Okay, I kept silent overnight, but I can’t anymore. I have to gush. So, seriously, if you haven’t seen Day of the Doctor yet, and you don’t want to be spoiled, I would stop reading, now, and go watch it. Now. I’ll wait right here.
Pretty filler so you won’t see anything.
So, anyone still here, I assume you’ve seen the 50th anniversary special Day of the Doctor. If you have not, and I spoil anything for you, don’t complain, because I have warned you. Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers galore. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Okay, so you’ve seen it, or don’t mind being spoiled as to what happened. Got it.
First gut reaction: amazing. Literally, there were so many moments I was gasping or exclaiming at the television and one moment that literally left me so speechless I was on the verge of tears it was so beautiful.
The story itself is intriguing and, yes, there’s a reason for them all to be in the same place. Moffat has done an amazing job, again, with writing this one, with taking it from here to there to over there in ways none of us would have expected and it is a thing of absolute beauty (yes, I do hate having to admit that sometimes, why do you ask? :P). I’m not going to do a recap, as I assume you watched it, but there are some things I want to discuss.
We got a really good look at Gallifrey at the end of the Time War. Not only the High Counsel or Command, but the people, on the streets. The ones that burn when the Doctor (or The Warrior, or the War Doctor) ends the war. Children, families, people that have no part in this war other than the fact that they happen to live on the planet that is home to the Time Lords (because, as we know, not all Gallifreyans are Time Lords). The innocent bystanders.
And the War Doctor sees them too. And we find out that what he did was not done at command of the Counsel or anyone else. He stole the weapon and made the choice on his own of what to do because he felt it was what had to be done.
Now, I want to go off on a tangent here and say that, as I’ve been saying from the beginning, the War Doctor, what he did during the Time War, is NOT a secret and the Doctor hasn’t actually been trying to hide from it if his actions are any evidence. He talks about it on a regular basis, holds it over enemies heads, does nothing to try to hide this form of himself, except when he’s discussing it in The Name of the Doctor and here in Day of the Doctor. I expected that that to really really bother me. And, in a way, it did.
But Matt Smith and David Tennant (we’ll get there in a moment but OMG THERE WAS DAVID TENNANT AND HE WAS SO GLORIOUS AS ALWAYS) had these amazing moments around John Hurt’s War Doctor (and John Hurt was so amazing and perfect) that I could actually believe, even knowing otherwise, that Ten and Eleven are and were not proud of what they did and actually did want to forget this man. But, as Ten says at one moment, how do you forget something like that? So I’ll give Moffat a pass there. Because it didn’t nag me the whole episode.
And the rest of it was so amazing, I can let it go.
We finally got to see Ten and Queen Elizabeth I, which was just a throwaway line in The End of Time and an implied interesting history in The Shakespeare Code. It was great. Joanna Page was fascinating in the role and Ten was such a bumbling idiot it was awesome. Part of me thinks it might have been Moffat poking at the fan girls – it didn’t matter what Ten did, how much of the angry streak he showed, we all loved him. Devoted to him. So does Queen Elizabeth. I may be reading more into that than there actually is, but either way, I thought it was hilarious.
Because we got Ten back and it was awesome! From Ten in a fez to the comparing of sonics to the glasses moment, the shoes, the fighting, the adoration between them, Ten and Eleven together onscreen was everything all of us ever wanted. There were too many awesome lines and moments to repeat them all, but just know – Ten and Eleven? They are awesome together.
And Eleven admits he regrets the decision. After four hundred years of reliving it, he regrets the decision to wipe out Gallifrey.
Ten and Eleven show up, in the War Doctor’s reality and time, just so he doesn’t have to do it alone. Just so he doesn’t have to wipe out his people alone.
And then there was Clara. We didn’t really get Rose / Clara moments (I’ll get to that in a minute; I have some very specific thoughts on what Moffat did with Rose (brilliant!), so I’m hitting that one last) but both (in a way) are very influential on the three Doctors’ decision to try and save Gallifrey (by time locking it) instead of actually destroying it. Clara, as the companion always does, represents us and she’s right – she’s heard the Doctor talk about the Time War and what he did, but actually seeing it, actually knowing that he, the He we love, is going to be the one to do it…that’s hard to stomach. Hard to take in. And her faith in him, he unfailing belief that he (all the Hes) is a GOOD person (well, Time Lord), changes his mind. And they decide to save it and it’s a beautiful moment with Clara and all three of them (apparently, this version of Clara is the one for both Eleven and the War Doctor).
So, I sent a total of three tweet during the entire show, during things I was totally freaking out over. When I realized what Moffat had done with Rose (a weapon with a conscious? So awesome), at the end with the Tom Baker moment (get to that in a moment) and then, here, when the three doctors are on their screens, talking to the High Counsel, and all of a sudden there are other voices. And we see other blue boxes. And then it’s there – Hartnell. Troughton. Pertwee. Baker. Davidson. Baker. McCoy. McGann. And with a “Now for my next trick…”
There was my Christopher Eccleston. There was my Nine.
I know, I KNEW, he didn’t come back to film anything, I can place that exact moment (The Parting of Ways, when Jack and Nine are coming to rescue Rose, just before the TARDIS materializes around her on the Dalek ship), but still, my heart jumped when I saw him because I love my Nine. I was on the verge of tears and then someone in the Gallifrey High Counsel says something about there being twelve – no thirteen – and we see eyes. Just a pair of eyes and then a TARDIS flying in, but we know those eyes.
