Monday, December 23, 2013

A Farewell to Matt Smith: Eleven's 11 Best Lines/Monologues

When I began to watch Doctor Who, I was advised to take a break between the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor’s eras. I didn’t understand why, of course, until I watched “The End of Time” and sat at my desk, sobbing uncontrollably. I didn’t want David Tennant to leave. I didn’t care who the next Doctor would be, really. I just knew that my Converse-wearing, “allons-y”-shouting, great-haired Doctor would be gone. And under the guidance of those friends, I took a break from marathoning Doctor Who.

It’s the best advice I can ever give to someone watching new Who, really. I feel like too many people breeze through the Doctors and don’t really take the opportunity to mourn them. You lose something when you lose a Doctor – whether it’s Nine, Ten, or now Eleven – and if you don’t wait at least a little while before picking the series back up, you’ll never quite appreciate the actor who replaced your beloved. If I hadn’t waited before beginning season five, I would have spent the entirety of the rest of the series lamenting the fact that Matt Smith wasn’t David Tennant – that Eleven was nothing like Ten. And honestly, I DID do that throughout 90% of “The Eleventh Hour.” I was skeptical of this new face; he wasn’t like Tennant at all. He was younger and sillier and he talked with his hands and babbled.

But the end of “The Eleventh Hour” changed my perception. As “I Am the Doctor” swelled and the audience saw flashes of each Doctor’s regenerated face, I felt the sudden sense that this new Doctor – Eleven – was not a child. He might have been younger than Ten and he might have been a bit goofy but he was also every bit as determined and strong and willing to defend the planet. He was epic. He was a hero.

Over the years, Matt Smith has really grown on me, to the point where I now cannot tell you exactly which Doctor (Ten or Eleven) is my true favorite. I’m going to miss Matt Smith a lot, who brought this quiet sort of intensity to his Doctor. He was unsuspecting but not to be dismissed. He could be cold like Nine and full of self-loathing like Ten. He was a man with nothing to lose and should therefore not be trifled with. He had fantastic episodes (“A Good Man Goes to War” is my favorite new Who episode of all time and one of Matt Smith’s best episodes), brilliant co-stars and companions and some pretty epic emotional moments. And he put EVERYTHING out there as The Doctor. Literally, his transformation from series five until now is just astounding. He’s physically aged, of course, but you see the aging of the Doctor with him. You see those “big sad eyes” and the pain and heartache that occasionally drags him down. You see every single emotion of The Doctor in Matt Smith’s face and I cannot adequately express how much I will miss him.

As Eleven, Matt Smith has been fortunate to have had some amazing and memorable lines and speeches. He’s a master at delivering a monologue, and Moffat has given him plenty of meaty, emotional, and gut-wrenching material because of it. So I decided that in order to celebrate Matt Smith’s era and send him on a proper farewell, I’d revisit eleven of the best lines/monologues from Eleven’s era.

Grab those tissues, cuddle up with your TARDIS blanket and head below the cut, because we’re counting down some of the best moments in Matt Smith’s era now!

11. Sad Later (“The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe”)

Madge: Lily and Cyril's father—my husband—is dead and they don't know yet because if I tell them now then Christmas will always be what took their father away from them, and no one should have to live like that. Of course when the Christmas period is over I shall... I don't know why I keep shouting at them. 
The Doctor: Because every time you see them happy you remember how sad they're going to be. And it breaks your heart. Because what's the point in them being happy now if they're going to be sad later? The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later.

If this isn’t one of the most apt and wonderful lines that Eleven has ever spoken, I don’t know what is. Though “The Doctor, The Widow, and The Wardrobe” is not one of my favorite Christmas specials of all-time, this is such a poignant line. You can tell that Eleven isn’t just doling out wisdom. No, he is contemplating his life. He’s thinking about the Ponds. He’s thinking about all the pain and heartache that he has been through and that he had put THEM through and he remembers. He remembers it all, but he also remembers the good times – the laughs and the hugs and the memories – because he remembers the pain.

