"Welcome to the final resting place of the cruel tyrant. Of the slaughterer of the ten billion and the vessel of the final darkness. Welcome to the tomb of the Doctor!"
— The Great Intelligence
(Prequel: "She Said, He Said". Clara and The Doctor tell the viewer about how mysterious they find one another, and how they discovered one another's true identity when they went to the fields of Trenzalore... Watch it on YouTube.)"Spoilers!"Clara's scattered across time and space, from Gallifrey to Earth, seeing the Doctor — all Doctors — move around her. She confronts the First Doctor and Susan when they're about to steal the TARDIS, spots the Sixth while he walks past her on the TARDIS, tries to get the attention of the Third as he's driving by inBessie, follows the Fourth as he's walking through corridors on Gallifrey, rushes after the Second while he's having an adventure with the Eighth, watches the Fifth as he's trapped inside the Matrix, tries to rescue the Seventh while he's dangling from a cliff on Ice World, and confronts the Eleventh when he's temporarily retiring in 19th century London. None of them, except the First and the Eleventh, ever properly notice her.Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax (who's spending the weekend in Glasgow because... he just really likes Glasgow) arrange a dreamscape séance across space and time, conferring about the danger the Doctor is in — something is intruding into his reality and will require the secret he'd take to his grave, on the fields of Trenzalore. Also attending the "conference" are Clara (summoned to the dreamscape through a soporific-coated letter sent many years before her time by Vastra) and River Song. More precisely, River Song's Virtual Ghost, still living on as a fragment of memory in the Library. As Clara and River meet for the first time, Jenny realises with horror that she left the door open back in reality, and promptly gets herself almost killed by the once again assumed physical body of the Great Intelligence (still Richard E. Grant!) and his legion of "Whispermen".Clara breaks free of the trance and finds the Doctor stumbling blindfolded through her house, trying to babysit Angie and Artie, who have in fact tricked him and gone to the cinema. As soon as she mentions the séance and Trenzalore, the Doctor properly breaks down and begins to silently cry. He explains that the Exact Words meant that it's not his secret that is at Trenzalore, but his grave. The TARDIS is just as reluctant as the Doctor is to go there, and with good reason: not just because it's really bad for the web of time to do that sort of thing, but also because it's her grave as well. The Doctor shuts her down completely and forces her to fall down onto the planet... the fall of the Eleventh.The TARDIS's future self stands as a giant atop the catacombs, Not Quite Dead, with her dimensional transcendence having spilled out to her exterior. The fields of Trenzalore have merged with her body and show her memories as gravestones, and her tunnels reach down far underneath the ground. River, who's kept her psychic connection to Clara from the séance open, joins them there as a spectre — appearing real to Clara, but unseen by the Doctor.As Clara and the Doctor navigate through the underground catacombs, she quite violently remembers the Doctor telling her how she dies, twice. The Doctor notes that it's really not the appropriate moment to have that conversation, especially since she shouldn't even logically have memories of it. Once they reach the centre of the tomb, the Great Intelligence is waiting for them, along with Vastra, Strax and Jenny (who was saved from the brink of death by Strax).The Great Intelligence reveals that Trenzalore is where the Doctor died, during a minor skirmish that was nothing compared to any of his other battles — but it was enough to finally kill him. Both the Great Intelligence and the Doctor know that only his name can open the tomb, but the Doctor refuses to say it, even when the Whispermen are about to murder his friends. It's River who does eventually say it, unheard by anyone. The tomb opens and reveals the Doctor's corpse in the very core of the decaying TARDIS — a mass of light representing every scar the Doctor ever left in the web of time with his travels. The Great Intelligence steps inside it, and begins to work his way through the Doctor's life, erasing the Doctor's actions throughout time and space. Soon enough, the stars start going out. Jenny vanishes (to Vastra's great distress) since she was never saved by the Doctor, and Strax, who never bettered his life, begins to attack Vastra, forcing her to vaporise him. Clara realises what