The Doctor is driving through a very CGIed Nevada desert and stops at a diner in the middle of nowhere. The only person inside is a waitress, who is Clara for some reason. Clara! He plays her sad a tune on his guitar and says it’s called “Clara” and she’s like “Neat, who’s she?” WHAT COULD IT MEAN???
Cut back to Gallifrey, where we ended up last week after the whole diamond wall punchathon. The Doctor is walking through a slightly less CGIed desert, heading toward an old shack where he camps out with the old lady who owns the place while the Time Lord President and his cronies wring their hands about what to do about him. They send envoys of important people to say hello and drag the Doctor back to the capitol but the Doctor is like
Finally one of the space priestesses we saw in the first episode of this season (back when that snake guy was visiting various space haunts trying to deliver Davros’s message) is like “You dummy, you are the only person on Gallifrey who the Doctor is pissed at and you’re going to have to go your damn self.”
So Mr. President takes a backup squad of soldiers to have a little chat with the Doctor. He tries to shake hands but the Doctor is like “Hell no, get your stupid face off my planet.” Mr. President is like “Oh yeah I mean sorry about that whole trapping you in a spooky castle for 80 billion years thing but tbh if you had just told us about the hybrid you could have gotten out of there in 1 day.” But the Doctor is not impressed by this pseudo-apology so Mr. President orders his soldiers to shoot him.
They all fire at him but we cut to commercial because apparently Doctor death fakeouts are the main recurring theme of this season. But I bet this one is for real and the next hour of the episode will be about Mr. President and his everyday duties governing Gallifrey!
When we return, we are forced to hang on that massive cliff for a bit longer as we take a trip back to the diner with not-Clara. The Doctor is in the middle of telling her the story of his trip to Gallifrey except he tells it in slightly more Earthy terms (he was about to be executed by a gang boss). She’s like “Wowowowowow what a crazy story!” maybe because as a waitress at an empty diner it is her job to be nice to crazy old men.
So back to Gallifrey, where the side of the shack is littered with bullet holes in the outline of the Doctor because the soldiers were not really down with killing the guy who saved their whole planet just because Mr. President put on his cranky pants this morning. One by one they all drop their guns and stand by the Doctor behind a literal line in the sand that the Doctor drew with his foot. And then the Doctor uses his sunglasses to summon a bunch of flying space tanks to take them back to the capitol while Mr. President shouts impotently about how cool and important he is. Even his right hand man, who I will call Baldy for lack of a better descriptor, bounces.
Back in the fancy boardroom inside the capitol the Doctor asks the Time Lord head honchos whytf they didn’t just ask him about the hybrid in a normal way instead of kidnapping and torturing him. They’re like “Cause the hybrid super dangerous and scary, probably? And we only just now became worried about it for what I am sure are totally valid reasons?” All they really know is that Time Lord prophecies say that a creature crossbred from two enemy races will destroy Gallifrey and kill billions of people to heal itself. Or something. Last week the Doctor told the audience that he is the hybrid so he’s having fun fucking with everybody here. He says that he’ll try to protect them but first he needs to use some fancy Time Lord technology to talk to an old friend. Which one?
Nope! It’s Clara of course. He uses a Time Lord machine to pop back to Diagon Alley and catches her right as the raven’s pointy beak is about to enter her chest and is like “What up sisterfriend! Get away from that bird and come with me!” She follows him into a very white room where Baldy and some guards are hanging out. She’s like “WTH is going on, where am I, and who is this bald guy?” The Doctor isn’t feeling very loquacious at the moment though, and lets Baldy explain that she’s currently frozen in the last moment of her time stream in the moment before her final heartbeat and she can only stay for a few minutes. He thinks the Doctor is going to ask her questions about the hybrid, but surprise! Instead he punches Baldy’s face and steals his gun and is like “I’M GONNA KEEP HER AND YOU’RE GOING TO GIVE ME A PIECE OF TIME LORD TECHNOLOGY I NEED TO SAVE HER!” Baldy is like “Nah, bro” and Clara is like “Hey, I’m still cool with dying, please don’t start shooting people, honestly I’m fine,” but the Doctor doesn’t give a fuck and shoots Baldy in the chest.
