The 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who has left me almost speechless. It was not what I was expecting, by any stretch of the imagination, and it was absolutely amazing. There are lots of references to the classic episodes, particularly the scarf and the names Foreman and Chesterton at the beginning of the episode (well, the whole school actually. It’s Coal Hill!). Oh, and the surprise at the very end, but I’ll get to that.
I was really excited for this episode for a number of reasons. The first of which was that it was the return of David Tennant to the series because he is my Doctor and I was so sad to see him go. Also, I was intrigued by the idea of John Hurt as the Doctor, though what was shown was quite a surprise. I am also a big fan of Rose Tyler, so Billie Piper’s return was exciting as well. Finally, when word got out that Queen Elizabeth the 1st would be featured, I was so happy because she made an appearance in The Shakespeare Code. She yelled that the Doctor was her sworn enemy, and being as he had not met her yet, the reason was left a mystery to the viewers.
But onto the events of the episode. All three of the storylines are interconnected, although it does not look this way at first as some events are out of order (timey-wimey right?). The Doctor and Clara are pulled to the National Gallery to investigate a situation with paintings by the orders of Elizabeth the 1st. Her credentials are given in the form of a painting with two names: “No More” or “Gallifrey Falls”. There are flashes back to the vents of the painting, in which the War Doctor, John Hurt, shoots the words “no more” onto a wall”. He steals the Galaxy Eater, the last weapon of the Time Lords, in a final attempt to end the Time War forever. The Time Lords reveal that the weapon grew a conscience—something that the Doctor finds out when he tries to activate the device. The conscience (interface) takes the form of Rose Tyler, Bad Wolf, because she is an integral part of his “future”. She talks about the consequence of his future action, that he will be condemned to survive. She proceeds to show him his future, when a fez falls out of the vortex.
The three Doctors convene in the time of Elizabeth the 1st. It was great to see how Matt’s Doctor threw the fez to David’s doctor, and when attempting to get it back to Clara, the fez actually ended up with John Hurt.
There were quite a few comedic elements throughout the episode that I enjoyed, particularly when John’s Doctor thought that the other two were companions, and when the Tower’s door was revealed to have been unlocked the entire time.
My favourite moments from the episode just happened to be the most emotional and impactful of the whole thing. The first was when John’s Doctor was told that he would eventually count the number of children who were on Gallifrey the day he destroyed it. This moment was connected to another one that I loved, when Clara asked what the promise was (when the Doctor chose the name The Doctor).
“Never cruel or cowardly. Never Give up. Never give in.”
With the flashes to war torn Gallifrey, I could barely keep the tears from my eyes because all three of these Doctors were going to press the button to destroy it—but then…they didn’t. ALL incarnations of the Doctors convened to stop this, including Peter Capaldi, though most were not on screen. They proceeded to create some Time Lord art and essentially hid Gallifrey inside a painting. This connected to the other two parts because the Zygons hid themselves in paintings during Elizabeth’s time and then broke out in modern day times—thus how the Doctors thought it was something they could try doing to Gallifrey.
My absolute favourite part of the episode though, was David’s exit after they put Gallifrey in the painting. He talked with Matt’s Doctor about where he was going, Trenzalore, and mentioned, right before he got in the TARDIS: “We need a new destination. Because I don’t want to go”. This echoes his final words back in The End of Time Part 2, one of the few episodes that made me cry. Thus, I cried again.
There was a major surprise for classic Who fans as the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, made a surprise appearance at the end of the episode as the curator of the Gallery. It was left unclear as to whether he was the 4th Doctor himself, or if it was just a nice cameo, but he did impart some knowledge on Matt’s Doctor. He revealed that they did succeed in saving Gallifrey by telling Matt’s Doctor that the painting really only had one name: “Gallifrey Falls No More”.
The Doctor now has a new mission on his hands…
There is so much I can say about Doctor Who, and this episode. It’s a fantastic series, and without a doubt my favourite television show. The amount of excitement I have about the show going forward is not measurable. There are so many possibilities now…who knows where we will end up?
All I really know for sure is that the Interface, Rose, was right. The TARDIS sound brings hope wherever it goes. And it is sure to continue doing that, no matter what happens.
Here’s to fifty years of Doctor Who.