she has to do in order to save reality and follows the Great Intelligence inside, scattering herself across time and space along with him. Everywhere the Great Intelligence tried to stop the Doctor, a reborn version of Clara would be there, native to that time period, to preserve the timeline. Like River, she'd be nothing more than a copy, but she'd have a chance to keep reality safe.Jenny and Strax are restored almost immediately, and the stars come back on cue, but the Doctor can't cope well with losing his companion. He confronts River (whom he can see just fine — he could always see her just fine). River asks him why he never sought her out after he preserved her memory at the Library, and he explains that it would simply hurt him too much. After a tremendously Big Damn Kiss (since nobody else in this room could see River, God knows how that looked.), the Doctor finally, for the first time, bids River a proper goodbye. Not a farewell, just a goodbye. He jumps into his own mess of tangled time scars after Clara.Clara's going absolutely insane from seeing all Doctors run around her in the surreal, barren mindscape in which her final "real" consciousness ends up. The Doctor rushes towards her and clings to her, and all is well again...Until they see the unbelievable: there is another individual among the previous ten Doctors that have been seen in action. Unlike the rest of the echoes of the Doctor, this one is standing eerily still, with his body cloaked in shadows and his head slouched downward in a position of regret. And the Doctor is terrified of him.The Doctor tries to urge Clara to leave his timestream and not question the origins of the figure in front of them, desperately masking that person's identity. But she's already seen the one thing no one should have ever had access to inside the Doctor's memories. His biggest secret isn't his name, it's a person (played by John Hurt). A regeneration of the Doctor who committed an act so horrifying, he had to give upthe name of "the Doctor". To be continued...
'80s Hair: Strax and Clara both comment on River's enormous hair. Sontarans being hairless, Strax calls her the one with the "gigantic head".
Apocalypse How: By undoing every bit of good the Doctor has ever done, you doom the universe, and one by one the stars go out.
Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The Great Intelligence invades the Doctor's timeline to destroy every good thing he ever did. Clara follows suit, spreading into her various incarnations across his timeline. The Doctor jumps right in after them so he can pull Clara out once her job's done.
Asskicking Equals Authority: While it later turns out there's actually a rather simple explanation for the gigantic size of the Doctor's tomb, nonetheless, it's in keeping in with his earlier comments that the size of the gravestones on Trenzalore is indicative of someone's position and rank. Presumably the people that erected the graves felt it somewhat fitting that the Doctor's tomb should tower over them all!
Bigger on the Inside: Averted with the Doctor's tomb, the wrecked TARDIS. Apparently as TARDISes die, "size leaking" occurs, causing the exterior size to match the inside.
Bilingual Bonus: Clara is repeatedly referred to as being "blown" into this world. Guess what "soufflé" means in French?
Breaking the Fourth Wall: When Clarence first recites the "Whispermen" poem, when he reaches the line "and looks at you" he looks directly into the camera. The character is revealed to be facing a wall in the next shot, so it's not as if he's addressing anyone in front of him.
Bridal Carry: The Doctor gives one to Clara after she passes out from the exhaustion of travelling through his time stream.
Bury Your Gays: It looks twice like this has happened to Jenny but she gets revived from both deaths and is alive at the end of the episode.
The Bus Came Back: Returning characters for the last episode in the series include River Song, Madame Vastra, Strax, Jenny, the Great Intelligence, all the previous Doctors, the planet Gallifrey and Bessie the car. Bessie in particular hasn't been seen on screen since 1989.
But Thou Must: The letter sent to Clara along tells her to use the soporific candle that comes with it, but then tells her the letter is laced with the soporific anyway.
The Doctor mentions that, should he die, Vastra, Jenny and Strax should activate the TARDIS' Fast Return Switch.
Continuity Snarl: Did the Doctor steal that particular TARDIS because she was the one that was unlocked, or because Clara told him to? Given the Great Intelligence's temporal meddling, perhaps the one he tried first was actually locked in the retconned timeline.
