This is going to probably be my last Doctor Who post until the Christmas special. However, before I retire for a couple weeks, I want to discuss the end of “Day of the Doctor”. If you haven’t watched the episode yet, note that there are spoilers for that specific episode.
Okay, so by now you know that John Hurt’s War Doctor is forced to forget the fact that he was not the destroyer of Gallifrey, but rather the savior of his home planet. You see, paradoxes had to be mended. And with good reason. The Ninth Doctor is a battle-hardened war vet, while Ten and Eleven spend their time either apologizing for the actions of The Last Great Time War (Ten), or trying to forget it (Eleven). Also, it would be an unfair retcon of the amazing episodes Chrisopher Eccleston and David Tennant were part of during their runs as the Doctor.
Still, I’m always bothered by the usage of amnesia, in this case temporal amnesia, as a way to explore a new story idea without erasing old stories. I also have a problem with alternative timelines for this reason too, but amnesia bothers me more because it’s such a rough symptom of various disorders.
Remember, amnesia is a condition in which a mind loses important memories. I’ve seen amnesia in action. Both of my grandmothers had amnesia as a symptom of dementia. They would forget, remember, and forget again. It was rough, and seeing it used in television and movies is just as rough for me.
And from a storyline perspective, the amnesia can be hard for characters too. Personally, I think Nine is the most important Doctor of the modern era, solely because it set the groundwork for Tennant to make the show what it is today. But, now that I know Nine’s guilt and anger is misplaced of sorts, it makes me look at the story differently. Should I feel any sympathy for this Time Lord who will eventually get a reprieve from his guilt? Should I blame Eleven and Clara (and Moffat) for everything I’ve known since the reboot began becoming a lie?
I’m probably overreacting to this, but in my mind the fact that War Doctor was redeemed only to have to live the rest of his lives without knowing until Day of the Doctor happens for him is cruel. It’s giving a Time Lord amnesia of his good deed solely as a plot device, and I wouldn’t wish amnesia on anyone.