Off we go to Trenzalore, to Trenzalore, to Trenzalore. Off we go to Trenzalore, where plot and women die.
Moffat, Moffat…Moffat *sigh*… At what point did your ambition become unchecked arrogance? Is there anyone out there who’s advice you listen to? Is there anyone who can stop you and say “this episode does not make sense plot wise? And your women need to be better written?” I don’t think so. I think there’s no one around you who’s bothering to question you any longer.Last night’s episode “The Name of the Doctor” was in my opinion, a let down. It was rushed, it was messy, and plot was so full of holes that it resembled a swiss cheese. Now, you may ask what the hell am I talking about? The episode was great! Well, if you think so even after reading this: that’s fine!THE PLOT:We start of with Madame Vastra visiting a convicted criminal who’s killed 14 women. Said criminal has some information that could potentially save his life, and of course the information he has is related to the Doctor. Anyone surprised? We’re told that the convict has aquired this information by listening in to the whispers, and the voices in the cracks… alright?! A bit of a flimsy explanation, but let’s roll with it.So, Madame Vastra, after determining that the information is legitimate and potentially dangerous decides to telepathically link with Clara, River, Strax, and of course Jenny to discuss what it all means. We’re told that time and space travel has always been possible in dreams. *Is that so? Somehow I must have missed an episode somewhere where this has already been explained? Used? Mentioned? Something? Is this a reference to the Classic Who that I missed?* Now, I am not exactly sure HOW it’s possible, but apparently it is. Alright… let’s roll with it. Somehow River’s there even though she’s just an echo, an imprint from the Library. But somehow, she’s there. How? I don’t know… Is there a way for an echo of a person to dream thus allowing him/her to travel through time and space? It isn’t explained. But River is there… alright, let’s roll with it.So, the meeting begins, we have unnecessary, yet utterly predictable jealous River and once again with Clara’s comment amounting to “I didn’t know you were a WOMAN/he never said you were a woman” I am once again reminded that being a woman is the most important characteristic that River Song can have in her relationship with the Doctor. I’m sure Moffat thought this was funny, but to me it only served as a conformation that Moffat was just far too gone in his sexism to ever really come back from it.Annnywaaay, during the meeting we find out that the Doctor must never go to Trenzalore (which we knew, but that’s ok here, the conflict must be firmly established), the coordinates lead straight to it, and the danger is near. The danger’s name? The Whispermen. And while they seem like great villains, I am utterly apathetic towards them seeing as they have not been properly introduced before, and I have no idea WHY they are there? Why are they working against the Doctor? What’s their motivation? Why are they dangerous? I have no information about them at this point and thus could care less.*I still think this would have been much better if the Silence was the one who was working with GI (Great Intelligence) and the ones who were threatening the Doctor’s friends. I know about them, I have familiarized myself with them, and they to me would have been a believable treat.*The plot startes to pick up, and we see that Jenny is in danger. As a matter of fact, she sort of dies… somehow? Except not really. River wakes everyone up, but Madame Vastra, Strax, and Jenny are kidnapped. Clara wakes up, tells the Doctor what has happened, and off they go to save the day. The ride is less than pleasant, but they get where they need to go… Trenzalore.Once there, we see the Doctor’s grave is actually the TARDIS (sad moment) but we also see River’s grave… which isn’t a grave, but is a passageway to the TARDIS…I guess. How it’s there, I don’t know. Did the Doctor from the future install it there? I don’t know. Oh, and Clara is linked to River… somehow. How? I have no idea. At this point, I’ve so many questions, no answers, and I hope to god Moffat will pull of a 5 minute miracle and answer it all at the end of the episode. But I’ve also noticed so many plot holes that I wonder if it’s possible for this episode to be salvaged at all. I doubt it.Anyway, the Doctor finds his friends, Jenny is alive once again (yey!), and they rush to the TARDIS where they are ambushed by none other than GI and the Whispermen. The GI predictably wants to destroy the Doctor, and to do that It needs to get into the TARDIS. At this point, I would like to ask what GI plans to achieve once it gets in? Does it know what it’ll find inside? Does it know there will be no body but a time/space stream that it can conventiently jump into? And if it does know, how can it? What if there really was a body inside the TARDIS? Then what would the GI’s plan be? *my head hurts from trying to fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle*So, once again the Doctor’s friends are also his weakness, and they are used as a leverage to get him to open the doors of the TARDIS. Which he doesn’t. But somehow the doors are opened anyways. It’s River, of course. She’s spoken the name (which we don’t hear, even though we’ve heard everything she’s said so far when it’s plot convenient) and the doors are opened. They all walk in, they’re