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06 June 2013 @ 07:29 pm
on The Spoiler  
I actually wrote this over the weekend, and have just been failing to post it for one reason or another (including feeling oddly sensitive about it after having written it, and I still don't know why). And I'm sure everyone knows about the spoiler by now, but just in case:

Well. The BBC announced that Matt Smith will be leaving Doctor Who after the 50th and the Christmas special, so of course I’m now suffering under an onslaught of Matt Smith feelings.

Though, it must be said, I was already on the way there before the announcement. Because the other day was apparently “River Song Day,” the five-year anniversary of her appearance as a character, I wound up staying up that night to watch “Let’s Kill Hitler,” and then – after noticing some parallels in that episode to the other two – “The Pandorica Opens” and “The Big Bang.” And I found myself pausing the episodes – as I often do – to exclaim or flail about some part of Matt’s performance: his physicality, for example, poised right on the boundary between ungainly and elegant; or the fine control and inventiveness he has over his voice, so that he can color a single word with a vocal microexpression unlike the rest of the line; or the improbable extremes of his face, from bright and giddy joy to ancient heartbreak. One scene in particular just got me, the other night: the bit in “Let’s Kill Hitler” where his body starts to fail him as he stands there, one leg at a time; the way he moves there is pure top-hatted slapstick as he tangles his limbs around each other before sitting down on the stairs, and the humor – the careless laugh – he injects into the last word of “Better sit down; I think I heard the right [leg] yawning” is a delight – all the more so because we know how much that display of carelessness is costing him.

And my posts here provide ample evidence of how Matt Smith’s face makes me angry at language, because I can never find the words for it; I’m constantly reduced to exclaiming “what is your face” or “what even are you” all the time. Sometimes this is because he does things that don’t seem, strictly speaking, as though they ought to be anatomically possible (that face he makes after Rory punches him in “The Big Bang,” or whatever weird impossibility that’s going on in his silent sarcastic mimicry of the captain’s laughter at the very end of “Cold War”), but at other times it’s because some subtle thing has winged its way into his face and then ghosted away just as fast, or because I’m not entirely sure that his face isn’t actually radiating, when he breaks into a joyful smile.

I said to sadcypress that I was grateful to Matt for Eleven, and that’s a word I’ve used about him before. I love his versatility – how fluid and counterintuitive he can be. One of my favorite Eleven moments (though there are so many) is when they’ve all gone into the TARDIS near the beginning of “The Impossible Astronaut,” because he inhabits so many quicksilver moods in it: the childish frustrated growl in his voice when he mentions boring days like “Thursday afternoons,” and the equally childish joyful breathlessness of “Saturdays”; the flirtation with River, which almost edges into flirtation with the TARDIS; the chilly, dismissive arrogance with which he then addresses Amy, Rory, and River (“Don’t play games with me. Don’t ever, ever think you’re capable of that”); the stony distrust he shows River a few heartbeats later (“I love a bad girl, me – but trust you? Seriously?”); then the protective indignation when he thinks somebody might be threatening his friends; and finally coming to rest on that old, complex love and regret with which he says, “My life in your hands, Amelia Pond.” (I personally think that the way Eleven says “Amelia Pond” ought to be illegal. Just, you know, generally.) (And it’s worth saying that I love Karen’s performance just then, too, because she has a similar subtlety of expression: you can see the precise moment when Amy’s panicked thoughts land on the quiet certainty of “Fish fingers and custard” as something to swear by, and the way she wants to break down, when the Doctor turns away, but refuses to let herself; it’s as though, instead, her strength just flickers out for a swaying moment.) I love this scene because it isn’t necessarily one of the “showstoppers”: not like the scene at Amelia’s bedside in “The Big Bang” or his heartbreaking goodbyes to Idris in “The Doctor’s Wife.” A lot of it is more or less exposition – right, okay, NASA, the ‘60s, got it – but Matt does so much in this scene, hits so many different notes, and it’s one of the things I love about his Doctor; he makes me believe in the busyness of his brain, that he is capable of being a giddy child and a manipulative trickster and an old man who’s seen worlds and lifetimes. One of these isn’t a cover for any of the others; they’re all equally real facets of the Doctor, and all equally possible from moment to moment.

I've said before, and I'll doubtless say again, that I expected that Matt would take some time to win me over as the Doctor; after all, it took me a few episodes to grow accustomed to David Tennant as Ten, and I didn't even really start loving him until season three. (Let's not talk about how that ended just now, shall we?) And then Eleven burst out of the TARDIS and utterly charmed me, and by "Trust me, I'm the Doctor," I was hooked. But I didn't know, even then, how much I'd come to love him by the end of that season, through star whales and fezzes and bedside goodbyes. I didn't know that he would keep surprising me and delighting me. But I did, and he has, and I'm so glad.
litlover12 on June 7th, 2013 01:01 am (UTC)
That was a lovely tribute! I do enjoy reading your DW posts. They're always so rich and deep!
tempestsarekind: amy eleven TARDIStempestsarekind on June 7th, 2013 03:10 am (UTC)
Aw, thanks so much!
ericadawn16: Thoughtfulericadawn16 on June 7th, 2013 01:19 am (UTC)

It'll turn out. We will end up loving the Doctor each in our own way. It's what makes the whole "Who's your favorite Doctor so hard?" because I love all of them for different things. I love Eight because he was my first, I love One for being such a grumpy romantic, I love Nine for his sarcasm and leather jacket and so on and so on.

I only hate how divisive fandom gets over a regeneration or change of head writer.
tempestsarekind: brighter than sunflowerstempestsarekind on June 7th, 2013 03:12 am (UTC)
Yes - I'm sure I'll cry buckets when it's time to say goodbye to Eleven, but I hope to love Twelve, too!
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tempestsarekind: eleven and amytempestsarekind on June 10th, 2013 11:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's such a wonderful balancing act, and Matt pulls it off beautifully.
harder, harder, hardest; i am the artist: dr who -- eleven/amy | can't touchradiantbaby on June 10th, 2013 04:57 am (UTC)
You've articulated my own love for Matt and Eleven in this beautiful tribute. Thank you! <3 <3 <3 <3
tempestsarekind: amy and her boystempestsarekind on June 10th, 2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for reading it!
teliesin: TCteliesin on June 14th, 2013 10:02 am (UTC)
Very nice tribute. I'm still pretty much in denial phase on Matt leaving the series, so will say no more at the moment.
tempestsarekind: clara and eleventempestsarekind on June 14th, 2013 03:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm a bit in denial as well, but thought I ought to write something now, in case I'm not able to when he actually leaves. :)