It’s one of those subtle lines in an episode that many forget about, but I think it’s one of the most important lessons Eleven ever uttered.

10. Everything’s Got to End (“A Christmas Story”)

Everything's got to end sometime. Otherwise nothing would ever get started.

Honestly, this is one of the most painful realities, isn’t it? It’s heartbreaking to realize that things end. And it’s very meta in this post, as I discuss my own lamentations about Eleven’s departure. But everything has to end at some point, no matter how grand or wonderful. If you think about it, that’s how we often feel about high school while we’re at graduation: we don’t want the moment to end. We don’t want to leave our friends – these people who have become our family and our confidantes over the past four years – because we’re terrified of the unknown. But not just that: we don’t think it can possibly be any better than it is right then. We want to stay in that perfect moment forever.

Eleven’s comment to Amy Pond is this notion: if stories didn’t end, then new ones would never start. If we never graduated high school, we’d never move on to college. And then we’re hesitant to move on from college but if we never moved forward, we would miss out on life’s adventures. Time, to The Doctor, is very wibbly-wobbly, but even he understands the significance in moving forward and ending a journey when it is meant to end so that a new one can begin.

9. Going Home (“The Day of the Doctor”)

Clara sometimes asks me if I dream. ‘Of course I dream,’ I tell her. ‘Everybody dreams.’ ‘But what do you dream about?’ she’ll ask. ‘The same thing everybody dreams about,’ I tell her. ‘I dream about where I’m going.’ She always laughs at that. ‘But you’re not going anywhere - you’re just wandering about.’ That’s not true. Not anymore. I have a new destination. My journey is the same as yours, the same as anyone’s. It’s taken me so many years, so many lifetimes, but at last I know where I’m going, where I’ve always been going. Home. The long way ‘round.

I loved nearly everything about the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special, but few things more than how it ended. The three Doctors spend the entire episode full of angst, grief, and self-loathing. There’s this disappointment and anger and utter sadness boiling beneath the surface of Eleven’s façade the entire time, before Clara pinpoints what it is and how he should proceed. But the episode ends with HOPE: it ends with Eleven being filled with a feeling that has been unfamiliar to him for so very long. It’s this beautiful little monologue in which he discusses Clara and the questions that she asks him. It’s something we don’t hear The Doctor talk about much, this idea of dreaming. But he DOES dream, and we (and Clara) wonder exactly what it is that he dreams about. As it turns out, he dreams about where he is going, just like we all do.

But there is something so beautifully understated in the way that Matt Smith delivers the monologue, though he is barely shown on screen throughout it. There’s a sense of hopefulness tinged in his voice: the way the sentences pick up and almost twinkle. It’s a speech that is actually HAPPY and I love that the special ended with The Doctor being joyfully optimistic about his next destination: home.

8. The Goodbye to the TARDIS (“The Doctor’s Wife”)

Idris: [as the TARDIS] Doctor. Are you there? It's so very dark in here.
The Doctor: I'm here.
Idris: I've been looking for a word. A big, complicated word but so sad. I've found it now.
The Doctor: What word?
Idris: "Alive." I'm alive.
The Doctor: Alive isn't sad.
Idris: It's sad when it's over. I'll always be here. But this is when we talked. And now, even that has come to an end. There's something I didn't get to say to you.
The Doctor: Goodbye.
Idris: No. I just wanted to say... hello. Hello, Doctor.
[Starts to cry]
Idris: It's so very, very nice to meet you.
The Doctor: [Crying] Please... I don't want you to. Please.
Idris: [Fades away in a ball of light and whispers] I love you.

