Once the decision has been made to off a Doctor, the special episodes acts as an extension of the current season to let the current Doctor go out with a big finish. This worked quite lovely with David Tennant’s final episodes (which were of varying quality but the big finale was definitely worth it), but I’m not sure I would say the same about Matt Smiths endgame.
Only two special episodes this time, The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor, of which one is excellent and one is sadly not.
The Day of the Doctor is probably one of the greatest episodes in recent years, bringing back David Tennant and together with Matt Smith’s doctor. They go and meet the incarnation of the doctor that was responsible for shutting down both Daleks and Time Lords during their last and worst conflict, the often mentioned but rarely seen last big time war.
This episode played the crossover game perfectly, making it a delight to see Smith and Tennant bounce of each other and the war doctor. But what made the episode a true standout was how it took an important aspect of modern Doctor Who mythology and then let the Doctors change it in major way without contradicting the established chain of events. All the while managing to keep it resonant and relevant at the personal level for each of the three doctors.
After that, the really final episode was major house-cleaning time, closing of dangling plot threads right and left, but somehow missing the mark at making it exiting. Sure, it’s nice to get some closure, but the overall plot felt far too constructed and convoluted. We’re left with a final Matt Smith episode most people will a have a hard time remembering what it actually was about.