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“I will always remember when the Doctor was me”

Guest contributor James Wynne examines the 11th Doctor’s final moments.

smith-regen-speech-time

‘It all just disappears, doesn’t it? Everything you are, gone in a moment, like breath on a mirror.’

It’s been over a month since Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor bid farewell, with a poignant speech about the inevitable nature of change. Having expended the last of his regeneration energy during the events of “The End of Time”, the Eleventh Doctor was granted a whole new cycle by the Time Lords in “The Time of the Doctor” to facilitate his thirteenth regeneration.

Eleven’s last piece of dialogue was a philosophy on the ever changing nature of life. Regeneration is analogous of this, and the symmetry of it was the centrepiece of his speech. But whilst the Doctor has often partially dismissed any impact of change that his regenerations entail (apart from with the Tenth Doctor’s), this time the prospect of change seemed all the more profound for him.

Maybe it was because the Doctor had spent so long in this eleventh incarnation (some one thousand years), a flipside to the comparatively fleeting amount of time he spent in his tenth, but I believe it can be attributed to the new regeneration cycle granted to him, and what that process engenders for a Time Lord.

‘We all change. When you think about it, we are all different people, all through our lives.’

His final monologue, apart from being an extraversion of the fourth wall in some ways, wasn’t just about the Eleventh incarnation, or Matt Smith himself, but all of those incarnations who’ve preceded this one. A Time Lord’s existence is a very abstract concept. During the regenerative process, every single cell of their physical form is rewritten, so that nothing of the previous, bar their memories, is retained. But the energy that enables regeneration, which depletes with each and every use, remains; lessened, but intrinsically unchanged in its form. It is the only constant of their physical existence.

A Time Lord’s existence could therefore be perceived as being, in its most basic construct, nothing but this raw, regenerative energy, which just assumes a humanoid form. In that sense, they can almost be likened to the Gelth.

The Time Lords essentially deplete a portion of their very essence whenever they are forced to regenerate; always emerging a bit less than they were. Thereby, equilibrium is established; regeneration is a survival measure that disburses a Time Lord’s life force, invariably taking them one step closer to a death they cannot avert under normal circumstances.

‘You gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.’

This is why Eleven’s final line carries so much weight, especially from this perspective: ‘I will always remember when the Doctor was me.’ It’s not just referring to Matt Smith, or the Eleventh incarnation, but Doctors 1-11, who were products of this Time Lord’s original essence; a metaphor for his soul, if you will. With a new cycle granted, the Doctor’s existence is fuelled by an entirely new energy that retains the memories and cognition of the original only through the processes of regeneration between physical forms leaving all of this intact.

We’ve seen eleven conventional regenerations of the Doctor’s outward form. But this was also a regeneration of the Time Lord essence that harbours within, and Eleven’s speech was, perhaps, among other things, a testament to that. Regeneration isn’t death; after all, it is life in its purest, most unbridled form. And when that crack opened in the skies above Trenzalore, what came through was a whole new life; a whole new Time Lord to perpetuate the Doctor’s semblance.

This is further evidenced if we look at Eleven’s final words not solely from the perspective of how applicable they are to the human race, but instead as a Time Lord attempting to console himself, as the last remnants of his original essence diminish with the approaching transformation. Time Lords are a multitude of different people through their lives, but if the regenerative energy is deemed to be an allegory for their spirits or souls, then the Doctor is experiencing the departure of his, which has guided him throughout his centuries upon centuries of travelling through time, as a new one takes hold in its stead.

‘I will not forget one line of this. Not one day. I swear.’

Change, whilst remaining fundamentally the same is what Doctor Who uniquely excels at, and though, from the point of view I’ve posed so far, this is the most monumental change for the Doctor, on a very personal basis, the quintessence of the Doctor’s character will still be maintained as a natural result of the regeneration process.

In other words, the Twelfth Doctor will be no less the Doctor, despite the fact that the essence of his predecessors has been supplanted, because the inherence of the Doctor, as with anyone, is due to the sum of his experiences more than anything else.

‘I will always remember when the Doctor was me.’

I don’t imagine Moffat had all of the above in mind when he wrote this sequence. This is nothing more than a mere interpretation of what was presented, which is probably miles off the mark (‘I love humans. Always seeing patterns in things that aren’t there.’) But the notion struck me heavily during those final scenes, and it’s something that enhances, for me, what is already a fantastically poignant adieu for the Eleventh Doctor.

Step back in time...

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145 comments
Noybusiness
Noybusiness

‘I will not forget one line of this. Not one day. I swear.’

