Recap / Doctor Who 2013 CS "The Time of the Doctor"

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It's time to say goodbye to Matt Smith.

"And now it's time for one last bow. Like all your other selves. Eleven's hour is over now. The clock is striking Twelve's."
Clara Oswald

The one where the Doctor's continues got a refill.

The 2013 Doctor Who Christmas special. It features the final regular appearance of Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, and the first regular appearance of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor.

Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe’s deadliest species gather, drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars. And amongst them — the Doctor. Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe.

This Christmas... Silence Will Fall.

Trailer 1. Trailer 2.


Tropes:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: A variation. While a huge part of the episode is made up of the Doctor's fast-paced confrontations with old foes, there's plenty of calm sequences when he's enjoying himself with the townsmen of Christmas or having heartfelt, cozy conversations with Clara.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • The Doctor now refers to his Time War incarnation as "Captain Grumpy".
    • The Doctor refers to the Cyberman head/A.I. by the name "Handles".
  • All There in the Manual: Why the Doctor starts walking with a cane and a limp midway through the episode is never actually explained. Reading the spin-off short story collection Tales of Trenzalore reveals that the Doctor actually loses a leg at one point due to a blind Tsunami Snake and spends the remainder of the regeneration using a wooden leg. References to the wooden leg were deleted from the episode.
    • The above book also serves to fill in at least a few blanks regarding what the Doctor gets up to during his exile on Trenzalore.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The Doctor spends over 900 years defending the town of Christmas from all of his enemies. From Clara's perspective, it takes place over the course of a few hours on one Christmas Day. (Not only that, but the first act of "Deep Breath" appears to also, from Clara's perspective, take place on the same day.)
  • And I Must Scream: The Doctor says that Tasha would die before revealing information. The Daleks inform him she did die. Several times. And she indicates she died screaming for the Doctor.
  • And Starring:
  • Arc Symbol: The crack in the wall from Series 5 comes back.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Silence Will Fall", which had permeated the Eleventh Doctor's entire run.
    • "Doctor Who?" is the question that must never be answered.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • The Daleks consolidate this status: in the end, they've outlasted every other race above Trenzalore, including Cybermen and Weeping Angels.
    • The Silence subvert this, as in the end they ally with the Doctor and help him and the Church soldiers stand against the Daleks for centuries. Indeed, it is revealed that the Silence on the whole are not evil villains at all (only a faction were).
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: Some people pointed out the Time Lords returning would mean the Time War beginning again due to the Daleks. This is the threat that is being staved off here, with the addition that by now a lot of other races would like to see the Time Lords dead.
  • Aside Glance: The Doctor seems to throw one during his "when the Doctor was me" line.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The Doctor versus his greatest foes in all-out war. Merry Christmas.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • Maybe "like" is a better term here, but despite their somewhat adversarial relationship, Tasha Lem still takes time to... keep the Doctor supplied with marshmallows.
    • invokedAlthough they'd been flirting throughout the season, this is the episode where it becomes clear that Clara fancies the Doctor, in part because for the first time she actually says so in dialogue (and under the influence of a truth field, yet). Word of Saint Paul (Jenna Coleman, speaking at a convention) is that Clara finally realizes she's in love with the Doctor during this episode (specifically just before he regenerates).
  • Backwards-Firing Gun: The Doctor convinces the wooden Cyberman that he has converted its weapon into one of these. When the Cyberman reverses its gun, it shoots itself in the chest.
  • Badass Cape: The Doctor starts the episode with a mauve cape, brandishing a Dalek eyestalk around like a wise king with his sceptre.
  • Bamboo Technology: There is a wooden Cyberman on Trenzalore, allowing them to get around the technology ban in place.
  • Battle Trophy: When boarding one of the alien ships, the Doctor brings a Dalek eyestalk with him as proof of his courage. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a Dalek ship. He also does the exact same thing with Handles the Cyberman Head on a Cyber-ship.
  • The Beard: Clara gets the Doctor to pretend to be her boyfriend for her family Christmas dinner.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: The Doctor and Tasha Lem are hinted to have been involved at some point in their pasts, and those feelings haven't exactly vanished.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Silence, Sontarans, Cybermen, Daleks and Weeping Angels all appear in this episode to try and kill the Doctor (and each other). The Daleks win out in the end.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Time Lords, indirectly. Just as all hope is lost and the Doctor is about to die from old age, the crack appears in the sky and gives the Doctor regeneration energy. It's enough to start a whole new cycle.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The Doctor repaired a barn for one of the children's fathers this way. He tries to keep this information secret because otherwise everyone will want one.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humour: Even after Clara has had an expert's computer skills uploaded into her brain, and figured out how to use Jack Harkness' Vortex manipulator on her own, she still can't work out how to use iPlayer.
  • Bookends:
    • Like Ten before him, Eleven's life begins and ends in winter, and in a Christmas Episode no less.
    • Eleven's life begins and ends with him seeing Amy Pond, first as a child, then as he last knew her.
    • Eleven's first and last meal is fish fingers and custard.
