‘Doctor Who’ Season 7, Episode 7 Review – The Most Important Leaf

Published 2 years ago by , Updated April 13th, 2013 at 7:55 pm,

doctor who season 7 episode 7 Doctor Who Season 7, Episode 7 Review   The Most Important Leaf

Fresh off the Doctor Who season 7.5 premiere, this week’s episode, “The Rings of Akhaten,” written by Luther creator Neil Cross, finds the Doctor facing off against an old god in an unbelievably magical and wondrous adventure with his new companion, Clara.

When Clara tells the Doctor to show her something “awesome” by using the powers of the TARDIS, the duo end up on the planet Akhaten in time for the Festival of Offerings – a ceremony by which the Queen of Years sings the old god asleep for another 1,000 years as it feasts on their sentimental offerings. But when the ceremony doesn’t go as planned and the old god begins to awaken, the Doctor goes head-to-head with creature calling itself a god, and Clara finds out the power of the most important leaf in human history.

In almost every way, “The Rings of Akhaten” feels more like a proper introduction to the character of Clara than last week’s premiere, so much so that whatever familiar feeling of scale and wonder that “The Bells of Saint John” lacked – even if it was only slightly – is made up for tenfold in Cross’ first outing with the franchise. There was, however, a bit of doubt initially.

doctor who season 7 episode 8 clara Doctor Who Season 7, Episode 7 Review   The Most Important Leaf

After the Doctor and Clara first set off on this week’s adventure and made it to the planet, there was a bit of a feeling that this episode would spend a tad too much time lingering before getting to the actual plot. True, this issue happened more with Davies at the reigns than Moffat, but many longtime fans might still feel the itch with an introduction that takes up almost the first half of the episode’s entire runtime. That is, until the singing starts.

As one should have expected, Cross’ lengthy beginning to his first episode was as calculated as any episode of his own hit show. While it’s true that Clara’s adventures at the market or with Mary, the Queen of Years, didn’t really help to build the sense of a complete world, it does make you feel familiar enough to sit back and enjoy their memento-filled musical offerings, of which there were multiple, each one more moving than the last. And then the Doctor, in all his glory, delivers a monologue so passionate that fans now have a small sense of the tearful heartbreak that will come when Matt Smith eventually exits the role. Still, the Doctor was not enough for the god.

doctor who season 7 episode 7 clara doctor Doctor Who Season 7, Episode 7 Review   The Most Important Leaf

When the god had consumed all of the Doctor’s memories, leaving him weak (but still with his memory), it was up to one silly girl, Clara, with humanity’s most important leaf, to save the day. This ending does, however, get a bit clouded with talk of infinite futures and infinite moments. Still, at this point in the episode, any explanation as to why the leaf worked was welcome, and the fact that a beautiful story about Clara parents was told made its inclusion more than worth it.

Now two episodes in to Clara’s 8-episode storyline – after which all will be revealed - there has yet to be any real progress in her story (or mystery). But if Doctor Who has taught its fans anything, it’s that it only takes one episode to provide an explanation more amazing than we could have ever imagined. And if this episode is any sign of what’s to come, there’s no doubt that the story of Clara, “The Girl Who Twice Died,” will be as rewarding as this week’s welcomed television gem.

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Doctor Who returns next Saturday with “Cold War” @8pm on BBC America.

Follow Anthony Ocasio on Twitter @anthonyocasio
TAGS: Doctor who
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  1. Love Doctor Who,just wish Tennant would be still in it ! :)

  2. I loved this episode and it really struck me how much the Doctor has changed since losing the Ponds. It will break my heart, but I think I need to start preparing mentally and emotionally for the loss of the 11th Doctor.

  3. Better IMO than the previous episode, and would have been a better introduction to Clara.

  4. I was a little worried for a moment there that the Doctor might lose some of his memories. Whew!

  5. So far, two episodes in this season, Doctor Who has lost me. I’m not a fan of Smith’s portrayal, I don’t like Clara and the “mystery” feels contrived. The Doctor should have lost his memories if he “gave” them to the alien, and really, a leaf defeats a star sized creature? I’m also tired of metaphysical solutions to problems on the show.

    I’ll probably hang in there just because it’s Doctor Who, but I’m just not liking it any more.

    • Oh, and I forgot to mention the sophomoric erection-shaped alien breathing device Clada kept stealing glances at. Oh yeah, SO funny!

      Made me feel like I was watching an American TV show.