Interesting, given thatthe Moment characterized Eleven as "the man who forgets".

OnceTheDoctor
OnceTheDoctor

The end speech was so memorable. I can remember that final speech from Matt Smith almost off by heart!

gunslinger19
gunslinger19

one thing I havnt seen mentioned is that the reason, im pretty sure, that Smith placed such an emphasis on the fact that he would remember his incarnation makes the apparent memory loss of Capaldi's incarnation all the more ironic and tragic. theres also the fact that memory has always been a theme of eleven's era what with Amy's parents, amy's belief that her memories of the doctor as a child were real, River's memories not being in synch with the doctor's or her parents, Rory's erasure, the pandorica trap being made from Amy's memories, the doctor's erasure, the past doctor not remembering what his companions remember about his death, the silence, the doctor erasing any record or memory of himself, the daleks forgetting the doctor, Clara not remembering her other selves, eleven's general forgetfulness about deatails like his age and I could probably go on :)

MarlonJBonnici
MarlonJBonnici

The speech personally didn't bother me it wasn't much different from ten's so I can't see how anyone could champion one over the other. The Regeneration effect was rubbish though in my opinion and I hope it's not the new standard from now on. Once is fine don't make it twice though.

YgorVale
YgorVale

I've got and question and a message, If the 11's doctor's death a fixed point doesn't it mean that Donna's World shouldn't have existed and have those massive reaper things?
And my message, would you like me to repeat the question?

YgorVale
YgorVale

Is it possible that 10 didn't want to change because 1. He was on his last regeneration anyway, 2. HE COULD DO SO MUCH MORE 3. He was young, 6 no, 4. He was a human doctor and 5, he didn't want to be judged by any future incarnation of his.

DC815
DC815

It was a spectacular regeneration. Made all the sweeter when it's clear that he breaks the fourth wall.

supermoff
supermoff

It was wonderful regeneration, like Ecclestone's. I'm so glad Matt went out with elegance and grace, unlike Tennant's over-dramatic "I don't want to go", which ruined the character for me. I was positively cheering to see the Tenth Doctor go after that. 

YgorVale
YgorVale

Could you expand this article? You missed out his last words, the most important words of the Doctor, "Hey" what do those words mean?

YgorVale
YgorVale

Guess what 11s last line was, and it isn't "I'll always  remember when the Doctor was me" it was "Hey" if you listen closely just before the flash.

YgorVale
YgorVale

I'm going to talk about 10's "farewell tour", people usually criticize ten for doing it, but during his last moments of his life he was thinking of other people and was so proud of them, he was saying good bye to them from his tenth incarnation, 11 might have seen them again, but 10 wouldn't have, let's keep in mind that if ten didn't do the farewell tour then, Donna would be in debt, Luke Smith would be on a life machine, Micky and Martha would be dead. Ten saved Luke, Micky and Martha, let's not forget that. The only person who he couldn't save from death, was himself.

gunslinger19
gunslinger19

@MarlonJBonnici the speech wasn't much different from ten's? ten didn't have a speech. he had a line that couldn't really have been more different from Smith's exit. I suppose you could maybe count his conversation with Rose, but that conversation bore almost no similarity with anything that Smith said to Clara.

Strontium
Strontium

@YgorVale  I see it as if the fixed point was created around 11's timeline, so therefore it did not exist during 10's time.

ilyootha is in the Divergent Universe
ilyootha is in the Divergent Universe

@YgorVale The fixed point was created by Kovarian's lot to ensure that the Doctor doesn't come to Trenzalore (didn't work though). If Ten dies, he doesn't become Eleven, he doesn't come to Trezanlore, Kovarian doesn't try to prevent that and doesn't seek to kill him, so in Donna's World the fixed point doesn't even exist.











supermoff
supermoff

@YgorVale  Well the whole "Donna' World" - if I believe you're referring to "Turn Left" - was a parallel universe, created around her. If you want to get timey wimey, you can say that parallel universe HAD to be created, as the Doctor was predicted to die by Lake Silencio, and couldn't die then in the normal universe. As for the reapers, well maybe when the Doctor rebooted the universe they perished...that was pure fabrication, obviously, but sometimes its fun to try and fill the gaps :P

YgorVale
YgorVale

@DC815 It's generally because it was more fan-servicy than "I don't want to go" and the regeneration effect was cheap and rubbish.
 Plus Ten had a reason, he was on his last regeneration

Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

nice to I'm not the only one who despised 10 regeneration :-)

bl0ndie98
bl0ndie98

@Lewis94. Yeah same, I much preferred Disqus, you could dislike comments to show opinions and I really like that, with this new one you can only like so you can't really see where the majority stands.

ilyootha is in the Divergent Universe
ilyootha is in the Divergent Universe

@YgorVale  The problem with Ten is not his farewell tour (which is a good thing in itself), the problem is his attitude towards regeneration in general. He equates it to death, which I find to be absolutely wrong and a bit disrespectful to previous (and future) showrunners and Doctors. Not to mention how much it helped Matt Smith to be disliked by some fans. "Everything I am dies, and some new man goes sauntering away"? WTF, Romana commits suicide now?!



I could understand Ten's desire to see all that incarnation's friends with that incarnation's eyes, but then suddenly in the SJA series the Doctor says that he actually visited every single companion the Doctors 1-10 ever had, which makes it even more baffling. Why would Ten try to visit Jo? According to him, she's not his companion, she a companion of some other guy who is sauntering about!




YgorVale
YgorVale

Also, since Day of the Doctor, the Tenth Doctor died for nothing. It kind of ruined the End of Time's ending.

Hrothgir
Hrothgir

@Basically Just Regenerating Again  He said we're crashing, and then asked if Clara knew how to fly it. If past regenerations are anything to go by, the Doctor will be hors de combat for the first half hour of the first episode. They do seem to faint a lot.

MarlonJBonnici
MarlonJBonnici

@gunslinger19 @MarlonJBonnici

Take his conversation with Wilf into account, which I could have made more clear at my end so apologies, they're both somewhat lamenting their regenerations. And after the hate tens Regeneration got I just found it kinda funny how people lauded 11's when to me, besides a couple of things, they weren't all that different.

Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

I will never understand why people love 10 so much to the point they will never give another doctor a chance.

Zaphod626
Zaphod626

@YgorVale Except RTD didn't write that line knowing that was his last regeneration, and reading it in its original context makes it clear that the only reason he said it was simply that he didn't want to change. And in what way was Matt's regeneration more "fan-servicy"? It emphasized the positive side of the situation, but I fail to see how that makes it more fan-appealing that Tennant's regeneration. Two sides of the same coin. 





Adric the Genius
Adric the Genius

@Notsosmartguy I actually really enjoy the Tenth Doctor's regeneration.  The scale of it and the music is simply amazing; it is brilliant.  I also feel that his final line is appropriate, after all, he only got to spend 5-10 years in that incarnation, compared with the centuries he lived in others.  Also, he really enjoyed being this incarnation of the Doctor, more than most, therefore, he is right in "not wanting to go".

Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

You summed up everything i felt was wrong with 10's regeneration better than I could have :-) I'm glad moff didn't pull this crap with 11. I don't know what RTD was thinking when he did 9's it was perfection he went out showing the charecter development he went through during his brief time as the doctor. But with 10 all we got was him whining about how he "could do so much more".

Whogasms
Whogasms

@YgorVale  Not really, the Doctor had to stop the master from taking over the world, and without the Doctor, gallifrey would've collided into earth, and what happened in the Day of the Doctor wouldn't have happened.

SirTrey
SirTrey

@MarlonJBonnici @gunslinger19  Both of the conversations with Ten and Wilf (cafe and radiation-room) were much more regretful and almost spiteful), to the point of almost seeming juvenile, as opposed to Eleven basically accepting this fate calmly.  I really loved Ten's emotions at times but, for me, in The End of Time they got the best of him in the worst of ways.

yoshfiction
yoshfiction

@MarlonJBonnici @gunslinger19  10 had trouble accepting the change, and did not want to go. 11 does try to escape death if possible (like in Series 6), but he embraces the change, which is evident from his speech. One of them embraces it, the other despises it. It can't get much more different than that. They are polar opposites.


TheIdleIdol
TheIdleIdol

Canonically, I think he only lived for round about three years - the ages 903 to 906. It's definitely much less than ten, and I'm near-certain that was below five as well. In that context, I actually found his "I could do so much more!" sentiments quite moving - he'd finally found happiness, of sorts, after two lifetimes of misery, and it was cut short by a cruel twist of fate after what would have been a pitiful lifespan even by dog years, let alone Time Lord. I wouldn't have wanted to go either.

Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

I understand why you like it I really like your argument friend :-)

TheIdleIdol
TheIdleIdol

Personally, I'm inclined to agree that the downvote wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately, downvotes weren't water off a duck's back to everybody - I found the constant instances of "Who downvoted me?", "Why did this get downvoted", "Oh the trolls are downvoting me again" to be even more tiresome and aggravating than actual disagreements, so I am at least glad that we've done away with all that pointless hassle.


Strontium
Strontium

@ilyootha @YgorVale  In Day they actually say that the high council's plans have already failed (referring to bringing Gallifrey to Earth), and that Gallifrey is still in the firing line.

TheIdleIdol
TheIdleIdol

Both plans were occurring simultaneously. The War Council who represented Gallifrey during Day of the Doctor made reference to the High Council at one point I'm pretty sure, but it was made pretty clear that both "factions" were acting relatively independently at the time. Presumably, whilst the War Council were busy doing what they do best and trying to fight off the Dalek invasion, Rassilon was putting his crazy doomsday schemes into action, thus starting the events that led to The End of Time. (edit - turns out this has been said, but, yeah, still.)





Adric the Genius
Adric the Genius

@YgorVale @Xisco Lozdob Yes, but Rassilon was demented, corrupted by power.  The actual events of The Day of the Doctor would not have occured had Rassilon succeeded.  The Time Lords had had enough of the war, and just wanted it to end.  They would do anything to do that.  Had they succeeded, then the future we know would have not taken place and the Doctor would not have saved Gallifrey as he did.

ilyootha is in the Divergent Universe
ilyootha is in the Divergent Universe

@Notsosmartguy Indeed. It appears that while Rassilon was giving his "for the end of Time itself!" speech, the General recieved the "no more" message (he mentioned the High Council being in an emergency session, but they didn't know about the Moment yet); and later, while the Doctor was walking towards the shed on a desert planet, Gallifery traveled to Earth and back (a chancellor told Rassilon that the Doctor had "disappeared", but they already knew about the Moment at that point).

Alternatively, the events of TEOT could have already happened by the beginning of TDOTD (we know that the High Council had already tried something and had failed, although it might be a different plan), although it would be weird if the High Council learned about the Moment going missing before the War Council did.








Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

Wasn't there a line in Day that indicated the end of time was happening at the same time?

gunslinger19
gunslinger19

@YgorVale @Xisco Lozdob yeah I love the fact that in an incredibly long term way, it was curiosity and foolishness that killed 10. he even says "not even the time lords came this far. we should go. we should really really go." but then he acts anyway which brings back the Master. im not a massive fan of the RTD era but when you look at it in a long term way and look at 10's arrogance when he deposes Harriet Jones which impacts Saxon and children of Earth, the story becomes purely epic! 

ilyootha is in the Divergent Universe
ilyootha is in the Divergent Universe

@YgorVale Nothing onscreen indicates that the events of The End of Time were undone, as far as we should be concerned they still happened at some point before or during The Day of the Doctor.

That "the Time Lords looked in the future, saw Gallifrey being saved and decided not to put it over Earth" is only your own assumption, so if it ruins the story for you, why do you assume it then?



YgorVale
YgorVale

@Xisco Lozdob Remember that the moment is Time Lord technology and that the Time Lords are the Lords of Time, they can see everything, even though a law is in place which says that people aren't allowed to visit Gallifrey in the future, what would stop the time lords? They were in a war and the moment untime locked it for abit.

YgorVale
YgorVale

@Xisco Lozdob @YgorValeAlso his death could have been avoided if he didn't walk out of the doors in Utopia, then the Master would have never been resurrected and he wouldn't become Prime Minister, then get shot, then get resurrected again, then Wilf wouldn't have to be saved, because all the these events could have been avoided.
 If I was the Doctor I honestly wouldn't even leave the TARDIS.

Xisco Lozdob
Xisco Lozdob

I don't really think that they could have foreseen it. The Moment wouldn't have let them, because that'd have interfered with its plan.

YgorVale
YgorVale

@Xisco Lozdob @YgorValeYeah, but the Time Lords could see into the future, then they can see that if they just waited a few hours then all 12... NO ALL 13 incarnations would have saved Gallifrey in the first place. They didn't need to put Gallifrey over earth.
The Doctor could have stop the Master without dying.

michael_hi
michael_hi

@TheIdleIdol I think after the events of waters of mars, the tenth doctor pottered around for about 100 years, filling the gap between the forenamed and the end of time. There was a line to the ood at the beginning of the episode which implies this, and allows timeplacing for the day of the doctor and other unaccompanied adventures. at the end of the day though, why would he want to die? quite nice for the doctor to admit emotion on such a human level