Series 5 Big Picture Speculation

3rd May 2010 • Blog Post by Seb Patrick •

Five episodes in, and a story arc is starting to take shape. And a couple of very interesting, yet-to-be-explained points have made themselves conspicuous. So let’s do some speculating! Obviously, don’t click the jump until you’ve seen “Flesh and Stone”.
First off, let’s have some kudos for Moffat for doing something conspicuously different with the running arc. After the instances of seeing the “crack” at the end of both “The Beast Below” and “Victory of the Daleks”, we could have been forgiven for thinking this’d be another “secret” running image in the style of Bad Wolf, or Rose’s series four appearances – seen by the viewer each time, but with the Doctor blissfully unaware until everything comes together circa episode 11. This time, however, the “arc” is one in which he’s already an active participant – he knows about the crack in time, about the fact that time is being “rewritten”, and he’ll presumably be spending the second half of the series trying to sort it out. So the final episodes will be the culmination of the story, not just the bit where it actually happens.

Anyway, aside from all the stuff with the crack, and people getting wiped from existence, and whatnot, there was something else quite significant about the episode. In case you’ve missed it (and I know a fair few of you have already caught it), it came as the Doctor and River left a closed-eyed Amy in the forest. Having already run off, the Doctor – who’d previously lost his jacket to the grasp of an Angel – suddenly reappeared in front of Amy, softly told her that she needed to “remember what I told you when you were seven”, and kissed her on the forehead before leaving. The thing is… that wasn’t our Doctor. Here’s why:

He’s still got his jacket on. Oh, and weirdly, when we see his forearm, it’s bare – perhaps his costume is ripped and tattered at this point? Anyway, that’s less relevant than the fact that he’s still got his jacket on.

The obvious answer to this, of course, is that it’s a Doctor from the future. There are multiple clues to this – he’s a lot kinder and softer towards her than he is in the immediately preceding scene, for one. Furthermore, when she asks how the crack can be there, he says “I don’t know, but I’m working it out.” This suggests that he’s slightly further along in his timeline, more actively seeking a way to figure out the problem (note that this scene occurs before he’s had his “Time can be rewritten” moment of realisation). But the crucial moment, of course, comes with the “Remember…” line. He’s not asking her to remember something specific. He’s asking her simply to perform the act of remembering. The obvious assumption, then, is that in the future, presumably somewhere around episode 12 or 13, something Bad has happened to Amy – and the Doctor needs to go back and help maintain her existence by re-affirming it. I’d be 99% sure that we’re going to see this exact scene over again, only this time from the Doctor’s perspective, later in the series.

But what is he asking her to remember? What moment in “The Eleventh Hour” – which is the only time he met her when she was seven – could be so important? Well… how about this one?

Remember that odd moment when we cut back to little Amy sitting on her suitcase waiting for the Doctor to return, before hearing the TARDIS sound and smiling? Then it cut to her being woken in bed by the same noise? We assumed it was just a dream – that she was dreaming a happy-ending-that-never-was to her Raggedy Doctor story. But what if it wasn’t? What if that moment actually happened to her? What if our future Doctor did come back and visit her – having already known her as a grown-up – in order to tell her something important? She’d have to have forgotten, of course (in order to still be angry at him for not coming back), but it could be a deliberately subconscious memory that reappeared in her dream when she heard the TARDIS noise again.

We can but guess. But what’s clear is this – those of us who excitedly wondered what the man who’d proven himself so brilliant at structuring single episodes would do when given an entire series to work with are being given our answer. Moffat is a clever, clever bugger – and you suspect that there’s going to be a lot about the early part of this series that will only make full sense when the whole thing has finished.

Now, the question is – any moments in either “Beast” or “Victory” that might also have actually been our Mysterious Future Doctor?

Seb Patrick once met Paul McGann, who immediately pretended to be Mark McGann. He writes for Den of Geek, BBC America, Film4 and the official Red Dwarf website, among others. He owns over thirty toy Daleks and wishes the Dapol factory tour was still open.

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11 Responses

  1. There isn’t anything in beast that I think could be Mysterious Future Doctor, and Victory doesn’t really give itself much room to allow such things (and besides, I’d have real difficulty with the idea of Mysterious Future Doctor appearing during ViOTDa and not trying to stop the Daleks somehow).

