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Moffat Explains Doctor’s Timey Tomb

tardis-tomb-trenzalore-finaleSteven Moffat has addressed some timey-wimey confusion following events in The Time of the Doctor.

In his production notes in the latest DWM a reader asks that if the Doctor in fact prevented his own death how could his tomb be there in The Name of the Doctor?

Moffat replies: “I’ve often wondered about that. Fortunately, late one night, the Doctor turned up in person and explained it to me:

“THE DOCTOR: Changing time is tricky. It’s a bit like a detective story: so as long there isn’t an actual body, you’ve got a certain amount of wiggle room – for instance, if the body has, rather conveniently, been burned on a boat in Utah.

“Here’s the thing: I can change the future so long as the future has not already been established as part of my own past. I can’t rescue Amy and Rory because I already know that I didn’t.

“But what do I know about Trenzalore? There’s a big monument that looks very like my TARDIS. There’s a temporal fissure leading to my timeline. Maybe it’s my grave. Maybe, one day, it’s my burial ground. Maybe it is something else entirely, and we got it all wrong. Don’t know. Don’t plan to find out for as long as possible. The main thing is, Clara still jumped into my time stream, and ended up helping me through all of my life. All that is established, unchanged – but there’s wiggle room!”

[Thanks to Finlay]

Step back in time...

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292 comments
The Oncoming Storm
The Oncoming Storm

Can somebody please explain how the doctor knows he "already hasn't saved Amy and Rory"? Im confuzzled

Chumbley
Chumbley

Interesting how I could hear his voice and picture him saying all that, as I was reading it.  Explanation works for me, lol.

SGMusic
SGMusic

I thought the solution was "The Time Lords changed time." Isn't that sufficient?

Mobius64
Mobius64

Moffat can be a horrific writer some times. No, a lot of the time. This kind of thing might not have happened under RTD. Moffat needs to have a much clearer plan of where he wants to go, develop his story archs coherently instead of shoehorning everything in (crack in the wall in TotD, I'm looking at you). And realise that not every episode needs a scary monster to keep people watching. 

LaraHarris
LaraHarris

In other words. "I have no idea but the story was good so I just ignored the gaps."

Nightmarish
Nightmarish

Already understood this but nice to see some explanation.

Temporal Tomato
Temporal Tomato

Already understood the thing about the Ponds, but the explanation of Name after Time is a bit iffy, as the problem I had with it was it bookended the show. I thought it was rather obvious, but I don't want to type it all up in fear of the-comment-system-operator-that-must-not-be-named-as-I-think-it-sets-off-alarm-bells blocking it for "malformed content" after spending ages trying to type it...

RichardTyler
RichardTyler

It is more likely that Clara's speech just showed the timelords that they still needed a bridge and a defender in both universes. So out of necessity and for their own selfish reasons they saved the doctor.

Polyphase
Polyphase

Sometimes I think he writes the stories too quickly, If he keeps on digging that hole he will never be able to escape

RichardTyler
RichardTyler

there could never be an answer that Whovians would be happy with the best we can hope for from of it is a small piece of the puzzle. if you remember in the end of times they talked about the time lock be released the time Lords escaping. that set up the 50th anniversary long before they ever got to it. the fact of the matter is we don't need to know yet. Just remember the master was the beacon that the timelords followed. The anchor or bridge between the pocket universe and ours.

VictorWong1
VictorWong1

"I can't rescue Amy and Rory because I already know that I didn't."


Um -- rescue them from what?

TATM establishes that the Angels sent them back in time to live full, happy lives together, in a city that the Doctor cannot pop into without endangering the space-time continuum. They don't get beheaded or trapped in a claustrophic dungeon or shot out into the vaccum of space or anything resembling a "fate worse than death."


Certainly it's possible that the Doctor could pop the Tardis into New Jersey and take the Long Island Ferry to go pay them a visit, but that'd make for boring television, and we all know how the Doctor feels about boredom. 


So he accepts that he can't see them anymore. Doesn't mean he has to like it, of course.

TonySimmons
TonySimmons

Following on from earlier reports, the Doc also visited me. We chatted over all the good times in the past when he had decent writers like Robert Holmes writing intelligent stories without a single hole, then lamented over how he now has a show runner who isn't as clever as he likes to imagine and prefers to build up big story arcs that never get answered and leaves his poor fans so frustrated with the anti climax of it all that they have to write their own conclusions! Poor old Doc !

The Tardis
The Tardis

but what about the crack in the monument


VinnieBartilucci
VinnieBartilucci

" I can’t rescue Amy and Rory because I already know that I didn’t."  Outlandish claptrap.All we know is they died several years apart in New York City a couple decades before 2012.  Nothing says he couldn't go back, take them on wonderful adventures, and drop them right back where they were, EXACTLY like he'd been doing for a majority of their time together.





TheDoctor_is_in
TheDoctor_is_in

Sorry but this doesn't explain.
And its still missing the part How did the Doctor and Clara leave the timescar?

JackArtaganMackenna
JackArtaganMackenna

Yes it is. And it makes perfect sense within the narrative. I have no idea what people are whining about.

