Sunday, 24 July 2016

FIXING CONTINUITY GLITCHES - WHAT'S GOING ON WITH GALLIFREY, THESE DAYS? - THE SEQUEL

We return you, now, to our investigation into what exactly has been going on with Gallifrey since the Time Wars. There were some major continuity glitches that we tried to reconcile regarding discrepancies between The End of Time and Day of the Doctor. But there's still some stuff that needs to be dealt with in the other two stories involving Gallifrey that have been produced since the 50th Anniversary Special. Let's see what we can sort out...


PART 2: ESCAPING THE STASIS CUBE... 

As we reach the end of Day of the Doctor, we see that much of what we learnt about Gallifrey since the Time Wars has been based on the Doctor remembering things incorrectly. On the day that Arcadia fell, the Doctor believed that he had used The Moment to wipe out both Time Lords and Daleks, alike. He did this because the Time Wars had reached a point where if its two central combatants weren't destroyed, the whole Universe might go down in flames. It was a tough decision to make - but the Doctor had no real choice. What he did has haunted him, since. By his eleventh incarnation, it wasn't hanging over him quite as strongly. But the guilt was still there.

But he makes the most wonderful of discoveries at the end of the 50th Anniversary Special. It turns out that crossing his own timestream multiple times over can affect his memory (which makes sense - stories like The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors would've played out far differently if you didn't have a rule like that) and what he thinks happened during the Fall of Arcadia isn't what really occurred. He was sure that, in his War Doctor incarnation, he had used The Moment to end the Time Wars. In truth, he had been joined by his tenth and eleventh incarnations and they had come up with a different solution. Using a stasis cube, the Doctor(s) froze the entire planet in a single moment of time. Which caused Gallifrey to disappear and made the Daleks destroy themselves' in their own cross-fire. To the rest of the Universe (and the Doctor, himself), the Time Lords and Daleks were completely obliterated, But, in truth, Gallifrey had been saved. Even a few of the Daleks had survived. The Time Wars did not at all end the way we had been led to believe.

THE MEMORY CHEATS

There is just the smallest of quibbles that we should address, here. What, exactly, does the Doctor remember between stealing The Moment and hunting down the Nestene in Rose? Does he have some sort of false memory where he recalls pushing the Big Red Button and destroying Gallifrey that changes into the truth once his eleventh body has experienced the events of Day of the Doctor? It is a workable theory, I suppose. We've seen time work that way before. Events flow in a certain way until a time traveler goes back and changes them. Then everything gets remembered in a whole different manner. Father's Day would be a good example of this. It may be the simplest way to explain the situation.

But I'm more inclined to think differently. The rules of multi-incarnation adventures seem to indicate that whatever happens when several versions of the same Time Lord meet up isn't remembered at all until the last incarnation has the experience. The whole incident is just a gap in the Time Lord's memory.

For instance, in The Five Doctors, the Doctor does not recall going to the Death Zone at all until he finally shows up there in his fifth body with Tegan and Turlough. Only once his previous incarnations are returned to their proper time and place does it all come flooding back to him. Which, as I said in a previous parenthetical statement, makes sense. Otherwise, certain incarnations would've made very different choices during the adventure. If nothing else, there would've been no argument when Borusa claims immortality from Rassilon. Because the Doctor would've already known what was going to happen to the corrupt Lord President when he did. He would've seen it happen in his first incarnation so all future incarnations would've remembered it.

Of course - if it's just two incarnations meeting - things don't, necessarily, play out in the same manner. Both The Two Doctors and Time Crash seem to indicate otherwise. In The Two Doctors, a drug that is used on the second incarnation affects his memory - which is why Doctor Six doesn't recall what happened to him when the Sontarans abducted him at Space Station J7. And in Time Crash, the Doctor flat-out remembers what happened when his fifth incarnation briefly encountered his tenth.

So, according to the rules of multi-incarnation encounters, the War Doctor should just have no recollection at all of what happened between him leaping through the time fissure with a fez and him leaving the Under Gallery in his TARDIS. The memories of that whole experience don't come back to him until his eleventh body goes through it. That's what seems to be implied, at least.

The problem is this: wouldn't the Doctor be concerned about the fact that he has no proper recollection of the most horrible atrocity he ever committed? He knows he took The Moment to the old barn he used to love to hide in when he was kid. But he doesn't actually recall pushing the Big Red Button and killing the Daleks and  the Time Lords. He must assume that's what happened since Gallifrey is gone. But he doesn't actually remember it, properly. At least, according to what's established in Day of the Doctor, that would be the case. So shouldn't this make him suspicious?

