“Gallifrey Falls No More.” — Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor.

Previously on Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor.

That was amazing. You know why it was amazing?

Because the Doctor can go home, now. That’s the big birthday gift Steven Moffat has given to the Doctor and to us: an end to the great regret, an end to the darkness that was driving the Doctor, the darkness that drove Eleven to breaking point. It was either this or give up. And that’s not something the Doctor does. The Day of the Doctor reminded us — and himself — of just that. After centuries of mourning, the Doctor can feel hope again, can move out of the shadows, into the light. An arc that began in 2005, with the Doctor coming to face the things he has done, slowly but steadily breaking apart his own soul, has come to an end.

“You know the sound the TARDIS makes? That wheezing, groaning? That sound brings hope where ever it goes. To anyone who hears it, Doctor. Anyone. However lost. Even you.”

What’s important is that this hasn’t entirely retconned canon. Nine and Ten are still going to be who they are — this Ten is the Ten right before going to The End of Time. Remember what he said to Ood Sigma? He married Liz the First just before going to the Oodsphere. The End of Time will happen, and Ten will die thinking he’s lost everything. What might have changed is that there might be the tiniest sliver of a chance that the Master is still alive. If Gallifrey made it, and he made it back in time, into a spot where the Daleks couldn’t get at him, then perhaps he’s safe. Perhaps.

I love how they embedded Rose — not as from directly within the Doctor’s past, which I had feared. She wouldn’t have been able to cope very well with the thought of losing another Doctor so soon, and it would have added a layer of friction to the enterprise that would have made it difficult to pull off the celebratory tone. Instead, imbued with the power of the Moment and the Bad Wolf, she showed the War Doctor what he needed to see. The man that regrets, and the man that forgets. Ten and Eleven’s argument is so powerful because that’s who they are. Ten wants to know where he’s going, until he realises that Eleven won’t tell him not because it’s too dangerous, but because it’s too painful. Eleven forgets because he cannot handle it any longer, because he has locked himself away out of fear of himself, out of fear of crumbling apart at the pain that he feels.

In the end, the three Doctors got to show off. They got along splendidly, all 13 of them did, and that’s the point. Yes, they’re different faces, but it’s one man. The entire show wouldn’t have worked, wouldn’t have survived, if there hadn’t been all of these brilliant faces portraying this wonderful character. That’s what we celebrated today: the show, the fandom, everything. I watched at the cinema one town over, and there were so many people cosplaying, and everyone was excited. We were laughing, gasping, crying together. This show has united so many people across the globe, just as the Doctor does. He unites the Universe, unites himself. 13 faces, but they’re all the same man. The same madman with a box, who will never give up hope.

Eleven saw what 8.5 couldn’t, because he’d made himself a warrior, caught in bloodshed and desperation. Nine was too raw, Ten too caught in his grief. But Eleven, the man who tried so hard to forget — who did forget, Eleven found a way out. The idea growing in his mind ever since that day, and now that day has changed. Yes, it should have been impossible. But that word doesn’t exist in this Time Lord’s vocabulary.

Rose, embodying the Moment’s conscience, showed him what he needed to see. Himself, in the future. And now, living on isn’t the punishment for his actions, it’s the reward. As Ten said when he had to leave her behind at Bad Wolf Bay — she made him better. She showed Nine that there’s a way out, made Ten more human than any Doctor has ever been. And now, together with Clara, she’s saved them all. Clara, who shook her head, Clara, who figured 8.5 out, figured out that there was a way to save him from what he thought he had to do, saving him from that life of misery. The Doctor says he sees everything, but this time, he didn’t. Clara, here, did what Donna once did for Ten, against the Racnoss. Sometimes, he needs someone to stop him. She’s saved all of him, by jumping into his time stream, she knows who he is and what he can do. She and Rose, they were the ones who didn’t give up hope; and that’s another thing that Doctor Who has always been about. Without his companions, who is he, really? By learning from Ian and Barbara, the very First Doctor has become a kinder, gentler soul. They were the first ones to change him, and that story has repeated itself over and over. The story of his life isn’t just between a girl and a box. It’s the story of learning what it is to be human, too.

There were so many lovely nods to the past 50 years in this — what got me most right away was the inscription on the board outside the school. Headmaster: I. Chesterton. Ian, companion to the First Doctor, working with another companion from the next generation, and neither of them know it. Which gets me thinking — did the Doctor give her a hint..?

