Published on April 12th, 2011 | by Andrew Reynolds
Death of the Doctor?
Whatâ€™s the one thing that stops anybody becoming a hero? Is it strength, courage, the inner fortitude to hang on when other let go, give up and pass off into the shadows? No, its death. Death stops men like the Doctor from being a hero.
There are those that fall as part of a greater calculated risk. The ones who had to die for others to live.
As Davros recounts in Journeyâ€™s End the â€˜weaponsâ€™ ; his friends and companions that the Doctor took on fantastic adventures, all lined up ready to pull the trigger on his behalf. Willing to die or kill for a man who wants everybody to live isnâ€™t heroic, itâ€™s misguided.
There is no nobility in being right and dying for it however. The last death that left lasting scars on the Doctorâ€™s relationships with his companions was Adricâ€™s untimely and unnecessary death in Earthshock, where he fell attempting to prove a point.
There are others who have fallen under the Doctorâ€™s ward: Katarina, deliberately sacrificed herself by blowing an airlock, sucking her and convict Kirksen into outer space in the First Doctor serial The Dalekâ€™s Master Plan.
Closer to present day The Voyage of the Damned saw Astrid Peth also sacrificed herself, with the Doctor, wounded, but far less judgemental of her actions than he was with Katarina.
The only time a companion sacrifices herself because they have no faith in the Doctorâ€™s abilities to solve the jeopardy they find themselves in is the fate of Adelaide Brooke in The Waters of Mars. Adelaide kills herself because the Doctor went too far to prove a point. To for once be â€˜the Time Lord Victoriousâ€™.
Its in these two differing attitudes to death: the gung-ho high stakes and the false nobility of risking everything to prove a point arenâ€™t just the actions of his companion; the Doctor himself thrives on surviving both situations, whether instigated by himself, companions or another enemy that makes those dying moments of every Doctor Who episode so thrilling.
What happens though if it goes beyond the pale, if the Doctor makes a fatal calculation or falls in the face of hubris: What if the Doctor dies?
As Steven Moffat revealed in Doctor Who Magazine one of our four lead characters will die in Series 6â€™s opening double-header of The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon. Could Moffat go where no one has ventured before and kill the Doctor? Creating one of those fixed points in time that the Doctor fears to meddle in.
That fixed point argument, where pre-defined events such as key historical moments like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the outcome of the Second World War have to remain in tact.
As the cast list would seem to confirm Matt Smith appears in all 13 episodes this season, so for the Doctor to die, he would either have to see it and prevent it in an overarching plot line or would be conscripted from another period in time (remember River can pilot the TARDIS) to save himself – like Back to the Future II.
If the Doctor were to die just how far would he go to prevent it?
We know that the series contains a double header written by Matthew Graham, The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People, focuses on clones: could the Doctor be cloned? It seems unlikely and a little too simple for a master plotter like Steven Moffat to rely on.
No doubt the Doctor will be cloned within those episodes so perhaps when presented with such an out, despite its evil origins, his own sense of self sacrifice and willingness to offer other species similar ways to preserve their own survival, will form the thrust of that cliff hanger? Maybe the Last of the Time Lords will balk at the idea of living on as a clone.
Perhaps he isnâ€™t even aware of the significance of the decision he makes. Perhaps that lost opportunity falls hardest on Amy.
Interesting ethical debates aside it seems a little unsatisfying a way to end what would be the biggest twist in the shows history.
Perhaps the Doctor isnâ€™t the one to meddle in a fixed point in time. As the trailer points out the Doctor is tired of running from those foes and shadows chasing him. Could he be passing on another chance to be a hero and is giving up.
Comments made by Moffat on episode seven A Good Man Goes to War seem to point towards a change from â€˜the Doctor saves the universeâ€™ endgame of the previous seriesâ€™:
â€œIf the Doctor is dealing with life forms that heâ€™s defeated on multiple occasions, itâ€™s not like they havenâ€™t noticed. Itâ€™s not like they havenâ€™t written it down. You are going to be able to stand up at Stonehenge and say â€˜Whoâ€™s first? Look at the score sheet, and take your best shot.â€™ Itâ€™s going to happen. At the same time, he canâ€™t keep doing that. It could be quite damaging for the show. So itâ€™s something that Iâ€™m bring to a head, and kind of ending.â€
Maybe giving up is too strong a term. In the first trailer releasedÂ the Doctor, now bearded and held captive, appears to be recruited by someone.
Towards the end of the same trailer, the Doctor also addresses Amy Pond telling her that his life now lies in her hands. Could the Doctor die and be saved by Amy Pond? Moreover, which Doctor will she recruit to help her?
As discussed before there is a moment inÂ the latest trailer where it appears Amy and Rory are present at a regeneration onboard the â€˜coral desktop themeâ€™ TARDIS of the Tenth Doctor. Could they be bringing the newly regenerated Doctor to save himself?
With the Doctorâ€™s life apparently threatened what better time to bring back some of his foes to offer road blocks in Amyâ€™s rescue mission?
Just how does the Doctor end up incarcerated? Perhaps the result of a good man going to war, he ends up as so many men caught in fighting, imprisoned by his enemies. Just at the point when Amy needs him the most.
Already confirmed are the presences of the Cybermen and the Sontarans could they be impeding both the Doctor and Amy?
This all however seems too easy, too rote, and although mind bending and frustrating fans are part of Moffats modus operandi, what would really throw a spanner in the works would be losing River AND having Amy seeing the Doctor die.