Following the well-received season 7.5 premiere of Doctor Who, attention quickly turned to photos and details from the show's highly-anticipated 50th Anniversary Special. While the exact plot of that episode is still (mostly) a mystery, with plenty of room for speculation, we're getting an increasingly clearer picture of the adventures and dangers that await the Doctor and Clara throughout the remainder of season 7.
Over the course of the last few months, we've received isolated plot points and marketing materials that teased everything from submarines and ghosts to redesigned cybermen - lending insight into the stories ahead. Certain episodes have been fleshed-out with high profile buzz, such as Neil Gaiman's aforementioned "Nightmare in Silver" episode, but others have been afforded little more than a flash in the most recent Doctor Who season 7 trailer.
Now, thanks to the BBC South Africa online program schedule we have a full list of official Doctor Who season 7.5 episode blurbs - providing a sneak peek at the basic set-ups for the remaining seven episodes this season (not including the 50th Anniversary episode and 2013 Christmas Special, of course).
Before proceeding, keep in mind that the episode synopses may contain MILD to MEDIUM SPOILERS for upcoming Doctor Who episodes. If you want to get an idea of how much information is included in each synopsis, here's the respective blurb for recently aired episode 6 of season 7.5:
- The Bells of Saint John: The Doctor's search for Clara Oswald brings him to modern day London, where wifi is everywhere but something dangerous lurks in the signals.
If one or two sentences of plot setup is too much information, turn away now. Here's the full list of season 7.5 synopses - according to BBC South Africa:
- The Rings of Akhaten (April 6th 2013): The Doctor whisks Clara off to the planet Akhaten, where the inhabitants are holding a ceremony that demands a sacrifice…
- Cold War (April 13th 2013): On a damaged Russian submarine in 1983, a frozen alien warrior is waking up – just as the TARDIS materialises.
- Hide (April 20th 2013): Something terrifying is hiding in Caliburn House, and the Doctor finds himself part of the ghost hunt.
- Journey to the Centre of the Tardis (April 27th 2013): The Tardis has crashed, Clara is lost inside, and the Doctor has 30 minutes before his ship explodes!
- The Crimson Horror (May 4th 2013): Something ghastly is afoot in Victorian Yorkshire, as bodies are found with their skin a waxy, glowing red.
- Nightmare In Silver (May 11th 2013): Hedgewick’s World of Wonders: the perfect theme park day out – and ground zero for a deadly silver resurrection.
- [TBA] (May 4th 2013): Someone is kidnapping the Doctor’s friends, leading him towards the one place in all of time and space that he should never go.
The finale episode description bears interesting connections to a hint that Matt Smith provided when talking about the 50th Anniversary Special, "The thing is with Who, you will understand it more when you have seen it, but 'paintings' - that is all I am saying.” The idea of an exhibition full of the Doctor's known associates was presented in the comment section of our report on the 50th anniversary villains - as was the prospect of a return from the Great Intelligence. Both ideas could certainly fit with the storyline teased in the finale synopsis - and it'll be interesting to see what seeds Moffat might have already planted for the end of season 7 as well as the anniversary special.
That said, "the one place in all of time and space that he should never go" coupled with prior comments from Moffat that the Doctor's "biggest secret will be revealed" and "the first question will be answered," could very well mean a trip to Trenzalore. Trenzalore is prophesied to coincide with the "fall of the eleventh" and Smith has yet to officially confirm that he'll be the Doctor for season 8. However, recent reports continue to suggest that the actor is taking it year by year - meaning that even if he does visit Trenzalore, the event might merely kick-off the eleventh Doctor's "fall" (which could be played-out in a subsequent season 8 arc or, less likely, conclude after the 50th anniversary and christmas specials).
Cliffhanger teases occur regularly on Doctor Who, hinting at the future direction of the series, but Moffat has repeatedly positioned the upcoming anniversary special as a jumping off point for the future of Doctor Who, and claims that he's being especially careful not to alienate viewers who might be newer to Who:
“The show must be seen to be going forward. It’s all about the next 50 years, not about the last 50 years. If you start thinking it’s all about nostalgia, then you’re finished. It’s about moving forward. The Doctor is moving forward, as he always does. He wants to solve the mystery of Clara. He’s not thinking about all his previous incarnations and all his previous adventures.”
BBC has made similar assertions in the past - championing the 50th anniversary as great opportunity to bring new viewers onboard. As a result, if the episode shares too many connections with a season 7.5 story of Trenzalore, the network might undercut the approachability of the episode - by bogging down potential Whovians with a multifaceted backstory (not to mention the beginning of the end for a character they are just meeting). After all, Moffat has become keenly aware of drawn-out puzzles - promising that mystery of "the girl twice dead" will be solved by the season 7 finale. As a result, while a trip to Trenzalore is possible at the end of season 7, it's hard to know exactly how soon the Doctor will have to deal with the subsequent fallout (and eventual "fall").
Nevertheless, rumors continue to persist regarding a title for the finale episode - and one especially spoilery (but entirely unsubstantiated) possibility has cropped up. Consider the next piece of information a potential MAJOR SPOILER for the season 7 finale. It's entirely baseless rumor at this point but, until we know for sure, proceed with caution.
In their report, Bleeding Cool asserts that the finale episode could be titled "The Funeral Of River Song" - though they fully admit the title is strictly speculation. Since then, other outlets have been presenting the title as official but, for now, take those reports with a major grain of salt. While it's unclear what further adventures await River, prior to her destiny in "Silence in the Library," we do know that actress Alex Kingston is set to appear in the episode. That said, "The Wedding of River Song" featured hasty nuptials, the majority of the episode was dedicated to other story lines, and it's certainly possible that a "Funeral of River Song" title, if it's even accurate, could merely represent one element of a much larger plot - not a definitive goodbye to the character.
As mentioned, along with kidnapping the Doctor's friends, the finale is also supposed to shed light on the Clara mystery - as well as reveal the Doctor's biggest secret, meaning Moffat could be juggling several key emotional arcs in the final stretch of season 7 (especially if there is a significant connection to the anniversary special). It's great to have a peek at the setups for upcoming episodes but there's little that we can say with absolute certainty.
We’ll keep you updated as more details surface. In the meantime, check out our Doctor Who Viewing Guide: Tips, Suggestions & Complete Episode List!
Doctor Who airs Saturday @8pm on BBC America. The 50th Anniversary Special is set to air in 2013.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future updates on Doctor Who as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.
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