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YMMV / Doctor Who S33 E7 "The Rings of Akhaten"

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  • Broken Base:
    • The fandom creamed this episode in a popularity poll taken in Doctor Who Magazine. Lowest-ranked overall out of any Eleventh Doctor stories at the time, and one of the lowest on the list, period.
    • In particular, the leaf scene in the climax has been rather...controversial with fans. Some argue it's a powerful scene that was set up well, gives Clara's character a chance to shine and fully showcases her heart and humanity for the first time (which we'd be seeing a lot more of the following season); others argue that it's a Tastes Like Diabetes ending (in an already sugary sweet episode) which completely undercuts the Doctor's epic speech moments earlier.
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  • Continuity Lock-Out: The Doctor's casual mention of having a granddaughter threw some viewers unfamiliar with the Classic Series for a loop, as it was the first explicit reference to Susan Foreman in the revived series at that point.
  • Ham and Cheese: The story is incredibly cornball to some, but there is a beauty in watching the Doctor give an oratory assault on a flaming ball of doom. Even the episode's detractors point to Matt Smith's "Akhaten Speech" as one of his best performances.
  • Heartwarming Moments: Throughout the episode, Clara shows she is companion material, by being compassionate enough to reach out Merry and brave enough to become involved in alien business far beyond her. The final ten minutes cement this by showing she's selfless enough to sacrifice an important heirloom of her dead mother to save a world that is not her own thousands of years into the future. The Doctor and Clara bond over their experience of baring their souls to the Old God, their new friendship set in stone, and to show their gratitude to Clara for saving their lives, the people of Akhaten return her late mother's ring to her. Really, the last ten minutes of the episode are quite an emotional high for the Doctor, Clara and the audience.
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  • Memetic Mutation: The Doctor's angry bowtie-fix and Declarative Finger have spawned the "Listen here you little-" reaction image, despite neither captions being said in the episode. What sparked it was that if one pauses the episode at just the right moment, the Doctor is caught in mid-blink with his lips pursed, making him look incredibly dopey.
  • Moment of Awesome: The two climatic scenes where the Doctor and Clara bare their souls to the Old God to defeat him - the Doctor by deriding the parasite and letting him feast on his memories, and Clara by giving up the most priceless heirloom and memory she has of her late mother - both of which are backed by some of Murray Gold's best music, "The Long Song" and "Infinite Potential".
  • Special Effect Failure: In the scene where Clara and her dad are standing on her mother's grave, they didn't bother to use any makeup to age him, so he looks exactly the same as in the scenes set in the 1980s except for some grey colour in his hair.
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  • Tastes Like Diabetes: The biggest reason why this episode is shredded by critics is because the story is relentlessly sweet and sentimental to the point of overstaying its welcome.
  • Vindicated by History: "The Rings Of Akhaten" still has its share of detractors, but it's become much, much more warmly received and appreciated over time by the fandom than it was during its broadcast year: due to the fun world-building, the rich character development for Clara, and the the Doctor's impassioned speech towards Akhaten, which has become one of the Eleventh Doctor's most iconic moments in his tenure.


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