Spoilers for Time Of The Doctor may follow
I have noticed recently that Matt Smith’s truly amazing swan-song has been taking a lot of heat from some viewers. Some of these criticisms to me appear unjust and based on circumstance or own agendas rather than the content of
The episode set on trenzalore is quite a unique one, loaded with action. Humour and most importantly the end of a 4 year long arc. Since the first episode of matt smith’s era we have been teased by certain questions throughout smith’s entire tenure. All of these questions are answered in this episode as everything finally comes together in the most complete way imaginable
A bell has been tolling through the universe drawing a collection of creatures to a backyard unimportant planet known as trenzalore. The doctor is also drawn to this planet and after an amusing encounter with the cybermen and Daleks, is recruited by the church of the papal mainframe (The UN of space) and Orla Brady’s Tasha Lem to investigate what this signal means.
What the doctor finds instantly ties up not only recent plot arcs but plot arcs first raised in 2010. Due to the nature of what the doctor finds his enemies descend on the planet and specifically on the town dubbed “Christmas-Town”. The doctor stays on trenzalore for over 300 years in sequences that depict him ageing into an old man, over the years protecting the Town from an array of enemies.
The silence make a return as their function is for the first time explained. In the end the doctor teams with the very enemy who tried to destroy him in series 6 to stop the very event shown in this episode in an incredible sequence(albeit brief) that pits the silence and the papal mainframe against Daleks and cybermen in a catastrophic battle.
Of course the main attraction of the story is Matt Smith’s Regeneration which is absolutely spectacular. At the end of his final life, wearing the most realistic prosthetics I’ve ever seen, smith climbs to the top of a clock-tower frail and old leaning on a walking stick. After a very unexpected turn of events, smith does the impossible! He regenerates beyond 12 regenerations which is the limit of times his body can change.
In this jaw dropping sequence the doctor regenerates shouting one last remark at the dalek fleet around him before obliterating the Daleks with his regeneration energy and sending a shockwave of destruction through the town.
Smith plays the doctor so well in this episode that he blows away every other doctor’s final performance. Never have I been more impressed with an actor than when watching smith in this. His emotional acting is second to none and he brings so much personality and gravitas to the doctor especially as he ages into an elderly man, his voice is weaker but using his full dynamic range, smith roars out ” If You Want My Life, Come And Get IT”! Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald also continues to surprise us with an excellent tear inducing performance.
Peter Capaldi the next doctor in his brief appearance shows us the face that those eyebrows we saw in day of the doctor belong to and believe me the face is even scarier than the eyebrows. He will be an excellent doctor for sure just by the rage and determination in his eyes.
A Notable mention must go to Handles, a severed cybermen head the doctor has reprogrammed to be a constant companion in his winter years who is both funny and brilliant. He has been dubbed “The only cyberman we ever liked” and in an emotional scene involving the inevitability of time with him I admit I teared up. Orla Brady as Tasha lem also delivers a psychopathic performance with enough sass to leave Christopher Ecclestone and Colin Baker speechless.
If there is one thing this episode will do it is test your emotional range and make you feel. I think that a film or television programme is at its best if it encourages you to feel for the characters and tests all of your emotions.
As for the criticisms of this episode I found that a lot of people have castigated Moffat for making it “Too Complicated” And I say to that that if there are viewers who didn’t understand then that’s a shame as there were multiple explanations of everything in the plot even flashbacks. I noticed certainly a lot of people weren’t caught up with the story arc and instead throw the blame on Steven Moffat for “Bad Writing”. This is unfounded, as he has proven he is one of the finest and most popular writer’s for television in the country. In my personal opinion if they wanted to watch this episode teased publically as an episode set to tie up the most recent 3 series then they owe it to their enjoyment of the show to recap those arcs. They wouldn’t even have to watch them all as there are plenty of arc recaps on YouTube, that detail all of the most recent plotline in 2 minutes or less.
Overall I found this along with the other two episodes that preceded it a return to form after the jumbled series 7 and uninspiring resolution of series 6. My rating is 9.5/10 for this episode as it was an excellent adventure and ending for the matt smith era. A slightly extended length would have benefitted the exceptionally brief conflicts on trenzalore.