Because of how closely this episode is tied to the overall mythology of the Doctor I’m going to stray away from a straightforward recap somewhat. This episode needs to be watched…and re-watched. I’m going to give you a condensed version of what transpired and recommend you watch The Name of the Doctor at least a second time.
Me? I’m watching it at least three times.
It was good to get a quick view of when the Doctor first stole a TARDIS along with his granddaughter, Susan. Seeing a TARDIS’ default outer appearance was interesting. Having it as just a plain, grey cylindrical exterior made sense since the machines come with chameleon circuits to disguise them.
Vastra gets information about the location of Trenzalore from a killer named Clarence DeMarco which she shares with the rest of her gang, Clara, and River Song by means of an unconscious, time-traveling “conference call.” During that call, Jenny is killed by the Whispermen who are bent on killing them all. River wakes the rest of them from the dream-state conference. I suppose River might be the only one of them who could do this since she’s technically not alive, but living on in the Library as a collection of her own memories and she clearly entered in a different fashion from the others.
Not surprisingly, Jenny is revived a little later.
The phrase, “The Doctor has a secret he will take to the grave and it is discovered,” doesn’t refer to the secret, but the discovery of his grave. The Doctor connects Clara to the TARDIS to get the coordinates to Trenzalore, but the old, blue girl isn’t too keen on taking him there since visiting one’s grave is breaking a cardinal rule of time travel. There are a lot of cardinal rules to time travel, but this is apparently the cardinal-est of them all. They still get there, though it’s more of a crash landing.
A broken-down future version of the TARDIS serves as the Doctor’s tomb and it’s much larger on the outside than it normally is. This is because “dimension dams” from the inside have leaked out causing the outside to grow bigger. The whole group from the conference call are brought to Trenzalore by the Great Intelligence and his Whispermen.
The Great Intelligence considers the Doctor a killer of countless beings and says he’s known by many names. This is what’s meant by the title. It wasn’t referring to the Doctor’s actual name, which so far only River Song knows, but to the many names he’s been called by his enemies throughout time.
They all enter the ancient TARDIS and where the console once stood is now a vertical array of glowing, intertwined energy strands. This represents the Doctor’s life traveling through time and space, even things he’s yet to do. The Great Intelligence enters the energy stream and intervenes in the Doctor’s every victory throughout all his incarnations, undoing all the good he’s done. Star systems, planets, and people begin to disappear as the Doctor’s life is erased. Jenny disappears and Strax loses all memory of being friends with Vastra and tries to attack her, but he disappears, too.
Clara figures out that the only way she could’ve saved the Doctor multiple times in different locations and time periods is if she, too, entered the energy stream which will kill her, but make many copies of her scattered through time. She makes the sacrifice which returns the energy stream to its original form and reverses the damage done by the Great Intelligence.
The Doctor refuses to accept that Clara will die and insists on crossing into his own time stream. River tries to talk him out of it, but eventually gives in and fades away once they say their goodbyes.
Clara finds herself in a dark place representing the Doctor’s timeline with different incarnations of the Doctor passing her by. She doesn’t remember who she really is, but the Doctor is also in his own timeline and sends her the leaf that represents her beginning and her identity. She then sees the Doctor and goes to him. Before he can take her out of the timeline they see another figure.
The only person in the timeline is the Doctor, and he says that’s another version of himself, but not of “The Doctor.”
The episode ends with a real “Holy Crap!” moment. Now we have to wait until November 23rd to find out more.
Tons O’ Quotes:
Clarence: Do you hear the Whispermen? The Whispermen are near. If you hear the Whispermen then turn away your ear. Do not hear the Whispermen whatever else you do, for once you’ve heard the Whispermen they’ll stop…and look at you.
Whispermen: The trap is set when the Doctor’s friends will travel where the Doctor ends.
Vastra: Strax, so good of you to join us.
Strax: It better be important. I was in the middle of destroying some very pleasant primitives.
Clara: This time I will get it right. This time I will be “soufflé girl.”
Clara: Because Artie, it’s like my mum always said, “The soufllé isn’t the soufflé. The soufllé is the recipe.
Angie: Was your mum deep on puddings?
Clara: She was a great woman.
Strax: Oh no. Not the one with the gigantic head.
Jenny: It’s ‘hair’ Strax.
Jenny: <To river when she conjures champagne in place of tea> How did you do that?
Vastra: Ah, perhaps you two haven’t met. This is the Doctor’s companion. Uh, that is…his current traveling assistant.
Strax: <To Vastra> Have you gone a darker green?
River: Professor River Song. The Doctor might have mentioned me.
Clara: Oh yeah. Oh yeah, of course he has, Professor Song. Sorry, it’s just that I never realized you were a woman.
Strax: Well, neither did I.
Vastra: This, Mr. DeMarco claims, is the location of the Doctor’s greatest secret.
Clara: Which is?
Jenny: We don’t know. It’s a secret.
Doctor: Where are they?
Clara: At the cinema.
