After last week’s recovery with the pretty great “Hide”, there was a lot of pressure on this episode to keep up the quality, not least with a lore-heavy title like that. Even since the big-budget comeback, it seems the writers have been reluctant to explore the TARDIS too much, limiting movement mainly to the seasonally-changing console room.
True, the relationship between the TARDIS and The Doctor was explored in 2011’s “The Doctor’s Wife”, but I think of the TARDIS more as an iconic sci-fi machine than a character, so the premise of seeing a bit more of it was exciting.
They had a few money shots, such as: a full-frontal of the Eye of Harmony, a collapsing star that powers the TARDIS; a library filled with convenient plot exposition points; a budget Avatar magic tree that generates the TARDIS layout; that swimming pool they keep going on about, and a shitload of corridors (which we spend more time in than that the rest of the list combined).
So the TARDIS gets seriously damaged when a space salvage crew from the set of Eastenders use an illegal tractor beam to bring the TARDIS in. With the TARDIS (I hate using the capitals, but I have to) critically damaged and Clara inside, the Doctor has to face off against his seemingly toughest foes yet – pushy black youths with aggressive attitudes. Good work, BBC diversity agenda! One of them was an android though, does that count as disabled? I’m surprised they didn’t slap a turban on him too for good measure, maybe the Daily Mail were scandalised enough already.
The Doctor ‘fools’ the crew to help him search the TARDIS for Clara, or more flat-out lies to them repeatedly. Will they save the day? Well, no spoilers from me. There were some fairly scary bad guys (no, not the black guys you bunch of racists), though they looked a bit ropey the closer you got.
The Doctor and Clara made a good team this time, and the confrontation near the end was a bit of a relief, for some reason after the Amy flesh-bot nonsense in the previous series, I had been expecting the worst. But at least we can move on for now, and no doubt revisit it immediately next week as they visit the gang in Victoria London who will surely recognise her.
The plot veered close to the typical deus ex machina bullshit we’ve been given repeatedly, but I think they pulled it together despite a bit of a timey-wimey conclusion. We even got a bit of progress on the “Who is Clara?” that I suspect the convenient amnesia excuse might not totally brush under the carpet. Especially not with the finale’s title announced: “The Name of the Doctor”. I still don’t quite understand why that’s supposed to be important, unless it’s “ADOLF” or something, maybe someone we know already. Oh God, is he going to turn out to be River Song too? More likely we won’t even hear the damn thing at all!