I lost it.
Had I been in a theater with a bunch of people (I tried – sold out in under 3 minutes because there was only one theater in the southeast US showing it and they only had one screen. When they opened another screen, it sold out in under 10 and wasn’t announced so…yeah), I probably would have screamed. But I wasn’t. I was at home with a few friends. Can’t exactly scream.
So an “Oh my God!” and crying it was.
All thirteen Doctors were technically there and on screen at once, even if most of it was just archive footage (which I get, because most of the Doctors still alive don’t look like they did when they were playing the part (including when they regenerated) so they can’t easily come back to reprise the role (Davidson in Time Crash for Children in Need is a special case, because it was for Children in Need)). It was beautiful and amazing and would make any Whovian cry.
For that moment, if nothing else, I thank you Moffat.
But there were still great moments to come. And Moffat explains how the Doctor could change what happened in that moment without, change the entire narrative of the series, without actually changing the series – time streams out of sync, the War Doctor and Ten won’t really remember this (at the beginning? Before he jumps into the time warp? Eleven says “I remember this! Well, kind of”) and that he will believe, at least until the moment Eleven gets involved, that he made the decision to destroy Gallifrey. And they won’t know if it works.
I buy it. It’s not even all that timey-wimey.
(Side note here to say that some people are a bit miffed that Moffat “ignored” The End of Time. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. The Gallifrey in The End of Time was time locked, they brought it back, everyone assumed that the rest of it was coming. But we don’t actually see the rest of it, so it’s possible that Rassillion didn’t actually know what was going on (he wasn’t in the Counsel room when they told the Doctor to do what he needed to in Day of the Doctor) and that the time locked Gallifrey the thirteen Doctors created is what actually appeared. This is not something that destroys anything canon in the series. The Doctor believed that he had destroyed his people. The universe believed it. Just because it might not actually be true doesn’t change any of the things we know.)
So, two more amazing things. One: Tom Baker. Yes, I know that it technically came out last week (I also think I know where the “Eleven is regenerating” rumor came from – someone in BBC made a comment somewhere I’m sure either to the effect that “We see Capaldi” (which most people would assume Eleven would have to regenerate for) or that there was a regeneration (there is; we see Hurt’s War Doctor start to regenerate into Eccleston’s Nine (I was SO hoping we would see that finish and that Eccleston had actually filmed even a moment, but no such luck) and people assumed it was Eleven into Twelve. But not so much!) but no one knows who or what it would be. Because, as I said above, Baker is, sadly, too old to really reprise Four in any actual capacity.
I know many many people that freaked out when they saw this. So nice to include Classic fans!
But he didn’t. I love how it’s not said but the implication is that it’s Eleven, at some point later, “revisiting an old favorite” face. It was a wonderful moment for us, a nod to those Classic fans who wanted something, and an indication that, as we have all guessed, Capaldi won’t be the end of it (I have theories on that, but I’m not going to get into those here).
Now, for the most amazing thing I think Moffat did with this episode. What he did with Rose.
Now it wasn’t actually Rose and, even here, it claims that it is Rose in Bad Wolf form. But really, it’s The Moment, a weapon that developed a conscious (such an amazing concept and so awesome. Love that!). As it states, it chose a form from the War Doctor’s past (or future…”I always get those confused”), so it could have chosen anyone. Martha, Jack, Mickey, Amy, Amelia, Rory, Donna. Any companion or friend from Classic Who. But it chose Rose. Why did Moffat do that?
I don’t know if he did this on purpose, but when I realized it last night, I hope he did, because it might be the most awesome thing he’s ever done (and he’s done some awesome things, like introducing us to someone we’re going to LOVE and adore by, you know, killing her) – Moffat showed us that the War Doctor regenerates almost immediately. We already know (well, think we know) that the first place he ends up is London, with the Nestene Consciousness. Thinking he’s blown up his people. And then who does he meet? This blonde girl who he can’t seem to allow himself to let go of.
He can’t let go of her because, even if he doesn’t remember it, that girl, in one form or another, helped save him from himself (John Hurt’s War Doctor says something about loving the “Bad Wolf girl” at one moment because she showed him exactly what he needed). And she just does it again.
Moffat just retconned why Rose is so important to the Doctor, even if he doesn’t know and can’t explain it to himself (though I think he may have realized it during the Bad Wolf moments in The Parting of Ways, even if not fully consciously). Moffat explained the tie between Rose and the Doctor in a way no one else could.
Moffat just explained a question Whovians have been asking, about a character he didn’t create and only wrote for once or twice, and it might be one of the most amazing retcons I’ve ever seen. Rose and the Doctor are more intertwined than we ever imagined and I think it’s awesome.
So, yes. I loved the episode. Adored it. And, yes, it gives the Doctor some kind of purpose (looks like Capaldi might be going searching for Gallifrey! Awesome!).
But the most beautiful thing (other than all thirteen showing up around Gallifrey with archive footage?) – the final moment when Eleven steps out and they’re all there. We’ve all seen the picture, with all the Doctor’s faces, but here, all standing together – Hartnell through Smith. It was beautiful. And perfect.
(Also, can we take a moment to appreciate that, under “The Doctor” in the credits there were thirteen names? I squealed!)