Clara is like “I have escalated from WTH to WTF. You just murdered a dude when I told you explicitly not to!” The Doctor explains that Baldy will regenerate, so it’s really nbd. The Doctor’s regenerations have gotten increasingly long and grandiose over the years (Christopher Eccleston’s was pretty brief but Matt Smith’s felt like it took two hours) but Baldy regenerates in like 2 seconds and needs no recovery time before getting up and back to business. BTW he has changed from a white man to a black lady which says wonderful things for potential future Doctor castings and also she is still bald so I can keep the nickname.
She tries to figure out where the Doctor might have gone with Clara, and Space Priestess rolls up with her space priestess buddies and is like “The Doctor is probs in the Cloisters because he’s such a weirdo that he likes to hang out in literal Time Lord hell.”
And she’s right! The cloisters are a kind of spooky techno cave with these things called “Cloister Wraiths” which seem to be roboty things wearing Time Lord robes that have holographic screaming faces and glide around doing nothing. And apparently the place is basically Gallifrey’s answer to the Fire Swamp because nobody can get out once they go in. There are fun old friends like Daleks and Weeping Angels and Cybermen there, but they’re covered in fiberoptic cables that keep them from murdering folks. Clara is not too thrilled by this choice of escape route but the Doctor is like
He says there’s supposed to be a secret exit somewhere and they eventually wander to a place where there’s a circular Time Lordy marking on the floor. The Doctor tells Clara a story about a Time Lord teen who got lost in the Cloisters for four days but he turned up one day on a random part of the planet claiming the Cloister Wraiths told him how to escape but he went slightly insane in the process and Clara figures out pretty much immediately that he’s talking about himself. While he inspects the markings and tries to figure out the secret code Clara tries to get him to tell her how long those asshole Time Lords kept him in his confession dial but he’s like “Don’t worry about it.”
While they were talking, Baldy and her team figured out where in the Cloisters they were and popped down on the elevator to catch the Doctor (don’t ask me why it’s so hard to escape when there are apparently multiple elevators that the Doctor could presumably sonic open; I’m just a recapper). Clara is like “STAND THE FUCK BACK AND ALSO TELL ME HOW LONG HE WAS IN THAT DIAL, DICKBAGS!” Space Priestess says it was 4.5 billion years and Clara turns to the Doctor and is like “WHAT KIND OF DUMMY ARE YOU TO STAY IN A TORTURE CHAMBER FOR 4.5 BILLION YEARS?!?!?!?” He says he had a duty to protect her and she’s like “Bro, my time is up but we should have a serious conversation right now.” We don’t get to hear what they say possibly because it is an “end of Lost In Translation” thing or possibly because they’re going to show it to us at the end of the episode to make us cry.
After they have their moment Clara gets up and starts yelling at Baldy about how much everybody in the universe hates the Time Lords, and how she hates the Time Lords more than anybody because they are assholes. Baldy is like “Whatever, what did you say to the Doctor just now? Even though I was standing like three feet away from you guys I couldn’t hear it.” She’s like “Private stuff mostly, but also that I would distract you idiots while he opens the secret door and steals himself another TARDIS!” And at that moment a very boring grey tubey looking TARDIS appears around Clara and she is like “Smell ya later!”
Before they can take off, Space Priestess is like “OH NO YOU DON’T! GET OUT HERE AND FACE ME YOU LITTLE PUNK!” The Doctor pops his head out and is like “Whaaaaat?” and she says that he’s gone too far, he’s broken all his rules, it’s dumb to give Clara hope that she can live, etc etc. But he’s like
and they TARDIS away.
