Sunday, 24 July 2016

FIXING CONTINUITY GLITCHES - WHAT'S GOING ON WITH GALLIFREY, THESE DAYS? - THE SEQUEL

We return you, now, to our investigation into what exactly has been going on with Gallifrey since the Time Wars. There were some major continuity glitches that we tried to reconcile regarding discrepancies between The End of Time and Day of the Doctor. But there's still some stuff that needs to be dealt with in the other two stories involving Gallifrey that have been produced since the 50th Anniversary Special. Let's see what we can sort out...


PART 2: ESCAPING THE STASIS CUBE... 

As we reach the end of Day of the Doctor, we see that much of what we learnt about Gallifrey since the Time Wars has been based on the Doctor remembering things incorrectly. On the day that Arcadia fell, the Doctor believed that he had used The Moment to wipe out both Time Lords and Daleks, alike. He did this because the Time Wars had reached a point where if its two central combatants weren't destroyed, the whole Universe might go down in flames. It was a tough decision to make - but the Doctor had no real choice. What he did has haunted him, since. By his eleventh incarnation, it wasn't hanging over him quite as strongly. But the guilt was still there.

But he makes the most wonderful of discoveries at the end of the 50th Anniversary Special. It turns out that crossing his own timestream multiple times over can affect his memory (which makes sense - stories like The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors would've played out far differently if you didn't have a rule like that) and what he thinks happened during the Fall of Arcadia isn't what really occurred. He was sure that, in his War Doctor incarnation, he had used The Moment to end the Time Wars. In truth, he had been joined by his tenth and eleventh incarnations and they had come up with a different solution. Using a stasis cube, the Doctor(s) froze the entire planet in a single moment of time. Which caused Gallifrey to disappear and made the Daleks destroy themselves' in their own cross-fire. To the rest of the Universe (and the Doctor, himself), the Time Lords and Daleks were completely obliterated, But, in truth, Gallifrey had been saved. Even a few of the Daleks had survived. The Time Wars did not at all end the way we had been led to believe.

THE MEMORY CHEATS

There is just the smallest of quibbles that we should address, here. What, exactly, does the Doctor remember between stealing The Moment and hunting down the Nestene in Rose? Does he have some sort of false memory where he recalls pushing the Big Red Button and destroying Gallifrey that changes into the truth once his eleventh body has experienced the events of Day of the Doctor? It is a workable theory, I suppose. We've seen time work that way before. Events flow in a certain way until a time traveler goes back and changes them. Then everything gets remembered in a whole different manner. Father's Day would be a good example of this. It may be the simplest way to explain the situation.

But I'm more inclined to think differently. The rules of multi-incarnation adventures seem to indicate that whatever happens when several versions of the same Time Lord meet up isn't remembered at all until the last incarnation has the experience. The whole incident is just a gap in the Time Lord's memory.

For instance, in The Five Doctors, the Doctor does not recall going to the Death Zone at all until he finally shows up there in his fifth body with Tegan and Turlough. Only once his previous incarnations are returned to their proper time and place does it all come flooding back to him. Which, as I said in a previous parenthetical statement, makes sense. Otherwise, certain incarnations would've made very different choices during the adventure. If nothing else, there would've been no argument when Borusa claims immortality from Rassilon. Because the Doctor would've already known what was going to happen to the corrupt Lord President when he did. He would've seen it happen in his first incarnation so all future incarnations would've remembered it.

Of course - if it's just two incarnations meeting - things don't, necessarily, play out in the same manner. Both The Two Doctors and Time Crash seem to indicate otherwise. In The Two Doctors, a drug that is used on the second incarnation affects his memory - which is why Doctor Six doesn't recall what happened to him when the Sontarans abducted him at Space Station J7. And in Time Crash, the Doctor flat-out remembers what happened when his fifth incarnation briefly encountered his tenth.

So, according to the rules of multi-incarnation encounters, the War Doctor should just have no recollection at all of what happened between him leaping through the time fissure with a fez and him leaving the Under Gallery in his TARDIS. The memories of that whole experience don't come back to him until his eleventh body goes through it. That's what seems to be implied, at least.

The problem is this: wouldn't the Doctor be concerned about the fact that he has no proper recollection of the most horrible atrocity he ever committed? He knows he took The Moment to the old barn he used to love to hide in when he was kid. But he doesn't actually recall pushing the Big Red Button and killing the Daleks and  the Time Lords. He must assume that's what happened since Gallifrey is gone. But he doesn't actually remember it, properly. At least, according to what's established in Day of the Doctor, that would be the case. So shouldn't this make him suspicious?

