News Categories
Archives

A forecast on Capaldi’s Doctor: The Frustrated Optimist

Guest contributor Christopher Ritchie provides some thoughts.

capaldi-tardis-2013-dwm

Many Whovians are asking themselves, ‘what will the Capaldi era be like’ and how will it be different from what has come before’? Forecasting and speculation, despite being a rather futile and fruitless exercise, is nonetheless thoroughly enjoyable, particularly during the current lull as we await the beginning of Series 8. Any worthwhile prediction is one which is informed by history; one which looks to the past. That is a good place to begin.

Since the return of ‘new Who’ in 2005, we’ve seen the Doctor’s character develop over his ninth, tenth and eleventh personas. Eccleston’s Doctor was defined by survivor’s guilt, post-traumatic stress and self-loathing – a result of a mistaken belief that his previous incarnation, the War Doctor, had committed a double genocide during the Time War, bringing about the destruction of his own people and the Dalek race using the doomsday device or weapon of mass destruction known as ‘The Moment’. It is only as a result of his therapeutic relationship with Rose Tyler that Eccleston’s Doctor slowly comes to terms with his dark past.

Tennant’s Doctor, through a much more emotionally intimate relationship with Rose Tyler, is able to further his psychological healing process. The very humane tenth Doctor is characterised by his relationships, friendships and thirst for life. Tennant’s Doctor experiences moments of ecstatic energy which are ultimately overshadowed by feelings of regret and loneliness. During his tenure, the tenth Doctor loses Rose, Joan Redfern, Astrid Peth, Jenny, River Song, Donna Noble, the Master and Adelaide Brooke. The Doctor’s personal losses serve as reminders of the greater loss of Gallifrey. As the man who is trying to run from a shameful past which is, ironically, inescapable, the volatile tenth Doctor is a tragically doomed figure.

smith-dwl-promoOn the surface, Matt Smith’s Doctor is much more alien and manic than his ninth and tenth incarnations. Yet, his youthful appearance, flamboyance, physical elasticity, aloofness and often strange ways of interacting with humans mask the wise old man and cunning strategist inside. As the successor to Eccleston and Tennant’s Doctors, and having a comparatively much longer life span than his immediate predecessors, it is fitting that the eleventh Doctor is characterised as the man ‘who forgets’. To him, the Time War is a distant memory. If Tennant’s Doctor is distinguished by his romantic relationships, then Smith’s Doctor is characterised by his place within the family unit. River Song is his wife, and his relationship with Amy and Rory is that of a father figure. Smith’s Doctor is the pater familias, and his new ‘family’ is an opportunity to start again.

After losing Amy and Rory and knowing that his time with River Song is limited, the Doctor again descends to a dark place. Tarnished by the recurring pain of personal losses, it is not surprising that it is the enigma surrounding Clara Oswald – ‘the impossible girl’ mystery – rather than Clara herself, which serves as the Doctor’s motivation to stop his brooding, come out of retirement, and once again travel in the TARDIS. Like Tennant’s Doctor, however, Smith cannot escape his past. He is prone to being roused to anger such as in The Beast Below, and his desire for revenge can get the better of him as seen in A Good Man Goes to War and Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. His tenure is littered with insinuations of his past actions: that he is a ‘trickster’, a ‘warrior’, and ‘a nameless, terrible thing soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies’ – reinforced most poignantly in The God Complex and A Town Called Mercy.

day of the doctor batch b (19)With The Day of the Doctor, the Doctor is presented with a situation which allows him to rewrite his past, undo the most defining event of his recent history, and shed the connotations of ‘warrior’, ‘loner’, ‘villain’ and ‘victim’ which have come to define him. It is a chance to remove an immoral act, which, despite being the only option at the time, he has come to wholeheartedly regret and despise. It is an opportunity afforded to him with the benefit of hindsight, with the assistance of his other selves and in the company of companion Clara. No longer is it a decision made in isolation. In short, it enables him to become, once again, purely ‘The Doctor’, but not without ramifications – the War Doctor, the ninth and tenth incarnations will still have to live with the belief that they have destroyed Gallifrey, rather than attempted to save it.

