This is another post I’ve been putting off for a while. The truth is the Tenth Doctor’s emotional baggage could fill a dump truck. He’s been through the ringer multiple times, and had to deal with a lot of memories that, by the end of his life cycle, would be just too much for a normal man.
But this isn’t a normal man. This is David Tennant.
But despite how awesome Ten is, if you watch some of the episodes where Ten discusses loss or actually loses something and you’ll see in immense amount of pain.
Obviously the loss that the internet talks about the most is Rose Tyler’s departure in Doomsday. And why shouldn’t the internet cry every time Rose begs to be taken back? Why shouldn’t the internet cry every time they see Ten’s blank stare into nothingness? But I don’t cry for just Doomsday. I cry because Doomsday happened after the Last Great Time War and on top of the Last Great Time War, weaving itself into Ten’s two hearts and moving happiness around so Doomsday can get a comfortable seat right next to the memories of the burning of Gallifrey.
To understand this, you need to look at, of all episodes, Gridlock. I think it is a really important episode in the timeline of Ten, and gets very little replay because the “A Plot” is so bland.
At the end, Ten talks to Martha Jones about why they will never visit Gallifrey.
There was a war. A Time War. The last Great Time War. My people fought a race called the Daleks, for the sake of all creation. And they lost. We lost. Everyone lost. They’re all gone now. My family. My friends. Even that sky… Oh, you should have seen it! That old planet… The second sun would rise in the south, and the mountains would shine. The leaves on the trees were silver—when they caught the light every morning, it looked like a forest on fire. When the autumn came, the breeze would blow through the branches…
The loss of Gallifrey has been eating at the Doctor since Nine. Ten isn’t safe from that memory. It sits with him, and a memory like that can make a man go mad. But put losing Rose, his first Companion since the Last Great Time War, into the mix, and you feel for Ten. He can’t catch a break.
From a medical perspective, Ten is dealing with a high level of depression brought about by loss. The tell-tale signs are there; Ten, near the end, decides to travel alone just because. He also seems overly happy at certain times, coupled with intense bursts of anger, sometimes with no logical reasoning. Even Ten’s realization that he’s the “Time Lord Triumphant” stems from his depression. Because he is the last Time Lord, he tries to pretend that it is a good thing, whereas inside he hates that he is the last surviving Time Lord around.
This is why Ten is constantly saying “I’m sorry” to people. I don’t think he’s truly just saying it to the people he’s apologizing to in that event. I think he’s also apologizing to Gallifrey. I think he’s apologizing for the eventual loss of Rose, Martha Jones, and Donna Noble. He’s apologizing for everything.
Ten’s life cycle is all about being a grizzled old man of sorts. He’s seen things that shake him. In fact, the idea of being the last of the Time Lords goes to his head right before he regenerates. He’s creeping slowing towards madness throughout his entire life cycle. Luckily, Ten is able to shake off the madness just enough to save the universe one last time before regenerating to Eleven.
Overall, Ten has a lot buried deep inside. The loss of Gallifrey for nothing really, combined with the losses of Rose (especially) and Martha and Donna, they all dig deep into his soul.
However, if you think Ten has emotional baggage to fill a dump truck, Eleven has got enough for a landfill, And that’s coming up next week.