The Effect of Hurt’s Doctor on the Fan Base
Guest contributor Anthony Willis examines the fans and popular theories.
When The Name of the Doctor ended thousands of Whovians hit Doctor Who forums, Reddit, Tumblr, Youtube and comments sections of fan websites to argue their theories about John Hurt’s Doctor (“Doctor X” from this point on). Some people think he’s a Time War Doctor, others a pre-Hartnell Doctor, some the Valeyard and a few see him as a future Doctor. As someone who has done a lot of reading of said theories and debates, and has posted the odd comment here and there, I have to say I’m starting to get annoyed at the way some post their theories. We as a fan-base are gradually becoming more close-minded when it comes to their theories of ‘Doctor X’, leading to a gradual decline in the quality of the discussions we are having. People are finding it hard to accept that the theory they like the most has flaws. A prime example of this is the ‘Time War Theory’ a storyline, which ignoring it’s problems, I would absolutely love to see happen. However, it has too many problems, which people seem to be ignoring.
Problems with the Time War Theory
This theory states that Doctor X is ‘The Doctor that ended the Time War’. This became a very popular theory given what we know of him, that ‘What he did, he did without choice, but not in the name of the Doctor’. People have taken on the assumption that Doctor X must have been the one to end the Time War because it is one of the biggest events in the Doctor’s life and in recent Who, the most tragic. As previously stated however, there are too many problems with this theory that people are seemingly deliberately ignoring.
For example the fact that Doctor X and his actions are meant to be the Doctor’s secret and yet the Doctor freely talks about the Time War and even uses his actions to scare other enemies “Fear me I’ve killed all of them”. The Doctor committing a double genocide (well, almost) in one action is not unlike the Doctor, the Doctor has been responsible for genocide. He himself even has said “It’s not like I’m an innocent. I’ve taken lives. And I got worse, I got clever. Manipulated people into taking their own.” The idea that the thing the Doctor X did was commit genocide is possible, but I’m afraid unlikely. I’m pretty sure that will be, as far as the Doctor is concerned, much much worse. Also, people are forgetting who introduced in the Time War storyline, Russell T Davies, someone who has had no direct influence on the show since ‘End of Time’. Moffat has proven that he likes doing his own thing and not using too much of other peoples work. I don’t think Moffat will add or alter to what we know of the Time War because that was Davies’ ‘thing’; it’d be like a new head writer coming along and meddling with the Weeping Angels.
Who is he then?
I did initially think that X would turn out to be the Valeyard. Normally I throw ‘Valeyard’ theories into the same ‘Crazy fan theories’ bag as ‘Omega returning’ and ‘The Rani returning’. However Moffat has, in my mind more or less confirmed that Valeyard story will happen at some point from the ‘name drop’ in The Name of the Doctor. The Valeyard fits perfectly into the slot. 11 would have a reason to hate him, yet know that he has no choice in the actions that he does. We know that the Doctor has been keeping something a secret, so why not knowledge of something he knows the Valeyard has done? It would also explain why the Valeyard did not appear to Clara in the Doctor’s timeline. Although I do feel that a Valeyard story is too soon since the ‘confirmation’ of a future story.
Some of the more ‘brushed over’ theories are the ones that when you go into them seem to have a lot less problems with them than the Time War theory. The impression I’ve gotten from where Moffat has been leading us with the ‘Silence’, ‘The Question’ and ‘The Doctor’s Greatest Secret’ is that the 50th will reveal something about the Doctor before he left Gallifrey, which is why a Pre-Hartnell Doctor is fairly possible. It could be a case of the Doctor did something REALLY bad on Gallifrey which meant he wanted to run away.
The theory I’m leaning more towards though is that he’s a future Doctor and that his ‘evil actions’ will actually happen in the 50th. It would make a lot of sense, what with Moffat stating that the 50th will ‘look forward to the future’. The main problem with this theory that some people have is the Doctor knowing of his future. Well, putting aside the possibility of the Doctor having ‘fore-knowledge’, let us remember that 10 is in the 50th, so anything he sees happen 11 will remember.
There are numerous possibilities of who Doctor X is, so why try and guess?
Dealing with the recent ‘leaked details’
[Possible spoilers follow]
The recent comment from Howard Burden means the ‘Time War theory’ has been considered to be ‘confirmed’ for most of its followers. I must say however that Burden’s statement never mentioned the Time War, it simply mentioned that X fills the gap (for which I would say there is none) between 8 and 9 and that he is a ‘Dark Doctor’. If true, it in no way means that X’s actions have anything to do with the Time War. We won’t truly know until the 50th and that is assuming the 50th will reveal who he is, let’s face it, are they really going to make an official announcement about this or are they going to leave it till the 50th? I think it’s extremely unlikely that Moffat would let something as major as details about Doctor X out before the 50th. Especially after the panic they had after the leak of Series 7 Part 2 DVDs before the finale. I think we should, for now, take any apparent confirmations from cast or crew about who Doctor X is with a pinch of salt. Cast and crew in recent years at least have been known to lie about what’s happening with the show, which is fine; it should have no bearing on the opinion of the episodes that air.
Could we work out who he is?
There a few things one must consider when trying to work out Doctor X. Firstly, he is the Doctor’s greatest secret, so chances are we know no details of him yet. It would defeat the point of it being a secret otherwise. Moffat will ‘reveal’ something new about the Doctor, which is why a ‘revelation’ about the Time War seems unlikely in my mind. It is also highly hinted that this is a secret the Doctor has carried most of his life. Secondly we know that X did something bad, I mean really bad. This is a man who has committed murdered, committed genocide and even been responsible for suicide in the name of ‘The Doctor’ a significant number of which are what I’d call ‘innocents’. So what was so evil or so bad that the Doctor doesn’t consider it an act worthy of being called the Doctor? Thirdly, for some reason he is in the Doctor’s timeline but isn’t ‘viewable’ by Clara. Finally the Doctor both condemns X and his actions but at the same time accepts that there was no choice. This is all we know for certain about X can we work it out from this? It’s possible, but not likely. This is Moffat we’re talking about, even more predictable solutions have had aspects that we didn’t see coming. Chances are it’ll be something we haven’t thought of. We may be able to guess aspects of this, but this is likely to be one of Moffat’s best work and I predict that we’re in for a big surprise.
Should we try and work it out?
Well, yes and no. Yes, we should try and work it out; the fandom wouldn’t be what it is if we didn’t, and the show would die out if fans didn’t try and discuss cliffhangers. I love thinking about the Doctor Who cliffhangers and I love even more the ability to discuss with others how thing may turn out. But at the end of the day people on the internet have a tendency to be very close-minded once they find a theory they like, no matter how flawed the theory. Too many people are closed-minded to the ideas of X being a ‘Time War Doctor’ or ‘the Valeyard’ and as a result are cutting themselves off to other people’s very good ideas and predictions.
With the number of theories out there, chances are when the 50th airs your favourite won’t be the one that actually happens and if you remain too close-minded, then you will find the show less enjoyable than it could have been. When it comes to a massive cliff-hanger like this one the fanbase needs to remain open-minded to all ideas and theories, no matter how stupid, and need to accept it when someone disassembles your theory. In the past comments sections have steered towards people posting numerous harsh and hurtful comments directed at people that really don’t deserve it. We need to be respectful to each other and accept that some people may not understand everything that’s going on due to whatever reason. Doctor Who is a show which I believe teaches us to love one another and treat each other equally and that having an open mind, kindness and compassion is infinitely better than being close-minded and being hurtful to others.