“Do you really think he’s back there, trying to wave to us, out of history books?”

waveWith the 11th Doctor routinely dropping off his companions there is a wealth of material for additional adventures, set between the episodes. ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ begins with Amy reading a history book which details a few of these.

Charles II

We first see the Doctor, hiding naked beneath the dress of Matilda, King Charles II daughter, having been the subject of one of her paintings. For this he was imprisoned in the tower of London (not the first or last time this happens) before escaping on a magical sphere, two days later.

Did the Doctor just come to the 17th century so that he could be painted by Matilda. He might have hoped that Amy would eventually see this, his way of waving at her. The fact that he was nude wouldn’t bother him, as his behaviour in ‘Time of The Doctor’ shows.

It is equally possible that there was something else going on in the court that the Doctor had to investigate. Posing for the painting might have been the only way for him to gain Matilda’s help or valuable information.

King Charles II is aware of the Doctor and seems to suspect he is up to no good. Might he been already hunting the Doctor, seeking to imprison him, before he discovered him under his daughter’s dress? This could have been the reason the Doctor was looking for somewhere to hide.

During his stay in the tower (and two days seems a long time for the Doctor to be imprisoned) did he notice the scratches his future self left in the 16th century during ‘The Day Of The Doctor’?

Is the magical sphere, twenty feet across, a hot air balloon or something advanced aircraft (possibly a UFO). Whatever it was who was piloting it? Who helped rescue the Doctor? Was it another companion, Matilda or the PCs?

Did they leave immediately or was there a threat that needed to be dealt with? Did he leave Matilda’s painting of him (and if so did it end up in the under gallery) or did he take it with him?

POW Camp

Next the 11th Doctor is leading some British prisoners to freedom via a tunnel, only to emerge in the commandant’s office, where the alarm is raised. This is a great cliff hanger that goes unresolved.

We can presume that the Doctor doesn’t have his TARDIS with him, otherwise escape would be much easier. So is it nearby or has it been captured by the Germans. This could lead to an exciting adventure to get it back.

Did the 11th Doctor deliberately allow himself to be captured or was he caught while in the time period? Was his goal to free the prisoners (and if so why has he chosen to change history here) or was joining the escape committee his best chance of getting free?

How did the Doctor escape once the alarm was raised? Did he manage to get anyone else out with him? A freed WWII prisoner could make for a interesting companion for the Doctor, equipped with valuable skills to survive his adventures.

Amy suggests that the Doctor is deliberately trying to be ridiculous to get their attention. Escaping the POW camp doesn’t, in itself, appear to be ridiculous nor is it obvious why this would be in a history book (unless the book is specifically about mentions of the Doctor).

It might be then that his means of escape once the alarm was raised was done in a ridiculous way. We don’t see who guards and the commandant were so there is possibility they weren’t human (whether the history book reveals that is another matter).

Laurel and Hardy

The most obvious example of the Doctor waving to the Ponds is where he does just that in a Laurel and Hardy film that Rory is watching (although he misses it). Presumably this isn’t the first time he has seen the movie so unless this is a special cut of the film then why didn’t Rory recognise the 11th Doctor before?

The film in question is ‘The Flying Deuces’ in which Laurel and Hardy join the Foreign Legion. It features them coming into conflict with a commandant and the duo escaping via a tunnel. This could be why the Doctor chose to appear in the film, after his adventures at the POW camp.

Further the reason that the main characters join the Foreign Legion is so Hardy can forget a failed romance. This is appropriate as this episode introduces the Silence, who make people forget.

At the end of ‘The Flying Deuces’ (SPOILERS!) Hardy dies and is reincarnated as a horse. The Doctor is also someone who can die and return in a new body, although he hasn’t come back as a horse yet. Potentially he could and might explain his ability to communicate with Susan in ‘A Town Called Mercy’.

The film was made in 1939 and it would be interesting to explore how the Doctor became involved and how he persuaded the director and the stars of the film for him to steal the limelight in the scene we see (he could possibly be in other parts of the movie). Did he have input into the script?

The director, A. Edward Sutherland, said he’d rather eat a tarantula than work with Laurel and Hardy again. Could this possibly be because of something the Doctor did? How did the Time Lord get on with the two actors?

WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN FOR THE DOCTOR?

For Amy and Rory it has been two months since they saw the Doctor. These events could occur during his absence or prior to ‘Closing Time’. It is equally possible that this could happen after ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ either when the Doctor is travelling alone or with Clara. This gives you the freedom to decide what works best for your group.

This can also serve as a way for PCs to keep track of what the Time Lord PC is up to when they aren’t travelling together. They could stumble across records of his adventures while he is away.

When they meet the Time Lord again they might accidentally reveal foreknowledge of an adventure he hasn’t had yet. This could take them into the very adventure they were just reading about in the history books.

Posted in 11th Doctor, Impossible Astronaut | Leave a comment

“But it’s 1869. How can I die now?”

trappedIn ‘The Unquiet Dead’ Rose ponders how she could die in the past, before she is born. This illustrates the difficulty that some people have with the concept of time travel. This is Rose’s first trip into the past and she is obviously struggling with the concept of what is happening.

Does she imagine that this akin to ‘A Christmas Carol’ and she is not actually there? While she can sense the 19th century and interact with those around her does she believe that she is just a projection and that her physical body is still in the 21st century?

She also suggests that her objection is based on the illogic of her dying before she is born. Does she believe that ‘time’ or some other entity just won’t permit this confusing state of affairs?

To her credit Rose doesn’t act as if she believes she is invulnerable prior to this scene. She is probably just trying to rationalise her way out of the situation, trying to find a logical explanation for how she will get out of this unharmed.

It could be amusing for a player character, new to time travel, to have this belief. They might be incredibly bold and risk great danger because they think they can’t be hurt. They are in for a nasty shock when they are injured for the first time.

The Doctor’s explanation that time can be twisted into new shapes is similar to the 10th Doctor’s discussion in ‘Blink’ that time isn’t strictly a linear series of events.  Time in this context is Roses’ life. In particular that the date of her birth and death don’t necessarily have to occur in that order.

Within the Doctor Who universe time is often treated as a ‘place’. The TARDIS can remove people from one location, whether that be a planet or time period, and deposit them in another. Here time is more of an abstract concept.

Part of how time is presented is that the viewer follows the main characters in their travels, thus we have a sense of continuity. They might be going backwards and forwards in time but we still know in which order those adventures happen to our heroes.

An outsider would have different perspective here and this might be what Rose is referring to. Anyone observing or recording those events is going to have difficult time explaining how Rose dies before her birth, especially if they aren’t aware of the TARDIS or what it does.