    • Totally agreed. Can we just have a normal story with a normal ending and not something with unnecessarily bombastic music and ridiculously contrived ‘emotional’ climaxes. This season has lost its sincerity- even the way the Doctor and the companion talk to each other is rather self-aware, like they know they’re supposed to be all bubbly, witty, with stolen glances and hidden smiles galore. I much preferred Clara’s character before this season’s Clara- here she seems all too immediately comfortable with her mind-boggling new surroundings. Recall Rose’s wide-eyed amazement- totally believable. Matt Smith’s Doctor is starting to become a caricature of his previous excellent depiction (imo)- he’s just swinging from one cliched Doctor-y persona to another: from unflappable to smarmy to jarringly emotional, but it’s all falling rather flat. To be honest I think a lot of this is down to the direction- the script itself was hardly great but could be interpreted much more convincingly, with actual heart, and not with the emotion by numbers approach DW is increasingly taking these days.

      Also… that star imploding would surely have wrecked Akhaton’s ecosystem. But no matter, the Tardis just buzzes off without having to deal with any of that stuff.

      On a vaguely brighter note, the next episode ‘seems’ like it’ll be a more grounded and relatable story. Here’s hoping.

      • I found it odd that the star system held together after the star “imploded”. I imagine a planet-sized entity would generate quite a bit of gravity – hence the impressive the orbiting debris field. Once the parasite disappeared, the orbiting debris should have flown away tangentially. It’s Doctor Who: I’ll add this to the growing list of things to ignore in order to continue buying in its universe.

    • I partially agree. I do like Smith’s Doctor, but I feel that in recent episodes he’s become a lot more exaggerated and flamboyant in a bad way (and to some degree Tennant suffered from this as well in later seasons). He needs to tone it down a little.

      Plot holes in Doctor Who don’t bother me as much, but even that aside the story was still weak. Rather than making the weird sun-god-monster feel like a mystery, it felt like a contrivance – compare it to ‘The Satan’s Pit’ where the monster, despite being unexplained and an apparent confirmation of a religious sort of belief/myth, it felt like a mystery and when it was beaten it was a great climax. This one falls much shorter.

      I wouldn’t say the series has ‘lost’ me, but something about the way Moffat is trying to run the episodes doesn’t seem right. I think there’s too much style and not enough substance – as though each standalone episode’s just for the sake of the title and the cool-looking poster rather than the story. Bring back the two-parters!

    • It bugs me when people dissmiss DW out of hand, I usually see good things in some of the silliest episodes, but this episode was awful! It was an embarrassment. I know someone who played one of the three gasmask/goggle guys (They were so pointless I don’t even know what they’re called), and I feel sorry because he probably spent hours in that costume for something that turned out to be useless.

      The script was terrible. I know DW is firmly aimed at the kiddywinks now, but it really is at the expense of adult fans and just good drama.

      (He was the one on the right at the end apparently.

      • (IMO) inb4 the hate (^-^)

    • I’m disappointed with this new season with Clara as well. The stories seem so pat and Clara is a bit too cheeky for my tastes. She’s as cute as a button, of course but, as a fellow Whovian said (who was never a fan of Amelia Pond), she’s enough to make one miss Amy Pond! While it’s hard to ever live up to David Tennant’s brilliant portrayal of the Doctor, I first found the Doctor through Matt Smith. Unfortunately, I’m liking him less this season. I hope things improve soon. I’ll just have to wait it through…

  6. A god with an Egyptian name, studio based aliens, and dramatic speeches. Thank you Mr Moffat for the Tom Baker era inspired episode. Even including a reference to Creature From The Pit

  7. so far, Clara is now my favorite companion, Rose #2, Amy #3. The Leaf thing was genius, this episode actually surprised me, the trailers kinda looked way too out there for me, just as I found most interplanetary episodes, (Gridlocked, The Long Game, Midnight), but I loved this one! The scene where The Doctor explained his memories almost brought me to tears, another amazing performance from Matt, and Clara’s courage in the episode was phenomenal character-building. The next episode looks great too. Can’t wait to find out what the hell is up with Clara! Best mystery yet! Personally, it’s the only one I haven’t been able to crack almost right off the bat. 2,3,4 and 6 were really easy for me to get, and like 1 and 5, this season has been really ambiguous, and I love that! Love how this is shaping up, and I was tired of the whole “DARK” approach, it was exhausting. Here’s to more Blockbuster episodes! And as a note to Anthony Ocasio; shes known as “The Woman Twice Dead”, not “The Girl who Twice Died”, that just sounds silly.

  8. Really? A Leaf? The singing was so contrived…I felt like I was in a Disney ride! I was exhausted just trying to decipher the Doctor’s monologue. I want to give it another chance, but this entire season is wearing me thin. As to it being a nod to the Baker yrs… Huh? I also have to say it’s hard to accept Clara 100% without knowing what happened to River.

    • I know what you mean about River. It’s strange to see the Doctor flirting with Oswin.

      This brings up something that’s been bothering me about River’s story line. I know the Doctor is moving forward through time, so by this point River has already been “saved” by Doctor 10, but the Doctor 11 didn’t recognize River when he first met her. What? We just saw Doctor 11 feed a giant parasite all his memories collected over his 1000 years of life. That makes no sense, but whatever, it’s Doctor Who, let’s move on to my main point. Now that Doctor 11 has been properly informed of River’s identity, and has been (apparently) spending nights together, it’s really strange to see the Doctor hanging out with these young tarts. The mystery of the girl twice dead is interesting, but I wanna know what the heck Moffat’s been smoking if he thinks I’m going to forget River.

