Archive for the ‘Season 9’ Category
For the second time, these images are on offer, and I am unable to acquire them:
It’s Alice XZ again, of course. The images she painted for a SDCC exclusive comic were PERSONALLY REQUESTED BY PETER CAPALDI for the limited edition S9 steelbook. (I had to look up “steelbook.”) Stunning, gorgeous, and PERSONALLY REQUESTED! And once again, out of my reach.
The first time, they were a con exclusive, for a con I was not attending and will likely never attend. And now, the limited edition will be offered in the UK only.
I know that feel, bro.
Maybe they’ll get crazy and offer it in the US too. That would be one way to persuade me to pay full price…
Obviously, spoilers follow.
DO NOT OPEN UNTIL XMAS SPECIAL
A year ago I would have said it was impossible. Even after S9, amazing as it was, I had my doubts. He’d followed up the 50th anniversary special with the disastrous ‘Time of the Doctor.’ He’d set up ‘Silence in the Library’ with ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ and ‘The Angels Take Manhattan.’ Moffat’s been good before, but it’s never stopped him also being terrible.
But S9 held on to the end. ‘The Husbands of River Song,’ in spite of its title, gives the character the arc she has awaited and deserved since 2008.
Well done, Mr. Moffat.
Way back when the Twelfth Doctor was first cast, it occured to me that this was the man to take River to Darillium. This man had the depth of character, the emotional courage, the grace to see her off properly. But given everything that happened in Matt Smith’s era, I figured that was off the table.
I have never been happier to be wrong.
This episode is everything I could want from a Christmas special. It’s ridiculous and spectacular, sweet and funny and sad. Twelve’s joy is contagious, the best treat we could ask for. River, when she’s over being campy, is courageous and sincere and – for nearly the first time since the Library – entirely real. This is the River I’ve been missing all these years.
It’s strange to think that River could ever have loved or been loved by the Eleventh Doctor. Her chemistry with Ten was undeniable – which of course could be said of just about anyone – but her scenes with his successor lacked any hint of a spark. Now, in a single look Capaldi’s Doctor conveys what Smith’s had failed at for four seasons. This Doctor knows River, loves River. That Doctor was just pretending. One possible explanation is that Matt Smith is just a vastly inferior actor. However, while Capaldi is undeniably a master, Smith is not lacking in skill. I’m not sure it’s entirely his fault that the love story failed to launch. It’s more like both actor and writer had some growing up to do. Working with Capaldi has somehow forced Moffat to move past the twelve-year-old boy and start writing for grownups again.
My husband points out that you could look at it as River’s growth and development over the course of her timeline. In the Library, she was as mature as she was going to get; in ‘Let’s Kill Hitler,’ the most puerile. She grew up out of order, from our point of view. We’ve been tolerating her childishness for a long time; now at last she’s the adult we’ve been missing.
Whatever it is, I’ll take more. Onward to Series 10!
Spoilers for S9 follow. Proceed with caution.
Most fans are aware of a bit of personal history the Eighth Doctor let slip back in 1996:
“I’m half human on my mother’s side.”
Many of those fans would prefer to forget he ever said it. It was an American add-on, an attempt to make the Doctor more relatable to xenophobic Yanks, a nod to Spock maybe. It wasn’t the Doctor.
But then Russell T. Davies said otherwise: that we can’t ignore the Doctor’s reference to his own humanity. Which he then proceeded to do for five years. He said it, and he dropped it, leaving the question unaddressed.
(Here’s the spoilery bit. You’ve been warned.)
Now, in ‘Hell Bent,’ Lady Me picks it up again. Is the Doctor human? Is he the Hybrid? Is that why he loves the Earth so much he can’t stay away? The Doctor declines to state, but the pot is stirred.
For purposes of the story, of course, the Doctor isn’t “the” hybrid. In fact there isn’t really “a” hybrid – it’s the combination of the Doctor and Clara that threatens Time Lord existence somehow. The details are not important – and once again, the question goes unanswered.
But one other thing struck us as odd about this episode: the speed with which the General recovered from regeneration. The Doctor spends hours or even days, every time, confused, amniesiac, and otherwise unhinged. The General stands up, brushes herself off, and gets on with her day.
(Spoilers over. You may proceed.)
