Beginning the New Year with something light: another exciting episode of Quick Fixes. There are continuity problems that have occurred in the show that can be explained away in a matter of paragraphs rather than needing a full post all on their own. Quick Fixes is meant to address two or three of these issues in one post.
HOW DID STRAX COME BACK FROM THE DEAD?
I got to thinking about this again because Nardole has been re-introduced into the series during the last Christmas Special. It was nice that we were given a somewhat decent explanation on how he got his body back. Unfortunately, it reminded me of how we never got that with the return of Strax a few Christmas Specials previously. It was most bizarre that a specific mini-sode was even shot that was meant to explain it. But all we really got was Lady Vashtra waking Strax up from where he'd been laying dead at Demon's Run.
What?! Strax didn't really die? He'd just been napping?!
My guess is that Jenny and Vashtra had gotten a bit attached to Strax during the brief time that they knew him. Perhaps Vashtra even knew a bit about Sontarans and saw hope in the way Strax was trying to be as much of a healer as a warrior. We do see in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship that homo repitilia were capable of intergalactic travel so it's possible they got to know some of the alien races out there. So Vashtra may have decided that this particular thread of Sontaran philosophy needed to keep going on in some way.
The key, here, is that Strax hails from a clone species. So it wouldn't be too hard at all to take some sort of genetic sample from the corpse and use the advanced technology on Demon's Run to create a new version of him. Perhaps some modifications were introduced to make him even more docile than the original. But those variations only worked so well and Strax 2.0 is a bit of a bumbler. Which would account for how we do seem to be seeing a more comical interpretation of the role now that he's part of the Paternoster Gang.
My guess is that even Strax hasn't been given a full explanation of how he's still alive. But he doesn't really question it much, either (that may have actually been part of his genetic re-programming). He's just happy to be Vashtra's butler. He still has war-like tendencies but they're not strong enough to cause any real friction. Particularly now that he's discovered Glasgow....
WHY DO TIME LORDS NOT RECOGNIZE EACH OTHER, SOMETIMES?
During Classic Series Days, it was a popular fan-theory that Time Lords could recognize each other telepathically. So if one of them regenerated, the other would still know who they are. We first saw it happen in The War Games when the War Chief notices the Doctor at a briefing and, immediately, recognizes him. The two had not seen each other since Gallifrey and the Doctor had regenerated after he left his homeworld. But the War Chief still knows who he is. There is a bit of hasty dialogue written to address the fact that the War Lord recognizes him even though his appearance has changed but it doesn't really explain much of anything.
So Fandom comes up with this ideas that, since Time Lords are mildly telepathic, they detect each other on a mental level just as much as they do on a visual. This way, they will always know each other from incarnation to incarnation. We see hints of this concept being re-enforced in stories like Brain of Morbius where the Doctor does claim that he sensed the mind of the evil Time Lord ever-so-briefly in Solon's lab. The Invisible Enemy also speaks of a special neural link that the Doctor has with the Time Lords. Unfortunately, it also claims that the link has been shut down so this may not be the part of his brain that is specifically employed in this telepathic recognition process. But it still helps a bit to support this concept. Something goes on between Time Lords that enables them to share certain thoughts with each other. Logopolis is another story that hints at this as the Master finds the Doctor on Earth before he even gets there because: "He's a Time Lord. In many ways, we share the same mind." (or words to that effect). The New Series starts to really confirm this theory in stories like Dalek where the Doctor claims he would know if there were still Time Lords alive. He would sense it in his head.
At last, the notion is explicitly stated at the beginning of Sound of Drums when the Doctor explains to Martha and Jack how the whole process works. We even learn that the Master has been using a special satellite signal to jam the Doctor's ability to detect him. As a fan, I was just a bit excited to finally hear this explanation given. Once more, the New Series confirms a silly fan theory that was established in the Classic Series but never fully proven. Just like the way they solidify the concept of Gallifreyan Mean Time in The End of Time.
Everything now seems great. Fan theory has been explicitly stated. But there is still one big problem: there have been moments in the show where the process doesn't seem to be working.
The biggest one is in the much-maligned Twin Dilemma. For several long minutes after they first meet, neither the Doctor nor Azmael seem to know who the other is. The Doctor explains it away with: "Forgive me, my friend. I've regenerated twice since our last meeting." This is one of those succinct moments that, very much, negates the whole idea of telepathic recognition between Time Lords.
But it's not the only one. If we apply this on a broader level, we begin to see another problem. All those clever disguises that Time Lords like the Master and the Rani love to use - shouldn't they fail miserably? Sure, they look like someone else, but shouldn't their brain pattern or whatever it is that the Time Lords sense about each other give them away? Kalid and Sir Gilles Estram should have never had a chance at fooling the Doctor. And our Time Lord hero should have known immediately that it was the Rani standing outside the bath house in Mark of the Rani - not some old crone. Why doesn't the telepathic recognition work in these cases?
