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

"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 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.

Trailer 1. Trailer 2.


Tropes:

  • Acting for Two: Dan Starkey plays both of the Sontarans featured in the episode. Overlaps with You Look Familiar (as he had previously played Strax, Skorr in "The Sontaran Stratagem", and Jask in "The End of Time") and justified by the fact that they are a clone race, presumably all from the same batch.
  • 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, cosy conversations with Clara.
  • Affectionate Nickname: The Doctor now refers to his Time War incarnation as "Captain Grumpy Pants".
  • Always Night: As befitting a town called "Christmas", the region experiences a very brief amount of daylight per 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".
    • Also "Doctor Who?"
  • 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.
  • An Asskicking Christmas: The Doctor versus his greatest foes in all-out war. Merry Christmas.
  • Backwards-Firing Gun: The Doctor convinces the wooden Cyberman that he has converted his 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 eye-stalk 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 eye-stalk with him as proof of his courage. Unfortunately it turns out to be a Dalek ship. He also does pretty much 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.
  • 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).
  • 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 some Regeneration energy. 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.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Even after Clara has had an expert's computer skills uploaded into her brain, she still can't work out how to use iPlayer.
  • Book Ends:
    • Like Ten before him, Eleven's life begins and ends in winter. And in Christmas Episodes no less.
    • Eleven's life begins and ends with him seeing Amy Pond, first as a child, then as he last knew her. This mirrors the death of Ten: just like with Eleven, his first companion was the last person he saw before regenerating.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • The entire town of Christmas after more than 300 years (900 years, according to "Tales of Trenzalore") of unending alien attacks.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Call Back:
  • The Cameo: Amy makes a brief appearance, at the end, when the Doctor is hallucinating.
  • The Cavalry: Just when all hope is lost, the Time Lords send a brand new set of regenerations to the Doctor, giving him enough energy to destroy the attacking Daleks, thus saving 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.
  • Christmas Episode: Naturally.
  • Church Militant: The Papal Mainframe.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • The new Doctor doesn't like the color of his kidneys, and seems to have forgotten how to control the TARDIS.
    • Clara actually 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 airship 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 learning how to make iPlayer work.)
  • Companion Cube: "Handles", the disembodied Cyberman head.
  • Compliment Backfire: The Doctor likes his "rocket fin" ears.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Creepy Souvenir: Of a sort: the Doctor winds up brandishing parts of one of their dead comrades to first the Daleks, then the Cybermen.
  • Darkest Hour: The Daleks are bombarding the town of Christmas until the Doctor comes out so they can kill him. He's practically dying of old age, and has no plan and no regenerations. The only reason Tasha brings Clara over is to comfort him.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 actually going ahead and shooting him. Justified in that they're scared the Doctor's got some sort of plan waiting. He calls them out on it.
  • 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.
    • Also when he 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 suddenly realising she'd already been killed by the Daleks.
  • 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 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.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The Doctor misses all the "Dalek bumps" on the first spaceship he beams on to.
  • 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". Even earlier than that, Dorium first mentions Trenzalore way back in "The Wedding of River Song".
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: The Doctor sounds an ominous bell when his enemies enter the battle.
  • Foregone Conclusion: It was already revealed the Doctor would regenerate into Peter Capaldi in "The Day of the Doctor".
  • 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.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • Clara. While everyone is outside, watching the Doctor regenerate — and risking being fried in the process by said regeneration energy — she manages to usher them inside into the one place that is safe.
    • The Daleks are too afraid to work up the courage to shoot the Doctor, suspecting that even when dying from extreme old age and out of regenerations, he still has one last trick up his sleeve to thwart them. He actually doesn't. But the Time Lords, on the other hand...
    • When the Doctor tells the Daleks to go ahead and kill Clara, Clara is savvy enough to realize it's a bluff, not a betrayal.
  • 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.
  • Go Out with a Smile: The Eleventh Doctor.
  • 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: Tahsa Lem, turned into a Dalek puppet, has now a gunstick in her hand and fries three Daleks with it.
  • Hand Wave: The Daleks regaining their memories of the Doctor, the genesis of the Silents, and the cause of the Doctor's TARDIS exploding all the way back in Season 5 are resolved or explained in roughly one line each: The Daleks extracted Tasha Lem's knowledge of the Doctor, the Silents are specially engineered confessional priests, and Madame Kovarian blew up the TARDIS to prevent him from reaching Trenzalore. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
  • 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 goes through this rather quickly when she starts out as (presumably) 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.
  • 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. 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.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: It's humans who are in charge of the Silence cult, and not the creepy Slender Man-like monsters. Retroactively, it's revealed here Madame Kovarian was the Bigger Bad that blew up the TARDIS in Series 5.
  • 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: The Doctor to Tasha when he realises the Daleks have converted her into a puppet.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 11's death is old age.
  • Large Ham: Eleven, gloriously so. To say he 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. And 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 looks 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.
  • 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 his flamethrower, a statement which on the surface is true. But 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". 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".
  • Meaningful Name: (Na)Tasha is a Russian name traditionally given to girls born on or near Christmas Day. Which is an appropriate name for a character appearing in a Christmas Episode set largely in a town named "Christmas".
  • Mexican Standoff: Of a sort. 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.
