Love from Gallifrey: Something We All Missed?
Guest contributor Richard Forbes wonders if Matt Smith’s swansong hides a clue for the future.
Two massive questions are hanging over the fandom’s heads right now: “Where is Gallifrey?” and next, “What is this big ‘cliff-hanger’ in Series Nine that we keeping hearing about?” Well, I dunno really. If you want answers, you’ll have to watch Series Nine. What? I’m not a Pyrovile! But I do like to speculate and this evening, a rather odd theory came to my head – one that forced me to reconsider the events of The Time of the Doctor – and potentially, could explain where Gallifrey is, and pose a massive dilemma for the “Twelfth” Doctor (dodgy numbering be damned).
What’s the theory then? To explain, I will have to start from the beginning, or the end rather. Matt Smith’s swansong, The Time of the Doctor, to be precise. I fear that viewers were kept in the dark regarding the full events of this story and we need to reconsider its ending altogether – lest we miss something important!
The Time of the Doctor
Like many Whovians, I cozied up one Christmas evening to watch The Time of the Doctor, swept up in the emotion and the passion of the Eleventh Doctor and his final victory. The story seemed rather simple, really. Gallifrey was lost in another dimension, attempting to come through from the other side, but ultimately stuck in limbo, waiting for the Doctor’s signal to enter. The Doctor, now frail and old, stood at the top of a clocktower to address his oldest enemies, the Daleks.
What came next was a moving turn of events – Clara whispered into the cracks in time and space, pleading with Gallifrey to help the Doctor. The cracks would reappear, high in the night sky, imbuing the Doctor with a stream of energy – a new set of regenerations, we were lead to believe. But what if there was more that happened here? What if we missed something very important?
My theory is that the Time Lords did not simply save the Doctor with a new set of lives, they entrusted him with their lives. Under this theory, Gallifrey did come through the cracks that day – but it did so in a way that no one (not even the Doctor) had anticipated – The Time Lords hid their entire civilisation in the regeneration energy and planted themselves, safe (“and hidden away”) inside the Doctor. If this theory is correct, the entire subplot of “finding Gallifrey” is misplaced – Gallifrey isn’t out there “somewhere” to find, instead, it is living inside of the Doctor – he is a vessel for them.
Consequences for the Doctor
This theory could pose serious consequences for the Doctor. If Gallifrey is living inside of him – stored as regeneration energy like dehydrated “Cup of Soup” broth – then the way to return Gallifrey to life would, presumably, be to regenerate. This is, admittedly, a bit of a conflict of interests for our hero – who, while, I am sure, would love to rescue Gallifrey, probably does not fancy a spur-of-the-moment regeneration with the inevitable chin-swapping and severe lack of gingerness that predictably follows.
Nonetheless, I think that this could make for a very touching final story (I doubt very much that Capaldi’s Doctor will be regenerating anytime soon, mind you) for The Twelfth Doctor. We have seen him smash his console in a fit of rage and light up at the mere mention of Gallifrey and its whereabouts – for the Twelfth Doctor to rescue Gallifrey and return it the land of the living in his final moments would bring closure and a strong sense of continuity to his character for me and for other viewers, I imagine.
One thing to keep in mind though is, The Time of the Doctor established that Gallifrey cannot return without the Time War starting anew – hiding Gallifrey inside of the Doctor was a clever way of tricking the Daleks (and viewers) and concealing the Time Lords’ re-entry, but this manoeuvre also gives an opportunity for the Doctor to establish the right environment for Gallifrey’s return – something he could not do during the “standoff” on Trenzalore, where Gallifrey’s return would have meant the immediate destruction of an innocent settlement, Christmas.
If during Series Nine and its well-anticipated cliff-hanger, the Doctor were to discover the true nature of what happened during, erm, Last, Last Christmas, perhaps the final years of the Twelfth Doctor could be concerned with, not finding Gallifrey per se, but establishing the right environment for Gallifrey’s return and, subsequently, his eventual regeneration.
Consequences for Death in Heaven
There are, however, some nooks and crannies that need to be fleshed out with this theory. Namely, the events of Death in Heaven.
The Master, in all of her gloriously evil form, has returned. The circumstances of the Master’s return are left almost cartoonishly vague (I sound like I’m being critical, but I thought it was hilarious) – and I would therefore speculate that the Master’s return has yet to happen for the Doctor. Basically, my theory suggests that the Master returns to our universe with Gallifrey when the Twelfth Doctor regenerates (an aside: perhaps all of Gallifrey’s residents regenerates with this process, including the Master?).
We know that the Master has her own TARDIS now (or at least the Doctor heavily speculates as much in a quasi-authoritative tone) – naturally she returned to the Twelfth Doctor’s past to tease him about Gallifrey’s whereabouts. I would go slightly further, however, and propose that what the Master is really trying to do is corrupt the Doctor. “Death in Heaven”, for some, I think, suffered from a “batty” plot. The Master’s entire plan was to corrupt the Doctor – raising him an army so that he could help others with an armed force for humanitarian intervention under his sole direction.
If the Doctor is a “vessel” for Gallifrey, however, what if that “vessel” were corrupted? Could the rebirth of Gallifrey produce something terrible… filled with angry and vengeance…if the Master were able to corrupt the Doctor? I think this theory could potentially shed some light on what it was exactly that the Master was trying to accomplish in Death in Heaven and it could potentially set the stage of some very dangerous sparring between the Master and the Doctor in the future – with each moral dilemma that the Master forces the Doctor to face, not only would the Doctor’s “soul” be at risk, but the entire rebirth of a beautiful civilianisation could be jeopardised. Time Lords Victorious—? “Kiss Kiss”.