The theory my husband proposes is that the Doctor’s human DNA interferes with the regeneration process. He’s enough Time Lord that he can do it, but enough human that he can’t do it well. We haven’t personally seen enough other Time Lord regenerations to make a suitable comparison: just the one above, and the Master in ‘Utopia,’ which doesn’t really count since any regeneration sickness would be indistinguishable from his usual level of lunacy. (Or maybe John Simm’s entire run was recovering from regeneration. That would explain a lot.) But in ‘Destiny of the Daleks,’ I believe, Romana tries on faces and forms like hats, with no apparent ill effect. She has perfect control. The Doctor suffers a “lottery.” (A heavily weighted white male lottery – perhaps an effect of his human inheritance?) No other Time Lord has had the Doctor’s difficulties.
On the other hand, River Song is entirely human, and regenerates with no trouble in ‘Let’s Kill Hitler.’ So maybe that’s not it after all.
Here’s the full writeup, for interested parties.
But I have a better head canon. The Doctor isn’t genetically half human. Instead, perhaps he spent an impressionable portion of his childhood in the care of a human woman – the companion of an adventurous ancestor, perhaps, his predecessor in interference – and she made such an impact that he considered himself part human for her sake. Perhaps his own mother died young, and he put his hearts in this woman’s hands. It would explain his affection for her lineal sisters. It would explain his passion for her home world. It would explain his unwillingness to behave like a proper Time Lord. He knew that something more existed, that other kinds of lives were lived on other kinds of worlds, and he wanted nothing more than to see them for himself.
It’s a theory, anyway.
Speaking of head canons – and this bit’s really spoilery:
SPOILER ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!
‘Hell Bent’ ends with Clara and Lady Me flying off to see the universe in a TARDIS with a wonky chameleon circuit. ‘The Name of the Doctor’ proposed that it was Clara who pointed the Doctor in the direction of his eternal friend in the first place. It was suggested on this week’s Fan Show that the two machines are one and the same: Clara returned her TARDIS to Gallifrey, and offered it to the fleeing Doctor.
My first reaction to this idea was that the timelines don’t match up, but this is Doctor Who and therefore that sort of thing is only to be expected. My actual objection is the same as I had when ‘The Name of the Doctor’ aired:
“I wanted to see the Universe, so I stole a Time Lord and I ran away.”
Nobody retcons Neil Gaiman.
Slight spoilers for S9 to follow.
My husband reminds me, at the end of this season, of the props due composer Murray Gold.
Gold has written and arranged the music for Doctor Who since its return in 2005. A half dozen* or more albums have been released, and concerts of his work performed on three continents. This season, as the Doctor begins making music for himself, Gold gets to stretch a little – and in the finale, bring everything together.
Earlier this season we were treated to the Doctor’s rock-n-roll rendition of the show’s title music:
Other bits of music, including “Pretty Woman,” “Amazing Grace,” and Beethoven, have also appeared. But in ‘Hell Bent,’ we get a whole assortment of treats.
Two of them appear in Clara’s diner: Foxes’ “Don’t Stop Me Now” from ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’ plays over the radio, and the Doctor picks out Murray Gold’s “Clara?” from S7 on his guitar.
The other two take place in the Gallifreyan desert.
First, as the Time Lord gunship approaches, “The Doctor’s Theme” from Series 1 – not heard since the Tenth Doctor’s departure – is played. And after the bit with the spoon, the humor continues as the Doctor faces a firing squad to title music in the style of “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”
If I knew how to do video capture, you’d have it. It’s awesome.
The Twelfth Doctor’s theme, titled “A Good Man?” is another stirring piece of music we’ve been treated to these last two seasons.
The S8 soundtrack is available now. I look forward to S9.
*ETA closer to ten, actually, depending on where you try to buy them. S1-2, S3, S4, S4 – The Specials, S5, S6, S7, and S8 have all been released, as well as an album of music from ‘A Christmas Carol,’ an album from ‘The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe’ and ‘Time of the Doctor,’ and theoretically a 50th Anniversary Celebration collection. Their availability varies.
It goes without saying…
SPOILER ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!
No really. Read no further.
So Clara isn’t dead (yet) after all. Can we really be surprised?
