Countdown To Eleven – The Time of the Doctor Part 2: The Daleks in the Details

“And now it’s time for one last bow, like all your other selves. Eleven’s hour is over now, the clock is striking Twelve’s.”

When last we met I went on a bit of a rant about The Time of the Doctor and my thoughts and feelings about the episode itself.  More than likely I bored quite a few of you, so now I’m back with my normal practice of assessing specific parts of the episode and providing clarification on some key points  for non-fans.   Let’s get to it…

Well first off, what the hell happened?  Seriously, there was so much going on in just an hour that I’m kind of lost.  Could you clarify?

I’ll try.  As far as I’m able to tell having watched the episode twice now, this is what occurred:

The Doctor, along with several of his deadliest enemies, are all being drawn toward an unknown planet because of a signal that is being broadcast throughout space and time from the planet’s surface.  The message has yet to be decoded, but it’s enough to garner the attention of all involved when it’s determined to be of Gallifreyan origin.  With Gallifrey lost in a pocket universe (per the events of The Day of the Doctor) and the planet in question not looking like Gallifrey, the Doctor is determined to investigate further.

Along with enemies like the Daleks, Cybermen, and Sontarans, the message has also caught the attention of the Papal Mainframe; a kind of intergalactic church.  They were the first to arrive on the scene and shielded the planet so that nobody could land.  The Doctor is apparently an old (possibly intimate?) acquaintance of the church’s Mother Superious, Tasha Lem, and is able to gain her permission to pass through the shield and land on the planet.

Oh, and did I mention the Mainframe are responsible for the Silents?  They were genetically engineered by the mainframe as confessional priests.  Members of the church were able to confess their sins to them, and then forget that they had done so as soon as they looked away.

The Doctor and Clara venture to the planet’s surface and quickly discover that there is a truth field surrounding the town of Christmas (you must have something to make it a Christmas special I guess) which prevents anyone within from telling a lie.  They trace the source of the signal to the inside of the town clock tower where they find a crack in the wall identical to the cracks in time that the Doctor thought he’d sealed back in Series 5.

He determines that the Time Lords are using the scar tissue from the crack as a way to find an opening back into our universe.  It’s the Time Lords who are sending out the signal which explains its Gallifreyan origin.  Using the Seal of the High Council of Gallifrey, the Doctor decodes the message which translates as “Doctor Who?”  The Time Lords intended that the Doctor would arrive and speak his real name.  The truth filter would ensure that he wasn’t lying  and that it was safe to return.

However, the Doctor knows that should the Time Lords return, all of the races orbiting above the planet are positioned and ready to destroy them as soon as they come through.  The Time War would begin anew and the planet, along with its innocent inhabitants, would be destoryed in the process.  True to his nature, the Doctor is unwilling to sacrifice his people, nor is he willing to depart the planet and allow the people of Christmas to be eradicated.  Instead, he tricks Clara into returning back to her own time in the TARDIS and remains behind on what he now knows is Trenzalor in order to be its protector.  The Papal Mainframe remain as well, utilizing all of their resources to protect the town of Christmas and also ensure that the Doctor does not speak his name.  Silence will fall.

Refusing to let him leave her behind, Clara grabs on to the outside of the TARDIS as it dematerialized and travels with it through the time vortex back to Trenzalore.  Having to carry around a human apparently slows it down and Clara and the TARDIS finally return to the Doctor 300 years later.  Visibly older, the Doctor explains to Clara that he is limited to thirteen regenerations.  With the War Doctor and the Meta-Crisis Doctor both counting towards that limit, he is currently in his 13th and final incarnation.

The Doctor receives a message from Tasha Lem inviting him to the Mainframe’s ship to parlay.  It’s at this point that we learn that a faction of the Church called the Kovarian Chapter, went rogue and traveled back in time in order to stop the Doctor from reaching Trenzalore.  They were the ones responsible for the kidnapping and reprogramming of Amy and Rory’s child and making her into River Song.  They were also the ones who blew up the Doctor’s TARDIS in 2010 which ironically is what caused the creation of the cracks in the first place.

We also find out that the Daleks attacked the Mainframe three days prior and killed everyone on board, including Tasha, transforming them into humanoid Dalek drones.  The Daleks are also now fully aware of who the Doctor is again, having harvested the information from Tasha’s cadaver.  Throwing insults her way, The Doctor is able to reignite Tasha’s consciousness and she helps them escape back to the planet.  Fearing for her safety, The Doctor takes Clara back to her time and returns back to Trenzalore with the TARDIS, ensuring that she can’t follow him again.

Only a short time after being left behind (again), Clara hears the familiar noise of the TARDIS materializing outside.  She runs in to discover Tasha Lem at the console.  She brings Clara back to an even older Doctor, now nearing the end of his life, so that she can be with him at the end.  With a Dalek warship in the atmosphere, the Doctor heads to the top of the clocktower to confront them and await his fate.  Unable to accept the idea of his death, Clara goes to the crack and pleads with the Time Lords to save him.  In response, the crack snaps shut and opens up in the sky above.  Regeneration energy filters out of the crack and into the Doctor’s mouth.  The Time Lords have granted him a new regeneration cycle.  The massive energies begin to emanate from the Doctor and the final explosion destroys the Daleks.

The Doctor is nowhere to be found in the aftermath, and Clara returns to the TARDIS to find him.  She’s confronted with her Doctor (still Matt Smith) reset back to his original age.  He explains that the regeneration is already in process and is taking longer due to the new cycle he’s been granted.  His younger appearance is apparently just part of the reset.  He bids farewell to Clara and in an abrupt flash his appearance changes to that of a much older man (Peter Capaldi) who immediately complains about the color of his kidneys.  The TARDIS begins shaking wildly as if it’s crashing and the new Doctor immediately jumps to the controls.  Clara stares wide-eyed at this new man as he asks her, “Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?”

To be continued, Autumn 2014…

 ~Col. Graff