As hinted in November, every child’s dream comes true today in the Christmas episode of ‘Doctor Who.’ So Happy Halloween!
But let’s be frank. There may be a Santa Claus, Rudolph, and two caustic elves, but this is not a Christmas episode. This is a classic horror episode of ‘Doctor Who’ wrapped up in in shiny red paper and a pretty gold bow.
So Happy Chrismahalloween!
The episode begins with Clara meeting Santa Claus, with the Doctor running in and demanding that she get into the TARDIS. Then, somehow, the two end up in the North Pole with four other research scientists who can only answer “It’s a long story” when asked how they got there. There, they encounter beings that can only attack so long as you think of them (a very, very Steven Moffatt-esque villain as he yet again twists the things you fear from your childhood into something dangerous). Oh, and they attack like they are facehuggers from ‘Alien.’ Then we learn that these creatures trap you into a dream to trick you into not fighting back so they can slowly dissolve your brain. Only problem is they nest you into a dream within a dream within a dream in order to fool their victims into never waking up.
So… yeah. Facehuggers? A dream within a dream? It’s almost as if Moffat’s Christmas present to himself is writing a ‘Doctor Who’/’Alien’/’Inception’ holiday crossover.
After all, who can forget these iconic lines from ‘Inception’:
Saito: If you can steal an idea, why can’t you plant one there instead?
Arthur: Okay, this is me, planting an idea in your mind. I say: don’t think about elephants. What are you thinking about?
Arthur: Right, but it’s not your idea. The dreamer can always remember the genesis of the idea. True inspiration is impossible to fake.
Replace elephant with facehuggers, and you get the gist. Add in that the characters are constantly asking about how they got there, and they learn that dream time isn’t equal to real life time, and you really do have a very ‘Inception’-like episode. This is basically a crack fanfiction crossover love letter to ‘Inception,’ and no one can tell me any different. And the title must come from Moffat’s favorite Wham! song, “Last Christmas” (that’s almost certainly made up, but wouldn’t that be fun if it were true?).
Anyway, eventually, the facehugging victims, which includes Clara and the Doctor, realize that there inability to question Santa’s existence is all due to the fact that he is a shared delusion that their brains are using in order to make them realize how weird the world is and wake up. This sounds awful, I know, but understand that their shared delusion of Santa is funny, witty, and more fun than something this corny ought to be. His explanations for how he defies physics being the best, such as feeding his reindeer magic carrots and having two sleighs to deliver toys because it would be impossible with one.
This may all seem a little silly, and it is. It may also seem a bit horrifying, and it is. But the truth is that the charm of this episode has nothing to do with its ridiculous plot and its very funny Santa Claus jokes. It has to do with Clara and the Doctor reaching closure after the terrible events of “Death in Heaven.” Finally, Clara reveals Danny Pink’s death and is able to show the Doctor how much pain and greif she is experiencing. Finally, the Doctor admits that he lied about Gallifrey so Clara could be with Danny. Finally, they are together again.
But the crack fanfiction doesn’t stop there. The last ten minutes have a little bit of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘Peter Pan,’ with the Doctor waking Clara up to find her into her eighties having lived sixty-two years of her life (a bit a la Wendy, with the Doctor playing the part of Pan). There, we see how life would be without the Doctor coming back, and Clara is just as adventuresome without the TARDIS as she is with it. She goes around the world teaching, and learning to fly aeroplanes, and the audience has to wonder if this really is the end for Clara Oswald as a companion (perish the thought!). Instead, we are treated to the Clara and the Doctor coming to terms with what happened to them, and waking up for the last time. They go into the TARDIS and into the ninth season, and I for one and excited to see what it brings.
Silly, heart-wrenching, and so important for two characters I’ve grown deeply attached to, this is by far the best Christmas episode ‘Doctor Who’ has ever done, and so I give it