May actually be a case of Fridge Brilliance in that The Doctor originally did pick the correct TARDIS, but the Great Intelligence locked her doors. Nearly forcing The Doctor to pick a another, until Clara stepped in.
Or, Clara pointed him to the one TARDIS in the vault that happened to have her security mechanisms disabled (on the TARDIS' own accord), saving him the time he'd have needed to get the one operational/ crack the lock/password/whatever. Presumably, this meant the difference between sucessfully fleeing the planet and getting caught.
Crazy-Prepared: Vastra sent Clara a letter containing a candle that would release a special soporific when burned (which stays potent for over 100 years) so she could participate in the conference call. Knowing that Clara wouldn't light it, she also coated the letter itself with the soporific. One must wonder why she bothered sending the candle in the first place. Misdirection?
Creepy Cemetery: The decrepit, overgrown graveyard on Trenzalore where the Whispermen take the Doctor's friends.
River: Yeah, probably should have mentioned that. Never the right time.
Disney Death: Jenny dies having her heart stopped by the Whispermen, only for Strax to easily revive her.
Do Not Spoil This Ending: After the DVDs accidentally got released to about 200 American online consumers a week before the episode was broadcast, The BBC said this. Moffat, as an incentive for those so blessed to not reveal any secrets, promised that he would release an exclusive video with Matt Smith and David Tennant if the reveal went unspoiled until after the episode was broadcast. The fans behaved. Even TV Tropes got in on the action by posting a message at the top of this page:
NOTE: Some warehouse in America goofed and shipped the Season 7b DVD set early. We are aware of this and ask any lucky tropers not to add any spoilers from the DVD set! per the BBC's appeal to the internet.
Dramatic Unmask: The Great Intelligence pulls off his face, revealing that there's nothing beneath.
As the Doctor explains: the Matt Smith incarnation is the Eleventh Doctor. The John Hurt incarnation has lost all right to that name.
Lampshaded by the Doctor when he berates Clara for not getting what the killer at the start was saying, when he said "There is one secret the Doctor will take to the grave... it is discovered."
Expecting Someone Taller: Clara has apparently heard a bit about River from the Doctor before the séance, but thought that Professor Song was male. It's also possible she was bluffing, had no idea about River and the Doctor's relationship and assumed she was just a professor the Doctor knew.
Eyeless Face: The Whispermen only have mouths on their otherwise featureless, creepy faces.
Fake Shemp: Previous Doctors are portrayed through a mix of stock footage and barely-glimpsed body doubles in that self's Iconic Outfit.
Fate Worse than Death: The Great Intelligence doesn't plan to just kill the Doctor (though, certainly, that is going to happen), but systemically undo every last bit of good he's ever done throughout his lifetime.
Food Slap: River makes Strax wake up from the seance by tossing the contents of her champagne glass in his face.
Back in "The Beast Below", the 11th Doctor stated that if he killed the Space Whale, he'd no longer be able to call himself the Doctor. Hinting at a regeneration who gave up the name of the Doctor for a similar act.
In "Hide", Clara asks the Doctor if everyone he meets is just a ghost to him, since everyone's already dead from his perspective as a time traveller. His reluctance to answer in that episode was because of her impossible nature, but as this episode reveals, not in the least because he sees himself as a ghost as well for that reason.
The Eighth Doctor only appears for a split-second at the very beginning. He's apparently having an adventure together with the Second.
Tenth is kind of hard to spot as well, but Clara was with him at the Library. Apparently, this brief sequence is inexplicably omitted from the iTunes version of the episode, though audio of that Doctor is still heard elsewhere in the episode, at least.
Also, while the room is spinning just before Jenny and Vastra go into the séance, the Whispermen can be seen outside the window.
Have We Met Yet?: River Song has even more knowledge of the Doctor's future, even after dying, as this version of River is the Virtual Ghost now residing in the largest Library in the universe.
