The Day of the Doctor’s Timeline   Leave a comment

BIG SPOILERS TO FOLLOW!  BIIIIIG SPOOOOIIILLLLEEEERRRRSSS!!!

Actually, only average sized spoilers, but some people get mad if you don’t shout it from the mountaintops.

Anyway, I was working while The Day of the Doctor’s TV debut came about, but I had the good fortune of having access to a TV with BBC America while working.  Sadly, it was muted.  I had a ticket prepared for Monday night’s Fathom Event for it, but decided to watch it anyway, along with the rest of the world.  Despite a lack of sound, I was able to follow along quite nicely thanks to the caption writers.

Let’s pause for a moment and contemplate the sacred responsibility that falls to the writers of captions on television, and their mighty duty to not tell the world everything they know in advance.

Anyway, I enjoyed the episode, but knew I would enjoy it more on the big screen.  Over the course of Sunday, however, I was told by my friend Susan (all my friends named Susan should know if they’re the one I mean or not) that she’d heard some debate, both online and in real life, about what the episode meant for the timeline of Doctor Who.  It apparently seemed to some people like a gigantic retcon, and even more specifically like a retcon that invalidated the events of The End Of Time.  I told her that I didn’t think it did and gave my reasons, but then I said that when I watched it on the big screen I’d pay attention.  I told Susan what I assumed the official timeline would have to be, and now that I’ve seen the episode a second time with an eye for that kind of thing I’ve been able to tweak it just a bit more.  It may not be how it actually unfolded, but I do believe the timeline ultimately looked something like this.

Naturally, if you’ve not seen The End Of Time or The Day Of The Doctor then this may reveal things to you that you don’t want revealed.  This is mostly copy/pasted from my Facebook conversation about it, though I’ve added a few notes in it and after it.

  1. The Time War is horrible
  2. The Doctor steals The Moment
  3. Time Lord Council realizes what’s about to happen and, in desperation, prepare for time locking.
  4. Preparations for time locking include a longshot attempt at getting *another* wildcard Time Lord who might not be on Galifrey at the time of timelocking: The Master. They send a signal into him (unwittingly driving him mad and to the very evil they persecute him for) as a distress beacon that he can use to get them back.
  5. Doctor begins activating The Moment, which starts speaking to him. A form of the Time Locking begins to take hold, and events begin repeating themselves.
  6. In the far future (The End of Time) The Master finally figures out what that horrible drumming is and manages to pull Galifrey to Earth just before the Time Locking could finalize.
  7. The End of Time unfolds as normal. The Master sides with The Doctor and forces the Time Lord council people back to their planet and allows the planet to slingshot back to the partially completed time locking that it was already submerging into, back in its original location. Thanks to the instantaneous nature of time travel, this largely goes without notice.
  8. The Master is loose on Galifrey! Eager to kill various council people. This is entirely off camera, and I’m imagining it. Still, it seems likely (and more to the point, establishes The Master as being on Galifrey before…)
  9. After an adventure with two versions of himself from the future, The Doctor (and many other versions of himself) save Galifrey, but in a way that makes it look like they’ve timelocked it.
  10. Galifrey *is* timelocked… but not at a moment of destruction. It’s merely timelocked and sent elsewhere.
  11. Doctor (John Hurt) begins regenerating and Doctor (Tennant) leaves what we’ll laughably call “the present.”
  12. *Something* happens. I’m still not quite sure what that something is, but it involves the adventure winding down. It basically means that every doctor before Matt Smith’s point on the timeline won’t remember exactly what happened there.  (Note: upon my second viewing, I paid more attention to this now that I knew that it’d be important for my suggested timeline.  Matt Smith said something about the timelines being “out of sync” or something.  The point is, whatever the thing is that happened, it seems to have more to do with the personal timelines of the three assembled Doctors than it does with anything intentionally done by The Moment.)
  13. Doctor (Hurt) finishes regenerating and becomes Doctor (Eccleston). Due to the events at point 12, all he remembers is that he was *preparing* to destroy Galifrey via timelock, sees that Galifrey is, in fact, gone, and that there are no other Time Lords, and concludes that he did, in fact, do the terrible deed, even though he didn’t.
  14. Matt Smith goes off on a merry adventure to find Galifrey now that he finally knows he didn’t actually destroy it, despite believing that he destroyed it for the past four centuries. Meanwhile, The Master is time locked on Galifrey, patiently waiting to be un-timelocked, along with all the other good and bad Time Lords.

Now, after my second viewing, I want to alter this: I no longer think that there was any state of “partial” timelocking.  Timelocking seems to be a pretty instantaneous thing, albeit one that can have meta-time events within it (Rassilon discusses some of this in The End Of Time, about moments and deaths repeating themselves, etc.  (BTW, long time since I’ve seen that episode, I’m probably gonna get all the details wrong.))    I now think that the Timelocking happened, and then in the frozen-instant of Timelocked-ness the High Council set their plan in motion (implying an ability to manipulate the timestream on Galifrey while within the Timelock, hence their ability to send the drumbeat to the Master’s mind while within the Timelock.)  There was a very casual reference to the activities of The End Of Time at the beginning of The Day Of The Doctor, with the folks on Galifrey basically saying “Isn’t the High Council planning something?” “Forget them and there plans, this is Serious!”

Anyway… I’m sure my event sequence is fraught with inaccuracies and continuity errors of its own, and is no replacement for an official canonized timeline.  Even so, I do believe that no actual retcon or continuity error has happened here.

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