This can be seen in discussions of the time travel film ‘Primer’ where people will often refer to the time machine producing ‘duplicates’. This isn’t what the machine is doing. It isn’t creating people but transporting the same person up and down the time stream. Yet because these viewers perceive there to be two (or more) of the same person then one must be the original and the other duplicates. A similar discussion occurs in the Spanish film ‘Time Crimes’.

Perceiving time travel in a different way, especially from the point of view not familiar with the mechanics can inform our knowledge of how NPCs will act and behave. Their observations may be terribly wrong but they will still act on those conclusions.

Adventures can be developed based around how people react to incidents of time travel they’ve experienced or learn of. This could be a good way to have sequel to the PCs or the Doctor’s adventures, with people trying to puzzle out what happened and reacting accordingly.

Mysteries can also be developed for PCs to investigate that turn out to be time travel. This can be particularly effective if your campaign focuses on those with little to no experience with it, such as a UNIT or Torchwood campaign.

While we know Rose is wrong in her belief that she can’t die what if she was right? This removes the element of physical danger to a campaign, with PCs unable to be die before the date of their birth or after the date of their death.

This can help encourage players to send their characters into dangerous situations. It also adds to their mystic, as this will make them appear inhuman to others. Their enemies will fear these unstoppable beings who appear from nowhere to stop them.

You may wish them to demonstrate other evidence of their disconnection from the current time. It could be that they are also immune to extremes of temperature, unable to feel the cold or heat. They might not need food or water nor require rest.

This could be how the Time Lords acquired their reputation for being god-like beings. In their native time period they are the ordinary beings we see in episodes set on Gallifrey but when they travel to other eras they can not be harmed or stopped.

If this is how time travel works them travellers would have a section of time, the duration of their life, which they must avoid or be made vulnerable. Mysterious beings like the Doctor could have this period in the distant past or future, while for most companions this is the 20th or 21st century.

There are still opportunities for peril. Time travellers might not have any great physical strength and so risk being captured. Such travellers could be imprisoned indefinitely, especially if they don’t require sustenance. 

If the time travellers are projections then their presence in other time periods could require concentration. Anything that frightens them or causes them to believe that they would die can cause them to return to their own time period.

You could reduce the PCs ability to interact with the past or future. It could be that they aren’t actually there and so can only observe. If they are able to interact it isn’t real and when they return to their own time period they find that any changes they made aren’t reflected there (this could mean that changes create divergent timelines).

Within your own campaign you are free to decide how time travel will work. Equally PCs and NPCs can come up with their own interpretation. Scenes like this from ‘The Unquiet Dead’ can allow characters to discuss what they think is happening.

Posted in 9th Doctor, Unquiet Dead | Leave a comment

“The time engine isn’t in the flat, the time engine is the flat. Someone’s attempt to build a TARDIS.”

silencetardisIn ‘The Lodger’ the Doctor discovers a mysterious time machine, using a perception filter to disguise itself as the top floor of a flat. While we don’t learn who owned the time machine in this episode it is suggested in ‘The Day of The Moon’ that it belonged to the Silence.

By the time of ‘The Time Of The Doctor’ we know that the Silence were time travelling into the Doctor’s past. The real question is whether the time machine in ‘The Lodger’ is the same one the Doctor encountered in 1960s America or if it is just the same model.

The Doctor seems to think that it is the same machine, as he believes he is about to find out how it came to be abandoned. At the end of ‘The Day of The Moon’ the Silence have unwittingly caused humanity to rise up against them.

This combined with River Song shooting them could have resulted in the death of the Silence crew. It could be that after they died the AI managed to fly the ship to the UK (probably not long before the events of ‘The Lodger’) or that one of the Silence lived long enough to put the ship in motion but died causing it to crash.

We do know that the ship in ‘The Lodger’ did crash, the AI states as much. It states that the crew is dead and it is seeking a new pilot. The fact that it crashed strongly suggests that it didn’t mean to be in this time and place. If it isn’t the same time machine form ‘The Day of The Moon’ where was it heading?

You may wish to develop the backstory of the time machine, possibly having the PCs be responsible for its crash. Did the crew die or did they manage to escape? It could be that the PCs were protecting the Doctor from another attempt to meddle in his past.

The control orbs and resulting electricity effect of the time machine fit with members of the Silence being the crew. The ship was looking for people who wanted to escape to enable it to leave (to where?). This could suggest that other examples of Silence technology use telepathy.

The Doctor’s statement that someone was ‘trying’ to build a TARDIS suggests an amateurish attempt of imitation. While it is possible that the Silence were trying to copy the greatest weapon of the Doctor, his time machine, it doesn’t match what we see of their technology.

The Church apparently have extremely efficient time machines, able to go when and where they like. Was this time machine a prototype? The crash and death of the crew would certainly suggest that this is its first flight.

It is also suggested that the Time Engine will destroy the planet if it takes off with a new pilot and could destroy the solar system if the Doctor is the chosen pilot. This would work against the human-founded church so this is either a flaw they were unaware of or the Silence have rebelled and don’t care about the fate of humanity (possibly still upset about the events of ‘The Day of The Moon’).

The ability of the Time Engine to use a perception filter could make the Silence and the Kovarian chapter much more dangerous. This allows them to conduct covert operations, using time machines that don’t just camouflage themselves but convince people that they were always there.

The AI is able to come up with a plan to replace the pilot, using its holographic display to lure people upstairs. While single-minded in pursuit of its goal, the Doctor suggests it would work its way through over 6 billion people which seems a bit far-fetched, this does show some imagination.

We haven’t seen any other evidence of the Kovarian chapter or the Silence using such advanced AI, although it does make sense since they were an off shoot of the Papal mainframe.

It would also make sense for the Silence to make use of machine intelligence which won’t forget them. It could be that they used artificial intelligence constructs after they dissolved their links with the human members of the Kovarian chapter.

If the Time Engine had been able to leave with a pilot where would it have gone? It may have returned to the Kovarian chapter. If it had caused the devastation the Doctor predicted they’d need to find a way to repair the damage. Would they have been forced to alter the Doctor’s timeline so the events of ‘The Lodger’ occurred or would they turn to the PCs?

If the Doctor failed to stop the Time Engine would Amy have been sent hurtling into the vortex in the TARDIS? This could lead her to bumping into the PCs (possibly inflight) and needing their help to set things right. It is also possible the out of control TARDIS crashes and explodes on her wedding day, creating the original reason for the cracks in time.

Did the Silence of the Kovarian chapter investigate what happened to the Time Engine? This could lead to another adventure with Craig and explain why he moved between ‘The Lodger’ and ‘Closing Time’.