80sKnight
80sKnight

@The Oncoming Storm He read the last page in the book Amy wrote.  Remember when he told her "once you read it, it has to be" or something like that.  He read their gravestones and he read the last page Amy wrote.  The stones said they died in the past and Amy said on her page they never saw him again.  That's also what happened to Rory.  He read his own gravestone, and once he read it, it HAD to happen.  

Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!
Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!

That is the solution. Here, he's just explaining why the Clara echoes didn't get erased and the Doctor didn't drop dead as a result of the tomb never existing.

Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!
Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!

- What "kind of thing"? And yeah, totally. RTD would have given us the glory of fart jokes and mocking people who are overweight. Thank God *he* never did anything so wretched as a timey-wimey plot.

- Moffat does have his story arcs planned. Not down to the letter, because that would be stupid (What happens if something comes up and they're unable to work around it?). There is a clear progression from Series 5 to Series 7 of the Doctor's renown coming back to bite him in the form of the Silence, which forces him to "step back into the shadows." And then we have the Trenzalore arc and the River arc which are slowly but carefully built up to. River's identity as both his wife and as the woman who killed him was seeded in early Series 5, and Series 6 basically tells us what's going to happen in "The Time of the Doctor". RTD, though? What long, three-year arc did he so flawlessly plan?

- The crack in the wall wasn't shoehorned in at all. It's presence in the story was completely justified.

- Not every one of Moffat's episodes has a scary monster. That's a massive generalization.

TheDreamer... the Oncoming Planeteer.
TheDreamer... the Oncoming Planeteer.

@VictorWong1   He told Amy she was creating a fixed point in time... If he tries to change that fixed point, he'll damage reality in some way or other, much like River did when she didn't shoot him at Lake Silencio in The Wedding of River Song. 



Temporal Tomato
Temporal Tomato

He can't go back because he knows from the book that he doesn't, from the fact that a chapter is called "Amelia's Last Farewell", and that in the afterward Amy claims that he never saw her again. Sure, he could go back and tell her just to write that in like he normally would, but time is so damaged around New York and by extension the Ponds by the events of TATM, he is unable to even bend the laws of time just that little bit. The time around them is just too tender. In short, it isn't about him being unable to take the TARDIS, it's about HIM not being able to see them again, regardless of location. If he were to do so, time would fall to pieces. Well, at least that's how I interpreted it.

Doctor What
Doctor What

@TonySimmons That's curious, because I've also had a chat with the Doctor and he seemed very happy with his recent adventures, relieved of the pain of destroying Gallifrey, and eager to find it again.


He also talked about plot holes, telling me how much he liked to leave things to imagination.

DW_girl
DW_girl

It would still exist in that timeline.

TARDlSkey
TARDlSkey

Well, you know. There is the kind of, sort of "going bak would tear New York apart" thing. But, yeah. Yeah. Whatever. Forget logic.

Rani Nose
Rani Nose

"A door, once opened, can be stepped through in either direction."

Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!
Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!

@TheDoctor_is_in   They walked out. Seriously, how can this many people miss the fact that being able to get out of the time scar was NEVER the issue? The issue was in getting out before the Doctor's presence caused the timestream to fold in on itself. It was "How quickly?", not "How?" The question of "How did they get out?" was never even suggested to be an issue by the episode and was invented solely by the fandom's misinterpretation of what was going on. Therefore, it isn't something that Moffats needs to address.



The Oncoming Storm
The Oncoming Storm

@80sKnight Ahh, makes sense! Thank you very much! This doesn't really explain away the whole trenzalore/grave thing though unfortunately :/

DW_girl
DW_girl

Tell be about it....

teddybowties - the one on FFN not Tumblr
teddybowties - the one on FFN not Tumblr

@TheDreamer @Polyphase  exactly.Just remember Oak Island. Or rather, the Curse of Oak Island. Then, sit back and watch the show (runner). ;) I realllly don't wnt Moffat to EVER bomb. but he has come awfully close to not giving us enough foreground connections for the agozyen of his work on DW.








Eternalitis
Eternalitis

And then the Doctor popped in to visit me, and he told me he wished people would stop putting words in his mouth.

Also, he said that people should stop pretending absolutely no problems exist within the show whatsoever, because Moffat's brilliant and if anyone even for a split second thinks he's not, they deserve to die slowly and painfully, because the show is the best thing ever ever ever and you can't possibly ever ever ever deny that because you're wrong if you do.

Diana van der Pluijm
Diana van der Pluijm

So he also lied to Moffat? ... Sorry, I really, REALLY hate that line. 


Oodkind
Oodkind

@TARDISkey221B So go to a different place and drive over. Or go a year later. It doesn't make sense.

80sKnight
80sKnight

@The Oncoming Storm @80sKnightThe thing is, the Doctor always speaks collectively of himself.  When he said "this is my grave" he might not necessarily mean Smith's incarnation.  Granted, at the time he thought he was on his last life.  But it's like in the Time of the Doctor, he tells Clara bout 10 - "I was having vanity issues at the time".  Not 10 was or "he" was.  He refers to 10 as himself.   Same thing here.  That could be the 14th or 15th's Doctor's tomb.  We have no way of knowing.   ;) 


Doctor What
Doctor What

@Eternalitis Oi! Stop spoiling my dreams!


