going around telling chatty people to be quiet.
    I could also explain the cyberman head but you couldn't handle it…


  100. Nyq Only
    December 26, 2013 @ 9:44 am

    The was eaten by a ra k in reality


  101. encyclops
    December 26, 2013 @ 10:24 am

    Oh, I could handle it.

    The way you're headed, I think you'll deserve a writing credit for this story. πŸ˜‰


  102. encyclops
    December 26, 2013 @ 10:25 am

    I took that as just his impulse to try things on, like hats and desk jobs ("The Lodger," as well as earlier same story), but you might be onto something.


  103. UrsulaL
    December 26, 2013 @ 11:11 am

    Or Tasha Lem could be lying when she said they were a splinter group, and they were actually a group on an assigned but secret mission – officially unofficial.

    Allowing the Papal Mainframe to maintain a positive relationship with the Doctor for as long as he was alive, and hopefully control him that way, while the splinter group worked to try to stop him from reaching Trenzalore.


  104. Anton B
    December 26, 2013 @ 11:12 am

    It's even better the second time watching.


  105. Anton B
    December 26, 2013 @ 11:16 am

    Wouldn't both groups consider that they are working for the Papal Mainframe just with conflicting, even mutually hostile agenda?


  106. Froborr
    December 26, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

    I've also seen some suggestions that Tom Baker is not a future Doctor in that scene, but rather the Moment, a Zygon, the TARDIS interface (note the roundels on the wall behind them!) or a hallucination.


  107. Adam Riggio
    December 26, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

    I'm giving Phil some more philosophical material to work with on my own blog. I've written some thoughts on the Xmas special that explores the problems with how important Clara was to the story vs how she was overwritten by the gravity of the Ponds.

    Because The Time of the Doctor is equally or even moreso Clara's story than the Doctor's, the story of the day she lost her good friend in a centuries-long war of attrition.


  108. Daru
    December 26, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

    I loved it.

    Absolutely adored the pre-final stage of regeneration scene & the speech where he talks about us all being many people throughout our lives and how we need to remember that. Very moving.


  109. Daru
    December 26, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

    Yeah either way works, perfect religious schisms.


  110. encyclops
    December 26, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

    I just watched it again to write up my take on it, and I'd agree, I liked it better the second time through. Still don't love it, but I found it easier to focus on the good bits and cope with the initial disappointment.


  111. John
    December 26, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

    Fact: Matt Smith can never age out of doing multi-doctor reunions, because he got really old on Trenzalore. Thus, if we want a multi-doctor special in 2043, Smith can be in it and he can just be brought in from late in his time on Trenzalore. That's pretty nifty.


  112. Daru
    December 26, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

    I really enjoyed it on second viewing as well. My partner, who has never asked to do this before, asked to watch immediately a second time after our first watch.


  113. encyclops
    December 26, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

    I will say that the Jamie & Zoe memory wipe in War Games would be absolutely hated by fans if it happened today and was never revisited.

    I imagine it would be the same as Donna's memory wipe: some fans would accept it as part of a story, and others would be completely livid at the idea that anything permanent and tragic could ever happen to a character they happen to like and want to live a perfect, unharmed existence forever and ever.

    By "revisited" do you mean the Doctor popping in on Jamie and Zoe's weddings?


  114. Daru
    December 26, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

    And also it was really great to see him actually age in character, as he had always had that old face in young body thing going on. A pleasure to watch.


  115. peeeeeeet
    December 26, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

