Note: This is a complete recap full of SPOILERS and quite long too. As Amy Pond said in another great finale-
1) The pre-credits scene. It is one of the best that I have seen so far. What we basically see is the First Doctor, played by William Hartnell, and his granddaughter Susan Foreman stealing a TARDIS in Gallifrey, and who should stop him but Clara.
2) Then we get a montage of Clara in different points in the lives of the different Doctors. She says that she blew into this world on a leaf, as we saw in "The Rings of Akhaten", and that she still feels like she's blowing and never land. And then of course, she says something we've been wondering about ever since "The Asylum of the Daleks"- that she is the impossible girl, and that she was born to save the Doctor. Ooo. I really liked the montage. No, they're not the best of effects, but meh, it's Doctor Who. Jenna-Louise Coleman looked really pretty in all the clips.
3) After the credits, we are taken back to London, 1893, when a convict is saying some really interesting things- "Do you hear the Whispermen? The Whispermen are near. If you hear the Whisper Men, then turn away your ear. Do not hear the Whisper Men, whatever else you do! For once you’ve heard the Whisper Men, they’ll stop…and look at you." When our favourite reptilian detective, Madame Vastra, comes to visit, he tells her that he has information about the Doctor and that his greatest secret, for the Doctor is a man of many secrets, the one that he will take to the grave and has been discovered.
4) So Vastra tells Jenny that they need to hold a conference call to figure this out. This conference call is one that takes place in dreams as "Time travel has always been possible in dreams". This is one of the loveliest concepts that Moffat has come up with. Of course time travel can happen in dreams. This is why Doctor Who is as much a science fiction show as it is a fairytale.
5) The conference call needs its other members. One of which is Strax who is fighting Scots, clearly reminiscing about his Sontaran battle days. Still, he asks his burly opponent to knock him out for the call. The other two members are the Doctor's "women". Clara is tricked by Vastra as she inhales a soporific letter and passes out, instead of making her mother's famous souffle. The last member is, as Strax points out somewhat, "The one with the gigantic hair", the one and only, River Song.
6) Can I just say, I have missed River. She is my favourite character in the show after the Doctor. And Alex Kingston plays her with so much sexy wit. Like the way she says "Disgracefully" when they ask her how she turned the dream tea into champagne.
7) Also, this is the first meeting between Clara and River. Vastra explains that Clara is the Doctor's latest "traveling assistant" and Clara informs River that even though the Doctor had mentioned a Professor Song, she never realised that it was a woman he was talking about.
OH NO SHE DIDN'T! *snap snap*
9) Now level with me here. River in "Silence of the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" knew the Doctor's name. He says that there was only one time he would tell it. And he didn't tell her when they were married and she already knows it before "his greatest secret is revealed", and this is post-Library River. So that basically leads to the only conclusion about how River found out- crazy Timelore/part-Timelord sex. How else has she worked upon him? The Doctor dances well, my friends. This is my theory and I'm sticking with it unless you can provide me with a more logical one.
10) So what is this big secret all about. TRENZALORE! This was a major plot point in series 6. There is a prophecy- "On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked, a question that must never, ever be answered." The said question is- "The First Question, the oldest question in the Universe, hidden in plain sight." I'm mentioning all this because Moffat has played a masterstroke with all of it.
11) However, River gets worried because Vastra has misunderstood the message. Just then, Jenny starts to feel uneasy as we find out that the Whisper Men, who are the new pretty scary-looking monsters, have broken into her and Vastra's house. The part when the actress Catrin Stewart says "So sorry ma'am... I think I've been murdered." is both chilling and very sad at the same time. Saul Metzstein's direction is excellent.
12) River then wakes Vastra and Strax up, by slapping and throwing champagne on the face respectively and they are shown to be surrounded by the Whisper Men. They even come inside the dream and then Dr. Simeon, played fabulously by Richard E. Grant, from "The Snowmen" appears to them and tells them to tell the Doctor that "His friends are lost for ever more, unless he goes to Trenzalore."
13) Clara wakes up then and we finally see the Doctor, who has been fooled to play blind man's bluff by Artie and Angie because they wanted to go to the cinemas. "The little Daleks" is my new favourite curse.
14) So Clara tells the Doctor everything and this really shakes him up. Let me just say that Matt Smith in this scene deserves all of the awards. Eleven crying is usually the saddest thing ever, but this was so much more hopeless and quiet and just heartbreaking, and Smith made it so honest and didn't overdo it in anyway. I would like to point out that I'm still not completely sure why the Doctor is crying here. For River? For Trenzalore and all that it means?
