The only thing that upset me about this week’s Doctor Who finale, “The Name of the Doctor” is the fan base being upset that they weren’t delivered the Doctor’s actual name, like the title suggested. Clearly, such people have no idea what it really means to be a Doctor Who fan. After all, we have a character who has been around for 50 years and still remains a complete mystery. Doctor Who is a journey. Those who love it will stick around and continue to play with the puzzle pieces.
All right, back to the episode at hand. Steven Moffat returns to take us out with a winning series finale. In a fast and mystical prologue by Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman), we learn that she has been scattered through the Doctor’s (Matt Smith) history and is destined to save him at every turn. And just like that, the mystery of the "Impossible Girl" is solved. We are treated right up front to a series of colorful flashbacks with the beloved faces of the previous doctors, all affected in some way by Clara’s presence.
Meanwhile, in victorian London, Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh) summons the sci-fi Scooby Gang consisting of Jenny (Catrin Stewart), Strax (Dan Starkey), and the “back up” of the deceased River Song (Alex Kingston) to a kind of psychic conference call, giving these well loved supporting characters more chance to shine. Enter the Whispermen, genuinely creepy undertaker-like footmen to the Great Intelligence (Richard E. Grant). The silent monsters whisk away the Doctor’s friends and beckon him to the one place in all space and time he must never go, his own tomb on Trenzalore.
Filled with satisfying suspense, emotion, and chills, “The Name of the Doctor” catapults us through a delightful treat of joyful sadness as the Doctor says a final goodbye to River Song and Clara establishes her significance to the universe by sacrificing herself, this time with full knowledge of her destiny, to save the Doctor and his effect on history.
Oh, and consider our collective minds blown as we are all surprised by the face of John Hurt (Alien, 1984), who has just made an official appearance as a future face of the Doctor. So, no, fans, you were not given the name of the Doctor. Some things are better off not known. In this case, I’d say the treasure trove of other perks make up for the little title tease entirely. When, if ever, will John Hurt appear again? November can’t come soon enough.