Sunday, 9 December 2018

BOOK OF LISTS: TOP SIX DOCTOR WHO EPISODES - NUMBER FIVE

The end-of-year countdown continues. This time, we're looking at a New Series episode. 

Normally, New Who is at a disadvantage in these. There is so much more Classic Who to choose from that Law of Averages dictates stories from that era will just show up more. But New Who is made up mainly of single episodes that tell a complete story whereas the episodes of the Classic Series are always part of a larger tale. Episodes from 2005 and onwards are more likely to make a stronger impact on their audience because of this. 

So we will see a higher percentage of New Who stuff making it into this list because of this. Hope that doesn't bother you Classic Who Purists, out there....


NUMBER FIVE 

Some might say that a story like Rose has an unfair advantage in countdowns like this. It's an episode you're going to notice more just because of the importance it holds in the history of the show. That if it had just shown up somewhere in the middle of Series One it would have been appreciated in an entirely different manner. To some extent, people who might believe this are a bit right. Rose does stand out for me more because it is the very first episode of the New Series. For this reason, alone, it does make a very strong impact.

Fortunately, we have the 96 Telemovie as evidence to contradict some of this claim. Paul McGann's one-and-only foray into Televised Who should hold a special place in everyone's heart because it also represented an attempt to resurrect the show in the same way that Rose does. And yet, I'd be given to bet that the 96 Telemovie is pretty low on anyone's list of all-time favorite episodes. For some of you, it might even be damned close to the bottom!

What this says to me is that, regardless of the importance an episode might play in the history of the series, it still needs to actually be good. Rose, without a doubt, is a very good piece of television. As first episodes of a new show go, Rose does an excellent job of introducing the central premise of the series to its audience. It displays some interesting characters that we definitely want to learn more about. And it promises that more fun is to come if you keep watching.

But this isn't the full extent of Rose's job. Yes, it is introducing a show to a new audience. But it's also re-introducing a series to its old fans. A far more complex task. But, again, it accomplishes this with great finesse. The nods to its past re-assure us that this is the same show and not a re-boot.

First and foremost, it uses a well-loved monster that we've seen a few times in the Classic Series. It makes a couple of very conscious visual nods to Spearhead From Space while doing so. The opening shots in both stories are quite similar to each other. There's also another magnificent tracking shot in both stories where the camera follows two characters walking together and talking. Referencing Spearhead made good sense. Both herald a very new era in Doctor Who. One might also say that the use of symphonic scoring and very filmic cinematography link it quite nicely to the 96 Telemovie where we see these sort of effects being employed for the first time.

But the most beautiful touch of nostalgia was the fact that they found the same audio effects for when an Auton's hand hinges open and fires. My fanboy heart burst beyond its rib cage for just a moment when I heard that sound for the first time. As someone who has loved Doctor Who to death for so many years of my life, hearing that noise showed me that serious measures were being taken to keep New Who in the same continuity as its previous 26 seasons. That meant a lot to me.

We've got another very simple plot, here. But, with the amount of work the episode has to accomplish with all its introducing and re-introducing, the Doctor trying to hunt down the Nestene Consciousness and confront it is all the room the story has for a plot. We're perfectly happy with this. The fact that an absolutely beautiful monologue still manages to get squeezed in to all this business, however, is absolutely splendid.

That monologue is truly a magical moment. But it's not the only one. And this is another factor that really ingratiates the episode to me. My heart still goes ever-so-slightly aflutter during specific moments. Rose first entering the TARDIS would be another moment like this. Or Clive getting all spooky as he postulates on the Doctor's nature. Or, best of all, the Doctor grabbing Rose's arm and proclaiming: "Run!". It's just such a great way to meet him for the first time.

There are a slew of moments like this. Which makes re-watching the episode great fun every time. It puts me back into what I went through the first time I saw it. How I sat there fervently hoping they would get it right. As Rose starts running into those TARDIS doors at the end of the episode, a huge feeling of relief washed over me. They did get it right. I still feel that every time I enjoy this story.