  • Milestone Celebration: Though the episode is primarily a Christmas special, it also happens to be the 800th episode of Doctor Who, and a big one at that — the Eleventh Doctor regenerates and the Twelfth Doctor takes over from here as the first of a new regenerative cycle.
  • Misfortune Cookie: The poem in the Doctor's Christmas cracker acts as the foreshadowing type. Not necessarily a misfortune though, as it foreshadows that the Doctor will end up regenerating again instead of dying.
  • 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 end of Eleven's regeneration. He takes off his bow-tie, 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 comments on the colour of his new kidneys, the TARDIS begins crashing and the Doctor forgot how to fly it.
    • In addition, the first 20 minutes or so of this episode are very humorous, but after the Doctor discovers the time crack in the clock tower, the episode starts to get darker and darker.
  • 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 just to be a way of protecting the privacy of people giving confessions to priests. Or, depending on how you view it, a means of forcibly extracting confessions from people who would normally not want to confess.
  • Mythology Gag:
    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.
    • Also 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 because thanks to holographic clothing, the Doctor and Clara appear fully clothed at all times (except for the Doctor, briefly).
  • Naughty Nun: The Doctor has this reaction to Tasha.
  • Never Forgotten Skill: Subverted. 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.
  • 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.
  • New Old Flame: Tasha Lem, the leader of the Papal Mainframe.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero / Could Have Avoided This Plot: 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?
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Not for this episode particularly, but 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" and even admits he'd never have made it that far 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.
  • Nostalgia Heaven: The Doctor has visions of his previous companion, Amy Pond, as he starts to regenerate. The inside of the TARDIS even briefly changes to her old home where they first met.
  • 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, out of necessity (hey, the episode's only an hour long).
  • Oh Crap:
    • The look on the Doctor's face when he's told he's on Trenzalore.
    • Also the Daleks when they realise he's regenerating.
      Daleks: (panicked) Emergency! Emergency!!! The Doctor is regenerating! The Doctor is regenerating!!! Exterminate! Exterminate the Doctor!!!
    • The Doctor teleports onto a spaceship, wielding a Dalek eye-stalk 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.
    • Though a lot less serious, 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 realises that there are Weeping Angels buried in the snow right underneath him.
    • At the end, when the TARDIS is flying out of control, and the new Doctor has apparently forgotten how to fly it.
  • Ominous Floating Spaceship: The Dalek mothership over the town of Christmas.
  • Out of Continues: This special confirms the thirteen-regeneration limit to be in canon, even factoring in the War Doctor and the meta-crisis Doctor (or "Doctor!Blue") from "Journey's End". Eleven chuckles and chalks it up to his counterpart's "vanity issues", though he's clearly feeling irritated at his late friend Ten about now.
  • 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, inadvertently therefore shocking her family by showing up to them naked.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Reverse Psychology: When Tasha Lem is now 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.
  • Rise from Your Grave: The Weeping Angels rising from the snow.
  • Saying Too Much: When first in the truth field, 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.
  • 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.
  • Single Tear: Clara when Gran tells of how she met her husband.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Karen Gillan as (the Doctor's hallucination of) Amy Pond.
  • The Slow Path: The Doctor takes it this time. Clara gets 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.
  • Smooch of Victory: The Doctor to Tasha.
  • 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, Madam 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 actually 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.
    • The Time Lords send regeneration energy from the other side of the crack, allowing Eleven to regenerate into Twelve, who will later (for his timeline at least) save Gallifrey from destruction by sending it to the universe on the other side of the crack.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The Doctor goes out in one very massive explosion of explody-ness; it's so big that is blows up Daleks (both in a ship and on the ground), destroys all of Christmas town.
  • 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.
  • Take That: 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.
  • 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 of 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: Or rather, a truth field. The town of Christmas is surrounded by a truth 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.
  • Use Your Head: Used for the Obligatory Joke with Handles.
    The Doctor: Use your head; it's not like you have an alternative.
  • 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.
    • 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 run 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.
    • Later on, the same question, with an equally shocking response:
      The Doctor: This planet, what's it called?
      Tasha Lem: Trenzalore.
    • Another one from the Daleks.
      Dalek: The Doctor is regenerating!
    • 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!
    • The Papal Mainframe declaring their purpose.
    • For longtime fans of the series for whom the regeneration limit was an actual going concern.
      The Doctor: Here we go, regeneration number thirteen!
    • And, of course:
      Twelfth Doctor: Stay calm! Just one question... Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?!
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Oddly enough, invoked by the Daleks when the Doctor tells them to go ahead and kill Clara.
    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?:
    • 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 Genre Savvy 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 Name, Night, and Day of the Doctor (as the four episodes form an arc).
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Unless the Time Lords are conveniently on the other side of a crack in reality and need you alive to let them out.
  • You Look Familiar:
    • Peter Capaldi had previously played Lucius Caecilius Iucundus in "The Fires of Pompeii" and John Frobisher in Torchwood: Children of Earth.
    • Sheila Reid (Gran) had played Etta way back in "Vengance on Varros".
    • Dan Starkey (Strax) as a pair of different Sontarans. Although Starkey has been playing different Sontarans on screen dating back to 2008, this is the first episode since the introduction of Strax and the Patrnoster Gang in which he has appeared as different Sontarans.
    • You Sound Familiar: Elizabeth Rider (Linda) voiced the ATMOS system in the "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky" two-parter.


"Kidneys!"

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