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Why Bringing Back Gallifrey Is Right…

Connor Johnston defends the decision to restore the Doctor’s home planet.

day-moment-doctors

On the 23rd of November last year, Doctor Who celebrated its 50th Birthday with a big bang! Steven Moffat delivered, what to me was, the perfect gift to the Whovians in the form of “The Day of the Doctor” – an anniversary special that successfully lived up to the expectations and hype every fan had thrust upon it since it was first announced. Personally, I found so many aspects of the 50th special sensational – the “Doctor2Doctor2Doctor” interactions, the Zygon subplot and the reliance on the past were 3 highlights – but nothing was more brilliant in my eyes then the decision to save Gallifrey. Earlier this month an article was published expressing the author’s opinion of why the decision to restore the Doctor’s home planet is wrong. Today however, I plan on refuting the points made in that piece as well as sharing my views as to why saving Gallifrey was the best possible decision to make.

Hatred, Guilt and Growth

doctors-Hatred,-Guilt-and-GrowthI cannot express how much I love the direction Christopher Eccleston took the character of the Doctor in during his short yet monumental run in the TARDIS. The effect the Time War had on the character was never more evident than in his series, especially during highlights such as “Dalek” and “The End of the World”. The Ninth Doctor’s heartbreak over the loss of his home planet is shown through his hatred for the Daleks as well as the hatred for himself and the guilt over the choice he had made -- but how does Gallifrey never being destroyed in the first place affect these emotions held by the ninth Doctor?

For a substantial amount of time now the rule that when the timelines of the different Doctors are corrupted, their memories are altered to cater for the “wibbly-ness” of the plot has been crucial to determine the canon levels of multi-Doctor specials. With this being stressed to the audience once more in the closing scenes of ‘Day’ it means that the hate and pain felt by the Doctor is still real because as far as he is concerned: he still made the choice, and he still killed all his people. Just because what the Doctor believes to be true is in fact false doesn’t make his reaction and genuine feelings to it any less substantiated.

To me, Gallifrey’s return has not cheapened them in the slightest but in fact adds a new dimension to the impact that the Doctor’s sorrow and remorse has on the audience; if anything it’s even more tragic now that the Doctor, for hundreds of years, had to live that guilt and trauma and loneliness, despite the fact that the Time Lords had actually been saved. I have a little head canon personally that every now and then glimpses of saving Gallifrey came back to the Doctor, moments of hope and joy… before he brushes them off in self-hatred, disgusted by the fact that he could be so selfish to indulge in a world where he didn’t make the choice before plummeting into a deeper hole of despair than he’d been in before. Yes I know I’m evil. (I was tested.)

The Tenth Doctor was a man who seemed to be burdened with the guilt and regret of what he had done more than any other Doctor, with many moments in his three (and a half) series being most clearly dedicated to mourning his people. Yes at times he accepted the reasons why he had to make that choice, but never once did he not regret it. It’s for this reason I disagree with any suggestion that David Tennant’s Doctor would not support the decision to save Gallifrey or that it his actions were uncharacteristic. Taking into account all this grief and shame that haunted his era; I find it extremely hard to believe that if there was a way in which he could control the insanity of the corrupt Time Lords, rescue the lives of millions of innocents, defeat the Daleks and give hope to the people who needed it the most, that he wouldn’t take it immediately.

How fitting that the Eleventh Doctor was the incarnation that found another way. The Doctor who inspired and befriended a little Scottish girl with fish fingers and custard; The Doctor who would never interfere in the affair of other planets or persons… unless there was a crying child involved; The Doctor who made a house call to reassure a scared George, was a hero to a young Kazran, made it his mission to rescue Merry Galel; The Doctor who valued innocence.

day-hurt-timewarIt’s fairly obvious that in most of the RTD era, regardless of how much grief there was over the loss of Gallifrey, the Time Lords were greatly antagonized and even more so than in the Classic Era. Of course this was in order to soften the realization that the man we had fallen in love with due to his passion to save others had committed mass genocide – an idea that, like Steven Moffat, I still struggle to accept. This vilification made it easy at times to overlook the children and the innocents that the Doctor killed that day. The focus on the loss of blameless lives was a brilliant angle for Moffat to take the anniversary in with the use of the Eleventh Doctor and more importantly the brilliant War Doctor. It was their remorse, dread and longing for growth that ultimately lead effortlessly into the Doctors changing their minds. After all, one thing that unites all the 4 Doctors of New Who was their longing to be forgiven.

“I don’t suppose we’ll know if we actually succeeded. But at worst, we failed doing the right thing, as opposed to succeeding in doing the wrong.”

