The Day of the Doctor: a Case of Canon vs. Canon (Part 5/5)

I’ve spent five essays on the important issue of how the 50th anniversary episode doesn’t gel with the objective logic or moral conclusion of previous years of canon material. Such as,

  1. DotD contradicts established fact that the Doctor actually witnessed Gallifrey falling (read here)
  2. DotD contradicts the Doctor’s morality on Daleks and his abhorrence of killing en masse other life forms without proper consideration of the life he’s taken. (read here)
  3. DotD contradicts the Doctor’s moral stand on saving Gallifrey: how saving just Gallifrey does nothing to eliminate the Daleks or other evil forces in the Time War, since in End of Time, bringing just Gallifrey back brought back a host of other bad creatures. DotD does not address this. (read here)
  4. DotD contradicts the established fact that the Time Lords had become corrupt and were in fact worse than all villains in creation, and that their destruction is not only justified but morally sound. (read here)

This segment concludes my thoughts, focusing on how Russel T Davies and Steven Moffat differ in their idea of the meaning of the Time War.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
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Davies’ view of the Time War is inherently different from Moffat’s, and that’s where most of the discrepancy between the 50th and the RTD era comes from. In “End of Time” we saw the Doctor affirm that it was right for him to stop the Time Lords and by extension, send them back into the hell of the flames of the Doctor’s final act in the Time War. For a while there, it even felt like that’s where the story of the 50th was going to go, to the Doctor again reaffirming the choice he had made. All the Doctors supporting one another in making the hard decision to use the Moment, for the good of the future and the many worlds he would save. It was a beautifully complex moment, of one man choosing to be the villain to create good. The theme was even offered, “Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.” What a beautifully mature message, a recognition of the purpose of some evil in the landscape of life, with the heroism of the War Doctor being that he did become the lesser man in one sense to ultimately save reality. But now that rich moral complexity is erased, because apparently no adverse consequences would result from saving Gallifrey? It’s a beautiful, strong moral incentive to save Gallifrey to save the children who died, but I wish the 50th addressed the fact that the Time Lords had actually grown very evil and that much more was at stake than just Gallifreyans being defeated by Daleks. The fate of all reality was at stake.

I admire Steven Moffat for trying a game-changing move for the next years of Doctor Who. I realize the Doctor can’t live in guilt forever. And I wouldn’t want him to. But the solution to dealing with the pain in one’s history isn’t a pop back in time to change those events from ever having happened. What has been beautiful about Doctor Who was the human growth and lessons that it taught. If the Doctor should be guiltless, let him learn to forgive himself or find solace in the hero he became because of his actions. Something we all can learn along with him. As opposed to the “let’s change our past so we don’t have to deal with the guilt” solution that no one in the viewership can apply to himself and learn from. I feel that the 50th gave the Doctor an over-simplified “Disney” solution to life’s core emotional problems. I loved the fact that there were consequences to hard moral decisions, I loved the complexity and serious depth of thought in the core of the RTD reboot, and especially RTD’s vision of the Time War and its meaning to the Doctor.

Moffat brought Doctor Who to a whole different place thematically, not to mention stylistically. There’s an unbridgeable gap between how the Doctor viewed the Time War in RTD’s era versus Moffat’s, and it’s a writer’s choice more than the character’s. The two writers’ visions of the Time War and the morality of its conclusion clash.

I did actually enjoy watching the 50th, but its repercussions threaten to take a lot of depth out of Doctor Who. Moffat essentially removed the childhood of the reboot’s Doctor, the hard past from which all his characterization grows. He removed a defining trait of the reboot’s Doctor and offered nothing as inherently complex and defining in its place. I’ll still enjoy Doctor Who and track Capaldi’s adventures, but in my mind the Doctor Who universe shaped by Moffat lives in a completely parallel world to the rusty, balmy world that was created in 2005.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5


The Day of the Doctor: a Case of Canon vs. Canon (Part 4/5)

I know it’s been a while since I posted my analyses on how the ending of the 50th counters major canon points of previous years. It took a back burner for a couple weeks. XD Anyway! The previous sections showed how

  1. DotD contradicts established fact that the Doctor actually witnessed Gallifrey falling
  2. DotD contradicts the Doctor’s morality on Daleks and his abhorrence of killing en masse other life forms without proper consideration of the life he’s taken.
  3. DotD contradicts the Doctor’s moral stand on saving Gallifrey: how saving just Gallifrey does nothing to eliminate the Daleks or other evil forces in the Time War, since in End of Time, bringing just Gallifrey back brought back a hat of other bad creatures. DotD does not address this.

This segment proves how the end of the Time War World differs morally between the RTD era and the 50th, with War II imagery paralleling the Time War.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
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WILF: Oh, 1948, I was over there. End of the Mandate in Palestine. Private Mott. Skinny little idiot, I was. Stood on this rooftop, in the middle of a skirmish. It was like a blizzard, all them bullets in the air. The world gone mad. Yeah, you don’t want to listen to an old man’s tales, do you? (4.18 “The End of Time Part 2”)

The World War I and World War II imagery in the Nine-Ten eras is quite thick. We see it not only in this example but in stories like the setting of 1.9-10 “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances,” the Holocaust imagery in 2.5-6 “Rise of the Cybermen”/”Age of Steel,” the moral of 3.8-9 “Human Nature”/”Family of Blood,” and imagery and some settings of 4.12-13 “The Stolen Earth”/”Journey’s End.” The Doctor is sometimes presented as a soldier (“You keep insisting you’re not a soldier, but look at you, drawing up strategies like a proper general. (…) You are such a soldier.” 4.6 “The Doctor’s Daughter” and “By fighting. On the front line. I was there at the fall of Arcadia.” 2.13 “Doomsday”) and the point I feel is that RTD is paralleling the great war fought by the Doctor to the Great Wars fought by Britain in the recent past. Wars that are clearly horrific and terrible, that end the lives of both enemies and friends and innocent civilians and children, but in the end,

LATIMER: I’ve seen the future and I now know what must be done. (…)
MARTHA: You don’t have to fight.
LATIMER: I think we do.
(3.9 “Family of Blood”)

The moral being that there are some wars which must be fought and won, even if they are horrific and unforgivable, but have to be won to stop powerful evil men who’d kill even more if they are left unchecked. That’s the dark complexity of the World Wars, and the same complexity of RTD’s Time War.

Coming back to the Wilfred quote above, “the world gone mad” — a parallel to what happened in both the World Wars and the Time War, on Gallifrey. The allusion I see here in this quote by Wilf is that the “skinny idiot” (ala “Time Crash”) represents the Doctor (dry humor and symbolism, gotta love it) who also stood in the midst of battle not a coward but a warrior still, facing the world that had gone mad. His world, Gallifrey, parallels the real world in the 40s, with the twist being that it’s the Time Lords who are worse than the Daleks (with the Daleks themselves originally based off Hitler and the Nazi regime).

RASSILON: Now the High Council of Time Lords must vote. Whether we die here, today, or return to the waking world and complete the Ultimate Sanction. For this is the hour when either Gallifrey falls, or Gallifrey rises!
TIME LORDS: Gallifrey rises!
(4.18 “The End of Time Part 2”)

The reason the Doctor doesn’t want Gallifrey to rise. Because the Time Lords intended to destroy reality and all of time by the Ultimate Sanction. I want to note how similar this sounds to the Final Solution, that is, the morbid plan of Nazi Germany to purge all Jews (and other races) from the Aryan lands. Yet more of the World War II imagery of this episode (and Davies’ era in general), including the WW2 vet Wilfred Mott and the idea that some (Time) wars, no matter how regretful or horrible, are meant to be fought. Or else a worser evil will be enacted.

RASSILON: The vote is taken. Only two stand against, and will stand as monument to their shame, like the Weeping Angels of old. Now the vanguard stands prepared, as the children of Gallifrey return to the universe. To Earth. (…)
(Behind the Lord President, the Woman lowers her hands and looks over the Doctor’s shoulder. He turns back to face the Master.)
DOCTOR: The link is broken. Back into the Time War, Rassilon. Back into hell.
VISIONARY: Gallifrey falling! Gallifrey falls!
(4.18 “The End of Time Part 2”)

This is the moral complexity and tragedy and beauty of what the Doctor did in the Time War. There were only two objectors to the Final Sanction, only two whose hands were clean of impending blood. These two knew what the Doctor would do next, in using the Moment. And yet one of these truly innocents opened her eyes and told the Doctor it was okay, it was right to do the thing he was about to, to take the final act of blood on his hands to save all Creation and stop the madness and pain to the suffering lives in the Time War. RTD included this woman to represent the good people in the Time War, the innocent people who didn’t want the Ultimate Sanction, and to show that they too were willing to end their lives to save the universe. This woman told him it was right this time to be the universe’s most shamed killer to be the universe’s great hero. For it all to fall on his shoulders, the weight of guilt and pain as his consequence for saving the universe, and for freeing the cycle of bloodshed of even the innocent in the war. It’s goodness and heroism and tragedy and darkness and blood all mingled in a single act, and that’s what makes the Russell T Davies vision of the Time War beautiful, it’s one of the foundational reasons of what makes the Doctor in the rebooted series so complex and heroic and tragic. And it’s what makes the Doctor’s joy so liberating when he is happy, because he does have a history of actual guilt, yet it does not mean his happiness and his fun is not real. Doctor Who to me is about paradoxes and the Doctor, his past, and the themes of the stories he experiences is at the center of that. An eccentric madman and yet the man you rely on, a freewheeling reckless joyrider and yet the most morally responsible man in the world, a sad hopeless man with a heart of kindness and fun and true optimism. That’s what I loved about the Doctor, and what sings out so clearly to me in these episodes.

DONNA: But your own planet. It burned.
DOCTOR: That’s just it. Don’t you see, Donna? Can’t you understand? If I could go back and save them, then I would. But I can’t. I can never go back. I can’t. I just can’t, I can’t.
(4.2 “The Fires of Pompeii”)

The reason he can’t go back to save them is that if he does, then everything bad that occurred in the Time War would come back too. On the surface this line looks like he’d want to save his people, but with “End of Time” backing it up, I think this quote means something even deeper, that he can’t change his people themselves anymore, their own free will chose to be the evil creatures they’d become, and if he could save them from that he would, but the Doctor cannot change someone’s free will, and that’s why he ended the Time War.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Day of the Doctor: a Case of Canon vs. Canon (Part 3/5)

The 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who troubled me for several reasons, and in the previous two parts of this analysis, I outlined how the 50th jars with canon in (1) how it contradicts the established fact that the Doctor was eyewitness to his planet being burned, and (2) how the 50th counters the Doctor’s morality on Daleks and his abhorrence at killing other life forms without a consideration of the life he’s taken.

This section outlines one of the major contradictions between the 50th and previous canon, namely, the moral question that lies at the heart of the rebooted series.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
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On the moral integrity of destroying Gallifrey/using the Moment

PARTISAN: (a woman) But we know his intention. He still possesses the Moment, and he’ll use it to destroy Daleks and Time Lords alike.
CHANCELLOR: The Visionary confirms it.
VISIONARY: Ending, burning, falling. All of it falling. The black and pitch and screaming fire, so burning.
CHANCELLOR: All of her prophecies say the same. That this is the last day of the Time War. That Gallifrey falls. That we die, today.
VISIONARY: Ending. Ending. Ending. Ending!
PARTISAN: Perhaps it’s time. This is only the furthest edge of the Time War. But at its heart, millions die every second, lost in bloodlust and insanity. With time itself resurrecting them, to find new ways of dying over and over again. A travesty of life. Isn’t it better to end it, at last?
(4.18 “The End of Time Part 2”)

The Partisan here represents the Doctor’s moral choice, that it’s better to end the madness in one horrible swash of genocide, than let the more terrible cycle of endless death continue. It’s not just a war, it’s time bringing back the dead to make them die again. That’s the hell that the innocent were experiencing in the Time War.

Again, we see here that the visionary foresaw the destruction of Daleks and Time Lords alike. The “burning of Gallifrey” is expressly not mere wartime destruction, not side effects of general war nor is it just the fall of the Daleks, but specifically the fire caused by the Moment being used on both sides by the Doctor to, as the Partisan states, “end it at last,” the travesty of life in a trapped and horrible cycle of death. Like was discussed before, the failure of a prophecy of a Time Lady Visionary should be explained in some way, instead of ignored, like what we got from the 50th.

It’s interesting that the Doctor didn’t use the Moment to kill his enemies primarily, but to stop the suffering cycle of death. The Doctor hates genocide, even of his enemies, so the only time he’d be brought down enough to do something so heinous is to offset the suffering of those same billions. And if the Time War is still Timelocked, then the cycle of death is still going on, to the Daleks in the crossfire, but also to the other forces in the war. The Partisan states that Gallifrey is on “the furthest edge of the Time War” with millions much farther away dying over and over again, every second. If the Doctor saves Gallifrey, those millions are still in torment, and the suffering is not ended. The 50th doesn’t address this at all, especially emotionally, with the Doctors. The War isn’t over if Gallifrey vanishes, because Gallifrey and the surrounding Dalek fleet are only a small segment of the conflict. The Time War is being fought across time and space, beyond Gallifrey.

MASTER: I remember the days when the Doctor, oh, that famous Doctor, was waging a Time War, battling Sea Devils and Axons. He sealed the rift at the Medusa Cascade single handed. (3.13 “The Last of the Time Lords”)

DOCTOR: You weren’t there in the final days of the War. You never saw what was born. But if the Timelock’s broken, then everything’s coming through. Not just the Daleks, but the Skaro Degradations, the Horde of Travesties, the Nightmare Child, the Could-have-been King with his army of Meanwhiles and Never-weres. (4.18 “The End of Time Part 2”)

When the Time Lords brought Gallifrey back, just Gallifrey, they brought back a whole host of hellish creatures along with that planet. It wasn’t just Time Lords and Daleks, and it wasn’t Daleks only above Gallifrey. Daleks stepped into the Sky Trenches and are on the surface of Gallifrey. There were other belligerents and other forces on Gallifrey, the complexity of which doesn’t really crop up in the 50th, but imparts tremendous meaning to the Doctor. I wish the 50th at least showed the Doctors considering what they were doing in hiding away a planet that had Daleks, Time Lords, and other horrible creatures on its surface, because as it stands, the Doctors just saved a whole planet of warfare, and Rassilon still has imminent motivation to use the Ultimate Sanction.

DOCTOR: The War turned into hell. And that’s what you’ve opened, right above the Earth. Hell is descending. (4.18 “The End of Time Part 2”)

Hell is what the Time War had become. It was no more a noble battle, and the evil of destruction has passed from not only the Daleks, but more importantly, the Time Lords themselves. Horrible weapons that were created by Dalek and Time Lord alike, the War brought out the worst in each side, but most horribly, in the side of the Gallifreyans, because with their knowledge and length of life and all that pompous wisdom had made them arrogant and self-preserving, the two traits the Doctor has been running from throughout his life (especially noticeable in the Russell T Davies era). The theme of 4.16 “Waters of Mars” was specifically that destruction follows one’s arrogance to try to live beyond one’s appointed time. The Doctor tried to defy a fixed point in time (by keeping Adelaide alive) to test his power against Time itself. Why? Because he didn’t want to have to face another prophecy or coming fixed point in time of his own death at the hands of the “four knocks.” A Time Lord could be very dangerous, specifically because of his wealth of power and knowledge, but those same traits could make him arrogant in the face of “unimportant people” and resort to horrific means to save himself. This is what threatened to happen to the Doctor’s moral compass in “Waters of Mars” and what did actually happen to the Time Lords at the end of the Time War. The Doctor knows what dark hearts were born in the Time Lords, and he’s not fooled by the image of their pomp and false splendor. They only look glorious from afar, like monarchy, but are cold inside. I wish we’d seen this angle addressed in the 50th. It’s the most incongruous part of the 50th and the Doctor’s character, that Ten can go from all smiles to save the Time Lords and then in his time line head into “End of Time” and take up a gun to stop the horror and malevolence that is his people.

JACK: But all the legends of Gallifrey made it sound so perfect.
DOCTOR: Well, perfect to look at, maybe.
(3.12 “The Sound of Drums”)

MASTER: It began on Gallifrey, as children. Not that you’d call it childhood. More a life of duty. (4.18 “The End of Time Part 2”)

WILF: But you said your people were dead. Past tense.
DOCTOR: Inside the Time War. And the whole War was Timelocked. Like, sealed inside a bubble. It’s not a bubble but just think of a bubble. Nothing can get in or get out of the Timelock. Don’t you see? Nothing can get in or get out, except something that was already there.
WILF: The signal. Since he was a kid.
DOCTOR: If they can follow the signal, they can escape before they die.
(4.18 “The End of Time Part 2”)

Interesting to note here, but what the Doctors in the 50th did was exactly what the malevolent Time Lords were trying to do in “End of Time”: have just Gallifrey escape before it dies. The Time Lords brought only Gallifrey back, just Gallifrey. If the Doctor felt bringing the planet back was good, why didn’t he let Rassilon continue his plan? But the Doctor can’t let Gallifrey live, because (1) Earth would be destroyed, but more importantly, (2) the Time Lords are going to use the Ultimate Sanction, against the belligerents already on the planet and across time and space, across the whole front of the Time War. The Time Lords are still malevolent, inside the Timelock or not, they still have that dangerous thirst for self-preservation.

DOCTOR: If they can follow the signal, they can escape before they die.
WILF: Well, then, big reunion. We’ll have a party.
DOCTOR: There will be no party.
WILF: But I’ve heard you talk about your people like they’re wonderful.
DOCTOR: That’s how I choose to remember them, the Time Lords of old. But then they went to war. An endless war, and it changed them right to the core. You’ve seen my enemies, Wilf. The Time Lords are more dangerous than any of them.
(4.18 “The End of Time Part 2”)

DOCTOR: And that’s how the Master started. It’s not like I’m an innocent. I’ve taken lives. I got worse. I got clever. Manipulated people into taking their own. Sometimes I think a Time Lord lives too long. I can’t. I just can’t.
DOCTOR: A Whitepoint star is only found on one planet. Gallifrey. Which means it’s the Time Lords. The Time Lords are returning.
WILF: Well, I mean, that’s good, isn’t it? I mean, that’s your people.
(The Doctor takes Wilf’s revolver and runs.)
(4.18 “The End of Time Part 2”)

The whole point of “The End of Time” was that the Time Lords were not the wonderful people the Doctor remembered them as, but the madmen he had to leave behind. The Doctor himself has felt the curse of living too long, of growing too self-important and killing others for his own gain. “Sometimes a Time Lord lives too long” applies as much to him as it does to his people on Gallifrey, the people whom Rassilon had contrived into long life (he created the concept of regeneration). Much of the Russell T Davies era has been a statement of the danger of trying to live too long, the idea that trying to do so only results in loneliness and malevolence (4.6 “The Lazarus Experiment”). The Time Lords were an ultimate example of that grown selfishness.

RASSILON: I will not die! Do you hear me? A billion years of Time Lord history riding on our backs. I will not let this perish. I will not! (4.18 “The End of Time Part 2”)

The pride of life, of trying to live too long, of feeling oneself too important to give in to one’s time to die. Rassilon feels that his life and his own history is more important than the lives he’s going to kill in using the Ultimate Sanction. That mindset is set within him and his people already, and it’s why he wants Gallifrey alive. The 50th gave us none of this Time Lord malevolence. I wish Moffat had addressed the change in characterization, because as it stands, it’s a tremendous characterization hole (which to me is even less tolerable than a plot hole).

RASSILON: We will initiate the Final Sanction. The end of time will come at my hand. The rupture will continue until it rips the Time Vortex apart.
MASTER: That’s suicide.
RASSILON: We will ascend to become creatures of consciousness alone. Free of these bodies, free of time, and cause and effect, while creation itself ceases to be.
DOCTOR: You see now? That’s what they were planning in the final days of the War. I had to stop them.
(4.18 “The End of Time Part 2”)

Again we see the heart of the Time Lords of Gallifrey. That they would stoop to such depths of universal violence to save their own lives. It’s the hardened hearts of his people that cursed them and what made it hopeless for the Doctor to save them, because in their hearts they had already chosen self-preservation over preserving the lives of the universe. It forced the Doctor to make that choice for them. To save the universe, all past and present, he killed the enemies he tried to save and the Time Lords who had turned their hearts on goodness, trapped in an endless hellish cycle of death. The 50th’s supposed elimination of the threat of the Daleks (by hiding Gallifrey) does nothing about changing the hearts of the Time Lords, which is shown quite clearly to be lost. So where is the horror of what the Doctor shall find on this saved Gallifrey? The 50th makes it sound warm, but as Ten said to Wilf, “There will be no party” in seeing his people (not just the council, “End of Time 2”). Moffat had better address this issue, on how the Time Lords are actually corrupted people that planned the most heinous act for preserving themselves. There is absolutely no mention of the Ultimate Sanction in the 50th, and that I think is unforgivable, because the whole thematic point of “End of Time” was that some things needed to be stopped because the core darkness was too strong for even the Doctor to change.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Day of the Doctor: a Case of Canon vs. Canon (Part 2/5)

I embarked on this analysis to comfort myself after considering the implications of the 50th. Somehow “The Day of the Doctor” doesn’t gel with years of previous canon material, and here I’ll try to explain how. In the previous segment, I outlined how the Doctor did watch his planet destroyed, and how the 50th should have implied how the Doctor found it impossible to sense that he was not alone if a whole planet of Time Lords were still alive. This update presents a characterization argument.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
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The Doctor’s mercy towards Daleks/hatred of genocide

DOCTOR: But you were destroyed. In the very first year of the Time War, at the Gates of Elysium. I saw your command ship fly into the jaws of the Nightmare Child. I tried to save you.
DAVROS: But it took one stronger than you. Dalek Caan himself.
CAAN: I flew into the wild and fire. I danced and died a thousand times.
DAVROS: Emergency Temporal Shift took him back into the Time War itself.
DOCTOR: But that’s impossible. The entire War is timelocked.
(4.12 “The Stolen Earth”)

DOCTOR: Davros? Come with me. I promise I can save you.
(4.13 “Journey’s End”)


Notice how the Doctor even wanted to save Davros. The most horrible enemy, the creator of the Daleks, and he wanted to save him. But the Doctors at the end of the 50th hadn’t the faintest regret or sorrow that millions of Daleks were about to kill each other. The Tenth Doctor has huge sorrow over genocide of any kind (as we saw in his powerful admonition in 4.6 “The Doctor’s Daughter”). In 3.5 “The Evolution of the Daleks” specifically he saw the last Dalek, Dalek Caan, and told him that he wasn’t going to kill him because he didn’t want to commit genocide. I don’t think he’d go back on his morality in the 50th. Life is precious to the Doctor, and in the Tenth Doctor’s era especially, we never see him take unmitigated pleasure in the fall of his enemies, even of Daleks.