How We Got Here: The episode begins with Clara falling through a portal. These are the Doctor's time scars as she hunts down every instance of the Great Intelligence's meddling, which happens more than a half hour into the episode.
Vastra: Even if any of this is true, which I take the liberty of doubting, how did you come by this information? The Great Intelligence: I am information.
I Did What I Had to Do / Necessarily Evil: The mysterious figure at the end of the episode committed an act for the greater good that was so heinous it went against everything the Doctor tries to be.
Mystery Man: What I did, I did without choice. The Doctor: I know. Mystery Man: In the name of peace and sanity. The Doctor: But not in the name of the Doctor.
I Know Your True Name: The Great Intelligence spends the episode trying to figure this out to destroy the Doctor. Ultimately subverted, however, when the Doctor upon confronting his forgotten incarnation claims that it's the name you give yourself that has power.
The Doctor: My name — my real name — that is not the point. The name I chose is the Doctor. It's like a promise you make. He's the one who broke the promise.
I Lied: Like Rory and River previously, the Doctor pretends to Clara she won't get hurt.
Intangibility: The Great Intelligence / Whispermen. You can't hurt them, but they can shove their hands in your internal organs.
The episode references a lot of ideas from the Doctor Who Expanded Universe novels Alien Bodies, Unnatural History and The Room with No Doors. The link to Unnatural History, in which the Doctor's lifeline becomes a scar woven through space and time, which the villain — dressed as a Victorian undertaker — is going to attempt to use to rewrite his life, until the Doctor's companion (who he's met before in a different version) saves the day by leaping into it at the cost of her own existence is the most notable.
There are also similarities to the comic Time and Time Again by Paul Cornell to celebrate the 30th anniversary. Here the Black Guardian alters the Doctor's timeline so he never leaves Gallifrey, meaning Earth is the battleground for many alien races. This means the 7th Doctor, Ace, and Benny have to move back along the Doctor's timestream to recover the segments of the Key to Time, meeting all the previous Doctors in the process.
Invisible to Normals: River Song's Virtual Ghost cannot be seen by anybody but Clara on account of them still being linked by the dream conference call. Then the Doctor reveals that he's always been able to see her.
I Thought That Was: The episode title is definitely about the meaningfulness of the Doctor's name, however it's not about revealing his true name (which he says is ultimately irrelevant), and more about why his chosen name is so important.
Journey to the Center of the Mind: This is the best way to describe what happens to Clara after she has saved the Doctor's life at every turn from the Great Intelligence. The Doctor only vaguely describes where she ends up as being a representation of himself.
Kick the Dog: The Great Intelligence murders Jenny (she gets better) for no other reason than to make sure the others take him seriously before the Doctor shows up.
Mental Time Travel: The "Conference Call" between Strax, Vastra, Jenny, Clara and River takes advantage of the timeless nature of dreams.
Me's a Crowd: The Great Intelligence's Whispermen are all creepy-looking copies of his Dr Simeon form, down to wearing the exact same Victorian suits. The Great Intelligence can move between them as he sees fit, causing them to morph into his normal Simeon form.
Immediately after the Big Damn Kiss, the Doctor remembers he's the only one in the room who can see River. "God knows what that looked like." Cue the Paternoster Gang staring in confusion.
Earlier in the séance scene, Jenny starts crying because she forgot to lock the door and she had died, a very dramatic scene which ends with River Song ejecting Vastra from her trance. The next scene, the Doctor is blindfolded playing blind man's buff with the kids. (Though the kids have run off.)
Strax is a master of this throughout the episode. While everyone else is panicking, he's often woefully oblivious to their peril and continues to spout his usual brand of one-liner threats.
The joyful moment of triumph when the Doctor manages to find Clara and rescue her from being completely lost within his time-stream is undercut seconds later when the Doctor is forced to confront his forgotten incarnation, who apparently did something so horrific that the Doctor refuses to consider him "The Doctor".