The Day of the Doctor changes Smith’s Doctor dramatically. He is given a mission – to find Gallifrey; to return home. He truly becomes ‘the optimist’, ‘the hoper of far- flung hopes’ and ‘dreamer of improbable dreams.’ Reconciled with his past, Smith’s Doctor is acquiescent towards his imminent death atop the clock tower in The Time of the Doctor, and later, in the TARDIS, having been being fortuitously granted a new lifecycle by the Time Lords, is accepting of his impending regeneration.

capaldi-series-8-costume-hiIt is clear that the Doctor’s past will define the new Doctor played by Peter Capaldi. In short, I believe the twelfth incarnation will be the frustrated optimist, and within this, there is enormous character and narrative development potential. The quest to find Gallifrey is, for the Doctor, a higher calling of sorts which he will approach wholeheartedly – something that he has never had before. He has always been the outsider, the wanderer and the perennial traveller. Because of this new undertaking, Capaldi’s Doctor may initially be characterised by buoyancy and exuberance. He could be dynamic and excitable, even a bit child-like. But in terms of the show’s longevity, and the latest narrative direction established by Steven Moffat, it would be unwise if Gallifrey is brought back too soon. Realistically, we are unlikely to encounter it during Capaldi’s time in the TARDIS. Rather, what we may see is the crumbs of Gallifrey scattered across coming seasons, with it being reintroduced to the audience in gradual steps – the return of the Master and the Rani, the rise and fall of Romana, the emergence of Omega, or even the Doctor battling with his darker ‘Valeyard’ repressed persona. Consequently, Capaldi’s Doctor may become quite a mercurial Doctor, bounding between hope and annoyance. His frustration at being unable to locate Gallifrey may see him becoming increasingly impatient and prone to occasional outbursts. He may direct his aggravation on his enemies, making him a dark natured and feared Doctor. Like Homer’s Odysseus who longs to reach Ithaca, the Doctor will ultimately make it home, but the journey will be fraught with danger, evil, personal loss and tragedy.

When we are finally reintroduced to Gallifrey and the Time Lords, it would be a wise decision on the part of the producers to make them far more vindictive and vengeful than the Daleks. Throughout the show’s history, the Time Lords have been characterised as ‘decadent, degenerate and rotten to the core’. During the Time War, the Time Lords developed into the most heinous creatures of war, indistinguishable from the Daleks in their brutality and infamy, and willing to pursue any ends to achieve total victory, even if it meant leaving the universe standing on a brink of an apocalypse. It should always be remembered that the Time Lords have the blood of countless innocent victims on their hands, and that in the last days of the war, the High Council had plans to abandon their physical form to become creatures of consciousness alone, and thus immortal. The home that the Doctor returns to should stand in stark contrast to the romanticised Gallifrey of his dreams, thus erasing any feelings of nostalgia. The Doctor should be forced to reassess the decision he made in The Day of the Doctor, and not be beyond reproach as to the moral dilemmas and ramifications of saving Gallifrey. The Doctor needs to be defined by his defeats, shortcomings and poor decisions as much as his victories.

Step back in time...

COMMENT GUIDELINES

Please be civil and keep article comments relevant and on topic. Flag and report any offensive/trolling behavior, or contact us with details.
Please do not post SPOILERS including anything from leaked episodes! Your account could be banned. For complete details on our comment policy please read.
66 comments
OnceTheDoctor
OnceTheDoctor

I have no idea how Capaldi's Doctor will be like but everybody is expecting him to be a pretty dark character. I personally think the opposite. Great article!

Oodkind
Oodkind

I wholeheartedly agree with your last paragraph about the Time Lords. It almost seems as Moffat has forgotten who they were.

WhoPotterVian
WhoPotterVian

I can imagine Capaldi's Doctor being a man of action. Anything that remotely resembles the  characteristics  of a old Doctor would be far too predictable. Better that Moffat gives us the Doctor that majority of Whovians don't want this time round(ie eccentric,child-like).

