Although this stands very effectively on its own, Last Christmas is very much the 13th episode of the current series of Doctor Who, with a lot of threads that were left hanging addressed, and in some cases, dealt with in ways that some of us expected to see within Death in Heaven. Steven Moffat’s script is as witty as ever – Cavan Scott and Mark Wright will be updating their Quotable Doctor Who with some of the lines from this, without a doubt – and there are some really scary moments, particularly when it’s nearer the Alien/The Thing end of the spectrum rather than the Miracle on 34th Street!
Those who have felt that the 12th Doctor has been overly dour throughout his time will find much to cheer about, particularly in the last act of the episode, and it’s good to see Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman back together again for this story. Moffat isn’t bluffing about Michael Troughton’s appearance by the way – he isn’t an alternate version of the 2nd Doctor – even if his character is perhaps the least well rounded of those on the base that the time travellers visit: questions are begged about the others, but much more makes sense at the end than seems likely initially.
Nick Frost’s Father Christmas and his two elves have a very important part to play in the story, and Moffat does live up to his word about not spoiling Christmas for parents – in fact, chances are that some of the questions raised in this script will be ones parents of young kids have been facing for the last few weeks! There are plenty of surprises as the episode progresses, and at least one major movie influence which hasn’t been mentioned yet (unsurprisingly, as it would give the central conceit away). It switches tone in a way we’ve not seen done with quite so much panache since the Russell T Davies era, and it’s a relief to say that it works well.
Verdict: Capaldi and Coleman confirm what a strong TARDIS team they are in a story that takes a very typical Doctor Who trope and gives it some rather unusual twists. 9/10