Every season of Doctor Who is always a grand affair. You have stand alone episodes with a story so unique that they require their own movie type poster. This season gave us a fitting and heartfelt end to two of series’ most beloved companions, Rory and Amy Pond and introduced a promising new companion, in Clara. The seventh season was split into two distinct halves with the Christmas special bridging the two. Season seven was far from perfect but show creator Steven Moffat delivered on what counted, strong character moments, brilliant story ideas, and mythology altering twists that ensured we would be eagerly awaiting the 50th anniversary special.
Now, we have to go all the way back to September 2012, to when the first half of season seven began. The first episode, ‘Asylum of the Daleks,’ was exceptionally brilliant, covertly adding the new companion while the current two companions were still around. Doctor Who has always created supporting characters that are just as endearing as the main characters of the series but you could feel that Soufflé Girl was extra special. So, Moffat killing her at the end of the episode was a great emotional gut punch. When she returned halfway through the season, under a different name, it only added to the excitement and mystery surrounding her.
The main focus of the first half of the seventh season was the farewell to the Ponds. Not since Rose Tyler, have I loved a companion more than Rory and Amy Pond. All the episodes in the first half was leading up to this phenomenal episode, ‘The Angels Take Manhattan.’ The episode easily ranks amongst the best, during the shows seven year run. It was a poignant and emotional goodbye to these beloved characters. It didn’t just give us a good farewell but one that was bundled up in an exciting and tense episode. Brining back the terrifying Stone Angels and delivering a time traveling story that was both perplexing and entertaining. It was a fitting and resolute end for the Doctor’s longest serving companions, since the show’s reboot.
Next came the Christmas special, which is probably my favourite Christmas Special to date. It showed us how the Doctor benefits from having a human companion and how their lose can affect his humanity. We sometimes forget that the Doctor is an alien being and this episode did a great job of reminding us that his humanity comes from his interaction and treatment of his companions. It’s this special bond that has always defined this show. Seeing the new companion, Clara Oswin Oswald, played by Jenna Coleman, have an instant connection with Matt Smith’s Doctor was the aspect that made the weaker second half of the season a lot more entertaining to watch. Oh, the episode also gave us scary snowmen.
Then began the latter half of the season, with episodes that were big and fun but were also not memorable. Most of them ended anti-climatically, with plot twists that felt rushed, coming across instead as throwaways. It felt like they were just buying time till the finale.
This is a good thing, since the finale did not disappoint. ‘The Name of the Doctor,’ never really gave us the Doctor’s real name but answered the mystery of Clara and giving us a few additional answers while raising even more questions (like all good sci-fi does). The finale allowed Matt Smith to flex his acting muscles, with a performance that was ambitious, crazy and intimate. The finale also left us on crazy plot twist and a great cliffhanger, HEY THERE JOHN HURT.
If you were to judge this season based on each singular episode, very few will stand up to be memorable or if you were to judge it based on the overarching plot then it would probably be the most in cohesive season of Who yet. Instead, I judged it on the story beats, the performances, and its departure and introduction of the Doctor’s companions. Even when the story of the episodes failed, the characters and the world of Doctor Who did not. Moffat and his team of writers understand this world so well and this have an innate ability of crafting characters that feel like they’ve always been there, just waiting for the Doctor to come along and sweep them up for an adventure. One thing for sure, the Doctor and his adventures are never predictable.
Score: 7.5 out of 10