GibbyBlogger
GibbyBlogger

Consequently, Capaldi’s Doctor may become quite a mercurial Doctor, bounding between hope and annoyance. His frustration at being unable to locate Gallifrey may see him becoming increasingly impatient and prone to occasional outbursts. He may direct his aggravation on his enemies, making him a dark natured and feared Doctor. Like Homer’s Odysseus who longs to reach Ithaca, the Doctor will ultimately make it home, but the journey will be fraught with danger, evil, personal loss and tragedy.


Oh, please let this become reality...

JLS1138
JLS1138

I was with you riiiiiight up until you wanted the Time Lords to be warmongering psycopaths upon their return. The whole point of freezing them in a parallel universe was to give them "hope" as Eleven said, so that they could return to their peaceful ways. And, indeed, in TTOTD (tttdd..dtod....) the Doctor said that if they came through the crack they'd come in peace. Personally, I always liked the Time Lords as noninterventionists with a stick up their butts. It made them a great contrast to the emotional, intervening Doctor.

PrerogativeOfATimeLord
PrerogativeOfATimeLord

I love a Doctor with a bit of mercury in his veins. (As you can tell by my profile picture.)


I think they all do, but it's harder to tell with some - Two, for example, very rarely got to display his dark side. Five, for another, hid it all behind a stupid smile.


But underneath it all, they're all still aliens.

TheOncomingSnow
TheOncomingSnow

'Clara Oswald – ‘the impossible girl’ mystery – rather than Clara herself, which serves as the Doctor’s motivation to stop his brooding, come out of retirement, and once again travel in the TARDIS.' 






I'm sorry, but this is not true. He'd made the decision to take Clara along with him in The Snowmen before he was aware of the mystery surrounding her. He was going to start travelling again whether she survived or not, as evidenced by the fact he told her 'no more cloud'. It was just that he didn't want just anyone to be his companion, he wanted her, specifically. 



plasticsoulman
plasticsoulman

Thought it was a real shame that Smith's Doctor never met the Master, it's been too long! I for one would love to see John Simm reprise the role but slightly less panto this time around, we need to see a darker more evil side to the character

VortexDan
VortexDan

They can't be evil! All the time lords are children who dance around maypoles and never hurt anyone!

lddkennedy
lddkennedy

I didn't see Eleven's relationship to the Ponds as that of a father figure. If anything, they were HIS parents. The father-like qualities of Matt Smith's portrayal came out with Clara. I've never understood why people believed there to be something romantic there. Eleven was EXTREMELY protective of Clara, considering what had happened to her on two previous occasions (not to mention what happened to the Ponds), and expressed it with hugs and forehead kisses because that's how Eleven was. He was a lot more intimate and affectionate than Nine or Ten. Yeah, Ten was flirtier and more charismatic, but he maintained a standard of standoffish-ness. He never physically interacted with his companions in any way more than a handshake or the odd hug. Eleven was quite prone to kissing, hugging and generally sticking very close to those he cared about because he was so terrified that he'd lose them.

BeyondThePolice
BeyondThePolice

Good article, but I don't think Eleven was really a father figure to the Ponds. At first they were in a love triangle, but after their marriage he was mostly just their really good friend. That was definitely their dynamic by series 7a, anyhow. Clara and Eleven were much more father-daughtery, not in all their scenes, but in many.

Polyphase
Polyphase

I hope this Doctor has come to terms with his past and basically gives earth a wide berth for a while as he has now been stuck on earth longer than Jons Doctor :)

Chronos the Fannibal
Chronos the Fannibal

For some reason I want to see the Doctor team up and have a bounty hunter sort of friend, or have I been watching too much Star Wars...

Xisco Lozdob
Xisco Lozdob

Brilliant article! Completely agree with you, specially in the part where you explore the psychology of the Doctor's thirteenth persona (11th Doctor).