    • The Eleventh Doctor's life began with the TARDIS out of control and crashing. So does the Twelfth Doctor's. Likewise, both Ten and Eleven put their TARDIS in flight just before their regenerations kick in.
      • On a similar note, Clara's adventures with Twelve starts off much as her adventures with Eleven did: with the two of them on board a crashing vehicle which he asks if she knows how to fly.
    • The Twelfth Doctor is no longer the War Doctor, the Last of the Time Lords, or the "last" Doctor. He's starting again: aged, runaway Time Lord in a TARDIS he doesn't know how to fly, with a companion who teaches at Coal Hill School.
    • The Eleventh Doctor's run began in "The Eleventh Hour". It ends atop a clock tower, as the hands strike Twelve.
  • Break the Cutie: Clara is clearly broken after being returned to Earth, thinking she'll never see the Doctor again.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The Doctor tells Handles at the start of the episode to remind him to patch the telephone device back through the TARDIS console unit when a random number, expressed as a quantity of minutes is elapsed. Handles finally does remind him when he dies, 300 years later.
    • For one of the longest Brick Jokes on Doctor Who, the Doctor uses the Seal of the High Council. In his Third incarnation he took it from the Master in the Death Zone in "The Five Doctors", thinking the Master had stolen it and saying he'd return it. It turns out he never did.
    • The fact Clara points out the Eleventh Doctor's light eyebrows opens the door for the contrast of Twelve's definitely-not-light set.
    • When Clara wants the Doctor to be her (pretend) boyfriend, he quips "Well I hope you're nicer to the next one." As Danny Pink would find out, not really.
  • Bring It: The Doctor screams that if his worst enemies want him, they'll have to come and get him.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • The Silence make their first appearance in over two years.
    • The Time Crack, not seen since the end of Eleven's first season, not only returns but its nature is finally explained.
  • Call-Back:
    • It's finally revealed that it was Madame Kovarian who blew up the TARDIS back in 2010.
    • The Eleventh Doctor's final resting place ends up being on Trenzalore.
    • Room 11 from "The God Complex" returns and is shown to house a crack.
    • The Dalek puppets make another appearance.
    • Eleven mentions his tenth regeneration once used up one extra transformation.
    • The Doctor has met the Papal Mainframe before.
    • The Doctor produces the seal of the High Council that he confiscated from the Master waaaaaay back in "The Five Doctors". It is perhaps not coincidental that this was the episode in which the concept of the High Council granting an extension/renewal of a Time Lord's regeneration cycle was first introduced.
  • The Cameo: Amy makes a brief appearance, at the end, when the Doctor is hallucinating.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: The entire town of Christmas, due to the truth field the Time Lords are transmitting through the crack.
  • The Cavalry: Just when all hope is lost, the Time Lords send a brand new set of regenerations to the Doctor, thus giving him enough energy to destroy the attacking Daleks, and save the day.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • One of the longest in Doctor Who, taking 30 years to go off. In "The Five Doctors", the Time Lords claimed they could give another regeneration cycle. This is what happens here.
    • Another example from "The Five Doctors": The Seal of the High Council, which returns here and is used to translate the message from Ancient Gallifreyan.
    • After the Daleks are destroyed, Clara returns to the TARDIS to see the external phone hanging from its cord. We don't see how that happened until the next episode, "Deep Breath".
    • The joke about the Doctor pretending to be Clara's boyfriend comes back in "Deep Breath", when we learn he didn't think it was a joke at all.
  • Christmas Episode: The Siege of Trenzalore takes place in the Town of Christmas.
  • Church Militant: The Papal Mainframe has its own army, and declares its purpose to prevent the Time War from starting again.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • The new Doctor doesn't like the colour of his kidneys, and seems to have forgotten how to control the TARDIS.
    • Clara acts like this a little. Here is a woman who splintered herself though history to save multiple versions of the Doctor, who on several occasions is shown mastering alien tech without so much as a manual handy (the speeder bike in "The Rings of Akhaten", the vortex manipulator in "The Day of the Doctor"), yet she panics when faced with cooking a turkey, and if the Doctor is to be believed she uses the TARDIS instead of bothering to learn how to make iPlayer work.
    • The truth field makes both the Doctor and Clara act like this at first.
  • Companion Cube: During the Doctor's stay in Christmas, Handles becomes like a cherished pet akin to Wilson. It's a real heart-render when time finally takes him.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Contrived Coincidence: Clara pulls a Christmas cracker with the Doctor. Inside there is a poem which is so specifically about the Doctor's current situation that it's impossible to imagine what the poem was actually supposed to be about in-universe.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Of a sort: the Doctor winds up brandishing parts of one of their dead comrades to first the Daleks, then the Cybermen.
  • Cry Cute: Clara turns on those Puppy-Dog Eyes at the end when the Doctor is dying of old age.
  • Cry into Chest: Clara, when the aged Doctor asks her for "one last victory".
  • Cutesy Name Town: The town of Christmas on the planet Trenzalore.