I didn't always agree with the choices RTD would go on to make with the show. But I am thankful that he totally nailed it with Rose. It led to a triumphant re-birth of my favorite television program, ever. Sixteen years of sadness was well and truly over. And that's one more thing I feel every time I watch this episode. It's hard not to put Rose into a list like this. It's an important story that recognizes what it needs to accomplish and knocks it out of the ball park. Which is an amazing thing to see.



That's Number Five. We'll be back again shortly with the next one. Another New Who episode, in fact. Which one? Wait and see....   



Didn't catch Number Six? Here it is: 
https://robtymec.blogspot.com/2018/11/book-of-lists-top-six-doctor-who.html




Friday, 30 November 2018

BOOK OF LISTS: TOP SIX DOCTOR WHO EPISODES - NUMBER 6

In the Grand Tradition of end-of-the-year entries, I'm wrapping up 2018 with a BOOK OF LISTS countdown. You guys always seem to like these.   

The very first end-of-year countdown that I put together involved my top ten favorite stories. Lots of people enjoyed the choices I made and loved telling me which stories they most adore. So I've decided to do something similar this year. But I'm going to go even more specific. I'm looking at single episodes that I feel stand out above all other episodes. Basically, what I feel are the best six episodes in the history of the entire series. 

Why Six? Why not something more accessible like Top 5 or Top 10? Well, I just kinda felt like six was a nice number. Who says everything has to fit into tidy little boxes?! 


NUMBER SIX:

Coming in at the bottom of this countdown is an episode that has received a fair amount praise but I feel deserves far more than it gets. It's also admired in a way that seems almost ironic. It's the first part of a story and it's loved so much because the three episodes that come after it are considered pretty sub-par. It's frequently given a, sort of, backhanded compliment. Fans say things like: "You really notice that first episode because the other three suck so badly!" A sentiment that, to me, takes away a lot of its lustre. 

Let's get the one big problem with this episode out of the way immediately: you have to view Part One of The Space Museum contextually. It was made over fifty years ago with visual effects that can be easily debunked nowadays (but still look quite fun and surreal when you watch it now). And the pace can feel ever-so-slightly slow compared to the way storylines move in modern television. But part of what makes the episode so impressive is that, overall, it still stands up quite well and does a great job of engaging you for its entire 23 minutes.

What gets me to love this episode so much is how much it resembles another show I have great fondness for. Part One of The Space Museum plays out like a classic episode of The Twilight Zone. It has the same sense "off-kilter creepiness"that happened every week on the Rod Serling Masterpiece. The actors seem to alter their performances slightly so that they better resemble characters in a Twilight Zone story. There's great use of the same sort of discordant incidental music that Zone employs. The central premise of characters discovering their ultimate fate and then trying to avoid it sounds just like something you'd see on Twilight Zone.  Even the fact that it's 60s Who so it was still being shot in black-and-white helped to create a resemblance.  There's a definite sense of homage going on here. And it's quite beautiful.

I have a definite nostalgic "soft spot" for The Twilight Zone. It's the source of many happy memories from my youth. I remember how much I loved being scared out of my wits by some of its episodes (the one about the talking doll that starts threatening the abusive father still terrifies me every time I watch it). But I was also impressed by how it could be equally moving (the door-to-door salesman who discovers Death is an actual person and tricks him out of taking the life of a young boy by sacrificing himself in his place gets me in the feels every time). My brother and I were very close in age - which caused us to be competitive to the point of combativeness. But our mutual love of the show meant we would call a truce between us any time an episode came on. As we both made it into our teens, we discovered that two very pretty girls that lived nearby also loved the show. They would come over in the evenings to watch it with us and then we would break away to different rooms in the house to indulge in various forms of amorous activities whilst trying not to get caught by our parents! But those acts of passion didn't start until after Twilight Zone was over. Which says a lot about the quality of the program. It was capable of  stifling the fierce libidos of teenage boys!

