Twice Upon a Time
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28 December 2017 at 08:37 #62801
@miapatrick Regeneration feels like death to the Doctor sometimes, the end of that personality.
So here’s Moffat insisting all over the place (as he’s been wont to do) that of course the Doctor doesn’t actually DIE, he just steps onto a different moving sidewalk, after a dramatic light-show. And yet — the Capaldi seasons have been all about death, and this finale was repeatedly reminding us that we were watching two versions of the same man acquiescing to their own deaths *as themselves*. So what’s so special about 12’s personality, that he doesn’t want to shut it down (not obliterate, but shut down any further progress of that personality with a full stop)?
Seems to me, it’s that the personality that that particular life has developed is what 12 is trying to defend and preserve, as both a place to rest from ceaseless change, and a way of honoring the life that’s brought him to this point. Absurd on the face of it — can the Doctor settle for becoming a sort of stone monument to his current self? For that matter, we *know* it drives him almost literally crazy to actually stop and just live quietly with himself. I don’t think it’s even in him. He wants to be what his travels have made of him, not some old guy in a rocking chair on the porch thinking about his memories of having been that man. He wants peace? He wants rest? In a pig’s eye, he does, or rather, only until he *gets* some of that. Shane in a frock coat, but with less self-knowledge? [Not you, Shane! Shane from the Western movie!]
I think there’s a tension there, though, that keeps a character piece like this going. It isn’t what we all know beforehand he will decide to do; more like how does the Doctor argue it out with himself (literally, in this story); what pushes the buttons that lead him to accept the rightness of calling a halt for just the latest version of himself and letting the rest go on and be — some other bloke, walking away (in this case, whatever the female version of “bloke” is).
But Bill says, her glass-self is still her real self because she has her memories (only, apparently, not of what the heck happened to Heather or how she got to the Chamber of the Dead), and they are what makes her herself, whatever vessel they’re poured into. And Clara shows up to cause the filling in of the blanks in 12’s memory of his time with her, completing his identity, his this-self, right before he gives being that self? Well, they’ve got that covered; if Bill’s memories are Bill and Clara’s memories of Clara are Clara, and 13 carries in her *all* of the memories of her previous self, then all of those previous selves are still alive. So it’s not death; it’s growth and preservation at the same time, and Moffat is off the hook on the subject.
That “letting go” theme — and how hard that is to do often when it’s not even your own life you’re clinging to — resonated like hell for me. I’ve started trying to clear out some of the stuff that we accumulated over the past 5 decades (because it’s true, our kids and grandkids really don’t want our junk — they’re collecting their own), and I can barely let *that* go. But the urge is getting stronger, lately.28 December 2017 at 09:32 #62802
@bluesqueakpip The ring was the only part of the Capaldi Doctor’s costume that stayed throughout. It’s a symbol that this Doctor’s time had finished – the one thing he has constantly worn – no longer fits.
Ah! Perfectly put. Thank you.
@jimthefish I agree that they pushed D1’s out-of-date attitudes a bit too hard, and it grated to have 12 tell him “You can’t say that!” It’s playing into the grubby paws of the anti-social justice brigade who insist that “political correctness” is really just censorship. They could have done that bit just with “almost everyone you meet from now on.” That was great: not “shut up” but “you’re making yourself look bad, and me with you”.
And the grins, and the jokes — great. Fun’s necessary to put some sparkle on the coal face . . . and
. . . It’s interesting for a Doctor who was initially quite forbidding how 12 became (I think) the most genuinely open-hearted, empathic and compassionate of the modern Doctors.
Yes. I think this ties up with comments that 12 has had a rough time of it in his stories, so coming up warm and kind toward the end means more: if life treats you badly, you still have the choice of learning to be more compassionate toward others having tough times, instead of letting the badness turn you cynical and selfish; which is kind of how you find out whether you’re a “good man” or not (though you’ll still backslide sometimes, if you’re merely human — or a TL).
Yes on that muddle around just how much of 12’s memory was blocked by the neural blocker: damn near all, and it wasn’t a ruse or a kindly-meant manipulation of Clara, and no, he didn’t know who the woman painted on his Tardis was at the end of S9.
The whole memory-is-identity thing, though; I’ve got more thinking to do about that, outside of the framework and needs of this story. It does seem that way — but there’s more to it than that. There’s that documentary about the Englishman, a musician, who came out of some form of meningitis unable to form new memories or remember old ones (but he did always recognize his wife). You can see something of his character — the same glimpse, each time — when he tells the interviewer that he’s never in his life (that he remembers) talked with anyone or met another human being (even the wife he knows when he sees her, always with the same burst of joyful recognition): a sharp mind, impatient, baffled and hating being baffled, eager for a way out — he’s still there, even without his memories. Like the people I see at the dementia facility when I visit my husband.
I’ll never forget, though, a woman I saw there early this year, walking restlessly about the place and saying aloud to herself, over and over, “I’m still me. I’m still me. I’m still me.” Is she? What was she holding onto as “me”? Something that memories had been stripped from, layer by layer, but that persisted.
Maybe that’s why I choked up a bit when 12 was telling the glass avatars about being alone on the battlefield because everyone else (including them) had “fallen”, and that all the memories he carries from a 2000 year life-span would be too much even for the Testimony; “they would shatter you.” And they’ve shattered him, more than once, and he’s tired to death of it.
So Whittaker’s bright face felt so fresh and eager by contrast — a good start, and maybe just what’s needed to make all those accumulated losses easier to carry while she travels on, making new ones. That takes balls, whatever your gender.28 December 2017 at 09:47 #62803
@missrori I did appreciate that Twelve wasn’t quite so alone in the end, choosing to be alone when he regenerated notwithstanding.
Well, he’d just had a big, all-together-now group hug (“I don’t think I’m a hugging person now . . “) with people he loved but couldn’t “lose” any more because they were already dead, except as memories — they were, in fact, safe at last, as part of the Testimony: job done. So he went off to be alone — *with himself*, the emerging successor to whom he addressed his final comments. Not really alone; into the gestalt and so into the future, as a bunch of memories himself.
I’ve watched it twice; found it satisfying and nourishing, and largely sufficient to its purposes. Hell. I think I loved it.28 December 2017 at 10:36 #62805
I’ve thought a little about the “memory as identity” concept that’s raised in this episode. I tend to think that there is more than memory in identity. Even stripped of all memories, I feel that something of the self remains. I’m not talking about a soul, as I think that everything of the self comes from the physical components of the body. Ultimately, if you broke down the structure of the brain, at some point the self would be destroyed, but I think that removing the higher level constructs that we perceive as conscious memories would not (fully) do that.