    Not one to watch with Normos. It switched over to Corrie a few seconds in and no one was sober enough to understand how to cancel whatever thing was insisting it stayed there. Eventually we got it on but something was wrong with the sound and the dialogue was even more muffled and drowned out than usual. The anti-Matt Smith contingent were only happy to watch because he was dying (so I lucked out a bit there), and were of the opinion that the show should have been cancelled after Tom Baker, except one lady who fancied Peter Davison. I discover my young cousin is a massive Who nerd and recently watched a "third Doctor one" in which they wanted to chop the Doctor's head off because otherwise people could tell that the bad guy was just a brain in a jar. Her brother recognised the Angels theme and thus was the first person to identify the stone arm in the snow. I felt oddly outfanned. Discussions of booze and such happen and when I look back, Smiffy is looking quite old. "He's aging to death!" This brings a Matt-hater in from the kitchen hoping to catch the throes, but we're a long way from the end, so she drifts back. "Ooh, they're spinning it out. They didn't spin it out when David Tennant died." I accept that I'm going to have to watch this one on my own the next day. My little cousin fan explains that she had something in the magazine. They had to design a room for the TARDIS and she designed a chocolate room. No, a chocolate press room. (Incidentally, if anyone has that issue I'd love to see a scan!) I am asked who the best Doctor of all is. I am tempted to say McCoy and see what happens, but I go with Troughton, who is a safe choice because no one has heard of him (also no one has heard of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", either, so later my turn at charades descends into chaos.) At some point I open a present. It is a Rudolph onesie. Matt Smith looks even older. The TV says "You are going to be switched over to ITV1 now." Not a suggestion, or hint, but a bald statement of intent. We panic and press buttons until it shuts up. Handles dies. Matt Smith regenerates.

    Boxing Day, I sit down to watch Whatever Noun It Is Of The Doctor This Time. It's lovely; a silly, heartfelt celebration of Matt's Doctor. More of an epilogue than a climax, Smith and Coleman knock it out of the park. Roasting turkey and preventing the resumption of the Time War are given equal weight, just as they should be. "Were you always so young?" "No. That was you." I'm blubbing. Amy feels tacked on and Mister Fourteen begins a bit too familiarly, with panic and noticing weird things about body parts. The sexy banter with Notananagram Mels was monumentally tedious. I feel like a sterling effort was made to save the Silence arc, and I hope it worked, but suspect on closer analysis it didn't. But a proper wake doesn't whitewash its subject, and this was the Matt Smith Era, warts and all. It was definitely one of the better ones, and it will never be wiped by the BBC and recovered in Africa, so that's nice for it.


  116. Nyq Only
    December 26, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

    If Lem is River then she'd have commissioned the splinter group to ensure her timeline remained as severely messed-up as it should be.
    "Retcons, sweetie"


  117. Nyq Only
    December 26, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

    I'm assuming the original intent was that you forgot what you had confessed. Having the priest forget your confession would effectively make it so that you hadn't confessed.
    Also in the Catholic Church during confession the priest is equipped to shoot lightning from their hands.


  118. Nyq Only
    December 26, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

    While "Tasha Lem" does look like an anagram, it is fair to note that "Orla Brady" does too. Some people have names that look like anagrams πŸ™‚


  119. encyclops
    December 26, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

    If you had a blog where you did this for every episode you watched, I'd totally read it. Just saying.

    I keep forgetting to say that I still don't like Clara very much. I don't DISlike her, but she just, Silence-like, makes no impression on me at all. It's largely the scripts, I think, because she tries very hard and is good at delivering dialogue. I really hope they develop her a bit more with Capaldi.


  120. Matthew Blanchette
    December 26, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

    Clara will actually probably be closer to Vicki 2.0, I think; they're already rather similar…


  121. Matthew Blanchette
    December 26, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

    For all we know, the Kovarian sect may answer to what the main Lem group would call an Antipapal Mainframe… πŸ˜‰


  122. encyclops
    December 26, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

    Antipapal Mainframe

    If Capaldi starts off his run as the Doctor by blasting the Damned in the console room, I'll be sold on him immediately.


  123. encyclops
    December 26, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

    4. The "is Tasha-Lem River Song and if so, how?" thing for people who prefer their Moffatiana unresolved.

    So does anyone have an answer to this one, apart from "the Library becomes the Mainframe" (which doesn't answer for me why she seems to be seeing Eleven for the first time)? Or is it just too uncool for me to want to know at the most basic, ordinary level what the hell is going on?


  124. jane
    December 26, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

    Thank you, Anton. Yeah, I'll be doing something with it, on GB first though, and it'll be a day or two before anything's up — visiting family now. Really won't tackle it in earnest until early next week, after another thing is squared away.


  125. jane
    December 26, 2013 @ 6:31 pm

    This is all kinds of brilliant.


  126. jane
    December 26, 2013 @ 6:35 pm

    The act of confessing is what relieves the sin — not remembering the confession. So you go to confession, and you feel relieved, without really knowing why afterwards.


