“The Name of the Doctor” definitely left fans with plenty to think about until the fiftieth anniversary special in November. There’s plenty to speculate about in terms of what might be coming in the fiftieth, but also plenty of new information that connects back to past stories. After watching “The Name of the Doctor,” I was left thinking about how the revelations of that episode affect the way that I now view some of the previous episodes.
Most importantly, this revelations from “The Name of the Doctor” link back to the appearance of the Silence in series 7. I liked the way that further elaborated on the story arc from last season, showing why the Silence wanted to stop the Doctor from going to Trenzalore; they knew what would happen if the Doctor’s past was destroyed. As the episode shows, a universe without the Doctor would be a greatly diminished universe. Without the Doctor to save them, many individuals, planets, and galaxies would no longer exist, so the Silence’s drastic measures make more sense. They were villains who believed they were doing good. They believed it was better to kill the Doctor before he could reach Trenzalore rather than have all of his previous actions undone. When series 7 ended, I was left feeling that a lot of things had been left unresolved, such as why the Silence wanted to kill the Doctor, so it was nice to see Moffat tie up some of the loose threads. I re-watched last year’s finale, “The Wedding of River Song” after watching “The Name of the Doctor” and found that I enjoyed it more this time, now that I understood a bit more about the Silence’s plan.
Besides connecting back to the previous season’s story arc, “The Name of the Doctor” resulted in me feeling a bit differently towards some of the episodes from this season. In particular, I reevaluated my opinion of “The Bells of St. John” and “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.”
When it first aired, I really enjoyed “The Bells of St. John” and I still do; it’s a fun ride and a clever premise. However, it ended with the revelation that the Great Intelligence was behind the Spoonheads and Miss Kizlet. At the end, the Great Intelligence did not seem terribly upset that his plan had been foiled and even had protocols in place for when his location was discovered. Why he was uploading people, however, was never explained. There is also the mystery of the girl in the shop who gave Clara the number to the phone on the police box (which isn’t supposed to work), saying it was the best helpline in the universe. I assumed that these things would be explained later in the season, when the Great Intelligence’s master plan was revealed, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’m not sure how uploading people would fit into his plan to enter the Doctor’s timestream at Trenzalore, and there was certainly no mention of the girl in the shop after this episode. Unless there is more to come from the Great Intelligence, which seems unlikely at this point, the ending is very unsatisfying.
“Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS,” on the other hand, was one of my least favorite episodes of the season. While I still did not particularly enjoy the episode, the finale did fix one issue I had with it. I was very disappointed that at the end of the episode Clara no long knew about being the “impossible girl.” The Doctor believed that he had to keep it a secret from her, even though he had told he during the episode and she seemed to handle the news pretty well. I really disliked the fact that this knowledge was taken away from her. Well, in the finale, this information comes back to her and directly results in Clara realizing what she has to do, in fact, what she must have already done, to save the Doctor. The knowledge, then, was not wasted, and caused me to feel a bit more kindly towards that particular part of the episode.
Obviously, there is more from this storyline that will be picked up in the fiftieth, so I might be reevaluating further in November. These are just the examples that came to mind after I finished watching the finale. However, I am assuming the finale was the end of the Great Intelligence, which does leave the unresolved issues in his story arc, as I discussed above. Still, “The Name of the Doctor” did serve to answer some questions that I was beginning to think would never be answered, so maybe Moffat still has a few tricks up his sleeve.