Review: Doctor Who finale

Since Peter Capaldi has become the 12th Doctor alongside the continued companionship of Clara, there has been a fair share of scrutiny and doubt from fans.  Yet there has also been a fair amount of success.  Stephen Moffat’s writing still continues to sustain heavy fire from diehard fans, but to put that all aside, the season nine finale keeps me wanting more.

There is a lot to recap from the entire season, which contains an equal amount of filler and important, plot-intensive episodes. Beyond any shadow of a doubt though, one thing still remains true: that with every question answered there are many more presented.  The season nine finale remains true to this adage.

One highlight of the season is the introduction of Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams as Ishilda.  Depending on whom you asks though, she may go by a different name.  Many others may say that another highlight would be that Clara’s time as the Doctor’s companion is coming to an end and that the narrative is finally meeting up with what we have known from the internet about Jenna Coleman’s departure.

There is a lot to like about the finale. For one I have always wondered what The Doctor would do if and when he returns to Gallifrey. It’s the one thing he misses the most - and his relationship with his home is the most revealing of his character.

Whovians will remember the 50th anniversary special episode “The Day of the Doctor,” when Gallifrey is saved by The Doctor and all his previous regenerations and made safe in some vague timey-whimey way that the internet community can be left to debate. What’s important to the story though is its exact location remains established as a mystery and sustained through the Capaldi seasons. This left me wondering if The Doctor will ever see his home again, as the special lent viewers to believe that in order to keep his home safe, he had to make it unreachable, even by himself.

With the airing of the finale, viewers who share my sentiment will be sated as The Doctor sets foot on Gallifrey, a buildup that is met with the previous episode and a long-carried torch since the airing of “The Day of the Doctor.”  This might seem immediately repulsive to some given what Whovians know about Gallifrey’s state at the conclusion of that episode. There is a vague line from The Doctor in the finale about the conditions in which Gallifrey exists in, but ultimately I’m not holding my breath.  It is largely disappointing, as this instance comes off by an author who has written himself into a corner and needs to cash in on Whovian legacy to get himself out.

Ultimately, and perhaps on purpose, there does not seem to be a season resolution of any kind.  I’m getting bored of the wanting and need to see some concrete resolution in the story, otherwise I will be overwhelmed to the point of disinterest.  Moffat is caught back tracking on Clara again, keeping fans on their toes as to what her fate will ultimately be, as the debate continues as to whether she will be remembered as a good or bad companion in light of previous companions. 

All in all, the season finale was successful on paper.  This might be a good thing for ratings and demographics, but when a fan begins looking at a show such as Doctor Who from that kind of lens in order to gauge its enjoyment, I begin to worry.  Doctor Who is a show where its success shouldn’t coincide with business as usual by adhering to television business practices. Unfortunately, the finale left me thinking just that.


Matthew Gilbert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.gilbert@uconn.edu.