Most particularly, it’s clear that the Doctor doesn’t believe that memory is identity – he doesn’t treat Bill as the person he cared for, but only as a simulation of that person, whom he barely addresses directly initially.
And it’s clear that the Doctor feels that he himself is more than his memories, since he feels a real change of identity, even the death of his current self in some sense, whenever he regenerates, even though that leaves his memories intact. It’s significantly more for him than just a change in appearance.
And yet, he “transferred” River into the library computer, presumably in that case feeling he was doing more than creating a simulation of her.28 December 2017 at 11:01 #62806Missy @missy
No one has mentioned the musical score? It was beautiful. Shades of the 12th Doctor’s theme, the singing towers of Darillium, and the sad music from Heaven Sent, along with much, much more.
The Doctor’s ring falling off, was surley not Chibnalls idea? Steven Moffat wrote the episode, so it must have been his.
I finally watched it this morning, and if one can actually enjoy saying goodbye to the best Doctor ever – in my opinion – I did. It made me laugh and cry and was the best Christmas special since Husbands fo River song I’ve seen. Some of your views I agree with and some I don’t, but it was beautifully written, with both humour and pathos.
The final scene however, gave me the biggest laugh. although this is probably not the correct interpretation, I prefer mine. The Tardis kicking the next Doctor out out – I loved it. Perhaps she felt as I do and when she exploded, I felt that she decided to go too like her Doctor. *grins*
I doubt I shall ever come to terms with a female in the lead, and think that three companions is just a touch excessive? However, I shall watch the first two episodes and take it from there.
Missy28 December 2017 at 22:18 #62814Ollie14 @ollie14
Hi everyone. Hope you all had a good Christmas.
Watched it on Boxing Day and thought it was a nice episode, one really just to fill the gap between the Moffat and Chibnall era, plus the regeneration. However it was also very fitting with some key Christmas messages, especially highlighting the Christmas truce.
Thought Jodie Whitaker’s small scene was pretty cool and her “Ahh Brilliant” reminded me of the bubbly Matt Smith. If she’s as good as him then awesome.
Did have a couple of questions though that some of you may know the answer to.
1.) In “The Doctor Falls” Bill was saved by Heather, so how did she then go from that into an enchanted glass person? Either she must have died at some point and then got turned into one or when she died in “The Doctor Falls” she got transitioned into one.
2.) And also, The Doctor said the enchanted glass people are just “memories”, if that’s true then they are hardly “free to walk earth again”, do the enchanted glass people only turn up when someone thinks of them? Who’s memories are they?
3.) The Doctor changed the time when travelling back to the battlefield to 2 hours later to the Christmas truce so the “Captain” wouldn’t die. But if the “captain” was taken by the enchanted glass people and then brought back by the Doctor 2 hours later, then for 2 hours he would of just disappeared?
apologies for being picky but just want to be clear.
ollie28 December 2017 at 22:44 #62817nerys @nerys
@tardigrade However, I have to register my discomfort with the First Doctor being portrayed with 1960’s (or earlier) attitudes to gender roles, even with that being played for comedy. I have difficulty in reconciling that with the Doctor’s character as I know it- I’d have preferred that those dated elements were treated just as a by-product of making a show at that time, rather than intrinsic to the First Doctor, essentially just retconning them away, or being part of an act to fit in. As an alien from a society where people can change gender, having ingrained “traditional” gender roles isn’t something I could imagine as part of the Doctor’s character.
The part about this that seemed off-kilter to me was the fact that Capaldi’s Doctor even noticed at all. I realize they were playing this for laughs (and I agree with the observation by @jimthefish that “the First Doctor’s sexism was just over-egged slightly”). It was not so long ago that the Twelfth Doctor was fumbling with Clara’s index cards containing her notes on human social cues he’s supposed to heed. Has he really finally picked up on those clues? I can’t think of an episode in which he turned the corner in a big way (though certainly toward the end of his time with Clara, and then later on with Bill, there were plenty of small moments). So for me, his admonitions of the First Doctor seemed jarring and not quite believable, more so than the First Doctor’s comments, themselves.28 December 2017 at 23:32 #62820
The ring was still Peter Capaldi, so that would be Steven Moffat. Moffat gave Chris Chibnall the same handover that RTD gave him; Steven Moffat’s script (and era) ended with his Doctor’s regeneration.
Chris Chibnall’s era started with Jodie Whittaker’s scene – so he wrote his (female) Doctor starting her career with the TARDIS throwing her out. 🙂28 December 2017 at 23:48 #62824
Interesting comments about the First’s *sexist attitudes* (or rather his *sixties attitudes* 😉 ). Should Twelve have commented on it/noticed it? Hmmm… I know if I somehow met up with my younger self several decades later (never mind a couple of millennia later) I would be very likely a bit embarrassed (hopefully combined with a fond tolerance) by some of my attitudes/phrases. We are all products of our time, and we all change and learn and grow as we get older, the Doctor no less than anyone else.
Rusty – In Into the Dalek, the Doctor explicitely pinned his hopes on finding a “good” dalek, one that could override its programming. It would seem Rusty has been able to maintain the change. He’s still exterminating things, but he’s on the side of the good guys (there’s potentially a whole existentialist thesis to be written on that one, but it’s probably as *good* as a dalek gets!). The point is he’s been permanently changed by his encounter with the Doctor.
@ollie14 Some good points raised… Re the Captain – he wasn’t taken by the glass people (not dead yet), he was caught up in the “frozen moment time crisis” caused by the 2 Doctors (esp the First) refusing to regenerate. The Tardis being the Tardis delivered them to the Captain (the place where he’s “meant” to be). The moment remains frozen till the Captain is returned… doesn’t matter if that was 2 minutes or 2 hours after he was extracted.
“do the enchanted glass people only turn up when someone thinks of them?” – I think that’s exactly it. The dead are preserved as their own memories but can come back when someone thinks about them. Not as themselves exactly, but from the POV of the person who remembers them – eg the group cuddle, from which Bill and Nardole dissolve back into glass.
Bill is dead, but for the Doctor she’s alive when he remembers her (as a previous Doctor (#2) said of his family that “they sleep in my mind”). How is she travelling with puddlegirl Heather? No idea! Still working on that one!28 December 2017 at 23:51 #6282529 December 2017 at 00:44 #62829
How is she travelling with puddlegirl Heather?
I would imagine they had a long full life of hot lesbo action and universe exploration, until one – or both – of them died and Bill ended up part of Testimony. I suppose that since she seems unsure of Heather’s fate, that implies that Bill died before Heather, or that for some reason Heather wasn’t eligible for Testimony (too alienated?).29 December 2017 at 00:52 #62830
Indeed, haha. Or maybe the Doctor just wasn’t remembering her, so she wasn’t “called”.