  • Darkest Hour: The Daleks are bombarding the town of Christmas until the Doctor comes out so they can kill him. He's dying of old age, and has no plan and no regenerations. The only reason Tasha brings Clara over is to comfort him.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The aged Doctor seems to want to pack it in, just before the Time Lords give him a new regeneration cycle.
    The Doctor: [to the Daleks] Knock yourselves out. I've got nothing this time.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Due to nearly three hundred years without any maintenance, Handles stops functioning in the Doctor's arms.
  • Dirty Old Woman: Clara's grandmother just can't take her eyes off the naked Doctor at the Christmas party.
    Granny: Are we going to play Twister now?
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Even in the fate of just growing old and dying, the 11th Doctor simply would not stand down or go down without a fight.
  • The Dreaded: Even when he's dying of old age, the Daleks are still too afraid of the Doctor to Just Shoot Him.
  • Easter Egg: Peter Capaldi's face is very slyly hidden in one of the promotional images for the special.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • The Doctor teams up with the Silence to stop the Daleks. It turns out the ones he fought before were a Renegade Splinter Faction.
    • Handles the Cyberman head helps the Doctor as well, but he may have been reprogrammed by the Doctor.
  • Europeans Are Kinky: How does Clara explain to her family why her "boyfriend" came naked to their Christmas dinner? By claiming he's Swedish.
  • Evil Gloating: The Daleks spend a long time gloating about how they're finally going to kill the Doctor, during his last stand, instead of going ahead and shooting him. This is because they're scared that the Doctor's got some sort of plan waiting and he shouts this up at them.
  • Exact Words:
    • The Doctor stands off against a wooden Cyberman, and tells it he just sent a signal to reverse his weapon via his screwdriver. Because of the truth field, he can't be lying. The Cyberman confirms the nature of the signal that was sent by scanning the screwdriver, and flips its weapon, expecting it to reverse again when it tried to fire it.
      The Doctor: I probably should have mentioned, this doesn't work on wood.
    • The Doctor promises Clara he'll never send her away again. Instead, he just leaves the TARDIS when she's not looking, and the TARDIS takes her back home.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Tasha Lem's exposition of the Papal Mainframe's battle with the Daleks eventually results to The Reveal that she and almost everyone in the Papal Mainframe have been converted into Dalek puppet units.
    Tasha: I tried. I died in this room screaming your name. [beat] Oh. I died. It's funny the things that slip your mind.
  • The Extremist Was Right: Tasha Lem and the Papal Mainframe want to stop the Time Lords returning to prevent the Daleks starting another Time War. When the Daleks show up, they confirm that this is exactly what they'd do.
  • Expy: Tasha Lem, for River Song. Apart from being Mother Superious and being converted into a Dalek puppet, pretty much every line of her dialogue could easily have been spoken by River. She can even fly the TARDIS. This has led to some speculation regarding who Tasha Lem is, or whether she was a straight-out replacement character for River, maybe due to Alex Kingston being unavailable; Steven Moffat is on record as saying he wanted River to appear alongside Amy and Rory during the regeneration, at least, but Kingston was not available.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The Doctor misses all the "Dalek bumps" on the first spaceship he beams on to.
  • Fake Shemp: Young Amelia Pond was not played by Caitlin Blackwood as in previous episodes, presumably as she'd aged too much for the cameo to work. To disguise the fact that they obviously used another actress, Amelia's face was obscured with drawings.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The people of Christmas wear what look like folk costumes from Eastern Europe.
  • Final Battle: This is the battle where the Doctor was told he would die, in "The Name of the Doctor". Dorium first mentioned Trenzalore way back in "The Wedding of River Song". This is the "Fall of the Eleventh" that the Order of the Silence was trying to prevent. A centuries-long siege of all the nasties in the universe vs. the Doctor.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: The Doctor sounds an ominous bell when his enemies enter the battle.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The tension over the Doctor's supposed death is rendered moot by the previous episode, "The Day of the Doctor", which gave us a glimpse of the Twelfth Doctor, as well as the museum curator, who was heavily implied to be another future incarnation. (In the real world, Capaldi's casting as the Doctor was so heavily publicized that even those few who missed the anniversary special would know it was coming.)
  • Foreshadowing: The Doctor having the Seal of the High Council, which he took from the Master when the Master was performing a mission for which he had been offered a new regeneration cycle. At the end, the Doctor is given a new regeneration cycle by the Time Lords.
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity: The Doctor and Clara actually spend much of the first act of the episode naked, but what they see and what we see are holographic clothes. One exception is when we learn Clara's family doesn't and so react as if the Doctor is nude. A Deleted Scene would have also reminded Clara that the Doctor was nude when she hugs him.
  • Genre Savvy: The Doctor's immediate reaction to seeing the crack.
    The Doctor: [to the crack] There you are. What took you so long?
    Clara: What's wrong? It's only a crack in the wall.
    The Doctor: I knew. I always knew it wasn't over.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • When Clara says the Doctor is her boyfriend, the Doctor says he may be rusty in some areas but he'll look at a manual.