If the Kovarian Chapter are still out there (unaware of the conclusion of ‘The Time Of The Doctor’) they could continue to perfect the Time Engine. Might they actually be able to perfect their own form of TARDIS? Could this put them in the position to fill the place of the Time Lords?

PCs could encounter other Time Engines, hiding in the most unexpected places. If the ship’s original crew did die then others might have found it. This could place it in the hands of UNIT, Torchwood or less reputable collectors.

This could also be a way to put a time machine in the hands of a group of PCs without a Time Lord. They could find that the flat above them is actually a time machine (or the mysterious cupboard in their place of work or even a garden shed). As long as it doesn’t destroy the planet when they take off they should be able to operate it using the telepathic interface and the ship’s AI.

If things go terribly wrong it could be that their Time Engine is the one encountered by the Doctor in ‘The Lodger’.

Posted in 11th Doctor, Day of the Moon, Lodger, Time Of The Doctor | Leave a comment

“She’s in a pocket universe. A distorted echo of our own. They happen sometimes but never last for long.”

pocketuniverseIn ‘Hide’ the Doctor discovers the source of ghostly sightings is a pocket dimension, where a stranded time traveller is struggling to get home. The Doctor is not surprised at its existence, stating that they just happen.

He clarifies to Clara that it is not a parallel dimension. The very fact it is a pocket dimension indicates that it is ‘within’ our own dimension possibly existing as folded space like a tesseract. There does appear to be some form of ‘overlay’ as images from the pocket dimension are projected into our own.

The Doctor’s definition that it is a distorted echo could suggest that it attempts to mirror or copy our universe. Certainly the forest the Doctor finds himself in appears similar to those that could be found in the surrounding area.

Time within this particular pocket dimension moves much slower than in the real world. Several billion years pass in our dimension (the entire life of the planet) while the trapped time traveller, Hila Tacorian, has been there for only 3 minutes (although the Doctor is guessing).

It is probably safe to say that being inside a pocket dimension when it does collapse isn’t a good idea. The Doctor ends up rescuing the monsters, promising to take them somewhere safe.

It is unknown if the monsters encountered within are native to the pocket dimension (which would indicate enough time for some form of evolution to occur) or stranded like Hila.

We also don’t know if all pocket dimensions experience the same distortion in time. It could be that other dimensions have a faster flow of time or one that is equal to our own. We also can’t say how big they are. The one shown here appears to be at least large enough for an expanse of forest and open sky.

If the TARDIS entered the pocket dimension entropy would drain its power source, trapping it. If it was there when the dimension collapsed it would have to wait until the whole universe collapsed into quantum foam before it could get free.

Presumably during this time the TARDIS would survive but as part of the universe, unable to return to the vortex or normal space. The Doctor is unwilling to wait for this to happen so choices not to bring the TARDIS into the dimension (at least until his second rescue effort).

There is nothing to indicate that such pocket dimensions are unnatural or any exploration of what created it. It has existed since the beginning of Earth and will be there at its end. From what the Doctor says there could be plenty of other pocket dimensions on our world and others.

While time travellers could certainly blunder into them it is possible that other portals could come into existence or that random people might stumble in or out of them. When the barriers are thin those on either side might be able to see each other.

A pocket dimension is therefore something that can be encountered by the crew of a TARDIS or members of UNIT or Torchwood. You could even centre a campaign on a group who do nothing but seek out pocket dimensions and solve the problems they cause (something along the lines of ‘Sapphire and Steel’.)

Adventures involving pocket dimensions could require PCs to rescue those trapped within. They could be the source of horrible monsters or twisted reflections of our world. They might emit radiation or exert a strong gravitational pull threatening to swallow up everything around it. PCs could study them for scientific data, exploring their interior and trying to escape before they collapse.

The difference in the flow of time could allow PCs to use a pocket dimension as a time machine, along as they are only interested in going forward. If they become trapped in the past without a time machine this could be a clever way to skip forward until they are reunited with their TARDIS.

If they find a pocket dimension whose flow of time is backwards then they can also travel into the past. They need only work out the difference in the flow to time their entrance and exit and make the journey to a pocket dimension flowing forward to return to their present.

They could act as prisons, safe havens or used for storage. Having a secret base within a pocket dimension would certainly help conceal it from the outside world and the PCs enemies.

There is a clear example of a paradox in this episode in that the Doctor removes Hila from the dimension in 1974 yet earlier took photos of her far into the future, still trapped within. The Doctor states that these paradoxes resolve themselves, so pocket dimensions could act as a buff to prevent destructive energy from being released. PCs might find this useful if they absolutely have to create a paradox.

It is suggested that the experience of investigating this haunting is what brings Emma and Palmer together and that Hila is a distant descendant. In this case the pocket dimension is responsible for creating a paradox, in that Hila is only born because she is trapped within the pocket dimension. Without that her ancestors don’t get together.

This could be an aspect of a pocket dimensions, rewriting our reality with similar ontological paradoxes. They bring things into existence, creating loops of causality. One or two might not make a difference but numerous pocket dimensions could cause a Time Lord quite a headache.

Posted in 11th Doctor, Hide | Leave a comment

“Rory and Amy, I know where to find your daughter, and on my life, she will be safe. River, get them all home.”

abandonedAt the end of ‘A Good Man Goes To War’ the Doctor sets off to find the stolen Melody Pond, leaving the rest of his friends on the space station, Demon’s Run. He leaves the responsibility of getting everyone home to River Song.

The next time we see the Ponds is ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ but there is plenty to explore after the TARDIS dematerializes.

Presumably River will be using her vortex manipulator. Previously the Doctor dismissed the technology as being rubbish. The only reason that he was able to use it with any accuracy in ‘The Big Bang’ was because the universe was much smaller. Yet here he expects her to get several groups back to different time periods.

It is possible that she is using some other form of time travel device, maybe even borrowing the TARDIS from a past or future Doctor. This would make things easier but still might cause problems.

River does seem to be able to navigate through time but there is plenty of potential for problems along the way. There is also the question of whether they’ll be returning Vastra, Jenny and Strax to Victorian London or the Ponds to 21st century Earth first.

This has a bearing on the duration the group spends travelling together. They are an interesting selection of characters and have great potential for interaction as they attempt to reach their respective destinations.

The biggest fall-out of this episode is the revelation that River is Amy and Rory’s daughter. While she might not reveal any details about her early life (‘spoilers’) she might be able to speak about the emotional consequences of what her parents are going through.

Amy and Rory would have to deal with the reality of the situation, having just lost their child and discovered her again as an adult. Their relationship with River has just drastically changed so how do they address that?