🙂29 December 2017 at 01:05 #62831
I was thinking that, because the Testimony have time travel, they might have a’spoiler’ cut-out available.
Bill didn’t remember what happened to Heather or why she wasn’t with her because that happened (from the Doctor’s point of view) after this meeting. She’s avoided any possible spoilers by not remembering the ‘future’.29 December 2017 at 03:19 #62838
It was not so long ago that the Twelfth Doctor was fumbling with Clara’s index cards containing her notes on human social cues he’s supposed to heed. Has he really finally picked up on those clues?
I’d agree there’s something of a disconnect there. I think that’s more about the cuecards than his sensitivity at present though. I was critical of the cuecard scenes, as I thought they went much too far in the opposite direction, in the writers’ enthusiasm to reinforce his alien qualities. He’s lived well over a millenium, a significant amount of that around humans, so he really must have picked up on these things by now, if he’s capable of doing so at all.
Plus it seemed to me it would not just be his sensitivity to how these statements would be perceived by Bill that triggered the Doctor’s discomfort, but also his own personal reaction, coming from a society where it’s hard to see those attitudes prevailing. The Time Lords of 60’s TV were doubtless a partriarchal society, but I would have assumed that was essentially ignored / retconned now, rather than representing something that was carried through now as canon. So it wasn’t Twelve’s sensitivity that was surprising to me, but rather the First Doctor’s obliviousness.29 December 2017 at 05:26 #62840CountScarlioni @countscarlioni
@bluesqueakpip There’s an interview with the vision mixer for the regeneration on the Tenth Planet DVD.
Many thanks for the extra information and the correction!
@tardigrade @ichabod @ichabod “These are my memories so this is me”: I might be making a mess of this, but the Countess Scarloni has explained to me (by talking very slowly) that this is is basically John Locke’s theory of personal identity. It seems to me it is also, if Bill and Professor Clay are to be believed, the position of the Testimony Foundation at the University of New Earth in 5,000, 000, 012. Locke was trying to solve the problem arising from Biblical texts that say the body we have in this life is the same body we have at the resurrection (and SM has come at `resurrection’ in various ways over the years in the Library and Death in Heaven). But other philosophers, like Joseph Butler and Thomas Reid and the Doctor in this episode, took exception to Locke’s arguments.29 December 2017 at 05:48 #62841
Locke is obviously well before any understanding (nascent though it still is) of the brain and was, I imagine, a cartesian dualist, so in his view, memory presumably resided with the soul, so a reconstituted body containing that soul would contain the same self.
I’d argue that in the modern understanding, and disregarding dualism, self emerges from the structure of the brain, and that memories shape that structure, so are a part of that, though not all of it. There are certainly many who hold hope that their self could, at least in principle, be “uploaded” and they could exist in some virtual form that reflected that structure, captured their memories, and contained their self, but wasn’t dependent on the hardware of the brain. The Doctor apparently previously bought into that when River was uploaded to the library computer. Not so much now though, it seems.29 December 2017 at 12:52 #62848MissRori @missrori
@tardigrade The Doctor may have bought into it with the Library, but at this point he’s had experience with the Nethersphere too, so he has some reason to have doubts over whether such a concept works/is a good thing or not, I suppose.
Regarding the cue cards, I was okay with them, though I can see where some thought this overplayed Twelve’s can’t-see-the-trees-for-the-forest issues. Of course, they were Clara’s idea in-universe IIRC, as she was so frustrated with him — and she always was the bossy type…
The idea that Glass!Bill had “spoilers” snipped out is one I’ve seen broached elsewhere as a plausible explanation for why she doesn’t bring up her post-“Doctor Falls” experiences.
Weirdest theory I’ve seen about the First Doctor’s sexism as running gag — a commenter at The Mary Sue genre discussion site argued that it’s actually Moffat’s way of clandestinely expressing how much he hates women, couched as a joke.29 December 2017 at 13:10 #62849
Within Moffat’s Whonivese, ‘soul’ appears to be separate from ‘recorded memories’ – the classic case being Auton Rory. Then there’s the Gangers, where the entire episode is about beings with duplicate memories and duplicate brains – and whether those duplicates are ‘us’.
Moffat’s answer comes from philosophy, not biology’s current reductionist phase. You can have a philosophical thought experiment (or a Doctor Who script) where memories, even physical brain structure are precisely duplicated. Teleports, anyone? The question is, is that duplicate ‘me’, or is there something else that makes ‘me’?
Moffat goes for ‘something else’, but then suggests the ‘something else’ can be transferred from the old body to the new. Auton Rory, despite the extra programming, IS Rory. Virtual River IS River. Gangers, however, are themselves, presumably because they duplicate a still-existing ‘me’.
So the Doctor’s doubt about Bill is within his previous experience – which tells him that a collection of recorded memories could be just a duplicate, manipulated by something with an ulterior motive. Or, like Auton Rory, she could be the real Bill, in a different form. But he doesn’t know, and he’s just seen her die. And he’s in a raw enough state to not believe in the miracle of her survival.29 December 2017 at 14:25 #62853JimTheFish @jimthefishTime Lord
@missrori — I think the idea that Moffat hates women is patently nonsense but it’s a drum that the Mary Sue is obviously going to refuse to give up.
