I was on holiday when I watched, I’d just had a lovely day on the English Riviera and outside my window there were hundreds of people soaking up the sun and firing up the barbies, and I would not really have appreciated having my heart torn out and stamped on…
…and spending the rest of the evening trying not to cry into my mussels (almost the only thing the local had left on the menu, since the glorious weather seemed to have caught them by surprise).
I had an awful lot of questions but I can live with them not all being answered. They weren’t, as it happens (duck pond, anyone? When did Amelia’s house get redecorated? Why is her dad a dead ringer for Mr Pickwick, and has nobody ever pointed out to Rory that it’s the Second Law of Dental Dynamics that the likelihood of toothpaste spattering is always in direct proportion to the price and importance of the outfit being worn?)
But my biggest questions, as always, were emotional. Will David Tennant ever stop being my Doctor? (Probably not, but I discovered at the moment when Matt stepped out of the TARDIS dressed like Fred Astaire that there is a difference between my Doctor and the Doctor, and I am, finally, perfectly able to accept that he’s Da Man)
Will I ever really warm to River Song? Nope, but she’s more of an idea than a character, like many of Moffat’s creations, and the scene where she shoots the fez and then pwns the Dalek redeemed her an awful lot in my eyes. At this moment, I probably loved her, though I’ll never conventionally ship them (Also, she resembled Mme de Pompadour on the ultimate bad hair day at Versailles, at least from the neck up, and for some reason that amused me no end).
Will I ever really like Amy or find her a convincing character? The jury’s still out on that one, because we need to see how much the consequences of her childhood in a decaying reality affected her, and whether she’ll be any different now that she’s had the security of parents in her life. It does occur to me that it was an awfully clever way to season an inexperienced actress.
And Rory? I can’t believe in his character arc any more than I could in Martha walking the earth or Rose settling for 10.5, but the important thing was that this time the writer and the actor seemed to be working together to make it convincing on an emotional level, and that very much reduced the WTF effect.
I think a lot of what it takes to make me accept an actor as the Doctor happens when I identify his defining quality. There has been some inconsistent writing in this series, reaching its nadir in the Chibnell two-parter, but after that point something seemed to click into place and reach its natural conclusion in the beautifully tender scene where the Doctor put little Amelia to bed and came as close as he ever has in a Moffat script to talking about himself. That quality is kindness – we saw it when he nursed the bloke in The Lodger and when he followed his instinct to bring Van Gogh a measure of comfort. When Matt plays the Doctor, you really can believe he was a dad once, and that it brought him some happiness. It made me realise – and this isn’t a criticism because flawed characters are the most compelling – just how self-centered and needy the Tenth Doctor had become through his series of losses. As Eleven once remarked about Amy, it was all about him. He was a complex mixture of stoicism and entitlement. Eleven, by contrast, seems to have worked out what his place in the universe is – when it needs saving, even if it’ll erase him from existence, he quietly gets on with the job in a very British way.
That little scene in Amelia’s bedroom captured my heart; it was the perfect balance of the Doctor’s care for the whole universe and compassion for one lost little girl who loved him because she had nobody else. Both were equally important. And I liked the way that we never directly saw him vanish from existence, that he seemed in control of the event and at peace with it; he might not have wanted to go but he did anyway, and he didn’t expect a requiem from Murray Gold. He reminded me of the old chap who was recently presented with a medal for his wartime bravery, and said he didn’t do much, it was really all down to the Brigadier – but when he faced his German counterpart he said, “I’m here to help you stop this bloody war.” That’s the spirit.
I can’t say often enough how wonderful it was to finish on a high note with the Doctor actually happy – it could so easily have been one of those “everybody else has a partner, I’m lonely in the TARDIS and my life sucks,” downers that RTD just couldn’t resist. To have the companions taking the initiative and simply not letting him leave them behind. To have marriage celebrated instead of seen as the end of all adventures. To see people laughing around the console. I’m delighted that we’re going to have a married couple in the TARDIS again, and has anybody noticed that they’ve all become super-human in some way, the triangle of support in the Doctor’s life? (I really don’t think we can exclude River from companion status). He’s going to be all right, for a change. Really, not just Time Lord all right.
But do you know what pleased me most? A redhead in a wedding dress, marrying someone who actually loved her rather than a loser or a user, a reception the Doctor danced through and enjoyed instead of propping up the bar missing Rose – and all tied to a plot about the impossibility of forgetting the Doctor, and the absolute importance of memory. If that wasn’t Moffat’s riposte to what Rusty did to Donna, I don’t know what is. I can forgive the Moff an awful lot for that alone. He didn’t have to do it. But he did.
A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you’re feeling small
Alone in the night you whisper
Thinking no one can hear you at all
You wait for the morning sunlight
To find fortune that is smiling on you
Don’t let your heart be full of sorrow
For all you know tomorrow
The dream that you wish will come true…
(…unless you’re an England fan, of course).