Thoughts on a Return for Gallifrey
Mark McCullough wonders if Moffat’s big twist has actually changed anything.
With The Day of the Doctor, Steven Moffat wrote a major twist in the course of the Time War. The revelation that Gallifrey was in fact saved leaves the door open for its imminent return to the universe. But would this be a good move for the show? From what I have read online, it seems that a lot of fans are in favour of the idea. Many are even excited by the possibility of their favourite Time Lords returning: The Master, Rassilon, and even Romana. Whilst these may not occur, it certainly leaves the possibility open. But is it as easy as just bringing Gallifrey back? Has Moffat’s big twist actually changed anything?
“Gallifrey Falls No More”
There are two distinct events which must occur before Gallifrey can be restored to its former glory: the planet being saved (which has already occurred), and then its eventual return to the universe. The idea of reversing the destruction of Gallifrey was an intelligent one. The thought that the Doctor would actually have been capable of killing his own kind was not one which sits well with the character of the Doctor. That said, the Last of the Time Lords story arc was wonderful and gave the character of the Doctor an added depth which was utilised brilliantly throughout its duration. To then have him save the lives of a supposedly corrupt and dangerous planet, just because he could not stand to see children burn, resonates with everything the character stands for. The denouement of the fiftieth anniversary special left Gallifrey trapped in a bubble, outside the confines of the universe. It is my opinion that it should stay there.
“You weren’t there in the final days of the War. You never saw what was born.”
Moffat has been very careful not to contradict Davies source material on the Time War. By making use of the plot device that only the current Doctor retains memories of Multi-Doctor encounters, he ensured that all preceding series still made sense preserving their pathos. The Ninth Doctor would have assumed that he had destroyed Gallifrey, due to lack of memory otherwise. Given Moffat’s approach so far, it would be logical to assume that he will not change Davies depiction of the Time Lords in the final days of the war. This assumption is supported further by Moffat’s writing of Cass’ dialogue in The Night of the Doctor.
This leaves us in the position that those who rule Gallifrey are evil and corrupt. For me, this would make a decision by the Doctor to bring Gallifrey back to the universe incomprehensible. Looking again at the character’s moral compass, he has always strived towards peace and freedom from oppression. Therefore I see no reason, other than the selfish one that they are his own people, for the Doctor to unleash the force of the Time Lords. It may be suggested that the Doctor should not judge his entire people based on the sins of a few. That he had saved the planet in The Day of the Doctor because of the children, so it should follow that he would do the same again. From my point of view this is not necessarily the case, in Day the alternative was burning, this time (as far as we are aware) life on Gallifrey continues as normal (the Time Lords were able to ask the question and gift the Doctor a new regeneration set). When faced with a situation where the power base is threat and the innocent remain unaffected, the only logical decision for a man like the Doctor is to leave the planet as it is.
This is where the potential to explore the Doctor’s character could be utilised. The conflict of head over hearts could play a huge factor in his decision to restore his people. Regardless of what they have done in the past, they are still exactly that; his people. This means that loyalty and debt (for his new set of regenerations) may outweigh the logical element of decision. His anguish as the last of the Time Lords may cause him to make a decision which he would not make under normal circumstances. Ultimately this remains unlikely as the Doctor has convinced himself that the Time Lords are better off dead, and that they had become so monstrous that they are beyond redemption. Whatever his reasons for telling convincing himself this was the case, it is what he now believes. As the only one capable of bringing back the Time Lords, it makes it unlikely.
I don’t think it is in the Doctor’s nature to bring back his home planet and its resident species. The risks posed to the rest of the universe outweigh the personal rewards making it an impossible decision. His history with the species and mental attitude towards the situation coupled with the fact that his people are not in any active danger makes any imminent return for Gallifrey seem unlikely.
That said I feel having saved Gallifrey from the Time War, Moffat has to bring it back eventually. When this happens I hope he encourages it by placing the Doctor in a situation where he is left without any choice other than to bring back the Time Lords, perhaps one where only Earth can be saved by an intervention of the Time Lords?