Rather on rewatching I think he’s doing something rather clever with the First Doctor. I suspect he might have deliberately ramped up the sexism as a pointed comment against the old stick-in-the-mud contingent of fans to point out how ridiculous and un-Doctorly a lot of the rather toxicity they’ve been generating since July. It was something of a dig at them but also an appeal for them to cultivate an open mind, to ‘let the Doctor go’ and to welcome the new one.29 December 2017 at 14:59 #62856FatManInABox @fatmaninabox
I think there may be a simpler reason why Bill doesn’t know/remember what happened to Heather. Bill, or at least the version that exists within Testimony, didn’t travel with Heather. The moment that Heather touched Bill and converted her to ‘Puddle Bill’ is the moment that Bill/CyberBill died and her memories became part of Testimony. She knows that Heather returned for her but can’t remember anything past that point purely because, from ‘real’ Bill’s pov, she didn’t do anything. The ‘Puddle Couple’ are probably still out there having
a long full life of hot lesbo action and universe exploration
as @pedant so eloquently put it 😆29 December 2017 at 15:49 #62858
@jimthefish I’m inclined to agree with you re the sexism of the First Doc. I suspect Moffat was taking the piss out of the explosion of idiocy when JW was announced, and all of the comments about nurse/doctor, domestic roles and dodgy driving. Certainly, apart from the smacked bottom comment to Susan (which is obv super cringy from our perspective) no one has cited examples of the first Doc expecting female companions to do the housework (tho I haven’t trawled through all available transcripts – life is simply too short). It may be, as you suggest, slightly over-egged, and I’m not totally sure it works, but it was funny, nonetheless. It could perhaps also be a bit meta, acknowledging that the Doctor is a creation of the time the series was written, and thus not immune to the prejudices and stereotypical assumptions of the day.29 December 2017 at 15:56 #62859
@ichabod Very moved by your comments relating the whole theme of memory and identity to experience of dementia. It’s something I think about a lot these days, as we spend time with mother-in-law with Alzheimers. It’s obviously often very distressing but when one can distance oneself sufficiently, it’s fascinating. Someone on Twitter was protesting that a person with dementia is still absolutely themselves, not diminished, but we have this sense of MiL as being an echo of herself. There are fragments of memories which randomly or arbitrarily surface, but can’t be retrieved at will, and barely any new memories have been formed for several years now. When we try to encourage reminiscence she will often dismiss it as ‘all too long ago’, or just refuse to engage. If her identity is ‘a bunch of memories’ that bunch is smaller than it was, and is fading…29 December 2017 at 16:05 #62860
Overall, I loved Twice upon a Time. I was more tense than usual beforehand – there seemed so much riding on it, Twelve’s valedictory appearance, and Thirteen’s inauguration, swansongs for Moffatt, Gold, and Mackie. But it gripped and moved me. It not being an evil plot, the Captain being the Brig’s ancestor (OK I was saying under my breath for well ahead of the reveal, please be a Lethbridge Stewart, please be a Lethbridge Stewart…), Gatiss’s beautiful performance, the restoration of Twelve’s memories of Clara, and the Xmas Truce – no wonder I was in floods of tears for most of the programme. Thanks to all of you who have commented here – @pedant‘s remarks struck me particularly forcefully.
Am still processing and pondering some aspects – this may turn into a blog, not sure yet. Will post here if it does materialise.
And JW will be, oh, brilliant.29 December 2017 at 17:21 #6286129 December 2017 at 18:23 #62862
Capaldi’s last day, wearing Jon Pertwee’s jacket from Planet of the Daleks (now owned by Mark Gatiss (who took the pic))… these guys are bigger fanboys than we are! 😉 :29 December 2017 at 18:32 #62863
Same jacket, as originally worn by the 3rd… could be the same man, haha. (Apparently it’s hanging up in the background in the final scene of TUAT).29 December 2017 at 21:54 #62867
@missrori Weirdest theory I’ve seen about the First Doctor’s sexism as running gag — a commenter at The Mary Sue genre discussion site argued that it’s actually Moffat’s way of clandestinely expressing how much he hates women, couched as a joke.
Gods, they can be idiots over there sometimes! Moffat doesn’t hate women, just came with the standard attitudes, but I think he’s learned a tremendous amount since he began writing DW, even though he sometimes backslides, or misses a big miss-step. In fact, if anything, 12’s admonishments to 1 may be Moffat’s plea that his more savage feminist critics notice that he’s grown himself up quite a bit (with the “help” of his feminist critics as well), while growing 12 up, in regard to gender politics. He’s been learning to see better, and he’s asking to be seen in return, flaws and all, but not a pig.
@jimthefish (Moffat) deliberately ramped up the sexism as a pointed comment against the old stick-in-the-mud contingent of fans to point out how ridiculous and un-Doctorly a lot of the rather toxicity they’ve been generating since July. It was something of a dig at them but also an appeal for them to cultivate an open mind, to ‘let the Doctor go’ and to welcome the new one.
That too, quite clearly I thought. “Growing up” means giving up stale and harmful prejudices that came with your childhood, and that goes for all of us, Doctors and fans included.
@cathanabel . . . re the sexism of the First Doc. . . . It could perhaps also be a bit meta, acknowledging that the Doctor is a creation of the time the series was written, and thus not immune to the prejudices and stereotypical assumptions of the day.
Agreed; and it serves as a reminder, I think, to not over-romanticize D1, since he was (looking back from out perspective now, if we’re still flexible of mind) a product of his time as well as a time traveler; and that he, too, did need to go. Even as a brief visitor, he no longer fits. Many modern kids would point out without prompting that a medical woman is not necessarily a nurse, while a man might well be.
we have this sense of MiL as being an echo of herself. There are fragments of memories which randomly or arbitrarily surface, but can’t be retrieved at will, and barely any new memories have been formed for several years now.
With my husband, it’s been more of a process of retreating deeper and deeper from internal chaos to what I think of as his “real” self — a core of sweet-natured (if sporadic now) engagement with others and quiet persistence of purpose (even if the purpose these days is confused or illusory). The “outer” mind, what remains of it, is a whirl of those fragments you mention, generating a few words of sentences that die off halfway-uttered. The self is something I see (or, sometimes, don’t see) in his eyes, rather than in words. It’s the interface between us, where we both see through his confusion for a short time; that living light in the eyes when they “light on” something real, familiar, and loved.
So I guess that for me, the self is feeling, more than thought. Feeling + immediacy. I guess it comes back to Time — the moment. Pearl Mackie got that, IMO; she projected it (whereas 12 stepped back, wary, even a touch hostile (he doesn’t like being fooled, and yes, as @bluesqueakpip put it so well, he’s in a raw enough state to not believe in the miracle of her survival. She keeps protesting because he’s denying her this intimacy of the eyes: see me.30 December 2017 at 01:07 #62868
absolutely fantastic piece this was. Puro and I were checking the ceiling for dust. It was modest, subtle and generous in spirit showing how the Doctor’s changed since his first appearance. As some people above contested, his laughing, jokey and hugging personality IS this Doctor: he no longer needs that carer but now he finally remembers her. I remember too. That discussion where people believed that the Doctor did remember Clara -well, no, now we realise he didn’t -he saw ‘around’ her, there was a hole with a musical motif and in this episode the music re-formed her much like the Doctor was re-formed from his first appearance.
I’m watching tWWing again with Mum and whilst I know Doctor Who and tWW can’t be compared you can see, like in Buffy, that these showrunners put characters and the experiences they have, personally, first.
Plot is what happens when you’re making other plans or doing other things.
Scientists when looking at people’s brains who are watching emotional character developments rather than plot-based chronological stories notice all sorts of colours light up and dance around the brain. We are drawn to characters and their development. Seemingly it’s in our hind-brains to do that! I think that’s awesome.
Moffat was holding these characters: the new Doctor, the present Doctor, the first Doctor and the soldier, very gently in his hands, shaping and highlighting, forming and processing. It was a sight to see.
A sight to see.