I will also have you know that the tears truly started when Peter Capaldi made a surprise appearance. All 13 of them, saving Gallifrey. Tom Baker at the end, as the National Gallery’s curator, was the icing on the cake.

We know that there will be more to this, we know that this isn’t it. Finding Gallifrey will not be easy, and this Christmas, Eleven has got to deal with his own graveyard, again. I’m a bit confused as to where exactly in his time stream these events lie, shouldn’t he still be fighting to get Clara out of his time streams? In any case, Trenzalore is waiting, and now Eleven isn’t just the madman with nothing to lose. He’s the madman with everything to lose. And that makes him more powerful and more dangerous than ever. Twelve will be born, and after Nine being born out of blood, anger, and revenge, because 8.5 won’t remember what he did, and Ten being born out of love, so very human, and Eleven being born all alone, in grief and despair, Universe may know what will become of him. But I still choose to hold on to this hope. Gallifrey falls no more.

Next: The Time of the Doctor, introducing Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor.

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5 thoughts on ““Gallifrey Falls No More.” — Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor.

  1. A few minor quibbles, but I loved 95% of this – and given the amount of hype surrounding this special, that’s fantastic going. I loved the fact the story didn’t end up being about the Time War – instead it was a morality play focussing on how the Doctor lives with the consequences of his actions. Loved Capaldi and Baker’s surprise cameos. Most of all, loved the playfulness between Ten and Eleven.

    And Moff did promise he would “change the narrative”. Did he, heck!

    Bring on Xmas. Bring on Capaldi.

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  2. Well. If that wasn’t the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what was.

    To quote my father, “[Moffat] just took a pivotal moment in Doctor Who history and made it the springboard for the next 50 years.” And he did. Just, wow. The man is a goddamn genius.

    And the best part is he didn’t even rewrite anything! Just like you said, this hasn’t retconned canon by any means. I was truly worried about how he was going to pull something like this off without nullifying the past few seasons, but everything still fits because the previous incarnations forgot it all. So in the end, nothing actually CHANGED–the Doctor had always worked to save Gallifrey rather than destroy it. He just didn’t know. Until now, anyway.

    I adored–absolutely adored–the interactions between the Doctor and…well, himself. SO many quotable lines. It was just gold. And after a bit of research I even learned that some of them were direct reflections of lines in the earlier anniversary episodes from Classic Who. For that matter, this whole episode was a lovefest for Classic Who fans. I wish I had seen more of it myself so I could have picked up on all these references myself rather than reading about them afterwards. But that doesn’t make them any less brilliant.

    Oh, and Ten and Eleven on their OWN are still great too, don’t get me wrong. I have to say, for all that Clara has still not been too far developed yet personality-wise, her dialogue with the Doctor just flows brilliantly.

    “A word to the wise, as I’m sure your father would have told you–I don’t like being picked up!”
    “…That probably sounded better in his head.”

    “You have a job?”
    “Why shouldn’t I have a job? I’d be brilliant at having a job!”
    “You don’t have a job!”
    “I do! This is my job; I’m doing it now!”
    “You never have a job.”
    “I do! I do.”

    “Now, I want this stone dust analyzed. AND, I want a report, in triplicate, with lots of graphs, and diagrams, and complicated sums, on my desk! Tomorrow morning, ASAP! Pronto! LOL! See, job. Do I have a desk?”
    “No.”
    “…And I want a desk!”

    “One day, you could just walk past a fez.”
    “Never gonna happen.”

    “But then the REAL Elizabeth isn’t a shapeshifting alien from outer space. And…DING.”
    “What’s that?!”
    “It’s a machine that goes…ding. Made it myself! Lights up in the presence of shapeshifter DNA. Also can microwave frozen dinners from up to 20 feet and download comics from the future; I never know when to stop.”

    “Whatever you’ve got planned, forget it. I’m the Doctor. I’m 904 years old. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I am the oncoming storm, the bringer of darkness, and YOU–are basically just a rabbit, aren’t you?…Okay, carry on, just a…general…warning.”

    (Honestly, that last one is a recycled joke at this point but it’s still hilarious.)

    Okay, I’d be doing this all day if I let myself. Brilliant lines, check. Time to move on.

    But seriously though, I’m glad the writers didn’t get too bogged down with the serious stuff to throw in the humorous lines as well. You really can’t have a Doctor Who episode without at least a few moments of the Doctor just generally being himself.

