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Doctor Who

10 Ingeniously Tiny Clues To Big Plots

Steven Moffat has turned me into a wreck. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of his work, but maybe some day in the future, I’d like to watch an episode of his without analysing the use of eggs or Christmas lists. I’m on a self-imposed quest to find out more about Doctor Who before it happens than anyone else on the planet – failing that, Tumblr – and then maybe, just maybe, the BBC will make me the Thirteenth Doctor. On the basis of my non-linear knowledge, of course.

But sometimes, you watch episodes back from years ago, and you notice the most minuscule fragments of dialogue, and wonder whether the writers have planted that seed in the hope that one day, we’ll watch the episode back and shout, “Oh my god, I know what you’re on about!”

These clues I’m about to share with you… they can’t all be intentional. Can they? If they’re not, they’re just coincidences. Still, watch the episodes back again, and you’ll never look at these moments the same again.

10. The Doctor Finds His Jacket Again

Let’s start off with a simple example from ‘Flesh and Stone’ that you might recognise, and that everyone thought it was a continuity error.

So the Doctor’s being pursued by angry Weeping Angels, and in the melee of the drama, he’s had his lovely tweed jacket pinched by one of those pesky statues. Amy can’t open her eyes, so the Doctor tells her to trust him. And remember what he told her when she was a little girl – it’s never been more important. Only, when he recounts this speech to her, we can see beyond the extreme close-up, that he’s suddenly wearing his jacket again.

Of course, we now know that it was the Doctor from a different point in his time-stream. That’s why he had the jacket. And it’s a lovely piece of writing to pen a scene that’s appropriate for both episodes. But more importantly, it’s an incredible clue to leave fans, and one that started off MPS (Moffat Paranoia Syndrome) for many of us Whovians.

9. The Silence In Series 5

Prisoner Zero told us in ‘The Eleventh Hour’ that “Silence would fall”. The Silence bubbled under the surface of the series, mentioned again in ‘Vampires in Venice’, but never actually with an explanation of what they were; it was creepy foreshadowing… but what if it went all that much further?

There are countless theories on the internet of fans claiming they’ve seen the Silence in Series 5 – there are sightings of cloaked figures and reports of a reflection in ‘Amy’s Choice’, and then there are the numerous instances where the Doctor or Amy look lost or confused. The problem with memory-wiping monsters is that they could’ve been and gone, and we might not have seen them. The Silence could’ve had their own subplot within the series – visiting Barcelona for the dogs, comparing head shininess with the Ood, stealing Bessie and driving around the country sampling exotic cheeses and cooking raspberry pie – and we’d have never noticed.

There’s no denying that there are instances where we feel like we’ve skipped a scene. Someone will turn around a bit quickly and wonder where they are, or there’ll be something there in the corner of your eye. If that’s intentional, it only adds to the genius of the arc. If it’s not, it must be scarier to work on Doctor Who than one first imagined.

5. The Day Of The Doctor Clues

And while it’s fresh in our memories, let’s delve deeper into that fiftieth special.

Of course, Steven Moffat and Russell T Davies are still friends. Apparently they regularly email each other, which might suggest an awful lot of Davies’s era cropping up in ‘The Day of the Doctor’. Firstly, there’s the talk of “The Moment” which first appeared in ‘The End of Time’ – an episode in which the Doctor mentioned marrying Good Queen Bess – and then there’s the line from Dalek Caan, “And [he] decreed no more.” Then there’s the fall of Arcadia, which the Doctor claimed he may never come to terms with.

But perhaps most tellingly, is the line in ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’ that he was “A man who never would.” The man who abhorred violence, never carried a gun, and offered to save Davros, of all people. Did Russell T Davies have any kind of plan for the Doctor to save Gallifrey one day? We might never know…

3. Jack Hosted Rose And The Doctor’s First Date

The first place the Doctor took Rose to was the the end of the world. Because to travel with him, she had to understand what he’d just lost, and what he was dealing with. That’s a beautiful idea in itself, but join a few more dots together, with the help of trusty old friend hindsight, and it’s really quite lovely what Russell T Davies did ‘The End of the World’.

If you’ve not seen the episode, there was a party watching the destruction of Earth. Races gathered from far a-field, including the last human in existence, and the ancient, telepathic Face of Boe. The Face was making his first of three appearances, and in this episode, he sponsored the party.

And knowing what we know now, he was to become good friends with both the Doctor and Rose. Well, he was good friends with them when he was Jack Harkness. Russell T Davies had the fantastic foresight to link Jack and the Face of Boe, so would it be a stretch too far to link this too?

1. Regenerations

‘The Day of the Doctor’ has been and gone, and now, we look to ‘The Time of the Doctor’, with tissues at the ready. But how could Matt Smith possibly die? Well, let’s look at the clues of previous regenerations.

The First Doctor was famously the grandfather, the old man, and he died of old age. The Second Doctor was a meddling clown who met his end after he interfered with history too much, and he needed to call in someone a little more serious. The Third Doctor was an action hero who died protecting UNIT, and the Fourth was an unpredictable alien, murdered by the Master, a fellow unpredictable alien. The Fifth Doctor assembled teams of companions, and died for one; the Sixth was a melodramatic egotist who died from a knock to the head from someone nearly as over-the-top as him. And the Seventh Doctor, the manipulator, died when a human Doctor interfered with his wounds.

We now know that the Eighth Doctor, that hopeful, romantic, almost Messiah-like presence of the TV movie, died because he couldn’t accept a young girl’s death, and was resurrected in a cave. The Ninth Doctor died saving a companion who had nursed him back to himself, and helped him not commit the same atrocity he defined himself by. The Tenth Doctor was an old man who would do anything for his friends. He died saving a fellow old man, and went on to go and help each of them before he went. Even the War Doctor – the Doctor who chose to be the Doctor “no more” – died when there was need for a Doctor again.

That’s not television, it’s poetry, and I don’t know about you, but I’ll be in floods of tears if Eleven says he doesn’t like endings.


something light for a night like this

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