All things good or bad must eventually end, and Matt Smith's tenure as the iconic Time Lord from Gallifrey is no exception. The reigns are handed over to Peter Capaldi in a tear-jerker regeneration scene you have to watch over and over again. I honestly didn't think Tennant's departure from Doctor Who could be topped, but I am happy to have been proven wrong.
The episode opens with a narrator, who is later revealed to be the head of the Church of the Papal Mainframe, telling of a planet from which a signal is being broadcast across time and space, drawing all the Doctor's enemies to the world in fear of what that signal might mean. Aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor receives a panicked call from Clara, who "accidentally" told her relatives that she has a boyfriend and that she needs the Doctor to play the part at Christmas dinner. The Doctor arrives in typically comic fashion and he soon takes Clara off for what ultimately will be his final adventure.
Consistency problems, much? Come to think of it: LOGIC problems, much? Why does the Doctor choose to strand himself on Trenzelore when he could simply have used the TARDIS to evacuate the farming community? Also, why and how can a farming community exist on a snowy planet where the days last only a few minutes? Plants need sunlight in order to grow. What the hell?
Again, some consistency from Moffat would be nice. It's already been established in "The Day of the Doctor" that Gallifrey was frozen in time inside a pocket universe outside our own. How, therefore, do the Time Lords manage to transmit a signal into the main universe in order to find out if it's safe to return? Dammit, Moffat!
The hideous age makeup they used on Matt Smith. It's even worse than that used for Karen Gillan in "The Girl Who Waited". If they're going to make anyone appear to grow old, do it right.
The poor treatment given to Jenna Coleman's character, Clara Oswald, in the final scene. The Doctor, regenerating and hallucinating, gives a tear-jerking eulogy to himself before transforming, and Clara is basically a bystander in the scene, rendered almost irrelevant by the appearance of a former Companion. Bad call, Moffat!
A wooden Cyberman? Seriously?
Sweet Jesus, was there a lot in this episode to love! This episode should really be subtitled "The Time of Matt Smith", because he owned it. Moffat may not be consistent as a writer, but when he writes a scene he knows how to make it work. When the Doctor, stuck on the planet (which turns out to be a pre-war Trenzalore) for centuries, shows signs of aging, he explains to Clara that he has used up all his regenerations and is on his final life. This combined with the poignancy of 'Handles', a Cyberman head the Doctor salvaged and reworked into a personal portable computer, deactivating for lack of adequate repair, really was touching. And Smith's final scene really made me cry.
The matter of the Silence, the explosion of the TARDIS, the engineering of River Song, and the prophesy of the First Question...all of it is finally resolved. Ten's partial regeneration was counted as a complete one by Moffat, who needed to explain how the Doctor can continue to regenerate with the Time Lords gone and all his regenerations used up. Granted, the latex on Matt Smith looked as fake as it was, but his acting made up for it. Moffat has stated that in his mind the Time Lords are dead and gone and not coming back, but even he realized that he had to resurrect them somehow in order to write himself out of the corner previous show-runner Russell T. Davies had put him in. The way all this was resolved was actually brilliant.
The final scene in the TARDIS, when a rejuvenated Doctor must say goodbye to Clara before his regeneration, was perhaps the best Matt Smith has ever given us, and like I said, he owned it! A surprise visitor from the past makes an appearance in the form of a pre-regeneration hallucination to send Eleven to his final rest, and despite a tearful Clara's pleas, it's time for Eleven to go. Peter Capaldi makes his appearance suddenly and without further warning, foreshadowing the tone his tenure as the Doctor will adopt. I'm looking forward to seeing Series 8!
Screen captures from the episode. Enjoy!