    The serious stuff was great too though. And as I said, they tied everything together so perfectly. You pretty much reflected my inner thoughts on most of it, so I won’t bother repeating it all. I have to say, I really, really wish they could have brought Eccleston into this as well. It just seemed unfair to leave Nine out. It’s no one’s fault but Eccleston’s, of course (the big jerk ;n; ); the writers did a brilliant job with what they could work with. But DAMN IT, there should have been FOUR Doctors in this episode. I feel like Nine is one of the most important regenerations for 8.5 to see, if only because he comes RIGHT after. Now that we know WHY he was so angry in his first and only season, it would have been great to revisit it thoroughly. Failing that, though, they should have at least mentioned him. Some passing remark or lampshade hanging made by The Moment or one of the other Doctors just to acknowledge Nine’s absence and move on, if nothing else.

    But anyway, as far as the overall episode goes, I have no complaints. Now the Doctor can search for Gallifrey and find his way home (the Tom Baker cameo was fantastic too, by the way). The only thing I’m worried about now is…that there are some remarkably clear hints that no one seems to have picked up on that Capaldi is going to be the last Doctor.

    For example, the mention of Trenzalore has been bothering me for months now. I had to wonder…why would they bring this up now? If Trenzalore is where the Doctor is buried, then that really is it, the end. I truly don’t see why this would come into the equation unless it were going to become really important really quickly. If Capaldi is in fact the last Doctor, it makes sense. The next few seasons will be about how 12 (13, really) finds his lost planet, makes his way home, and finally dies.

    Something else that’s been nagging at me in this very episode is the moment where all the Doctors show up at once. The High Council member specifically says “No–all thirteen.” ALL thirteen, implying that that’s all there is. I was hoping I was jumping to conclusions before, but after watching this episode it really does make an unsettling amount of sense. The Doctor rediscovering Trenzalore would be a perfect series finale. This isn’t the springboard for the next 50 years. This is the springboard for the last few Doctor Who seasons altogether.

    I hope I’m wrong. I really really do. It just seems to…make sense. Thoughts? I’m curious to see what you think.

    Well, I could probably come up with a lot more to say if I gave myself time to think about it, but I think this comment has gone on long enough. Wonderful review, as always! Sorry I’ve been absent for such a long time, but I promise I’ve still been keeping up! 🙂

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    1. Well, the thing is, Moffat explicitly stated that there would be NO renumbering. Like human!Ten, the War Doctor is an anomaly, a forced regeneration. The Sisters guarding the Flame of Eternal Life gave him just that — a life that doesn’t really count in his regeneration cycle. Thus, he’s 8.5, and Eleven is still Eleven — thus, Capaldi will be Twelve. Trenzalore is associated with the Fall of the Eleventh, but we’ve seen him cheat death before. Of course they could be planning putting the Doctor to rest at some point, but… I don’t think they will any time soon.
      Russell T. Davies had Eleven say, in an episode of the Sarah Jane Adventures, that technically the Doctor could “live forever.” Many have taken that to mean that they will find a way of cheating the regeneration limit. Heck, the Master did it. We don’t know *which* Doctor is buried on Trenzalore. Peter isn’t the last Doctor, since he isn’t the Thirteenth — “all thirteen” just means that these are all the incarnations we know so far, I don’t think that’s to be taken so literally.
      Especially now that Moffat has taken an enormous step towards giving the Doctor a future again. I know that so many people are complaining about what he did — about who does he think he is to rewrite canon like that. Well, honestly — who did RTD think he was to just wipe out the Doctor’s home in the first place? Much as I love Nine and his darkness and his grief, and the new traction it gave the character, destroying Gallifrey wrote the show into a corner. How do you get over a loss like that? You don’t. Or, if they had written him getting over it, they’d have gotten loads of grief for it. But the alternative would have been having the Doctor mope about forever. Taking the Time Lords out of the story was a brilliant and risky decision that I’m glad to have seen reversed. Bringing them back reopens so many narrative avenues and character development opportunities. Seeing the Doctor struggle with nostalgia and happiness and then the realisation that, fucking hell, they’re still restrictive old farts should be just brilliant. It opens a way of bringing some of the marvels of Classic Who back to the modern audience, which I think is a win-win. I totally agree with your dad there. That pivotal moment always had two ways to go — and now finally someone’s taken the other road.

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