Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched the Doctor Who season finale, stop reading now. My recap is over there, but here’s a quick sketch.
That was some episode of Who, huh? In the seventh season finale, the Steven Moffat-penned “The Name of the Doctor,” we learned that the two-hearted alien’s name is…John Hurt?
I kid — I think. After half a season of standalone episodes, all strung together by the question of what cosmic force kept bringing companion Clara back to life in different times and on different planets, the finale circled back to some of the larger themes that Moffat has been tinkering with since season 5: The lasting impact of previous companions Amy and Rory; the lasting love between the Doctor and Professor River Song; the goodness of the Doctor’s friends; the havoc (both momentous and random) that time travel can wreak. Also: Trenzalore! We saw the Doctor and Clara forced to head to that long-talked-about place, which we learn is the Doctor’s future grave, in order to save their friends. Trenzalore is also the resting place of the Doctor’s greatest secret (and was apparently the site of a giant battle). Do we learn much more than that? Not really!
We were also treated to the return of the Doctor’s wife, River Song, who’s been absent from the series since last fall. She was delightful, as always; and, as always, she was tragic. (River and the Doctor travel in opposite directions in time, didn’t you know? Doom is the definition of their romance.)
Now about Hurt. After the revelation that Clara is “impossible” because she throws herself into the Doctor’s own time stream (a gateway into his entire history, past, present, and future), thus becoming a million copies of herself at all points in time in order to save him from The Great Intelligence (which had just done the same thing), we did learn that the Doctor has another form. This other form doesn’t share the Doctor’s name but is still him, and he seems to have done something that Eleven does not like at all. The last shot of the episode introduces Hurt as “The Doctor,” so…
His arrival was also a shameless reminder to watch the 50th Anniversary special in November. We know that many former Whos are rumored/hoped/expected to return for that, but Hurt is a surprise newbie, notwithstanding the British fondness to inject prestige into silliness. Sure, he’s done the Merlin voice-over thing for the last few years, but time travel? After a rather satisfying big-picture hour, did you think this was a twist too far? What can it possibly mean, anyway? Sound off below. The good news is we have several months to speculate. The bad news is that it may not make sense in the end, anyway.