"And it was Trenzalore? It was definitely Trenzalore?"
15) But still, Eleven decides to go to Trenzalore to save Vastra, Strax and Jenny as they were kind to him in his darkest times, as seen in "The Snowmen". He uses Clara's psychic memory to get the space-time coordinates. And what is at Trenzalore? A secret the Doctor will take to the grave. Not just any grave, but the Doctor's grave. That's where the Doctor is buried. We heard a similar thing in "Hide" in which Clara talks about her own grave. She talks about how all his companions are ghosts for the Doctor because they are all buried somewhere (Amy and Rory *sniff*), but if we use the same logic on the Doctor, he is like a living ghost too. Or at least versions of him are (more on that later).
16) So when they are near Trenzalore, the TARDIS starts acting up because she realises where it is that they are going. She shuts down and hovers over Trenzalore, which looks like a war-ravaged planet. When Clara asks if they will jump down there, the Doctor replies "Don't be silly. We fall." FALL OF THE ELEVENTH! I'm pretty certain I wasn't the only one who thought that meant the end of the Eleventh regeneration of the Doctor, but Moffat had other plans. Moffat masterstroke #1.
17) The Doctor shuts down the only thing the TARDIS still has on- the anti-gravs. It plunges down and lands on the fields of Trenzalore. The Doctor is scared because a time-traveler's grave is one place he or she should never visit. And no one has traveled more than him, so his grave is probably the most dangerous place in the universe. Hence the whole Silence subplot in series 6. They called themselves the sentinels of history and wanted the Doctor to never visit his grave in Trenzalore because of this very reason.
18) The graveyard was a battlefield where the size of the tombstones corresponded to the rank of the soldier. Guess who has the biggest and what it is made of?
19) Obviously the Doctor. And his tombstone? His dying TARDIS, which has now become bigger on the outside and is thus gigantic. "What else would they bury me in?"
20) So it turns out the River has kept the "conference call" open and only Clara can still see and hear her. And right where she is standing is a tombstone. River Song's tombstone. Both Clara and the Doctor are shocked, because she has died a long time ago. Just then the Whisper Men come, and River tells Clara to tell Doctor that her grave is not real and is actually the opening to his tomb, which they fall into just as the Doctor reveals that River is his wife.
21) Vastra and Strax wake up in Trenzalore. Jenny's heart had been stopped through a shock, which Strax reverses and hence saves her life. Another wonderful lines of dialogue are heard here-
Strax: "The heart is a relatively simple thing."
Vastra: "I have not found it to be so."
23) Meanwhile in the catacombs, Clara asks the Doctor about how she met his dead wife, leading to both him and River explaining the events of "Silence of the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" when he saved her in a database and thus didn't let her die, but did not go back to visit her to say goodbye either. "He doesn't like endings." A simple sentence that has now come to mean so much more.
24) Back with TGI, he tells the gang about how there was a huge battle in the fields of Trenzalore, though a minor skirmish by the Doctor's standards and he finally succumbed to it. They oppose this bloadthirsty image of the Doctor, but TGI rebukes them by reminding them about all the races that have met their end in the hands of the Doctor, whether it be the leader of the Sycorax, or Solomon the trader from "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" or the Daleks. Which is why he will be given names like the Storm, the Beast and the Valeyard before the end of his days. Oh and then there are very cool effects as TGI reveals that it indeed is "a mind without a body" when Simeon tears his face off and there is nothing inside and then another Whisper Man replaces him as its featureless face takes Simeon's visage.
25) While Clara and the Doctor are still running from the Whisper Men, the dimensioning forces inside the TARDIS lead Clara to remember events from "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS", even though those times had been rewritten. She remembers when the Doctor had asked her about what she is since both Oswin and Clara Oswin Oswald had died saving him. She asks him about it, but the Doctor doesn't answer.
26) The finally reach where the rest of the gang and TGI are and it asks the Doctor to open the doors to the dying TARDIS or his tomb. The password? The name of the Doctor of course. "Silence will fall when the question is asked" and the Doctor doesn't answer. Moffat masterstroke #2.
