While I adore Moffat's storytelling, respect Matt's decision, and anticipate Capaldi, I dreaded this episode. Endings are hard. Change is harder. So I avoided trailers, scrolled past spoilers, and generally tried to avoid thinking about the episode until I sat down to watch it.
Every five minutes, another brick dropped. Gallifrey. Trenzalore. The Papal Mainframe. A crack. I kept yelling at my laptop until the weight in my chest was too much to bear. At first, the episode seemed another blockbuster, a grand finale--but a comment on Tumblr also pointed out how intimate the heart of the story was. The Doctor stayed for Christmas--one small town, on one dark planet--because no one else did. Because it had to be protected, because there's no such thing as unimportant.
The only way it could have possibly been better is if River had been there for him. She could have grown old with him, lived a straight line with him, and no need for spoilers. I understand why she wasn't; I hadn't had much hope of it anyway, but I'm still gonna write that fanfic where she does come.
But it boils down to the last ten minutes. I have no issues with the extra regeneration cycle or the use of the energy as a weapon; I was too busy listening for his last words. Big badass boast--that's fine. That's fine.
Except it wasn't. Seeing the clothing on the floor felt like seeing a body, the absent body in every regeneration episode. His young appearance was even worse. It felt like seeing a mirage in the desert; you know it's not real, but you want it so much that you force yourself to believe.
That whole speech leaned on the fourth wall so hard, and it hurt so much. It said so many things that I was feeling. It glimpsed the future and affirmed the past, took everything that was and everything that will be, and said Remember this.The Doctor.But you, you are the Doctor.Yep, and I always will be.
And Amelia. Wee Amelia, our Amy Pond, came to say goodnight to her raggedy man. All stories have an end, but make them the best they possibly can be. I didn't even hear what she said the first time I watched the episode--I was too overwhelmed seeing her again, young and happy. Even if River couldn't be there, she was mentioned, and Amy Pond, the first face he ever saw with this face, was there for the end.
I'm not even going to comment on Capaldi's performance at the moment; it's still too much for me to believe that Smith is gone..
*nice interaction, but still wearing on an introvert.