I think that he, seeing as his immediately previous incarnations had been so human and had lost so many people, adopted a more alien and oblivious to the human customs personality as a self-defence mechanism, but, also, as a counterpart to that alieny side, he surrounded himself with a (human-ish) family,  which, knowing he was in his last incarnation, he hoped would outlast him, and, thus, he wouldn't have to loose anyone else. Then, of course, he lost them, and probably was self-forced to detach himself from anyone, so that he could never loose or hurt anybody else again.

MJJ
MJJ

2.47 billion children. That's the reason why all 13 Doctors saved Gallifrey. So, no matter how much the romanticized vision of The Doctor who finds his home is crushed by the reality - and I like the author's ideas on that - The Doctors saved 2.47 billion children. That will always count as a win.







jamface23
jamface23

The Frustrated Optimist... YES! Sounds just like Pertwee! From what we've already seen/heard, it looks like Capaldi will be a bit like Pertwee (but more manic). Exactly what I wanted as I love Pertwee (well, I love them all) :D

DC815
DC815

Can't wait to see what type of doctor he's going to be! Excellent article btw. I had a dream last night, a doctor who dream of course with Capaldi, and Clara had just been killed by the daleks, (I know, everyone wants to give them a rest, it was only a dream remember! :P) and then everything turned into slow motion as The Doctor just falls to his knees, then just doubles over, the loss was far too much for him. while Peter Gabriel's My Body is a cage started playing (seriously, give this a listen, it's brilliant!) The last we see in this episode is him slowly, tearfully carrying her body back into the Tardis. At the start of the next, we see him slaying, and I mean slaying The Entire Dalek fleet he was previously up against, and we see...the eyes, those eyes of his. Cold. Almost dead now. As he's about to finish off the entire fleet, kill them all, he hears a noise. Turns around and sees a little boy. The boy simply says "This isn't The Doctor" and disappears. The boy was the incarnation of The Time Lord before he took the name, The Doctor. Was really quite cool, in my head to see this play out. I think he's going to have a really cold fury about him, basically, you would be wise not to cross him. 



DeanFrederick
DeanFrederick

This is great dude, very interesting.  I am quite sure that Capaldi Doctor's is going to be FANTASTIC!

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

While the events of DOTD brought back the Time Lords, it was the killing of 2.4bn children (and Clara's tear) that was far more important in making the Doctor(s) change his mind, so I don't know if he will be that idealistic towards them...

beskar
beskar

Without wanting to shoot a big hole in the article, don't ALL the Doctors go "bounding between hope and annoyance"? I mean, contrast that description against each and every Doctor, and you can make the description work. So... sorry, the article doesn't really wash for me.

KingoftheOod4450
KingoftheOod4450

Best article I've read in a while and I wholeheartedly agree. I don't want to see the Series 8 finale focusing on Gallifrey returning - that would be far too soon. And there will have to be rammifications. Time Lords are - as the Sixth once dramatically stated - as villainous, if not more so, than anything else.

The Finn
The Finn

A very interesting article! 

Calufrax11
Calufrax11

As for Capaldi's Doctor, I personally don't envision him as being overtly excitable. Perhaps quick to anger and more vindictive at more contained moments, breaking a more subdued nature that he may possess the majority of the time.  His first appearance in TTOTD isn't an overall indication of his personality in that it's the Doctor in his post-regenerative state, which is to say that he's discombobulated. 

Calufrax11
Calufrax11

On the point of rectifying the final event of the Time War, namely the activation of the Moment, the Doctor hasn't changed his past. It confirms that he was in fact part of his past, on this very day, and that this is what ACTUALLY happened to Gallifrey. Doctors 9 on believed themselves to be the destroyer of Gallifrey purely for the reason that the War Doctor would have no recollection of the events as they truly transpired. Pedantry rant over.        



Nightmarish
Nightmarish

I'd like to see the Doctor find the Time Lords only to have them return to their rotten ways. Then his story in a way, starts again. He sees the Time Lords for what they are and once again runs away and becomes a renegade.


pinkjaguar12
pinkjaguar12

I definitely want to see him deal with his choices, and especially would love to see a scene where he constantly defends himself by referencing the children, Time Lords that have yet to grow into the corruption that they are born into.

