Doctor Who tackles an uneasy question this Christmas – is Santa Claus real? But don’t worry too much… it seems there’s a very good reason for this.
The last time we saw Clara and The Doctor, they’d just parted ways with a rather poignant departure… and it looked as though the two might never meet again. But when Clara finds herself stumbling upon Father Christmas up on a rooftop, it’s not long before The Doctor is back in her life.
And when they find themselves confronted with a facehugger-like alien who invades their minds, it looks as though she really needs him back in her life.
It’s a welcome return for Clara and The Doctor this Christmas, as the pair reunite over a deadly threat… and as they reacquaint themselves, it doesn’t take long to fall back into those old patterns. Even if The Doctor does manage to overstep the mark without realising.
After coming under siege from a group of alien parasites that eat their victims brains, our favourite time travellers find themselves stranded at a research station at the North Pole. And with aliens that psychically track their prey, they’re forced to think of anything other than the imminent threat… lest they find themselves stalked by their psychic foes.
Of course, The Doctor makes an offhanded jibe at Danny’s expense in an attempt to get Clara to snap out of it. And when he eventually finds out that poor old Danny never made it out alive, it’s time for both of them to confess that they lied.
It’s a touching moment to say the least… but don’t think for one minute that this is an entirely serious episode.
Assaulted by the dream crabs in a horrifying siege, it’s not long before a famous face comes to their rescue – none other than Santa Claus. Clearly, Nick Frost plays this all for laughs, and it’s an absolute joy to behold.
The overall seriousness of a group of people stranded at a research post in the North Pole is punctuated by the spot-on, perfectly timed one-liners of Frost’s Santa. And with some really great gags about the modern nature of delivering presents to the children of the world, it’s a brilliant touch.
“It’s bigger on the inside,” said Santa when asked how his sleigh could carry all those toys… and this is a great example of why Nick Frost’s Santa makes the perfect foil for Capaldi’s grumpier, snarkier Doctor.
Of course, the episode also takes some decidedly darker turns, and channels all the sci-fi horror tropes of Alien as Clara crawls beneath the duct-like table with translucent slime dripping down onto her. But it’s all done with the movie in mind… and the good Professor – one of our stranded scientists – even references the ‘Alien’ movies themselves.
Thankfully, while the premise seems a little stale, the addition of Santa and the Inception-like mind-bending dream rules bring something entirely new to the table. And while you can clearly draw a line between every source of inspiration, it’s The Doctor and Santa who put a brilliant new spin on it all.
And it looks as though The Doctor is once again forced to confront his demons.
By the end of the episode, we find The Doctor is faced with a startling second chance – to forgo his usual stubbornness and set things straight with Clara while it’s not too late. And as it all plays out within the confines of the ‘dream-within-a-dream’ landscape, it’s a brilliant piece of writing.
Thankfully, we see The Doctor once again hook up with Clara as they grasp each other’s hands and head off into the TARDIS. But does this mean we can expect a myriad of new adventures in the upcoming Series 9?
For now, we’ll have to wait and see. But for the time being, we’re left with one of the best ‘Doctor Who’ episodes we’ve seen in a long time.
What did you think of Last Christmas? Will Clara return for Series 9? Let us know what you think in the comments below…