    • Although we see them wearing clothes, for a good chunk of the first part of the episode both Clara and the Doctor are actually naked. During this time they take a roll in the snow together in order to fight off some Weeping Angels, after the Doctor gives Clara a rather thorough rub-down to warm her up (at one point it basically becomes him hugging her from behind) — and she seems to enjoy the experience...
    • Related to the above, Tasha remarks at the Doctor's latest body being "tight". Once again, we see him clothed, but as indicated earlier in the episode, that isn't always the case, so was Tasha actually seeing him naked, then?
    • Not everything got past the radar. One scene where the two share a warm hug, only for Clara to remember the Doctor was still naked, was filmed but cut from the episode, later appearing as a deleted scene on the DVD.
  • Glasgow Grin: The cracks in Handles' mouthpiece resemble one. Even so, he's just as emotionless as any other Cyberman.
  • Go Out with a Smile: The Doctor is at peace at the end of his eleventh incarnation because he has had time to come to terms with his death, he saved the town of Christmas, and his last sight is that of his first companion.
  • Grand Finale: Everything set up in Series 5 and onwards comes to a conclusion, making this a Grand Finale for Matt Smith's run.
  • Group Hug: The Doctor gets one from the Christmas children.
  • Hand Blast: Tasha Lem, turned into a Dalek puppet, has a gunstick in her hand and fries three Daleks with it.
  • Have a Nice Death: The two Sontarans get one of these when they're incinerated.
    Papal Computer: The Papal Mainframe apologises for your deaths. The relevant afterlives have been notified.
  • Headbutt of Love: The Doctor gets choked up when Handles finally shorts out from old age.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Tasha starts out as (presumably) a human and an ally of the Doctor, then gets converted into a Dalek agent, but is swiftly converted back to the side of right by the Doctor, at which point the door appears to stop revolving with Tasha a Face again, even though she's technically now a Dalek.
  • Heel–Race Turn: The Silence and the Papal Mainframe, both previously depicted as evil and corrupt, respectively, are revealed to be benevolent; it was factions of the two controlled by Madame Kovarian that acted negatively toward the Doctor.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Doctor is willing to spend the rest of his life on Trenzalore, fighting an enldless war, to protect the Time Lords and the people of Christmas.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: When the Doctor is explaining to Clara about the Time Lord's regeneration limit, he mentions the Tenth Doctor's aborted regeneration, which still counts.
    The Doctor: Number Ten once regenerated and kept the same face — I had vanity issues at the time.
  • Hope Spot: Following his apparent regeneration on the clock tower, the Eleventh Doctor shows up, youth restored and seemingly healthy, in the TARDIS, to Clara's relief. But he's still dying, this is simply the reset.
  • Hostage Situation: The Daleks threaten to have Clara killed if the Doctor tries to bring back the Time Lords. The Doctor doesn't back down, and neither does Clara, as they are both well aware that the Daleks plan on killing them anyway.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Third episode in a row to be named "X of the Doctor", forming the final part of a trilogy that signals the end for the Eleventh Doctor. Fourth if you count "The Night of the Doctor".
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: When the Doctor realizes the Daleks have converted Tasha into a puppet, he talks her back into coherence.
  • I Meant to Do That: The Doctor describes his "plans" as "Talk very fast, hope something good happens, take the credit."
  • Indy Ploy: The Doctor suggests he never has a plan (despite saying he has a plan) and just makes stuff up as he goes along, as he goes up to the bell tower to confront the Daleks for what is probably the last time.
  • Insult Backfire: The Doctor likes his "rocket fin" ears.
  • Internal Homage:
    • To "Orbis", where the Eighth Doctor gets trapped on the planet Orbis for 600 years, (though he points out in this story he doesn't always use Earth years) and protects the people from monsters. Finally, his companion is flown in the TARDIS to this world by a woman.
  • Not the first time that the Doctor has had a robot sidekick... though Handles is in no way as autonomous as K-9.
  • Invisibility Cloak. Appropriately, they're from Strax's clone batch.
    Sontaran: Commander Skarr. That's the detection warning. Our invisibility cloak is compromised.
    Skarr: What's wrong with it?
    Sontaran: I don't know. I can't see it.
  • Irony:
    • Just before the Doctor regenerates, he makes a promise to remember his past lives. He then forgets how to fly the TARDIS.
    • The Doctor knows that he's destined to die in the battle of Trenzalore. The siege goes on for centuries and the final cause of Eleven's death is old age.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: When the Doctor first sees Clara this episode, he's naked. Why? Because he's going to church. This isn't explained to the viewers (or to Clara) until the Doctor and Clara are invited aboard the Papal Mainframe, where it's implied that it's traditional to be naked apart from holographic clothing when on board.
  • Kinda Busy Here: The Doctor takes a call on the TARDIS telephone from Clara, who urgently needs him to turn up for Christmas dinner and pretend to be her boyfriend. The Doctor is in the middle of investigating this week's mystery, and being the Doctor he doesn't stop to finish the conversation before barging onto a spaceship without checking to see if it's full of Cybermen. Clara, having Seen It All as the Doctor's companion, has equally Skewed Priorities.
