Our final story begins in a repair shop, and a warning alarm’s going off. The two men stop their work to investigate. Someone’s stealing a TARDIS. They’re confused. What kind of idiot would steal a faulty TARDIS? Pull back. That’s right! We’re on Gallifrey, long before the Time War and at the very beginning of The Doctor’s journey. The First Doctor and Susan are sneaking aboard a TARDIS. A girl’s voice makes the old man turn. It’s Clara and she’s here to warn him. The Time Lord is about to make a very big mistake...
London, 1983, and a madman with fourteen deaths to his name, sits in a jail cell rambling about the whisper men, whilst our favorite Silurian looks on. “The whisper men are near, if you hear the whisper men then turn away your ear, do not hear the whisper the men, whatever else you do” The serial killer begs Madame Vastra to save him from the noose; one word from her could save him.
“Then you can rely on my silence,” Vastra tells him, but he has valuable information; information about The Doctor. The Doctor has a secret he will take to the grave and it is discovered.
Rattled, Vastra heads home and makes a conference call. Pulling Strax away from his weekend off, bar fighting in Glasgow. Sending invitations to the two most important women in the Doctor’s life; Clara, who’s at home making soufflés, and River, who’s ‘living’ in the library.
River is beyond scared as she watches the Killers words; “The Doctor has a secret he will take to the grave and it is discovered.” River’s terrified but so is Jenny; she forgot to lock the door and there’s someone in the house, but it’s worse. She’s been murdered.
As Jenny fades from sight River wakes Strax and Vastra from their sleep, surrounded by the Whisper Men. Before River and Clara can get out the Whisper Men appear with a three word order; “Tell the Doctor”. The great intelligence manifests in the mist before them with the message; “His friends are lost forevermore, unless he goes to Trenzalore.” As Clara wakes from her sleep as River shouts that the Doctor can NEVER go to Trenzalore.
Clara wakes to find the Doctor in her house playing blind man’s buff with the kids, who’ve used this as a way to sneak off to the cinema. Clara ruins his day and delivers the message - his secret is to be discovered and it brings him to tears. He runs from the house, seeking refuge in Sexy. Clara joins him. Is Trenzalore his big secret? No, he tells her. Every time-traveller has one place in the entire universe the can never ever go. Their grave. Trenzalore is where the Doctor is buried.
Sexy’s not happy though. She knows where he’s heading and does not like it. They fight the entire way but the TARDIS shuts herself down atop the planet. Leaving only the antigravity running. Which the Doctor switches off.
The Doctor, Clara and the TARDIS smash onto the planet. Shattering one of Sexy’s windows in the process. The Doctor concludes that his grave, the grave of the one who’s time-travelled the most, is potentially the most dangerous place in the entire universe. Clara and the Doctor make their way towards his grave; to Clara, a huge monument of the TARDIS. However the Doctor puts her straight. His tomb IS Sexy herself. As a TARDIS dies it’s bigger-on-the-inside mechanism breaks down, making Sexy grow. What else would the Doctor be buried in?
Clara’s distracted by River. She’s still there, connected to Clara via the still-open conference call, unable to be seen by The Doctor. In turning to see what’s keeping Clara he spots something as impossible as his impossible girl; River’s grave. The Whisper Men appear again and, with a little help from River, the Doctor deduces that River’s grave is the secret entrance to the Doctor’s tomb and they fall into the catacombs.
“The Doctor has been many things but never bloodsoaked.” Vastra scolds.
“Tell that to the leader of the Sycorax, or Solomon the trader, the Cybermen or the Daleks. The Doctor lives his days in darker hues and will go by other names before the end; the Storm, the Beast and the Valeyard”
The Doctor and Clara run through the dead TARDIS and Clara begins to remember memories that never happened. Remember Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS? She does now! She knows everything the Doctor told her; The Dalek and the Governess, both died saving his life. Both were Clara, but how is this possible?
Simeon’s postulating; the doors to the tomb require a key. The key is a word, and the word is The Doctor’s name. The Doctor appears, late for his own funeral. Simeon orders the Doctor to speak, to say his name and open the tomb. The Doctor will not open the doors so Simeon orders his Whisper Men to stop the hearts of the Doctor’s friends. The Doctor begs them to stop this.
“Your name Doctor, answer me! Doctor WHO?”
“PLEASE!” The doors creak open. The Doctor didn’t say his name. River did. The TARDIS can still hear her. They all make their way into the Doctor’s tomb. In the centre of the room hovers a series of thorny splinters, glowing white and spinning.
“Were you expecting a body?” The Doctor says. The glowing mass is the Doctor’s timeline. His trail of destruction across time and space. Every moment of his journey through the universe, from Gallifrey to Trenzalore. The Doctor Collapses, the Paradox is too much for him to contain. Simeon approaches the open wound, an open wound that can be entered. Inside the timeline he can re-write every moment, turn the victories into defeats and turn his every breath into agony.
Then Clara realizes what she must do and jumps into the Doctor’s timeline. Scattering herself across every moment with only one goal; save the Doctor. Clara falls through time and space in a million pieces with only one memory; save The Doctor, she chases his every face, his every adventure, calling his name, begging for his attention, but he never hears. Almost never...
The First Doctor turns at the girls voice. It’s Clara and she’s here to warn him - the Time Lord is about to make a very big mistake; he shouldn’t take that TARDIS, he should take this one. Sexy. “The navigation system’s nackered but you’ll have more fun.”
With the Doctor’s timeline restored, the stars, Jenny and Strax are back, but Clara’s not. There’s only one way to get her back; the Doctor must enter his own timeline. Unseen, River screams at him not to do it. Anything but that. Be sensible! She aims a slap which the Doctor grabs. He could see her after all. He could always see her. It was just too painful to talk to her. After finally saying a passionate goodbye to the woman he loves, our favorite Timelord leaps into his timeline to get his friend back.
“He’s me,” The Doctor tells her. There’s only him here, that’s the point. He wants her to leave. Clara has never seen this one and she’s seen all eleven of his faces, but not this one...
“I said he was me, I never said he was the Doctor. My name, my real name. That is not the point, the name I chose is the Doctor, the name you choose is like a promise you make. He’s the one who broke the promise”. Clara Collapses. “HE is my secret”.
“What I did, I did without choice, in the name of peace and sanity.” The old man speaks.
“But not in the name of The Doctor,” the Doctor spits before skulking away. The old man turns and a message comes on screen; “Introducing John Hurt as... The Doctor.”
This episode was the redeeming point of the entire season. While each episode as a whole, with the exception of those at the beginning of the season, have been fantastic, the arc has been lacking with little to connect the episodes. This story delivered a killer plot twist that I think very few people, if any, saw coming.
So, there’s another Doctor hidden in there? Who would’ve thought it! Where will John Hurt’s incarnation fit in with what we already know, and what does this mean for the Doctor’s psyche? Just how messed up is the Doctor?
Stephen Moffat has knocked it out of the park with this one! From now until November, Whovians up and down the country will be guessing and re-guessing and guessing again! We may have just solved the mystery of Clara but what’s the mystery of the Ancient Doctor?
Stay with I'm With Geek over the coming months for all 50th Anniversary news, updates and rumours!