Imagine you go visit your best friend. You knock on the door to his home and he answers. Then, suddenly, there's just a blank moment in your memory. The next thing you recall is standing over your best friend's body with a bloody knife in your hand. To all intents and purposes, it would seem you just murdered your best friend. But, since you have no proper recollection of the moment, would you just turn yourself in to the authorities and serve the time? Of course not! Because you don't remember what exactly happened, you would want to investigate the whole thing as thoroughly as possible. So why doesn't the Doctor do this?

There are various explanations, of course. It could be that his survivor's guilt makes him reluctant to delve into it. Or that his use of The Moment is a time-locked event so he can't go near it, anyway. I'm more inclined to think it has something to do with the fact that he regenerates right after he leaves the Under Gallery. The Doctor interprets his sudden absence of memory as being the result of post-regeneration amnesia. Something that has been known to happen to him from time-to-time.

So, War Doctor shifts into the Ninth. Ninth gives his shaved head a shake and realizes he's forgotten some important stuff that happened just before he arrived but chalks it up to a regeneration side-effect. After a quick change of clothes and a TARDIS re-model, he detects a warp-shunt to 21st Century Earth by the Nestene Consciousness and decides it needs to be investigated (after all, he knows from two previous experiences that the Nestene Consciousness will not be kind to Earth if he doesn't check into it).

From there, the New Series rolls on....



TIME OF THE DOCTOR AND HEAVEN SENT/HELL BENT - HOW DID THEY HAPPEN?

So the Eleventh Doctor has his triumphant dream sequence where he's surrounded by all his other incarnations and a bunch of dry ice. He and Clara then resume their arrangement where she travels with the Doctor intermittently but also lives out "a normal life" on contemporary Earth. The Doctor eventually buys a Cyber-head and christens it Handles and Clara lies to her family about having a boyfriend. And we come to the Eleventh Doctor's swansong.

Time of the Doctor, for my money, is a great little regeneration tale that successfully answers the bulk of the questions that started presenting themselves' throughout Eleventh Doctor Era (What is the Silence? Why did the TARDIS blow up in Pandorica Opens? etc...).  But it also seems to contradict what we just saw happen in Day of the Doctor. As we reach the season finale of Series 9, those contradictions seem to grow even larger.

To all intents and purposes, it would appear that the Doctor had sealed Gallifrey into a stasis cube and that it was frozen in time.  He doesn't know exactly where the planet is, now. So he needs to go and find it. It seemed (to me, at least) that he would also need to unfreeze Gallifrey once he did rediscover it.

The Zygon plan in Day of the Doctor re-enforces this idea. Once placed inside the paintings, the Zygons are trapped there. They seemed to have arranged some sort of timer on their stasis cube which will release them some centuries later when Earth is better developed. But there is no way they can take themselves' out of stasis until the appropriate time arrives. I had assumed Gallifrey would be in a similar situation. They cannot extricate themselves' from the stasis cube. They are frozen in time until the Doctor finds them and, somehow, unfreezes them.

So imagine my surprise when I learn it's the Time Lords sending a message to the Universe through one of the remaining cracks in time caused by the Doctor's exploding TARDIS. How are they doing this? The entire planet should be trapped in a single moment of time - unable to do a thing until they are released from the stasis cube. How can they be sending this message? It's even more amazing how they manage to re-locate the Crack at the end of the story and send the Doctor a whole buttload of regeneration energy that gives him a new regeneration cycle and can also take out a giant Dalek mothership.

My surprise does not end there, however. I grows even bigger as the events of Heaven Sent/Hell Bent unfold. Still being trapped in a pocket dimension in Time of the Doctor could make a sort of sense to me. That pocket dimension is the stasis cube, itself. The Time Lords have, somehow, managed to restore a time flow of some sort within the cube. It is implied in the Eleventh's final tale that they can pull themselves' through the Crack in Time and return to our universe - they're just trying to find the right place in Time and Space to do that. Which is what triggers the whole Question That Must Be Answered story arch. But it was still just a bit shocking to see the Time Lords back in action at the end of the Universe in the Series 9 finale. I'm still boggled as to how this was accomplished. How do you unfreeze yourself in time? You're stuck, right? You can't move! So how do you get out of that?!

