Happy Holidays to us all! And to what is becoming a true holiday tradition, we got a special Doctor Who Christmas episode that once again set the landscape for the next season of the show.
Now to be fair, pretty much every Doctor Who Christmas special from now on will have to live up to “Time of the Doctor”, which delivered a powerful ending to Matt Smith’s run. So we should be fair in how we judge “Last Christmas”, Capaldi’s first run at the holiday special. With that I say…it wasn’t bad.
“Last Christmas” delivered a simple, horrifying, mind-bending, episode that only Steven Moffat can deliver. With an Inception-like storyline featuring aliens making you dream while they eat out your brains, and making go so deep into the dream, you’re not sure if you’re awake…until you are.
I’ll admit it did take me a while to understand some of the parts of the plot. As I tried to grasp both what was happening…and what was being told. Also, there were numerous obvious clues proving that something wasn’t right. The episode did a good job of not only pointing out those clues, but stating why they existed in the first place.
Truly, one of the best moments of the episode was Clara “dreaming” about being back with Danny, which was given great weight when both her and the Doctor revealed that they lied to each other. Many a fan noted how sad it was that they lied to each other to try and make the other happy, only for it to backfire on them both. With this though, you felt they had a sense of closure, at least on that topic.
If there was one big flaw I had with “Last Christmas”, it was that it tried too hard to invoke a “this isn’t real!” feel, doing numerous fake dream sequences one on top of the other. The feeling worked in parts, but in others it just left me confused. To the extent that I’m honestly not sure whether the other people of the “polar base” were real or not. Cause their “awakenings” happened before the Doctor and Clara got free. Was that just coincidence? Or was it something more?
Obviously the moment many will talk about is the scene with Old Clara Oswald. As we got to see a Doctor return to find his companion having lived a full life. With the rumors of Jenna Coleman leaving, this would’ve been a great ending for her…had it been real! I was not a fan of having it be a dream sequence. True, many of you will be pleased that Clara will at least be back for a couple episodes (as it’s not confirmed how long she’ll be around) for next season, but if they were to have her leave, this would’ve been a very satisfying ending.
Oh, and obviously I can’t end this without talking about Santa Claus! The use of Santa (played by Nick Frost) was well done, using him both as comedy foil, helper, and inspirer of hope. “Do you believe in Santa Claus?”
In the end, “Last Christmas” was a good Christmas episode for Doctor Who. There were parts that dragged, and some things people won’t like or agree with, but overall, it was a fun sleigh ride.