Could John Hurt be the last Doctor?
Guest contributor Ashley Mooney offers another theory.
The John Hurt ‘Doctor’ as he’s obviously not called, ‘“I said he was me, I never said he was the Doctor,” – Eleventh Doctor’, (Sorry, had to get THAT out of the way), has been called quite a few things these past few months. The Original Incarnation, the Third Doctor, the Eighth Doctor, the Ninth Doctor, the Twelfth Doctor and the Thirteenth Doctor. And while all of these names and the theories these names spring from are both plausible and interesting to read, I hold stock to a different theory. John Hurt is portraying the last incarnation of the Doctor.
What? How? Where in all of time and space did that come from?
Okay, let me explain. The facts we know about John Hurt’s Doctor are thus: Hurt’s Doctor was encountered in the Doctor’s time stream, so he must be an incarnation of the Doctor at some point in his life (either his past or future). The Eleventh Doctor knew him and the horrible act he has committed, so he must be have been present, lived through it or at least aware of what this act was. This specific act was so horrific that it caused this incarnation to lose the name of ‘The Doctor’. It was not the destruction of Gallifrey, the Time Lords and the Daleks (Sort of…), as the Ninth and Tenth Doctors admitted to it and talked about it with their closest companions, and the Eleventh Doctor has possibly even come to terms with his role in these events. If this had been John Hurt’s act, I feel as if these incarnations would not acknowledge it in any way, as it wasn’t even really ‘them’. (They’re the Doctor, he’s not, remember?). So whatever John Hurt’s Doctor did must have been far greater than the destruction of his own race.
So? What does this prove?
Well… honestly nothing. We have no concrete evidence that supports any theory other than the brief glimpses of Time War in the trailer. However, as there have been far more outlandish theories, I shall proceed. ‘The Day of the Doctor’ has been described as ‘looking forward and back’ by Steven Moffat. He also stated recently that, ‘This is where the story really starts. This is where he finds his mission, he finds his destiny.’ What better way to find out one’s destiny than to realise how you are going to die.
But what about the stuff the Doctor said about him?
Quite simply here’s my theory in a nutshell. John Hurt’s Doctor is the last incarnation of the Doctor. Whether he be the Thirteenth, Fiftieth, Three-Hundred-and-Eleventh or One-Millionth, he is the LAST. It was his TARDIS the Eleventh Doctor, Clara and the others entered during ‘The Name of the Doctor’ and it was on Trenzalore he died. We know nothing about Trenzalore. The only thing we know is that it was the site of a huge battle and the Doctor was slain. Who was he fighting? What was Trenzalore? Imagine if Trenzalore was a large city planet, much bigger and more important than Gallifrey, or was critical to the entirety of the Universe, similar to Logopolis. What could the Doctor do there that would force him to lose the name of the Doctor? Is it possible that perhaps the Doctor practically destroyed Trenzalore, or possibly the Universe? Much worse things than killing off two species and a planet.
But if he’s the Three-Hundred-and-Eleventh Doctor, how did the Eleventh Doctor know him?
This one’s a bit easy actually, if we remember who else is starring in ‘The Day of the Doctor’. I don’t think David Tennant is there to be just a pretty face. If the Eleventh Doctor remembers being the Tenth Doctor meeting and either learning about or witnessing the evil act his final incarnation commits, surely he would shun him in his time stream.
But hang on, what about this?
Admittedly, this theory, as all do, has many holes in it. The trailer (I’ve read the description) and a recently released photograph, clearly show the Tenth Doctor uncomfortable with the John Hurt Doctor’s presence. It is possible that his name defying act takes place early in the story, and that the Tenth Doctor will only be uncomfortable after the fact. The costuming does support the Time War Doctor theory quite well. However it is likely that it is a red herring. The same could be said for the costumer designer’s accidental slip of the tongue to the Prince of Wales. It seems unlikely that they would have been allowed to reveal such a big secret at all, let alone so far from the air date and with so much press in the vicinity.
So what does this mean for the show?
Steven Moffat has been quoted many times saying that ‘The Day of the Doctor’ will be steering the show in a new direction. If John Hurt’s Doctor is the last Doctor, that will mean that we as an audience and the Doctor since his tenth incarnation (Or Eleven if Ten doesn’t learn THAT part of the story) will know exactly what the Doctor looks like, what he is doing and where he will be when he dies. This gives the Doctor’s life a direction to head in, although one the show will never actually reach. John Hurt can’t (unfortunately) stay alive forever, and eventually Doctor Who will end. But if it ends with any other actor, it can always be picked up again as in the canon of the show John Hurt’s Doctor is the final incarnation. If Hurt’s Doctor is the final incarnation, Steven Moffat has, in fact, allowed the show to continue forever. Besides the returned Patrick Troughton episodes, I can’t think of a better gift to give the show for its 50th birthday.