The Doctor is confronted with a mystery: a powerful signal is emanating from a backwater planet, defying any attempt to translate or decipher it, and luring ships from nearly every spacefaring race to that world. Having salvaged the severed head of a Cyberman to harness its processing power, the Doctor attaches a piece of Gallifreyan communications technology to the head, presumably capable of translating any language, much like the TARDIS herself, and “Handles” promptly identifies the planet from which the signal is transmitting as Gallifrey, though it bears no resemblance to the Doctor’s home planet. The Doctor and Clara are invited to board the first ship to have arrived here, the Papal Mainframe of the Church. The head of the Church, Tasha Lem, reveals the true name of the mystery planet: Trenzalore. The Papal Mainframe is protecting Trenzalore with a force field, but all hell will break loose the moment that the other ships realize that not only has someone been granted access to the planet, but that someone happens to be the Doctor. Upon first setting foot on Trenzalore, the Doctor and Clara find that others lie in wait, including Weeping Angels. They narrowly escape, and this time the Doctor insists on visiting Trenzalore on his terms, using the TARDIS instead of Tasha Lem’s teleport. The signal emanates from a large crack in the wall of a church tower on Trenzalore, shaped like the crack that the Doctor witnessed numerous times during his early travels with Amy and Rory. The signal is in the Gallifreyan language, repeating one question over and over: “Doctor who?” – the question that the Doctor has been warned must never be answered. Soon, the occupants of the many ships orbiting Trenzalore lose their patience, and try to invade the planet, only to find that the Doctor has given up his travels in space and time to defend it. Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Weeping Angels and others attempt to land on Trenzalore, and are either driven back into space or destroyed.
Involuntarily returned to Earth by the TARDIS, Clara tries to resume her day-to-day life, only to be visited by Tasha Lem, piloting the Doctor’s timeship. She wants Clara to return to Trenzalore. Hundreds of years after he last saw her, the Doctor is dying of old age, able to regenerate no more. Tasha Lem wants Clara to visit him because the Doctor shouldn’t have to die alone.
But yet another force in the universe seems to believe that the Doctor shouldn’t have to die at all.
written by Steven Moffat
directed by Jamie Payne
music by Murray Gold
Cast: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Jenna-Louise Coleman (Clara), Orla Brady (Tasha Lem), James Buller (Dad), Elizabeth Rider (Linda), Sheila Reid (Gran), Mark Anthony Brighton (Colonel Albero), Rob Jarvis (Abramal), Tessa Peake-Jones (Marta), Jack Hollington (Barnable), Sonita Henry (Colonel Meme), Kayvan Novak (voice of Handles), Tom Gibbons (Young Man), Ken Bones (Voice), Aidan Cook (Cyberman), Nicholas Briggs (Dalek/Cyberman voices), Barnaby Edwards (Dalek 1), Nicholas Pegg (Dalek 2), Ross Mullan (Silent), Dan Starkey (Sontaran), Karen Madison (Weeping Angel), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Peter Capaldi (The Doctor)
Notes: Daleks, Cybermen (including a unique Cyberman made of wood, echoing the King and Queen from The Doctor, The Widow, And The Wardrobe), Sontarans and Angels are seen to attempt landing on Trenzalore; others, such as the Terileptils (seen in only one story, 1982’s The Visitation), are mentioned by name only. Silurian Ark ships (Dinosaurs On A Spaceship) are also seen besieging Trenzalore. The device the Doctor attaches to “Handles” is indeed a communications device given to the Master by the High Council of Gallifrey before venturing into the Death Zone with orders to rescue the Doctor (The Five Doctors, 1983); the significance of this reference lies in what happened before the Master was given that device in The Five Doctors: he was offered “a complete new life cycle” of regenerations, something which one may infer has been granted to the Doctor by the end of this story. The Punch & Judy-style puppet show performed on Trenzalore recounts the Doctor’s misadventures with the one-eyed Monoids in The Ark (1965).
The Silence, seen throughout the eleventh Doctor’s era, are part of the Church, and stand with the Doctor to defend Trenzalore; the Silents that pestered the Doctor in seasons past (The Impossible Astronaut, Day Of The Moon, The Wedding Of River Song) were part of a rogue task group led by Madame Kovarian to prevent the Doctor from ever reaching this point; obviously that group was not successful, even when they took great pains to kidnap infant Melody Pond to program her to assassinate the Doctor. The cracks, first glimpsed in The Eleventh Hour (and, in that story, attributed to Prisoner Zero), are apparently the Time Lords attempting to signal their location to the Doctor so he can retrieve Gallifrey and return it to its proper place in reality.
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green […]