The 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who really put my head in a spin. I love Doctor Who, ever since getting really involved almost two months ago. I was very excited over the pretty epic plot line that the Doctor hadn’t in fact destroyed his whole planet and people, but then came sadness, actual tears, over what I thought was the loss of the integrity of the emotion that had defined the Doctor for seven series. The Doctor’s memory loss of not using the Moment is hardly a comforting backbone on which to build such tremendous sincerity of emotions that previously characterized the Doctor and his actions in the Time War. I hated to see the canon of almost a decade undermined in one night. It took me a while to get used to the conclusion of the 50th, and I’m still working on it now, but doing an exercise like the following has helped me cope. When I thought about the whole of the 50th, the theme and sentiment, I found that more frustrating than its conclusion was how it doesn’t really gel with the facts of the previous era. I’m hoping here to prove that the 50th forces major characterization paradoxes into the universe of Doctor Who. I hope you bear with me on these thoughts, and since it’s pretty long, I’ve divided it up into segments and cross-posted it to my Tumblr at the link below.
The Doctor as eyewitness to his planet burning
WARRIOR DOCTOR: Gallifrey would be gone, the Daleks would be destroyed, and it would look to the rest of the universe as if they’d annihilated each other. (“Day of the Doctor”)
Notice the future tense in the War Doctor’s speech here, the uncertainty, and then note the following in Nine’s era:
DOCTOR: They’re never going to come! Your race is dead! You all burnt, all of you. Ten million ships on fire. The entire Dalek race wiped out in one second.
DALEK: You lie!
DOCTOR: I watched it happen. I made it happen.
DALEK: You destroyed us?
DOCTOR: I had no choice.
DALEK: And what of the Time Lords?
DOCTOR: Dead. They burnt with you. The end of the last great Time War. Everyone lost.
The Doctor clearly watched the Dalek fleet “burn,” the way he says it here proves there was an intense anger and hatred involved in viewing his own hand destroy millions. Also,
- (a) the Doctor caused the Daleks to burn
- (b) the Doctor watched them burn
- (c) the Time Lords burned with the Daleks
- Therefore, (d) he watched the Time Lords burn.
If the Time Lords burned with the Daleks in the fire the Doctor caused, then what destroyed the Daleks also destroyed the Time Lords, and what destroyed the Time Lords was at the same viewing time as destroying the Daleks. There’s no mystery, no spaces of forgotten memories, no assumptions about what might have happened. He saw it happen.
DOCTOR: My planet’s gone. It’s dead. It burned like the Earth. It’s just rocks and dust before it’s time. (1.2 “The End of the World”)
The implication here is that he not only saw his planet burn, but watched it turn to dust and rocks long before it reached a ripe old age (“before it’s time”). If the Doctor didn’t observe the end of the war, the Doctor couldn’t identify its end as rocks and dust.
MASTER: How can Gallifrey be gone?
DOCTOR: It burnt.
MASTER: And the Time Lords?
DOCTOR: Dead. And the Daleks, more or less. What happened to you?
MASTER: The Time Lords only resurrected me because they knew I’d be the perfect warrior for a Time War. I was there when the Dalek Emperor took control of the Cruciform. I saw it. I ran. I ran so far. Made myself human so they would never find me, because I was so scared.
DOCTOR: I know.
MASTER: All of them? But not you, which must mean–DOCTOR: I was the only one who could end it. And I tried. I tried everything.
MASTER: What did that feel like, though? Two almighty civilizations burning. Oh, tell me, how did that feel?
(3.12 “The Sound of Drums”)
Again, we see that the Doctor saw his planet on fire. And we’ve seen already that this fire is the one connected to the destruction of the Daleks.
DOCTOR: So tell me. How did you survive the Time War?
EMPEROR: You destroyed us, Doctor. The Dalek race died in your inferno, but my ship survived, falling through time, crippled but alive. (1.13 “Parting of the Ways”)
The Dalek Emperor is not infected by the memory loss of time lines converging and he clearly remembers that it was the Doctor who destroyed them. It’s personal, not just Dalek cross-fire. They died in fire, and it was the Doctor who created the flames: “your inferno.” This fire couldn’t have been the general inferno of wartime, or else the Emperor couldn’t use it to guilt-trip the Doctor.
On other Time Lords in existence
CHANCELLOR: There is, er, there is one part of the prophecy, my Lord.
CHANCELLOR: Forgive me, I’m sorry. It’s rather difficult to decipher, but it talks of two survivors beyond the Final Day. Two children of Gallifrey.
RASSILON: Does it name them?
CHANCELLOR: It foresees them locked in their final confrontation, The Enmity of Ages, which would suggest
RASSILON: The Doctor! And the Master.
(4.18 “The End of Time Part 2”)
I wish it was addressed the fact that the beings who could see Time and Space (and all the way “until they died” [2.5 “Rise of the Cybermen”] the Time Lords could travel parallel worlds) couldn’t figure out that more than just two Time Lords would survive the Time War. Rassilon tried to offset this prophecy (much like Ten tried to offset his own death’s prophecy) but failed because of the Doctor, who fulfilled the prophecy of the Chancellor. A Time Lord prophecy has a lot of weight, and trying to cheat that prophecy doesn’t work (Ten’s death and his trying to evade it) because a Time Lord prophecy is like a fixed point in time, much like Adelaide’s death. The point of “Waters of Mars” was that even someone as powerful as a Time Lord couldn’t overrule the law of Time. I wish it was addressed in the 50th addressed how the Doctor was able to cheat Time and prophecy this time, because as it stands, there’s a thematic and practical plot hole here. At least we should have gotten a “Waters of Mars”-like addressing of this question. As it stands, there’s no indication that a contradiction is taking place. Quite simply, the visionary of the Time Lords saw the end of Gallifrey and saw that it was only the Master and the Doctor who survive. This fits the evidence of backstory we’ve seen all throughout the Ninth and Tenth’s Doctor’s eras.
ROSE: The Dalek survived. Maybe some of your people did too.
DOCTOR: I’d know. In here. (taps head) Feels like there’s no one. (1.6 “Dalek”)
Russell T Davies specifically said that he intended to bring the Master back, but to ensure that the Doctor wouldn’t sense him, the chameleon arc was invented in-mythos so that the Master wasn’t a Time Lord but a human. The idea being that a Time Lord is powerful enough to judge if there are others of his kind in the whole universe. Now this isn’t as strong a proof, but seeing that a whole planet of Time Lords are out there, the Doctor needs a big reason why he couldn’t sense them. Such as,
DOCTOR: But contained in that rhythm, in layers of code, Vote Saxon. Believe in me. Whispering to the world. Oh, yes! That’s how he hid himself from me, because I should have sensed there was another Time Lord on Earth. I should have known way back. The signal cancelled him out. (3.12 “The Sound of Drums”)
The only reason the Time Lord Master was hidden from the Doctor was that the Master intentionally hid himself from the Doctor. It was premeditated and carefully planned, but most importantly, it was significantly addressed. Of course, one can make the Doctor unable to sense his people in a secret pocket universe, but I wish we had that issue addressed in the 50th, instead of an assumed loophole I kind of doubt Moffat is intending to explain.