11 Episodes of the Eleventh Doctor: Closing Time

#6 Closing Time written by Gareth Roberts

I thoroughly enjoy both Craig Owens stories written by Gareth Roberts, including season 5.11, The Lodger. In Closing Time, the 12th episode of season 6, we meet back up with Craig as the Doctor makes his rounds and says goodbye to his friends before heading to meet his impending death at Lake Silencio. The friendship between Craig and the Doctor closely resembles that of two ordinary mates who enjoy each other’s company and simply stumble into otherworldy trouble because that is what life is like when you are friends with the Doctor. Craig has since had a child with his longtime crush, Sophie and when the Doctor arrives on his doorstep, Craig is watching their son, Alfie, while Sophie has a ladies weekend at the spa. Just when Craig begins to think that he will never learn how to be a good dad, the Doctor shows up on his doorstep and hilarity/alien conquering/parenting 101 ensues.

Craig Owens and the Doctor.
Craig Owens and the Doctor.

The premise of this episode begins with the Doctor visiting Craig and the new baby and ends with an unfortunate run-in with the Cybermen. The Doctor, who suspects something suspicious when the lights start to flicker, gets a job in a shop with a name tag (in case he forgets) and coworkers to dish with, and is quickly on the case of the missing shop clerk and the flickering lights. As we know from previous episodes, the Doctor can speak baby, and much of the comedy in this episode comes from Eleven conversing with Alfie aka Stormegeddon, Dark Lord of All (as the baby wants to be addressed). Watching these boys bumble around with a baby is adorable and so it seems the Doctor has two companions in this episode, Craig and Stormy. The Doctor interacting with the folks in the shop is entertaining, because they of course LOVE him (doesn’t everybody?) but have no idea who he is PLUS  everyone thinks he and Craig are gay life partners with a child. The writers built up the slash vibe in this episode, creating a funny miscommunication that causes the shop workers to make the assumption that the Doctor and Craig are ‘partners’ (instead of ‘companions’), lovers instead of just friends.

The Doctor being domestic with Craig.

This episode is filled with not only excitement of an alien invasion but those painful Doctor Who feels. Audiences realize that this is the end for the Doctor and he is on a farewell tour, much like Ten took when he knew he was regenerating, and so the domesticity of this episode feels very bittersweet. Eleven has come to earth to say goodbye to his friends, we don’t know who else besides Craig, and we find out he apparently hasn’t seen the Ponds yet. While the Doctor is investigating, he spots Amy and Rory and doesn’t know what to do. It is a strange and sad scene; the Doctor sees a young girl stop Amy for an autograph in the perfume section in the store and at first he smiles excitedly, but then seems to change his mind and he ducks behind a clothes rack. The act reminds us that he has left Rory and Amy so that they might live through the experience of being his companions. So many people the Doctor loved have died or forgotten him, and he cannot bare that fate for the Ponds and so he left them because he knew they would never leave him. This is just the beginning of a theme that runs through season 7, in which the Doctor, against his better judgement (and theirs), begins traveling with the Ponds again.

The title and byline of her perfume get me right in the Pond feels.

The  Amy and Rory sighting is a somber moment in a very funny episode, and it reminds us where the Doctor is really going–to his death. This episode infers that there is quite a bit of time between this episode and the previous one, which ended with the Doctor dropping Amy and Rory off at a house he seemed to have acquired for them, so as not to see them die. It is a sad day when the Doctor stops running to visit old friends, to say goodbye and to save the Earth one last time, but it is telling that he won’t bother the Ponds by even saying hello at the shop. He doesn’t want to involve him in the current danger, yet he will invite them, later, to be there at his side at Lake Silencio. That’s how much they mean to him.

The Doctor gets ready to visit America.
The Doctor on his way to America.

Luckily, this somber plot point is couched inbetween some really great comedic timing between Matt Smith and James Corden. It seems these two actors have a true friendship off camera, and it definitely shows on screen in the easy banter and camaraderie. When the Doctor and Craig at last go up against the Cyberman in the shop, all it takes is a father’s love and a true bond of friendship to defeat the aliens who cannot understand the power of emotion. While this episode is all gay jokes and silly humor, the plot points of the Silence, River Song and the Doctor’s death strengthen the overarching theme and prepare audiences for the finale of season 6 as well as foreshadow the themes of season 7. This is one of my favorite episodes because it does what a superb Doctor Who episode must–it makes us laugh, makes us want to cry and frightens us in the way only a creepy Doctor Who villain can. While the Cybermen make a comeback in this episode (it is their first since Revenge of the Cybermen, a 1975 fourth Doctor story) it is the Silence who terrify as we find out at they have been controlling River Song the entire time. The religious order has erased her memory time and time again, eventually using Madame Kavorian to prepare River to kill the Doctor. It is a dramatic pre-finale reveal and the perfect ending to a great episode.

But we all know the Doctor doesn’t die at Lake Silencio.

You are cordially invited to Eleven’s regeneration, coming to a Christmas 2013 near you…

AND because this is simply perfection.

James and Matt mess around

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