Synopsis: The battle-scarred War Doctor decides he must use an ancient Timelord device to end the Last Great Time War in an act of genocide, and the device has him glimpse his future to understand the consequences before he presses its big red button.
• Easily one of the best Doctor Who stories of all time.
• While Matt Smith (Eleven) and David Tennent (Ten) provided some of the best performances as their version of the Doctor, John Hurt (1940-2017) as the War Doctor was the tortured heart of the story.
• The ridiculous Zygons being outsmarted by Queen Elizabeth I, with those Zygon plans a key inspiration to the story’s incredibly satisfying climax.
• The Moment: an ancient and eccentric artificial intelligence capable of changing the fate of all time and space through sly manipulation. It created the third option only a true antihero could implement.
• The story of flexible destiny, unrealized lies, and forgotten truths was Moffat writing at its finest.
• Tom Baker’s cameo as perhaps the not so mysterious Curator topped everything off perfectly, especially in how it visibly took the weight of the past off Eleven’s psyche.
Thirteen Doctors swooping in to save Gallifrey, including the future Twelfth Doctor!
• The War Doctor was so amazing that fans wanted more than was likely ever planned.
• The overall story might be more complicated that the plot itself.
“Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.”
It is hard to describe just how well done this anniversary special was. There were many curiosities about the show’s continuity since the Wilderness Years, and the Time War was sometimes little more than a plot device to explain it. Yet, it was all a kind of tease, because it was all slyly preparing the viewer for the seemingly dark truth. As was the case throughout the Moffat Era, the writing was not unlike that of the rather polarizing storytelling of Rian Johnson, and “Day of the Doctor” had some of the same concepts as The Last Jedi (2017): finding or creating hope in the darkest of times. It can be hard to look past some the more nihilistic themes, especially in Last Jedi. However, that was the point. We are thrown into the battle-scarred mindset of the characters, who at first think they made the only choices possible. Yet, powerful characters like Rey and the Moment showed up practically from nowhere to suggest otherwise. They forwarded realities and possibilities to characters resigned to their otherwise well reasoned choices, but stubbornness can take a while to break through. When that crusty wall of stubbornness does finally break down, the meaning of hope begins to deepen …
The meaning of “The Doctor” —
“Never cruel or cowardly … “
“Never give up, never give in …”
With the then current Eleventh Doctor finally realizing the Moment’s point that the right path was something else entirely, that renewed and reshaped sense of hope reverberated to the Tenth and War Doctors, as it did amongst the rebels when old Luke Skywalker astral-projected across the galaxy. For Star Wars, the act ensured an uncertain future where hope and hate may clash with galactic consequence, but the certain future Luke negated would have been of pure hate. For Doctor Who, the act ultimately confirmed and clarified many intentional narrative curiosities since 2005 …
“I won’t remember this, will I?”
“The timelines are out of sync. You can’t retain it, No”
“So I won’t remember that I tried to save Gallifrey, rather than burn it. And I have to live with that. [Subtle almost ironic catharsis] But for now, for this moment … I am the Doctor again. Thank you.”
We learned the pain the Doctor felt into his Eleventh incarnation was a kind of sacrifice to ensure not only his own survival, but of the survival of billions of innocents. At the same time, it became a confusing conundrum that the Doctor even still considered himself the Doctor when we met the angry, post Time War Ninth in 2005 (regenerated directly from the aged War Doctor, as shown in the special). That included Nine’s seemingly irrational rage at seeing a Dalek that he thought should not exist. He may not have accurately remembered what he did to end the Time War, which looked like total annihilation regardless, but that sense of hope as the Doctor was already reignited within the Doctor.
“Gallifrey Falls … No More!”
Doctor Who Franchise
Rotten Tomatoes — N/A%