So I’m convinced that “The Doctor’s Wife” is one of Matt Smith’s finest episodes emotionally and this scene between Eleven and Idris is why. Matt is, as I have said before, fantastically nuanced in facial expressions and portraying a grieving Doctor. It’s not often that we see the Eleventh Doctor openly weep, but Matt has this amazing knack to portray his character as devastated without being overwrought with cliché or insincere sentimentality. Every line on his face, every tear that falls is utterly genuine. And thus, it is so heartbreaking to watch Eleven tearfully choke out a goodbye to his beloved human-form TARDIS. Because to him, Idris wasn’t a machine, wasn’t a manifestation of the heart of his time machine, but a real, living, FEELING human being.

It broke both of his hearts to say goodbye to her. And if you watch the scene, you will see every ounce of emotion cross his face, the weariness after he says goodbye to her and turns his back on Rory and Amy. And that is what makes this exchange so completely and utterly devastating: because Idris was fading from him and there was nothing he could do about it.

7. Amy Williams (“The God Complex”)

I can’t save you from it. There is nothing I can do to stop this. I stole your childhood and now I've led you by the hand to your death. But the worst thing is I knew. I knew this would happen. This is what always happens. Forget your faith in me. I took you with me because I was vain. Because I wanted to be adored. Look at you, glorious Pond. The girl who waited for me. I'm not a hero. I really am just a madman in a box. And it's time we saw each other as we really are, Amy Williams. It's time to stop waiting.

I don’t think anyone knows how hard I sobbed during this speech in “The God Complex” (well, except for my best friend, who watched the episode with me). It completely broke my heart, and Matt Smith’s delivery of it was just flawless. You could see how painful it was for Eleven to utter these words to his Amelia Pond. In order to save them, he needed to tell her that he was selfish, that he was wrong, that she needed to lose her faith in him because he was not worth it.

(Ugh, it pains my heart just to type that out.)

And Matt Smith, as he always does, tells her these words as The Doctor with such quiet intensity. It tears him apart because he knows, in the end, the only choice he has is to leave her or to watch her die because of him. So, as difficult as it is for him to do, he lets her go. But he doesn’t let Amy Williams go: he lets go of Amelia Pond. He kisses her forehead and says goodbye to the girl he met after he first regenerated. He lets go of the way that she adored him and followed him. He lets go of her because he needs to do that in order to let go of Amy Williams. In order to save her and in order to save Rory, he must destroy her faith in him.

And that speech? It was one of the most difficult, gut-wrenching ones to hear.

6. Eleven’s Speech to Stormageddon (“Closing Time”)

But I am old, Stormy. I am so old. You are so young, aren't you? And you know, right now everything's ahead of you. You could be anything. [Alfie gurgles] Yes, I know. You could walk among the stars. They don't actually look like that you know. They are rather more impressive. [He fixes them] You know when I was little like you I dreamt of the stars. I think it's fair to say, in the language of your age, that I lived my dream. I owned the stage. Gave it a hundred and ten percent. I hope you have as much fun as I did, Alfie.

Shamefully, I had almost forgotten about this speech until Anglophenia made a post containing some of Matt Smith’s best speeches. “Closing Time” is an episode that is quite out of the ordinary: it features Eleven taking a break from saving the world (so he thinks) in order to spend time with his good friend Craig on Earth. Craig doesn’t know it, but Eleven is close to dying and this is his last stop before doing so. While there, Eleven takes a few moments during the speech to bond with Alfie (better known as Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All), Craig’s infant son. This speech is so utterly beautiful that I’m kicking myself for nearly forgetting about it.

In it, an old and weary Eleven tells Alfie a story: he shows him the stars and talks about how the infant has the rest of his life ahead of him, how he can be anything he wants to be… how he, conversely, is old and tired and approaching the end of his life. But as he reflects on his life and on his journey, he recognizes that he “owned the stage.” He tried – nay, he EXCELLED at what he did. And as he prepares to head to Utah to die, Eleven wishes the same for Alfie as he holds him close and kisses the top of his head.

And he says goodbye.

5. Good Things and Bad Things (“Vincent and the Doctor”)

I wouldn't say that. The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. Hey. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant. And we definitely added to his pile of good things.