The Doctor tries to dissuade the Great Intelligence from entering the Negative Space Wedgie by telling him that it will destroy him. The Great Intelligence counters that it will kill him, but it will destroy the Doctor.
When Clara and the Doctor confront his hidden incarnation, the Doctor confirms that yes, the man is him, but no, that man is NOT the Doctor (having committed an act so horrific that he is not allowed to use that name).
No New Fashions in the Future: The Clara who appears to save the Seventh Doctor in "Dragonfire" looks like she's stepped right out of the late 1980s, despite this serial being set at some point in the future. Deliberate, as her outfit evokes Ace's (and generally the fashion on Ice World as seen in classic Who).
Non-Indicative Name: The episode is called "The Name of the Doctor". We never learn his name, though we learn some of the significance behind choosing to call himself "the Doctor". The title turns out to refer not to the Doctor's name itself but to actions done in the Doctor's name.
Noodle Incident: One of the events in the Doctor's life that Clara appears in seems to be an unseen adventure the Sixth Doctor had aboard a spaceship. There's also a time where the Eighth Doctor and the Second Doctor appear to have been in the same place at the same time, although it's unknown whether it was for the same adventure or not.
During the Doctor's first encounter with Vastra, he saved Jenny's life. The circumstances are not revealed.
Not Now, Kiddo: Occurs in tragic fashion during the Conference Call, by Vastra to Jenny when the latter realises that she hadn't locked the door.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In what appears to be a palm tree-laden beach of contemporary Earth, Clara witnesses the Eighth Doctor and the Second Doctor having an adventure at the same time. Whether the two Doctors were working together or not is left ambiguous. Specifically, Eight runs past Clara from left to right, and then Two runs past Clara a few seconds later from right to left.
Normally unflappable Clara gets scared. Full-on near-panic crying scared.
When the Doctor finds out he has to go to Trenzalore, he begins to cry.
What the Doctor apparently thinks of the John Hurt Doctor, who did something so terribly out of character that he has, in effect, become an Unperson to his various other incarnations.
Strax is transformed into an (even more) psychopathic Sontaran Warrior who attempts to murder Vastra for being "racially impure", when the Doctor's timeline starts to be rewritten and his influence removed from the universe.
The Reveal: The episode finally solves the mysteries of the Doctor's greatest secret and the true nature of Clara, the impossible girl.
Clara's reincarnations are a result of her scattering herself across the Doctor's timeline to protect him.
The Doctor's greatest secret is a regeneration that he never speaks of, one that performed an act that goes against everything the Doctor stands for. But we never actually hear the Doctor's actual name, despite the episode's title.
Rhymes on a Dime: The Whispermen speak entirely in couplets. The rhymes are as follows:
"The trap is set. The Doctor's friends will travel where the Doctor ends." When Jenny and Vastra fall into the trance.
"This man must fall as all men must. The fate of all is always dust." As the Doctor and Clara are cornered at River Song's grave.
"The man who lies will lie no more, when this man lies at Trenzalore." As the Doctor and Clara fall into River Song's grave.
"The girl who died, he tried to save. She'll die again within his grave." As Clara and the Doctor run through the corridors of the destroyed TARDIS.
Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: As the Doctor's timeline is torn asunder, all those he's affected suffer the consequences. Vastra, strangely, keeps her memory, but perhaps the ripples simply hadn't got to her yet. She is chronologically older than everyone else by several million years. Clara and River are also unaffected, but being in the (older) TARDIS probably had something to do with that.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: "Mr Great Intelligence" is willing to let all of space and time be destroyed if it means he can get revenge on the Doctor.
Running Gag: Strax still can't tell genders apart. He manages to not get a single one right in this episode, even thinking River Song was a man. The closest he gets is when he calls Vastra "Madame".
Samus Is a Girl: Clara assumed Professor Song was a man before meeting her.