To see something in Doctor Who that really seems to be imitating my beloved Twilight Zone causes it to resonate deeply with me. And, yes, it would have been nice if the other three episodes were better (although, they're not terrible, either) - that still doesn't mar the brilliance of that first part. It really is a great example of how good 60s TV could be. Particularly when it tries to be surreal.

Like many of the great single episodes that I shall go on to discuss, The Space Museum keeps things very simple. In fact, Part One resembles the first episode of any number of Hartnell stories. The main characters have landed in a new place and are just exploring around a bit. They find a few things that will "tease out" important plot elements that will arise later in the story. Basically, they get a general sense of where they are and who they're dealing with. But not a whole lot happens beyond that.

But here's what makes Part One of Museum that much more special: something really weird happens every couple of minutes. The TARDIS crew change clothes without knowing how. A broken glass flies back into Vicki's hands. They're not leaving footprints. Supporting characters don't see or hear them. They can't hear supporting characters. A Dalek appears - but it's only an exhibit! They're intangible. And so on...

And then, finally, the coup-de-grace: they discover they are exhibits in the museum, itself. All that other weird crap is great fun to watch (okay, admittedly, the intangible TARDIS is thoroughly unconvincing!) but this final revelation is a masterstroke. Things now become totally bizarre and it's truly delightful. There's a great little conversation between the Doctor and Vicki that gives us a bit of an explanation about what's going on but it's actually quite awesome that we don't fully get an answer, here. In fact, a better explanation would've hindered the creepiness of the moment. It was so much better that the whole thing is just a little bit mysterious.

And then, with a flourish of mood music, time finally starts lining up. The visuals during the next few sequences are great. The glass of water properly shatters. The footprints appear in the dust. The museum exhibits fade out of existence. The TARDIS crew freezes and then unfreezes. It's truly beautiful.

Although we will get bogged down with a stereotypical "rebels against their oppressors" plotline in later episodes, Part One of The Space Museum sets up an extra layer to this adventure. While they free the Xerons from the tyranny of the Moroks, the Doctor and his friends must also try to change the course of their own destiny. It makes all the problems of the rest of the story so much more bearable.

Part One of The Space Museum is a real visual tour-de-force that, in many cases, overcomes the limitations of its time. It's also a gorgeous tribute to another very remarkable television program that existed around that same time. Which makes it near-impossible for me to not be completely in love with it every time I watch it. Even if that intangible TARDIS looks really awful!



The latest end-of-year countdown has begun! I'll be back in a few days to reveal my fifth ranking. 

Just in case you're wondering: Yes, I do still love Doctor Who better than Twilight Zone. Even if the latter helped me to get laid during my adolescence!  






   



Friday, 23 November 2018

ANALYTICAL: CROSSING TIME STREAMS - PART 2

In my ongoing effort to resurrect the ANALYTICAL essay, I continue my investigations into time stream crossings.

Having looked at some basic rules and recurring patterns in the first part (http://robtymec.blogspot.com/2018/11/analytical-crossing-time-streams-part-1.html), I decided it might be nice to do a bit of a case-by-case study throughout the tenure of the Classic and New Series. Will I look at every time someone has crossed into their own past and/or future? That would prove a bit too lengthy. We'll just do some "edited highlights" (as the Doctor once requested during one of his many trials). Some key moments where such things occurred that re-enforce some of the patterns I pointed out in the first part.



FIRST CROSSING

For a season-and-a-half, the TARDIS is used strictly as a means of conveying the characters from one story to the next. And then, finally, we get to Episode One of The Space Museum. At last, the idea of travelling in time gets legitimately explored for a bit.