The Great Escape?

daleks-50th-anniversaryOne thing that constantly bothered me throughout the first few series of New Who was the immortality of the Daleks. By this I mean the certainty that the Daleks would always, no matter what, find a way to return. The overuse of the iconic villains during the RTD era is a controversial topic – though because of the justice RTD gave to them in each appearance the abundance of them was never the aspect that irritated me. Rather it was the description that the Doctor had made a choice so final and so absolute in killing them all, “Daleks and Time Lords alike”, and how this account was eventually demeaned by the fact that so many Daleks over the years survived “The Moment”. So many Daleks and not one single other Time Lord. At least the new conclusion to the Time War makes their immortality more feasible. Somehow survival after being “Caught in their own cross fire” is more forgiveable than such an unconditional defeat as the Moment being activated.

Principles and Potential

crack-gallifrey-time-of-the-doctorRegardless of if you agree or disagree with the debate, Gallifrey at some point in the not too distant future will return. For the first time since the show’s revival it’s no longer a likely possibility – but a confirmed certainty. For a quick moment instead of dwelling in the past, let’s look at how the return of Gallifrey can benefit the future of the show.

Already the return has worked wonders in the tying up of arcs and the answering of questions during the 2013 Christmas Special “The Time of the Doctor”. I completely disagree with the implication that the sole reason Gallifrey was saved was to be used as a flimsy way of escaping the ’13 regenerations’ problem. Steven Moffat didn’t invent the issue or deal with it prematurely, as whether it of been at the end of Matt Smith’s run or Peter Capaldi’s (If the War Doctor didn’t exist), the regeneration limit would be reached very soon. You cannot simply save the Doctor’s life after being exterminated by a Dalek without any consequences. The regeneration in “The Stolen Earth” was always going to count. Now that I’ve stressed that point I’d like to say that in my humble opinion there was no better way to deal with the rule set up in “The Deadly Assassin” than by having it solved by the Time Lords – the only race that we know has the knowledge and the ability to manage regenerations. It wasn’t a “flimsy” solution, it was a solution that made sense. What else could have solved it? A special magic mushroom? Perhaps we could draw a solution from the mind of Chloe Webber? The resolution at the hands of the Time Lords just works.

Now that we have Gallifrey’s return in our future, we have an endless amounts of Time Lord characters to look forward to as well. Echoes of the past in the form of the Master; the Rani, Omega – or possibly some new iconic faces in The General and CO. Friend or foe, there is no doubt that Gallifreyan roles will be characters hotly anticipated by fans. As a massive fan of Classic Who as well as New Who, I cannot stress how powerful the presence of Gallifrey is in an episode. The atmosphere created by the home of the Doctor in episodes like “The War Games” and “The Five Doctors” is so powerful and something I hope is maintained in future appearances. If the planet is not excessively used, I truly believe this level of intensity is possible to achieve.

It’s About Time

Let’s be completely honest with each other now – if Gallifrey was not brought back during the 50th, there is no doubt that one day it would eventually return in some other time and place, under another head writer’s direction. It would always had returned at some point. Therefore the question shouldn’t be “Is it right to bring back Gallifrey” at all, rather if the timing for the restoration is right.

The reason Gallifrey was first “destroyed” by Russell T Davies was to give the revival of the show something heavy weighted and full of potential to start the series with a punch. Both the “Last of the Time Lords” and the “Time War” story arcs have truly run successful courses, and done more than enough for the show. Because of them we’ve been privileged with scenes rife in character development, emotion and incredible impact on the audience, but in the last few season this idea of grief and regret over the Time War (while still present in the Doctor’s life) has been touched on less and less. Even though the “Last of the Time Lords” arc has been sensationally iconic and beneficial to the growing popularity of the program, I agree with the idea we need a fresh new direction before the essence of the show got too repetitive.

This new innovative breath of fresh air provided by Gallifrey’s return is for me the best reason to favour and have faith in the decision – because it’s totally revitalised the show. We’ve followed and loved the story of the man who regrets and the man who forgets… but those chapters in the Doctor’s life are finished. Now we have a new story to look forward to. The story of the man who amends. The story of the Doctor and his new destination. The story of Gallifrey.

Step back in time...

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238 comments
The Living Angel
The Living Angel

I 100% agree with every word in this article. Well done!

Angie Whodini
Angie Whodini

This article expresses my opinion almost perfectly, except for the first part.

I believe RTD and Eleven's era is not invalidated precisely because it was not the War Doctor or Ten who decided that they had to find another way, almost not even Eleven, but it was Eleven. And what this means is that the Doctor at the War Doctor's time was mentally prepared to do it; he had suffered and fought through the Time War, he had given up on the name "Doctor", he saw no other choice. The suffering throught the decision we have seen is not invalidated, it is how the saving could come about. The Doctor needed that growing up and the facing of the mental concequences precisely to make the right choice. And without everything we have seen, the decision would carry no weight at all.

