Monday, 20 May 2013
In The Name Of
So, the Doctor Who season 8 finale went out. And yes, it was awesome, but I'll be perfectly honest here: the pre-credits alone sold it to me. The next 45 minutes could have been static and I still would have come away feeling giddy with excitement.
Two days later, it is time for cold reflection. How well does this episode fit with what has gone before?
The Doctor went to Trenzalore and was asked his name, sure, and as a result of someone answering correctly a Terrible Bad Thing happened.
(SIDE NOTE: I am wary of making the Doctor SO VERY important to the universe, he's just some guy who goes around helping people, but there are certainly at least four occasions I can think of off the top of my head when he saved all of reality. It's arguable whether all these situations would have arisen without the Doctor in place to set them up - the Master needed the Doctor's help to disrupt Logopolis apparently, Davros might not have reached the state of creating a Reality Bomb without being constantly defeated by the Doctor, certainly the TARDIS wouldn't have blown up, but it seems likely the Black Guardian would have scored the Key To Time without the Doctor retrieving it first. Even so, the Intelligence was specifically "turning all his victories into defeats" so I can let that slide.)
I'm not sure this tracks backwards well, though. Does it match up with an entire quasi-religious order - possibly species - being dedicated to killing the Doctor specifically so he cannot go to Trenzalore and be asked his name, so that it cannot be answered? Utterly committed to the notion that "Silence must fall when the question is asked"? So dedicated that they risk blowing up the TARDIS to do so?
I guess if they knew that the Great Intelligence would be the one asking, and that he would go inside and basically destroy the universe four times over, but if they knew that they'd have to have got their information from after the event somehow - and they'd know Clara saved everything.
It's possible the re-re-writing negatively impacted them somehow, and they wanted to stop it ever happening, but that's really going a bit too far down the twisty-turny timey-wimey track.
Onnnn the other hand this would sort of explain why the Silence only ever attacked the 11th Doctor - they wanted to stop him BEFORE Trenzalore, but AFTER he saved the universe at the Medusa Cascade.
Unfortunately I don't give Moffat that much credit for planning ahead. He very much makes it up as he goes - he's said as much in DVD commentaries of individual episodes, the whole "turning into an angel" aspect of The Time Of Stone came about because he needed something like punctuation for the end of a scene, and used the line "something in my eye". He knows the shape and rhythm of stories, and he's a good enough writer that he remembers the punctuation and weaves it all back into the story. But sometimes he only thinks back so far, and sometimes it doesn't work out as he plans, and the shape of the episode overrides the shape of the series. Here it has the feeling of one of those stories where you read the preceding line, fold the paper over it, write the next line and pass it on; it makes sense with what has gone immediately before but doesn't necessarily hang together as a cohesive whole.
Which of course describes much of Doctor Who for the past 50 years.