Imagine you go visit your best friend. You knock on the door to his home and he answers. Then, suddenly, there's just a blank moment in your memory. The next thing you recall is standing over your best friend's body with a bloody knife in your hand. To all intents and purposes, it would seem you just murdered your best friend. But, since you have no proper recollection of the moment, would you just turn yourself in to the authorities and serve the time? Of course not! Because you don't remember what exactly happened, you would want to investigate the whole thing as thoroughly as possible. So why doesn't the Doctor do this?

There are various explanations, of course. It could be that his survivor's guilt makes him reluctant to delve into it. Or that his use of The Moment is a time-locked event so he can't go near it, anyway. I'm more inclined to think it has something to do with the fact that he regenerates right after he leaves the Under Gallery. The Doctor interprets his sudden absence of memory as being the result of post-regeneration amnesia. Something that has been known to happen to him from time-to-time.

So, War Doctor shifts into the Ninth. Ninth gives his shaved head a shake and realizes he's forgotten some important stuff that happened just before he arrived but chalks it up to a regeneration side-effect. After a quick change of clothes and a TARDIS re-model, he detects a warp-shunt to 21st Century Earth by the Nestene Consciousness and decides it needs to be investigated (after all, he knows from two previous experiences that the Nestene Consciousness will not be kind to Earth if he doesn't check into it).

From there, the New Series rolls on....



TIME OF THE DOCTOR AND HEAVEN SENT/HELL BENT - HOW DID THEY HAPPEN?

So the Eleventh Doctor has his triumphant dream sequence where he's surrounded by all his other incarnations and a bunch of dry ice. He and Clara then resume their arrangement where she travels with the Doctor intermittently but also lives out "a normal life" on contemporary Earth. The Doctor eventually buys a Cyber-head and christens it Handles and Clara lies to her family about having a boyfriend. And we come to the Eleventh Doctor's swansong.

Time of the Doctor, for my money, is a great little regeneration tale that successfully answers the bulk of the questions that started presenting themselves' throughout Eleventh Doctor Era (What is the Silence? Why did the TARDIS blow up in Pandorica Opens? etc...).  But it also seems to contradict what we just saw happen in Day of the Doctor. As we reach the season finale of Series 9, those contradictions seem to grow even larger.

To all intents and purposes, it would appear that the Doctor had sealed Gallifrey into a stasis cube and that it was frozen in time.  He doesn't know exactly where the planet is, now. So he needs to go and find it. It seemed (to me, at least) that he would also need to unfreeze Gallifrey once he did rediscover it.

The Zygon plan in Day of the Doctor re-enforces this idea. Once placed inside the paintings, the Zygons are trapped there. They seemed to have arranged some sort of timer on their stasis cube which will release them some centuries later when Earth is better developed. But there is no way they can take themselves' out of stasis until the appropriate time arrives. I had assumed Gallifrey would be in a similar situation. They cannot extricate themselves' from the stasis cube. They are frozen in time until the Doctor finds them and, somehow, unfreezes them.

So imagine my surprise when I learn it's the Time Lords sending a message to the Universe through one of the remaining cracks in time caused by the Doctor's exploding TARDIS. How are they doing this? The entire planet should be trapped in a single moment of time - unable to do a thing until they are released from the stasis cube. How can they be sending this message? It's even more amazing how they manage to re-locate the Crack at the end of the story and send the Doctor a whole buttload of regeneration energy that gives him a new regeneration cycle and can also take out a giant Dalek mothership.

My surprise does not end there, however. I grows even bigger as the events of Heaven Sent/Hell Bent unfold. Still being trapped in a pocket dimension in Time of the Doctor could make a sort of sense to me. That pocket dimension is the stasis cube, itself. The Time Lords have, somehow, managed to restore a time flow of some sort within the cube. It is implied in the Eleventh's final tale that they can pull themselves' through the Crack in Time and return to our universe - they're just trying to find the right place in Time and Space to do that. Which is what triggers the whole Question That Must Be Answered story arch. But it was still just a bit shocking to see the Time Lords back in action at the end of the Universe in the Series 9 finale. I'm still boggled as to how this was accomplished. How do you unfreeze yourself in time? You're stuck, right? You can't move! So how do you get out of that?!

