And we’re done. The act has closed, the curtain fallen, Matt Smith has left the building.
I was never the most vocal of his converts, for me David Tenant’s performance in the role is still the modern rendition to aspire to. But Smith has played a good innings, and made the role his own. His rubber-limbed, Easter Island statue-faced antics have been amusing and moving in equal measure.
But what of the episode itself?
This particular swansong had some big boots to fill. Steven Moffat had already established that it would answer questions and tidy up loose ends from the very start of Smith’s tenure. I’m always wary of over-hyped televisual events, but The Day of the Doctor left me pleasantly surprised — even if it convinced me that Moffat should not be allowed to name things.
The Time of the Doctor takes us (back) to Trenzalore, where the crack in the skin of the universe from Smith’s first season has reappeared, as Gallifrey apparently tries to use it to return to the universe. The question which must not be answered (Doctor Who?) is their navigation, and in a place where only the truth can be told the Daleks gather to annihilate the Doctor should he try to answer and guide the Time Lords back through…
It’s as complex and mad as any Moffat story, but it actually makes a strange amount of sense. The Silence in previous seasons were a breakaway cult of a larger church, and their actions served to bring to fruition the very prophecy they were trying to prevent.
For me, this marked the episode where we saw the Eleventh Doctor actually grow up. Starting from his usually madcap antics, like a hyperactive child, three centuries of protecting the truthful village of Christmas mellow him, going beyond the striking make-up. More in the way he slows down, the acceptance of his doom to the very moment it bears down upon him.
I liked that Moffat cleared up some of his predecessor’s messes, as well as his own. The Tenth Doctor’s regenerative non-regeneration in “Journey’s End” is added to the canon, which alongside John Hurt makes Smith the thirteenth (and last) incarnation.
I fear many viewers will see the off-stage Time Lords gifting the Doctor another regeneration as a cop out, but Moffat is actually correct. The groundwork was laid. It was already established that the Time Lords gave the Master extra regenerations. Arguably the Doctor did the most in service to Gallifrey, so why on earth not?
My main criticism was of the actual regeneration sequence. The reappearance of Amy Pond was…eh. I was never particularly attached, and it just underscored Smith’s limited impact compared to Tenant. Additionally, the endless simpering of female characters around the Doctor has become…tiresome. And as ever, I’m not quite sure if half of what came before even happened.
But that aside, it was a strong episode, playing out Trenzalore surprisingly without disappointment. Matt Smith’s final performance was dignified and sincere, and the story gave him the passing out he deserved.
But. Capaldi. I have a really good feeling about this. So he’s not
Jorah Mormont Iain Glenn, but there are still exciting times to come, even if we have to wait until Autumn 2014.