They might also put together what the Doctor realised, that the child in the spacesuit they encountered in ‘The Impossible Astronaut/Day of The Moon’ is a young River. This in turn could make them suspect she is the one who will shoot him at Lake Silencio.

Knowing this could there be an issue of trust? They know she is keeping things from them and after being tricked several times already might they believe that she has always been an agent of the Church of Silence and could still be working for them?

The journey to Victorian London might be a chance for Strax to adjust to the idea of living with Vastra and Jenny. If the group get into trouble on the way it would be chance for him to use his warrior skills to save the others.

There would also be further opportunities to explore his connection with Rory. Their brushes with death and their role as nurses give them plenty in common. Not to mention the comic potential of the pairing.

Vastra and Jenny could talk with the Ponds about being a couple. They might even find time for a double date, leaving River Song and Strax out in the cold. Both have faced troubles and it would be interesting to see what advice they can give each other.

River is put in the position of playing the role of the Doctor. She has a lot of responsibility, having to get everyone home safely. At the same time she is dealing with the emotional consequence of her revelation.

Being from their future River knows that they’ll shortly learn that she is their friend from school, Mel. Knowing that they’ll see her at her worst, when she was following her programming as an assassin, how does she behave? Does she try to prepare them, keep her distance or just try to establish a strong emotional connection so that they believe she can be a better person?

If they do end up in trouble is River Song’s priority to escape with the others or does she live up to the Doctor’s example and try to solve the problems that they encounter along the way?

The group could still be in danger from the Church of Silence. If the organisation is aware that the Doctor has left their company this could be a perfect time to attack. They obviously have their own time travel technology and can not only pursue them but disrupt their journey.

Players could take the roles of this group of characters in a short mini-arc that details their exploits on the way home. Each character is unique with a diverse set of skills. With distinct roles there should be something to appeal to each player.

If they are using a vortex manipulator it might only be able to move them in short, inaccurate jumps before having to recharge. This recharge period should be just long enough for an adventure to take place in. They have to stay close together when they’re ready to leave, so they can’t go until they are all reunited. This setup is similar to ‘Sliders’.

The group could also be encountered by the PCs when their paths cross. They could then help them get to their destination, even helping them make the final trip in their TARDIS. This would mean that the Doctor would owe them a favour in the future.

Even after everyone reaches their destination the journey could have formed strong bonds between them. We know that River Song will occasionally visit her parents and we know that Lady Vastra and company can communicate with others through dreams.

This creates the possibility that the group might reunite, in the gaps when the Ponds aren’t travelling with the Doctor. They could have their own adventures they never share with the Time Lord or simply meet up to compare notes.

Since the Doctor had faith enough in River to get his companions home he might ask her to do something similar again, either with future companions or to visit those he left behind (Vicki, Steven Taylor, Peri and Mel to name but a few) and see she can get them home.

This could result in another group of mixed characters on an epic journey through space and time.

Posted in 11th Doctor, A Good Man Goes To War | Leave a comment

“Something drew the Tardis to this particular date, and blew it up. Why? And why now?”

DateWhile ‘Time Of The Doctor’ answered many questions there is one that still remains. Why did this happen on the 26th of June 2010? The Doctor seems to think there is some significance to this at the end of ‘The Big Bang’.

Why would the date be significant to the Kovarian chapter? Whether the TARDIS was detonated remotely or whether it was done by a brainwashed River Song it appears that the TARDIS was targeted for destruction at this exact point.

We know that this was the date of Amy and Rory’s wedding. What we see after the universe is rebooted in ‘The Big Bang’ is probably the closest we get to the original timeline, before the cracks started to change things (such as remove Amy’s parents).

We know that River Song is the result of this union and that the Kovarian chapter would later use her as an assassin. Why then would they wish to prevent this? The answer could be that they had already learnt about the events of ‘Silence In The Library/Forest of the Dead’.

Recorded history would show that River Song is responsible for saving the 10th Doctor. The Kovarian chapter might know only this when they defected, without knowing anything about the rest of her history.

Possibly the Kovarian chapter could use genetic testing to establish who her parents were and blow up the TARDIS in the hope of not only killing the Doctor but also wiping out the River Song. Without her being born the 10th Doctor would die in the library. This works best if they didn’t expect River Song to be onboard the TARDIS (and thus favours the theory that they destroyed the time machine remotely).

When this failed (and the Kovarian chapter might not know why) they then decide to corrupt the Doctor’s saviour, turning River Song into their assassin. They were still caught within the Destiny Trap and their actions unwittingly created the very person who would save the 10th Doctor.

If there is a an outside ‘pull’ to this location and date it could be that the TARDIS was on its way there in ‘The 11th Hour’. With its engine failing it lands far too early, allowing the Doctor to encounter Amelia.

When the Doctor de-materialises he intends to return after 5 minutes but instead is pulled forward 12 years. When he de-materialises the TARDIS is supposed to just go to the moon and back, not travel in time yet it again jumps forward, this time 2 years. It arrives the day before the date of the explosion.

At the time this was taken to just being an example of the Doctor not being able to hit the date that he is aiming for, just as the 9th Doctor accidentally returned Rose home a year too late.

It would now appear that there was something dragging the TARDIS to that date and that location. The location would appear to be important, as the TARDIS is still able to travel elsewhere. Only when it heads to Leadworth does it fall into the trap.

It could be that the TARDIS never completely escaped its grasp, that it was always being pulled back. When River Song enters the TARDIS to get equipment her nature (coming from a timeline that doesn’t exist yet) might have been too much for the ship to endure and it began to automatically snap back to that date.

If this is correct then once again the Kovarian Chapter are responsible for creating elements that would save the Doctor (encountering Amy and Rory) and thus put him on the path to Trenzalore. Without that pull the 11th Doctor might never have met them.

If there is something exerting an outside influence what was it? Where was it placed and when was it removed? Could similar devices be used to pull a TARDIS off course or even prevent it from leaving a particular date?

It could be that the date is only significant because that is the date that the TARDIS exploded. This could be the equivalent to a fixed point in time, with the TARDIS compelled to go to when it is destined to explode. It can delay the final moment but not prevent it.

There could be another event on this date that makes it significant. If it is pulling the TARDIS off-course the Doctor might have originally been elsewhere, doing something important. Knowing where and when the Doctor was going to be the Church of Silence placed the trap.

With the timeline now changed it could be up to the PCs to step into his shoes and ensure that the day is still saved. This could be related to Trenzalore or the return of the Time Lords, which is why the Kovarian Chapter hoped to erase it.

