; Date: Fri Mar 06 2020
In the Season 12 finale The Timeless Children the BBC gave us a story that rewrote the lore of Doctor Who in a big way. While there are plenty of folks cheering the rewrite, some of us (obviously like myself) see it differently. The question we should be asking is - Who is The Doctor? That is what The Timeless Children challenges us to ask.
The Timeless Children was an origin story, something that Doctor Who has never had in almost 60 years of its history. Since we've never seen The Doctor's origin, there's been an air of mystery. We've been told snippets of childhood, and that The Doctor and The Master were the best of friends when both were young. In Listen we learned that The Doctor slept in a barn when he was young, the barn that in Hell Bent was the scene of his showdown with Rassilon, and in The Time of The Doctor was where The Doctor and The Moment decided the fate of Gallifrey. We learned from Romana that The Doctor barely made it through the Time Lord Academy, passing the exams on his third try.
We never had an origin story. And maybe that's the BBC's mistake with The Timeless Children - giving us an origin story for someone who should have remained mysterious.
In the earliest Doctor Who, that lack of an origin story meant The BBC gave us hints during the first two Doctor's that maybe The Doctor was in fact human, from an advanced time period. The BBC lied about The Doctor's origin from the beginning?
This mysteriousness means that each of us get to answer for ourselves - Who is The Doctor?
In The Timeless Children, The Doctor herself had to answer that question. She was alone in The Matrix, reeling from what The Master had told her about her origin. She wasn't doubting that possibly The Master had lied (see Did The Master lie about The Doctor being The Timeless Child?). She was having an emotional crisis, and then The Ruth-Doctor came along and wised her up.
The Ruth-Doctor: Because your memories aren't compatible with what you've learned today.
The Doctor: Yes
The Ruth-Doctor: Have you ever been limited by who you were before?
The Doctor: Heh... Now that does sound lime 'me' talking.
The Doctor: Groan .. I'm so tired. The Matrix is sapping all the energy out of me.
The Ruth-Doctor: No time to be tired. Still work to do out there. Lives at stake. Armies being born. People need The Doctor.
The Doctor: I don't know how to stop The Master.
The Ruth-Doctor: Of course you do. That one question that's nagging at you. The one thing he said that you didn't understand.
The Doctor: The one thing who said? The Master?
The Ruth-Doctor: No! Get out of here! I know this place is blowing your mind. Maybe you should return the complement.
From that exchange - The Doctor remembered that she had fought The Matrix before and denied its reality. That's the part of the episode where The Doctor had a mental battle that included showing all the past figures of The Doctor, including those images from The Brain of Morbius.
The point being that The Doctor was in a moment of self-identity crisis. Immediately before this, The Master had told The Doctor that he knew she must be broken, especially with the revelation of The Cyber-Master's. But in this segment, the show had an amazing version of The Doctor Who Theme Song as if that represented The Doctor's consciousness, along with a flood of images.
All of us - The Doctor - Everyone - We all have a kind of theme song that is who we are. If we could just find that essence of ourselves we could do wonders in the world.
That's what The Doctor found while trapped in The Matrix, and that's what free'd her from The Matrix. She even admitted that possibly The Matrix had lied.
Who is The Doctor?
We know from watching nearly 60 years of Doctor Who episodes that - The Doctor is someone who doesn't interfere, except when there are crying children. That's what The Doctor told Amy Pond at the beginning of THe Beast Below.
The basic premise of Doctor Who is that The Doctor is traveling around, helping out where she/he can. It told us that we didn't have to be anyone special - we could be an anyone and still change the world.
What the BBC showed us in The Doctor's origin story - taking it at face value - is something very different. An implicit part of the story now is that The Doctor is an ultra-special person, someone so special that a tiny part of her DNA was enough to create The Time Lord Race.
Rather than just focusing on THAT IS SO WRONG and being angry at The BBC - what would The Doctor have us do? To dispel the illusions, and focus on the truth.