Personally, I can’t be disappointed either, that Moffat is true to form. There’s nothing better than Clara and Lady Me traveling the universe in their very own TARDIS. There’s nothing like the Doctor getting a taste of his own medicine. And there’s nothing in this world better than Peter Capaldi.
“It’s called ‘Clara?'”
This man broke my heart.
I love how much history we get in this story. The half-mad young Doctor, the classic TARDIS, all the bits and bobs of Gallifrey, right down to the weaponized spoon. Moffat has never tied his loose ends up so beautifully; even when things didn’t quite make sense, I was far too engaged to care. Series 9 has been spectacular all the way, and this episode concludes it with perfection.
Is it better than S1?
The first season of New Who has always hands down been my favorite. It’s full of fun and great stories and there isn’t a turkey among them. Russell Davies’ goofy charm ran exactly to my taste. However, I do think the writing this season has gone to a new level. Moffat has been trying for years to reach this peak; after four seasons of false starts and flashes in the pan, it seems he’s finally made it.
Check out 10 things you probably didn’t know about this week’s episode. This time I knew almost all of them.
Now, onward to Christmas and the return of River Song!
“Spoilers you wouldn’t believe, sweetie!”
Warning: Spoiler ahead!
SPOILER ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!
Rigsy’s TARDIS art for Clara is a beautiful thing:
So much detail, so much love here. He knew her only briefly, but like the Doctor, she blazed into his life and left a mark that will never fade. More than that: she gave her life for his. Learning that he was never in danger, while her act sealed her fate, only compounds the irony and hollowness of her death. Rigsy will move on, but he will never, ever forget.
The internet is a dangerous place. I’ve been spoiled for each of the last two episodes, in spite of careful avoidance of Tumblr and Twitter. An ordinary news page was the first culprit, and BBC America’s Facebook page the second. BBC America has done it before: they announced the anniversary special’s secret guest the day after the special aired, in spite of the time lag many of its own fans experience. You’d think they’d know better.
On that note:
SPOILER ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!
This is the first episode in a long time that had me wondering whether it was too scary to finish. If I’d been on my own, I might have been tempted to wait at least for daylight. As it was, with my husband by my side, I was able to power through. I’m very glad I did.
I really enjoy the experimental direction the show has taken this season. The series of two-parters; the documentary format of ‘Sleep No More;’ and now this: a single character in a single location, talking to the audience and the ghosts that inhabit his dreams. Capaldi is a master class, both as an actor and as the Doctor. I’ve heard him described as “definitive,” and I really can’t argue.
I like Clara as a memory ghost. Of course the Doctor would continue to talk to her as if she were there. He’s known her a good chunk of his life, even if they did spend a lot of that time apart. Her voice in his mind is by now almost second nature. I’ve been getting tired of her, but she was well used in this episode.
The ending on Gallifrey was spoiled on Facebook, but it wasn’t a surprise – we’d guessed the Time Lords were involved as soon as Lady Me referred to a mysterious “they,” and the Time Ring lookalike cemented them in our minds. The rotating gears and the Doctor’s repeated use of the word “confess” gave away the location miles in advance. The ending was a surprise, though it shouldn’t have been; he did say he would never, ever stop. I love when the show is smart, and clever, and buries relevant clues right where the audience can see. It feels like we’re adventuring WITH the Doctor, instead of being told the story later.
The series finale promises resolution of the hybrid arc – weak, I suppose, but an improvement on the impossible girl. My husband points out that Lady Me – whose appearance is teased in the promo – is a warrior hybrid: part Viking and part Mire, thanks to the chip that provides her immortality. The prophecy – one who will break a world of hearts to heal its own – sounds very like her. The Doctor even says her name: “The hybrid is Me.” We’re almost certain he isn’t talking about himself.
Of course Lady Me is a little bit obvious. Maybe we’ll be surprised after all.
On the titles: The phrase “heaven sent” usually refers to a pleasant surprise, a timely intervention of fate, a gift from the gods. Nothing in the episode seems particularly fortuitous. “Hell bent” refers to an unstoppable determination. The Doctor is most certainly hell bent in this episode, sufficiently to repeat himself for millions of years in order to reach his goal. That’s practically the definition. There have been a lot of Christian afterlife references from Moffat lately, counting last year’s Promised Land; I guess he can’t fully let go his obsession with the Doctor’s death. But this season he can do what he likes: with a result this good, I’m not going to complain.