    I'm reminded of The Cost of Living, episode 5, season 3, LOST.


  127. jane
    December 26, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

    Just to be clear, Lem isn't River — she's a mirror of River, and hence of the Doctor. The scenes in her chambers, she and the Doctor are constantly mirroring each other — they even bothered to paint the walls with the exact same painting, so both she and the Doctor are framed by the same art when they chat on opposite sides of the table.


  128. Chris Gonzalez
    December 26, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

    Clara could see him, so that rules out a hallucination. Probably not a zygon, or the TARDIS interface (if it had the ability to stick around and actually talk with The Doctor after "The Doctor's Wife", it probably would have done that; voice interface features don't really seem exhaustive enough to bang out a Baker).

    Assuming it's not The Doctor, The Moment seems pretty possible. Or maybe The Curator is another incarnation brought back in time by The Moment, so that it could show Eleven the future the same way it showed The Warrior ("she didn't just show me the future, she showed me the exact future I needed to see!").


  129. Nyq Only
    December 26, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

    If River is a reflection of the Doctor and Lem is a mirror of River then Lem is a rotation of the Doctor…


  130. Nyq Only
    December 26, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

    Yeah the line about the Doctor's new face rather destroys the whole River-Lem theory…unless she is part Cal- part River. In which case the face is new.


  131. BerserkRL
    December 26, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

    In this episode Clara and the companion switched places. Clara was the one remaining forever young, watching him gradually get old and die.


  132. Ed Azad
    December 26, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

    That's why I hope Coleman sticks around for at least a season. If they keep to this amnesia angle, Clara's going to be the one babysitting Twelve. That will give her new dimension.


  133. Anton B
    December 26, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

    I assume you mean Clara and the Doctor switched places? Yes and she might be about to become very useful to a Doctor who can't remember how to fly the TARDIS. Although I imagine she will continue taking him where he needs to go.


  134. J Mairs
    December 26, 2013 @ 11:59 pm

    ^ cue screams of outrage from STFU Moffat…


  135. peeeeeeet
    December 27, 2013 @ 1:25 am

    If you had a blog where you did this for every episode you watched, I'd totally read it. Just saying.

    Heh. I don't think I'm willing to watch every episode with Normal People, but thank you!

    I find the whole thing about Clara being 2D interesting. Really I don't think she's that much less substantial than, say, Sarah Jane was. I think in recent years we've been trained to expect that companions – hell, telly characters in general – come with pre-existing networks on connections to places, jobs and family and it feels weird when these things are added in late, even though historically that's probably the more common approach. It doesn't help that in the short time she's been around she's had two Christmas specials and an anniversary one. That coupled with her first appearance being a special guest star type deal makes her feel a bit top heavy, like we still don't quite have a full sense of what she's like at ordinary times. I think most of that is excusable due to circumstances, but I think the Rings of Akky backstory stuff was an unforced error; with Father's Day (which I admit I don't like much, but still) we're hurled into the center of Rose's sense of loss at her father's death. With Rings, Clara's mother's death feels distant and unreachable. I'd actually forgotten she'd died at all until someone pointed out that the woman in the special must have been her step-mum.


  136. jonathan inge
    December 27, 2013 @ 8:37 am

    Doctor and Clara approach Mother Superious Tasha Lem.

    Lem: Is that a new body? Give us a twirl!
    Doctor: Tash, this old thing? Please,I've been rocking it for centuries.
    Lem: Nice though. Tight.

    (I thought she was talking about regeneration at first. But this was another joke about Matt Smith's appearance. He's bulked up with muscles for that film role. He's not a wiry as he was before.)

    Doctor: (to Lem) You have been fighting the psychopath inside you all your life.

    (Yep. Lem is River Song. Way too many visual and verbal references. This one, to me, was the last nail.)


  137. Alan
    December 27, 2013 @ 8:46 am

    Personally, I loved it. My only complaints are nits, as follows:

    1. I've complained before about Moffat's obsession with the ontological paradox and we find out in this episode that Eleven's whole life has been one. In his final episode, he unwittingly creates the enemies who started menacing him all the way back in "The Eleventh Hour."

