Who Mysteries: The Time War
Guest contributor Adam James Cuthbert takes a look at some of the mysteries left over from The Time War.
In 2005’s The End of the World, writer Russell T Davies gave viewers their first insight into the Ninth Doctor’s backstory: the Doctor’s home planet had been destroyed in a great war. We would later learn over the course of the 2005-10 Series that the Doctor himself, presumably in his eighth incarnation, had been responsible for ending the war between the Time Lords and the Daleks. Despite providing a great deal of insight into the Time War in The End of Time, there remain many mysteries about it. So I thought, for fun, I would speculate on some of those mysteries.
The Nightmare Child
In his original script for The Stolen Earth, the Nightmare Child is referred to as “the Dalek Emperor’s Nightmare Child”. The Nightmare Child was present from the beginnings of the Time War: we know this from the Doctor’s statement that Davros died in the same year, his command ship flying into the “jaws” of the Nightmare Child. To me, this sounds like a physical creature, something inconceivably huge and formidable, a Lovecraftian leviathan that can manipulate one’s deepest and darkest fears via telepathy. Others have suggested the entity may be a sentient void: that the “jaws” are proverbial, perhaps only an approximation of its true nature. We know from The End of Time that the Nightmare Child endures through the duration of the Time War, as it is present on the final day, when Gallifrey escapes from the time-lock. So it appears to be resilient. However, like all combatants of the Time War, it is presumably defeated when the Doctor activates the Moment and time-locks the Time War.
According to the Doctor Who Annual 2006, during the Time War the Daleks were assisted by the Deathsmiths of Goth, an ancient and terrible race once more feared than the Daleks themselves. The Deathsmiths were known to have created a sentient biological weapon called the Apocalypse Device, which decimated their population when it went out-of-control (Black Legacy). The Apocalypse Device could telepathically strike fear into its prey. I think it’s probable to assume the Deathsmiths may have had some influence in the design of the Nightmare Child, basing it partly on the Apocalypse Device.
The End of Time lists the Nightmare Child amongst other ‘horrors’ of the Time War, including “the Skaro Degradations, the Horde of Travesties” and “the Could-have-been-King with his Army of Meanwhiles and Neverweres”.
The Thals were last seen in Planet of the Daleks, where they had become a resistance force against the Daleks. Since the Thals also hail from Skaro, and have opposed the Daleks in the past, I imagine that the Thals underwent further mutations of their own, as the Daleks modified their own technology over time, become a grotesquely deformed militant race that advocated the genocide of the Daleks. The Horde of Travesties sounds like another name for the Deathsmiths. And the rest? I’m going to suggest they were an off-shoot of Faction Paradox.
Which President of the Time Lords?
In the IDW comic strip The Forgotten the Tenth Doctor solemnly mentions Romana’s fate: “She did well for herself, actually. Until the Time War began”. Spin-off media confirm that Romana eventually did return from E-Space and ascended to the Presidency of the Time Lords. Depending on one’s point of view, Romana regenerated into a third incarnation at some point.
However, Rassilion has since become Lord President by The End of Time. So was Romana killed; or did she simply step down to allow Rassilion to supersede her? Maybe she was traumatised by the lengths the Time Lords were prepared to go to secure their triumph over the Daleks; repentant for her own actions as President. Whatever the case may be, Romana was most likely incapacitated in her position as President and replaced by Rassilion.
The Fall of Arcadia
Arcadia is mentioned by the Doctor in Army of Ghosts as one of the major strongholds of the Time War. Arcadia as a planet is later mentioned in Vincent and the Doctor by Amy. Seeing as the Eleventh Doctor can later visit the planet, it would appear not to have affected by the time-lock in the same way as Gallifrey; either that or the planet was time-locked at some time in its relative future, perhaps when the planet had been already been destroyed. The Doctor’s description of the planet’s “fall” as an event “[he] might come to terms with some day”, suggests it was a particularly traumatic experience for the Doctor. One of the Time Ladies in The End of Time mentions time itself “resurrecting them, to find new ways of dying, over and over again”. I interpret this as planets being time-looped by the Time Lords. Arcadia could have been one of those planets. I imagine the Time Lords may have done so to try and secure Arcadia from the Daleks. Perhaps the planet was besieged by the Nightmare Child, or the Doctor was held prisoner within the time-loop, caught there, and forced to watch the Daleks exterminate his people repeatedly, before eventually escaping.