There are two things this episode did right that I’m quite happy with. The first is actually provide a resolution to the forced mystery of “who is Clara” that, while not entirely satisfying, pays off and makes a certain degree of narrative sense, while also giving a nice nod to the show’s history. Yeah, it’s a bit forced as far as resolutions go and there’s no convincing arguments that it was properly seeded within the stories themselves, hinging as it does on a rather convenient catch-phrase.

The second thing the episode did well was actually make me like River Song again. Granted, it did this by pretty emphatically drawing a line under her character’s time with the show, but here she was the foil for the Doctor that she was always clearly meant to be. She also gets the single best exit for a companion in the new series since that brief and shining moment when we actually thought Rose was gone for good.

But then there’s the rest of the episode, which to be precise, was an incoherent mess. It’s not just that using the Great Intelligence as the villain is completely unsatisfying. He/it/they have only had one prominent appearance this season, and only appeared twice during the original series, so as a villain willing to hound the Doctor to his tomb to undo time, it just doesn’t fit. The Whispermen are a horrific visual, but that’s all they are; they’re a gimmick in search of a story to hang on, only Moffatt didn’t even bother to do that much. I can forgive the use of Vastra, Jenny and Strax as the hostages to force the Doctor to open his tomb, because given the logistics of television production, these are the actors available. But storywise we just haven’t seen that the Doctor has a strong enough connection to these characters to make their peril seem legitimate. We’re told he does, but it’s never been shown to us.

The big fake-out with the Doctor’s name I can forgive as well; there’s no real reason to suspect the show would actually have been willing to go there. What I have a harder time forgiving is the complete abandonment, again, of dangling plot threads from the past. We were given repeated warnings of how important Trenzalore was, and how dangerous it would be for the Doctor to go there. An entire species organized a religious movement to somehow prevent him from getting there by killing him before he could (we’ll ignore that this would apparently create an even worse paradox, because the Silence were apparently idiots). And when the moment finally comes it’s because…a minor villain was thwarted a couple of times, and the people trying to prevent this are nowhere to be seen. I know Moffatt gets grief, deservedly, for dropping plot points that much is made of (like, say, a TARDIS exploding while an ominous voice drops prophetic hints), but if this was his attempt to tie storylines of the past three years together, it really comes off as a rush job. As if he just threw together a resolution for the sake of having one.

As for the final reveal, I won’t lie: I groaned. It’s too early to say what this previously unknown version of the Doctor actually means for the show. Fake outs shouldn’t surprise anyone at this point. Mostly I’m tired of the “everything you know is wrong” school of revelations for long running stories. It doesn’t make me excited for what you have planned (Moffatt has taught me that anything important won’t be followed up on meaningfully in any case), it frustrates me that a lazy retcon is being presented as something to be excited by.

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