“The name I chose is ‘The Doctor.’ The name you choose is like a promise you make.”
This episode was called “the name of the Doctor,” but in the end it wasn’t about names. It wasn’t about who you are, it was about who you choose to be.
The Doctor is who he chooses to be. He chooses to move on from his wife, and Clara ends up thinking Professor Song is a man. He chooses not to say his name, and he almost gets everyone killed. And he chooses to do something absolutely insane and walks into his own timestream. The choices the Doctor made are what makes him the Doctor. That’s why John Hurt wasn’t the Doctor: because of the choices he made. It’s our actions that write our stories, not our titles.
Clara is the impossible girl because she chose to be. She chose to walk to her death, to save the Doctor. She chose to scatter herself across time and space, trusting her self to hold her soul together in every one of her incarnations. Even at the last, she had to choose to let the Doctor save her. The name “the impossible girl” came from the decisions she made, the lives she chose to live (much better than ‘the girl who waited’ I must say, because that implied a lot of passivity).
Jenny, Strax, and Vastra all chose to rise above their natures. They’re three aliens from three different times, but they stand together as a family. That’s how they became the Paternoster gang.
The Great Intelligence never rose above its nature. The choices it made were always in line with its most basic instincts, its most basic resentment and hatred, all of which was set in stone by a lonely little boy.
And then there’s River. Beautiful, long dead now River. So much of her life was outside of her ability to choose, but not all of it. She chose to follow Clara to the Doctor’s real darkest hour. She opened the door to save the Doctor’s friends when he was too scared to say his name aloud. And in the end, she even got to choose how to say goodbye.
It’s not about the name, in the end. It’s not about title’s like “the Doctor,” “the Doctor’s Wife,” or “the Impossible Girl.” Its about the promises we make, the lives we choose to lead. The name we choose is the story we tell about ourselves, and no one knows it like the Doctor.
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