Doctor Who trades epic for personal in a poignant finale

6 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Alex Kingston: Why Doctor Who has to be a man.

What is home to a man who runs away? The actress, who reprises her role as River Song in the Christmas Day episode of the BBC One sci-fi series, admitted she cannot imagine the Time Lord as a woman. “I would imagine, if anything, the Doctor might be of different race than gender.The audacious Doctor Who series 9 finale saw Jenna Coleman’s Clara piloting her own TARDIS with Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams into the universe (for a spin-off of their own perhaps).The Series 9 Doctor Who finale could not have been more epic with return (and exit) of Jenna Coleman and the Doctor’s fellow Gallifreyans – the Time Lords.

Returning to Gallifrey, the Doctor overthrows Rassilon and the High Council and uses an extraction chamber to retrieve Clara from the trap street, her physical processes time-locked an instant before her death. Essentially, if one goes back historically, it’s really been a little boys’ show and girls have been brought onto it. “Certainly, when I was a child, I loved it as well but, and I hope women don’t hate me for this, I do think the Doctor has to be a guy actually.

It’d be very interesting for River if it was a woman.” The 52-year-old actress, who has also appeared in US medical drama ER, BBC drama Hope Springs and US action series Arrow, gets to work with Peter Capaldi’s incarnation of the Doctor – but teased she’d like to flirt with Jon Pertwee, who portrayed the third Doctor from 1970 to 1974. There he meets Ashildr, who counters his assertion that she is the Hybrid by suggesting that the combination of him and Clara forms two halves of a half-Time Lord, half-human hybrid, one which puts all of time and space in jeopardy. After a psychedelic, head-spinning finale that piled twist upon revelation on top of rug pull, Steven Moffat could not resist one final question mark that’s likely to keep us guessing until the end of everything.

I think I’d probably give William Hartnell (the first Doctor) a heart attack so best to leave him alone. “Paul McGann, he would’ve been great fun to have worked with but I’m working with him now, potentially in the future as well, on recorded episodes. As Clara imparted the wisdom the Doctor had given her about memories becoming stories, surely knowing he wouldn’t remember, so couldn’t have told her in the Diner Tardis, he tacitly let it go and walked away. When the pair meet again in a diner in Nevada, he does not recognise her and flies off in his TARDIS alone, while Clara and Ashildr take the stolen TARDIS to head back to Gallifrey – the long way around.

Was she giving him just enough information to work out that Clara was OK, or had the whole conversation been the final flourish in the pair’s dance, knowing the universe could no longer handle their unique type of Hybrid, and nobly sucking it up? This Australian air steward was pretty upset at what she’d just witnessed in 1984’s Resurrection of the Daleks which featured a rather high death count (even by 80s Doctor Who standards) and decided to stay in London. Sadly, Tegan instantly regretted her choice and fled back to the TARDIS to rejoin her chums – only to find it dematerializing in her front of her eyes. The second Time Lady to travel with the Doctor (the first further down this list), Romana was more intelligent and, dare we say, more attractive than the Doctor, then played by Tom Baker.

This precocious boy genius (read: annoying arse), made one journey with Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper after having helped beat off a solitary Dalek. He plays her a sad song (“I think it’s called Clara”) and starts into the tale of his return to Gallifrey — or, for the uninitiated, Space Glasgow. Their understated and funny final scene was concocted between actress Elisabeth Sladen and Baker, and included the heart-breaking line: ‘Don’t forget me.’ He returned to taunt the first three Doctors in the imaginatively titled, The Three Doctors (featuring William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee). Back on his home planet after billions of years in the confession dial, the Doctor makes the usual rounds: childhood barn, lunch (with an audience), staredown with a military spacecraft.

Again, slightly tugging at the definition of Time Lord, but Donna Noble (TV’s Catherine Tate) turned part-Time Lady in the epic Series four finale with David Tennant. Like Heaven Sent, Hell Bent is an epic story on a small scale: a tale of a lonely traveller who is willing to risk all of creation because he misses his closest friend, with Gallifrey and the Time Lords merely a bit-part player. And let’s not forget such memorable Time Lords (good and bad) such as Morbius, The Corsair, Borusa, The Monk, The Inquisitor, Drax, Chancellor Flavia and many, many more!

Moffat’s storytelling choices will no doubt have disappointed many viewers who were hoping for a spectacular Time Lord showdown but I still enjoyed this finale very much – with one noticeable exception. But it is odd to see so many people react to the Doctor as a war hero, especially because even the War Doctor didn’t seem the type to “serve with” the troops so much as go rogue — though he didn’t use a weapon, and that sounds about right. Of course, the point of having the Doctor kill the General is to show just how far he will go to save Clara, further than he would go to save anyone else. The Doctor and Clara slip past the computer’s guard system — dead Time Lords, Weeping Angels, Cybermen, and Daleks — and get to work trying to hack their way out, or at least the Doctor does. And be a Doctor.’ It’s an ending fitting of the character, as Clara races off in search of adventure, not concerned about death but wanting to make the most of her life, knowing that her next heartbeat will be her last.

When a handful of Time Lords and the Sisterhood of Karn surround them in the Cloisters, she demands that they tell her how much time the Doctor spent in his confession dial, and the answer she gets is more than double what the Doctor presumed: 4.5 billion years. The woman who used to pencil in the Doctor on her calendar has been prioritizing his life over her own all season, and she’s devastated to learn what he went through on her behalf. Now that she’s on borrowed time — Clara’s physical processes have been looped in the split-second before the raven strikes, so she is quite literally a heartbeat away from death — she has a few things to say. But more than that, since Clara was the tempering force that mellowed and humanised him, will the Doctor going forward be more like the grumpy killjoy from last year? The Doctor expects Clara’s pulse to return once they’ve broken free of Gallifrey, but her timeline isn’t changing, and he’s starting to lose his cool.

As Clara waits inside, Ashildr confronts the Doctor for trying to change his friend’s fate: Not only does he “have no right to change who she was,” but he’s making it pretty clear how destructive they are when they’re together. Moffat continues to have fun with Time Lord gender transition, knowing he’ll likely never have to be the person to make that sort of controversial decision himself. But here’s where things take a turn: When everything seems to point toward Clara returning to the moment of her death, the Doctor decides instead that they should both press the button on the neural block and see what happens.

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