Even if you weren't one of the 10.8 million people who watched the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who live on TV or the further millions who watched it at cinemas or later, it would have been hard to avoid the hype. Even the Google Doodle was given over to Doctor Who on both Friday and Saturday. Spoilers ahead...
John Hurt's Doctor fitted into the show seamlessly. Of course he's the Doctor. There was no doubt at all. His very different, war-weary take allowed for some jokes about the youthfulness of the recent regenerations and also about some of their sillier phrases ("timey-wimey" tormenting Hurt's Doctor somewhat), while showing just why The Doctor has been a bit silly and childish - adulthood and responsibility to him, to them, means a return to John Hurt's Doctor and the terrible to decision to destroy their own home planet and the people on it, in order to save the universe and billions of other lives.
This is where we join Hurt, as he steals the Timelords most powerful weapon and takes it to destroy Gallifrey. But this weapon is so advanced it has developed a conscience, played here by Billie Piper.
Rose - sorry, Bad Wolf - didn't even interact with Eleven and Twelve, she could only be seen by John Hurt's Doctor.
But the role she takes on is interesting in that it says something else about how the more recent companions have been seen as well. Piper is the conscience of the Moment, an embodiment who can speak to and reason with The Doctor to guide him and show him the consequences of his actions. Ultimately, it is Clara who halts the destruction of Gallifrey. How? By appealing to Twelve's better side - by being, essentially, his conscience. It's a role all of the recent companions have taken on to a greater or lesser degree. Amy restrained or redirected The Doctor on multiple occasions. Maybe this says something about the way The Doctor needs humans - as much as he saves humanity, humanity is what stops him from becoming a monster. But it also points to a weakness in the way the companions have been written: they don't get their own moral dilemmas and story arcs so much as they are always a prop for The Doctor.
And while that seems almost fitting in this episode - of course it centres on the Doctor, this story is about him - it happens again and again.
So what of the Doctor? Spurred on by Clara, he comes up with a plan to save the day without destroying Gallifrey, by preserving it in a moment of time. It's almost impossible, but luckily he's had hundreds of years to think about and plan it. And there are 13 of him to pull it off. The moment Gallifrey's high command spot the 13th Doctor and we see Peter Capaldi's eyes was obviously intended as the reveal, but it loses none of the excitement factor. This isn't the first time we've seen past Doctors used, but how fantastic to have all of them instrumental in the defining moment of the Doctor's fate (and the story that sets up the story arc for the next series, at least). In a show filled with fan-pleasing moments (that scarf! The photos of the Brigadier and past companions! References to the changing nature of the show - âthat does start to happen, yeahâ about kissing humans), this is the ultimate one. Well, that and Tom Baker showing up at the end.
This story is largely about who the Doctor is and how he became that - the decisions he makes, the things he hides from, and the dilemmas he has to resolve. There's no real bad guy.
So what next? Capaldi will become the 13th Doctor and generally Timelords have only 13 regenerations. But the Master was given a new cycle, so the Doctor could be, too. By bringing in Hurt as the 9th Doctor Steven Moffat has cleverly ensured this question will need to be answered during his tenure as show-runner.
It's a certainty that the show will continue - Moffat has said he saw this episode as being the first step towards a 100th anniversary episode, and the BBC aren't going to let a little thing like a regeneration limit get in the way of one of its most popular shows.
What will The Doctor look like in 50 years? Very different, probably. In both The Doctor's wife (Neil Gaiman's episode), and the mini-episode prequel to the anniversary special, we've been told that The Doctor can regenerate as either a man or a woman. So let's see what happens next.
Squeamish Louise and Gareth