    Clara: I need you. I'm cooking Christmas dinner!
    The Doctor: I'm being shot at by Cybermen!
    Clara: Well, can't we do both?
  • Lady Not-Appearing-In-This-Trailer: Karen Gillan as (the Doctor's hallucination of) Amy Pond.
  • Large Ham: To say Eleven is excited about his new set of regenerations would be a massive understatement.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Several instances:
    • Matt Smith's shaved head for the film How to Catch a Monster required use of a wig in his final episode, which gets incorporated into the plot. Because so many fans and viewers have taken great care to notice that he has near-invisible eyebrows (or even think he's got none at all), Clara also pokes fun at his eyebrows, which he defends as delicate.
    • The second is the Eleventh's final speech, which like before, has the Doctor speak lines that can be interpreted as the actors referring to themselves as the Doctor. He also appears to look directly into the camera when he delivers the last line.
      The Doctor/Matt Smith: I will not forget one line of this. Not one day, I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me.
    • The story also leans on the fourth wall by establishing that the Doctor has to manually set the holographic clothing to be seen by others. He sets it for Clara, but does not for her family. Since we also see the holographic clothing (before they leave for the town of Christmas) that means he's also set the clothing for us, the viewers to see as well.
  • Literal-Minded: When the Doctor asks Handles (rhetorically) to give him a reminder, he does so a few seconds later. When he then asks him to pick a random time interval and remind him then, he waits several hundred years.
  • Loophole Abuse: The Doctor gets around the Truth Field by using Exact Words when telling the Wooden Cyberman that his sonic screwdriver sent a signal to reverse the direction of its flamethrower; a statement which on the surface is true. What he omitted to mention was that his sonic screwdriver doesn't work on wood.
  • Losing Your Head: The Doctor runs around with a disembodied Cyberman head for part of the episode.
  • Meaningful Echo: With "The End of Time". There the Tenth Doctor regarded his regeneration as a form of death and something to fear and resist. The Eleventh Doctor regards his as a source of hope and something to embrace. He also borrows another one of River Song's declarations, "not one line". (A major difference, however, is that the Tenth Doctor only existed for a relatively short time — as little as five years if the age he gives in "The End of Time" is correct — whereas Eleven not only endured 900 or so years on Trenzalore, he had also already lived for another 200 or so prior to this, making him arguably the longest-lived Doctor to date; he was ready to go).
  • Meaningful Name: (Na)Tasha is a Russian name traditionally given to girls born on or near Christmas Day. It is an appropriate name for a character appearing in a Christmas Episode set largely in a town named "Christmas".
  • Medieval Stasis: Over nine centuries of siege and many active battles, the culture and buildings of the town called Christmas don't change at all. (Although it is mentioned that a ban on advanced technology was instituted during the Siege.)
  • Mexican Standoff: All of the invaders have weapons pointed at Trenzalore, and the Doctor only needs to say his name to bring Gallifrey back. This allows for an uneasy peace for a few centuries.
  • Misfortune Cookie: The poem in the Doctor's Christmas cracker acts as the foreshadowing type. It's not necessarily a misfortune, as it foreshadows that the Doctor will end up regenerating again instead of dying. It's still a somber note but just not bleak.
  • Moment Killer: Clara, scared by the Silents, bursts in on the Doctor and Tasha Lem just as things are getting really flirty. Since it's the Silents, she promptly forgets why she just did that.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The first 20 minutes or so of this episode are very humourous, but after the Doctor discovers the time crack in the clock tower, the episode starts to get darker and darker.
    • The end of Eleven's regeneration. He takes off his bowtie, slow music begins playing, Clara cries for him not to change... and just as the audience is expecting a dramatic explosion of regeneration energy like the previous Doctors' big finales, he throws his head back and his appearance literally flashes over in less than a second.note  Fast Celtic-style music starts to play, the Doctor complains about the colour of his new kidneys, the TARDIS begins crashing and the Doctor forgot how to fly it.
  • Ms. Fanservice and Mr. Fanservice: It's left to the imagination, but, technically speaking, for a good chunk of the episode Clara and the Doctor are fully nude, the only people seeing their holographic clothing being each other (and the viewers).
  • Mundane Utility:
    • The Doctor and Clara use the heart of the TARDIS to cook Clara's Christmas turkey, and that isn't the only mundane thing Clara's used the TARDIS for:
      The Doctor: You can't keep using the TARDIS like this.
      Clara: Like what?
      The Doctor: Missed birthdays, restaurant bookings, and please, just learn how to use iPlayer.
    • Inverted with the Silents. Turns out that their terrifying ability to vanish from your memory as soon as you turn away was originally intended as a way of protecting the privacy of people giving confessions to priests.
  • Mundane Solution: The Doctor defeats a Weeping Angel by simply hanging a mirror in front of it.note 
  • Mythology Gag: To Scream of the Shalka — may also count as a Continuity Nod, though the canonicity of that that story is up for debate.
    Clara: I may have accidentally invented a boyfriend.
    The Doctor: Yeah, I did that once, and there's no easy way to get rid of an android!