And a very happy new year to you all.30 December 2017 at 01:51 #62871
Thanks to all of you who have commented here – [pedants] remarks struck me particularly forcefully.
That’s very kind.
Moffat was holding these characters: the new Doctor, the present Doctor, the first Doctor and the soldier, very gently in his hands, shaping and highlighting, forming and processing. It was a sight to see.
This, exactly. Everything else is fluff. It was a story of good people trying to do the right thing (even Rusty, in his own perverted way) as the common soldiers choose to do the right thing.
“Me too!”; “Good Lord!” A soldier from fin de siecle Europe and the old traveler, exposed to post-War manners and mores and with a granddaughter in an East End school where the cane would still be in regular use, being given a gentle – but firm – attitude adjuster by Bill, breezing confidently past the Doctor’s (her Doctor’s) mortification. And taking it like the thoroughly decent chaps that they are. A brilliant joke, well told.
BTW, I don’t think overly complex explanations of Bill not knowing Heather’s whereabouts are needed. We know Bill is real because her memories are her story, and we are all stories in the end.30 December 2017 at 01:56 #62872
On Locke; dualism; and on memory as identity I think that’s why Thomas Reid calls in his (The) Brave Officer Paradox- which considering Lethbridge Stewart, works well 🙂
Thane1630 December 2017 at 02:06 #62873
@pedant Yes, “we are all stories in the end.” The ‘how’ and ‘why’ is oftentimes irrelevant. As I said once on the latest Sherlock episodes we know the A and the C sections therefore the B has been ‘done’ or explained and Moffat trusts us to work it out anyways.
The A to B and A is/= C isn’t to be confused with Locke or Reid by the way 😉30 December 2017 at 05:55 #62877Missy @missy
Very well put and it makes perfect sense. Thanks for that. *thumbs up* Sorry can’t access smilies.
As for the ring business, I thought about it, and you are right. Same was done with CE DT and MS.
Beautifully put thane. Brilliant hands has Mr. Moffat and brilliantly presented by Mr. Capaldi.
Regarding Sherlock, so, so right.
As I’ve said before, SM doesn’t cross the t’s and dot the i’s, he assumes his audience is smart enough to work it out for themselves. Most of us are.
@pedant: “we are all stories in the end.”
Indeed we are.
Am, I the only person to have found out that Murray Gold is leaving too? Talk about the final straw!
Missy30 December 2017 at 08:23 #62880
@missy Evenin’ ! I remember you mentioned that awhile back. With this branch of movie/series making sometimes a contract is drawn up including a particular end date?
So if the new showrunner wishes to engage Murray’s services again then I think Chris Chibnall would seek a discussion about a new contract.
I remember RTD (on his DVDs) talking about how Murray Gold was expected to virtually compose a movie score-a week and that was a long way back in 2005+. If Gold has a break I’d understand. (insert emoji for knackered).
He’s fond of a particular style -a love for percussion avoiding nasal brass and winds in favour of ethereal wind chimes; marimbas and k’boards. A very gifted person (All of them were: Mark, Peter, Stephen -a list of clerics circa 2009!).
Puro.30 December 2017 at 08:27 #62881
@thane16 Moffat was holding these characters: the new Doctor, the present Doctor, the first Doctor and the soldier, very gently in his hands, shaping and highlighting, forming and processing. It was a sight to see.
It was; and you’ve put it very well. A labor of love if ever I saw one, on everyone’s part.
@missy Yes, I read that Murray Gold is leaving too. I hope we get more of his music collected and offered to us — it’s grand stuff, very evocative and strong. I have to wonder what on earth he’ll do next — after this? But that goes for all of them, of course. They’re already launched in new directions of course — Chibnal has already said someplace that he’s got directors of his own he want to use, so there goes Talalay, on to other things (but ye gods, the enduring thrill of having directed so much of DW — “Heaven Sent”, and this last episode among them, IMO). I’ve read that Moffat and Gatiss have something new they’re working on already — a modern treatment of “Dracula”, maybe? As for Capaldi, he’s back in Glasgow, according to Moffat, maybe cruising for new work among his old friends and contacts there (though, like the other Doctors, he’ll never forget when the Doctor was him — wonder if he’s cut his hair, a possible gesture of both mourning and liberation?) — or maybe just loafing about (I hope so!). Mackie would be sorting through job possibilities too . . . Funny to think of everybody’s life just going on, like our own lives, after all the fireworks and deep burning fires, the tumult and the shouting.
Somebody on Fansided wrote an article pointing out that what changes Doctor One’s mind about his regeneration is the evidence of 13’s effectiveness in saving at least one life — the Captain’s. Somehow I didn’t connect that demonstration of deftness (the timing set for the Truce) by 13 with Doctor One’s “I think I’m ready now.” Dumbkopf, me. Must have been thinking of something else at that moment, like “hahaha, I *knew* it the moment they showed those early stills with Gatiss in uniform — it’s an Xmas episode, WWI — GOT to involve the famous Christmas Truce!”
So, “Doctor — I let you go.” Great image of reincarnation for me: the “I” in that sentence is the current personality and look, the costume and make-up, the particular slant on things — this version, this ego? And the “Doctor” is 13, the next up,the next life after the bardo, except that of course as a distinctly non-TL human, I wouldn’t expect to reincarnate as a full-grown adult wearing my former self’s clothes.
And something else from “Twice” that I wouldn’t want give up (if they’d done the regen at the end of “The Doctor Falls”, as originally planned) is 12 flapping his arms in surrender and saying to the Glass woman, “So there was no evil plot! I don’t know what to do, if there is no evil plot. Tell me what to do. Bill would tell me what to do.” Just like a guy just retired from his job and at loose ends, turning to his spouse for help with the nothing that there is to do, for someone who always needs to be doing somehing — preferably saving planets and people.30 December 2017 at 12:05 #62883Ollie14 @ollie14
@scaryb – thanks for the help. A thought also about the “preserving the dead”, surely now all the 12 doctors that have gone before can now roam the earth as enchanted glass people themselves as individually they are dead?
Regarding the Captain, this is how I read the situation: The Captain was about to be shot by the other German soldier therefore the glass people “at the point of death” froze time, removed him from the place and scanned his memories. But due to the Doctors crossing each other’s time zones the mistake happened where just before the Captain could be returned to the place of his death, he ended up at the same place as the Doctors.
Then when he was returned Capaldi returned him to the place where he was due to be shot but 2 hours later so it would be interrupted by the Christmas Truce, meaning he would survive.
cheers, Ollie30 December 2017 at 12:49 #62884
Halloo to all.