    2. Retconning the number of regenerations to make Eleven into Thirteen eliminates the possibility of a Valyard story (as he was supposed to come between Twelve and Thirteen). Granted, he's not everyone's favorite, but I was always intrigued by the idea of a Doctor so full of despair that he would try to rewrite over half his life. And the character is even more intriguing now that he comes immediately after Ten's whiny "I don't want to go!" scene that nearly causes the TARDIS to blow up in his successor's face.

    3. The only dangling plot thread I can think of is the first one. No, not the ducks! Who was Prisoner Zero and why was an entire alien race committed to keeping it imprisoned? One might assume it was part of the Church of the Silence, but if so why did it tell the Doctor about the Pandorica (other than being a stupid, gloating villain).


  138. encyclops
    December 27, 2013 @ 8:50 am

    I'd actually forgotten she'd died at all until someone pointed out that the woman in the special must have been her step-mum.

    Oh my god, you're right. I'd forgotten too. I was a bit fuzzy on Amy's home life too — Rory and Brian were the strongest it got. If we ever saw her parents after "The Big Bang" I can't remember, and of course there was the whole job-hopping thing. I think RTD did a much better job at grounding companions, but then who else has even tried to do it the same way? And now, as you say, we expect it.

    I do think of Clara in the same light as Sarah Jane, actually, as though she's been designed to be a sort of "all-weather companion," but if so making her a mystery for an entire season probably got in the way of that. Her biggest problem in my mind is that she upstaged herself twice, in "Asylum" and "Snowmen," and modern Clara can't help but seem bland and unformed in contrast to those two, somehow.


  139. encyclops
    December 27, 2013 @ 8:57 am

    OK, so is there an explanation of how she can be River that Moffat could reasonably have expected an average viewer to come up with?

    Or is the theory that average viewers won't notice or remember that this doesn't appear to make sense, and that anyone who's more of a fan deserves to be driven insane by the Moffatism?


  140. jonathan inge
    December 27, 2013 @ 9:07 am

    Nyq only, in another post, said: "The Papal Mainframe is what Cal and her library (and moon) eventually evolve into. Tasha Lem is a ganger body with a download of River Song's mind." I like this theory.


  141. encyclops
    December 27, 2013 @ 9:31 am

    …so then the answer to my first question is "no"? πŸ˜‰


  142. peeeeeeet
    December 27, 2013 @ 9:35 am

    Retconning the number of regenerations to make Eleven into Thirteen eliminates the possibility of a Valyard story

    I thought Moff was suggesting that Metacrisis Doctor is the origin of the Valeyard, which I grant you doesn't fit perfectly, but what does, with ol' Valeypants? It would give the V-man a decent motivation – if he only gets one more body after Tennant's (Michael Jayston) – of course he's going to be jealous of the other guy when he finds out he's been gifted a new cycle…


  143. encyclops
    December 27, 2013 @ 9:36 am

    The Baker appearance is one of those things I would actually prefer not to have an explanation for (though I'm just stating a preference, not discouraging anyone who feels differently). For me it's kind of the other side of what happens in An Adventure in Space and Time.


  144. Marionette
    December 27, 2013 @ 10:30 am

    It's interesting finding out about all sorts of details and connections I missed. I'm sure it adds to the story once you spot them, but it gets kind of tiresome, realising that Moffat is writing for the DVD.


  145. Chris
    December 27, 2013 @ 10:41 am

    I had hoped for the 50th anniversary to see regenerating Time Lords used as weapons, since they seem to explode and are also invincible during the regeneration. "Oh, you're about to regenerate? Beam onto that Dalek ship!" or the more sinister (and fitting for corrupt Time Lords) "get on that Dalek ship! stab stab stab"


  146. Jesse
    December 27, 2013 @ 11:13 am

    I rather like the fact that the Doctor spent nearly as much time, maybe more time, as sheriff of Christmas as he spent in all his wanderings before ROSE. Once he decided to end a war by committing genocide. Now, having undone that decision, he does something akin to the opposite, sacrificing a lifetime's worth of the life he's been living to prevent the war from starting again.


  147. Anton B
    December 27, 2013 @ 11:57 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  148. Anton B
    December 27, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

    Blimey, sorry about the odd spellings etc. Typing on a kindle.