  • Naked People Are Funny:
    • Clara is flustered at the Doctor's nudity, which is Played for Laughs when he embarrasses her by appearing naked in front of her family.
    • When Tasha reveals that everyone in the Church is trained to see past holographic clothing, Clara rolls her eyes and mutters "Oh great..."
    • Lampshaded by the fact that we, the viewers, don't see anything thanks to holographic clothing, and so the Doctor and Clara appear fully clothed at all times (except for the Doctor, briefly).
  • Never-Forgotten Skill: Averted. After the Eleventh Doctor spent over 900 years on Trenzalore, the newly regenerated Twelfth Doctor admits he's completely forgotten how to fly the TARDIS. (Mind you, regeneration does tend to scramble one's circuits.)
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer for the episode makes it appear as if Tasha is a villain. In particular, the scene in which she projects her face in the sky over Christmas and says the world will burn and the Time War will begin anew; as it actually plays out, she is actually pleading with the Doctor not to utter his name and allow the Time Lords to return and, other than becoming a Dalek puppet for a bit, she actually ends up being an ally.
  • New Old Flame: Tasha Lem, the leader of the Papal Mainframe, has had intimate relations with the Doctor in the past.note 
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • How much of this could've been avoided if the Doctor didn't have Handles translate the message going through the cracks in the Universe from the Time Lords?
    • Tasha Lem's conversion of the Papal Mainframe into the Order of the Silence basically gave rise to all the problems the Eleventh Doctor was facing for most of Series 5-6. Although considering it's results, (i.e. the Kovarian faction engineering the very cracks through which Gallifrey was able to contact the Doctor and grant him his new regeneration cycle, and the existence of River Song), it was Nice Job Fixing It, Villain! as well.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: For the whole "Silence" and cracks arcs — it's mentioned that Kovarian splintered from the Papal Mainframe to make sure the Doctor would never reach Trenzalore, even engineering a psychopath to kill him. All of these things led to the blowing up of the TARDIS, creating the cracks that Gallifrey was transmitting through in the first place, and the Doctor married the "psychopath". He even admits he'd never have made it to Trenzalore without River. If Kovarian had just sat tight, the crack would never have existed, none of the armies above Trenzalore would have even shown up and the Doctor would have likely been killed much earlier on in his incarnation.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever the events were that led to the Doctor owning a relatively friendly Cyberman head are, we don't learn them. The first we see of Handles is him hooked into the TARDIS console, helping the Doctor find information.
  • Nostalgia Heaven: The Doctor has visions of his previous companion, Amy Pond, as he starts to regenerate. The inside of the TARDIS also fills up with drawings made by generations of the children of Christmas.
  • Obligatory Joke: The Doctor makes one when talking to Handles the Cyber-head:
    The Doctor: Use your head; it's not like you've got a lot of alternatives.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Most of the centuries-long battle between the Doctor and his enemies, as well as the battles between the enemies themselves, occur off-screen out of necessity. The episode's only an hour long, after all.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Doctor teleports onto a spaceship, wielding a Dalek eyestalk as proof of courage and comradeship. Oh, Crap!, the ship is full of Daleks. A bit later, the Doctor teleports onto another spaceship, carrying a Cyberman head. He has the same reaction when he sees it's a Cyberman ship.
    • This is the look on Clara's face when the Doctor tells her she can't enter the Papal Mainframe with any (real) clothes on.
    • When the Doctor realizes that there are Weeping Angels buried in the snow right underneath him.
    • The Doctor's expression darkens with horror and a sunken grimace when he spies the final crack in the universe.
    • The look on the Doctor's face when he's told he's on Trenzalore.
    • The Daleks when they realise he's regenerating.
      Daleks: [panicked] Emergency! Emergency!!! The Doctor is regenerating! The Doctor is regenerating!!! Exterminate! Exterminate the Doctor!!!
    • At the end, when the TARDIS is flying out of control, and the new Doctor has apparently forgotten how to fly it. Deer-in-the-headlights expression for both of them.
  • Ominous Floating Spaceship: The Dalek mothership over the town of Christmas.
  • Oracular Head: Handles figures out that Gallifrey is appearing on Trenzalore before the Doctor.
  • Out of Continues: This special confirms the thirteen-regeneration limit to be in canon, even factoring in the War Doctor and the metacrisis Doctor (or "Doctor Blue" or "Handy") from "Journey's End". Eleven chuckles and chalks it up to his past self's "vanity issues", though he's clearly feeling irritated at his Tenth incarnation about now.
  • Outside Ride: Clara accidentally hitches a ride on the outside of the TARDIS, who is consequently 300 years late back to Trenzalore because she had to extend a force field to protect Clara, who's not immortal like the last person to do this.
  • Overly Pre-Prepared Gag: The Doctor needs to be naked before he can go to the Papal Mainframe. He also needs to holographically project clothes. Why? So that he can accidentally not transfer that perception to anyone but Clara and the audience, therefore inadvertently shocking her family by showing up to them naked.
