Oh, Steven Moffat really had me going there!
I watched the entirety of the final act of Last Christmas through my fingers, desperately hoping that Clara hadn’t really aged 62 years, and then daring to believe that it was all a dream again.
Clara has been a revelation in series 8 – and Jenna has been absolutely sensational – so I am sincerely glad that she’s sticking around for series 9. Her and Capaldi are just brilliant together. Hopefully the shackles of their deceit will be forgotten, and series 9 will show them having fun. The climax of Last Christmas certainly hinted at such – how sweet was it to see Clara hugging the Doctor?
Christmas specials under the Moff’s tenure have largely been brilliant (let’s not mention The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, eh?) so Last Christmas had a lot to live up to. It didn’t quite eclipse the classic that is A Christmas Carol, but it came in a close second. Last Christmas will be remembered – for all the right reasons.
Whilst not timey-wimey, Last Christmas was nevertheless a complex tale. The reset solution of ‘it was all a dream’ is one which writers should avoid at all costs as it results in cheesy narratives and robs audiences of their resolution, but here it worked. The entire episode was ALL about dreams, and one was never quite sure what was really happening. And that allowed Santa to feature.
The episode neither confirmed nor denied that Santa is a real being, and rather let the viewers decide for themselves. A smart move: the children will obviously think he is real, and the adults will know he isn’t. A win-win, really.
And Santa barely featured, whereas pre-episode promotional material gave the impression he featured A LOT. I’m glad he didn’t. This episode was all about the Kantrofarri, and what a scary creation they were. Here the Moff did what he does so brilliantly. He took something normal and everyday, and made it scary. And he pulled it off with aplomb.
Given that the premier of series nine has been revealed to be The Magician’s Apprentice, and both Santa and Shona referred to the Doctor as a magician, I think it’s pretty much a given that a new companion will be joining the Doctor and Clara in series nine. I hope it’s Natalie Gumede’s Ashley, but I have a feeling it’ll be Faye Marsay’s Shona. Either will be welcome, however. I’d quite like a new companion who has no connections to the current one – kind of like Rose and Jack from series one.
The fact that series nine doesn’t film until January allowed the Moff and Jenna to play with the audience and neither confirm nor deny her future involvement. Many rumours have amounted however: that Jenna will depart, that Jenna will stay for half the series, that Jenna had a change of heart and will now stay for series nine’s entirety. I have a feeling the latter rumour is the correct one. The ending of Last Christmas stank of a re-write. You just know Clara was going to die, aged, beside the Doctor, but when Clara had a change of heart they had Santa pop up one last time. Thankfully Clara will be staying, and series nine will be brilliant, surely.
The dream crabs also allowed Samuel Anderson to reappear, and his return came as quite a surprise. The dream state allowed Clara one final moment, and one final goodbye to the love of her life, without undermining what had happened before, and without making it all a cheese-fest. His line about not saving the world, but saving only Clara, tugged at the heartstrings. Man, he was sweet.
So there we have it. It’s going to be a long wait until series nine, but I’m sure many teasers and spoilers will amount online over the coming months. We’ll have the low-down on the new series before it starts next year.