  149. Anton B
    December 27, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  150. Anton B
    December 27, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

    agree. His greatest personal sacrifice would be to give up wandering and stay in one place. His "It is protected" was of course an echo of the same line he used about Earth in both The Xmas Invasion and The Eleventh Hour also possibly IIRC The Pandorica Opens though I'd need to check that. The fact that he introduces himself to the people of Christmas as their new Sheriff suggests he's still brooding on his decisions in A Town Called Mercy or maybe his glimpse of the first Doctor in The Day of the Doctor brought back memories of The Gunfighters.


  151. Anton B
    December 27, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

    Did anyone else get a The War Machines vibe from the Daleks repeated "The Doctor is required!"? I fully expected them to amend it to "Doctor Who is required!".


  152. David Anderson
    December 27, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

    Quite. I presumed it was a deliberate allusion to the line fandom now dismisses as a mistake.


  153. Ross
    December 27, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

    Prisoner Zero was an actor hired by the Attraxi in order to get The Doctor involved in the plot as the first part of their ridiculously circuituitous plot to trap the Doctor in the Pandorica.


  154. Ross
    December 27, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

    I reckoned there were three things in regard to the regeneration limit that, if they did them, I'd basically be done with Moffat.

    They did two of them.

    But I guess it'll be okay. Matt's final speech felt far too much like a slam at Tennant's "I don't want to go" line though (also a shameless setup for the punch-line of Capaldi's amnesia).


  155. Ross
    December 27, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

    We saw the Doctor do more warmaking during the siege of Trenzalore than we saw of the Guy-Who-Rejects-The-Name-Because-Of-The-Terrible-Things-He's-Done.

    One more kick to the junk out of Moffat: the montage of The Doctor & The Silence's war against The Daleks sells the idea of Doctor-turned-away-from-Doctoring-Toward-Warrioring infinity times more strongly than the Fall of Arcadia.


  156. Ross
    December 27, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

    There are only so many times that the reveal of something you've set up to be huge turns out to be nothing of consequence beforte the audience catches on that nothing in this show is ever going to be anything of consequence.

    The Great Intelligence? Nothing of consequence.
    The utterly inescapable death of the Doctor on the fields of Trenzalore? Nothing of consequence.
    The silence? Nothing of consequence.


  157. encyclops
    December 27, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

    Which was the one they didn't do?


  158. UrsulaL
    December 27, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

    Jane, I'm not sure that the benefit of confession is from confessing, without remembering what you've done.

    One of the most useful things about a confession ritual is that it involves stopping to consider one's behavior, to acknowledge the harms one has done, acting to make right those wrongs, when possible, and resolving to do better.

    If you forget your confession, then you don't get the behavioral benefits of examining and evaluating your behavior.

    On the other hand, if the person you confess to is supposed to keep the matter in confidence then having a confessor who can't remember what is confessed enhances the ritual. Confession is theologically considered to be between the person and god, at least in the Catholic version of confession. The person confessed to is a stand-in, a conduit between the person confessing and god. If they forget what they've heard once they've completed the ritual, then the matter lies between the person confessing and god, and the intermediate has served its purpose of facilitating the self-examination.

    Where the Silents might work as confessors is in their ability to plant subconscious suggestions. If you confess to doing harm, they can advise you on how to reform, and that advice will not be a conscious thing that can be ignored, but rather a subconscious suggestion that one is compelled to follow.

    But Moffat's explanation didn't really get into these distinctions. He sort of understood the idea of ritual confession and it being a private matter, but he doesn't seem to understand the reasons why the details are what they are.


  159. John
    December 27, 2013 @ 9:20 pm

    Did we ever get the essay on whether the Doctor's name was once "Doctor Who"? Reading the archive, I feel as though Phil promised us this at some point, but never followed through. Maybe it's in the Hartnell book?


  160. John
    December 27, 2013 @ 9:29 pm

    You're probably right that it's not dissimilar to Donna's similar memory wipe, but at least that was acknowledged several times as being a big deal, and the Doctor had to talk about it with Donna's family later on and come to terms with what happened. The Jamie and Zoe thing is just thrown out there and then ignored forever after.


  161. peeeeeeet
    December 28, 2013 @ 12:12 am

    Course, we now know his name can't be Doctor Who or the crack would have fallen victim to a dictionary attack within a matter of milliseconds!


