Is Time Sentient? (Part 2)
Guest contributor Tom Norton concludes with part 2.
For some time now I’ve been wondering if Time is capable of thinking and acting for itself. This article will look at the evidence suggesting Time might be a sentient entity. The Doctor has displayed the arrogance to think he’s above the laws of Time but I believe Time is the one in charge. I’ll be examining fixed points in Time, the TARDIS, the Time Lords, the Universe and the Doctor’s companions, as well as including my two favourite Daleks. Let’s look at the evidence and please give your opinions, without being insulting.
Companions and Good Daleks
When Rose Tyler absorbed the Time Vortex in The Parting of the Ways, she became powerful enough to be a goddess, albeit only temporarily, apparently reflecting Time’s immense power. For a human, Time is too much for their mind to handle and they would die, presumably because, unlike Time Lords, they didn’t have centuries to adapt to the power of the Time Vortex. Rose may have been somewhat aware of what was happening while she was the Bad Wolf because she apparently made a conscious effort to bring Jack Harkness back to life but it seems that Time was the one pulling the strings, turning her into a physical incarnation and a weapon to destroy the Daleks.
Speaking of Daleks, Dalek Caan managed to make it through the Time Lock around the Time War which, in theory, was impossible. How could one single Dalek make it through such a powerful Time Lock, one that kept the Time Lord’s themselves imprisoned inside it? True, Caan was no ordinary Dalek, being a member of the Cult of Skaro, but Time Lords and Emperors were powerless against the Time Lock, at least until the events of The End of Time, yet Caan made it through, albeit at the cost of his sanity. I actually have a theory that he could have entered through the Void, using the “Void Stuff” to “melt” part of the Time Lock, but if that’s not the case then Time must have deliberately left a tiny hole for him to enter through. Caan stated that the Doctor and his “Children of Time” would always defeat Davros and the Daleks, basically saying that it was a fixed point. Time seemed to let Davros out of the Time War to make absolutely certain that the events of The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End happened, perhaps using the reunion of the Doctor and his companions to say thank you for saving it so many times. Perhaps it feared that Davros might ally with the Time Lords within the Time War, since both sides wanted to destroy the Universe, and knew that the Doctor could only defeat them one at a time rather than their combined forces.
Destiny is a word that was used in Journey’s End when Donna Noble and the Meta-crisis Doctor realised that Donna and the Tenth Doctor kept meeting. Dalek Caan was said to be manipulating the timelines but think about it logically; it’s not like he Emergency Temporal Shifted all over the place (he might not even be capable of doing so by the time of the War at the Medusa Cascade considering how damaged he was) and dragging Donna into the Doctor’s path each time. He also didn’t have the awesome powers of the Bad Wolf so he couldn’t just wave his tentacles and transport the Doctor and Donna to the right places at the right time. He was able to see the future and influence it to some degree but he did so through his own ingenuity, not supernatural powers. I think Time did the things that Caan was unable to do personally.
Jack Harkness is a fixed point in time and is impossible to kill, apart from during the events of Miracle Day. Time ensured he couldn’t die by using Rose Tyler as its puppet. If Jack does become the Face of Boe, and I think he does, he apparently dies permanently when he opens the Motor Way, but that’s countless millennia in the future. Jack’s lifespan is so long that it makes the Doctor’s centuries seem short by comparison and unlike the Doctor, Jack rarely has the luxury of time travelling since his Vortex manipulator rarely works. Time refused to put Jack out of his misery until he’d outlived the oldest of Time Lords, a sign of cruelty because a life as long as Jack’s would grow tragic and painful. The Doctor has complained that “a Time Lord lives too long” but he should consider himself lucky that Time wasn’t cruel enough to make him a fixed point.
Wilfred Mott was also used by Time to force the Tenth Doctor to regenerate, because the Doctor stated that he was “always this”. In other words Wilfred was always going to be the man that would force the Doctor’s tenth regeneration, whether he wanted to or not.
River Song is another strong implication of Time’s sentience. Why do River and the Doctor’s timelines go back to front? Well technically they only go back to front until A Good Man Goes to War; after that they meet at random points in their timelines. But why couldn’t they just travel together in the TARDIS as husband and wife? “One psychopath per TARDIS” my foot! Time just doesn’t want them to have a happy life together.
Also, consider the fact that both of River’s parents were biologically normal humans. Yes, being conceived in the Time Vortex could give River Time Lady DNA but she had enough to be capable of regeneration which isn’t really believable, unless Time deliberately gifted her with regeneration. Time Lord’s developed regeneration over millions or billions of years and River was basically just given the ability. If the Doctor had been River’s father then her regeneration abilities would be more believable without Time’s interference.
Clara Oswald seems to be Time’s gift to the Doctor as she was born to save him, not only from the Great Intelligence, the Daleks, Akhaten and God knows what else, but also from himself and his own loneliness. What are the chances of a single leaf flying into her father’s face at the exact right moment? It couldn’t have been a coincidence and it was always Clara’s destiny to save the Doctor. She said she was born to do so. Without her the Universe would have been destroyed a very long time ago. The cruel and tragic thing is that Clara has died millions of times and some of her deaths have been truly terrible. For example being transformed into a Time Zombie was a horrible death, although arguably that doesn’t count since I think the Time Zombie Clara was aware of what had happened and was begging for help rather than being actually dead, plus Time was rewritten and it happened before she jumped into the Doctor’s time stream.
Another example, this time one that definitely counts, is when Oswin Oswald was converted into a Dalek, given hope that she would be rescued and then died after finding out she’d been turned into one of the most feared and hated things in the Universe. Further evidence of Time’s sadistic side is that the Doctor didn’t notice Clara until he was well into his Eleventh life which must have been upsetting for Clara since she’s sacrificed herself for him a million times and he didn’t even notice she’s doing it. Seriously, a million encounters, possibly more, and he doesn’t even realise she’s there until about a thousand years after she told him which TARDIS to steal? Time must have been hiding Clara from him.
Despite Time’s rather obvious cruelty, Clara survived falling into the Doctor’s time stream (which makes me think that the Great Intelligence probably did too since it doesn’t need a body). River Song implied she had somehow prevented Clara from dying or at least knew how Clara survived. Perhaps she did, or perhaps Time realised how much the Doctor loved Clara, if not romantically then at least as a very dear friend. Personally I hope Clara and the Doctor get into a romantic relationship because Clara’s been watching over the Doctor his whole life, her timeline goes in the same direction as his making romance easier and she is, from my point of view, easily the most gorgeous of all the Doctor’s companions. In fact, Jenna-Louise Coleman is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen during my nineteen years on this planet. Returning to my thoughts about Time, it probably thought it had been taking the Doctor for granted so it allowed Clara to survive as her real self rather than one of her echoes. It seems that Time is sometimes merciful and can show gratitude.
Personally, I think that Time is a sentient entity. When the Doctor attempts to fight it, it almost always wins, one possible exception being Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, although I’m not entirely sure if Time was the enemy or the TARDIS herself. Time can apparently feel pain, it seems to take pleasure in causing pain but can also show mercy and gratitude, it can decide when people should be born and when they should die, it can choose when fixed points should happen and it can interfere if someone tries to force it to do something it doesn’t want to do. I imagine Time as being similar to the Force from Star Wars. Its cruelty reflects the Dark side of the Force and its mercy reflects the Light side of the Force.