Again, we can go to Brain of Morbius to help explain some of this. The Doctor does claim that Morbius is shielding his mind to avoid detection but that the barrier slipped for just a moment and he sensed him. I would suggest that this is something Time Lords can do. It might even take a bit of training and discipline - but they can put up telepathic blocks of some sort. Even in Invasion of Time, Borusa talks of being "transparent as glass" as the Doctor reveals to him his true intents in the Presidential Office. But the Cardinal still manages to block out the Vardans well enough once he's out of the lead room. The Vardans never learn of the Doctor's treachery against them by reading Borusa's mind. So it's a trick the Time Lords can learn fairly quickly if they set their minds to it.
So when the Master and the Rani are lurking about in one of their clever disguises (or, in the case of Time and the Rani, downright bizarre disguises) they are also shielding themselves' mentally. This way, the Doctor can sit across the table from the Portreeve or stare intently at a scare crow and not realize that it's his arch rival.
But what of that moment in Twin Dilemma? Were the Doctor and Azmael both shielding their minds from each other even though they had no reason to be?
In this case, I'd chalk it up to a side-effect from regeneration. If it's a difficult one (and the one in Twin Dilemma definitely seemed to have a lot of complications), then certain telepathic capacities might shut down or malfunction for a bit. Including the ability to recognize each other from one incarnation to the next. This problem works both ways, too. Because of the Doctor's difficult regeneration, Azmael couldn't sense who the Doctor was. Nor could the Doctor pick up on Azmael. Of course, during that moment, the Doctor was also having memory problems. His old teacher hadn't even actually regenerated since the last time he'd seen him, but he still didn't recognize him right away. It was only after a few minutes that Azmeal's face finally floated upon his memories.
Rough regenerations temporarily shutting down the telepathic recognition ability might also help to explain why the Doctor doesn't immediately realize it's the Master who's come to pick him up at Grace's place during The 96 Telemovie. Although, it's also likely that the Master is trying to mentally shield himself from the Doctor at the same time.
We shouldn't quite abandon this topic, yet, though. There is still one more idea to be explored regarding this whole Time Lord recognition process.
There is a lot of evidence in the New Series that seems to support the idea that even if Time Lords don't see each other they can sense each other. I briefly touched upon a scene in Dalek where the Doctor mentions this. We see something like this happening between the Doctor and the Master in End of Time, too (although, they seem to insinuate that they're also smelling each other - but I'm gonna say it's more a metaphorical thing. Mainly because Time Lords being able to smell each other from great distances is just silly!). Aside from that bit in Brain of Morbius, we don't seem to see much evidence of this sort of thing in the Classic Series. Or, at least, it's never mentioned that the Doctor is sensing other Time Lords around him even though he's not visually perceiving them.
The Morbius incident can easily be explained away by the fact that his brain was in an extremely altered state so it might make him more easily detectable. Otherwise, the Classic Series seems to always suggest that telepathic communion between Time Lords only seems to happen when they are actually standing in front of each other. If this being able to sense each other without seeing each other ability had existed in the Classic Series, then stories like Colony In Space would have played out quite differently. Neither the Doctor nor the Master seem to know that the other is on Uxarieus until they actually run into each other. Since neither knew the other would be there, neither of them would be attempting to shield themselves' telepathically. So shouldn't they have gotten some sort of "ping" off of each other long before they actually meet up? There are several other stories that work this way. The Doctor and Jo surprising the Master in Atlantis during the later episodes of The Time Monster shouldn't have happened, either. The Master should have known the Doctor was there the moment he landed. So how have the Time Lords become more sensitive to each other in the New Series?
I'm inclined to believe that the Time Lords put themselves' through a few genetic modifications as they began the Time Wars. I discussed one of them, already, in my Weird Regenerations essay (http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2015/08/analytical-weird-regenerations-it.html). I suggest that they also turned up their telepathic skills a bit, too. This would give them several advantages. If nothing else, they would always have a good idea of the strength of their forces since they would be able to telepathically sense their fellow soldiers around them. But, in general, such sensitivities would give them all sorts of extra advantages in battle. So the Doctor underwent these modifications, too, as he elected to finally fight in the Time Wars. Which explains this special ability that never seems to have existed in the Classic Series. Naturally enough, during those years when he believes Gallifrey to have been properly destroyed - this ability becomes a curse. He always knows that he's truly alone because he cannot sense any other Time Lords out there...
There you go, a few more Quick Fixes for you. Hope you like my warped little theories...
Want some other Quick Fixes? Here they are: