trenzalore!

one (relatively minor) thing that bugs me about moffat who is his tendency to use long periods of time as mere plot points. we got a fairly mild version of it this episode, where bill had to wait for the doctor for over two years, but just think about that. two years unable to go outside, where her only friend is the master in disguise, forced to do manual labor under a terrible boss, while the doctor- knowing full well that time is passing more quickly for her- dithers about explaining this to people, instead of racing to save her. think about that, and think about how little weight that’s given in the episode. now think about rory, guarding the pandorica for two thousand years, or eleven spending nearly a millenium on trenzalore, or twelve spending four and half billion years in the confession dial. it’s all about the bombast of the impressively large number and not about the human impact of that time

Just a gentle reminder

The romance between the Doctor and Clara was real and canonical. This is not something that’s a matter of shipper wishful thinking. When you have the man who is ultimately responsible for every moment we see on screen, and the three actors charged with performing the Doctor and Clara, all referring to it as a romance (or variant statements thereof), and there’s dialogue and actions to support this, it’s canon by every measure.

It’s also canon that he loved Clara so much that he nearly destroyed time itself to save her (something The Husbands of River Song retroactively established that he considered doing for only one other person, his wife, by preparing to die on Trenzalore without having seen her off at Darillium). It is also canon that he allowed himself to have his memory wiped in order to protect her.

This is all canon. This isn’t me being a lovesick old fool saying “hey, you know if you squint hard enough you kinda see …” It’s verifiable. If someone put Whouffaldi on trial and you had to defend it in court, you could do so quite easily.

Series 10 is about to write a new chapter in the history. There have been rumours and spoilers and rumoured spoilers over the last day or so. We don’t know really what will happen over the 12 weeks. But the fact is even if there is not a single piece of respect paid to Clara Oswald, and what she and the Doctor shared together across not only two of his lives but, really, all of them thanks to the echoes, and even if Christmas breaks precedent and allows Twelve to enter the Time Stream without Clara being there - there is no erasing the Clara years from the show’s history and the amazing relationship that played out over 2 ½ seasons.

When I get out of these catacombs, if I ever do, I’ll change my ways. No more adventuring for me. No more dashing about time and space, taking mad risks, playing blind man’s buff with death. I’ll return to Gallifrey and lead a life of quiet contemplation throughout all my remaining regenerations. I’ve still got a few centuries left. I’ll treasure them, eke them out second by second as if each heartbeat was a diamond, worth more than all the galaxy. I’ll … I’ll donate my TARDIS to the Presidential museum. They’ll appreciate that. Sightseers will point to it and ask: ‘Whatever happened to the madman who used to wander the universe in that thing?’ And the curator will say, ‘He learned his lesson and came home for good.’ Perhaps … perhaps I’ll be the curator.
—  The Briggs Doctor after running into his future tomb and dead TARDIS in Alan W Lear’s 1985 Cloud of Fear. To summarize, we have “no more”, the madman in a box, the Curator, the Doctor’s future tomb, and the Doctor’s dead TARDIS. Doctor Who is like poetry. It rhymes!
On the Reason for Companions

Ever since “An Unearthly Child” aired, the Doctor’s companion has been as necessary a part of the show as the Doctor himself. The companion is narratively necessary for many reasons: to provide a human perspective the audience can identify with, to provide opportunities for exposition, to show the Doctor’s more “human” side, and so on. However, the in-universe reasons for the Doctor choosing a companion are much less clear, varying from era to era: One took Barbara and Ian along for very different reasons than Seven took Ace, for example. But “Knock Knock” sparked an interesting thought for me about the Doctor’s evolution during New Who and why he takes companions along.

The relevant scene in “Knock Knock” is near the end: when Twelve is figuring out who the landlord and Eliza are, and Bill points out that it makes no sense for the landlord to be Eliza’s father, since he’s still alive. Twelve responds, “I forget, you see, your human lifespan. It’s not long, is it?” That reminded me of the famous “mayfly” conversation Twelve had with Ashildr in “The Woman Who Lived,” and I realized—that’s why Twelve takes along companions.

See, every New Who Doctor has a well-defined reason for taking on companions. Nine is lonely, and he’s just committed double genocide, and he needs a stabilizing force: someone to remind him that he can be kind, and good, and loving. Ten needs someone to stop him; Rose and Ten grew gradually more unhealthy through series 2 because Rose didn’t believe Ten needed stopping. He asks Donna along after scaring himself and her with his murder of the Racnoss, and takes Martha because of his promise to Donna.

Eleven needs someone who, as he says, can “see it"—"it” being the wonders of the universe. For all his childishness, he has lost some of the childlike awe of the crazy stuff in space, and needs Amy and Clara to show him how to delight in it again. (Yes, okay, he says he brought them along because they were mysteries, but frankly, if that was the only reason, he picked a terrible way to solve the mystery. You want to find out why a little girl is living in a huge house with an invisible room? Leave her in the house and keep an eye on her! Taking Amy away was literally the worst way to find out what was going on.)

And Twelve? Twelve needs mayflies to care about. This is probably due at least in part to Trenzalore: Eleven would have had to separate himself from the people of Christmas eventually and forget their limited lifespans to save himself pain, and Twelve now needs someone to give him that smaller, earthier perspective he lost on Trenzalore. First it was Clara, but Clara eventually lost her smaller perspective as well, and now it’s Bill.

And Bill is so perfectly suited to provide reminders of the everyday things important to humans that Twelve so often forgets. It shows in her practicality, her desire to retain Doctor-free space in her life, her clinging to the tangible proof of her mum, her demand that Twelve save the boy in “Thin Ice.” In this respect she is very like Donna, who corrected so naturally Ten’s arrogance.

Each Doctor had a specific need for a specific sort of companion. Nine needed encouragement; Ten often needed discouragement; Eleven needed enthusiasm and wonder; and Twelve needs perspective, a reminder of the knowledge he lost on Trenzalore. Bill is marvelously suited to fill this latest role, and in this respect is almost the antithesis of Clara. Her desires are the opposite of Clara’s, and so, while she and Twelve may never understand each other in quite the way Twelve and Clara did, she is the perfect grounding force on someone who too often overlooks what is important to those with short and finite lifespans. Bill and Twelve have the beginning of a wonderful partnership, and I look forward to seeing them grow.

Headcanon that anytime the Doctor mentions Christmas in Doctor Who, it’s really just the TARDIS translating for the companions when he says Otherstide. (He isn’t really so focused on one silly Earth religion’s tradition.)

That why the town on Trenzalore is called Christmas.

Because it’s Otherstide. Other’s tide.

You know. The time of the Doctor.

“With every victory, the town celebrated. In time, the Doctor seemed to forget he lived any other life. And the people of the town came to love the man who stayed for Christmas.”

Quick And Dirty - That Damn Matrix Theory

It’s no secret  - I have been stuck writing this theory for ages now. The reason is that the theory is so big and so heavily based on all kinds of meta - a lot of which still needs writing or rewriting - that I can’t make my reasoning sound non-crazy, even to those who are familiar with my entire four years worth of nerdy blogging.

So I’m just gonna give you the theory upfront and then I will focus on explaining bits and pieces in future posts. Okay? Okay. Here goes:

1. I think the Matrix reached out through the crack

The Matrix is a virtual reality, storing history and dead people. The crack in Amy’s wall is a tear in the fabric of reality, so it seems plausible that it could connect different Universes and realities, too. Why not a virtual reality, then? Like the Matrix? 

2. People from the Matrix are trying to escape into this world 

It makes sense: If you were a dead, and you got a chance to return the living, wouldn’t you take it, too? Plus, we have been told this story before. Remember prisoner zero? From day one of Moffat’s era, we were told that someone could escape through the crack in the wall. I’m kind of expecting Moffat to return to that at the end of his era. 

Plus, it would very much explain this guy (and come to think of it, – Spoiler! – the return of the Simm Master, as well – End Spoiler –):

The matrix doesn’t only store dead Timelords, it also store past incarnations of living Timelords. So if he managed to escape into our world, the fourth incarnation of the Doctor could indeed go on to live a happy life as curator of the art gallery. 

3. Instead of living peacefully in this Universe, the Matrix people are going to try and take over the world 

This really is a story that we have seen many, many times, even in RTD’s era! Ghost that come through a rift, a wormhole or anything that connects Universes. And at first we think they just want to live in this world in peace, until it turns out that they are not peaceful at all and totally want to take over the planet. 

4. I think the Matrix is locked with a password - and I think the password is the Doctor’s name

This would explain why the oldest question in the Universe is “Doctor Who?”. And it further supports my theory that it is the Matrix who is calling out through the crack. The Doctor’s name is a dark and terrible secret - one that must be kept, even at the cost of his friends (remember The Name Of The Doctor, where he can’t say his name even to save Clara’s life). Surely, the Timelords wouldn’t try to make him say his name? No, but the Matrix might need him to, in order to break free. Or perhaps someone within the Matrix? Say, the Valeyard?

5. I think the Valeyard is one of those who are trying to escape, and he wants to take the Doctor’s place.

We have all been waiting for the return of the Valeyard. The foreshadowing has been there for years, really. The Doctor has frequently had Jekyll and Hyde moments, has lost his grip on reality, on memory, and is generally unsure of being a good man. Plus, in Classic Who, the Valeyard is closely tied to the story of the Matrix, so it would make sense to bring him back in this context. 

Yesterdays episode Extremis, featured the Doctor in a virtual reality, and I think we have not seen the end of that, at all. The Valeyard is going to try and put the Doctor in the Matrix, so he can have all his remaining regenerations and cruise the Universe in his TARDIS. (Very much like Mr. Clever in Nightmare In Silver)

6. I really really think the Matrix is in charge of the Weeping Angels (And I would love that so much!)

This is a big one. I published (half) a theory about this yesterday. Again, this is a story that we have been told many times: Monsters that don’t have a physical form, using inanimate, human-like figures to do their bidding. I have written about this in a past theory: It happens in The Family Of Blood (moving scarecrows), in Rose (living plastic), in The Snowmen (moving snowmen), and many more. 

A variation of this also happens in Flatline, where the 2D-aliens try to mirror our dimensions by becoming these zombie-like thingies.

If the people from the Matrix are trying to come into this world from their virtual reality - perhaps they too start by being statue-like creatures? Are the Weeping Angels even actual Timelords from the Matrix? (Not sure about this last bit.) 

Either way, do note that the first monster we encounter at Trenzalore is a Weeping Angel:

And then again in Hell Bent, when we get to see the actual Timelord Matrix for the first time. What’s the first monster there?

It seems like very peculiar placing of Weeping Angels. And I would really love for Moffat to tie up their story in this manner. But we will have to wait and see. 

7. And finally: I think the Matrix very deliberately crashed the TARDIS in order to make it all happen.

In the past, I have suspected the Silence and the GI to work together, but since then I have changed my mind on this (sorry, theory writing is a bit wibbly wobbly). It is the Matrix that is collaborating with the Silence. The Matrix has serious motif for blowing up the TARDIS, seeing as it is the explosion that causes the cracks in the fabric of reality.  

Also, again, this story was told to us before - and many times: In Aliens Of London, the Slytheen crash a spaceship as a diversion, so they can secretly take over the world; the Family Of Blood crash their spaceship in the process of pursuing the Doctor: in Flesh And Stone/Time Of Angels, a Weeping Angel crashes the Byzantium as a rescue mission.   

Remember also Max Capricorn, the guy without a body, who was in charge of those angel-robots, and who tried to crash the Titanic.

I know, in the past years I have accused everything but the kitchen sink of blowing up the TARDIS. (And actually - didn’t the Doctor say he crashed the TARDIS when he left the water running?) But I am really sure now that some bodiless intelligence is the true culprit - and since Moffat has been preparing us for the return of the Matrix for years, I think it is a good candidate. 

Bonus: River Song

I just remembered, I had a theory that there was a prisoner in the middle of Gallifrey, and that River Song was created to free that prisoner. I have to look that up again. But River knowing the Doctor’s name has something to do with it. Does she give the Matrix the password? I also seem to remember a theory that River was murdered (it’s a long story). I’ll get back to you on that. 

