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Thursday, 14 November 2013

"The Night of the Doctor" Reaction

"I'm a Doctor...but probably not the one you're expecting."
You have to hand it to them--I had no idea Paul McGann was going to pop up in this.

There we have it. Undeniable proof  that the speculations were correct: John Hurt is a Doctor. Or, as the credits put it, he is "The War Doctor."

But what does it all mean? I don't know. But I'll try to make sense of it as I write.

Cass, a sassy young girl who wants to see the universe (Clara??), is pretty much about to die. But then her salvation comes in the form of the Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann. He looks a lot different since we saw him last--different hair, different clothes, but his personality remains the same.

Cass denies to go aboard the with the Doctor as soon as she hears that it's bigger on the inside. Because it's a TARDIS and he's a Time Lord. She snatches her wrist out of the Doctor's hand, "Don't touch me!!"

He knows exactly what her reaction was about and explains: he's not a part of the war and never was. But she doesn't care. He rebukes, "at least I'm not a Dalek!" She slams on a button to close the bulkhead and says, "who can tell the difference anymore?"

What had the Time Lords done in the Last Great Time War (LGTW) to make her react like that? To call the Doctor a Dalek? While we do see similarities to the Doctor and a Dalek in S1E6, "Dalek," (topic of that week's podcast), that's far in the future.

Then, they crash on the the planet Karn, home to the Sisterhood of Karn. This is a callback to the 1976 episode, "The Brain of Morbus." The Sisterhood was once ruled Gallifrey until the Time Lords booted them from power. So they are a crucial part of the history of Gallifery, which I predict we will learn much more about in "The Name of the Doctor." The leader of the Sisterhood, Ohila, sees the crash and says, "Here he is again...the man to end it all."

What is he going to end? Cass pointed that a lot of the universe had been destroyed with the war. Is he the one to end the universe? No--I think they imply that he is the one to end the war.

The Doctor critiques the Sisterhood--they are the Keepers of the Sacred Flame of Eternal Life (or eternal boredom, as the Doctor says...) That means two things. One, he's starting to think--Ten put it best-- that "a Time Lord lives too long..." (End of Time pt 2). And also--confirmed by the fact that Ohila talks about the improvements of regeneration--that the Sisterhood is responsible for making regeneration possible for Time Lords. Plus, one can now choose what the regeneration will be like.

Then, Eight does something. He takes Cass' belt, thinks about how he couldn't save her and says to Ohila, "Warrior...I don't suppose there's any need for a doctor anymore." Before drinking the elixir, he asks, "Will it hurt?" Ohila respond that it will. He says, "Good." He wants pain. Why? Why does he want to be in pain?He says the names of companions from the audio adventures (so they are officially cannon now!!), salutes his friends and companions...then apologises to Cass. He says, "Physician, heal thyself," a proverb from Luke 4:23. The common explanation of the proverb in context of the Bible is that, during Jesus' resurrection, he expects for people from Nazareth, his home, to use this phrase to criticise him, and that the people of Nazareth expect him to do miracles there like he has done other places. For the Doctor, it translates to saying that he is being expected to end the LGTW. The parallel could not be more striking, especially comparing the resurrection to regeneration.

He drinks the elixir then and regenerates. The first thing he does is touch Cass in sorrow and then he puts on her belt, prepared to fight with the memory of the the woman he killed.

The reflection of the newly-regenerated "War Doctor"
What happens next is key. He says, "Doctor no more," which corresponds directly to the end of "The Name of the Doctor" when Eleven says that what the War Doctor did was not in the name of the Doctor. We see his reflection, and it is younger than the white-haired John Hurt we are used to (but by the voice and credits we know it is supposed to be him). What does that mean? It means that this "War Doctor," as the credits put it, has, when we see him in "The Day of the Doctor," it has been quite some time--as the War Doctor we see then is more wrinkled and has white hair. So this has to mean that Time Lords do age some, visually. But how much time does it take to make the one in the reflection the one in the 50th? I guess only time will tell (see what I did there!).

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