After a re-watch I read some less alluring comments on social media (but haven’t read these pages yet!) which inherited and bred more of the same: “nothing happens in this Special, the Doctor’s [just] his own enemy. There are no baddies.” It’s frustrating to behold the incapacity of some of those people to capture the importance of the Doctor’s character immigration parsed without hasty negativity. Some are frivolous with a self-absorbed wish for excitement they call “plot” or “tension.” They also decry too much taciturnity in their Doctor and yet when he’s light or “jokey” they’re archly dismissive.
Despite their youth (and I certainly don’t speak for all) they’re not always equipped for subtlety and in their wish for youthful easy action they’re stolid, conservatively prurient and just a bit-behind-the-times. They miss the magical enactment of two Doctors making a decision, one creating the other; all moderated by Bill Potts. The 1st Doctor is in thrall with his later iteration and the plot or mechanism is love, sometimes wordless, a thing of arcane or mysterious comprehension. To be bored by the creation of life and personality, that disordered and terrifying thing? Surely no!
As humans we have a duty or obligation to others to ‘push on’ as the normally well-constituted are expected to do. But the Doctor has a choice during his state of grace and once chosen must re-identify, re-grow and there’s no normal composure for this- it’s profoundly disorienting, subversive and that’s heartbreaking. But with anything beautiful, like the birth of a child, it’s legitimised through physical and cerebral pain and audacity.
Moffat came full circle with Twelve. A Hamlet charging at life on the rooftops of old London and finally a George Bailey of broad perception -one who really sees that living isn’t a lonely quest and should he choose eradication in an effort to stay change, to stay unique, a lusus naturae, earth would be an abstraction only. This episode was a bold look into the hearts and mind of the Doctors. Not as light-minded as their carelessness and insouciance betrays, in desperate flight from seriousness, fleeing from a final definite moment. I find it to be one of the truest stories of all.
Cheers and happy new year!
Puro.30 December 2017 at 13:14 #62885
That’s exactly how I read it. Testimony seems to have take the choice not to intervene because the change was not their error. Also, given the circumstances, they will quite likely catch up with him soon enough. Although the overall casualty rate in WW1 was about 5%, the rate among junior officers was horrific.30 December 2017 at 14:12 #62887
Thanks for sharing your RL experiences of dementia. It’s a horrible thing to watch in a loved one. And yes, it does focus one’s thoughts on what is “self”. Very often personality changes come in too. We hang on to the little flashes in the eyes that suggest the person we knew is still in there, somewhere. Hugs to you both.30 December 2017 at 14:14 #6288830 December 2017 at 16:55 #62889
Sorry I haven’t been able to chat sooner – I was plucked by a time scoop & thrown into a chronic hysteresis. (Either that or Christmas got in the way…)
Shouts out to everyone. Great comments (Even though I’ve merely skim-read)…
I actually went & hid in a cave for a fortnight before Xmas because I’d accidentally had The Last Jedi spoiled & didn’t want have TUAT ruined. However, I may as well not have bothered, as what could not be guessed was already spoilered by the Radio Times (Rusty’s return, no actual villain, etc.). They just can’t help themselves!
Onyhoo, here we go… Somewhat sorry that the deleted scenes were dumped in favour of the morph from Hartnell. If they’re not included in the official release there will be war…
Funnily David Bradley’s unHartnell appearance is explained by the face in flux (‘It’s all over the place’) comment. It’s with us for this ‘State of grace.’ Normally replacing an original Dr should be considered a cardinal sin. However, there is the Hurndall precedent and Bradley has earned his stripes by doing AAIS&T.
Killing each other in self defence is a timely theme. There is a frozen bird over the battlefield. Could it be a raven?
The TARDIS exterior is too big with wrong windows & paint colour. A funny nod to those purists who long for an accurate Gilbert Mackenzie Trench model.
The first Dr is sexist:
It IS over-egged but IS a fun way of taking the piss out of the likes of Ian Levine who still can’t accept that Sydney Newman wanted to bring back Dr Who as a woman.
Dr 1 is shocked that 12 announces he will stop the Glass Folk & is ‘The Protector of the Earth’.
The Dr is known as ‘The Butcher of Skull Moon’ (Which he managed unarmed) and ‘The Last Tree of Garsennon’…
‘Mr Pastry’ is a fun joke because of his potential casting…
The chains don’t hurt because the Drs are regenerating, Bill isn’t real & the Captain is wearing gloves. David Bradley does look like Mary Berry.
The spinny lights behind the 1st Dr’s roundels (As seen in the trailer) have gone, probably because of fans moaning (& likely CGed out at great expense!). Bernard Wilkie handle Easter Egg!
They arrive at the planet of the squareness gun. Facehugger-Dalek reminiscent of ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’.
The sight of so many naked Daleks running around is truly disturbing.
From stupid bloody arse to a jolly good smacked bottom (See TDIOE).
The brandy recalls Amy’s milkshake.
The first Dr seems to cite the same reason that 12 did for not wanting to regenerate, before admitting that it’s because of fear. Could that still be part of 12’s real reason? Ties in with ‘Hope makes you frightened’…
Sons are supposed to move on from their fathers. I wonder what would have befallen the Captain’s lineage had he died on the battlefield?
The 1st Dr seems to know how hard it is to put the universe back together…
True Dalek nakedness is gunlessness…
Goodness is hard but there’s some bloke who sorts it all out…
Testimony is Heaven on New Earth (With none of the Nethersphere’s suffering)… I can certainly see this being possible in the not-too-distant future. Isn’t social media a sort of un-sentient Testimony?
Is a person more than their memories? Rather than a deep, fresh invention by the Moff, surely this is a reference to ‘The Five Doctors’: ‘A man is the sum of his memories, you know – A Time Lord even more so…’
So is the Captain AGL-Stewart’s Grandfather or Great Uncle? Easy to guess he’s a relative because of the dodgy ‘tache!
The Doctor hated that rug!
Glass nipples & invisible hair… THAT cuddle…
The Daily Mail & The Daily Express, perhaps?
Overall, a great story, beautifully directed. Can’t wait for next Autumn…30 December 2017 at 18:52 #6289530 December 2017 at 19:31 #62896Hiker @hiker
Hope that link works. Some Youtubers have a great touch for these.
So, I read all the comments so far (really) and now it’s my turn in the mix. Bullet-pointy I think:
– I’m not a crier, but I teared up a bunch reading the comments. For the special it was the Christmas truce and the final speech that choked me up. The truce made it a proper Christmas special, I think. And Capaldi is just genius at bringing the Doctor to life. Or letting him go.
– My initial watch was a horror. 12:40 am on BBC America with at least as many commercials as actual story. Rewatched the next day, A little better, but was unexpectedly able to see it in a theatre on the 28th! No interruptions. Finally got a feel for the episode. Wore my PCap t-shirt, hoody and Docs. Felt pretty good about myself! (No, I don’t cosplay, this was nuts for me, but shows the lengths I’ll go to.)