If you've bothered to read the first part of this essay (if not, refer to link in italic intro), you know that I've created a very specific definition for what constitutes a crossing of your own timeline. The Space Museum might not totally meet the stipulations of that definition. The big point being that crossing your own time stream enables you to meet yourself. Which, technically, the TARDIS crew does do. They see themselves as exhibits in a museum. But they are, obviously, dead by this point in their timeline. Meeting yourself implies being able to interact with yourself. Which is not quite possible in this context. It's for this reason that I can't positively say that Name of the Doctor constitutes a crossing of a timeline either. The "scar" of the Doctor's death still remains but it isn't really him meeting himself, is it? Technically, your timeline is over once you are dead. So to visit a time after your death means you're not really crossing your own timeline anymore.

Part 1 of The Space Museum also has the biggest abundance of side effects that we've ever seen (again, side effects get discussed in the link I provided in the italic intro). These side effects might exist in such great abundance because this is the first time the TARDIS has jumped a time track in such a way. She gets more accustomed to doing this in other adventures and can provide a smoother ride during such an experience. But, because she's never done this before, her occupants must deal with such things as intangibility and not registering on the senses of the people around them. Or even not being able to leave footprints. Only as the TARDIS manages to correct some of these faults and get the two timelines to merge are these problems eliminated. But that's a whole other phenomenon that gets me to wonder if this truly was a proper crossing. At no other time does such a process work this way. Normally, when someone crosses their time stream, they have to be properly displaced by temporal apparatus to the different points in their timeline to accomplish the feat. This doesn't really happen in Space Museum. The two time zones just sort of seem to blend together after a while. We're not even entirely sure how this works (the Doctor, sort of, offers an explanation at the end of the story that, kind of, only makes so much sense). It almost causes one to wonder if this isn't so much a crossing of time streams as a sort of overlapping of time zones. It's truly difficult to tell. And, again, this might have something to do with it being the first time that the TARDIS is used in such a manner so she doesn't quite follow the established patterns.

Having said all this, however, I still prefer to see this as the first time we see the Doctor crossing his own timeline. If for no other reason than the fact that such a feat occurs so rarely in the Classic Series that I'd rather it fall under the definition just so I can have a bit more to talk about!


JUST A BIT OF MULTI-INCARNATION STUFF

We don't really see the First Doctor crossing his own timeline much during his actual era. But, from a retrospective sense, he makes at least four more crossings. Like The Space Museum, he visits his future each time. Those crossings take place, of course, during The Three and Five Doctors, Day of the Doctor and Twice Upon A Time.

Twice Upon A Time makes his entry and departure point very clear (entry and departure points is another important thing to read about in the italic intro link. If you haven't read it, yet, you really should!). He meets his Twelfth Self as he is walking to his TARDIS at the end of The Tenth Planet. We see him in a garden during both The Three and Five Doctors. It could be that he is timescooped from, more or less, the same time period during both of these incursions. That he, basically, had one hell of a garden stroll that day! When this actual garden stroll took place during his timeline is difficult to determine. It could be at anytime during his era. We've never actually seen the First Doctor alone so we must assume that whatever companions were with him at the time must be in another part of the garden. But, if we go with the whole hell of a garden stroll concept then that may account for his slight change of appearance in The Five Doctors. Perhaps such a high level of time distortion briefly affected how he looks.

Of course, where he was drawn from during Day of the Doctor is anyone's guess. The sequence where all the Doctors come forward to help save Gallifrey uses actual footage from previous stories rather than getting all the living actors to re-adopt their roles (and get impersonators in for the first three - which they still, sort of, do for the First Doctor's appearance). I recognize, for instance, that we're seeing a scene from Attack of the Cybermen during a glimpse of the Sixth Doctor. Could it be that each Doctor managed to somehow "splinter off" briefly during the stories they are drawn from to save Gallifrey and then return immediately and pick up where they left off? That's my best guess....

The Second Doctor also crosses his own timeline several times for multi-incarnation encounters. During The Three Doctors, it looks like he is timescooped from an unseen moment during The War Games (although, really, it could be from anywhere - original footage was shot for the moment where the Time Lords view the Doctor on a screen before they snatch him up -  but it does look like something from The War Games). Five and Two Doctors feature a Second Doctor from Season 6b. And, we've already come up with a concept for Day of the Doctor.