DALEK EMPEROR: I want to see you become like me. Hail the Doctor, the Great Exterminator.
DOCTOR: I’ll do it!
DALEK EMPEROR : Then prove yourself, Doctor. What are you, coward or killer?
DOCTOR: Coward. Any day.
(1.13 “The Parting of the Ways”)

The Doctor hates to take life, but he would if he had to and only after he had given that enemy a chance to be good or change their mind (Sycorax, Krillitanes, Racnos, Sontarans, etc), and it’s often with sorrow and seriousness (the Cybermen in “Age of Steel”). There was none of that emotion and moral complexity in the 50th. In Eleven and the Hurt Doctor I might not have minded this lack of complexity, but in the Tenth Doctor? Ten is a morally complex and responsible incarnation. He should have at least a moment of sorrow for all the Daleks he is about to laugh off to their deaths. But the Doctors were happy to just let the Daleks destroy one another. It was a complete victory to them, with no sense of the loss of life at all. That doesn’t fit the definition of the Doctor at all.

DAVROS: Oh, that’s it. The anger, the fire, the rage of a Time Lord who butchered millions. There he is. Why so shy? Show your companion. Show her your true self. Dalek Caan has promised me that too.
CAAN: I have seen. At the time of ending, the Doctor’s soul will be revealed.
(4.13 “Journey’s End”)

This whole speech by Davros is obviously talking about the Doctor’s actions throughout his life of fighting aliens, but I think specifically of war, where the word “butchery” is more often used of killing mass numbers of people (read: genocide). The thing about this statement, too, is that the Doctor believed Davros’ accusation, which is why the Doctor felt ashamed at what he had done in the Time War and the lives he took. The kick in Davros’ charge is that the Doctor “killed” the lives of friends throughout his life (e.g., River, Jenny, Astrid), but “millions” would mean the Time War, and the “friends” of his fellow Time Lords. That’s the only way Davros could burn the Doctor’s soul, by accusing him of guilt over butchering his people, his “friends.” Because Davros accusing him of killing Daleks would (in his mind) be simply accusing one side of killing the enemy in battle. Not much guilt in that, at least Davros would think. Again, the kick of the whole of Davros’ words is that the Doctor is responsible for his friends dying or somehow going bad because of him. Companions and Time Lords alike.

CAAN: I have seen the end of everything Dalek, and you must make it happen, Doctor.
META-CRISIS DOCTOR: He’s right. Because with or without a Reality bomb, this Dalek Empire’s big enough to slaughter the cosmos. They’ve got to be stopped.
DONNA: Just, just wait for the Doctor.
META-CRISIS DOCTOR: I am the Doctor. Maximising Dalekanium power feeds. Blasting them back!
(Daleks start exploding all over the Crucible and all over the Medusa Cascade. The Doctor runs out of the Tardis.)
DOCTOR (horrified): What have you done?
META-CRISIS DOCTOR: Fulfilling the prophecy.
(4.13 “Journey’s End”)

DOCTOR: But you’ve got to. Because we saved the universe, but at a cost. And the cost is him. He destroyed the Daleks. He committed genocide. He’s too dangerous to be left on his own. (…) You were born in battle, full of blood and anger and revenge. Remind you of someone? That’s me, when we first met. (4.13 “Journey’s End”)

Again, we see how much the Doctor hates to take the lives of even his enemies, and how he objected to his human metacrisis’ idea of killing all the Daleks. The Doctor puts the genocide of the Daleks on his list of personal sins. The very action (and against the same alien enemies) that he deemed wrong in “Journey’s End” is taken without remorse or depth of thought in the 50th. It’s a glaring characterization error, at least on Ten’s part, and one I find particularly irksome because it jars violently against previous canon and careful characterization. What I loved about watching the Doctor was how sorrowful he was when he had to take life. I didn’t get that vibe from the 50th, no sense of the moral immensity of his action at all.

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The Day of the Doctor: a Case of Canon vs. Canon (Part 1/5)

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.

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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.
(1.6 “Dalek”)

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.

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