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Moral of the story

If you're an elderly person confined to a wheelchair or a recently-jilted woman alone on Christmas, the happiest dream you can imagine is being marooned in an arctic base that's crawling with alien facehuggers.


Spoilers!

"Last Christmas" was okay. I loved the overall conflict with the Dream Crabs and the multiple layers of dreams (no, I haven't seen Inception, so this was all very original to me), but the inconsistencies, such as the one above, really detracted from the suspension of disbelief. Santa and his elves were hilarious, and I'm glad that they didn't turn out to be concrete inhabitants of the DW universe. The pacing was still off. Really, the whole "slow, plodding monsters" and "long, close-up shots of people looking terrified" is not riveting and getting really old. So is the "Don't look/think/blink/breathe" mechanic of defeating monsters.

Despite my dislike of Clara and Danny, I loved the scene where they lived a happy life. And then reality started intruding and Clara rejected it, which was great. Then the Doctor appeared and she couldn't reject it, and then suddenly Danny becomes sentient, telling her it's all a dream and instructing her on how to move on with her life. Ruined again.

I think the most disappointing part was the ending. First, the sleigh ride, which made me feel like they were trying to inject the boyish wonder into the Doctor that they tried so hard to tear from him during this entire season. It felt so off to me, since this Doctor has consistently rejected the "I'm going to go explore the universe" attitude all of his previous incarnations had, in favor of "I'm going to go beg Clara to go on an adventure." Then, the old Clara scene. That was beautiful, showing that she had a good life, moving on from the Doctor and doing her own thing, a gorgeous resolution for a companion... and they threw it away in favor of a happy-happy joy-joy, everyone's-great-friends-again reunion in the TARDIS. To be completely honest, it doesn't matter to me that Clara's returning (I don't want her to, but I'm not considering that in my opinion about this). It bothers me that they ended this episode on a trite, feel-good note - so very Moffat.

Final judgment: A good enough episode. Better than much of Series 8, at least.

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
shyfoxling
Dec. 28th, 2014 09:35 am (UTC)
I agree about better than much of S8.

Despite my dislike of Clara and Danny, I loved the scene where they lived a happy life.

This whole bit was so much more convincing for me than the whole rest of the series. The physical chemistry still wasn't quite there for me, but I believed affection, even love, and that there had been backstory leading up to that (in defiance of what we had actually seen on screen, heh). Where was that writing and direction all series, I wants to know?
shivver13
Dec. 28th, 2014 11:17 pm (UTC)
One of the biggest problems I had with Danny and Clara through s8 was that they were on the first date one episode, then a couple of episodes later, they would say, "I love you!" and I was like, "When did that happen?" And it was just a throwaway "I love you", too. Like you said, the affection in "Last Christmas" really felt solid for the first time.
flowsoffire
Dec. 28th, 2014 09:42 pm (UTC)
Also quite liked it, much better than I expected. I went in with no particular expectations and was pretty nicely entertained. I agree that Clara's old-woman ending was a very good resolution… and they were a lot too quick to dismiss it for "oh yay, I'm young again, let's run off and travel right now!!". That bit was definitely rushed; they wanted young Clara back, fine, but don't do that kind of character development thing and toss it away in five seconds, just don't. The rest didn't have any glaring flaws that really made me react—it might not have been perfect, but it was nice.

Oh, but of course, some things don't feel very new. Girl has to face a happy couple life dream reality and figure out if it's a dream, girl kind of prefers dying in the dream rather than living in a real world where her boyfriend is dead—sounds familiar? Recurring themes are a thing…
shivver13
Dec. 28th, 2014 11:24 pm (UTC)
There was a rumor (printed in one of the British rags - Daily Mail? The Mirror?) before the episode aired that Jenna had chosen to return, and the article said that they had to redo the end of the Christmas special to accommodate. If that's true, I can really see what they did - changed the "Old Clara" scene to break off, and then tacked on the final "we're all happy" scene.

I'm not so unhappy about it being a recurring theme, but then I didn't realize it was one. I guess to be truthful, it only bugs me when I notice that it's a recurring theme (and it's handled worse than its previous attempt). That's probably more of a reflection on me than it is on them, though.
flowsoffire
Dec. 29th, 2014 07:27 am (UTC)
That would actually be quite believable given the episode—and quite rubbish for the crew. =P But then again, maybe they just got a hint about what the end of the episode was and made assumptions from that because it seemed like a weird turn-around. Idk. XD

Yes, I agree—the thing is, it needs to be decently handled. If you're like "we've seen this before, duh", it's obviously bad—it needs to be subtler…
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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