Series 1-7 Face-Off: Episode 13
Doctor Who TV is running new series pitting all the revival episodes against each other to decide your dream run. This will be done on an episode by episode basis. Today we continue with the 13th episode of each of the seven series so far.
Note: Splits are not counted and specials will have their own categories at the end.
Introduction by Lewis Hurst.
- The Parting of the Ways (2005)
- Doomsday (2006)
- Last of the Time Lords (2007)
- Journey’s End (2008)
- The Big Bang (2010)
- The Wedding of River Song (2011)
- The Name of the Doctor (2013)
What makes a good Episode 13?
Episode 13 (more commonly known as the finale) comes at the end of every series and addresses the long running plot threads throughout the series as well as sometimes seeing the departure of a major cast member. Depending on the complexity of the arc, this episode can usually feel pretty cramped due to the amount of storylines to be wrapped up. A good Episode 13 will juggle these while still telling a great story and showing great development for the Doctor and his companion. If fans don’t like the answers given it can sour their opinion of the episode. So a good Episode 13 needs to juggle a fine line between delivering a satisfying story and delivering a strong emotional conclusion for the characters.
Say what you will about the conclusion to the “Impossible Girl” arc, but The Name of the Doctor is probably one of the strongest and fan pleasing finale. In the pre-titles sequence alone we’ve had a return to Gallifrey and all 11 Doctors as well as an answer to the Clara arc. Revealing that Clara had been scattered across the Doctor’s timeline that early on was a bold move and certainly kept audiences hooked. The episode is disadvantaged somewhat when you consider it’s not a very standalone episode, instead serving more as a prologue to both The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor. River’s presence feels unneeded, apart from serving as a way to open the Doctor’s tomb without revealing his name, but the final scene between her and the Doctor makes up for it. The Name of the Doctor is a magnificent episode and if it wins it will have fully deserved it.
Journey’s End has its fair share of critics, but I love this finale. It’s big and it’s a lot of fun. Sure, there was no real reason for Davies to bring back Rose. Remove her from the episode and it’s exactly the same. She contributes nothing to the plot and the writing here does ruin her original exit in Doomsday. But despite that, this episode is marvellous. There are lots of fan pleasing moments, from the Daleks speaking German to Davos recognising Sarah Jane. And the episode also has one of my favourite moments in Doctor Who, as we see Davros show the Doctor his “true self”, claiming that he seems to “fashion his companions into weapons”. And of course, we mustn’t forget Donna’s heart-breaking farewell, which still manages to bring tears six years later. Journey’s End is overlooked by a lot of fans, which is a shame as it’s a real gem.
The Big Bang is a massive romp from start to finish. While at first it’s a little jarring to have most of the action take place in a museum with only a solitary Dalek as the main monster after the previous episode showcased an alliance of nearly every Doctor Who monster ever, it instead allows the episode to stand on its own two feet and almost feels like a completely separate story. It’s an episode that uses Moffat’s concept of “Timey Wimey” at its best potential. The Doctor escapes from the Pandorica by time travelling. He gives Rory his screwdriver allowing Rory to free the past Doctor, and then Amy is placed in the Pandorica to be revived by the younger Amy 2,000 years later after the Doctor posts a leaflet through her door one night. When the younger Amy requests a drink, he travels back in time and steals Amy’s drink thus making her thirsty in the first place. Is your head hurting yet? This episode is even more rewarding on rewatch. Why is the Doctor dying after being shot by a Dalek? Because as we learn in The Time of the Doctor, he’s out of regenerations! The Doctor’s bedtime story to young Amelia is amazing, and “I think I’ll skip the rest of the rewind. I hate repeats” still chokes me up. The Big Bang is just a marvellous finale and probably one of the best of the lot.
You’ve heard Lewis’ thoughts, but what about your own? Which one tops your list? Vote below.