At first Clara is all excited and the Doctor is very manic, saying that she should have a heartbeat now and they’re going to go on more adventures. But oops! Clara still has no pulse, and she suggests once again that maybe she just needs to die. But the Doctor is like “No way, we’ll just go to literally the very end of the universe and then you’ll break free of this weird Gallifrey magic!” They stop and there are four knocks on the TARDIS door. WHO COULD IT BE?
For a second I was actually super convinced that it was going to be Orson Pink since they were supposedly literally at the end of the universe in that episode and also they never explained how Orson Pink could have existed since Danny died childless, but nope, that plothole continues to be unfilled because the Doctor goes outside and finds Arya Stark chilling on an easy chair, watching the stars die during the last five minutes of the universe.
They have a long conversation about the hybrid where the Doctor claims that Arya is the hybrid because of the immortality chip and Arya claims that the combination of the Doctor and Clara is the two-person hybrid because they’re so dangerous together that the Doctor will rip apart time and space just to save her. He’s like “I know I crossed the line a teensy bit and so I’m taking her back to Earth and wiping her memory Donna Noble style so the universe will be safe from us.” Clara of course used the sonic sunglasses to eavesdrop on this and she is like
The Doctor tells Arya that he’s going to at least share this shitty plan with Clara before he does it and they head back to the TARDIS.
Clara tries to pretend she wasn’t listening for like two seconds but then gives up and admits that not only did she hear everything, but she also attempted to use the sunglasses to reverse the polarity on the memory erasing thingy the Doctor was going to use on her. They have a long argument about whether the Doctor has the right to erase her memories and eventually they agree that they’ll press the button on it together since they don’t really know who it will work on at this point, because one of them has to go so the universe won’t be in danger of the power of their friendship. Or something.
It ends up working on the Doctor and as the memory erasing starts he gives her a bunch of last minute advice like “Don’t eat pears” and Clara cries and tbh it’s a bit of an anticlimax compared to Clara’s death but it’s still sad.
Once he’s out completely, Clara dumps him in the desert on Earth and he wakes up with no memory of her. And we head back to the diner where the Doctor is like “I know she existed because the holes in my memory tell a story and I know we did all these different things together and she said something really important to me in the Cloisters but I have no idea whotf she was or what she looked like or anything. Frowny face!”
Clara is like “LOL I could be her for all you know” but the Doctor says that if he saw her again he would know her immediately. Luckily he turns around in that moment because poor Clara starts to cry while the Doctor is like “I’m p. sure I came to this diner with Clara at some point. Oh shit no, that was Amy and Rory on the day that River Song put on a spacesuit and murdered me lololol!” He starts playing his sad song again and she tells him that maybe he’ll find his TARDIS soon and while he’s not looking she opens the bathroom door to reveal that the diner is actually the newly-stolen TARDIS. Arya Stark is still in there (I forgot she must have been awkwardly standing there when the Doctor and Clara were arguing about the memory wipe!) and they power up the engines. The diner disappears around the Doctor when they fly away and he looks around and sees his own TARDIS, still with Rigsy’s painted flowers on it.
Meanwhile Arya tells Clara that she can’t figure out the chameleon circuit so much like the Doctor’s TARDIS is a police box forever, this TARDIS is a diner forever which seems like it’s going to be much harder to work with but whatevs. Clara says that her death is a fixed point in time so she’ll have to go back to Gallifrey and have them put her right back at the raven’s beak, but in the meantime she doesn’t see why she can’t milk her last heartbeat for a while. So she and Arya are going to fly off and have a bunch of adventures until Clara’s ready to die for real and you know, I would definitely watch that show!
The Doctor walks up to the TARDIS and sees the picture of Clara on it that Rigsy painted and hopefully connects some dots about that charming waitress. He goes inside and sees that Clara has left him his nice velvet coat on a hook next to a chalkboard on which she has written “Run you clever boy, and be a Doctor.” And the TARDIS spontaneously produces a new sonic screwdriver that flies into his hands THANK GOD. This is the best ending we could have possibly hoped for!