– Satisfied to see some companions return. I would’ve enjoyed real Bill. I do agree with “hot lesbo sex traveling with Heather until she died” makes good sense. (and if they’d like to drop by the house…). I wish something to that effect would have been said outright, but my head-canon is strong.
– I did think Clara would be shown somehow. I’m happy since it would have been odd to leave out reference to the companion with which he shared the most time and was so unique to his story. Missy said “You’d go to Hell, if she asked. And she would “. Also, I’m glad to settle the ‘memories’ question (was he lying to Clara in the diner?) and well-pleased he has those memories back now. He paid plenty for them.
– Agreeing with all on the too much ’60’s era Doc 1 jokes. Funny the first time or 2, then tiresome. I just got Britbox, so I watched the first Doc 1 episode last night. He doesn’t seem sexist, just rude and self-absorbed. I don’t know how you all watch these old episodes. So looonnggg….
-@ countscarlioni – Nice Clara wrap-up.
-@ Ichabod – Also in the mood for clearing out junk. I have an elderly Mom and there is soon to be a lifetime of objects to inspect and assign to new lives. I don’t relish this task.
Wrapping up for now, I am fine with this episode. You always fear that they’ll screw up the really big ones, but I think despite some niggles, this was a great goodbye and I’ll like it even more as time goes by. And despite how much I love 12 and will always do so, I think 13 has a chance to be awesome! Good stories, good dialogue, please!
For anyone interested, Silva Screen Records will release the Season 9 soundtrack sometime early 2018.
Hiker30 December 2017 at 20:57 #6290231 December 2017 at 01:00 #62906idiotsavon @idiotsavon
I promised to save the Christmas special until I could watch together with my pal. It took some willpower, but we watched tonight.
I loved it.
I confess, much as I admire Peter Capaldi as an actor, I really didn’t expect to warm to his Doctor.
Seeing Matt Smith regenerate into Peter Capaldi felt a little like having an adorable puppy and waking up one day to find it had been replaced by a cantankerous doberman with a bite history.
I enjoyed the episodes, appreciated the clever writing and Capaldi’s talent, but no longer felt attached to the Doctor.
I’m not entirely sure when that changed, but goodness me, this Christmas special really tugged at the old heartstrings.
“Wounded man here” = first tear or two. Easily hidden with a wipe of the sleeve.
“Everyone just put down their weapons and started to sing” = More tears. More sleeve.
“So that’s what it means to be a Doctor of war” = Sleeve getting wet. Snot on the way.
But then… Clara appears… And then… “Thank you both for everything that you were to me” = Snot and tears (snears?) raining onto sleeve. Thanks a lot, Capaldi. Up yours Moffatt. This jumper is dry clean only.
Looking forward to reading all your comments.
I’ve nothing smart to say. I just loved it, and I’ve got snot on my sleeve. What a great way for a fine writer and a fine actor to bow out together.
Merry Christmas everyone31 December 2017 at 02:19 #62908idiotsavon @idiotsavon
Re: the first Doctor’s sexism being overegged.
Yes, as a viewer I felt Doc-1’s sexism was being rubbed in my face.
However, I also felt there was a comparison being made.
There was Doc 1, confronted with his future. He will “walk in blood through all of time and space.” He will become “The destroyer of the world” “The beast of Trenzalore” “the butcher of skull moon.” “The Doctor of War.”
He will make some impossible decisions that will put him in some dark places.
And there was Capaldi Doc, confronted with his past. He was once a bit of a frightful chauvinist.
Who has the most to be ashamed of? To be afraid of?
I felt like that was kind of the point, anyway.
X31 December 2017 at 03:00 #62909FatManInABox @fatmaninabox
@wolfweed – Interesting RT article on Easter Eggs. One that they appear to have missed is a possible ‘goodbye’ to the Paternoster Gang.
When ‘Testimony’ is being explained, various images of people having their memories extracted appear as holograms. The last person to be shown is a woman in Victorian attire who, to me, looks a lot like Jenny Flint. With the way the image is distorted it’s difficult to tell whether it is actually Catrin Stewart (to me she looks slightly older but that could just be my crappy recording) but it certainly seems like a ‘nod’ to Jenny.31 December 2017 at 09:11 #62910
@puro Despite their youth (and I certainly don’t speak for all) they’re not always equipped for subtlety and in their wish for youthful easy action they’re stolid, conservatively prurient and just a bit-behind-the-times. They miss the magical enactment of two Doctors making a decision, one creating the other; all moderated by Bill Potts. The 1st Doctor is in thrall with his later iteration and the plot or mechanism is love, sometimes wordless, a thing of arcane or mysterious comprehension. To be bored by the creation of life and personality, that disordered and terrifying thing? Surely no!
Yes; and thanks for that. Young minds tend to believe that chases and fights are action, and only that kind of action matters, not words (“So that’s what it means, to be the Doctor of War”) or gestures of acceptance and affection (“Cuddle.”). Older minds often understand that in significant ways, it’s just the other way round . . .
@pedant Although the overall casualty rate in WW1 was about 5%, the rate among junior officers was horrific.
Clearing the second son undergrowth, I suppose — one of those unintended consequences?
@scaryb Hugs to you both.
Thanks, scary. You know, I think I can say this here; I wouldn’t, anywhere else. There’s a lot of pain involved in losing your parents or your spouse of many years or your siblings or cousins to dementia, and of course to cancer. It occurs to me that as a person familiar for the past decade and more with the particular pain of such an ongoing loss, it seems to me now that without realizing it at the time I used the Twelfth Doctor to help keep my emtopma; bearings. Capaldi’s willingness to throw himself into the portrayal of pain like that, and Moffat’s to write it, gave me a place to see my own feelings expressed eloquently — but at a remove, more accessible and more dealable-with than my internal experience was at the time, exactly because of that distance (“catharsis”, I guess; and/or maybe it’s just a way of sitting with pain instead of finishing the bottle and going to sleep to get away from it).
That’s the underlying reason, I believe, that 13 has been so important to me. A fictional character offered to me on television helped me to save my own life (something more common, I think, than people who don’t read fiction could imagine or would credit). And some say art is useless! I doubt that I’m the only one, especially among older viewers, who found this Doctor so emotionally compelling even when the plot was wonky and false notes were struck, for reasons akin to this. Just a thought, didn’t arrive til yesterday; but there it is.
@wolfweed Thanks for the clip! Isn’t social media a sort of un-sentient Testimony? Social media often seems to me to be un-sentient humans blabbing at each other. (Says an inveterate babbler on a social media site . . . o well.)
