In the name of the Doctor is the 14th episode of the seventh series of Doctor Who and also the series final for the year. In this episode the Doctor’s friends including Vastra, Strax and Jenny are kidnapped and taken to Trenzalore. The Doctor and his companion Clara endeavour to rescue them even though the planet is the place of the Doctor’s tomb and on his own time stream!
In many ways this episode is very good, while in other ways, things are done to the extent of annoyance for this series. First I’ll go into what was annoying for a finale. This episode based quite a lot of its scenes from the beginning to mid sections on supporting characters of the series which include: Strax, Vastra, Jenny and even River Song. Apart from River Song, the other three mentioned are very underdeveloped and really struggle I think to add any drama or anything to a finale.
These characters are placed supposedly in life threatening danger and you have to watch Strax make jokes while Jenny and Vastra simply just stand around. It seemed to me they were hopeless as companions and only really provided a plot device and reason for the Doctor to travel there. After the Doctor and Clara arrived they were completely sidelined and really added nothing to episode, I don’t know why. But for a series finale it wasn’t very dramatic, nobody was even killed!
Another problem I had with this episode is the start where Clara and River and everyone are summoned in their sleep, via some type of time travel communication. What is this thing? You can time travel in your sleep now? Have meetings? Like many of the issues I’ve had with the series this year as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, the show seems to be bordering on the fantastic rather than science fiction.
The inclusion of River also appeared particularly annoying to me, because as an old companion I didn’t feel really she needed to be returned. Like the other side characters I felt she was brought into the episode only really to further the plot. She was conveniently placed in the right spot, at just the right time to whisper the Doctor’s name so nobody could hear it. Also is the Doctor magic now? Since when can he see invisible things not mentally linked to him? He can just see River? I don’t like that it doesn’t have explanations and I really think the River quote “spoilers” is getting old now.
On plus side; one of the big series mysteries surrounding Clara is solved. We discover how she was everywhere in the episodes that weren’t her. The mystery is solved, it turns out they were all her. Once she went into the time stream she broke up and was copied all throughout time and lived many lives all throughout time. But does she remember them all? Or are they all separate? Clara was shown to have skills like hacking that I thought were part of her mystery, but the current Clara doesn’t have those skills. So does she gain them from her other lives or does she just have them? One day I’d like to know because there are parts of her character that are quite complicated to understand.
Acting in this episode is well done from the two main characters (Jenna Louise Coleman and Matt Smith) who do a convincing performance for their part. But I felt for a finale they should have had much more dramatic scenes together. So much time was wasted on side characters and poorly scripted dialogue for them that the main characters could not outshine well enough to have a truly memorable or emotional impact. Simeon played by Richard E. Grant I felt has quite a lot of screen presence and impact during his scenes and as an actor I think was wasted quite a lot. I would have preferred to see the villain develop a bit more than what he was before the episode ended and having less time on the side characters I think could have allowed for that.
I also liked that this episode sort of extended the mythology that is doctor who slightly more with the death of the doctor. I never thought of the Doctor having a grave or anything or imagined him travelling there; so it was an interesting story inclusion for a finale. Also mixing the extended mythology with more information about how a TARDIS dies was interesting to know, as a fan I enjoyed these moments.
The episode ending was also interesting as well, with the introduction of John Hurt of the Doctor. The reason I find this interesting is that all current Doctor’s are already known so he isn’t a previous one. While a new Doctor is only ever introduced when the current one is killed off. So who is John Hurt as the Doctor? Apparently someone who doesn’t use that name (except when we are shown his character) or something like that (not in the name of the Doctor!! – Matt Smtih’s Doctor). What has he done?
One thing I personally really hope though; is when the second part of this episode airs it doesn’t end with Trenzalore as the death place of the John Hurt Doctor, because otherwise that will be really obvious and cancel out the objections of Matt Smith’s Doctor not wanting to go there. But I don’t think it would happen that way, I just think it could.
Overall I did really enjoy this episode over many in the series so far for the seventh series of Doctor Who. But I just felt it was a bit unrealistic at times and wasted way to much time on side characters. I thought the dynamics between the Doctor and Clara were again good and I liked the ending between the two. I’m interested in the cliff hanger with John Hurt, but it left me confused.