So, it’s been a few days since the Christmas Special for Doctor Who, also known as Matt Smith’s final episode. I never got my word in for Matt Smith’s finale, and I’ve avoided Facebook for spoilers since I didn’t see it until Thursday on my flight back to New York City and I wanted a few days to…well…calm down so I can analyze it. But here’s my take on it: I liked it. It was not the best episode ever. I think on a episodic level, it’s was fine. Usually when it comes to finales, Tennant’s was more of a concrete last episode:
Wait, The Master is coming back?
Wait…the Time Lords are coming back?!
Ah, The Master defeats the Time Lords!
It was a roller coaster. We didn’t see it coming. But as I say that Tennant’s last episode was better plot-wise, Matt Smith’s last episode was more true to who The Doctor was: a protector of worlds.
In reading people’s negative criticism of the episode, they wanted something a bit bigger. I found that a bit unfair because 1) we just did the 50th anniversary, give Moffat a break, and 2) the story is not about the plot, but about the character of the 11th Doctor. This story was not about the town called Christmas. I mean, it was. But it was more about the final bow of the 11th face, a bow that took centuries to protect a town and its people, just like he has for Earth. And if you look at the episode in that way alone, it was incredibly brilliant. Moffat said this was by far Smith’s best performance, and I have to agree with him.
I liked the Cyberman head helping The Doctor. I loved that they brought back the crack in the wall. I like the idea of a “Space UN”, and of course it would be a church. I LOVED Grandma’s speech to Clara about wanting time to stop (that got to me). I liked the parallelism between the death of the Cyberman head and The Doctor’s coming death. I liked The Doctor’s explanation of regeneration and his life. I liked The Doctor aging over time. I like that we misinterpreted how “Silence will fall” this whole time. I loved The Doctor’s line about how the Daleks have been trying to kill him for years, but it was old age that’d get him. I liked a lot of things.
But this was still far from a great episode. The whole naked ploys in the beginning were a bit forced and weird. Clara was quite useless in this episode (unlike her first two episodes). She only served as being reacquainted with an aging Doctor (and this doesn’t help Moffat ridding himself of being an androcentric). Plus, in a town where you can’t lie, if you’re asked a question, aren’t you supposed to answer it truthfully? So why didn’t the Doctor ever say “his name” in a town you can’t lie in? I guess the only solution to that was that you can choose to not answer the question…I guess. Maybe I missed an explanation there.
Overall, the episode was good. But this was my favorite part, and no one will change my mind on this: Matt Smith’s final good-bye was WAY better than Tennant’s. When Tennant left, it was all emotions and sad. But frankly, it was also a bit whinny and more “woe is me, I have to sacrifice myself to save this human”. I can do so much more, he yelled. I don’t want to go, his last crying words.
But Matt Smith: he was prepared to die; more than ready to go for years. He spoke less of “I can do so much more!” and more of, “I’ve regenerated 13 times; I get it, it’s time to go”. It’s funny, if there were the 5 stages of grieve, we saw the Ninth with denial/isolation (well, before Rose Tyler), Ten with anger and depression, and Eleven with bargaining (Season 6’s switch-a-roo) and acceptance. Which is odd, since Smith is supposed to be the most childish of the bunch, yet handled death way more maturely than the other two.
Of course, the ending was incredibly sad, but was one of an old, wise Time Lord accepting his coming death: The way Smith spoke about how we all change, but that’s okay because we have to move forward as long as we remember all the people we used to be (which could also be seen as a direct smooth-out explanation to those who thinks the regeneration game-changer is bogus); the way he looks when he remembers Amelia Pond as “the first face this face saw” and Amy’s final act saying goodnight to her “raggedy man”; and the way Moffat blurred reality and fiction with Smith’s final words: “I will always remember when The Doctor was me”.
But my favorite moment of the entire time I’ve watched Matt Smith was his final act. It was really simple, and I’m sure it was just meant as an emotional ploy. You know throughout the series, I can’t remember when The Doctor didn’t have that bow tie on. From the moment we realized that he was truly The Doctor when he choose his wardrobe until now, he never took it off. In the morning, some people have to put on a suit and a tie for work. But when they come home, they’re not out of the “work-mode” until they take off that tie. The jacket, the pants, the suit could stay on. But they are working when they have a tie on, and they’re done when they take it off. Matt Smith never took off that tie once he put it on. He was always working to protect Earth, races, planets, and his companions. And then, Matt Smith untied that perfectly iconic bow, and held it for just a second, as if observing his past work. After 3 years of work, you’d probably do the same. But then, you realize that your time is up. The 11th hour is over. The clock has struck 12. And you let go.
I don’t cry. I never have for TV shows, and I most likely never will. But I’ll tell you something: I never hit a lower emotional bottom than when that bow tie hit the ground.
Especially when Matt Smith was the first face this face saw.
I wanted desperately to add this quote the 11th said to a sleeping Amelia in the 5th Season finale. It was a fantastic last speech to Amelia Pond, which you can see absolutely applies here for all of us. Just replace Rory with the 12th Doctor, and Amy Pond with…well, yourself:
…I thought if you could hear me I could hang on somehow. See me. See the old Doctor. When you wake up you’ll have a mom and dad. And you won’t even remember me. Well. You’ll remember me a little. I’ll be a story in your head. That’s okay. We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? ‘Cause it was, you know. It was the best. The daft old man who stole a magic box and ran away. Did I ever tell you that I stole it? Well I borrowed it. I was always going to take it back. Oh that box. Amy, you’ll dream about that box. It’ll never leave you. Big and little at the same time. Brand new and ancient and the bluest blue ever. And the times we had, eh? Would have had. Never had. In your dreams they’ll still be there. The Doctor and Amy Pond. And the days that never came. The cracks are closing. But they can’t close properly ’til I’m on the other side. I don’t belong here anymore. I think I’ll skip the rest of the rewind. I hate repeats. Live well. Love Rory. Bye bye, Pond.
Goodbye, Matt Smith.