It could be revealed later that a future incarnation of the Doctor had a hand in picking this date. It could be that the TARDIS was always going to explode at a certain point within its own lifespan. The Doctor just ensured that it was ‘this’ time and place, so that he could control the outcome.

River Song suggests that the ship is being flown remotely. The Doctor is one of the best candidates to do this, especially an older, more experienced Doctor. He might even be flying it using his own TARDIS.

The 11th Doctor also suggests that River is doing something wrong when she is trying to control the TARDIS. She retorts that it was the Doctor who taught her. Since this was a later Doctor it could be that he gave her instructions that would lead her to this date, just as he would give her a sonic screwdriver that would download her memory at the end of her life.

The mysterious voice that River hears just before the TARDIS explodes could belong to this future Doctor. If River Song is brainwashed ‘Silence will fall’ could be a trigger to release her.

All of the above could also be instigated by PCs. A whole adventure could be based around the idea that they are trying to save the Doctor and the TARDIS. Alternatively they might need the exploding TARDIS at his particular date to help defeat an opponent or solve their own problem. Since they don’t want to destroy their own TARDIS they are just making use of a TARDIS that they know was going to explode anyway (hopefully knowing that the Doctor was going to fix everything later).

Posted in 11th Doctor, Big Bang | Leave a comment

“A box, a cage, a prison. It was built to contain the most feared thing in all the universe.”

pandoricaclosesAs discussed hereThe Time Of The Doctor’ reveals that the events of ‘The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang’. The explosion of the TARDIS echoes through time, setting up a situation in which the other races realise that the Doctor is responsible and place him the Pandorica.

At the end of ‘The Pandorica Opens’ the Alliance reveal they used the memories of Amy Pond to build a trap for the Doctor, a scenario that he would believe. The two main elements are the story of Pandora’s box and her love of Romans.

River Song finds scorch marks (presumably of Daleks) at Amy’s house on 26th of June 2010, the day after the Doctor and Amy began travelling together. This indicates that in the day they were away the members of the Alliance arrived, found these elements and based their plan around it.

We don’t know why they needed to act at this particular period but since their plan hinged on using Amy’s memories that I had to wait until she began travelling with the Doctor. If it had been a different companion they would have waited until just after they had left with the Doctor instead.

The Alliance build the Pandorica and place it in the Underhenge. River says that it has been there for thousands of years. The Doctor is only able to find it because as it begins to open it uses Stone Henge as a transmitter broadcasting a signal that it is opening. This is picked up by Vincent Van Gogh who paints a picture containing co-ordinates that eventually end up in River Song’s possession.

Why does it choose this particular moment to open? The Daleks say that the Pandorica is ready because it has scanned the Doctor, allowing his limits and capacities have been extrapolated. We don’t know if this entire process has happened in the short time that the Doctor has been in the Underhenge or if it has been thinking about some of the problem for all these centuries.

It could be that it was always designed to open at this particular time period to make use of the Roman army. The Pandorica was allowed to age centuries to make it seem more authentic.

The Alliance needed the Doctor to be lured to the Pandorica, which requires us to think about how involved they were in Vincent Van Gogh picking up the transmission. Did they know he was mildly psychic or did they have to implant this talent (which could have resulted in his problems)? If the Doctor didn’t have the connection with Van Gogh how else did they plan to get him involved?

It could be that they deliberately let the Pandorica become the fairy tale that the Doctor and River have heard of. They might have hoped that the Doctor’s curiosity would eventually led him to search for it.

Whoever is responsible for the fairy tale has a sense of humour as the dark, monstrous entity that is trapped within is ultimately the Doctor. It could be that they were also counting on the Doctor seeking out this monster, as he typically opposes such evil.

The entity is said to have been tricked into entering the Pandorica by a good wizard. River says she hates stories with good wizards as they usually turn out to be the Doctor. This isn’t the case here, as it is the Alliance that force him into the box.

If the fairy tale is wide-spread then were the Alliance already aware of it when they created the Pandorica or, as the creators of this change in time, where they unaware of it until they actually made it?

The Pandorica has layers of security, including deadlocks, time stops and matter lines. You couldn’t die as the prison would keep you alive, for all eternity. Since the Alliance were trying to prevent the TARDIS from exploding and they mistakenly believed that he was the only one who could fly it why didn’t they kill him? Why did they put him something that would actually keep him alive?

It could be that the Alliance were aware that he was supposed to die at lake Silencio on the 22nd of April 2011. Their plan would require him to survive to this point, at which stage they could release him and he’d die, protecting time and not giving him a chance for the TARDIS to explode (hence why the future Doctor didn’t have it with him at the lake).

It could also be a form of insurance for the Alliance. Individual races might not have trusted other members and know that the Doctor might be the only way to save them from betrayal. Keeping him alive meant the members of the Alliance had a last resort if things went bad. In case of emergency break open the box for the Doctor.

The Pandorica was always designed to keep the Doctor in, rather than others out. At least one Cyberman was left to guard it and the Doctor guesses that it was decapitated and disarmed by Celts. Was there a risk that another person would open the Pandorica prematurely? If so it wouldn’t have mattered until the Doctor was placed in it so why have a guard?

Upon entering the chamber of the Pandorica River Song picks up fry particles everywhere, indicating energy weapons having been discharged on the site. The Cyberman is equipped with an energy weapon but is that enough for the particles to be everywhere? Could there have been larger battle here?

Due to their miscalculation the TARDIS still exploded. Countless worlds were wiped out, leaving the members of the Alliance as fossils, an afterimage of the erased species. Earth was at the eye of the storm and thus their extinction was delayed. We can take it that the Pandorica is responsible for protecting the Doctor.

What would the Alliance have done if this didn’t happen? Would they have left him in Underhenge or would they transport him somewhere else? Leaving him on Earth doesn’t seem particularly safe since he has so many allies there and there would always be the danger a past incarnation might stumble across him.

If they took him elsewhere would it be a neutral world or one owned by a member of the Alliance? Would the Alliance have stayed together or quickly broken down? How long before someone wanted to free the Doctor to save them?

With the universe rebooted how much of these events do the other races remember? Especially after the events of ‘The Time Of The Doctor’. During that long siege did they realise that the events of the Pandorica were a consequence of what happened at Trenzalore?

If this is a change in time then might the legend of the Pandorica been a corruption of what originally happened? It might really have contained a terrible blood-soaked being and the Doctor might actually have been the good wizard that trapped it inside (certainly there are shades of Fenric to this tale).

If the rebooted universe removes the events of the Alliance then this original chain of events might have occurred or will now occur with the 12th (or future) Doctor.

PCs can explore these events, the ramifications of the Alliances actions and discover future details of their plans within your own campaign. With time being rewritten multiple times there are plenty of versions of events to unravel.