Among my top three Doctor Who episodes of all time is “Vincent and the Doctor.” It’s such a beautifully written and shot episode that features a monster of the week, but also is so utterly emotional and poignant and beautiful and sad. It is literally everything that a Doctor Who episode should be. The Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond spend the episode with Vincent van Gogh, convincing him that he isn’t crazy and that his work is important and beautiful and that it matters to someone. But Vincent is tormented by monsters, both physically and mentally. So at the end of the episode, Amy and Eleven decide to take Vincent back to modern-day London where he is able to hear from a curator all about how important he was, how valued he was, and how wonderful he was.

Amy is thrilled as they drop Vincent back off in his time. She drags Eleven back to the museum, anticipating dozens of new works of art… and finds nothing new. Tearfully, she faces The Doctor and tells him that what they did didn’t make a difference at all. In the end, Vincent still succumbed to his depression. But Eleven gives this beautiful miniature speech about how every life is a pile of good things and bad things. It is one of the most quotable moments on the series for a reason: it is touching, poignant, and true. As Eleven holds Amy and reassures her, it is not mere sentiment that he speaks. It is the TRUTH. He has seen the world and the universes and has seen births and deaths and love and loss. But this is the one truth he clings to. This is the one thing he believes about all of those good things and bad things. And when the world doesn’t make sense, he knows that sometimes there is nothing to change that or to alter those bad things. But the existence of bad doesn’t negate the importance of good.

And that’s a message worth remembering.

4. The Story (“The Rings of Akhaten”)
Okay then, that's what I'll do. I'll tell you a story. Can you hear them? All these people who lived in terror of you and your judgment. All these people whose ancestors devoted themselves, sacrificed themselves to you. Can you hear them singing? Oh you like to think you're a god. But you're not a god. You're just a parasite. Eat now with 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're got a big a big appetite. Because I've lived a long life. And I've 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 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 madman! And I watched universes freeze and creation burn! 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!

I cry at a lot of things, really, so it should be no surprise that I sobbed during this speech in “The Rings of Akhaten.” I’m blown away by Matt Smith’s talent on a regular basis, but this particular monologue? This was absolutely astounding. Since I don’t think I can do it any better justice than I did in this post, let me just quote what I had said then:

"But nothing impressed me more this year than Matt’s performance in “The Rings of Akhaten” and this beautifully emotional monologue. Everything about it was phenomenal – the raw, completely vulnerable side of The Doctor that we see just sucker punched me. He’s utterly broken, and we forget that Eleven is just like his former incarnations – he has the same memories, the same demons, the same wars. He has loved and lost and seen so many things in the universe that his hearts DO have slivers of ice in them. He’s wounded and broken but Matt does not portray this melodramatically. No, Matt’s performance is so utterly real that it makes our hearts break. A single tear rolls down his cheek during the scene and it makes US choked up to see The Doctor – to see our hero, our mad man with a box, our Oncoming Storm – this pained.

Truly and completely, I have utter adoration and respect for how Matt Smith has portrayed Eleven. While others may claim that Nine or Ten are their favorite Doctors, Eleven has won over my heart. Oh, sure, I will always be a Tennant girl I suppose – I mean, have you SEEN his hair? – but I feel a sense of attachment to Matt Smith’s Doctor. And a respect for Matt as an actor."

The monologue from “The Rings of Akhaten” would – if I had my way – win Matt Smith all sorts of awards. For now, I guess you will just have to settle for this blog post. But know how extremely impressed and touched I was by it.

3. The Stonehenge Speech (“The Pandorica Opens”)

Hello, Stonehenge! Who takes the Pandorica takes the Universe! But bad news everyone, 'cause guess who? Ha! Except you lot, you're all whizzing about, it's really very distracting. Could you all just stay still a minute because I AM TALKING. Now, the question for the hour is: "Who's got the Pandorica?" Answer: I do. Next question: "Who's coming to take it from me?" Come on, look at me! No plan, no backup, no weapons worth a damn, oh, and something else I don't have: anything to lose. So, if you're sitting up there in your silly little space ships with all your silly little guns, and you've got any plans on taking the Pandorica tonight, just remember who's standing in your way. Remember every black day I ever stopped you, and then, and THEN do the smart thing: let somebody else try first.

