By now, I hope you’ve caught up with Series 7.2 of Doctor Who. The last episode of the season, called “The Name of the Doctor,” concluded with an amazing scene that needs to be seen to understand what I’m going to be talking about. Obviously, everything after the jump is spoiler-filled. So don’t read/watch unless you want any part of this brave new world we’re entering.
Okay, so for starters, the concept of John Hurt as the “Doctor” (quotes for a reason) is interesting. It does exactly what Moffat said it would do; it changed everything we knew about Doctor Who.
But who is Hurt playing? There have been a good bit of theories about where he fits in the timeline, from Hurt playing a pre-“Doctor” doctor (aka before William Hartnell) to Hurt playing the Valeyard, a incarnation of the Doctor that the Master once said was “an amalgamation of the darker side of the Doctor’s nature.”
For me, though, only one theory works in my mind. The theory argues that Hurt is playing a regeneration that fits between Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor and Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor. This would make this regeneration, whom I will refer to as the “Soldier,” the regeneration that most likely fought in the Last Great Time War, and therefore would probably be the regeneration that made the decision to timelock the Last Great Time War, ending the reign of both the Time Lords and the Daleks.
Originally, I assumed that Nine was the one who fought in the War. It would explain the anger and trauma that he showed in Series 1. However, the introduction of the Soldier makes sense in a way. All of Nine’s rage and trauma would still exist, but the introduction of the Soldier means that there is a level of shame that began with Nine and has followed all the way through Ten to Eleven and beyond.
The quotes certainly back this up. The Soldier’s first lines are telling;
“What I did, I did without choice…in the name of peace and sanity.”
It seems that the Soldier feels that whatever choice he made, it was a choice that could not be avoided. It was, in fact a necessity. Whatever that choice was, his next regenerations disagree, taking away the “Doctor” mantra and leaving him nameless.
“But not in the name of the Doctor.”
-the Eleventh Doctor
In essence, the addition of the Soldier adds an additional wrinkle to the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders that all the post-Time War Doctors have. Instead of feeling guilty for just an action, they feel guilty because of this specific person, which is both themselves and its own entity. That’s something that I personally have never broken down before.
What does that mean in the grand scheme? Well, the problem with cliffhangers is that I, along with the rest of the Whovian population, won’t know what is going on until November. But if I had to guess, come the 50th Anniversary Special, we will see the amount of guilt and pain that came with the decision the Soldier had to make. And that will add a great new wrinkle to an already troubled Time Lord.