Posted in 11th Doctor, Big Bang, Pandorica Opens, Time Of The Doctor | Leave a comment

“It’s like this is the land of Un-Fiction. Anti-Fiction. Non-Fiction!”

The IDW comic ‘The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who’ by Paul Cornell explores what happens when the 11th Doctor accidentally ends up in the real world where he is just a character from a television show.

This idea has been explored in other comics and books but is particularly well-done here. It serves as an interesting look at how the Doctor regards himself and how he might react to find out that people observe his adventures.

Obviously this discussion will spoil some parts of the story.

There is just nowhere that goes.’

When we join the 11th Doctor he has just collected a painting from Andy Warhol and is finding it very difficult to find a space for (at least in the TARDIS console room). The painting depicts each one of his incarnations (with a silhouette of the War Doctor).

The Doctor is reluctant not to display the picture since it took ages to sit for, implying that each of his previous incarnations sat for the artist. This raises the possibility of several unseen adventures with each of the Doctors and Warhol.

This could have taken place over the course of his entire life or if this adventure takes place post-‘Day of The Doctor’ they might have all gone as a group, before returning to their respective time streams.

Parallel Universe, Unable To Compute Exit Point.

While travelling through the vortex the cloister bell rings. The TARDIS is then sent through a hole to our reality, bringing the time machine to a crashing stop. This is akin to ‘Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel’ where the TARDIS is drained of power upon arriving in a parallel dimension.

Lack of power isn’t the problem here, just finding the way back to the Doctor’s reality. Conceivably the TARDIS could still explore time and space, just that it might not match anything that it has in its data banks, resulting in random trips. That is if our reality would even allow time travel.

Parallel universes are trouble either way, something that PCs should beware of. Falling into one can be a good way to take characters out of their comfort zone, as they don’t know what they’ll encounter when they step through the door of their TARDIS.

Dr Who To Film Locally.’

The fact that Doctor Who is being filmed in the area is noteworthy enough to make the Examiner newspaper board this probably isn’t Cardiff.

They made a tv show about me?!

While the Doctor believes that Matt Smith only looks a little like him he never refutes the events depicted in the episodes shown to him, even confirming that the monsters looked exactly as shown.

He does, however, say that they are only part of his life. While the books, audios and comics might depict those other parts (and we never see him shown those mediums) it is understandable that 50 years isn’t enough to relate every thing that happens in his 1200 long life.

Sarah Jane Smith is alive and well and living in Ealing.

The sad death of Elizabeth Sladen doesn’t apparently mean the death of the character she portrayed. Further more the Doctor hints that she never dies. He doesn’t go into the details but he assures us that he knows what happens to his best friend.

This opens the way for further adventures with Sarah Jane Smith and exploring her ultimate fate. The fact that the 11th Doctor is aware of them suggests that he or his prior incarnations were involved.

Where everything I’ve done has become a story.

The Doctor makes the comparison to the Land of Fiction. Where as that was a place where fiction became real, here reality has become fiction. This does create a ‘chicken and the egg’ paradox.

Do the events in the Doctor’s reality create the fiction created in our reality or the other way round? It would seem strange for our reality to only start relating events in the Doctor’s life in the last 50 years.

It could be that our reality only recently came into existence, fully formed. It might be that the parallel universes only came into synch 50 years ago, allowing the information to be subliminally replicated here.

I was played by Peter Davison?!’

While in our reality the Doctor learns about the actors who portrayed him. Surprisingly, in his reality, he saved Peter Davison from a krynoid and Peter Capaldi from a mandrel. The audio ‘Pier Pressure’ also had the 6th Doctor crossing paths with a young William Hartnell.

In the Doctor Who universe these actors careers were probably very different, without taking the role of the Doctor. It does mean that PCs might believe they are encountering a previous Doctor when in fact it is just an actor who looks like them.

It could be that the Doctor has to keep rescuing these actors because they resemble previous incarnations (the Doctor apparently didn’t realise that Peter Davison looked like his 5th incarnation). His enemies could be attacking these actors who just have the misfortune of looking like the Doctor.

‘I don’t think I’m better than everyone else, and if your lot do..’

The Doctor questions why people are drawn to his adventures and seems perturbed that there is some apparent elitism. That liking his stories and having an interest in science rather than fashion, music and blokes makes people feel better than others.

It is clear that the Doctor thinks everyone show accept each other and tolerate different interests. That no one should set themselves apart from others based just on what they like or don’t like.

He is shown that the Doctor Who fandom is a community that has brought out real talent in others, as well as acceptance. This shows him the positive impact he has had on others but he still doesn’t consider himself a perfect hero to look up to.

This is a revealing insight into his character. The Doctor doesn’t do what he does for hero worship or to be an example to others. He has regrets for what he has done and probably worries about what message this has given to his newly revealed audience.

Of course this probably takes place prior to ‘The Day Of The Doctor’ when he still regrets his actions during the Time War.

It’s like I’ve got a twin.

The Doctor meets Matt Smith at a Doctor Who convention. Since he has long hair (and presumably isn’t wearing a wig’) this is probably taking place before the end of May 2013. He reveals that they are filming an episode where the events of this comic take place. Since there is a script (with an ending) this implies that the depiction of events occurs before they do in the Doctor’s reality (at least on this occasion).

Delete The Doctor.

Having come to the conclusion that there are no monsters in our reality the Doctor is attacked by a Cyberman. We learn that it was one of the Cybermen that was drawn into the void during ‘Doomsday‘ and that it blasted a hole through into our universe.

The events of that episode were broadcast in 2006. We don’t know when the Cyberman was able to create the hole but it might have been on our world for quite some time. It could been concentrating on researching our reality but there could be some unfortunate people who have been cyber-converted.

We first see it at the Doctor Who convention before it manages to follow the Doctor back to the house he is staying at and hide in a closet. Presumably it has been upgraded with stealth mode.

‘You…will meet us again, Doctor!’

With the co-ordinates of his universe stolen from the Cyberman he uses the TARDIS (and the script) to send the Cyberman back home the long way. This could be through the void or the time vortex.

We’ve seen evidence that Cybermen can enter hibernation so it could survive its journey. Matt Smith implies that the Cyberman’s threat might be accurate (possibly hinting at ‘Time Of The Doctor’.)

If it isn’t there could be a rematch in your own adventures. After all this Cyberman would have a vast amount of information about the Doctor. In its time in our reality it could watched the episodes and downloaded everything on the internet about him.

Goodbye Anti-Real World….Non-Real World-

The Doctor returns to his own reality but what are the future consequences of this cross-over? Might the Doctor return once again for further adventures? He might even travel into the shows past.