The War Doctor even decides to do it becuase he sees the men he will become and he deems them great, while he doesn't think he deserves the name Doctor. That is the growth that resulted from the wrong decision that led to the right one.

What we have seen is not the Doctors living a lie, it is the Doctors living with themselves and what they were, and then deciding to be better.

PaulMorris1
PaulMorris1

There was no need for RTD to destroy Gallifrey. He was the showrunner, he didn't have to bring back The Master, or any other TImeLord.

Because you can do something, doesn't mean you have to!

VictorWong1
VictorWong1

It should be remembered that one of the other reasons why RTD 86ed Gallifrey was to discourage writers from turning the series into one big nostalgia trip (i.e. "let's bring back the Master / Rani / Valeyard / Omega"). To RTD's mind, Gallifrey stories exposed the Doctor's backstory, something that's always to be avoided in order to keep the Doctor's current behavior interesting and intriguing.

VortexDan
VortexDan

I just don't know why they had to go back and invalidate the whole RTD era. Why didn't they just bring it back in the present. It's Doctor Who, anything's possible! You don't have to be lazy like Moffat!

KingOrokos
KingOrokos

An excellent article. I agree with all of your points, except perhaps the part about the regeneration limit; whilst I was fine with Moffat using the Time Lords to resolve that issue, and I'm certain that that wasn't his primary reason for bringing back Gallifrey, I wouldn't say that it was the only solution or the best. But apart from that, great job!

Kayjai
Kayjai

Yeah, I agree that bringing them back was definitely the right choice, and it made for a good way to celebrate all 50 years of DW rather than just the last 9. It also bring is plenty more possibilities for the plot to go - new time lord characters, both heroes and villains, as well as bringing some of the old favourites back (Romana? the Master?). I my only concern is that in the 50th they spent so much time focusing on the poor innocent Timelord (like the children) and didn't really acknowledge the 'evil' Timelords that were in control (Timothy Dalton and co. from the End of Time and the other references from the RTD era)..... They can't all be likeable innocent children can they?


Unicornst
Unicornst

Brilliant article. Thank you.

Liana21
Liana21

I love Gallifrey is (almost) back, and I want to know how Moffat & Co. play with it when it's backto this UnUniverse.

You know that in the deep, I never really liked the "last of the Time Lords plot" and I think that just Eccleston's Doctor fitted well on the role, with his old soldier look. Tennant used it a couple of times more as an excuse for do "non at all good" actions, as in Journey's End or the Time Lord Victorius in Waters of Mars; and Matt used to look trying to keep himself out of the memories of the war as he could, taking out counted ocassions as in Vampires of Venice when he talks with Rossana, or in Day.

gavinbarsby
gavinbarsby

Great article. On the point of the daleks constantly returning, I think this was addressed in the 50th as well. When they changed their mind. Matt Smith said "we have something the daleks doesn't know about, because if they did they would SEND FOR REINFORCMENTS"

Don't forget this is fighting over gallifrey. The daleks would send a large proportion of their "units" and call for reinforcements in needed.

Or maybe some saw the Doctor's and decided to get their shiny metal salt and pepper shaker asses outta there. Surely some would notice 13 flying police call boxes knocking around. Some will get caught in the crossfire but I don't feel it's too farfetched that some survived and created more daleks.

Ikare Abides
Ikare Abides

I think bringing Gallifrey back was the wrong choice.  To me, all the pain the ninth and tenth doctors went through has been cheapened and made hollow because of this.  



And there were other ways to bring Time Lords back.  You could have had a classic lost colony, or maybe some of the noncombatant population had been evacuated to another universe during the war.  Or have the Doctor stumble across New Gallifrey as the survivors of the Time War struggle to rebuild, the Doctor didn't find them sooner because the same technology that was hiding them from any enemies also hide them from him. That way, the Time War, which is a huge part of revived series, would still have repercussions. 

However, I know that most people enjoyed Gallifrey being saved and are very pleased with the 50th.  That's great, I'm happy for them.  But there's nothing wrong with disliking the way Moffat wrote things either.


Digglescratch
Digglescratch

11 used to be the Man who Forgets until he changed. Now he's the man who remembers. Clara's statement "Run, you clever boy, and remember" took on a whole new meaning with the survival of Gallifrey.




Warisfiller
Warisfiller

DOTD was garbage and was a slap in the face of Classic Who, and also rendered Nine's character development pointless.


And Moffat won't bring back Omega or Rani because he thinks newer fans won't know who they are(he's not wrong there though) so it's a waste of time.