Thanks for the transcript link too — it clears up (to my mind) the reason that the Tardis ejects 13 — the Cloister bell is still tolling, which means that although 12 has “died”, 13 is also in danger of dying unless she’s moved somewhere else before everything catches fire. So, out with her, and best of British Luck!
@hiker — the S9 music, at long last (almost)? Good news! Now that Gold is leaving, these great scores are more important than ever, good cues for memory.31 December 2017 at 16:17 #62916
Okay, Northern accent theory:
In this episode, the Capaldi Doctor is frequently called the ‘Doctor of War’. This, of course, reminds him of the War Doctor.
When he regenerates away from the War Doctor into the Eccleston Doctor, he developed a Northern accent. So, when he regenerates away from the memory of being called ‘the Doctor of War’, she unconsciously connects ‘being Northern’ with ‘NOT being the War Doctor’.
Remember: every planet has a North. 😉31 December 2017 at 16:37 #62917
Other people have said to me before that the Doctor finds you/you find the Doctor when you need him most. For me the worst was during Smithy’s era, when my mum’s memories were disintegrating rapidly (my mum who watched DW from 1963 with me, including the episodes I had to miss, and would then remember them and relate them back to me); at the same time Amy was remembering her Doctor back into life. Sadly no such happy ending for me, but it helped. A daft wee programme that’s bigger on the inside! Hang in there, and stay strong. Treasure what sparks you can still find.
@idiotsavon I’ve completely ruined my screen spluttering at your tales of snotty sleeves! (thank you 😉 )
@wolfweed A million thanks (as ever) for your researching and trawling of the cloister archives. The script link in particular is magic, love Moffat’s little asides. I could get lost in that little treasure trove forever!
@fatmaninabox – that would be very sad, but as we’re Who knows how many years beyond the Paternoster Gang’s timeline, maybe not so surprising. Will need to go and freeze frame!
@bluesqueakpip War Doctor/NOT being the Doctor of War – avoidance – ingenious as ever, I love it. (Hope #13 works for you better than Twelve)31 December 2017 at 20:28 #62921Mudlark @mudlark
The trouble with arriving six days late at the party, when the discussion is far advanced and so much has been said and so eloquently, is that it is difficult to add anything original or to tag everyone whose comments have chimed with my views. The best I can do is to set down my initial thoughts and reactions from my own perspective, and to apologise for anything which might appear to plagiarise what others here have already written, very eloquently.
My hopes for this episode, based on what I had read beforehand, were mingled with some slight apprehension, lest it fail to do full justice to Peter Capaldi’s last hurrah, but my worries, slight in any case, were of course unfounded. It was a lovely and fitting send-off and I, who used to be notorious for my ability to remain stone-faced through the weepiest of weepies, found myself suspiciously moist-eyed at times (well, how else can you react to a depiction of the Christmas Truce?). Capaldi was magnificent – and @jimthefish
I totally salute Capaldi’s performance. I could happily have had another year of him
expressed my sentiments exactly; Bradley, in my opinion, conveyed the essence of Hartnell’s Doctor brilliantly, without being too slavish an impersonation, and I concur entirely with @pedant ‘s opinion of Gatiss in the role of the Captain.
It doesn’t really need stating again that this was neither a normal light hearted Christmas diversion nor a conventional adventure full of hazard, unless you count the brief encounter with the unshelled Daleks on Villengard and with Rusty, still resentful that the Doctor had isolated him by turning him against his own kind; and yet there was so much going on, on so many different levels, and so much for the viewer to unpack – not least in all the incidental details and allusions harking back to episodes in the 12th Doctor’s life and those of his predecessors; * And of course there were all the jokes, both obvious and subtle, and the little digs at fans: the traditional reaction of the Doctor on seeing the changes a successor had made to the Tardis – ‘It’s hideous’ – this time uttered in unison with the equally inevitable ‘It’s bigger on the inside’ from the Captain; and the parodying, through the medium of the first Doctor, of all the bone-headed cracks about ‘Nurse Who’ and complaints about the sonic sunglasses (his ‘What’s ‘browser history?’, and Capaldi Doc’s reaction caused my brother almost to fall out of his chair laughing).
It was the Doctor himself who brought what element of danger there was in the story, not just because he is always dangerous, but in this case because of the potential effect of the dual reluctance to regenerate on the integrity of space-time. But that was a relatively minor element because, braided all through the narrative were the reflections on mortality and the persistence of memory, a final, profound meditation on a recurrent theme during the Moffat era.
Refusal of the first Doctor to regenerate would, of course, create an irresolvable paradox – and it is significant that the 12th had no recollection of that refusal – so the Tardis brings his later self, experiencing a similar reluctance though with very different feelings and reasons, to where he needs to be in order to find a resolution; and the consequent meeting of the Doctor with himself creates the disruption of the Captain’s timeline, so that he may be one of the catalysts of their eventual decisions.
The first Doctor, facing regeneration for the first time, is afraid and uncertain whether there is any point in his continuing, and his initial impression of his much later incarnation, followed by what he learns from the Testimony concerning the ‘Doctor of War’ and the ominous titles he has accumulated over his lifetimes, do nothing to reassure him. His conversation with Bill on Villegard seems a crucial turning point, when she hints broadly that his actions and influence are, or will be an important factor in ensuring that the evil, which he suspects is the dominant trend of the universe, does not entirely prevail. He does not really understand what she is saying, perhaps, until he is given a demonstration of a possible different meaning to ‘Doctor of War, and of how just one deliberate and subversive small adjustment in the timing of the return of the Captain to the battlefield can make a difference – maybe to just one life as far as he and his later self know initially, but with the revelation of the Captain’s name they, and we, know that it will have far greater repercussions down the decades. Life and the universe may not be a fairy tale but, just sometimes, people are enabled to live more or less happily ever after.
For the 12th Doctor, weary of centuries of struggle, it takes the recovery of his memory of Clara and a forceful reminder of how much he has meant to those who have travelled with him before he is ready to accept the prospect of yet another lifetime, and then we are treated to a wonderful final declaration of his philosophy, incorporating elements of many of his previous speeches to others**, but this time to his future self, before we see him rewarded for his decision.
‘We can only hope’, he said in answer to the Master’s exasperated, ‘Is the future going to be all girls?’ And, ‘Oh, brilliant’! says his renewed self in delight, on catching sight of her reflection in the Tardis console monitor.
*I was very chuffed to discover how many of the easter eggs listed in @wolfweed ‘s link I had spotted on first viewing.
** I refuse to accept his prohibition on pears, though, and ate one at breakfast this morning – without dribbling any of the juice down my chin.
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