The Oncoming Storm
The Oncoming Storm

Slightly related to the above article...the Valeyard. He is supposed to have been created between the Doctor's 12th and 13th incarnations (i.e. when Tennant regenerated into Smith)...This coincides with the Eleventh Hour and at one point in the episode, a mysterious figure runs past one of the windows in Amelia Pond's house. Based on Moffat's story arc, we are supposed to believe that it was a Silent or something to do with the Alliance.


WHAT IF it was the Valeyard, a weakened, probably naked (don't ask why - not a fantasy), and evil amalgamation of the Doctor.....Somewhere out there now

Shadowbomb
Shadowbomb

I get what you mean, my comment sounded better in my head than in text but to try and do better I ment there are those that have hope and peace and some just corrupt to the bone. A lot will return in peace but some will remain bitter and twisted and will be evil

gunslinger19
gunslinger19

@TheOncomingHurricane I think he already had some idea that something was up. he noticed when she mentioned soufflés and he may have had some memory of her given the impact shes had on him his whole life :)

Shadowbomb
Shadowbomb

@VortexDan  Well not all are evil, but I do think if Gallifrey does return then it should be in a war with itself because the truly corrupt are power hungry and the innocent want to just move on from the war. Being locked away in another universe a lot could be happening that we are not seeing. The crack could be the innocent ones asking if it safe to escape gallifrey from the corrupt timelords

JoshThomas
JoshThomas

@VortexDan  I don't about that, they might have went round egging people's houses :P

Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

Idk Clara and the doctor relationship to me came off like they totally like each other but the doctor didn't trust her at first and Clara was smart enough to know there relationship would probably end in disaster but that's just me

Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

Maybe a robot companion I was a little disappointed that handles didn't survive he could have been the new k9:-)

Angie Whodini
Angie Whodini

@MJJ  I would love it if an episode were to happen on Gallifrey and he became a renegade again just because he suddenly tries to make that generation take over. Like a sort of revolution generation is brewing or something. 

the doctors name is bob
the doctors name is bob

@DC815  Wow that sounds EPIC, the only bit I don't like is the child doctor as we have found out a bit much about him recently

Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

perhaps they can give us a new valeyard instead of trying to explain the origins of the old one. Like this new valeyard could be some kind of alternate universe version of the doctor.

VictorWong1
VictorWong1

The thing is, the only source we have for the Valeyard's origin is the Master ... Who's probably not the most reliable of sources where the Doctor is concerned.

Moffat is on record as saying he's never understood the reasoning behind the Valeyard, and I suggest that means not only is he *not* going to return, but the current series is going to regard the Valeyard as a "potential" future Doctor who can no longer exist in continuity due to changed circumstances.

Calufrax11
Calufrax11

@The Oncoming Storm  That figure was meant to be Prisoner Zero, no? According to an audio commentary for The Eleventh Hour, it's actually Matt Smith that runs across between takes. The production team enjoyed the image, so they decided to use it thereafter. 

Nightmarish
Nightmarish

Interesting idea. I'm not sure about the figure in Amy's house, but maybe after the regeneration, there were actually two versions of the Doctor created, one Matt, and one Valeyard. The Valeyard could secretly be causing trouble(i.e. convincing Kovarian to break away from the Church). He comes back to confront Capaldi.

Chris502
Chris502

@The Oncoming Storm  1-The master said between his 12th and final incarnation, not 12th and 13th. 13 should of been the final, but wasn't. So the valeyard is not in between Tennant and Smith.  2- That figure was meant to be the 11th Doctor from TBB, not a member of the silence.




supermoff
supermoff

@The Oncoming Storm  That would be seriously cool. But I thought the Master phrased it that the Valeyard came somewhere in between the Doctor's "12th and final" form. Of course, it was originally intended to mean 13th, but now with a new regeneration cycle...the Valeyard coup creep up at any regeneration. Although, it would be cool if that was him in the Eleventh Hour.