Scenery Gorn: The TARDIS "tomb", an oversized version of the phone box camouflage that has "leaked" into the surrounding environment.
Single Tear: Shed by several characters at various moments.
Slipping a Mickey: Madame Vastra knows that Clara is unlikely to light a strange candle just because a 120-year-old letter asks her to. She makes sure that Clara participates in the Conference Call by treating the letter paper with the same knockout drug the candle is made of.
Stable Time Loop: The Doctor started looking for Clara because he met two copies of her in different time periods. When he finally does find her, it leads up to the events of this episode, where Clara spreads herself throughout the Doctor's timeline to save him, creating the other versions of herself which would lead him to find her.
Tap on the Head: To participate in the Conference Call, Strax asks a Violent Glaswegian to knock him out. He starts off by telling the (very burly) Glaswegian that the metal pot he was holding wouldn't be enough, and after giving him a spade, still says it could take a while.
The Great Intelligence drops the show name while threatening the Doctor.
The Great Intelligence: Doctor Who!? Doctor Who!? DOCTOR WHO!?
The Doctor himself drops the episode title at the end.
Mystery Man: What I did, I did without choice... in the name of peace and sanity... The Doctor: ...But not in the Name of the Doctor.
True Companions: The Doctor feels this way about Strax, Jenny and Vastra. They became his makeshift family after he lost his Ponds, and welcomed him into their lives without needing to question him.
The Unreveal: While some mysteries are at least arguably resolved (The Fall of the Eleventhnote The Eleventh Doctor forces the TARDIS to fall to Trenzalore and possibly why "No living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer" note For the Doctor at least - if he spoke falsely or failed to answer, his friends would die), the Doctor's name is not one of them, as River says it offscreen. There is also no explanation for the question of the Doctor's name being the "oldest in the universe", how it is hidden in plain sight, nor it is explained how River knows his name.note The Doctor lied about telling it to her in "The Wedding of River Song", but she did know it when he first met her. It's also not entirely settled as to whether The Silence still have anything to do with Trenzalore, or why "Silence must fall". It should be noted, however, that this episode is in fact the first part of a trilogy that also includes "The Day of the Doctor" and "The Time of the Doctor", and many of these answers are revealed in the latter.
Unusual Euphemism: Upon learning that the kids tricked him, the Doctor refers to them as "those little... Daleks".
Series producer Steven Moffat asserted that the episode will "change the course of Who forever". (An accurate description, given the episode reveals the existence of a previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor, as well as implying that some manifestation of Clara was present throughout the previous lives of the Doctor and is in fact credited with the Doctor stealing the TARDIS we all know.)
The season-long question of what's up with Clara is finally solved. She split herself thousands of times across the Doctor's timeline to save him from the Great Intelligence.
The Doctor's darkest secret is revealed. There was a lost regeneration of the Doctor, one who did something the Doctor considers unforgivable.
We find out where and how the Doctor and the TARDIS will one day die.
The shadowy figure that suddenly appears just as the Doctor saves Clara.
Clara: But... I never saw that one.
Introducing John Hurt as The Doctor
What Happened to the Mouse?: Clarence's execution was still on hold when Vastra and company were kidnapped. His final fate is never shown. Vastra implies she'll have Clarence hanged when he isn't needed.
Who Would Be Stupid Enough: "What kind of idiot would steal a faulty TARDIS?" says one of the workers monitoring surveillance footage of said TARDIS being stolen. Then again, the TARDIS did refer to him as her "beautiful idiot".
Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: Mr Great Intelligence explains to Vastra, Jenny and Strax that the Doctor died in a great battle (that was really a relatively minor skirmish in the Doctor's long blood-soaked history) on Trenzalore at a time when he had become so old that he couldn't take the strain any longer.
Write Back to the Future: Madam Vastra, needing to draw Clara into a psychic conference, writes a letter to her and arranges for it to be delivered on April 10 2013. The letter is impregnated with a drug to knock her out.