The simple answer is that these are Time Lords. God-like beings who can do just-about anything. Particularly when they're all gathered together on their home planet. They have knowledge and resources that can enable them to tackle any problem. In a lot of ways, we don't need any more of an answer than that. The fact that these details have never been revealed in the show actually adds credence to their powers.

How did they do it? We don't know. But they're Time Lords - they can do anything!

And that's almost enough for me. I do like that I don't think we'll ever be given a specific explanation on how the Time Lords broke out of their stasis cube. I'm pretty okay with that. But, I'm going to put forward a crazy theory, anyway!


THE UNSEAL OF THE HIGH COUNCIL

And so,, we return again to the hair-brained idea I established in my first half of this essay (http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2016/07/fixing-continuity-glitches-whats-going.html). Events in End of Time and Day of the Doctor happen out of sync with each other because the High Council of Time Lords have placed themselves' in a special "mini-continuum" that exists outside of regular time and space. For the sake of protection, they arranged for their pocket dimension to interact with our universe in a very special way. It pops ahead and behind in time at random intervals. And Time, itself, is constantly speeding up and slowing down within the continuum. This made the High Council near-impregnable to any attack the Daleks might be launching on Gallifrey. They were in their own special world. Unable to be touched by anyone.

Which means, of course, that the Doctor's plan to seal Gallifrey inside a stasis cube does not affect the High Council, either. Yes, the entire planet is frozen in time. But the High Council Timeline has its own unique relationship with the rest of Time and Space. Perhaps something as powerful as The Moment would have destroyed the special continuum had it actually been activated. But the Doctor's trick with the stasis cube would not have had that kind of influence. Essentially, we end up with a pocket universe within a pocket universe. But the inner pocket universe is isolated from the effects of the outer one.

So when the High Council next attempts to have contact with the outside world after the events of Day of the Doctor, they see what the Doctor has done (they might even be a bit impressed). They undo it but still remain outside the regular universe in the special dimension the Doctor created with the stasis cube. They want to return to our universe but know that could start the Time Wars back up. Using a Crack in Time as a breaching point, they create the whole arrangement that exists in Time of the Doctor. Which, in turn, creates a whole series of complications in the Doctor's life throughout his final incarnation. The fact that the Doctor is freely given a whole new regeneration cycle helps support this idea. The Five Doctors shows the High Council making a similar offer to the Master when he was at the end of his regeneration cycle. It would seem that the High Council is empowered to extend a Time Lord's lifespan if it so suits them.

When their plans to communicate with the Doctor through the Crack in Time on Trenzalore seem to have failed, the High Council must take other measures. Gallifrey must return to our dimension - that much is certain. They've been able to make that return since the High Council unfroze the rest of the planet but they are looking for a safe situation in which to do it. They decide that re-entering our Universe at a time when it is very near to dying out is the safest bet. More than likely, any race that was capable of challenging them to a war will either be extinct or are too busy trying to find a way of escaping the Final Cataclysm.

For now, this is where Gallifrey remains.




Okay, so that's what's up with Gallifrey, these days. Or, at least, that's how I've made sense of things. Missed the first installment but are too lazy to scroll up to that paragraph where I put in a link? Here it is, again: 

http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2016/07/fixing-continuity-glitches-whats-going.html

Here's another interesting essay on the Time Wars written by the Great Adam Gobeski:

http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2015/08/analytical-are-pivotal-moment-in.html


Monday, 18 July 2016

FIXING CONTINUITY GLITCHES: WHAT'S GOING ON WITH GALLIFREY, THESE DAYS?

PART ONE: GETTING DAY OF THE DOCTOR AND END OF TIME TO LINE UP

Those final minutes of Day of the Doctor are so triumphant, aren't they? All thirteen incarnations of the Doctor come rushing forward to seal Gallifrey in a stasis cube and save it from impending doom at the hands of the Daleks. Then, just a few minutes later, we get a gorgeous cameo from the Great Tom Baker telling the Matt Smith Doctor that he appears to have succeeded in saving his homeworld and that he ought to go out and find out where it is, now. After seven seasons of a Doctor being haunted by the guilt of almost committing genocide twice over, he gets the most perfect present on his anniversary: Gallifrey Stands.

Except, of course, that there's been a few niggly points that have been going on since this triumphant moment. Even in Day of the Doctor, some stuff didn't quite jibe with the last time we took a peak into Time Lord culture during the Time Wars. Forget the fact that things have made even less sense since Gallifrey was sealed in a stasis cube. Bottom line: the whole storyline with saving the Time Lords has been suffering from some major continuity glitches.