In The Five Doctors, the Third Doctor seems to be drawn from a time after he's met Sarah Jane Smith. It's also a period where he's on Earth driving around in Bessie. He was probably snatched up by Borusa shortly before Planet of Spiders. He does seem to be hanging around Earth for a bit between Monster of Peladon and Spiders. So that seems the most likely time and place.

Other multi-incarnation encounters seem to make things pretty clear as to where the earlier incarnation was drawn from. In Time Crash, the Fifth Doctor seems to come from the early part of Season 20. Probably just before Mawdryn Undead. The Tenth Doctor in Day of the Doctor seems to come from that period where he went on some wild excursions rather than respond to the Ood that summoned him at the end of Waters of Mars.

One more interesting thing to note before we close the door on multi-incarnation stuff: the timelines do become too tangled when more than two incarnations meet and the crossing is forgotten until the most recent incarnation experiences it. That seems to be a basic rule for this sort of experience. However, dialogue in The Five Doctors seems to insinuate that if past incarnations get caught in a second multi-incarnation encounter, their memories of the first crossing are temporarily restored. The first three Doctors all seem to recall meeting each other previously in Three Doctors and go back to poking fun at each other the way they did in that story. My guess is, however, that as Rassilon returns them to their proper time and space - both experiences are forgotten, again.

Okay, that's all the multi-incarnation stuff that needs to be handled. Let's go back to crossings that we see that don't involve multiple incarnations. 



THE NEXT CROSSING

The next time the Doctor crosses his own time stream and doesn't meet another incarnation takes place very briefly. It is also one of the rare occasions where we don't see a proper entry and departure point.

Day of the Daleks contains a short scene where the Doctor and Jo meet themselves. A circuit in the TARDIS console blows which seems to cause this little crossing. The Doctors from two different time zones interact briefly and then the Future Doctor and Jo are returned to their proper place in time and space. The story moves on...

But we never see where the future version of the Doctor and Jo come from. The encounter, from their perspective, is never displayed onscreen. They are wearing the exact same outfits that their past selves are wearing so we can assume it happened quite quickly after the story ends. My guess is: that they return to the Doctor's lab after Sir Reginald's manor blows up. They enter through the lab doors and are transported back to the past for a moment and have the encounter. The TARDIS console blows its fuse and sends them back to when they belong.


MULTIPLE BRIGADIERS

Amazingly enough, we don't see any other instances of the Doctor crossing his own timestream during the Classic Series (aside from multi-incarnation stuff).  But we can't actually dive into the New Series until we talk about the Brigadier, first. 

Mawdryn Undead is the first real story to dwell heavily on the idea of crossing your own time stream. Space Museum does discuss it a bit, but it's more concerned with the TARDIS crew trying to avoid the future they've been shown than laying out some basic rules about such a feat. But most of the patterns I discussed in Part 1 of this essay are displayed at some point throughout the various temporal paradoxes that the Brigadier must suffer through. Including the ominous: "Don't come into physical contact with yourself" rule. Which is very cleverly used to resolve the main conflict of the plot. It is also subverted a few times during a crucial point of the New Series (as usual, go to the link in the italic intro if you want see how I explain away the breaking of this rule)

In much the same way as Deadly Assassin is the definitive Gallifrey Story that all other Gallifrey Stories must base themselves off of, Mawdryn Undead sets the template for any adventure that explores the concept of crossing your timeline.  Sadly, however, we must wait until the New Series to see any of these rules employed. The only other example of a time line crossing that we see in the Classic Series is a burnt out android in Timelash. And, even then, it doesn't truly fit my definition. The android is, technically, "dead" once it's projected into the past. Once you're dead, your timeline is over - so you can't really cross it, anymore. Once more, because of the total lack of time stream crossings in the Classic Series, I'm willing to fudge the rules a bit! 



INTO THE NEW SERIES....

The New Series doesn't waste its time exploring crossed timelines. While Classic Who waited nearly two seasons to feature a story about it, we get a pretty massive timeline crossing only a few episodes into Series One.