You could set a campaign in our reality, invaded by monsters from the Doctor Who universe. Who will believe the PCs that there are real Daleks about to attack or that the local shop display is actually a bunch of Autons?

They might not have the Doctor to help them in the flesh but they do have access to his adventures. PCs can draw upon their players knowledge of the show to help them in-game. Even then this could be a much darker, horror filled game.

PCs could find themselves in our reality, meeting the players and discovering that they are just characters within a roleplaying game. Their situation would be much worse as non only are they considered fictional here they aren’t even official canon!

If PCs know that the Doctor and his universe is real how will they react when they discover something bad about him. With the frequency of leaked spoilers they could find out before they occur in his reality, giving them a chance to warn him.

This might even lead PCs from our reality crossing over to the Doctor Who universe. They’d have the same adventure of being able to draw upon their knowledge of the show but now they are in the adventure they don’t know what’s coming.

Posted in 11th Doctor | Leave a comment

“We saw this planet in the future, remember? All those graves. One of them mine.”

dawnoftrenzaloreIn ‘The Name Of The Doctor’ the Doctor and Clara journey to the final resting place of the Time Lord and his TARDIS, Trenzalore. In ‘The Time Of The Doctor’ they find themselves in that planet’s past and the Doctor is convinced that it is his fate to die there.

Thanks to Clara’s pleas the Time Lords help change that future, giving the Doctor a new lease of life. What does this mean for the events of ‘The Name Of The Doctor’?

The simplest answer is that at some point the Doctor still dies on Trenzalore. That it is still the scene of his biggest battle. This is certainly possible and would mean that all the events of ‘The Name Of The Doctor’ occur exactly as we saw.

The more complicated answer is that the timeline the Doctor and Clara visited showed what would have happened if the Doctor hadn’t been given a new set of regenerations and had indeed died of old age.

Since the Time Lords haven’t returned and  a new Time War wasn’t initiated then we can presume that in this version of events the Doctor didn’t summon them through the crack. This does raise the question of why he didn’t do this with his last breath, especially as the inhabitants of Christmas were almost certainly going to die shortly after he did. Did he believe that leaving his people trapped was better than putting the whole universe at risk?

There are gravestones of soldiers, which you would assumed were placed by the Church of the Mainframe after the Daleks departed. Even with advanced technology this could have taken quite some time, since the battle extended for hundreds of years (and how do you mark the grave of a Silence?)

The problem with this is that we saw that the occupants of the Church ship had already been converted into nano-zombies. It is possible that another chapter arrived later to place the gravestones or that the Daleks let their slaves return to their default behaviour and carry out this task (maybe while they waited to be reassigned to other parts of the universe).

Who was it that arranged for the grave of River Song (who we know couldn’t possibly have taken part as she was already dead by this point) to lead to a secret entrance into the TARDIS?

Since the Doctor thought that the future he saw was coming true he probably left instructions with Tasha Lem. The secret entrance could be the same way that she is able to enter the TARDIS later to bring Clara.

Was the Doctor tempted to leave a means of salvation for himself, since he knew his younger self would eventually arrive on the planet? He could have placed a coded message on a grave stone, buried something that would help near the landing site of the previous TARDIS or placed something within his own TARDIS to be found as his younger self approached his tomb.

He might not, fearing that any disruption to the time line might prevent Clara from saving him from the Great Intelligence. If he did then now that future has been averted he might have to recover those warnings or ways to change his present.

How would time reshape itself if Trenzalore is no longer the place where he dies? Possibly the same events could occur on whatever does now become his final resting place. They’d still be a scar in time that the Great Intelligence could try to use against him. The names might change but the details would remain the same.

If his final resting place isn’t known then not only does the Great Intelligence not have a means to change the Doctor’s history but Clara won’t splinter herself into multiple incarnations to meet the Doctor in different time periods.

This would significantly alter ‘Asylum of the Daleks.’ Would the starship ‘Alaska’ have still crashed into the asylum without Oswin Oswald onboard? Could the Doctor, Amy and Rory have safely navigated through the asylum without the guidance of Oswin? Would they have escaped the Parliament of Daleks if she hadn’t wiped their memories?

Similarly ‘The Snowmen’ would have been changed without that version of Clara. It is possible that the Doctor might have been become aware of the Great Intelligence and the animated snowmen as the situation worsened. Would he still have been able to defeat the entity without the Latimer family sorrow at Clara’s death neutralising it?

The Bells of Saint John’ is unaltered by the loss of the events of Trenzalore, aside from the Doctor trying to work out why he keeps meeting Clara. We are yet to discover who the women was that gave Clara the Doctor’s number but this could still occur, initiating the first contact between them. Regardless the fact that someone is calling him would bring the Doctor running.

The Great Intelligence’s involvement in that plot can occur completely separate to his eventual plan. All this would mean is that he’d have to find another way to get revenge on the Doctor at a later date.

All of these revisions could have already taken place. The Doctor and Clara might remember different version of events or find that their memories don’t match those around them.

We’ve seen that the universe is more resilient to changes in time that we first thought. In your own campaign you can run multiple versions of these continuity. If the PCs aren’t connected to the Doctor they might not even realise the significance of these continuity errors.

If you want to run an adventure featuring the 11th Doctor you could base adventures around this premise, seeing if the PCs can survive without the involvement of Clara. Will things turn out for better or worse.

You could also set games in a future where the events of Trenzalore did or didn’t happen, based on your preference. As above you could also do both, allowing time to adjust itself following the events of ‘The Time Of The Doctor’.

Posted in 11th Doctor, Asylum of the Daleks, Name Of The Doctor, Time Of The Doctor | Leave a comment

“You know what the big problem is, in telling fantasy and reality apart? They’re both ridiculous.”

lastchristmaspromoLast Christmas’, written by Steven Moffat,  mixes the classic ‘base under siege’ Doctor Who story with ‘Alien’, ‘The Thing’, ‘Inception’ and the Superman comic ‘For the Man Who Has Everything’ to create a delightful festive tale that manages to include Santa Claus in a way that makes sense.

Spoilers From Here On!

When Santa Claus, played by Nick Frost, appeared at the end of ‘Death In Heaven’ it raised the question of how the character was going to be handled. Was he the real deal or just a fake?

Last Christmas’ makes this question central to its themes, forcing characters to question what is real and what is fantasy. As the Doctor points out this isn’t so easy to determine in their universe, an idea already touched upon in ‘Amy’s Choice’.

