Top 10 Series 7 Moments (5-1)
Guest contributor Anthony Retondo concludes his top Series 7 moments with the top 5.
And so another series of Doctor Who is behind us, and now we enter the dark period when our Saturdays are a little less eventful. But before hurting our heads in anticipation of the 50th anniversary, let us look back at the greatest moments of Series 7 as a whole. Series 7 suffered from a lack of pacing and intrigue in my opinion. It felt like a series that never truly blossomed, with each episode never reaching its full potential until the respective finales. Regardless, Doctor Who remains a wonderful television show, and Series 7 gifted us with numerous moments to cherish. I hope you enjoy my top ten list. Please be sure to share your own as well.
5. Asylum of the Daleks Ending
We begin with a sudden swerve. Oswin is revealed to be a Dalek in an emotional twist that broke hearts, and set us up for the main plot arc of the entire series. Though the identity of Clara’s character wasn’t executed particularly well until the end of Series 7, it was the mere fact that Jenna-Louise Coleman’s character was killed off in the very beginning that left us scratching our heads and cursing Steven Moffat. But that certainly wasn’t it. Asylum of the Dalek’s final minutes were thrilling. Oswin deactivates the force field, forcing the Doctor to make a frantic, last minute escape out of the exploding asylum. Clara’s fateful words echoed through our ears all the way until the end of Series 7 – “Run you clever boy, and remember. “
And as if that wasn’t enough, we’re treated to one final revelation. Love him or hate him, it’s impossible to deny that Steven Moffat is ambitious, and erasing the Doctor from the memory of his greatest foe was certainly a game-changing move. Who knows where that might lead us in the future?
4. “Today, I honor the Victim’s First.”
“So this is what happens when you travel alone for too long.”
A Town Called Mercy was an incredible episode centered on Western themes – mainly the idea of a hero battling forces within himself. The fact that the Doctor has a dark side is what makes him such an interesting, brilliant character. He’s not just a silly old man. He has done some horrible things, a fact he was reminded of when meeting Kahler-Jex. The Doctor saw himself in Kahler-Jex, and given his insurmountable level of self-hatred, threatened to kill him. This was one of the darkest, most mature moments of the show, when we see the Doctor reveal his true colors.
It was a haunting moment, perfectly reflective of Western traditions. Seeing the Doctor act like a villain is the kind of moment that sends chills down a viewer’s spine, and even better, it was completely believable. The only man the Doctor would ever willingly harm is most likely himself, which is exactly who he saw in Kahler-Jex. It’s a good thing Amy was there, reminding us of the importance of companions. Without them, it’s scary to think of where the Doctor would be…
3. Introducing John Hurt as the Doctor
Steven Moffat promised us a mind-blowing cliffhanger in the climax of Series 7, and though the introduction of John Hurt’s Doctor wasn’t Earth-shattering, it was executed incredibly well. Obviously few were able to see this coming. The idea of the Doctor having some lost incarnation somewhere in time is a very intriguing prospect, but it’s the final words of Matt Smith’s Doctor that really bring it home. Clearly this form of the Doctor has done something truly horrible, and he could be responsible for the bad reputation that the Doctor is prone to receiving. Is he the Doctor who destroyed the Time Lords? Is he the reason the Silence despise him so much? We have six months to wait, but one thing is certain: We were treated the mother of all teasers to get us excited.
2. The Doctor’s Speech (The Rings of Akhaten)
The Doctor is known for making powerful speeches throughout the show. We have seen him recite words that cause his enemies to tremble before him. In more than one instance, he is portrayed as a God-like figure, and even more a tragic figure. Eleven’s speech at the end of “The Ring’s of Akhathen” portrays both themes, while also being an accumulation of everything about the Doctor’s character. With the immense God-like Star threatening to swallow everything and everyone around Akhaten, the Doctor makes the decision to let it feed upon him and his memories instead. He knows that the information contained within him is more than the star can handle, and so he antagonizes it with a speech that sums up his past. Every line he screams is a summary of what makes the character, and the show as a whole, so darn good.
Matt Smith’s incredible delivery of the speech manages to embody all 11 incarnations of the Doctor at once. He cries out to his past, stating that he’s seen universes freeze, he’s seen the whole of creation stop, he walked away from the last great Time War and he has lost things that even a powerful force such as the star could not understand. And all of this brings a tear to this very old man’s eye.
The brilliance of this speech is the way it speaks to any Whovian possible. When the Doctor mentions that he’s lost things, he begins to weep, and that tear is directed to all of those who loved Rose and cried when she was separated from him – to all the Pond fans who shed a tear during their departure. It sums up Doctor Who entirely with an unbelievable musical track by Murray Gold. The music even takes a noticeable change once the Doctor mentions that he contains knowledge that must never be spoken – a brilliant, haunting moment of foreshadowing.
But I believe that Steven Moffat’s portrayal of the Doctor lends much to this speech as well. The Eleventh Doctor rarely mentions his past. We know how dark it may be, but it’s clear through the tear that comes to his eye that these memories hurt him. The Tenth Doctor would very often mention all of the skeletons in his closet, and it became a common expectation. Here, the darker nature of the Doctor was brought up at a very appropriate time, and it was as if we got a sense of just how much emotion the Eleventh holds within him. It’s a perfect summary of what makes the Eleventh Doctor so different. For this one moment, however, he relinquishes every one of his past personalities. That is what makes it such an incredible and special speech.
1. A Pond Farewell
Series 7 was divided into two parts, with each half building itself up to a pivotal moment. While the second half revealed intriguing information about the Doctor, his original companions stole the show in the end with a bittersweet and gut-wrenching departure.
Companion exits are always better when they center on the Doctor’s grief rather than their sadness. After all, he is the character we will continue to travel with long after they’re gone. In this way, the departure of the Ponds was a brilliant commentary on the tragic nature of the Doctor. He’s always moving; never able to stop and keep the people he loves. He makes friends, grows close to them, and then it’s always inevitable that he will lose them and have to move on. There are times when it seems time stands still for him, and for a moment, he may try and kid himself into thinking he can be with them forever. But that’s the harsh truth of it all – he never will. So it didn’t help one bit that the Doctor knew the Ponds for 15 years, (living with them for one of those years) longer than any other companion to date. He even considered stopping at one point to be with this friends forever.
And in the end, he gambled by continuing to run with them and he lost everything. Amy makes her choice; finally maturing enough to the point where she knows which life is best for her. Without hesitation, she abandons her former hero and is whisked away from him forever to be with her husband. The tragedy of it all is the fact that the Doctor is the only one who is unwilling to accept it. It’s a beautiful statement on how far the Ponds came as characters, and how the Doctor will never let his friends go without a fight. Murray Gold produced an absolutely stellar track to accompany this sad moment. It starts off slow, like a rendition of Amelia Pond’s fairy tale lullaby, and then it explodes the minute the Doctor loses his best friend forever.
This was an incredibly important moment in Moffat’s era because it reminded us that there are consequences to travelling with the Doctor. In the midst of all the fun, we needed a moment of loss to retain the show’s sense of suspense. The departure of the Ponds was masterfully executed in doing this.