The Pathway To Gallifrey’s Return (So Far)
Guest contributor Connor Hamilton charts the journey to the inevitable return of the Doctor’s home.
Doctor Who would be nothing without its mysteries. The biggest one the show has ever done, and probably will ever do, is the unforgettably tense story arc that has played throughout the show for almost a decade: will Gallifrey ever return?
In 2005, Doctor Who returned to our screens, with Christopher Eccleston as the front man, his character filled with regret and sadness at the loss of his planet and people, a loss that is revealed to us as a consequence of the Great Time War. The Time War storyline has had many milestones building up to the fairly inevitable return of the Doctor’s home planet, however the arc has now played across eight series, and Gallifrey’s legitimate, official return is still a sight yet to see.
The question of whether Gallifrey will return was a very undiscussed topic in the fandom for the first few series, as fans of the show were blindsided by RTD’s writing, his episodes merely explaining more and more about the events of the Time War, however no clues or hints towards a return. Then suddenly after four series of the Doctor parading around with the ‘Last of the Time Lords’ motto, we finally started to see the paving work for a Gallifrey return.
With the return of Gallifrey as a shocking plot twist for the cliffhanger of Tennant’s penultimate episode, the show started to bring more light to the events of the Time War, with a fleet of Time Lords led by Rassilon (Timothy Dalton), claiming victory for Gallifrey with the end of time itself being the consequence.
However the return was cut short after the Doctor destroyed the White-Point Star which held a link between modern day Earth and a time-locked Gallifrey in the midst of a war. The Doctor knew a return would destroy all of time and so he broke his oath of no violence to send Rassilon and the surviving Time Lords back into the time lock.
Then it just went silent again. With the odd mention here and there in Matt Smith’s first few series as the Doctor. Then along came the unofficially counted three-parter, with ‘The Name of the Doctor,’ ‘The Day of the Doctor’ and ‘The Time of the Doctor’, where once again we grab mention of the Time Lord’s return. We learn the true sacrifices the Doctor made, why and how the Doctor survived and in a shocking plot twist, we see the Doctor in his darkest hour, change his mind and save Gallifrey in a pocket universe, preserved, like a painting.
We know the Time Lords survived the Doctor’s preservation trick, as the crack in time that appeared in various episodes was soon revealed as the gateway to the pocket universe in which Gallifrey survived within. The whole story arc of Matt Smith’s era comes down to the return of Gallifrey, with Madame Kovarian and her army of Silence identified as a religious order, trying to stop the Doctor from reaching Trenzalore, from saying his name and allowing the Time Lords entry back through the crack in time.
The Doctor guarded the entry, in his assumed final incarnation, stopping every creature that was now aware of the Time Lord’s presence beyond the crack, as they all took turns to dispose of it’s existence. If he left, another Time War would initiate, something the Doctor could not stand to be responsible for. As the Doctor grew old, the Time Lords performed one more act of kindness for their guardian, supplying him with another cycle of regenerations after Clara begs for such help in his final moments. The Time Lords did said act before sealing off the crack in which they could return through, remaining lost for the newly regenerated Doctor to search for.
The closest the Twelfth Doctor has gotten to finding Gallifrey so far is the false coordinates supplied to him by Missy, coordinates which got the Doctor’s hopes up, only to tear him apart when he discovers the apparent illegitimacy of them. To this day, the Time Lords are still lost, waiting to be found.
One day the Doctor will return to Gallifrey. Although he is yet to even locate the lost planet, let alone pop in for a visit, he is well on his way home and when he gets there, it’s inevitable that more adventures and stories will come of it. However, the Doctor is not one to stand still, he’s a man who enjoys his freedom, and potentially a return to Gallifrey will make the Doctor realise one again, just why he ran away the first time.
Gallifrey’s return will never be as simple as it seems, and its inevitability to return leaves us with a thirst of excitement as to what comes next for the Doctor in his hunt…