It’s almost cruelly emblematic really. That the most closely-guarded Doctor Who finale ever, one which concerns a great secret being discovered, should have its own secrets compromised. And by the ‘Great Intelligence’ that is the collective mind of the Internet no less, rather than the breathy malevolence of Richard E. Grant.
However, in writing this we tread with the utmost caution, like a Time Lord setting foot upon Trenzalore, because we absolutely do not want to spoil anything. In fact, there are some things we can’t spoil because even we haven’t seen them. The last few minutes of ‘The Name of The Doctor’ have been displaced from the previews and time-locked, only to be opened on Saturday night when the episode airs.
But let’s not focus on the end and what might be – ‘The Name of The Doctor’ does enough of that. Instead let’s talk about beginnings. For even before the titles throw us down the time vortex and into 45 minutes of thematic and literal darkness, Steven Moffat brings us a sequence of momentous eulogistic ambition that ties in with the funereal atmosphere of the episode. It’s two minutes destined to be replayed on its own time-loop by fans of all ages. More than that, it proves exactly why you should be relieved that The Moff is at the helm for Doctor Who‘s 50th year. It’s almost as if he’s as interested in our timeline of experience as fans as much as he is in The Doctor’s.
Ah yes, The Doctor… Doctor who?
Throughout his tenure on the show Moffat has built upon this great question, robed it in prophecy and portent, had it spoken by blue heads in boxes and scary chewing-gum faced aliens. But now, at the moment when it may be uttered (and whether it is or isn’t, we ain’t telling!) he makes us realise, or at least remember, that the answer doesn’t really matter to us. In the end, it’s not the name we truly care about, but the man behind it.
That’s the whole point of ‘The Name of The Doctor’. It’s about what you do, not who you are. Actions speak louder than any words – whispered or not – ever could, and that’s just as true for River Song or for Clara Oswald as it is for The Doctor. Oh Clara… as impossible as a quantum soufflé and just as delightful thanks to Jenna-Louise Coleman.
Are questions answered? Yes. Will you be disappointed? In some ways, you will. It’s always been Moffat’s way on the show to answer a question with another question. But as an old man from Gallifrey once said, ‘The day I know everything? I might as well stop’. Judging by this, that day isn’t going to come for a long, long time…
Airs at 7pm on Saturday 18 May 2013 on BBC One.
Watch the Series 7 Part 2 trailer…
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