It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that I’m a bit of a Doctor Who fan (Doctor Who is the adventures of a massive nerd, I’m a massive nerd. The Doctor fights the Daleks, one time I kicked a pedal bin over). I’ve avoided weighing in with my opinion of the new series because, unlike the previous post-revival series, it hasn’t centred on London. Indeed, with a grand total of one London-centric episode, they’ve been very restrained.
I’m enjoying the series so far. Matt Smith is a pretty good Doctor, especially given the hard act he had to follow with St. David Tennant. Amy Gillan, too, is a fine companion, simultaneously able to take charge of a situation yet believably vulnerable. She hasn’t yet beaten Catherine Tate to the status of my favourite companion (is it weird that I think Catherine Tate was the best companion, yet Tate herself annoys the hell out of me?), but she’s definitely getting close. I like the rather darker tone of Stephen Moffat’s showrunning, also the fact that he doesn’t feel the need to shoehorn a gay reference into every single episode like a first-year drama student Russell T. Davies.
Gushing praise aside, I have a theory about how this series ends. I’ve noticed a theme throughout has been that the Doctor screws up. Let’s take a look at the episodes so far:
- The Eleventh Hour: The Doctor meets Amy as a child and then, due to a malfunctioning TARDIS, doesn’t come back for twelve years, resulting in Amy developing a weird Freudian crush over the years.
- The Beast Below: The Doctor nearly lobotomises the last Space Whale, and is only stopped by Amy.
- Victory of the Daleks: The Doctor unwittingly plays a major part in the creation of a new, more powerful race of Daleks. He fails to talk a human bomb out of exploding – Amy again saves the day.
- The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone: Everyone except Amy, the Doctor and River Song gets killed.
- The Vampires of Venice: The Doctor prevents an invasion, although he fails to save the girl he promised to save. He ends up condemning an entire species to death.
- The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood: Rory dies.
You’ll notice that I’ve missed one episode out – ‘Amy’s Choice.’ In this episode, the Doctor meets the Dreamlord, a character who is a distillation of the Doctor’s dark side and places the characters in a fake reality in order to test them. At the end, it turns out that he’s the result of some hallucinogenic pollen or something. It’s not an altogether satisfying ending – we’d never heard of this hallucinogenic pollen before. But suppose, just suppose, the Doctor was lying. There really was a Dreamlord, as hinted when the Doctor sees him reflected in the console. That makes the episode a little more interesting.
So, if he’s not a hallucination, who is the Dreamlord? Well, for that, I suggest we go back to the 1980s. I’m far from the first Who fan to notice that the Dreamlord is not the first dark incarnation of the Doctor. During the Colin Baker era, the Doctor was put on trial by a Time Lord known as the Valeyard. The Valeyard, as it turned out, was a potential evil future version of the Doctor who wanted our hero dead in order to steal his remaining regenerations and thus become “real.” He too mocked the Doctor and he too used illusions. My theory is that, simply, the Dreamlord is either an earlier or later version of the Valeyard.
This might provide an explanation for the cracks in spacetime that have been this series’ running theme. We know, as of the end of ‘Cold Blood,’ that the TARDIS is destroyed in some way. Now, here’s where things get complicated. What prompted the disappearance of the Dreamlord was that the Doctor set the TARDIS to explode. Ah, but, suppose, just suppose, that Moffat is messing with our heads here?
Suppose, in fact, the Doctor really did blow the TARDIS up? That would explain how it appears to have been destroyed at the end of ‘Cold Blood’ and might, indeed, have caused the cracks in spacetime. The explosion killed the Eleventh Doctor and caused him to regenerate into the Dreamlord/Valeyard. The new Doctor realises that by trying to save his companions, he has in fact killed them and this last in a long line of screw-ups drives him to embrace his dark side.
So why are Amy and the Eleventh Doctor still alive? Simple – they’ve switched places with the Dreamyard. The Dreamyard is now a concrete being and Amy and the Doctor have been shunted into whatever potential reality he previously inhabited. The finale involves a showdown between the Doctor and the Dreamyard for the right to exist.