Okay, so I know this was a lot of theory, but perhaps now you understand why I’ve been stuck for so long. I hope it is readable. Please let me know your thoughts and questions.

What do you guys think?

On the Nature of Whouffaldi

Last week, I wrote a meta about companions in Moffat vs Davies Who and how Moffat companions are defined mainly by their relationships. That meta was partly inspired by Clara: I find her a very difficult character to understand, but what I realized is that she comes into much clearer focus the more we see of her relationships with others. “The Time of the Doctor,” the first time we see her interacting with her family, is a good example of this. Her controlling tendencies and desire to maintain a certain image are instantly evident in the way she presents the Doctor as her boyfriend and obsesses over the turkey, insisting that everything be perfect.

A question that follows naturally from this realization is, of course, what is the nature of Clara’s relationship with the Doctor? Most of the other Doctor-companion relationships are clearly defined: Rose and Nine/Ten were a Romantic Couple (whether you think they were an actual item or just a bundle of sexually-charges longing), Martha had unrequited love for Ten, Donna and Ten were the Best Friends, and Eleven and the Ponds were a family. What was the Doctor’s relationship with Clara, then? Eleven and Clara seem pretty flirty, but then Twelve takes a hands-off approach. They’re friends, obviously, but it’s not the easy camaraderie of Donna and Ten; they push each at other. At times their relationship seems almost abusive, as he commands her and she goes to extreme lengths to control his actions, but they also have a lot of trust in and love for each other. What, then, are they defined by? The easy answer, of course, is that they are just the Doctor and Clara, and to attempt to define them further is to create too simplistic a model. There is a lot of truth to that in some ways, but it doesn’t satisfy me. So here’s what I came up with: the Doctor and Clara—particularly Twelve and Clara—are defined most of all by hero worship.

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I bring proof of courage and comradeship. What is this ship and why are you here? Identify yourselves by species and planet of origin! 

“It will unravel the Web of Time and destroy a billion billion hearts to heal its own.”

The thing is, that in spite of her moving, insightful speech at the end of Face the Raven, Clara Oswald would have been capable of doing absolutely the same as the Doctor. She might have wanted him to live up to the myth of what it means to be “the Doctor”, might have reacted with grief and horror at the realisation that he submitted himself to billions of years of torture to save her, but everyhing he did to get to that point is so familiar.

When it comes to saving the ones she loves, Clara does not give a damn about consequences. She does not care that Emma is to weak to open the wormhole again or that the TARDIS might die as soon as they reach the pocket universe. She willingly shatters herself into a million pieces, as her grand heroic act. She blackmails the Doctor into bringing Danny back, even if it could mean stranding themselves in a vulcano and losing his friendship.

Re-writing time means nothing to Clara. She’s done it a million times over, even if that was to right a wrong. She changed the pivotal moment in the most monumental war in the history of the universe with a tear and a shake of her head. She thought nothing of demanding that the Doctor should change the future in Trenzalore. She puts everything she has left on the line to bring Danny back from the dead and faced with the Doctor’s ghost, no rules or promises of catastrophic ramnifications will keep her from demanding better. Break them. He owes her.

And knowing that she had to return to Gallifrey, had to return to the Trap Street, that time could fracture otherwise… well, that’s still as good as an excuse as any to take a long detour. The adventure doesn’t have to end yet.

Do you think the woman twice dead would not have died many more deaths to save the Doctor? Do you think the accomplished liar wouldn’t have spun a story to make the Doctor return him to her? That Clara Oswald wouldn’t have risked all of time and space because she missed him? The two of them are the hybrid for a reason. They drive each other to extremes.

“What would you do?” - “Same as you.” - “Yes. Yes, of course you would.”

Callout Post for Murray Gold

Murray Gold, you guys, does not get enough love. So I am here, armed with a list of my favorite pieces from each series of Doctor Who. It was meant to be an orderly list, with one favorite per series, but it kind of devolved into a shouty mess about music. (Which should be expected. Last year I got an email from Spotify detailing my listening habits over the past year and apparently I’m in the top 1% of Murray Gold fans. THE MAN IS AWESOME OKAY.)

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