For the next few paragraphs, we're going to try to make sense of this.

Wish me luck.

THE MOMENT

As part of his present to the fans during the 50th anniversary, Moff allows us a glimpse into those mysterious Time Wars that we were never allowed to see much of. RTD offered us a similar gift as he and Tennant were bowing out back in 2009 with The End of Time - Part 1 and 2. In that particular tale, he's even nice enough to get Timothy Friggin' Dalton to play Rassilon, himself (although, to his credit, Moff got the equally stellar John Hurt to play the War Doctor). This is all magnificent stuff, of course. Fandom might question the quality of either of these stories, but the fact that we finally get to see the Time Wars in both of them is still a very nice treat.

Moff, however, tries to go one step further and includes a reference to The End of Time in his script just to give us a better sense of continuity. In some throwaway dialogue, the Time Lord General mentions that a plot by the High Council to save Gallifrey has failed. This seems to be referencing Rassilon's attempt to break out of the Time Lock using a link he created with the Master on 21st Century Earth during The End of Time. Again, it's a very nice gesture on Moffat's behalf to try to get these two stories to link in some way.

Except that the stories only line up so well. Which creates a whole series of continuity problems that I shall now vainly attempt to solve:

The first major one is created during that throwaway dialogue we just mentioned. The General states that the High Council have already failed in their plans. Then, moments later, he discovers that the War Doctor has broken into the Omega Vault and stolen The Moment. The theft of The Moment clearly happens after the High Council's plans have fallen to pieces. This becomes problematic because Rassilon asks about the Doctor at the beginning of Part 2 of The End of Time (midway through the High Council's attempt to break the Time Lock) and is informed that he is in possession of The Moment and could use it any time. Key plot points are not lining up, here. Something crucial that is discussed in The End of Time happens in Day of the Doctor at a time when the whole plot is meant to be over. It's not quite making sense.

The easiest solution might be that the High Council learnt of the Doctor's theft of The Moment sooner than the General did. But that still makes it pretty tough for the two timelines to run concurrently to each other. Which means we might require a more complex explanation.

It's my personal theory that, as the Daleks started their attack on Gallifrey, the High Council took extra precautions to protect themselves'. And it's those special measures that cause the lack of synchronicity between the two tales.

In those first few moments of Part Two of The End of Time, we see Rassilon striding through a huge vault-like doorway which then closes behind him. The big bulky door is a physical barrier to help protect him and the Time Lords that are waiting in a council chamber within. But when the doors close, it also seals them off in their own special time continuum. Very similar, in principle, to the way the Medusa Cascade was a few seconds out of sync with the rest of the Universe. Except the High Council created something even more clever than that. Whereas the Medusa Cascade was a few seconds into the future, the special continuum that the High Council creates is fluctuating regularly in the way it relates with the rest of Time and Space. At some points, it might only be a few seconds ahead. Then it might, suddenly, become an hour behind. Moments later, it becomes several hours ahead. And so on....

This is done so that it becomes near-impossible to lock on to this special continuum and break into it. With the Medusa Cascade, the Doctor was eventually able to penetrate the Time Slip because it was, at least, staying consistent. The High Council recognized that the Daleks would have the technology to accomplish such an act, too. So they cause the continuum's relationship with the outside universe to fluctuate at random intervals. The ultimate security measure.

Of course, this now means that events can elapse out of order between Day of the Doctor and The End of Time. Communication is still taking place between the two timelines. The High Council are still receiving news on what's happening with the world outside. This is how they learn of the Doctor's theft of the Moment. They are also sending out messages to certain key figures in the outside world. Such as the General. But the time fluctuations mess with how that information is disseminated. The General learns that the High Council's plot failed because they were suddenly a few hours behind with the rest of the Universe when they announce their defeat. But, earlier in those plans, they were actually an hour or two ahead of the rest of the Universe. And that's when they learnt of the Doctor stealing the Moment.

It's all a bit timey whimey, I know. But if you can envision the High Council as being in a sort of bubble outside of regular Time and Space that keeps relocating itself in its relationship to our own timeline then it's an image that, sort of, works. Now imagine that communications are occurring between the two time lines but it's while that bubble is changing its location. So, sometimes, we learn of the bubble's future before it does. And, on other occasions, the bubble gets a glimpse into our future. All because its relationship with our own timeline is in a constant state of flux. It is a perfect way for the High Council to defend itself. But it also causes some messiness with the timelines should communications with the outside world transpire.


