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25 August 2014 @ 01:09 pm
looking back  
(I haven't seen the new Doctor Who episode yet, so there are no spoilers in this - just a few goodbyes.)

I was away for the weekend, so I haven't gotten to see the new episode of Doctor Who. Instead, when I got home yesterday, I went back and watched “The Time of the Doctor” again – and realized that yes, I have been digging my heels in about Eleven’s departure, just sort of pretending that it hadn’t happened even though I’d seen his last episode months ago with my very own eyes. Part of that – probably the greater part – is that Eleven is my beloved space idiot, and Matt Smith brought such wonderful shadings to the role; I’ve written so much about both Eleven and Matt that it would be superfluous to repeat that here. But some of it is that in my mind, the Eleventh Doctor is so closely associated with Moffat Who, and particularly the things I’ve loved and valued so much about Moffat Who: the way that the show has leaned back toward joy and hope and redemption and possibility – regeneration, recreation – instead of trying so hard to turn the Doctor into yet another Tragic Hero. It means so much to me that despite the fact that Eleven is a trickster who will dodge death when he can, he also, nevertheless, faces his death at various points with acceptance, with gratitude for what he’s experienced in his long life, with tenderness toward the people he’s cared about – from cleaning up Craig’s house so he won’t get in trouble at the end of “Closing Time” to wanting to protect Clara one last time in “The Time of the Doctor.” It matters so much to me to have been given a Doctor who can call life a pile of good things as well as bad things and try to offer hope to Vincent van Gogh; who can comfort a grieving widow by telling her that her children’s happiness still matters even if – especially if – they’re going to be sad later; who believes that time can mend us instead of just destroying us; who promises in his last moments to remember who he’s been before embarking upon a new self, instead of comparing change to death and whimpering that he doesn’t want to go. It’s so important to me that the strongest thing the Doctor’s companions and friends often bring with them is love: love strong enough to face down Weeping Angels, to remember lost people back into the universe, to scatter themselves throughout time and call an entire unseen planet of Time Lords to account. They don’t need to take on some other power outside of themselves; they only need their own fierce and willing hearts. (“I won’t let them take him. That’s what we’ve got.”)

Faith, hope, and love, right? Those are the big three, and Moffat Who, for me, has had them in spades. An abandoned little girl who’s always afraid that everyone will leave her learns to stop running and believe that people will come back. A plastic Roman keeps a centuries-long vigil outside of a box, with all the steadfastness of his plastic human heart. And a lonely old man finds a place set at the table every Christmas in expectation of his coming, a village of children to dance the “drunk giraffe” with, a young woman who will pull open the Christmas cracker for him when his hands are too weak to do it on their own. (Did you ever notice how RTD’s Christmas specials were disaster movies, and Moffat’s are It’s a Wonderful Life?)

Anyway. What I realized is that somewhere in my subconscious, I think I’m worried that the end of Eleven-era Who will somehow be the end of all the things I’ve valued about Moffat Who - that changing the Doctor will mean changing the show in ways that I don’t want to happen: that it will become flintier, and colder, and less full of joy.

I did want to say one thing about “The Time of the Doctor” itself, though, that occurred to me while I was watching. We’ve seen a lot of examples of the way the Doctor hops in and out of people’s lives in Moffat Who, while others are stuck on the “slow path”: “The Girl in the Fireplace,” of course, from whence that phrase comes; “The Eleventh Hour,” where the Doctor breaks little Amelia’s heart by leaving her for twelve years when he only means to be gone for five minutes; “A Christmas Carol,” in which the Doctor leapfrogs from Christmas to Christmas in Kazran’s life, playing an ageless Peter Pan to that young boy’s changing Wendy; and on the grandest scale, the way the Doctor casually moves from moment to moment of the earth’s decay, in “Hide,” like the pages of a flipbook. We even see this a bit in “Blink,” where it’s Sally Sparrow who has to remind the elderly Billy Shipton that the rain outside his hospital window is the same rain in which they met, so many years and also only a few minutes ago.

So one of the things I really love about Eleven’s final episode is that for once, the tables are turned – it’s not just that he takes the slow path this time, but that for Clara, those hundreds and hundreds of years are happening in the space of a single Christmas dinner. How long does the Doctor protect the villagers on Trenzalore? Depends on how you decide to frame your answer: several centuries, and also about as long as it takes to cook a turkey.
 
 
 
Emily-- Toppington von Monocle: eleven [doctor who]sadcypress on August 25th, 2014 06:53 pm (UTC)
I will just set up camp in this post and stay FOREVER. I love Eleven so much, for all of these reasons. We'll see what the new Doctor brings, but you can't take away from all the beautiful, meaningful stories we got with Moffat and Eleven.

I watched the new episode yesterday, and am going to a cinema screening tonight- I think then my thoughts will have had ample opportunity to percolate into a post of my own. :)
tempestsarekind: amy eleven TARDIStempestsarekind on August 25th, 2014 08:24 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I look forward to it! I need to get on top of watching the episode, so I can stop avoiding the internet. :)

I am just so grateful that Moffat figured out how to separate grief and sorrow from unending Tragedy-with-a-capital-T. Terribly sad things have happened during Eleven's run - and yet, at the end, he remembers the good, like the love he had for Amy, instead of shutting himself down and remaining alone. I love that the show focuses on the idea that the Doctor needs to have relationships and connect to people, rather than saying, as RTD did with Ten, "I think you need someone to stop you."
teliesin: TCteliesin on August 30th, 2014 10:30 am (UTC)
Not going to say anything about "Deep Breath" but hoping your post about new Doctor is going to be titled "Looking Forward".
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on August 30th, 2014 08:02 pm (UTC)
Hee! I've finally watched the episode, and am just about to put up the post I wrote. Sadly, it is called "status: unresolved," but that's actually not a bad thing - it's really just a different way of saying "looking forward."