  • Pet the Dog: Near the end of the Eleventh Doctor's life waging a (now)-700 years war, Tasha Lem pilots the TARDIS in order to fetch Clara back to comfort him. This ends up being just what was needed to save the day.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Seconds before the Doctor fully regenerates, Clara tearfully begs him not to change.
    Clara: No... No... Please don't change.
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: Invoked. It's the Darkest Hour and the Doctor is hobbling out to face the Daleks for the last time, and Clara's final solution is "praying"... to the Time Lords. And in lieu of a miracle, the final crack closes!
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: The Doctor gets one an instant before destroying the entire Dalek force with his newly granted regeneration energy:
    The Doctor: Love from Gallifrey, boys!
  • Prophecy Twist: The Trenzalore prophecy that drove previous seasons turns out to have been made by a Renegade Splinter Faction of the Silence that travelled back in time to try and prevent the war. Which means it was actually just a worst-case scenario they feared, rather than what actually ends up happening.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Tasha vanishes from the narrative after returning Clara to be with the soon-to-die aged Doctor. She is not seen, nor referenced again, even after the Daleks are destroyed. She isn't referenced once during Series 8, either.
    • In-universe, this is what the Doctor attempts to do with Clara.
  • Rasputinian Death: Tasha Lem is implied to have suffered a lengthy death after he initial defeat by the Daleks.
    Dalek: Information concerning the Doctor was harvested from the cadaver of Tasha Lem.
    The Doctor: Bet she never told you how to break the Trenzalore force field though. She'd have died first.
    Dalek: Several times.
  • Really 700 Years Old: According to the Doctor, Tasha Lem is "against" aging.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: The Silence from series 5 and 6 are revealed to have been this.
  • Reverse Psychology: When Tasha Lem is turned into a Dalek puppet and holding Clara hostage, the Doctor berates Tasha and her religion, negatively compares her to Clara... all of which rouses Tasha's real mind and spirit to reclaim her now Dalekized body and use her new Dalek weapons to kick Dalek ass (fortunately, she doesn't decide to zap the Doctor too for good measure).
  • Rise from Your Grave: The Weeping Angels rising from the snow.
  • Robot Buddy: Handles is a Cyberman head working with the Doctor in this particular Christmas special.
  • Saved by Canon: The Twelfth Doctor's early appearance last episode (plus that of the mysterious Curator) is a clear giveaway that the Doctor is going to get more regenerations.
  • Saying Too Much: When first in the truth field, this happens to both the Doctor and Clara. The Doctor admits that he ran away from home with a stolen vehicle and has been flouting his people's principal law for ages. Clara lets slip that she ran away with the Doctor because she fancied him, and that her bubbly personality is just masking her Control Freak nature.
  • Ship Tease:
    • The subplot in which Clara enlists the Doctor to be her "pretend" boyfriend (a later episode will establish that the Doctor didn't see it as pretend).
    • invokedIt takes Christmas' truth field to get her to say it, but Clara finally states outright that she fancies the Doctor. (Word of Saint PaulJenna Coleman — is that it's in this episode that Clara realizes she's in love with the Doctor.)
    • Technically speaking, the Doctor and his female companion are naked, together, for part of the episode. Including one scene where they're rolling around on top of each other.
    • She's only a one-off character, but there is plenty of ship-teasing involving the Doctor and Tasha Lem, as well.
  • Shirtless Scene: Much like the Tenth Doctor in "Journey's End", Eleven gets a naked scene.
  • Shout-Out: Handles is strikingly similar to the character Wilson in the 2000 film Cast Away. As the main character who is stranded somewhere talks to him, both have faces and not bodies, and they both "die" (as in Wilson's case, the main character loses the ball when he builds a raft and tries to head back to land) reducing the main characters to tears.
    • When the Doctor battles the wooden Cyberman, there's a Spaghetti Western style face-off including the requisite close-ups on the eyes before a Quick Draw.
  • Single Tear: Clara when Gran tells of how she met her husband.
  • The Slow Path: The Doctor takes it this time. Clara is sent back to her family every time the Doctor thinks it's getting too dangerous, and every time she returns he's aged considerably. According to the e-book Tales of Trenzalore, this ultimately amounted to over 900 years. For Clara, the entire course of the episode takes place over a single day.
  • Stable Time Loop:
    • The events of series 5 and 6 are revealed to be one. One of the cracks in the fabric of the universe is transmitting a question that, if answered, will allow the Time Lords a way back into the universe. In an attempt to prevent this from happening, Madame Kovarian's branch of the church split off the Papal Mainframe and blew up the TARDIS, which was what caused the cracks in the first place.
      The Doctor: It's the destiny trap. You can't change history if you're part of it.