    That being said, with the Doctor mentioning the events of The Next Doctor I wonder if there’s something nestled away in there worth looking for. Not the Eleventh Doctor (it’s incredibly unlikely he’d be in there at all) but… I don’t know, something else?

  2. I think Moff’s given us a sniff nothing more, nothing less and would we want it any other way?

    Trying to make the leaps between Flesh & Stone and 11th Hour was their not a helluva lot of talk from Smith and Gillan about the first episode being very much a fairy tale? Jumping back Flesh & Stone the talk of the Pandorica and River song’s “Aren’t we all (fairytales) Doctor?” to me absolutely backs up this idea that Amy “believing” is utterly crucial to the arc plot of the series and the finale itself. A video interview a couple of shows ago asked about finales and if he (Moffat) felt under-pressure to go super-sized in the style of RTD. I’m sure the answer was something along the lines of you can make it gigantic in terms, but at the same time very personal.

    There’s a line from Peter Pan – “Every time you say you dont believe in fairies, a fairy dies.”

    The Doctor’s very life (and as a result time and space and everything) may depend on Amy believing in him.

  3. I like the idea of the Mysterious Future Doctor, even if that ends up not being what’s happening at all, it’s a great arc idea. Could it have something to do with his bowties mysteriously changing colors? I had just assumed he wanted a fresh tie without starwhale sick onnit, but…

  4. Jonathan Capps

    > I like the idea of the Mysterious Future Doctor, even if that ends up not being what’s happening at all, it’s a great arc idea

    Indeed. I don’t remember speculation this exciting since the Saxon thread in series 3, and this easily eclipses that for attention to detail and intrigue.

    After the crack was ‘silenced’ by creating a significant time event, I wonder if–when it inevitably re-emerges in the finale–it’s going to take an even greater time event to shut it for good. Maybe feeding it energy created by a paradox, or something? So, The Doctor creates the paradox by visiting Amy when she’s sat out in the garden and then forces that paradox into reality by visiting her and trying to get Amy to remember that new timeline, making it real and feeding the ‘energy’ from that discarded timeline to the crack?

  5. Seb Patrick

    I was with you all the way up to “Simply”.

  6. The Face of Po

    Now, the question is – any moments in either “Beast” or “Victory” that might
    also have actually been our Mysterious Future Doctor?

    One clue in “Beast”, that I and a few others have spotted due to sitting too close to our huge screens, was that the computer says Amy’s age is 1306 but displays it as 1308. It’s not quite visible enough (at lower resolutions) to be definitely deliberate, but a bit too stupid to have been a believable mistake.

  7. In the last scene of Flash & Stone, when the digital clock at the end ticks over (in a scene set at night time), it goes from 11.59am 25/6 to 12.00pm 26/6!

    What was that description of the crack… “two parts of space and time that should never have touched”? Seems a very apt description for two times twelve hours apart suddenly linking together!

    I wish I could claim to have spotted that myself, but sadly I can’t. But I would have seen it if I’d gone back to that shot with the pause button, like I intended to before I was distracted by the next episode preview and Confidential. :(

    Also, not specifically related to this thread, but Terry Pratchett’s guest editing SFX this month, and has written this piece about Doctor Who. The Guardian TV Blog decided to present it with the headline ““Terry Pratchett attacks ‘ludicrous’ Doctor Who”, but if you read it you’ll see it’s a bit more nuanced than that. (Why yes, that is my response down there in the comments, saying how I prefer the term “soft sci-fi” to “science fantasy” and linking back to this very page!)

    Also, Terry reiterates what I remembered him saying in an online webchat a few years ago: that he preferred Torchwood’s “Small Worlds” to most episodes of Doctor Who. It was definitely an episode that overlapped a lot with his own sensibilities: fairies being given their traditional depiction as malevolent beings, rather than Disneyfied ones, for example.

  8. > two times twelve hours apart

    D’oh. Forget I said that. :(

  9. The Face of Po

    You’re right… they’re not twelve hours apart, they’re *twenty-four* hours apart. (Or it’s a cheap clock that got its am/pm muddled.)

  10. si

    Seb Patrick, you sly old dog. Only just got round to reading that, but that’s brilliant.

  11. If the Doctor and Amy were in her room the night before her wedding, the clock should have gone from 11:59 PM to 12:00 AM. It was, in fact, backwards, and I think that’s the significant part.

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