Thursday, April 27, 2023

#AtoZChallenge2023: Doctor Who War (The Time War and the War Doctor)

#AtoZChallenge2023: Doctor Who War (The Time War and the War Doctor)
DORIUM: The asteroid, where you've made your base. Do you know why they call it Demon's Run?
MANTON: How do you know the location of our base?
DORIUM: You're with the Headless Monks. They're old customers of mine.
KOVARIAN: It's just some old saying.
DORIUM: A very old saying. The oldest. Demons run when a good man goes to war.

- Doctor Who, "A Good Man Goes to War"

Today's quote does not come from the episodes I am covering, but it sums them up very well.

When the new series of Doctor Who was released in 2005 Russel T. Davis was very smart on how much detail to give the viewers. Just enough to get the old fans like me hooked and not too much to scare off the new fans (like my wife).

Over the course of many episodes, we learned something very, very terrible. First, the Doctor was the last of the Time Lords. Then later, it was because Gallifrey had been destroyed. Then later because it had been destroyed in the Last Great Time War between Gallifrey and the Daleks.

Over the years, more details emerged. The Time War was so great that there was collateral damage across all of Time and Space. The Daleks and the Time Lords had destroyed much of the universe. Even to the point that regular humans like Cass (Night of the Doctor) knew of Time Lords and their science. 

At one point, the Doctor, tired of running, tired of death, regenerated into something new. The War Doctor, played by veteran actor John Hurt. This time Lord, no longer the Doctor, was a warrior.

The War Doctor with The Moment

"No more."

- The War Doctor

The War Doctor steals a weapon so terrible even the Time Lords won't use it. Known as "The Moment," it will destroy all of Gallifrey and take all the Dalek with it.

This is all detailed in the 50th Anniversary story, "The Day of the Doctor."

After "The Day of the Doctor" aired, I realized that the "New Who" doctors fell into the Kübler-Ross five stages of grief.

  • The Eight Doctor - Denial. He avoids the war he knows he caused and tries to help where he can.
  • The War Doctor - Anger. He turns to fight against the War. Not against the Daleks or even the Time Lords, but the War itself.
  • The Ninth Doctor - Bargaining. He runs. He runs as far away as possible and hopes to make something good.
  • The Tenth Doctor - Depression. I mean, look how he acts. The silly façade is only that. Underneath, he was weighted down with guilt.
  • The Eleventh Doctor - Acceptance. He knows he can't change his past, no matter what.  Or can he?

The Time War was something hinted at in the Doctor Who novels. No surprise, really, since some of the novel and short story writers would later come on to the show, most notably Steven Moffat.

It could be one of the more exciting pieces of Doctor Who lore created for the show. 

House: Fear me! I've killed hundreds of Time Lords!
The Doctor: Fear me. I've killed all of them.

The Doctor, "The Doctor's Wife"

Rewatching old episodes, especially the old Dalek ones, you get the notion that the Daleks have been ramping up their ability to fight, particularly the Time Lords. I mean, from their point of view, the Doctor has been the center of all their most significant defeats. He was there when they were created and slowed down their progress. He was there when they finally broke out of their destroyed cities on Skaro. He was there to defeat them in their attempts to revive themselves or even against their ancient enemies the Movellans. Even the Time Lord's "weapon" (really a scientific device to harness the power of a star), The Hand of Omega, was used to destroy their homeworld of Skaro.

The Doctor may have wanted to avoid this war, but he picked this fight.

DOCTOR: Do I have the right? Simply touch one wire against the other and that's it. The Daleks cease to exist. Hundreds of millions of people, thousands of generations can live without fear, in peace, and never even know the word Dalek.
SARAH: Then why wait? If it was a disease or some sort of bacteria you were destroying, you wouldn't hesitate.
DOCTOR: But I kill, wipe out a whole intelligent lifeform, then I become like them. I'd be no better than the Daleks.

The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane, "Genesis of the Daleks"

The Time War, and thus the War Doctor, were always going to happen.

The idea was so pervasive that even the novels and the audio productions did their own versions before we saw details of it on TV. The two most powerful groups in the Universe were going to butt heads sooner or later.

As I mentioned before, in the language of the Gamma Forests, the word "Doctor" translates into "Great Warrior."  Another tidbit from "A Good Man Goes to War."

In the time of the 12th Doctor's regeneration, we see what being "The Doctor of War" means, in a way only Capaldi's Doctor could. "Try to be nice, but always be kind."  Which, in a way, influences how his 1st incarnation sees things right before his regeneration into the 2nd Doctor.

The Time War was great, but I hope it holds true to it's name as "The Last Great Time War."

A to Z of Doctor Who

All images are used with permission from the BBC and are copyrighted 2023 by the BBC.


PT Dilloway said...

It reminds me of Green Lantern comics in the 90s when Hal Jordan went nuts and killed all the "Guardians" and Green Lanterns except one that escaped. Of course they have since retconned all of that. At some point will they do that for the Time War?

ElenaSquareEyes said...

Great post! I really like how the idea that the Doctors are all representations of the stages of grief. I had never thought of that before but it does fit them all really well.