27) Of course TGI won't let go and the Whisper Men start to surround the Doctor's friends. Strax is really funny here, but it is quite a tense scene. So tense that when the Doctor screams "Please!" to make them stop, and the door opens, many people thought that that was the Doctor's name. I actually heard "bees", so imagine me. Doctor Bees? :P
29) They enter a leaf-covered (???), desolate TARDIS console room which has blinding threads of light in its centre. This is the Doctor's grave. "What were you expecting? A body? Bodies are boring. I've had loads of them." The lines in this episode are really amazing.
30) What it is is the scars of all the time-traveling that the Doctor has ever done left upon the universe. It is his entire life, or lives, past and future, from Gallifrey to Trenzalore. I love how beautifully this is captured. Of course, the Doctor's life is shimmering and blinding and beautiful. When the Doctor sonics it, we can hear all the Doctors talking.
31) The Doctor is weakened being in such close proximity to this, as the paradox is very bad. But then TGI reveals its major plan. What it wants to do is enter the Doctor's time stream and rewrite his entire history, turning his every victory into defeat and poisoning all of his relationships and delivering great pain. Even though this will kill TGI as it will be scattered along the Doctor's timeline as confetti, it will completely destroy the Doctor. And he does so.
32) We see as TGI causes pain to each of the Doctor's lives, killing him all at once, Eleven writhes in pain as he dies in the Dalek Asylum and in Victorian England and everywhere else. The timeline gets corrupted as Vastra realises something horrific and runs outside. And surely, slowly many stars start dying out in the night sky as a universe without the Doctor is a scary place. This is why the Silence wanted the Doctor to die, before he can cancel out everything he has done for the universe. They were the sentinels of history of the universe, which is intertwined with his history, which was being rewritten. Moffat masterstroke #3.
33) Even Jenny disappears as the Doctor had saved her and Strax forgets about his friendship with Vastra and wants to kill her, but she kills him in defence.
34) Inside, Clara realises that the reason why she had saved the Doctor in the Dalek Asylum and Victorian England was because she too had entered this stream. The Doctor tries to stop her but she sees how weak he is and how this is the only way. River also tries to stop her, explaining how she will only become an echo of herself, as she too will be spread like confetti, but Clara replies, using her mother's souffle philosophy as she is both the Souffle Girl and the Impossible Girl- "the souffle isn't the souffle, the souffle is the recipe". She will be real enough to save him.
35) She enters the time stream, though right before she turns around and tells the Doctor, one last time "Run you clever boy, and remember me." I would like to point out this additional "me" because I feel it is important as this was the original Clara, THE Impossible Girl, who sacrificed herself to save the Doctor at every point in his life. Even though Clara has been relatively bland, and her reasons for this complete sacrifice isn't as affecting as the other companions, I think we can all agree and respect that this is a good, kind woman, a motherly figure from the start, who wants to protect her friend who has shown her so much, and as she said in "Cold War", this is what they do- save the world/universe. And now that this whole thing is over, we can focus just on Clara, the person, in the next series.
36) Here we get a repeat of the pre-credits scene, with total understanding of what Clara is now. What is especially tantalizingly wonderful is that she is shown to be the one who told the First Doctor to take his TARDIS, as he was going to steal another one instead. This also of course means that Clara was once a Time Lady. Oooo.
"I don’t know where I am. I just know I’m running. Sometimes it’s like I’ve lived a thousand lives in a thousand places. I’m born. I live. I die. And always there’s the Doctor. Always, I’m running to save the Doctor again, and again, and again. And he hardly ever hears me, but I’ve always been there. Right from the very beginning. Right from the day he started running. Run you clever boy, and remember me."
37) The Doctor is up now, but not happy about losing Clara. He decides to enter the timestream, but River keeps screaming at the Doctor as he's being stupid and it's very dangerous and she goes to hit him and HE STOPS HER HAND! He has been able to see and hear her the entire time because he can always feel her presence. Allow me to stop and sob and gush and die over this couple right now.
When I had read that this episode will finally reveal what the Doctor truly feels about River, I never expected this. She is always there for him, but he never responds because it hurts him that much. I know people say that Rose was his love, but I honestly feel that the relationship between Eleven and River is so much deeper and longer and full of obstacles that they kept trying to overcome and spend whatever time they can together. And this time had seemingly come to an end for the Doctor, but he could not forget River. She should have faded for him (reminds me of the talk between Eleven and Amy in "The Power of Three") by now. Also, that kiss. My heart hurts and my Matt Smith feelings have been intensified exponentially.
River says that she can't fade from him before he says goodbye. And how does he say it?