    • This potentially extends as far back as the Time Lords having survived the Time War sealed in a pocket universe, as without the threat of their return through the cracks that the Silence themselves created and the war restarting, the Silence would never have established the fixed point in time of the Doctor's death at Lake Silencio. This means Gallifrey always had to survive the Time War to ensure this fixed point occurred. It has rather interesting ramifications for what will occur when and if Gallifrey ever leaves its other-versal stasis.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The Doctor goes out in one very massive explosion of explody-ness; it's so big that it blows up all the Daleks (both in a ship and on the ground), and destroys Christmas town's clock tower.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Tasha Lem has some odd similarities with previous Doctor Who Recurring Character River Song. 1) Was/is in a relationship with the Doctor. 2) One of the few people who knows how to fly the TARDIS other than the Doctor. 3) Mentioned to have had sociopathic tendencies for her entire life. It's lampshaded by the the fact River is mentioned by name and the Doctor compares Tasha to her.
  • Tears of Joy: Clara, when the Time Lords rejuvenate the Doctor.
  • Time Skip: Two for the Doctor over the course of the episode; by the end of the story, his body's about to give out from extreme old age.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: The Doctor visited his own grave on Trenzalore in "The Name of the Doctor", but as a result of intervention by the Time Lords, who need him alive to set them free, he's been granted a new regeneration cycle and the town of Christmas is left standing.
  • Too Dumb to Live: A couple of Sontarans, unable to tell if their invisibility field is working or not on account of the fact they can't see it, are bombed from orbit immediately.
  • Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: Tasha Lem is too strong-willed to be converted into a Dalek, just like Oswin Oswald.
  • Truth Serum: A truth field in this case. The town of Christmas is surrounded by a field which compels all those within to speak only the truth. When they first arrive, both the Doctor and Clara blurt out random truths about themselves before they can adjust, including that Clara fancied the Doctor.
  • Visual Pun: Before he begins taking out the Daleks with regeneration, the Doctor does a big arm wind up as made famous by Pete Townshend; famous for playing guitar in a band called The Who.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
  • Wham Episode:
    • The Eleventh Doctor regenerates in this episode, but not before wrapping up plot threads going as far back as "The Eleventh Hour".
    • The resolution of the question of how many lives the Doctor has resolves a piece of backstory dating back to the 1976 storyline "The Deadly Assassin", and which has been referenced in numerous episodes since (and indeed was a major plot point of the 1996 TV movie).
    • The Time Lords are trying to get back into the universe through the cracks in time, thus proving that War, Ten and Eleven succeeded in saving Gallifrey.
    • The "eleventh" Doctor is actually the thirteenth, as the Metacrisis from "Journey's End" and the War Doctor from "The Day of the Doctor" used up two regenerations. He is instead the eleventh distinct personality to use the title (the War Doctor renounced it at the start of his life and only reclaimed it at the end).
    • The Daleks have regained their memories of the Doctor, which they originally lost in "Asylum of the Daleks".
    • The Doctor receives a new set of regenerations from the Time Lords.
  • Wham Line: Quite a few of them.
    • Fairly early on, the Doctor asks Handles what planet they're orbiting around is by analyzing the signal coming from it. The response: Gallifrey.
    • A long awaited (or should we say dreaded) Continuity Nod:
      Clara: What's wrong, Doctor? It's only a crack in the wall.
    • Later on, the first question gets a different but equally shocking response:
      The Doctor: This planet, what's it called?
      Tasha Lem: Trenzalore.
    • The Papal Mainframe declaring their purpose.
      Tasha: From this moment on, I dedicate this church to one cause: Silence.
    • Yet another from Tasha Lem.
      Tasha Lem: The siege of Trenzalore is now begun!
    • She gets another one, courtesy of the Daleks:
      Clara: How did you stop them?
      Tasha Lem: Stop them? It was slaughter!
      The Doctor: Why didn't you call me? I could have helped you.
      Tasha: I did! I died in this room screaming your name!
    • This one:
      Twelfth Doctor: Stay calm! Just one question... Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Clara runs out on her family during Christmas dinner, and when she gets back to the present day, the Doctor accidentally drops her off in Glasgow, and not on Christmas Day either. We have no idea how they reacted to this.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Invoked by the Daleks when the Doctor tells them to go ahead and kill Clara. Really an Indy Ploy to pull a guilt trip on Tasha.
    Dalek: See how the Time Lord betrays!
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: The church clock tower starts striking midnight just as the Doctor begins to regenerate.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?:
    • It's lampshaded by the Doctor toward the Daleks.
      The Doctor: The trouble with Daleks is it takes them so long to say anything. Probably die of boredom before they shoot me.
    • The Doctor even taunts them with this as he's dying from extreme old age, daring them to shoot him and even admitting that he has absolutely no plan this time around. The Daleks still don't try, as they're too skeptical to believe him.
      The Doctor: But you're still too afraid to shoot me! You're still afraid I've got something up my sleeve!
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: This was a concern of the Papal Mainframe. The Time Lords can't broadcast their return without summoning each of their rivals in the universe to that spot. Tasha has every reason to fear that the Time War would just flare up again.
  • The X of Y: The Time of the Doctor. The 124th episode to use this naming convention, and the fourth in a row to use "... of the Doctor" following "The Name", "The Night", and "The Day of the Doctor" (as the four episodes form an arc).

"Kidneys!"

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Recap/DoctorWho2013CSTheTimeOfTheDoctor