Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 13: “Last Christmas” Review (9/10)

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There were a lot of questions before going into this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special. Is Santa Claus evil? Will Clara be leaving the Doctor and if so how will she leave the Doctor? Luckily we did get answers to these questions and how things were left between Clara and the Doctor at the end of “Death in Heaven,” is resolved in this special. 

*WARNING MAJOR SPOILERS*

I will just say this now, I loved this episode! It had an engaging story, great characters and great moments, especially ones involving Clara and the Doctor. 

“Last Christmas” is now in my Top Five of Doctor Who Christmas Specials! 

“Last Christmas” picks up months after Clara and the Doctor parted ways at the end of “Death in Heaven.” On Christmas Eve, Clara is sleeping in her house to find that Santa Claus (Nick Frost) has crashed his sleigh on her roof! Santa tries to play it off cool and pretend he is someone else, and after his ruse fails, Santa admits to Clara that he is Father Christmas. Santa is joined by two elves: Wolf (Nathan McMullen) and Ian (Dan Starkey). Suddenly the Doctor appears in his TARDIS! He tells Clara to come with him into The TARDIS and before he leaves with Clara, the Doctor confronts Santa and says he knows what is going on and what is at stake.

The Doctor and Clara travel to a snow base in The North Pole, and meet a team of scientists, Professor Albert Smithe (Michael Troughton, son of the late Patrick Troughton, who played The Second Doctor), Shona McCullough (Faye Marsay), Ashley Carter (Natalie Gumede), and Fiona Bellows (Maureen Beattie). The team of scientists have been on this base for awhile and are treating fellow scientists who have been taken over by aliens (similar to the face-huggers from the 1979 science fiction horror film Alien). 

The Doctor and Clara show up at the base, shortly after a small group of scientists were taken over by alien creatures called “Dream Crabs,” which the Doctor has heard of before. He tells Clara that The Dream Crabs are telepathic and if you think about them they will know where they are because they are able to view their surroundings through the optic nerves of others. He goes on to say that The Dream Crabs provide you with euphoric dreams while they eat your brain! A bunch of the face-hugger type Dream Crabs attack from the ceiling and before everyone is attacked, Santa arrives to save the day! Santa offers his assistance along with his two elves: Wolf and Ian. Clara and the Doctor both admit that they lied to each other, Clara that Danny was alive and the Doctor that he found Gallifrey.

The Doctor, Clara, Santa, Wolf, Ian and the team of scientists try to figure out a way to escape the Dream Crabs and suddenly Clara finds herself being attacked by Dream Crab Face-Huggers! Clara wakes up in bed and is greeted by Danny Pink in a Santa suit! Clara finds a chalk board where messages keep appearing! They say “Clara!!!” and “You,” “Are,” “Dying.” Clara doesn’t realize what is is going on, and we are taken back to the snow base where Clara is unconscious and being taken over by a Face-Hugger Dream Crab! The Doctor asks for Santa’s help and suddenly the Doctor shows up at Clara’s door in her dream! The Doctor convinces Clara that she is dreaming and Danny tells Clara that she is dreaming and that she needs to get on with her life and to forget about him.

Clara and the Doctor wake up and the creatures fall off their faces and die! The Doctor then realizes that none of them survived the attack and that they are all still dreaming! The Doctor then realizes why Santa has been there with them, he is the part of their sub-conscious fighting back, trying to let them know that they are dreaming! As the Doctor puts it, if you are in trouble on Christmas, who are you gonna call?! Santa Claus! 

The Doctor wakes up and takes Clara with him back to the TARDIS! Clara realizes that Santa has been with them since he appeared on her roof! The Doctor realizes that they ALL have been dreaming the entire time, the snow base, and all the people being scientists is a part of the dream! The Doctor returns to the snow base and says that they are all from different places and possibly different times!

The Doctor further proves that because there are a total of eight scientists there should be eight manuals on their base, but there are only four! The Doctor realizes that the people who were taken over by The Dream Crabs are the same team of scientists, but these are the ones whose minds have given up fighting off The Dream Crabs!

One of the scientists grabs Professor Albert through a TV and he dies! The Doctor gets everyone to imagine Santa coming to save them and Santa appears in his sleigh and flies off saving everyone! Individually the remaining team of scientists wake up in their own homes and The Dream Crabs fall off of them and die! Clara is the last to remain with Santa after the Doctor wakes up and races to find Clara!

The Doctor finds Clara is asleep, uses his sonic screwdriver on The Dream Crab and saves Clara! Clara turns over to reveal that she is much older, and that it has been sixty-two years since Clara last saw the Doctor! The Doctor is sad and regrets not having gotten there sooner, and Clara tells the Doctor that she didn’t marry anyone, even though there were a lot of proposals. The Doctor regrets not having saved Clara sooner and wishes he could change that. Suddenly Santa appears granting the Doctor’s wish, making the Doctor realize he is still dreaming! 

The Doctor wakes up on some rocks very reminiscent of the volcano from “Dark Water,” and races off in his TARDIS to save Clara! The Doctor finds Clara, uses his sonic screwdriver on The Dream Crab and removes it to find that Clara is young again! The Doctor pleads with Clara to travel with him again and she agrees and he grabs her hand and races to the TARDIS with her!

What I Liked: 

Clara and the Doctor finally admitting they lied to each other

Seeing how much the Doctor cares about Clara and you can tell he loves travelling with her.

Santa being a part of everyone’s sub-conscious, and being a key to everyone that they were dreaming. That part was awesome and I thought it was a good twist.

How the episode was basically Inception, Alien, and The Thing all rolled into one Doctor Who Christmas Special!

The idea of a monster providing you with a nice, sweet dream, while it slowly eats your brain, how horrifying!

Seeing Danny Pink return for a short time.

Being led to believe that Clara aged and this was her last time travelling with the Doctor, it was a nice misdirection.

Seeing that Clara is sticking around for awhile, I want to see her be the Doctor’s companion a little while longer.

What I Disliked:

The fact that we won’t see a new Doctor Who episode until next summer/fall, that’s not fair!

Overall I really enjoyed “Last Christmas” and am very much looking forward to Series 9 and to see what happens to the Doctor and Clara next!

What say you? Did you enjoy “Last Christmas?” Were you expecting Clara to leave in this episode? Were you disappointed that she is going to return in Series 9? Whatever your thoughts let me know!

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2 thoughts on “Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 13: “Last Christmas” Review (9/10)

  1. I thought it was okay but it was just kind of a retread of Amy’s Choice. IMO we need a whole new team of Who writers. Its not just Moffat, but so many of them have been there for years I think they are running out.

    Liked by 2 people

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