standing in front of the Doctor’s time/space stream, and we as an audience are informed what could possibly happen if it’s rewritten or in any way endangered. Thus we all know that’s exactly what the GI will do.There’s the dramatic moment where GI gives its speech, and off it goes into the stream to change the Universe. Now, the finale starts. The Doctor is dying. And Clara, being the impossible girl that she is, must do something to help him. And if that means going after the GI to twart him at every turn… so be it. But the consequence of that is death, her death. The real death this time around. But that’s ok. Because she wants to save him…. it’ll also save the Universe, billions of lives, entire civilizations, star systems… but that doesn’t matter… it’s the Doctor who’ll be saved first and foremost (one can argue that the Doctor is connected to the Universe, and thus saving him is the same as saving the Universe… but that’s not how it’s presented).The Doctor, desperate to save Clara, now has the power to get up, say goodbye to River, and go after Clara… and of course, he won’t die. He’s in his space/time stream, creating a paradox of epic proportions, but we all know he’ll be fine. So much for the drama.He saves Clara, and while doing so, we meet someone. And old man, who apparently is a regeneration of our Time Lord, but isn’t the Doctor himself. And while the Doctor gives this epic speech about how this isn’t him, we are presented with “John Hurt - The Doctor”. Ok? Sure… roll with it.The episode is over and my 5 minute miracle didn’t happen. “Stuff” happened, with little rhyme or reason and the questions like “Why didn’t Clara remember his name if she remembered the time that was erased?” or “Who put the grave/passageway there?” or “how can River leave the Library, did the Doctor connect with her thus allowing her to leave the confines of CAL?”. But lastly to me the most important questions that we were promised would be answered on the fields of Trenzalore were: ” What about the Silence? Did they fall? Did Madam Kovarian’s plan fail?” which after it wasn’t answered led me to ask “What the hell is going on here?”Also… why didn’t the Doctor remember Clara if she’s met him before his 11th Regeneration? We know he couldn’t see her all the time, just sometimes… like when she told him which TARDIS to take on his travels. So… amnesia? I don’t know anyting any more… just go with it. Don’t think. Just accept it.THE WOMEN:In the episode we have Jenny, Clara, Madame Vastra, and River. Four women who we are told are strong, capable, but who somehow die, disappear, splinter into thousands of copies/echoes, die again, cease to exist, kill their friend in self-defense (even though said character has created a life out of bringing murderers to justice) and overall… don’t fare that well in this episode.The Doctor needs motivation to go to Trenzalore… so the writer uses women as liability…Jenny’s a liability and she dies. River’s there, but we find out she’s nothing more than an echo of River…so she also disappears. Clara goes into the stream to save the Doctor thinking she’ll die too, and that she will be shattered into thousand pieces and be nothing more than a copy. Jenny ceases to exist and kind of dies…again. Madame Vastra is in a position where she has to murder/or almost murder her friend in self-defense. She almost dies too.4 women… and they all somehow die in one way or another. Not only do they die, but their personalities suffer for it as well. Clara is bossy when she needs to be and the plot demands so. She’s capable only in so far as it’s related to the Doctor. River is there… blank as ever, with no purpose other than how it’s relarted to the Doctor. Even Jenny and Vastra go from women who can take care of themselves to nothing more than damsels in distress.Clara who sacrifices herself to save the Doctor still needs the Doctor to save her.Who thinks this is ok? Who can honestly tell me this shows female strenght, power, and capability? In what world is it alright for 5 out of 6 characters to somehow die/suffer, and be then saved by one man? And the fact that 4 women, and one gender neutral Sontaran can simply be nothing more than conventient plot devices that can be erased/rewritten/killed/brought back/saved all for, and by, one man.I have always believed that Moffat honestly thought he was writing strong female characters but I’m not so sure any more. This episode had deliberately used women as nothing more than convenient plot devices who can appear and disappear when needed. It was deliberate, it was purposeful, and it was all so that one character, one man, The Doctor, can stand tall at the end.- Nevs (writer for Feminist Doctor Who)
You just articulated what bothered me so much about this episode… you’re a genius ;) The sexism problems you can read about a lot around Tumblr, but I’m glad someone put into words all the unadressed questions and ass-pulls…
Many of Moffat’s plot holes could (maybe) be resolved with some explanation, justification or development (except Moffat couldn’t develop a good idea for the life of him), but most of the time it’s either dropped with no explanation whatsoever, or put off until some (hypothetical) future episode, or just magically undone (yay reset button!).
Like you I was still praying for the miracle 5 minutes at the end, only to be let down. Again.
I can’t wait until Doctor Who is passed on to someone less blinded by arrogance than Steven Trollfat.