  162. peeeeeeet
    December 28, 2013 @ 12:28 am

    Thinking more about this, I see two possibilities:

    1) The Doctor's real name is a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and "special" characters

    2) The Doctor's real name is Dr. Correct Horse Battery Staple.

    Cast your fan votes!


  163. benny whitehead
    December 28, 2013 @ 3:26 am

    Thats ok, I just read it as, 'typing on a kettle'. Back to the sherry…


  164. liminal fruitbat
    December 28, 2013 @ 5:50 am

    Matt's final speech felt far too much like a slam at Tennant's "I don't want to go" line though

    Eleven's lived longer; of course he's going to be wiser.


  165. Ross
    December 28, 2013 @ 8:00 am

    Yeah, and yet he couldn't manage the level of self-awareness Tennant's doctor had. Here he was, having lived centuries in Christmas, built a life there, and in the end he's just like "Well, now I'm going to go swottering off and change and it's no big deal."


  166. Nyq Only
    December 28, 2013 @ 8:30 am

    Captcha the Doctor!


  167. Aidan Brockel
    December 28, 2013 @ 9:41 am

    I think the Valyard was said to come between his twelfth and final regeneration which, given that he's just been gifted with another twelve, means they've got a bit of time to drop that in somewhere.


  168. Anton B
    December 28, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

    @Aiden Brockel
    Yes that was exactly my thought. I also read the Tom Baker cameo in TDotD as suggesting that the Doctor is destined to have an untold number of incarnations into the future. Some of them revisiting 'some old favourites'. Eventually we should just stop counting.


  169. liminal fruitbat
    December 28, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

    Yes. He does that. Three built a life with UNIT, remember? He accepted his death graciously enough.


  170. Chris
    December 28, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

    It's in the Hartnell book. I read it just a few hours ago, in fact.


  171. mooglar2003
    December 28, 2013 @ 11:20 pm

    Or it's just the Fourth Doctor taken out of his time stream (as the Watcher, er, Curator) and then returned when it's time for him to regenerate, as at that point his time as the Curator will ensure "The Moment has been prepared for."


  172. Anton B
    December 28, 2013 @ 11:50 pm

    Nice idea. We've just seen a Doctor 'reset' to his young self before regenerating so yes but it does open a few cans of worms that are probably best left on the shelf. Wait though, "The Moment has been prepared for." surely takes on a vast new meaning post TDotD.


  173. mengu
    December 31, 2013 @ 12:29 am

    How do you forget that Clara's mum died? If you forget such a critical part of her character, quite frankly you can only blame yourself for not getting much out of her.


  174. encyclops
    December 31, 2013 @ 4:17 am

    It does seem the sort of detail that ought to be impossible to forget, doesn't it? Yet when I think back over season 7b I still can't think of any moments when this "critical part of her character" has come into play outside of "The Rings of Akhaten." I'm specifically looking for moments where it's clear that the writer of an episode had that event in mind, not ones where we have to read it into what's there. Could you point a few out for me?


  175. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 31, 2013 @ 6:14 am

    mengu – I, for one, find it breathtakingly easy to forget all manner of terribly important things, occasionally in public and in blog posts. When I do my readers politely correct me, and I greatly appreciate that nobody carps about it or mocks me, despite my being a terribly easy target. (I remember, in particular, a claim that Survival was the first contemporary-Earth story since Attack of the Cybermen. A list of twenty stories. I went over it three times. And still somehow forgot that Silver Nemesis is actually set on the day it transmitted)

    Which is to say, point well taken, but perhaps be a bit more polite about it?


  176. Alan
    January 1, 2014 @ 9:22 am

    There's a fairly widespread reading of "I don't want to go" that attributes it less to "self-awareness" and more to incredible selfishness on the part of the Tenth Doctor. In hindsight, it is interesting that his unprecedented hostility towards the idea of a new Doctor taking over for him should only manifest after he had actually met that future incarnation, gotten along with him fairly well, and then lost the memories due to timey-wimey.