Few things in Doctor Who are more epic than when the theme of “I Am the Doctor” rises in the background, orchestra building to a crescendo. It’s a chill-inducing theme, really, because it is so bold and wonderful, but also delicate in parts. It is Eleven’s theme music for a reason: while this incarnation of The Doctor is often silly and boyish, he is SO much more than that. He commands attention. He demands respect. He doesn’t let anyone put him into a trap, and no scene is more of an example of these attributes than the one in “The Pandorica Opens” where Eleven addresses the entire fleet of essentially every enemy he has ever encountered in the universe.

His speech is improvised, but his passion is genuine. And really, just as “I Am the Doctor” is epic, so is this speech epic. The Doctor has every right to be scared – he has no plan, every potential enemy and weapon in the universe against him… but he has one thing that they do not. He has the Pandorica. And so, he commands and demands their attention and respect by booming this completely brilliant and powerful speech. He is direct and powerful. THIS is the man that all of those whizzing above in their spaceships fear. He may be in a different body, but he is still The Oncoming Storm.

And all of those enemies above? They REMEMBER that. They recall what it was like to lose to him, to be defeated and demolished. And when Eleven challenges them to take a step forward – to try and take the Pandorica from his hands – they all back off. They are afraid, just as they should be. And this is one of Matt Smith’s absolute finest moments ever as The Doctor and one of the best written and delivered Doctor Who speeches.

2. Hello, I’m the Doctor (“The Eleventh Hour”)

The Doctor: C'mon, then! The Doctor will see you now!
Atraxi: [after scanning The Doctor] You are not of this world.
The Doctor: No but I've put a lot work into it.
Atraxi: Is this world important?
The Doctor: Important? What's that mean, important? Six billion people live here, is that important? Here's a better question: is this world a threat to the Atraxi? Oh come on, you're monitoring the whole planet! Is this world a threat?
Atraxi: [after looking at a montage of world events] No.
The Doctor: Are the peoples of this world guilty of any crime by the laws of the Atraxi?
Atraxi: [after viewing another montage about earth] No.
The Doctor: Okay. One more, just one: is this world protected?
[as the Atraxi views a montage of all the aliens who have attacked humanity in some way]
The Doctor: You're not the first to have come here. Oh, there have been so many. And what you've got to ask is: what happened to them?
[Atraxi looks at a montage of the past ten Doctors. The Doctor steps through the montage when the 10th Doctor is shown]
The Doctor: Hello. I'm the Doctor. Basically… run.

I wasn’t sure, as I stated before, that I would come to love Matt Smith as much as I did David Tennant. Those were difficult shoes to fill, as David is regarded as one of the most beloved Doctors. It was with hesitancy that I watched Eleven prance onto my screen, spit out food at young Amelia Pond and traipse around modern-day London.  But then – but THEN – the Eleventh Doctor delivered these amazing lines to the Atraxi at the end of the episode and I was reminded of this truth: “same Doctor, different face.” It constantly amazes me that each actor manages to embody the SAME Time Lord. Eccleston, Tennant, Smith, and those spanning throughout Classic Who all had different faces. But they all understood who, exactly, The Doctor was at his core.

Matt Smith may have been a younger face than Christopher Eccleston or David Tennant, but in that moment – in the scene where he confronts the Atraxi and asks if the Earth is protected – I realized that this was still MY Doctor. He was still the same Time Lord. He was still a man full of grief, the weight of every world he saved and every one he could not save pressing down on his shoulders. And then he instructed the Atraxi to run.

And they obeyed. Because the truth of the matter is that every monster, every evil being, every enemy of the universe knows the name of The Doctor. And they run because they are afraid. They run because they know the consequences of his wrath. And the moment that Matt Smith’s Doctor instructed them to run and the moment that he said “I am the Doctor” was the moment I knew I would love Eleven just as much as I loved Ten.