GALLIFREY DISAPPEARING TWICE

Okay, first big problem between Day of the Doctor and End of Time is reconciled (sort of, at least). Now let's deal with an even bigger one.

The Doctor(s) save the day by sealing up Gallifrey in a stasis cube. At a crucial point in the Dalek assault, the planet of the Time Lords disappears from the heavens and the natives of Skaro dice themselves' up in their own cross-fire. It's a beautiful ending to a Doctor Who story. As usual, the Doctor finds a way to use his opponents' strength against itself.

The ending, however, does lose some of its piquancy when you consider that The End of Time concludes in a very similar manner. Rassilon, somehow, manages to pull all of Gallifrey through the Time Lock and into Earth's orbit. This should mean that the planet faded out of existence from its own proper time and place. Shouldn't the Daleks have destroyed themselves', then? Gallifrey seems to be in the sky over Earth for several long minutes. Which means it's disappeared from the Time Wars for quite some time, too.  Wouldn't this cause its attackers to accidentally shoot themselves' up during that occasion? The Doctor's trick with stasis cube should be superfluous. Gallifrey disappearing during End of Time should've been when the Daleks destroy themselves' by accident. Why do we need to make Gallifrey disappear again during Day of the Doctor?

Once more, we can use the High Council being in its own special timeline theory to help smooth out this problem. Not only is the High Council jumping ahead and behind the rest of Gallifrey's timeline at regular random intervals - but time, itself, is speeding up and slowing down. When time runs fast - several hours in the High Council timeline can be a matter of seconds in Gallifreyan Mean Time. When it's running slow - the reverse occurs. Minutes for the High Council can be hours for the rest of Gallifrey. This, of course, makes the time breach even more difficult to penetrate. One more precautionary measure to keep Rassilon and his buddies safe.

When the Lord President finally completes the connection between himself and the Master, he brings Gallifrey to 21st Century Earth. To do so, however, he has to pull the planet through the Time Breach he's created. So Gallifrey comes to its new location via this special timeline that is speeding up and slowing down. Gallifrey seems to hang over the Earth for several minutes and then returns back to its original location. But, as I just said, it did so by passing through the special timeline the High Council exists in. When this occurred, the High Council Timeline was running faster than regular time. Time being sped up means that several minutes in the High Council Timeline was only a matter of seconds in real time. So, basically, Gallifrey flickered out of existence for a second or two and then returned to its proper time and place.

Remember that moment in Day of the Doctor where the Doctor(s) learn that the Daleks sense that something is up and are increasing their attack?  That's when Rassilon's great gambit occurs in relation to Gallifrey's Mean Time (again, events from both timelines don't run concurrently to each other - the High Council Timeline is jumping forward and back in relation to what's happening in Day of the Doctor). So the Daleks see Gallifrey suddenly disappear and return a moment later.  Less aggressive races might've stood down at this point and tried to assess the situation. But these are Daleks we're talking about. Seeing their intended target almost elude them would incense them to attack all the harder. Which works out great for the whole stasis cube plan. They really are at maximum firepower when Gallifrey disappears properly. Which causes the Daleks to wipe themselves' out. There are a few survivors, of course. The Emperor escapes. As does a single Dalek who falls to Earth in the late 20th Century and eventually gets bought by Henry Van Statten. And the Cult of Skaro makes it out of the mess too (although, they may have slipped into the Void long before this final great battle).

But, for the most part, the Doctor's trick succeeds. But it works out as well as it does because of what Rassilon had been up to in his own special timezone.  The Daleks react so violently because Gallifrey appeared to be slipping away for a moment. They attack harder as it returns and then the Doctor's plan kicks in. In the full heat of their bloodlust, the Daleks destroy themselves' as Gallifrey well and truly disappears from the heavens.

And, again, all of this is due to the fact that Rassilon sealed off the High Council in its own special timeline when the Daleks first started attacking. I suspect that the march we see him taking down the hallway and through the big door was him just finishing the act of temporal engineering that needed to be done to create this timeline. It had to be accomplished from within Gallifreyan Mean Time. But, once the feat was done, Rassilon quickly retreated into the pocket dimension he'd created.

The weird nature of that pocket dimension is what's responsible for all the inconsistencies we see between the two stories. Or, it can be if you so choose....


So, those are my theories on why End of Time and Day of the Doctor don't line up so well. But there are still more inconsistencies to deal with as we start looking at Gallifrey after the 50th Anniversary Celebration. Part Two of this particular essay will deal with that. 

Stay tuned...