Regeneration – Tennant’s or Smith’s?

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Guest contributor Brayde Wikaira compares the regenerations. Who came out on top?


I can still die. If I’m killed before regeneration, then I’m dead. Even then, even if I change, it feels like dying. Everything I am dies. Some new man goes sauntering away… and I’m dead.

-David Tennant (The End of Time)

The final moments of The Time of the Doctor saw the impending doom of the thirteenth incarnation (Matt Smith) of the Doctor. And then we got something expected, but not expected. This article has been written on my point of view of the latest regeneration scene compared to David Tennant’s in The End of Time. This is a fight of good and evil between Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat! Warning: This article may create a tear or two. Let the best writer win.

Initial Reactions

The End of Time did have this overarching theme that Ten was going to die very soon. You could just pinpoint that obviously. However, the episode continued to entertain, and we did shed more than a tear. The Time of the Doctor was something else, if anything, the opposite to David’s final episode. Instead of focussing on the “I’m going to die” plot, it went with the theme of “times change and so must I.” Both occasions we cry, we’re sad, we don’t want them to go, we possibly hate the new Doctor, we hesitate to say goodbye.

The End of Time

dr.who the_end_of_time_part_twoDavid is on set. This isn’t his last filming scene, but it is his last scene as the Doctor. Many are coming into the TARDIS set, many are declined – all trying to catch a peep of the new Time Lord. David finishes, and some new man comes walking in with his clothes. As he walks away, a whole new adventure begins. A whole new journey, without him.

Russell T Davies initially wanted to have David bow out with style, and boy did he. From bringing back the Master to the return of Gallifrey, the Tenth Doctor went with a boom! Throughout the episode, there was a theme where the Tenth knew he was in trouble, and at some point in this adventure, he was going to die. What was surprising is the fact that he didn’t want to go! Afraid of death, afraid of losing this incarnation. After collecting his rewards (seeing past companions of Who) he took one last walk to the TARDIS as the Tenth. Afraid. I think this was a bit, out of ordinary. And I’ll explain why in the concluding thought.

This man, 900+ years old, was scared. Like we all do, everyone is scared of dying. The quote at the beginning of this article suggests that. However sad it got, this would be the saddest moment of the Tenth Doctor’s. His regeneration was slow and long and it allowed us time to watch that face… burn (sorry for the bad picture!) Did Russell succeed? Yes. But did he win? Find out…

The Time of the Doctor

matt-smith-time-regen-towerAnd now here we are. Just like his other selves, Eleven’s hour is gone and past, now it’s time for all to see, the Twelfth Doctor, oh how fine to see. Poem not intended. After a breathtaking 50th anniversary special we got this. A sad story. One where Matt Smith hands over the TARDIS keys to “newbie” Peter Capaldi. If Matt thought the read-through was tough, filming the final sequence must have been a lot harder.

Moffat wanted to write a huge epic story, a story where you need more than one enemy to kill him. Aw hell naw! Moffat gave him Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, Sontarans and many more. The bars were raised – either help the Time Lords and burn the planet or save Christmas (funny how Christmas is a big pun) and die. The stakes were raised even higher when we find out that the Eleventh Doctor is on his last incarnation. Did we forget Captain Grumpy and vanity Ten? So no more regenerations, Daleks out there to kill him, and here he is dying of old age. If you want to do something, do it yourself.

The curveball here is that Eleven isn’t afraid to die. It’s the exact opposite to Ten’s. After saving Christmas (that pun) he went back to the TARDIS. Only this time, instead of walking back slowly he ran. He got dressed, had fish custard, and went in to say his final goodbyes to Clara. If anything, Eleven was not going to be pulled down just because he was going to die, in fact, he kissed it on the cheeks. With a nod to Amelia Pond, and a drop of the bowtie, Matt exploded into the new man. Actually, whabam! The regeneration was so fast as if Moffat/Matt were saying “here’s the new guy, focus on that!” No room to cry, we gave a smile as we saw the new Doctor scream out “kidneys!” Did Moffat succeed? Yes. But did he win? Continue.


Relive Smith’s Regeneration & Capaldi’s First SceneI personally loved Matt’s regeneration scene better than David’s. It is always sad to see one go, I loved both, but the Doctor has regenerated so many times that neither incarnation should be afraid to die. The Doctor is old, he was 900+ when he was David, and more than 1600 years old for Matt. It’s not death, it’s change. They will wake up tomorrow a different man. David’s was looking back, which is fun at times and offers great fan service, but Matt’s was looking into the future, which makes us hungry to see the next episode. I hate conclusions as I’ve said before, so here’s something for you to wrap up:

“When you think about it, we’re all different people all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good, you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this. Not one day. I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me.”

-Matt Smith (Time of the Doctor)