We tend to only think of that very brief moment in Father's Day where Rose and the Doctor are observing the past version of themselves from around a corner as the only instance of crossing a time stream in that particular story. We forget that Rose crosses her time stream twice over in this tale. While Adult Rose is getting to know what her father is really like, she is also in that timeline as an infant. The all-important "don't come in physical contact with your past self" rule does seem to kick in when Rose is accidentally handed the baby version of herself. But the explosion that is meant to happen is absorbed by the strange creatures that have materialized to fix the damage Rose has done to Time. So the rule does still seem to work, here. Father's Day, however, is the first time we see the Going Around Once principle being employed (yadda yadda yadda link in italic intro yadda yadda....).

Doctor Ten seems to stay away from this act throughout most of his tenure. We do see a bit of him crossing his own timeline in Smith and Jones when he appears to Martha on her way to the hospital. This does fit the definition I provide. He could've taken just a bit more of a stroll down the street and met himself if he'd really wanted to.

The only other example of a crossed timeline that we see during Ten's era (aside from multi-incarnation stuff in Time Crash and Day of the Doctor) would be Billy Shipton in Blink. Old Billy probably spent many years avoiding the younger version of himself that became a detective and hit on Sally Sparrow. Even though he hid from himself for ages, he barely lives another day once his younger version is zapped back in time by a Weeping Angel. One has to wonder if the Billy that gets sent back in time observed himself from a distance once he arrived at the point in time where he was actually born. It would probably be too great of a temptation to resist. More than likely, he secretly stalked himself just a little bit, here and there!

Just for the record: Billy Shipton's experience has to be the longest duration of a timeline crossing in the whole history of the show.

"But wait, Rob!" some of you may be crying out, "What about Donna in Turn Left?! She crosses her own time stream to attempt to get her to ... well ... turn left!" 

Technically, yes, she does cross her own timeline. But my definition says that you're able to meet yourself and that's exactly what she fails to do. And, since New Who is chocked full of timeline crossings, I'm gonna disqualify this one. Yes, that's not the best logic. But, really, I'm the most illogical person I know!


THE CROSSINGS OF THE ELEVENTH

And then, at last, we reach the Eleventh Doctor era. A period where time streams get crossed as often as the Doctor flaps his arms while he talks!

The Doctor, himself, makes multiple crossings. Flesh and Stone, The Big Bang, Journey to the Center of the TARDIS. Name of the Doctor (sort of - it's a grey area) and Day of the Doctor (not for the phone call that Eleven makes to have Gallifrey Falls moved - but the fact that it's multi-incarnational) are just a few stories that immediately spring to mind. Right in his very first story, Moffat had written in a timeline crossing in an early draft that ended up getting changed later. Originally, it was meant to be the Doctor from the future watching from the kitchen as the currently-regenerated Doctor takes off in the TARDIS and leaves Young Amy behind. It's implied in the actual transmitted episode that it's actually Prisoner Zero in the kitchen, instead.

In many ways, the entire Eleventh Doctor era is one huge timeline crossing. The ongoing arch of his entire three seasons is the fact that his final story on Trenzalore is influencing events in his life. It's not a true crossing of time streams, of course. But it comes perilously close.


OTHER CROSSINGS OF THE ELEVENTH

The Eleventh Doctor wasn't the only one crossing his own time stream during his era. Many of the people around him would also get caught up in these paradoxes.

During Journey to the Center of the TARDIS, the van Baalen brothers end up fighting future versions of themselves that have been scorched by the power source of the TARDIS. The Doctor and Clara encounter ossified versions of themselves from the future, too. They also experience "echoes" from their past. The Doctor, of course, also does a one time around in order to contact himself in the console room and tell him to push the big red button. Clara will go on to cross her own time stream one more time for a brief moment in Listen (she sees herself from behind) - but we're not there, yet.