The simple answer is that these are Time Lords. God-like beings who can do just-about anything. Particularly when they're all gathered together on their home planet. They have knowledge and resources that can enable them to tackle any problem. In a lot of ways, we don't need any more of an answer than that. The fact that these details have never been revealed in the show actually adds credence to their powers.

How did they do it? We don't know. But they're Time Lords - they can do anything!

And that's almost enough for me. I do like that I don't think we'll ever be given a specific explanation on how the Time Lords broke out of their stasis cube. I'm pretty okay with that. But, I'm going to put forward a crazy theory, anyway!


THE UNSEAL OF THE HIGH COUNCIL

And so,, we return again to the hair-brained idea I established in my first half of this essay (http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2016/07/fixing-continuity-glitches-whats-going.html). Events in End of Time and Day of the Doctor happen out of sync with each other because the High Council of Time Lords have placed themselves' in a special "mini-continuum" that exists outside of regular time and space. For the sake of protection, they arranged for their pocket dimension to interact with our universe in a very special way. It pops ahead and behind in time at random intervals. And Time, itself, is constantly speeding up and slowing down within the continuum. This made the High Council near-impregnable to any attack the Daleks might be launching on Gallifrey. They were in their own special world. Unable to be touched by anyone.

Which means, of course, that the Doctor's plan to seal Gallifrey inside a stasis cube does not affect the High Council, either. Yes, the entire planet is frozen in time. But the High Council Timeline has its own unique relationship with the rest of Time and Space. Perhaps something as powerful as The Moment would have destroyed the special continuum had it actually been activated. But the Doctor's trick with the stasis cube would not have had that kind of influence. Essentially, we end up with a pocket universe within a pocket universe. But the inner pocket universe is isolated from the effects of the outer one.

So when the High Council next attempts to have contact with the outside world after the events of Day of the Doctor, they see what the Doctor has done (they might even be a bit impressed). They undo it but still remain outside the regular universe in the special dimension the Doctor created with the stasis cube. They want to return to our universe but know that could start the Time Wars back up. Using a Crack in Time as a breaching point, they create the whole arrangement that exists in Time of the Doctor. Which, in turn, creates a whole series of complications in the Doctor's life throughout his final incarnation. The fact that the Doctor is freely given a whole new regeneration cycle helps support this idea. The Five Doctors shows the High Council making a similar offer to the Master when he was at the end of his regeneration cycle. It would seem that the High Council is empowered to extend a Time Lord's lifespan if it so suits them.

When their plans to communicate with the Doctor through the Crack in Time on Trenzalore seem to have failed, the High Council must take other measures. Gallifrey must return to our dimension - that much is certain. They've been able to make that return since the High Council unfroze the rest of the planet but they are looking for a safe situation in which to do it. They decide that re-entering our Universe at a time when it is very near to dying out is the safest bet. More than likely, any race that was capable of challenging them to a war will either be extinct or are too busy trying to find a way of escaping the Final Cataclysm.

For now, this is where Gallifrey remains.




Okay, so that's what's up with Gallifrey, these days. Or, at least, that's how I've made sense of things. Missed the first installment but are too lazy to scroll up to that paragraph where I put in a link? Here it is, again: 

http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2016/07/fixing-continuity-glitches-whats-going.html

Here's another interesting essay on the Time Wars written by the Great Adam Gobeski:

http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2015/08/analytical-are-pivotal-moment-in.html


6 comments:

  1. Couple thoughts:

    -It could be that the Doctor connects his loss of memory to the Moment, as part of the price of using that device.

    -Why does someone need to break Gallifrey out of the stasis cube? It didn't seem to me that anyone broke the Zygons out of the paintings, but rather that they did it themselves -- and in fact, the Doctors are shown to break out of the painting themselves in the Black Archive. So if they can do it, why not Gallifrey?

    Oh, and thanks for the shout out. :)

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    1. I tend to think the same thing til we get to the scene where the Doctor reveals his plan to the General. His reaction seems to indicate that the Gallifey would be frozen. Or, at least, that's how it comes across to me...

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  2. Interesting idea, but I think that the whole idea of Gallifrey being taken out of Time and Space is something that Moffat did to satisfy his ego. Previous producers would have come up with a different idea.

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    1. It is a tricky call. An author wants to leave a big mark on a show when it's reaching major milestone. So it's hard thing to resist.

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    2. Well that and he's in charge of the show, so it's no different from what RTD did in creating the Time War and removing Gallery.

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