The Time War had affected the Doctor greatly. He’d done terrible things and was now the last of his race. The 9th Doctor concealed his trauma between a cheeky grin and a desire to show a young girl the wonders of the universe, so he could see it through her eyes.
Now and again the mask would slip and his sadness would be revealed. There were also flashes of anger, of darkness. Death was no longer something he felt he could fight against. Everything has its time and everything dies.
The 9th Doctor took Rose to places that would be exciting. He took her to the far future to see the end of the world and into the past to meet Dickens. Could this have been an attempt to recapture some of the magic of the past?
When Rose first met the Doctor he was trying to find a peaceful way to stop the Autons from conquering Earth. He knew they had been casualties of the Time War and used his authority as the last Time Lord to persuade them to leave without further loss of life.
Yet he anticipated that they’d reject his offer and he’d brought with him a weapon that would prove lethal. The Doctor had become a realist, planning for the worst and coming prepared to kill.
In ‘The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances’ the Doctor is delighted that “just this once” everybody lived. This suggests that it had been a long time since he’d had that outcome. No wonder he dressed in dark colours rather than his outlandish costumes of the past.
Upon meeting a fellow survivor of the Time War the 9th Doctor is confronted with just how much he has changed. In ‘Dalek’ he rants at the imprisoned alien, ordering it to kill itself.
“Rid the universe of your filth! Why don’t you just die?” He yells.
“You would make a good Dalek,” comes the reply.
The Doctor described the Daleks by saying that they’d had all their emotions removed, bar hate. For the Dalek to recognise itself in the Doctor does that mean that hate is now his primary motivation?
Rose is certainly surprised to see the Doctor armed with a gun, threating to kill the Dalek. At that point the Dalek was vulnerable, her dna letting it experience a wider range of emotions and the Doctor wanted it dead.
In the past the Doctor defeated opponents because their actions would have harmed others, because he disagreed with their plans. Now it seemed that they had to be killed on principle, because of what they were, rather than what they did.
The Doctor had higher standards now, being careful about who he took with him. Rose almost lost her place in the TARDIS by saving her father. This suggests that the Doctor still didn’t understand human emotions, believing that Rose would be able to resist the temptation to alter things to benefit herself.
His anger also demonstrates the added pressure placed on him, showing that time is now even more vulnerable. If things went wrong before the Time Lords were there to act as a safety net. Now it is only the Doctor and he can’t prevent all the bad things.
Adam was the first companion to fail to make the grade. After being encouraged to go and make mistakes the Doctor severely the young man by abandoning him in his own time and threating to expose him to the world if he doesn’t lead a quiet life. It seemed that since the Doctor could not gain forgiveness for his actions during the war then no one else deserved it either.
At the end of his life the Doctor was faced with the same dilemma that had wiped out his own race. To stop the Daleks he had to kill everyone on Earth and this time the Doctor would die along with the world.
When it came to it the Doctor was unable to go through with his plan. Did he not want to die before he redeemed himself? Was he afraid of what awaited him after death?
Knowing he was about to regenerate the Doctor summed up his brief time by describing himself as fantastic. In those dying moments had the Doctor forgiven himself? Could he appreciate himself as a good man rather than a soldier?
It was a reoccurring theme with the 10th Doctor that he thought very highly of himself. His attitude could rub people the wrong way, as it did with Queen Victoria in ‘Tooth and Claw’ and the passengers in ‘Midnight’.
All too often the Doctor was judge and executioner. In ‘The Christmas Invasion’ he caused the Sycorax leader to plummet to his death because that was the kind of man he was, in ‘Family of Blood’ he punished his enemies in a variety of gruesome ways and drowned the Racnoss children in the ‘Runaway Bride’.
It seemed that even the Doctor was afraid of the darkness within him. He’d fled from the Family of Blood because he knew what he’d do to them and in ‘Turn Left’ it is shown that with Donna he would have drowned, watching the Racnoss perish.
Even allies weren’t safe from the Doctor. For disobeying him the Doctor ended Harriet Jones’ career. He was angry and disgusted to find that Jack Harkness was involved with Torchwood and viewed his cloned duplicate as being damaged for having the same ‘post-Time War’ emotions he’d once possessed.
Power held a greater appeal for the Doctor. He used his name to frighten his enemies, to threaten them with retribution if they didn’t flee or surrender. In ‘School Reunion’ he was briefly tempted at the Krillitane’s offer of power and in ‘Last of the Time Lords’ he has everyone on the planet call out his name to allow him to defeat the Master.
During ‘Journey’s End’ Davros accuses the Doctor of turning his companions into weapons. This is hard to argue with when Captain Jack leads Torchwood, Sarah Jane Smith fights aliens from her attic, Rose crosses dimensions armed with a giant gun and Martha Jones joins UNIT.
Even after this accusation the Doctor suggests that the young men who survive the events of ‘Planet of the Dead’ should join UNIT. Previously the Doctor held a low opinion of the military way of life, now he thought it perfectly acceptable to turn the people around him literally into soldiers.
Faced with sacrificing his life to save Wilf the 10th Doctor rages at the situation. He says that Wilf isn’t important and that he could do so much more. Although he ultimately does save Wilf at the cost of his life but on some level the Doctor is equating what someone can do as having a tangible value relating to who should live and die.
His choice to die was a long time coming. In ‘Waters of Mars’ he realises he has gone to far in attempting to change history. It is this that drives him to sacrifice himself, that he has lived too long.
Just as his earlier incarnations had learned, power leads to corruption. The 10th Doctor had finally recognised this in himself and let go. He didn’t want to go but he knew he had to.
Next we’ll look at where all this has led and where the Doctor can go.