Amy is Hannibal
Amy is Hannibal

And then he... brought back the Master. And even half-wove in the Doctor's mother. :P


conallmc2013
conallmc2013

@VortexDan It hasn't really it seems quite pointless that the doctor killed the only race intelligent enough to defeat the daleks for no real reason. The daleks returned in mass numbers so he commited mass genocide for what? Don't get me wrong gallifrey RTD era was good but gallifrey must return.

gavinbarsby
gavinbarsby

It didn't invalidate anything. If it invalidated anything then surely it would invalidate everything from the war doctor up to Matt Smith in the day of the Doctor.

we know the doctor forgets anything that happens when a senior doctor is present so therefore to the war doctor, Eccleston, Tennant and most of Smith they thought they blew up everything. In the 50th we learn what actually happened that day and only the Smith Doctor's know they tried to do something different.

However only Capaldi Doctor knows if they are successful or not (due to him being the senior doctor at the time) and where it was put. The curator told Smith they saved it but not where.

DanielBroome
DanielBroome

@Kayjai They probably should have focused a bit more on the high council or shown that there was at least some split between the good and evil timelords in some way, but at least they make mention in the war council that the high council is lost and that they would still fight the Daleks since the high council had seemed to forgotten.

The Finn
The Finn

@Warisfiller "Rendered Nine's character development pointless" What? Did you even read the article?

VortexDan
VortexDan

@supermoff @VortexDan By ruining 9 and 10's character development and making the time lords seem like innocent delicate flowers instead of the bureacratic villains they were built up to be for 50 years? 

VortexDan
VortexDan

@conallmc2013 @VortexDan Well I admit they could have brought the timelords back, but gradually like the Daleks. But I suppose they were following the classic example of "many daleks, few time lords".

Cone456
Cone456

@gavinbarsby So in other words, it doesn't invalidate Smith, because he's the one that gets to be the hero and "save" them, and find out the truth. And yet Moff called 10 the "Hero." Ironic. 



stargazer0118
stargazer0118

@TheNightmareChild... is Boe Derek @KingOrokos The execution was the problem for me, it felt completely flat, it was ridiculous! It deserved a whole story just for that, but no, it only needed the magical words of Clara (again) and it was done in the most simplistic and boring way.

sontaran17
sontaran17

@VortexDan @sontaran17 Did you even read the main body of the article "Just because what the Doctor believes to be true is in fact false doesn’t make his reaction and genuine feelings to it any less substantiated."



Amy is Hannibal
Amy is Hannibal

The Time Lords were asking a question, and they got an answer. Seemed a logical progression.


Cone456
Cone456

@sontaran17 @VortexDanThat's the author's opinion that they're less substantiated, which truthfully (in my opinion) is ridiculous. Of course it lessens it. It's a nice idea to say all the Doctor's feelings still matter, but that's just avoiding the nasty realization that to save Gallifrey means invalidating the emotional depth of what comes from 9 and 10's conflict because now WE know it never happened. And the audience is everything, in the end. What drives me bonkers about Moffat is his weakness for constantly undoing his own and other's plot development. If he writes himself into a corner, which is often, because I'm convinced he doesn't plan well enough, he just claims it never happened. Or he insists on dragging the show in another direction, like with saving Gallifrey. Like I said before, it was too soon. Capaldi should have been the one to save Gallifrey. It was too many ideas, at once, without the proper set-up to support it. Sadly Matt's final episodes were a mess.



stargazer0118
stargazer0118

@Amy's on the Mofflex Diet It felt completely flat for me. I was expecting something more creative, surprising and interesting like the FOB watch in the RTD era, something else!

Amy is Hannibal
Amy is Hannibal

Well, that would be the case if the Time Lords were incapable of sustaining a paradox, but we know that they aren't and they even say in the episode that they aren't. Hell, the Master managed it by cannabalizing one rickety TARDIS; the technological might of Gallifrey is likely far more capable than even that.


Amy is Hannibal
Amy is Hannibal

And also, the reapers only seem to show up in certain instances; specifically, when somebody creates a paradox at a weak point in time. Generally, time is more resilient, but in that case, Rose saved the father that she went back in time specifically to see die while in front of her younger self who never saw her future self do that. The Doctor said that with two sets of them there, the fabric of time was weakened, and that's what made it easier for the reapers to come through.

conallmc2013
conallmc2013

@Amy's on the Mofflex Diet 1- there are infinite versions of clara throughout that one instance of time alone.. so yeah reapers. 2- I don't think the time lords could contain such a massive paradox for such a brief period in another universe be realistic they are great but not that great. Nonetheless it must be said it is a paradox.