A theme that has been raised in the series is that “the Pandorica will open and silence will fall.” We don’t know what the Pandorica is, but the name approximately means “thing that gives all.” My guess is that it’s some sort of ancient and powerful artifact at a junction in time with the power to do pretty much anything, and the Dreamyard hopes to use it to mess with reality – to bring Amy and the TARDIS into his reality and to erase the timeline with the Eleventh Doctor in it.
During the showdown, history is rewritten, explaining the disappearance of certain events from continuity. The “silence” spoken of is potential realities being wiped out – one contains Prisoner Zero, another the Weeping Angels and a third is glimpsed by the Saturnyans. At the end, of course, our Doctor is triumphant, largely thanks to something Amy does (haven’t worked this one out). One by-product of the battle is that Rory was never killed or deleted, and so Amy is reunited with him.
Not convinced? Well, here are some other things to think about.
- The Weeping Angels laugh at the fact that the Doctor doesn’t know what’s causing the cracks. Because he himself was the cause of them.
- The Valeyard, we are told in his original appearance, originates somewhere between the Doctor’s twelfth and final incarnations. We think of Matt Smith as the eleventh incarnation, but in fact he’s the twelfth – the Tenth Doctor regenerated twice, once into a copy of himself in ‘Journey’s End.’
Now, maybe I’m talking like a crazy person, and maybe I’m completely wrong and the finale will be bloody Daleks again. But this is my elaborate geeky fanboy theory. Only “time” will tell! (because the Doctor is a time traveler, that’s the joke)
EDIT (POSSIBLE SPOILER): Word is that the finale will feature a number of the Doctor’s past enemies, along with Amy’s mum. Possibly this is an illusion created by the Dreamlord?
ANOTHER EDIT: In ‘The Beast Below,’ the Doctor says, just before his intended lobotomy on the Space Whale, “And then I find a new name, because I won’t be the Doctor any more.” Suppose, then, he does something equally terrible towards the end of the series (killing Amy for no reason, say) and so chooses a new name – such as the Valeyard?
YET ANOTHER EDIT: In ‘The Eleventh Hour,’ Prisoner Zero taunts the Doctor, saying, “The Doctor in the TARDIS doesn’t know.” Could this be a hint that there’s a second Doctor who does not have a TARDIS? One who, say, deliberately destroyed the TARDIS and turned into the Valeyard?
ENOUGH WITH THE EDITS ALREADY: Check this out. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/cult/s7/doctor-who/news/a222174/steven-moffat-teases-doctor-who-finale.html. Apparently Episode 12, ‘The Pandorica Opens,’ will be a cliffhanger for “every episode up to that point.” Now, allow me to adjust my tin hat and suggest that one possibility for this is that the Doctor discovers he is not real – that would be a pretty damn major cliffhanger for everything he’s ever done, would it not?
The finale was apparently filmed at Stonehenge. Alex Kingston (who played River Song) and Karen Gillan (Amy) were spotted on set, the latter in a dressing gown. Dressing gown = sleep = dreams = Dreamlord?
OH FINE, JUST ONE MORE: In the most recent episode, ‘The Lodger,’ the Doctor discovers that someone has been trying to build a TARDIS, and that he is the correct pilot. Could this have been built by the Dreamyard somehow? Given that as far as we know, there is nobody else on Earth who would have the knowledge to build such a machine, it would certainly seem to fit.
One thing that causes me to doubt my theory is the trailer, which talks about a “trickster.” Now, there are at least two villains already existing in the Whoniverse that this could be. Most obviously, there’s the Trickster, a villain primarily appearing in The Sarah Jane Adventures but also mentioned in the Doctor Who episode ‘Turn Left.’ There is also the Meddling Monk, a rogue Timelord from the old series who went around messing with time and space. One of his tricks was to give mechanical assistance to the builders of Stonehenge – where at least part of the finale is set…