The first question - the question that rings through all of time and space - Doctor Who?

; Date: Mon Jul 15 2019

Tags: Doctor Who

Matt Smith's era as The Doctor was interwoven with The Big Question. His first episode began with a crack through the very fabric of the Universe, but it seemed to just be about Prisoner Zero (whoever that was) and by the end of the episode he'd fixed the crack, apparently without even using any Bondo. But cracks kept showing up - cracks in the universe, not some other kind - until one showed up in Matt Smith's final episode, The Time of the Doctor. By then The First Question became A Thing along with The Doctor ending up on Trenzalore. But what was it all about?

This particular story line, well, it's an example of the overly complex stuff that Moffatt loved to concoct.

Just why was it so important that The Doctor be a figure around which the entire universe revolved? Does that make sense? Looking back on this era I'm not entirely happy with what happened. River Song calling The Doctor a minor deity, for example. And for the Time Lords to broadcast The Question to every corner of the Universe, across all time and space, does that make sense?

But .. let's discuss this thing.

As I said, it began in The Eleventh Hour where we met Amy Pond and Doctor #11. The best thing we can say about Amy Pond is that she wasn't The Impossible Girl, but that would be a divergent tangent we don't need to rathole on. The story revolved around a crack in the wall of Amy Pond's bedroom, a crack that extended through the fabric of the Universe.

Somehow the episode said nothing about the curiously missing parents, nor about the oddity of a strange man being invited into a little girls bedroom in the middle of the night. But I promised to not detour down divergent tangents.

Cracks kept showing up.. such as in The Vampires of Venice, when the ruler of the fish people told The Doctor that they'd escaped their home world through the cracks in space.

And one of Rory The Roman's deaths was to another crack in the fabric of the universe. And on and on.

And then there were The Silence, these crazy creatures that had the quantum superpower of being forgotten once you turn away from them. That was another crazy misdirection, they seemed to be baddies for a few episodes that were eliminated in The Day of the Moon but they returned in The Wedding of River Song when the entire universe lost its sense of time because of something or other.

Previously in The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang we learned that The TARDIS had exploded and was destroying the entire Universe. Really? Does that make sense at all?

But The Doctor then rebooted the Universe. Really? Does that make sense at all?

In The Wedding of River Song we see that the universe is bizarre, time doesn't have meaning and all things are happening at once. Why? Because of something to do with when River Song shot and killed The Doctor back in The Impossible Astronaut.

Something about that event was caused by River attempting to rewrite a Fixed Point in Time. Somehow the death of The Doctor is a Fixed Point in Time? And by meddling with that, a universe-ending crisis unfolded? Really? Does that make sense?

Somewhere in The Wedding of River Song is where The Doctor tracks down the blue guy (Dorium) who informs him of Trenzalore and the Question that Reverberates Through Time and Space - Doctor Who?

Really? Does that make sense?

Finally - in Matt Smith's last episode, The Time of The Doctor - we get a solution to this mess.

Trenzalore is a nice little planet that for some reason has a truth shield around it. People can only speak truth on Trenzalore. Maybe the Time Lords instituted that truth shield because they'd set up another of the Cracks there, and they needed The Doctor to truthfully answer the question they were beaming into all of time and space.

The episode immediately prior, The Day of the Doctor. It was about introducing frownie face, a previously unknown incarnation where The Doctor refused to call himself The Doctor, which was played by John Hurt. In this episode they completely rewrote what The Time War was (the one between The Daleks and the Gallifreyans). That episode gave a different solution to that Time War, one in which The Doctor did not annihilate both the Daleks and the Time Lords at once, and instead where Gallifrey was hidden in a pocket dimension.

Getting back to The Time of The Doctor we learned that the cracks had been caused by the explosion of The TARDIS. This explosion was triggered by the Madam Kervorkian faction of The Order of the Silence. Their goal was to eliminate The Doctor in order to end the war being fought over Trenzalore.

They trained River Song to be an assassin to kill The Doctor, but he not only avoided death a couple times at River's hands, he ended up marrying her.

The crack at Trenzalore? That turned out to have Gallifrey on the other side of the Crack. Through the Crack, the Time Lords were beaming The Original Question, because the Time Lords did not want to emerge through the Crack unless they were certain The Doctor was there. But the existence of this Question caused all The Doctor's enemies to be swirling around the planet, repeatedly invading Trenzalore only to be fought off.

Really? Does that make sense?

Yes, The Doctor was right to fear the return of Gallifrey in the midst of so many powerful forces. It would have relaunched The Time War (the one between the Daleks and Gallifrey) and all the horrors that meant. But his approach was to make a last stand, and that was a losing strategy. Surely The Doctor saw that, but could not work out a solution other than to stand and eventually die.

That is until Clara came along and pleaded with The Time Lords that his real name didn't really matter, they knew who he was, so why not just fix things up.

And then there was this matter of counting the number of incarnations. Smith was 13, Capaldi 14, Whittaker 15, how many regenerations does The Doctor have remaining?

Oh, boy, what a geekout that was. That Matt Smith's incarnation was actually the last incarnation of The Doctor and that if he were to die at Trenzalore, then The Doctor would be truly dead. Until the Time Lords intervened, giving Matt Smith's Doctor a whole new set of regenerations and enough power to personally blow the Dalek fleet out of the sky.

Really? Does that make sense?

Which gave us the guy with the big eyebrows and the frown. Capaldi's story line was overall about, where is Gallifrey, and fixing up the issue of the continued role of Rassilon on Gallifrey. But that's a post for another time.

About the Author(s)

( David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.