Why Now is the Perfect Time for the Valeyard to Return
Guest contributor James Kirkland explains his reasoning.
The Valeyard. One of the Doctor’s most interesting enemies. He also has one of the strangest origins, one that makes him difficult to utilize. Apparently born at a time when the Doctor’s thirteenth regeneration was attempting to get around the regeneration limit and is “an amalgamation of the darker sides of the Doctor”. Or possibly born from the energy given off by the Doctor’s Twelfth to Thirteenth regeneration. However, much of his origin was presumed to have been a lie by the Sixth Doctor himself. Was he born from the energy given off by Ten to create Meta-Crisis Doctor? Was he born on Trenzalore as an elderly Eleventh Doctor neared the end of his life and tried to stave off his demise? Who knows? That’s for a talented writer to decide when this nefarious foe makes his return to television. And, I believe, now is the perfect time for him to return. Why now? One simple word: Morality.
Series 8 saw the Doctor wrestle with the question “Am I a good man?” throughout its run. We saw glimpses of a darker side to the Time Lord, with his possible murder of the Half-Faced Man and the thought that maybe he didn’t save anyone but Clara from the doomed Orient Express, throughout the series as well. However, in the end, the Doctor determined that he was not a good man, or a bad man. He was simply the Doctor. A foolish man, just passing through and helping out when need be. That seemed to end his inner turmoil regarding his morality. But, what if the issue wasn’t quite so easily settled? Imagine how utterly shocked and horrified the Doctor would be when confronted with someone who is, essentially, him at his absolute worst. How badly would he begin to question his own morality if he saw a man standing in the ruins of a world wiped clean with the blood of billions on his hands, and that man told him that he was, in essence, the Doctor?
The Twelfth Doctor’s issues with morality set the stage for the perfect way to reintroduce the Valeyard because the Valeyard can very easily represent what the Doctor could become. Eleven once threatened “Good men don’t need rules. Today’s not the day to find out why I have so many.” when pushed very near his breaking point. What if that is what the Valeyard could represent? Someone with all the Doctor’s intelligence, influence, charisma and technology, but none of the morals and rules he has to keep himself in line. Imagine a man who could travel anywhere he wanted in time and space and the devastation he could visit. Maybe he was responsible for the great devastations across Earth’s history? Maybe he burned whole worlds to the ground across the stars, and those tragedies were attributed to natural occurrences? And if confronted by someone like that, who, instead of visiting worlds to see their majesty, could slaughter them on a whim because he was bored, maybe the Doctor would recognize something that dark festering inside himself.
The Doctor is capable of visiting death and destruction on people. Ten submitted Son-Of-Mine and his Family to horrible punishments, Eleven murdered Solomon and Meta-Crisis committed genocide on a whim, and act that horrified Ten to the point of banishing him forever. But, if confronted with the darkness he’s capable of in the flesh, it could cause Twelve to truly begin to explore his morality. Maybe he’s not the “idiot who helps” he claims to be. But, there is another piece of the puzzle that makes now the perfect time for the Valeyard to return: The Mistress.
Missy’s whole plan in Series 8 boiled down to presenting the Doctor with all the power she could ever dream of to prove that, when it comes down to it, he would just as easily succumb to darkness and become as dangerous and cruel as she is. At the end of the day, he managed to get out of her plot. But, seeing the Doctor’s past, it’s not hard to imagine that him with an invincible army at his back to enforce his views of justice and order on the galaxy could possibly be as horrifying as Missy hoped it would be. Imagine Ten with that army intervening on the Sontaran war or the Human/Hath conflict. Or Eleven using that army in the Siege of Trenzalore or bringing it’s might to Demon’s Run. Now imagine the Valeyard with that army.
Imagine Missy finding exactly what she was looking for, an evil Doctor, and giving him all that power to prove to the Doctor exactly what she thinks he’s capable of when given the weapons to do what he wants. Missy teaming up with the Valeyard could allow her to break the Doctor in a way no other villain has ever done before, by literally showing him at his absolute worst. She could take him to world’s on fire and let him see the Valeyard laughing with sadistic glee as his armies destroy everything before him. Confronted with that horror, being shown what he could be capable of, could hurt the Doctor worse than any defeat possibly would.
One final thing also helps set the stage for the Valeyard: the War Doctor. The Doctor was so ashamed and horrified by what he did during the Time War that he hid The Warrior from himself. And, him confronting what he did and facing the darkest moment of his life again head on made for, arguably, one of the most spectacular moments in Doctor Who since it’s revival. But, there would be not hiding the Valeyard. The universe would see the monster he is capable of becoming, as foretold by The Great Intelligence in The Name of the Doctor. That name would become part of his legacy for the rest of his life. And he would have to confront that darkness within himself head on. He would have to overcome his own darkest self by proving to everyone, including himself, whether he is a good man or a bad man at his core. And maybe, once again, when we see the Doctor at his absolute worst, we will also see him at his absolute best.