I was trying to point out how pretentious it is to say things like that. To me, the show is, precisely, a show, and I have enjoyed most episodes, since An unearthly child to Time of the Doctor, even when there are things unanswered, I just enjoy the ride. I still wonder at how strong are the emotions that people develop towards it.

I don't deny there's problems with it and some people are disappointed with the approach of Moffat, but saying there aren't decent writers since the classic series, that there were no plot holes back then, that Moffat is ruining the show (a pitiful work he is doing at that, knowing that the average ratings don't go below 7 millions and how well it's doing overseas), and putting all of this in the mouth of the Doctor is pretentious to say the least.

Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!
Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!

@Oodkind  @Amy the Consulting Key Ring @Diana van der Pluijm  Three said "I never lie. Well, hardly ever." And even then, that's his incarnation. Three was authoritative, orderly, straightforward, and gentlemanly. As such, he wouldn't lie very often. But that's not the uniform personality of every Doctor; at least, not always overtly. The First Doctor lied to all of his companions in "The Daleks", for crying out loud.

Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!
Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!

@VinnieBartilucci @Amy the Consulting Key Ring @Rani Nose  Yes, assuming that the letter is legit, but there's no proof that it is. The Doctor should be able to visit her just fine, because he has wiggle room in not knowing if the letter is fake or not. But of course, he's a Time Lord in both cases, so he can sense that he can't interfere. Regardless, it ultimately doesn't matter what the book says. It, like the letter, comes from a timeline in which the Doctor never saw the subject again. The book could say "The Doctor Returns to Amy", but if it only said that because he never saw her again, then it being a part of his future now established in his past, he still wouldn't be able to see her without creating a paradox, because the book exists because he never goes back. What's printed on its pages is irrelevant; it's the reason for why it's printed that matters, because that's where causality comes into play. 

And no, we DON'T know that River saw them again. We know that River manages to send them the book. She says that herself. "I presume I send it to Amy to get it published." Not "I presume I give it to Amy to have her publish it." There is nothing that suggests that River ever saw them again either.

VinnieBartilucci
VinnieBartilucci

@Amy the Consulting Key Ring @Rani Nose The subtle difference in Girl in the fireplace is, assuming the letter is legit, it reveals that she never saw The Doctor again, so going back and seeing her would indeed set up a paradox.  There's no evidence Amy and/or Rory didn't see The Doctor again.  It's somewhat certain that she hadn't seen him by the time of the publication of the Melody Malone book, certainly, but that was decades ago.  We know that River can get back to see her, so we know they are indeed fine.

  I personally would love to hear about a series of Sarah Jane-like adventures with the Williamses save New York from various alien threats over the past decades.

EnzoMatrix
EnzoMatrix

@Amy the Consulting Key Ring @Rani Nose  and also, the fact the doctor dies  EVENTUALLY doesnt matter how many more regenerations he was given he's seen his tomb, he will probably still end up there, however the new 'cycle' of regenerations has just given him more time, it does not mean he will never revisit Trenzalore ever again in a future moment...remeber when the tardis blew up and river was stuck inside the heart.

Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!
Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!

@Rani Nose  No, because it's not them knowing that matters. The Doctor knows that he can never see them again because he never did, and if he goes and sees them again, he'll have defied that fact and created a paradox. River summed up this phenomenon in "The Impossible Astronaut":

RIVER: "We came here because of what we saw in the future. If we try and prevent the future from happening, we create a paradox."

Really, it's more-or-less the same thing as it was in "The Girl in the Fireplace". No, he never saw Reinette's body, and all he has to back up the notion that she *is* dead are a letter ("CUDDA' BEN FAKED!") and one guy's testimony ("CUDDA' BEN LYIN'!"). Normally that'd be an issue, but it's been established that Time Lords can sense the mutability of time. They innately know if a moment is fixed or in flux. He would be able to tell that Amy and Rory's situation was one that he couldn't interfere with. Plus, "The Angels Take Manhattan" goes a step further and adds in the foreknowledge aspect. The book is his and the Ponds' future. Whatever he reads in the book must come to pass, because it had to have already come to pass in order for the book to exist. 

There are other factors, of course. I've mentioned the time distortions and damage caused by time travel rather too many times in this comments section, and there's also the "law" that was mentioned in "The Name of the Doctor" - "When you are a time traveler, there is one place that you must never go. One place in all of space and time that you must never, ever find yourself: Your grave." Because once you've seen your grave, it's fixed. You will always end up there, because you *know* you will always end up there. As the Doctor has said several times, foreknowledge is very dangerous.



Rani Nose
Rani Nose

But could he interact with them without them knowing it is him? That is, Amy and Rory don't know the 12th Doctor, let alone any future Doctors.

Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!
Amy is uniting the Earth Kingdom!

@Oodkind  @TARDISkey221B  Time distortions and the book will keep him from doing either. If he ever interacts with them again, New York will burn, because he'll have altered the chain of events that led to him reading the book and going into the past in the first place. And that's a paradox.