JLS1138
JLS1138

@Shadowbomb  Hm, I see what you're saying. I just don't know if we need any more Masters or Ranis running around the universe. I like the idea of the Time Lords coming back MORE pious and tripping up the Doctor from doing the thing he's been doing for millennia 

Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

Also I just found a clip on YouTube where Moffat describes their relationship as the doctor basically "Fancying someone he really shouldn't"

Romanadvoratrelundar
Romanadvoratrelundar

@Liana21 A cop or agent could be cool, I don't think a Roman or a Greek would work so well because they're just so far behind (look at the disastrous Katarina - she didn't even understand the concept of a 'key'.) The whole "getting back home the long way" thing has also worked well in the past, with Ian and Barbara and Tegan and a few others basically getting stuck with the Doctor. I'm hoping for a companion that is pretty much stranded and has so choice but to go with him (like Vicki, Steven and even Victoria Waterfield), I always liked their "the TARDIS is my home now" attitude.


Nightmarish
Nightmarish

Slightly off topic, but I'd like an episode of that where the Doctor feels that the law is wrong in some Universe court and becomes a sort-of criminal in order to do what he thinks is right. Capaldi's Doctor seems kinda rebellious to me also.

Chronos the Fannibal
Chronos the Fannibal

I like the idea that you don't necessarily know who their allegiance is to either, but they would be pretty handy as a informant to the Doctor and good in a fight if needed to be

Plus like Jenny, can help them become a better (less violent) person






DamianChristie
DamianChristie

@Notsosmartguy  I like your thinking! It's doubtful that Michael Jayston would be cast as the Valeyard even if the character did return in the modern series!

The Oncoming Storm
The Oncoming Storm

@VictorWong1 What changed circumstances mean he can no longer exist? :S please excuse my lack of Classic Who knowledge, I'm working through them slowly

Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

I just had this dream hat there was a Clara and handles spinoff.

Romanadvoratrelundar
Romanadvoratrelundar

@Liana21 @BadWolf2 I will be fair and admit that she was a Trojan, so she was from a good 1000 years before the period you guys are referring to. I still think my point stands though, poor Katarina had absolutely no clue whatsoever what was going on. She thought they were all dead, the TARDIS was a temple and they were on the way to the afterlife.

Nightmarish
Nightmarish

That's pure genius. I just thought up a whole scenario to cover that! The Doctor is on a planet with a dictatorial government with Clara, and Clara does something that goes against a completely ridiculous law. Like on that planet talking is a crime. Clara gets sentenced to execution, the Doctor tries to defend her but then gets arrested himself, however someone sympathizes with him and helps him escape, clears his name, then becomes his companion.

Chronos the Fannibal
Chronos the Fannibal

How about him going on the run from the authorities? no Tardis or sonic and escaping into a whole strange world where the law is against him. I would love to see that episode :) 

(this is the part where the bounty hunter comes in and befriends him) 


Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

I hope so that'd be awesome :-) and he'd rely less on the sonic screwdriver.

DamianChristie
DamianChristie

@beskar @VictorWong1  A meat puppet controlled by the Master? You obviously have never watched The Trial of a Time Lord, have you? The Valeyard was working on behalf of a corrupt High Council of Time Lords, not the Master. In fact, the Master was infuriated by the very presence of the Valeyard - as he symbolised the likelihood that the Master would never be able to destroy the Doctor!

TheIdleIdol
TheIdleIdol

But if they choose to re-incorporate the Valeyard into the show and he targets Capaldi's Doctor, that's still 12 new potential regenerations for him to steal. Plus, him targeting the Sixth at the time still makes sense, as at that point Six still had plenty more regenerations ahead of him. I don't see why he can no longer exist.

VictorWong1
VictorWong1

@The Oncoming Storm Well, the Valeyard attempted to take the Sixth Doctor's future regenerations. Since they've all been used up, it won't wash anymore.