Warning: Lots of spoilers included for this year’s Christmas Special.
“And now it’s time for one last bow, like all your other selves. Eleven’s hour is over now, the clock is striking Twelve’s.”
Reading the achingly prophetic poem from a British Christmas cracker, Clara Oswald signaled the arrival of the final acts of the 11th Doctor during this year’s Christmas episode of Doctor Who, “The Time of The Doctor”. Seemingly showing a contained history of the life of the Doctor, we are given glimpses of him bald, naked and growing ancient and withered. Without having known the end ahead of time, Whovians everywhere could be forgiven for feeling bittersweet at best and heartbroken at worst. We’ve all known for several months that the end was coming, so here are the most important moments from the episode that elicited all the feels.
1. The Doctor leaves Clara behind
As the episode begins with Clara frantically calling the Doctor in need of a favor; she needs the Doctor to pretend to be her boyfriend at Christmas dinner with her family. After a few blundering moments and events, the Doctor discovered that the Time Lords of Gallifrey were attempting to return to the real universe, using a space-time crack in the wall, in the small town of Christmas on the planet, Trenzalore – a crack in space-time the Doctor first saw in Amelia Pond‘s bedroom in the Eleventh Doctor‘s first episode.
The message sent out through the crack by the Time Lords – “Doctor Who?” is also being heard by Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Weeping Angels and others ready to do battle against the Time Lords to prevent their return. The Doctor has but to answer the question issuing from the crack and Gallifrey could come back through. However, the Papal Mainframe blocks all technology from landing on the planet below in an effort to prevent a war from breaking out – a renewal of the Time War – so the Doctor lands on Trenzalore in order to literally save Christmas.
He worries that he will be unable to protect Clara, so he sends her back home without letting her know his intentions. Decades pass on Trenzalore, and the Doctor began to show his age and finally, the TARDIS returned with Clara still hanging on and their reunion is emotional and bittersweet as she sees the lines on his face and frailty in his bones. Clara’s earlier declaration of affection for the Doctor and his obvious delight in seeing her again gave the reunion a romantic feeling; two long separated lovers finally reunited. But, it was all for naught as very soon the Doctor sent her away again (Rule One: The Doctor lies), after promising that he wouldn’t when he realized that keeping her with him would lead inevitably to watching her age and die. But after being fetched by the Papal Mainframe, she returns one final time…
2. The Doctor’s Last Regeneration?
For those of us who have avidly followed the adventures of the Doctor for a lifetime, the knowledge that Time Lords are limited to 12 regenerations has always been a bit of a sticking point when we arrived at Doctors 10 and 11. We suspected that the limit to the number of regenerations could present a problem when reaching Twelve. Upon Clara’s first return to Trenzalore, a visibly aging Doctor tells her that he’s used them all up. Taking into account 10’s partial regeneration in Series 4, and 8’s regeneration into the War Doctor, during the amazing webisode “The Night of The Doctor”, Eleven sums it up for an astonished Clara: This is it. His final regeneration is past. There is nothing left to come. After Clara returns for the second and final time as the Doctor began to die of old age, she pleaded with the Time Lords through crack in time to save him by changing the future and to love him for who he was;
You’ve been getting it wrong. His name is The Doctor… all the name he’ll ever need.
As the Daleks were preparing to unleash their attack, the space-time crack appeared across the sky, and a field of regeneration energy emerged from it, and entered the Doctor, which gave him the power to not only begin his own regeneration, but to destroy all of the invading alien armies. The Doctor crowed, “Love from Gallifrey, boys!” as the invading forces were vaporized.
3. Farewell, Eleven
Clara ventured cautiously into the TARDIS, finding a trail of discarded clothing on the floor. While we half expect Twelve to pop from around the corner, it is surprisingly Eleven, once again the young, vibrant Doctor, back to his old self again. He explains that it is only a brief “reset” of his youthful appearance, that he was still dying, and that at any moment, the regeneration would be complete;
“We all change. When you think about it, we’re all different people all through our lives; and that’s OK, that’s good, as long as you keep moving, as long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me.”
So will we, Matt. So will we.
4. ‘Raggedy man… good night.’
Then Eleven, remembering the first face he saw in this body, his very first companion – Amy Pond, bid a final farewell to the Girl Who Waited, the companion he would never see again after their trip to New York. In an emotional and unexpected appearance, Karen Gillan returned one last time in a vision as Amy, to say, “Raggedy man… good night.” Eleven knowing that his time was at an end, removed his iconic bow tie, letting all of us know that he was passing the mantle.
5. Welcome Twelve
Realizing the moment was at hand, Clara begged the Doctor not to change, and for a brief moment, he reached out to her. But just as quickly, the regeneration he had been holding back through an act of will completed its cycle and his new face burst forth. Clara and Peter Capaldi shared the shock of the moment as they stared into each other’s eyes, before the Twelfth Doctor uttered his first words as the new Doctor: “Kidneys! I’ve got new kidneys!” Then, as Twelve took his place at the console, he had only one question for Clara: “Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?”
Cannot wait for the eighth season to begin, but it’s looking as if that won’t happen until August or September. So, a wait of at least 8-9 months is in store at this point. I predict the wait will be worth the while.