So, last we saw, Rory was an Auton, Amy had been shot (by Rory), The Doctor had been locked in the Pandorica by pretty much every alien ever and River was trapped in the TARDIS as it exploded, destroying pretty much everything. The big question being, how the heck do they get out of this one?
Steven Moffat had certainly held true to RTD’s template for the first part of his finale. All of reality at stake and lots of returning faces and everything screaming EPIC! However for his finale, things suddenly get scaled back to become much more intimate as the focus is brought squarely on the TARDIS crew (and River) as they try to restore the universe and the TARDIS.
The opening was particularly effective, re-using the opening from Eleventh Hour, but with the twist that this is now the universe as seen at the end of The Pandorica Opens, where all other worlds have been wiped out, and the Doctor never crash lands in the back garden. Given how popular the Amelia/Doctor scenes were in the series opener, it was great to see her back, and the reveal of Amy being the one in the Pandorica was really nicely done.
Steven Moffat indulges his love of time travel here to great effect. With the Doctor popping in and out throughout the story to help arrange his own escape, Amy’s resurrection via Amelia and the Pandorica and finally the resetting of the universe, all via the vortex manipulator seen last episode. Its played with great fun, as the strangeness of the Doctor suddenly appearing in a fez and with a mop (fez’s are cool) sits wonderfully with Matt Smith’s take on the character.
As the Doctor takes a hit from a partially-restored Dalek, the story shifts to the Doctor, badly injured and having realised the only way to restore the universe is to use the Pandorica and risk trapping himself in the void on the other side of the cracks. These scenes are where Steven Moffat brings back some of the emotion people have claimed has been missing from his run, as the Doctor, living his life in reverse, carefully figures out the way he can be restored, finding Amelia waiting for him in her garden, tucking her into bed, and telling his story of the old, yet new, borrowed box in the most brilliant blue.
It all built up to a brilliant “punch the air” moment, as the wedding day arrives and the Doctor’s story triggers Amy’s memories of him, allowing her imaginary friend to reappear slap, bang in the middle of the meal. The Doctor emerging already dressed in his top hat and tails for the wedding was great, and it all built wonderfully towards giving us the great final moments of the Doctor, Amy and Rory all together in the TARDIS, heading off towards the Orient Express and the Christmas Special. The fact the old, new, borrowed, blue had been so expertly woven into the Doctor’s story worked beautifully, allowing the viewer to suddenly twig what the Doctor (and Steven Moffat) had done just as Amy’s figuring out herself.
I don’t think we’ve had an ending that upbeat since the series came back, as they’ve always had to deal with a main cast member leaving (9th Doctor, Rose, Martha and Donna), so it made a welcome change in pace, and allowed Steven Moffat to end the series in such a brilliantly happy way that RTD was always denied. But then, in fairness, RTD was exceptionally good at those emotional wringer endings, so this isn’t really a complaint, just a very nice change of pace.
Despite that however, I’m very tempted to say this was the strongest series finale we’ve had. Both parts held up as great episodes on their own, and Steven Moffat expertly weaved in finale aspects people were used to, while also allowing it to draw in things that had been setup throughout the series.
And there’s setup in place for next year as well. The Silence and whoever orchestrated everything by controlling the TARDIS remain to be revealed. Likewise, we’re teased that we’ll be finding out River Song’s story soon too. I like the fact neither of these reveals have been rushed, but I’m also glad its being indicated they will be revealed next year. I like the setup going across series, but this isn’t, and should never be Lost, so I’m glad we’ve got lots of good stuff to look forward to next year with the promise that it’ll actually be resolved.
Christmas can’t come soon enough 😀