I apologize in advance if this review isn’t entirely coherent. A lot, and I mean a lot, of stuff happened in this episode, and I’m still trying to process everything that happened. There was trauma and tears and loathing of Moffat, and Doctor Who will not be the same show after this.
Clara’s alive–sort of. After the Doctor emerged from the confession dial, the Time Lords kept pressuring him to reveal what he knew about the Hybrid, and he told them that they would have to bring Clara back if they wanted him to talk. So they all went to the extraction chamber to extract Clara from her time stream in the second before her death in “Face the Raven”. She’s essentially frozen in the space between one heartbeat and the next, but the Doctor wants her heart to start beating again. He wants Clara back, which is why he told the Time Lords she had information about the Hybrid–he knew they would be willing to retrieve Clara from the moment of her death to get what they wanted.
He steals another TARDIS–shoutout to the classic white control room!–and takes Clara away from Gallifrey, thinking that escaping the Gallifreyan time zone will restart her heart. But Clara’s death is fixed in time, and the Time Lords will not let them escape. The only way they can walk away is if one of them forgets…
This was a true emotional roller coaster of an episode. The Doctor’s back on Gallifrey! Clara’s not dead! Ashildr’s still here! We have round things! The Doctor’s playing Clara’s theme on his guitar, but he doesn’t remember her, and, Moffat, what have we ever done to you that you are doing this to us!? It really was heartbreaking that the Doctor was the one who had to forget his companion–I thought it would be hard to have Clara forget the Doctor the way Donna had to, but to have the Doctor forget–that was cruel, Moffat, just cruel.
Despite the sadness, the season still feels as though it ended on a high note–Clara can continue to travel, just with Ashildr instead of the Doctor, and the Doctor himself seemed to find a modicum of peace at the end. One thing’s for certain–any companion they choose will have humongous shoes to fill.
Although this was the season finale, we still have one more episode left before the end of the year, the Christmas special “The Husbands of River Song”! I, for one, am really looking forward to how River interacts with Twelve.