  9. Hope they get better.

  10. The ending was a bit silly but it was still far better than defeating aliens with actual love which has happened several times before. At least this kind of had an explanation. Also, it’s impossible to hate an episode inspired by the Cthulhu mythos.

  11. Seems like Neil Cross love the 4th Doctor’s era.

  12. And why didn’t the TARDIS universal translator work for Oswin? Moffat, are you paying attention? Pull it together.

    • Yeah, that was shoddy.

      • I’m thinking some of you guys commenting on here need a universal translator to understand the crap you’re having to watch with this new season.

        • For those longterm DW fans who’ve been paying attention, a heckuva a lot of loose ends seem to have piled up during Doctor 11′s tenure. And we’re not talking about polar bears on LOST, we’re talking about huge loose ends like River Song.

          • That’s why I stopped watching it after the first two episodes under Smith and this new writer, the writing and acting seemed horrendous and from what I’ve read since, not a patch on the Moffat era.

  13. Something interesting I picked up on, the date of Clara’s mother’s death (5th March 2005) was the same day that the Autons attacked London in “Rose.” Coincidence?

  14. I actually liked this episode. It’s still a long way away from the awesomeness that was the 10th Doctor’s time, but this episode was loads of fun. A proper, blockbuster sci-fi episode.

    Even though I haven’t been a fan of Matt Smith as the Doctor, I’ve been liking his performance more and more since the last Christmas special – and in this new episode where he offers the god his soul/stories/memories, he rocked it. Seriously, the scene where he tells the god about everything he’s done and seen (and that little tear rolls down his face), it was amazing. One of the best Doctor-moments I can think of in recent years.

    …The singing was kinda lame though.

    • Smith’s mouthing off to the parasite was him at his finest. I want more of this from Smith. Now that we know he’s got this in him, it comes down to storytelling: will Smith be given more to work with moving forward?

      The singing was definitely uninspired. No wonder the parasite was angry; they had years to practice the song, and that’s the best they could do?

      BTW, what was the deal with the vampire? What was his role? If he had eaten the girl like he was supposed to (I think), how would that have changed the outcome? Why was the vampire inside the glass box? How did the vampire survive without eating? Where did the trio of sonic beings clad in black go? And where did they come from? And why were they searching for the Queen of Years at the show’s beginning? Were they working with the “red robes” to ensure the queen played her part? It’s all very confusing.

  15. Im sorry, but despite its popularity and likeable lead characters, the show as a whole has just lost itself.

    Too frantic and chaotic, there’s no flow or continuity at times to the storytelling. Just as things get interesting or involving, an epic chase sequence interrupts, lots of running, lots of heavy soundtrack, but no real excitement. Any sense of threat or danger is diluted everytime as the Doctor resolves it so quickly, and then starts rabbling on about things completely different to the story.

    I agree with many that it would be a relief, to have a more linear, straightforward , focused storyline – where the two heroes arrive, face a dilemma and then solve it. A more basic narrative structure would allow the viewer to actually digest and understand what is actually going on.

    The show is just becoming unwatchable at the moment like they’re making it up as they go along.

  16. The Doctor (to the creature): Oh you like to think you’re a god. But you’re not a god, you’re just a parasite. Eat now, the jealousy and envy and longing for the lives of others. You feed on them. On the memory of love and loss and birth and death and joy and sorrow. So…so. Come on, then. Take mine.

    Take my memories, but I hope you’ve got a big appetite because I have lived a long life and I have seen a few things. I walked away from the last great time war. I marked the passing of the Time Lords. I saw the birth of the universe and I watched as time ran out moment by moment until nothing remained. No time, no space, just me!

    I walked in universes where the laws of physics were devised by the mind of a mad man. I’ve watched universes freeze at creation’s birth. I have seen things you wouldn’t believe. I have lost things you will never understand. And I know things. Secrets that must never be told, knowledge that must never be spoken. Knowledge that will make parasite gods blaze!

    So come on, then! Take it! Take it all, baby! Have it! You have it all!

  17. I feel like everyone is already jumping to all sorts of conclusions on only the first few episodes of this part. I think we just have to ride out through all this until we get to the real point. Everything will make sense in the end, People, you just need to be a little more patient.

  18. This episode , while not bad , felt like kinda a filler. I do think some of the spark from the series left with Ameila and Rory . I like Claria alot but, it just feels like something is lacking. It may be because we’ve gone from Pond the sort of naughty/bad girl to the good wholesome girl Claria, and as a result, the tension that was there before between the Doctor and his companions is gone.