The start of the episode is comedic with Clara being awakened by Santa and his elves crashing their sleigh into her roof. Santa initially attempts to deceive Clara into thinking that they are just ordinary roof people but eventually admits the truth. When faced with Clara’s scepticism Santa and his elves point out that it is equally ridiculous to believe that it is parents who get their children presents once a year for no reason.

Just as dream-like is the Doctors appearance, arriving in his TARDIS and commanding Clara inside. Jenna Coleman conveys Clara’s joy of being back in the time machine well and that this can reignite her belief in the fantastical.

We are in more familiar territory after the titles, with a scientific base at the north pole. Here Professor Albert Smithe, Ashley Carter and Fiona Bellows talk young Shona McCullough through her dangerous expedition into the infirmary. They have a good rapport in this initial scene, immediately establishing their individual characters. It was a delight that Michael Troughton, as Professor Smithe, sounded so much like his father in a setting that would have been perfect for the 2nd Doctor.

In the infirmary are the sleepers, incapacitated members of base with alien parasites over their faces. We’ll later learn that these are Dream Crabs and follow a new set of Moffat rules. In this case if you look or think about the parasites they can see you.

To distract herself Shona listens to Slades ‘Merry Christmas Everyone.’ This is a fun way to bring in a well-loved Christmas song and leads to an enjoyable scene in which Shona dances across the infirmary, all the while the sleepers lie motionless under sheets.

Shona’s plan is ruined by the arrival of the Doctor and Clara. With the sleepers awakened the trio are imperil until the Doctor distracts Clara by insulting Danny, not realising that he is dead.

Their safety is short-lived as the rest of the rest of the base arrive and more Dream Crabs descend from the ceiling in a particularly gruesome scene. When all seems lost the room is rocked by explosions and a cavalry of toys herald the arrival of Santa and his elves.

In a neat bit of foreshadowing Shona refuses to accept that this is real and questions whether she is still dreaming, something that the Doctor picks up on. The groups interrogation of Santa puts voice to the questions that the audience doubtlessly have yet Santa knows all about them.

We get some plausible backstory, with the polar team discovering hibernating Dream Crabs beneath their base. This is neatly shown through shaky recorded footage. The specifics of the teams mission are skirted over as the scientists claim that it is a long story.

The behaviour of the alien parasites is very familiar and it is nice that they lampshaded by Professor Smithe pointing out that it is all a bit like ‘Alien’.

All the talk of the Dream Crabs awakens a specimen that Santa Claus has brought with him. In a scene almost directly taken from ‘Aliens’ Clara is stalked by the Dream Crab. It is a tense, with goo dripping down towards her as the creature scrambles just above her head.

Caught by the Dream Crab Clara awakens in her bed, just like at the start of the episode, only Danny Pink is still alive and ready to celebrate Christmas with her. It is clear what has happened but these scenes are played well, contrasting the wish-fulfilment with the chalk messages warning that Clara will die if she doesn’t wake up.

Clara’s refusal to heed the warnings shows that she is a flawed character but who hasn’t wanted to remain in a pleasant dream? Not even the arrival of the Doctor, willingly letting himself become a victim of a Dream Crab, can convince her to give up the illusion.

This is left to Danny Pink and it is a pleasant surprise to have Samuel Anderson back in the role. Danny’s transition from disbelieving to being willing to sacrifice his existence so that Clara might live is moving. This is a much better final farewell to the character than ‘Death In Heaven’ provided.

When the Doctor and Clara do awaken they find that the parasites are dead. Their victory is short-lived as the Doctor picks up on Shona’s earlier observation and reveals that they never did escape the infirmary.

The Doctor proves this in a nightmarishly simple test, by having each of the scientists read the first word from the same page in the base manual only to come up with something different, revealing a message that indicates they are all dying.

Santa confirms this as the ultimate proof that this is dream, answering the question of his existence. This is a great scene for Nick Frost, who takes a silly character and makes him seem heroic. He is a dream who is trying to save them.

Throughout the past series we’ve had the Doctor compared to other heroic characters, in particular Robin Hood. Here Santa himself makes the comparison, pointing out that a Time Lord in a spaceship disguised as a phone book is just as unlikely yet the Doctor also represents the fairy tale character who will save us.

With time running out for them in the real world and the sleepers on the move (actually representations of the characters minds that have been taken over by the aliens) things look bleak. Professor Smithe is the first to fall, pulled through a security monitor in the twisted dream-logic of the scene.

Surrounded and without access to the TARDIS the group need a way to escape that makes sense within the logic of the setting. This once again leads to Santa coming to the rescue in his flying sleigh.

This is a magical moment that is justified by existing in a dream. The group flying above London with snow in the air is a perfect Christmas image.

Slowly the rescued scientists realise that their life at the base was a lie and that they are actually ordinary people. This excuses all the plot holes (such as the bases’ mission, why the Doctor and Clara went there or what Shona was attempting to achieve when they arrived) in a suitably breezy manner.

The group vanishing, one by one, captured that feeling of a dream falling apart as the waking world beckons. The brief glimpses of their normal lives were welcome and occasionally tinged with sadness, such as the revelation that Fiona Bellows is confined to a wheelchair in real life. A reminder that in dreams we are free from the shackles that hold us in reality.

The Doctor awakens and rushes off to find Clara, who is refusing to leave the blissful dream of riding with Santa. Using the sonic screwdriver to remove the parasite it is revealed that many years have passed and that Clara is now an old woman.

Jenna Coleman plays this scene well, aided by some impressive old age make up. It serves as a nice call back to the scenes with Clara and the 11th Doctor in ‘Time of The Doctor’, even down to them pulling a cracker.

While reminiscent of how Amy and Rory left the Doctor’s company, living a full life without him, I would have been perfectly happy for how Clara left the show. Yet there is one more twist as Santa appears to grant the Doctor’s wish that he’d got there sooner.

Awakening the Doctor rushes to Clara’s side and finds that she is still a young women. Thankful for their second chance together they vanish together in the TARDIS while a lingering shot of a tangerine suggests that either Santa Claus is real or that they are both still asleep.

I was worried that this episode might have been a farce but I really enjoyed the direction the plot took. Christmas is a magical time, where we put aside the worries of our everyday life for a short time, but sooner or later we have to accept reality. This story took that idea and applied it to the world of Doctor Who, promising that we still have something to look forward to.

The adventure was fun, the monsters gruesome and there seems to have been some character development for the Doctor and Clara.

I do feel that having Clara return was a bit of a cheat, especially after an emotional final scene. Once again there are also characters introduced that would have made good replacements, such as Shona (who wouldn’t want more episodes of her dancing her way through danger?).

Yet this aside this was a very good Christmas story.

Posted in 12th Doctor, First Thoughts, Last Christmas | Leave a comment