There are many people ready to criticise Stephen Moffat for diverting new Doctor Who away from the sentimentality of the Russell T. Davies years, which I did not like, but in Matt Smith’s last appearance in the role, we got enough sentiment to satisfy anyone. But then we already knew he could do it from Rory and Amy’s departure.
In a way that hasn’t been so since my youngest years, when I watched Hartnell and Troughton as unfailingly as a kid with no control over his life could do, Matt Smith’s been ‘my’ Doctor. Or, when paired with Karen Gillan and Arthur Darville, he certainly has been. I was very disappointed with the half series with Jenna Coleman, until that extraordinary final episode, and Moffat has been travelling a light speed ever since.
I’ve avoided knowing anything about this Christmas Special (like I’ve avoided anything to do with next Wednesday’s Sherlock) so I came to this with clean hands, ready to be astonished. And again the pieces moved into place: the Crack in the Universe, the Silence, the explosion of the Tardis, River Song even, all part of this final sequence of stories. Either Moffat had known all along what he was doing and where he was going or the man is a fucking genius at fitting half-ideas into a whole, and I’m not so sure I wouldn’t want it to be the latter because if the pattern wasn’t there all along, then this man is awesome and I would like him to take over scripting my life, right now, immediately. Please.
Because what we had from this story was The End. Of that story that began when two teachers grew concerned about an unusual pupil. Because Matt Smith recognised he was the last, despite everything the Curator had implied. The Eleventh Doctor, plus John Hurt and that part regeneration of David Tennant: the show’s only low moment, that ungenerous snipe there, even as Moffat was using it to his advantage to allow him to now, not in some future time when he’s no longer in control, break the bonds of the Twelve Regenerations.
First though, in his resignation to a future that becomes inevitable once he learns he has been drawn to Trenzalore, Smith’s Doctor can grow old, in one place, bent on protecting those who need protection for as long as he shall live. To guard the secret of his name – which is no secret at all, despite the demands of Gallifrey for the answer to ‘Doctor Who’? His name is the Doctor: whatever he may once have been known by, that is his name, and the whole of it.
And thanks once more to Clara, devoted, loving, impossible, he gets to go on. Gallifrey ceases its attempt to get back into the Universe and instead confers life upon its most infuriating child: new Regeneration energy. Another go around. The queston resolved and removed, for another fifty years, no doubt.
And a final, mercifully brief moment of goodbyes, reminiscent of Tennant’s farewell but not so pukingly, dully drawn-out. A glimpse of Amelia, a moment of Amy – and the suddenest of transformations into Peter Capaldi…
What comes next won’t appear until July, if I understand correctly. Matt Smith has been ‘my’ Doctor, but I’m open to negotiations over Peter Capaldi.