It’s an old question but always good for a topic of conversation: if you could go back in time and change something, would you do it? Would you murder young Hitler? Would you tell JFK to take a different route? Would you quietly whisper in John Nathan-Turner’s ear “you should really rethink the design for that Myrka…”?
The Doctor has been in one of those situations many times, the very walls of time ready to change by the touch of two wires or by moderating negotiations between Homo Reptilia and humans. But the Doctor always knows how to handle these big situations, he’s a Time Lord, he knows which points are fixed and which can change.
What if, however, one of his companions had the opportunity to change the past of the future? Rose certainly did in Father’s Day and look what happened there. There are always repercussions if a time traveller interferes with certain moments in time. Things can go so wrong.
And that’s the dilemma that Amy and Rory face in the latest series of Doctor Who. Early on in The Impossible Astronaut, they saw the Eleventh Doctor, 200 years into his future, get gunned down during his regeneration and effectively killed. But the Doctor was clever and sent a message to his younger self, the version that is currently travelling with Rory and Amy, to try and clean up the mess that was left.
So, now the TARDIS team face a troubling future. The Doctor knows something is wrong but hasn’t quite worked it out yet and Amy and Rory have to keep quiet about his death as it could affect his future, having dire consequences to the time lines.
And yet somehow we know that the Doctor won’t end up dead (properly dead, you know what we mean) in this incarnation or any other. The Universe just needs him.
But that leaves the monstrous question, should Amy tell her Doctor about his fatal future?
The first answer would be no. Let what is going to happen just happen. Do not interfere and let history and the future do their work.
But on the flip side of that, what if Amy is meant to tell the Doctor about his final demise? What if events can be changed by the fact that the 909 year old Doctor finds out about his death two hundred years in the future and is able to avert it so that it never happened? All because his future self set motions in event to avoid his terrible fate?
It’s certainly a wibbly wobbly explanation worthy of Steven Moffat’s familiar tropes; akin to the Doctor escaping the Pandorica with help from his future self even though he couldn’t have got out in the first place unless his counterpart was there to help…ow, my head just burst.
Should Amy tell the Doctor about his death? It seemed like he was well prepared for it when he turned up, even recognising the person in the space suit who killed him. The likelihood is that the Doctor will overhear Amy and Rory having a conversation about it, probably the same way that Rory found out that Amy though she had been pregnant. Will telling the Doctor have consequences? You bet…