4. A Marvelous Mysterious Companion
I said that the charming Jenna-Louise Coleman made me pretty likely to feel OK about Moffat trotting out yet another annoying ooo-mysterious-companion arc, and I was right. Which didn't keep me from being bugged by how much time the Doctor spent trying to figure out the "impossible girl," who died twice while helping him (in "Asylum of the Daleks" and "The Snowmen"), although her modern-day incarnation doesn't remember any of that.
In one of the second half's best episodes, the ghost story "Hide," he even seeks out clairvoyant Emma Grayling (Jessica Raine), not because of the mysterious haunted house at the center of the tale, but to see if Emma can tell him what Clara really is.
Anyway, although I thought the companion mystery would be one of the series' biggest headaches, it turned out to be pretty cool. We learn in "The Name of the Doctor" why Clara keeps popping up in the Doctor's life, and the answer cleverly spans the show's entire history. She's a person who embodies a central aspect of all companions that I especially like - which is that, eventually, almost everyone who travels with the Doctor saves him. Moffat has a real gift for turning the show's tropes around and making them feel fresh, and he really delivered on this one.
3. But Really, What's in a Name?
It turns out that the Doctor's true name is not his greatest secret (more on that in a minute). But it's kind of annoying that Moffat made such a big deal out of it, only to possibly discard the whole brouhaha as a red herring. On the other hand, it seems like Clara now knows everything about who she is and what she's done - including having read the Doctor's true name in that Time War book in "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS." Is the name game over...or is it just beginning?
2. After All We've Learned, We Still Don't Know Some Stuff
Remember back in Series 5, when the TARDIS exploded due to some unknown reason? We still don't know why, right? Is Moffat ever going to explain that? It's not like we've forgotten. And he's certainly had enough time to come up with a reason.
Also, in an interview recorded at Dublin's Trinity College, Moffat led us to believe that we'd learn more about "...Trenzalore and the battle in the Doctor's future that led to the attempts on his life in the past." But we actually didn't learn anything about the battle itself, like, for example, what it was all about or why the Doctor was leading it in the first place. Grrr.
1. About That Big Shock...
Moffat told us in Radio Times that, in the finale, we would "learn something about the Doctor that you never knew before. And I think you're in for a shock."
Boy, was he right! And for once he managed to intrigue rather than annoy. The Doctor has figured out the meaning of Clara, but at the expense of her knowing his greatest secret. Which is apparently not his name, but some previously unknown version of himself (played by John Hurt), who has done something so seemingly terrible that he isn't even allowed to assume the name "The Doctor."
When I said in April that "any revelation about the Doctor threatens to be a drag on some level," I certainly wasn't thinking it would be some dark secret self that 11 is clearly very nervous about revealing. He's introduced on-screen as "The Doctor." But Smith's Doctor seems adamant that Hurt's character is not one of him. Could Hurt be playing a physical incarnation of the Time Lord known as the Doctor, who doesn't go by the name "The Doctor"? (Like, perhaps, the Valeyard in the classic series?) Is he the Doctor from another dimension? Is he, perchance, the Master?
Not even Clara - who now recalls seeing every version of the Doctor (a la River Song before her) - knows who this new guy is. But the Doctor sure does. The question is, how's Moffat going to explain this? And how annoying will the answer be?