Review: Doctor Who Christmas Special- “Last Christmas”

Doctor Who ornamentWhat’s Santa Claus doing in a Doctor Who Christmas episode? Is he a robot, someone in disguise, or a Time Lord? This must be someone’s weird dream.

Also, what has happened to Clara Oswald?

Well, the answer is below…..

WATCH OUT FOR SPOILERS….

 

 

This year’s holiday episode may have been pretty confusing to some, and darker to others. It’s not like in the past, where the Doctor had his own Christmas Carol or battled Cybermen in 1851. It’s an invasion story, with Santa Claus and a little heartbreak and healing.

Doctor Who Christmas BIt begins with Clara waking up to a noise, and it’s Santa (Nick Frost) just after he crashes into a chimney. He argues with his elves Ian (Dan Starkey aka Strax) and Wolf (Nathan McMullen) while three of his reindeer are flying. Then, the Doctor shows up, and tells Clara to get inside the TARDIS. He claims he knows what’s at stake, and even argues with Santa a bit. Santa says the Doctor will need his help soon, but the Doctor just wishes Santa a Happy Easter. Ouch.

Cut to an outpost in the North Pole, with four people who are there for some reason. One of them, Shona (Faye Marsay), is told to go to the infirmary to see what has invaded it. The crew includes Bellows (Maureen Beattie), Professor Albert (Michael Troughton)  and Ashley (Natalie Gumede). Whatever it is, it’s taken control of four other people. Shona hopes dancing to a holiday song by Slade will keep them away. Clara and the Doctor get there, and he figures out the aliens are hacking their minds. Just as they’re about to attack…

Santa shows up, riding Rudolph and attacking with toy robots and Slinkys. Not only that, he knows what the aliens are:  Dream Crabs, parasites that eat brains while keeping the victim in a happy dream state.

During the battle Clara and the Doctor admit they were lying to each other at the end of last season. He didn’t find Gallifrey and Danny Pink is really dead. This means their relationship is still a bit strained,

Still, is that really Santa, who claims he knows everything about the crew? It’s hard to know what’s real, even when Shona threatens to “mark” Santa because he revealed her love for My Little Pony, and Santa claims he uses two sleighs that are bigger on the inside.  Nick Frost may be the best Santa on TV in years, and having a special starring him may be something the BBC should consider.

Doctor Who Christmas DThe Doctor thinks the Dream Crabs must have been awakened after they were discovered, and the crew thought about them. The dormant one the Doctor found wakes up and attaches itself to Clara. She’s put in a dream world where Danny (Samuel Anderson) is still alive, and she won’t wake up, even when she’s surrounded by blackboards telling her it’s all a dream. The Doctor is forced to put a Dream Crab on himself to join Clara’s dream. It doesn’t seem to work until Danny tells Clara he understands she wants it to be real. It’s because it would be their last Christmas, but he says it has to end, and she should wake up. It may be possible his image is her brain trying to warn her, but it was also her chance to tell him goodbye.

Then Clara and the Doctor wake up, while their Dream Crabs dissolve…or do they?
Maybe they’re still dreaming, along with the crew. The Doctor uses the Helman-Ziegler test (which is fake), where he gives the crew copies of the base manual they’re supposed to read. If they are awake, their books would be the same. However, they aren’t. Then Santa tells them they are dreaming, but it doesn’t mean he’s behind this, Maybe he’s their brains warning them.

This is where some people would be really confused. Do we need Santa at this point if we don’t know if he is real? Well, Santa claims he’s watched over the Doctor through all his lives, and it doesn’t matter if he’s real or not. He tells them to hold hands and think of the same thing. The Doctor says Santa is no scientist, but he does what Santa says.

So they wake up again, and the aliens seem to collapse. As the Doctor is about to leave, Clara asks him if Santa was a dream how come he showed up at her door?

Doctor Who Christmas CThey’re still dreaming. They were always dreaming, and the crew was never really at the North Pole…because that is a dream, too. If they only know the reason there at the North Pole is a long story they don’t remember, then it is a dream. They also figure out the four people in the infirmary are themselves. Then the Dream Crabs grab Professor Albert and drag him through a monitor. He is dead, in dream and reality.

Just as the Dream Crabs are about to attack, the Doctor tells the crew to use their imagination…and call Santa to rescue them. It works, but it also means the dream will end for all of them. Bellows wakes up as a grandmother in a wheelchair, Ashley wakes up in bed, and Shona wakes up on her couch, with a to-do list that includes seeing Alien and Miracle on 34th Street and forgiving her boyfriend. At least according to one reviewer, the episode was a mix of those two movies, along with The Thing.

As for the Doctor, he wakes up in a distant planet, and rushes to find Clara, who still has a Dream Crab on her. He finds her, but she’s now 90 years old. She does share Christmas with him, talking about her great life as a teacher and pilot.
At this point, it would have been an interesting end to Jenna Coleman’s time in the TARDIS. It would be similar to how Matt Smith left the show as an elderly version of his Eleventh self.

Doctor Who Christmas FNot so fast, though. The Doctor wishes he came sooner to save Clara, and guess who’s there to grant that wish.

Yep, Santa’s telling the Doctor he is still dreaming. He wakes up from the planet for real, and saves Clara in time. It also looks like she also dreamed he found her 62 years too late.

The Doctor tells her to join him in the TARDIS, where all of time and space is waiting. Of course, she goes. Now, they’re both happy to be traveling together. He’s happy to get this second chance, but wonders who he should thank. Maybe it’s whoever left a tangerine at Clara’s window.

Yeah, let’s say it’s Santa, since Steven Moffatt claims this episode really includes Santa, and he planned to get the Doctor and Clara back together the whole time.

“Last Christmas” may have been more confusing that previous holiday shows. At its core, it was a story about an alien invasion. It was also a story about heartbreak because it shows Clara still misses Danny. It’s also about second chances, which is sometimes part of holiday movies. The Doctor has a second chance in his 12th form to have a great relationship with Clara, who is now a full-time traveler. What’s more, he can finally enjoy himself. He had quite the big smile driving Santa’s sleigh, dream or not.

Santa was there, real or not, to help the Doctor save the day, and give his relationship with Clara a fresh start.

By the way, Coleman sets a record for appearing in most Christmas episodes as a companion, and ties Matt Smith for second place overall, since he also appeared in three specials. David Tennant is still on top with five.

Of course, Capaldi proved once again why he is the ideal Doctor, especially with classic lines like “There’s a horror story named Alien? That’s really offensive” and “You know what the big problem is in telling fantasy and reality apart?…They’re both ridiculous.”

It’ll be a long wait until the new season, which starts with “The Magician’s Apprentice.” Does this mean he’ll inspire a young man who will someday be Houdini? We’ll have at least six months to speculate.

 

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Post Author: David Mello

Worked nearly eleven years at a radio station as a board operator, news reader, and assistant producer for baseball broadcasts. Have been a staff writer for Whedonopolis since July 2008

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