The Power of the Doctor and the near death experience

; Date: Thu Oct 27 2022

Tags: Doctor Who

The Master of course snarfed up everything he could carry from Gallifrey and in his eternal quest against The Doctor, he used the "forced regeneration machine". That sent The Doctor into a near death experience that was extremely unlike real NDEs.

The Time Lords of Gallifrey have a thingymajob to force a Time Lord into regeneration. We've seen it used a couple times in televized Doctor Who, including the October 23, 2022 episode The Power of The Doctor. Imagine how The Master might use that gizmo against his arch-frenemy, The Doctor? That's the core idea for The Power of The Doctor.

At the end of the Second Doctor's run, viewers were treated to a ten-week long story arc concerning some renegade Time Lords. They'd created several interconnected zones containing replica's of different wars from human history. The Doctor worked out what they were doing, and became determined to stop the whole thing, but was unable to do it himself. That meant he had to send a telepathic message to his home planet (not named in the show, but obviously Gallifrey). The Time Lords straightened everything out, but they decided to take two actions against The Doctor:

  1. Force him to regenerate into someone else
  2. Remove his ability to time travel, consigning him to stay on Earth in late 60's England for awhile

In other words, The Time Lords of Gallifrey had a thingymajob that could be used to force a Time Lord to regenerate.

In The Power of the Doctor, The Master used that machine in a cockamamie scheme where The Master would take over The Doctor's body. The Master's plans are usually cockamamie, but this one may take the cake.

A side note is that in the original Doctor Who era, we learned that The Master had run out of regenerations. Therefore, to continue living The Master had to steal bodies. One example was when he stole the body of The Keeper of Traken, just before destroying Traken. In the modern Doctor Who era, we saw several instances of The Doctor stealing bodies. Stealing the body of The Doctor follows that pattern in a big way. But he may have had a bigger plan in mind, because -- as the Timeless Child -- the Doctor's body may be different than the regular Time Lords bodies?

In any case - Near Death Experiences ... The Master managed to take over The Doctor's body. The Doctor was trying to fight back, but also The Doctor was in this strange desert place at the edge of a cliff talking to some of her previous selves. This has enough aspects of NDE's to be worth discussing.

Source: BBC

Many humans experience what's called "near death experiences" when they're badly enough wounded or become sick enough that their heart stops, their brain stops, and by all measures they are dead. In some cases, after reaching that state, the person wakes up from death.

Essentially that's what The Doctor did in The Power of the Doctor. She was killed, but through various means, she was able to survive death and then vanquish her murderer. That's The Doctor for you.

But, while The Doctor went through a near death experience, it's extremely different from the pattern of human near death experiences.

The NDE phenomena is well studied by many researchers. The studies are, due to the nature of the phenomena, based on the stories told by NDE experiencers. It's obviously not possible to study the phenomena itself, leaving the only avenue of research to categorize the experiences.

Common experiences are:

  1. A tunnel of light leading somewhere, sometimes with visuals of leaving the planet -- the episode showed something similar to that with The Doctor materializing into the space where she met her other selves.
  2. Being met by family members, or all-wise beings
  3. Undergoing a full life review, reexperiencing life events
  4. Being informed by the all-wise beings their human life is not over and being returned to their life

Instead, we saw The Doctor materialize into an empty desolate place, and the only being she met was her other selves. She did have conversations with these aspects of herself, but it wasn't anything like a life review. Instead it was more like a planning session on how to defeat The Master and reenter her body.

Why didn't they have The Doctor experience classic NDE phenemona?

There is a long pattern in Doctor Who of sciencizing spiritual phenomena. For example that giant demon-like creature the Tenth Doctor met - could have been described as a God - but was instead described as a creature left over from before the beginning of the Universe. Jodi Whittaker's Doctor had an event of going to another dimension and talking with an omnipotent being who took the shape of a tree frog. Why wasn't she talking with God?

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.