  177. Alan
    January 1, 2014 @ 12:18 pm

    My biggest problem with Clara is that she was introduced as a "mystery" all the way back in "Asylum," and so, when she was introduced properly, I never felt that I could take any part of her character at face value because the "mystery" was always in the back of my head. The bit in "Rings of Akhaten" about the leaf's role in her parents meeting would have been a nice touch … if I could have rid myself of the suspicion that it was all part of evil deception by the Daleks/The Silence/The Master/Whoever.

    As for Clara's mom, her death was addressed in "Rings of Akhaten," an awful story that I had mostly blocked from my memory. So I think I can be forgiven for forgetting she'd died and thinking the mother figure from "TotD" was her. I did wonder why she was being portrayed as a bit of a harpy when "Rings" worked so hard to portray Clara's parents as so loving.

    Part of it is the differing attitudes of RTD and Moffat to "domestic issues." RTD was endlessly fascinated in the home life of the companions. Moffat, OTOH, erased Amy's family from history, and even after they came back, they never appeared in another episode. So it's perhaps unsurprising that Clara's family would be something of an afterthought.


  178. Alan
    January 1, 2014 @ 12:23 pm

    Well then I guess we'll never see that story. A episode in which Tennant comes back as Metacrisis Doctor and regenerates into the Valeyard who then goes back in time to try to assassinate Colin Baker in the most overly complicated manner ever would probably implode due to fan-wankiness. Anyway, I thought the whole point of Meta-Doctor was that he wouldn't regenerate but would instead grow old and die with Rose.


  179. ferret
    January 2, 2014 @ 4:40 am

    If Baker is a future Doctor, Eleven won't remember the encounter: only the Future Doctor will, as established moments before with the War Doctor and Ten both losing their memories of events with Future Doctor Eleven.


  180. ferret
    January 2, 2014 @ 4:50 am

    Also, if the act of confessing and being absolved is truly Divine with a capital D in cleansing your soul, then remembering is not required.

    However, I like the subconscious-suggestion angle!


  181. ferret
    January 2, 2014 @ 4:59 am

    Possibly the Time War invalidates his whole existence. Boring, but there you have it.

    I like to think he evolved from the speck of psychic pollen Eleven rather rashly blew out the TARDIS doors after it got an imprint of his psyche.


  182. Peter
    January 2, 2014 @ 6:33 am

    I figured that Lem asking the Doctor about the new body was just a crafty way of finding out how far along his timeline he was. A new regeneration(ish)'s version of River and the Doctor synchronizing diaries?


  183. mengu
    January 3, 2014 @ 11:59 am

    I was impolite? Sorry. I was shocked, mostly. Always a jolt to find that other people's priorities are completely different, even within the same area.

    @encyclops In The Name of the Doctor, Clara quotes one of her mother's aphorisms before stepping into the glowy light thingy. That's fairly unambiguous. Rings of Akhaten, which is wonderful, establishes that Ellie (her mother) supported and encouraged her desire to travel, to see far-flung places, and also that her mother inspires Clara to be brave. Every time we see Clara choosing to be brave, that's because of her mother, and to me that's a huge part of her character.

    @Alan: I'd be wary of basing expectations for Clara on Amy. They're opposites in so many ways. So far the Maitlands have appeared in TBoSJ, TCH, NiS, and TNotD; her biological family has appeared in TRoA and TTotD. 6 episodes have involved Clara's everyday life to some degree: that's half of her episodes. Not all in great depth, but it indicates a commitment to showing that she's still connected to her everyday life in a way that Amy never was.


  184. encyclops
    January 3, 2014 @ 1:50 pm

    Thanks, mengu. I can see that neither Clara nor her backstory have made anything like the impact on me that they've made on you, and I'm glad you speak up to remind us of these things. I suspect I've been spoiled by Rose, Martha, and Donna having families who are frequently part of the story and actively putting the companion in context, and when the family is less foregrounded as in the Moffat era, I'm more inclined to overlook their influence. I suppose I should accept some blame for that as a viewer, though it also helps me recognize that I preferred RTD's approach to that aspect of the storytelling.

    I do think that what I've experienced as a fairly generic flavor to Clara's character is going to work in the show's favor next season, in that it's going to be a lot easier for me to get used to her and Capaldi's Doctor as a pair than, say, Amy. (Even though I do think Capaldi's Doctor, Amy, and Rory would have been a hilarious TARDIS team.)


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