COMMENTARY | The man whose adventures began when he stole a blue box and ran away finally stopped running in the Christmas special, “The Time of the Doctor.” If you’re allergic to spoilers, you should either grab your medication or stop reading now, because there will be lots of them.
In his last appearance as the Doctor on “Doctor Who,” Matt Smith stayed in the same place for centuries, no longer running. Granted, that all of his mortal enemies were also in the same place for the duration, waging a war, did make it a hair on the convenient side for him to stay where he was, but it was the mindset of the Doctor–that he would remain there, and would not be budged–that marked the evolution of the character in the Matt Smith years. Twice over the era he faced his own mortality, and the second time, he did it head on.
Speaking of, as a side note to us, but not one to the plot of “The Time of the Doctor,” we discovered that Smith is not Eleven, as we fondly call him, but the thirteenth, and last, regeneration of the Time Lord. So what do we call him? He’ll always be Eleven to me (or maybe Eleventween?), but I pity the Whovians of the future who will search, in vain, for the “lost” episodes for Doctors Twelve and Thirteen, since I’m betting that Peter Capaldi, the next actor to helm the TARDIS, will be known as Fourteen.
Worse than our naming issue, for the Doctor, the switch in numbers meant that death in that town called Christmas on the planet of Trenzalore would, for him, be permanent. He’d already seen his tomb, he knew what the future held. Or, at least, he thought he did, and he was prepared to accept his fate.
And in a poetic reverse of the norm, Clara came and went over the time he defended Christmas, always young as he grew older, old enough, as he pointed out, to die of old age before his enemies managed to kill him. His enemies who, apparently, kept better count of his regenerations than we did.
In a single, silvery thread, as Matt Smith donned his bowtie for the last time, showrunner Steven Moffat tied together all of the loose ends of Eleventween: the explosion of the TARDIS; the Silence; the oldest question in the universe; the crack in little Amelia Pond’s bedroom wall. And though it was Clara who reminded Galifrey behind that split in reality that “Doctor” was the only name the Doctor needed, the only name that matters, fittingly, Amy Pond’s was the last face our Eleventween saw.
So farewell to our fez-loving Doctor who made bowties cool, who finally stopped running after all. And a hearty thank you to Matt Smith for all these years of adventure and fun. All of time and space won’t be the same without you.