1. You’ll Dream About That Box (“The Big Bang”)

It's funny... I thought if you could hear me, I could hang on somehow. Silly me. Silly old Doctor. When you wake up, you'll have a mum and dad, and you won't even remember me. Well, you'll remember me a little. I'll be a story in your head. But that's okay: we're all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? Because it was, you know, it was the best: a daft old man who stole a magic box and ran away. Did I ever tell you I stole it? Well, I borrowed it; I was always going to take it back. Oh, that box, Amy, you'll dream about that box. It'll never leave you. Big and little at the same time, brand-new and ancient, and the bluest blue ever. And the times we had, eh? Would've had. Never had. In your dreams, they'll still be there. The Doctor and Amy Pond... and the days that never came. The cracks are closing. But they can't close properly 'til I'm on the other side. I don't belong here anymore. I think I'll skip the rest of the rewind. I hate repeats. Live well. Love Rory. Bye-bye, Pond.

 When people ask me what my favorite quote is, I usually provide them with one of two answers. I’ll either say: “To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story. And that is the only celebration we morals really know.” (The Poisonwood Bible) But I will also tell them this: “We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?” The monologue that Eleven delivers to Amelia is the absolute best (in my opinion) that has come out of the Matt Smith era. The Eleventh Doctor says goodbye to his beloved Amelia Pond in this speech, lamenting the adventures they’ll never have and the fact that when she wakes, she won’t remember him. Well, that’s not quite true, he explains. She’ll remember him a little bit but she’ll never be able to pinpoint why. And she won’t need him – her imaginary friend, her raggedy Doctor – anymore. She’ll awake with a mother and father. She’ll awake surrounded by people who love her. And she’ll fall in love with Rory. He, the Doctor, will be a memory.

And so, to bid her farewell, Eleven tells Amelia a story. He tells her of his bright blue box (brilliantly so that she will remember the adage on her wedding day and he can return to her years later) and how he acquired it. And what is so beautiful about this speech – why it ranks as my favorite Matt Smith monologue ever – is because it speaks not only to the plot of the story but also the human condition. “We’re all stories in the end,” The Doctor explains. And that line just resonates with me, especially because I am a writer. Our lives – each of our lives – are stories to be told. And it is our job to make these stories the best that they can be. The gentle way with which Eleven delivers this monologue to a sleeping Amelia is just so beautiful and touching. He knows that his time with her is rapidly dwindling and yet he tells her a story because – admittedly – he thought that by doing so, he might be able to hold onto their adventures together, to HER, longer.

But these are parting words (at least for now, as we know that he returns), and they are utterly beautiful and powerful ones. While The Doctor tells her a story, he also reminds her that her life matters. Love matters. And SHE matters. And it’s a sad speech because it’s self-sacrificial. Eleven doesn’t know if he will ever see Amelia again, but he knows she will be happy and loved and that’s what matters most to him.

What amazing parting words not just to Amelia, but to us as well as his time as the Eleventh Doctor draws to a close. “We’re all stories in the end,” Matt Smith said. “Just make it a good one, eh? And it was, you know; it was the best.”

I couldn’t agree more, Matt. It was the best.

So now that I’ve managed to drown myself in a pool of feelings, what about you, dear readers? What are some of YOUR favorite Eleven/Matt Smith moments? Hit up the comments to let me know. And be sure to watch Matt Smith’s swan song on December 25th on BBC America. (You might want to grab a pile of tissues, too. I know I will!)


  1. i love the last quote. i used it as a monologue and i got the part!!!!!!

  2. Matt Smith is totally my favorite doctor.

  3. I liked the quote "we're all stories in the end" so much I got it tattooed on me (ive also got "walk in the dust" from the runaway bride)

  4. Cool article! I'm really going to miss Matt.

  5. guess what guys I have the pandorica and the key to the tardis