Doctor: The little…Daleks.
Doctor: When you are a time traveler there is one place you must never go. One place in all of space and time you must never, ever find yourself.
Doctor: You didn’t listen, did you? You lot never do, that’s the problem. ‘The Doctor has a secret he will take to the grave. It is discovered.’ He wasn’t talking about my secret. No, no, no, that’s not what’s been found. He was talking about my grave. Trenzalore is where I’m buried.
Clara: How can we save them?
Doctor: Apparently by breaking into my own tomb.
Clara: It’s a hell of a monument.
Doctor: It’s the TARDIS.
Clara: I can see that.
Doctor: No. When a TARDIS is dying, sometimes the dimension dams start breaking down. We used to call it a size leak. All the “bigger on the inside” starts leaking to the outside. It grows. When I say, “That’s the TARDIS,” I don’t mean it looks like the TARDIS I mean it actually is the TARDIS. My TARDIS from the future. What else would they bury me in?
Whispermen: This man must fall as all men must. The fate of all is always dust. The man who lies will lie no more when this man lies at Trenzalore.
Strax: This planet is now property of the Sontaran Empire. Surrender your women and intellectuals.
Strax: The heart is a relatively simple thing.
Vastra: I have not found it to be so.
Clara: So…how come I met your dead wife?
Doctor: Oh well, you know how it is when you lose someone close to you. I sort of made a back-up.
Simeon: It was a minor skirmish by the Doctor’s blood-soaked standards. Not exactly the Time War, but enough to finish him. In the end it was too much for the old man.
Simeon: The Doctor lives his life in darker hues, day upon day. And he will have other names before then end; the Storm, the Beast, the Valeyard.
Whispermen: The girl who died he tries to save. She’ll die again inside his grave.
Doctor: Now then. Doctor Simeon or Mister G. Intelligence, whatever I call you. Do you know what’s in there?
Simeon: For me, peace at last. For you, pain everlasting. Won’t you invite us in?
Clara: What’s that?
Doctor: What were you expecting, a body? Bodies are boring, I’ve had load of them.
Doctor: Time travel is damage. It’s like a tear in the fabric of reality. That is the scar tissue of my journey through the universe. My path through time and space from Gallifrey to Trenzalore.
Simeon: The Doctor’s life is an open wound and an open wound can be entered.
Doctor: No. It would destroy you.
Simeon: Not at all. It would kill me. It will destroy you. I can rewrite your every living moment. I can turn every one of your victories into defeats, poison every friendship, deliver pain to your every breath.
Clara: Well how ’bout that? I’m ‘soufflé girl’ after all.
Clara: If this works get out of here as fast as you can and spare me a thought every now and then. In fact, you know what? Run. Run, you clever boy and remember me.
Clara: 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.
River: How are you even doing that? I’m not really here.
Doctor: You are always here to me and I always listen. And I can always see you.
River: Then why didn’t you speak to me?
Doctor: Because I thought it would hurt to much.
River: I believe I could have coped.
Doctor: No, I thought it would hurt me…and I was right.
<Gives River a passionate kiss>
Doctor: Since nobody else in this room can see you God knows how that looked.
Doctor: There is a time to live and a time to sleep. You are an echo, River. Like Clara, like all of us. In the end, my fault, I know, but you should have faded by now.
River: It’s hard to leave when you haven’t said goodbye.
Doctor: Then tell me because I don’t know. How do I say it?
River: There’s only one way I’d accept. If you ever loved me say it like you’re going to come back.
Doctor: Well then, see you around, Professor River Song.
River: Till the next time, Doctor.
Doctor: Don’t wait up.
River: Oh, there’s one more thing.
Doctor: Isn’t there always?
River: I was mentally linked with Clara. If she’s really dead, then how can I still be here?
River: Spoilers! Goodbye, sweetie.
Clara: I don’t know where I am. I don’t know where I’m going or where I’ve been. I was born to save the Doctor and the Doctor is safe now. I’m the impossible girl and my story is done.
Doctor: Clara, come on! Come to me now. You can do it, I know you can.
Doctor: Because it’s impossible and you’re my impossible girl. How many times have you saved me, Clara? Just this once, just for the hell of it let me save you.
Clara: Who’s that?
Doctor: Never mind, let’s get back.
Clara: But who is he?
Doctor: He’s me. There’s only me here, that’s the point. Now let’s get back.
Clara: But I never saw that one. I saw all of you. Eleven faces, all of them you. You’re the eleventh Doctor.
Doctor: I said he was me, I never said he was the Doctor.
Clara: I don’t understand.
Doctor: My name, my real name, that is not the point. The name I chose is, “the Doctor.” The name you choose, it’s like a promise you make. He’s the one who broke the promise. He is my secret.
OtherDoctor: What I did, I did without choice.
Doctor: I know.
OtherDoctor: In the name of peace and sanity.
Doctor: But not in the name of the Doctor!
Remember, the Doctor returns November 23rd. Not that I’d ever let you forget.