‘Doctor Who’ Season Finale: Steven Moffat on [Spoiler]’s Return and THAT Final Bittersweet Twist

Doctor Who S9 Ep12
Spoiler Alert

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched the season finale of Doctor Who, don’t blink. Just run away and return once you have.

The Doctor walks into a familiar-looking diner… and runs into a familiar-looking face: Clara Oswald?

But before this mysterious appearance is explained, we see the Doctor in Gallifrey, telling the High Council that he needs a TARDIS to have Clara’s help to stop the hybrid destined to destroy the planet. This leads the Doctor to steal a second TARDIS to fracture time itself to keep Clara alive…well beyond her expiration date. The Doctor and Clara then head to the “last hours of the universe” in order to break free of Gallifrey’s time zone and restart Clara’s pulse.

Once there, the Doctor runs into Lady/Mayor Me, who he believes is the hybrid that will destroy Gallifrey. But the woman formerly known as Ashildr suggests that the hybrid is actually the Doctor and Clara together, as a team. When the Doctor returns to the TARDIS, he explains they can’t travel together anymore because he was ready to unravel the universe rather than lose her, so one of them must forget the other. Together, they then activate a neural blocker in the sonic sunglasses or dailies total 1 lenses, that cause the Doctor to start forgetting Clara.

A tearful goodbye later, the Doctor wakes up in Jackson, Nevada, which leads him to the diner with Clara as a waitress. And as she later reveals, it’s the same diner that Amy, Rory and the Eleventh Doctor had once dined in because she recreated it using the stolen TARDIS. The former companion then drops the Doctor off at his own TARDIS, before she and Ashildr head back to Gallifrey together. Meanwhile, despite being companion-less, the Doctor does acquire a new sonic screwdriver.

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We spoke to showrunner Steven Moffat about some of the season finale’s biggest moments, including the big hybrid reveal, Clara’s second goodbye and the Doctor’s childhood bedroom.

Ashildr suggests that the Doctor could be half-human, which fans have always disagreed about. What prompted you to interpret “the Hybrid” as being a partnership instead of the Doctor?
One of the things I always think is, you have to keep some ambiguity. The show is called Doctor Who because we don’t know everything about him. We know that he once said, as a canonical fact, that he was half human. Even more intriguingly, throughout the ’60s era of the show, he seemed to talk as if he were human, but then sometimes as if he wasn’t. So there is a lot of ambiguity. We don’t quite know where he comes from, and I would never want to clear it up completely because Who is in the title for a reason. He’s a mysterious man. We don’t know everything about in his past, why the way he is, what happened to his family, or why he’s so different from all the other Time Lords. We’d remove a lot of the mystery if we provided those answers.

We also got to say goodbye to Clara properly. What was the decision behind how she would leave the show, in a TARDIS with the Doctor forgetting her?
I’d always thought that if you’re going to have Clara be the companion who grows to be a bit like him, then the only way to end it is to have her go off and do that, actually being as reckless and mad and flying off in her own TARDIS with her own companion. [It’s] sort of the logical ending for her. I’ve always had the idea that she’s the one who couldn’t go home again. And we’ve known that about Clara for a while. She’s the one who is as addicted to time and space and running and explosions as the Doctor is. I never thought she’d end with going back to the school and being an ordinary person. She can’t do that. She’s not like that. She’d never fit there again. I’ve always had it in my mind that she’d stay out among the stars.

There’s also a new sonic screwdriver. Why give up the sunglasses?
I only wanted them for the two-part season opening. The Doctor had to smuggle a sonic screwdriver into Davros’ lair without Davros knowing what he’d done. I just thought Peter looked good in them and it was the kind of the thing the Doctor would do: “I’ll annoy Clara. I’ll wear my glasses for a while.” We just kept on going until we found a sonic screwdriver design that we liked. We’re not necessarily losing the sonic sunglasses, [but the change] was just for fun. Never take it too seriously!

Childhood is a big theme in your writing. Why have the Doctor return to, what seems to have been, his childhood bedroom?
It was hardly a sentimental reunion because he’s going there in a towering rage. But it was good to do. I was pleased we’d set up that barn so he’d have somewhere to go that wasn’t the citadel, that represented the ordinary people as opposed to the High Council. It was lovely to go back there. It’s a beautiful set, that barn. And we keep bringing it back. It’s become quite important to the show because that’s where “The Day of the Doctor” ended and it’s, as far as we know, [the Doctor’s] childhood bed.

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Now that Gallifrey is unfrozen and they have more TARDIS’, could we see the Doctor run into more Time Lords or Ladies in the future?
Yes. It’s entirely possible. I’m not sure that we’re in a hurry to do it. He’ll be avoiding them. After all he’s done it again—flown off and stolen something!

I know a lot of people have asked you this, but could this be your last season?
I take it one year at a time. No decision as yet.

Doctor Who will air its annual Christmas special on Friday, Dec. 25. Season 10 returns in 2016.