River: "There's only one way I'd accept. If you ever loved me, say it like you're coming back."
Doctor: "Well, then... See you around, Professor River Song."
River: "Until next time."
Doctor: "Don't wait up."
River: "Oh there's one more thing."
Doctor: "Isn't there always?"
Here, I would like to add that both Smith and Kingston and their chemistry is just fantastic. I especially love the way he says the last line.
38) Anyways, this one thing is that River was mentally linked with Clara, so if she was still there, it meant Clara was still alive. And then River fades away with a "Spoilers" and a "Goodbye sweetie." Once again, allow me to stop and gush and cry and die over this woman.
MY FAVOURITE WHO CHARACTER- RIVER SONG
Barring the Doctor himself, there is no other character I love in Doctor Who as much as River. As much as I love her sass and her bravery and well, her hair, her love for the Doctor is one of those crazy, idealistic, spectacular loves that one can only dream about. Her story is like a fairytale (why else would it have spoilers?), and it kills me. She had this dialogue with Eleven in the very first set of River episodes I saw "Time of the Angels"/"Flesh and Stone" in series 5, when the Doctor whispers in her ears regarding the Pandorica "That's a fairytale" and River replies, "Aren't we all?" It connected with me more than many other more quotable Doctor Who lines because I have this hatred of real life and somehow this one simple line by River encapsulates everything I love about fictional characters and their wonderful lives. Similarly in "The Wedding of River Song", there is this part-
I don't think River will be returning after this, and she shouldn't. This was the perfect goodbye to a perfect character. She might be shown in the final episodes of Eleven, but that's about it. I am adamant about this and the only exception I can make is if there is a spin-off with Captain Jack Harness and Professor River Song.
39) Okay now that I am done with this (SO MANY TEARS), I will return to "The Name of the Doctor". We see Clara floating in the Doctor's timeline after she has saved him, and she finally lands in a barren place. She is alone and scared and repeats the line "I don't know where I am" from "Asylum of the Daleks" and "The Bells of St. John" and breaks down crying when the Doctor calls out to her. He tells her that she can hear him because he is everywhere around her, and she sees his many versions pass by her. As he is inside his own timestream, it's starting to collapse but he will save her as she is his Impossible Girl. He sends her the leaf from "The Rings of Akhaten" to remind her that she is the original Clara, as she has been divided into so many echoes of herself.
40) Jenna-Louise Coleman is excellent here. She's so lost and full of despair, that it hurts. I mean whatever the shortcomings the character of Clara has, Coleman has done one helluva job with her. Clara finally sees that the Doctor is behind her who tells her that to let him, "just for the hell of it" save her life once, since she has saved him so many times. The way she collapses into his embrace and he finally has his Clara back is another very touching moment of this episode.
41) Which is immediately followed by a shady figure who appears. The Doctor looks scared and Clara is baffled as she has seen all eleven faces of the Doctor, but not this man, and everything there IS the Doctor. The Doctor explains that though this man IS him, he isn't the Doctor. He explains that his real name isn't the point (breathe easy now, crazy Who fans. Moffat has not revealed the Doctor's name), but instead it is the name that he chose that matters. The name "the Doctor" is a promise he had made, and this shady man is the one who broke this promise. Clara collapses then and as the Doctor carries her in his arms, he reveals that this man is his secret.
42) The man then speaks and says that he had no choice in whatever he did, as he did it for the sake of peace and sanity. And then Eleven, in very blockbuster-twist fashion, says "But not in the name of the Doctor." Moffat masterstroke #4.
43) And then the man turns around and in very very blockbustery fashion, we see that it's John Hurt and it says that he is the Doctor. HIS GREATEST SECRET REVEALED. Moffat masterstroke #5
45) Anyhoo, we have till November to theorize so one can expect many other such possibilities being discussed. Also, can I just point out all the failed theories about who Clara is. For example, her missing ages in her book which had nothing to do with anything. I remember when people were going nuts about snow, but again, no connection anywhere.
So that's it. Crazy fucking finale that will forever be revered or hated, but I thought it was incredible. Moffat's ambition is one of the things that attracted me to this show in the first place, and it still manages to fill me up with awe. This episode sets up beautifully for the 50th Anniversary where we will see who Hurt is and also a return of Ten and Rose. Again, there is a fear that it won't live up to its hype, but if "The Name of the Doctor" proves anything, it's that in Moffat we trust. Come on, you old troll. Make us see the stars!