River Song crosses her timeline on a few occasions. Mainly during Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon where she watches herself kill the Doctor in her astronaut suit and then chases around the child version of herself for a bit. She intentionally pretends not to know who the past versions of herself are so as not to create spoilers for the rest of the TARDIS crew.

And then there's Amy and Rory. Rory sees himself at least twice. Once in Hungry Earth when he and Amy from the future wave to themselves from a distance. And then again in Angels Take Manhattan when he watches himself die as an old man.

Amy crosses her own timeline even more. She sees the future version of herself twice during the Silurian adventure with Rory. Spends quite a bit of time with herself as a child during Big Bang. And has quite the argument with an older version of herself during The Girl Who Waited.

For the record: Amy is the companion who has crossed her own time stream more times than any other companion.



FINALLY, THERE'S TWELVE

And then we get to "Ole Twelvie. He seems to cross his own time stream about once a season. He accidentally breaks the laws of Gallifreyan Mean Time during Listen and goes back into his own childhood.

During Series Nine he crosses his own timeline twice over during Under The Lake/Before the Flood. The TARDIS traps him for a bit during Before the Flood in events from his own past because she is concerned about the interference he is trying to cause with Time. The Doctor from the future has also been lying in hibernation throughout the entire two episodes and only emerges from cryo-sleep near the end of the story.

The Christmas Special in Series Ten is one big time stream crossing as his first incarnation accidentally meets him in Antarctica. The two go off on an adventure together and then both choose to regenerate at the end.

For the record: Twice Upon A Time is the greatest gap of time between entry and departure points. A good 1500 years exists between these two incarnations.



UP TO DATE

At the time of writing this, we are enjoying the first season of the Thirteenth Doctor with Graham, Yaz and Ryan (well, some of us are - others do seem to be complaining a lot!). Kerblam! just went out a few days ago. So far, Thirteen has done nothing to cross her own time stream. Nor has anyone else in her company. Whether that stays consistent for the rest of the season - we'll have to wait and see...




And that's it for time stream crossings. I felt the topic merited a second part to track all the different convergence points during the history of the show. The whole exercise also helps to re-enforce the various patterns and rules I discussed in Part One. Hope you also felt it was worth a second installment too!   

I've purposely waited til today to publish this so that I can wish you all happy Fifty-Fifth Anniversary. Celebrate by putting on your favorite episode. Or you could even re-read a few of your favorite entries from here. I certainly won't stop you!   
























Wednesday, 7 November 2018

ANALYTICAL: CROSSING TIME STREAMS - PART 1: SOME BASIC RULES

Looky here!  An actual ANALYTICAL essay! Haven't written one of these in ages! 

It's been a bit difficult for me to do an ANALYTICAL because I've been legitimately busy with this goofy career of mine. Nothing requires heavier research than this style of essay so it's been tough to find the time do all the work that's required of me. But I do find the results very rewarding so I have missed doing these. Hopefully, you enjoy reading my observations as much as I enjoy making them. 


As many have said over the years, it's ironic that a show about time-travelling doesn't actually display much examples of it (well, truth be told, the Eleventh Doctor era changes that up a bit!). More times than others, time travel is only used to get the characters into their next story. After that, the narration tends to stay fairly linear.

As has been mentioned in parentheses in the previous paragraph, there is an era of the show where we do see the TARDIS and other modes of temporal transportation put to greater use. During such efforts, a number of things can be created. Aborted timelines would be one of the more frequent by-products of such gestures. In time, we'll probably delve into them quite heavily. But it won't be in this entry. For this post, we will merely look at the rules and patterns that seem to get established whenever a character crosses their own timeline. Before we can go much further, however, we should probably clearly establish what constitutes "crossing your own timeline"



DEFINITION:

As usual, the best way to define a trend in Doctor Who involves giving examples of what doesn't constitute a part of the pattern. Still, we'll try to start with a solid definition before getting into negative examples.

Crossing Your Own Timestream: (def) The conscious or unconscious act of temporally displacing yourself so that you are returning to a point in time and space that you had occupied previously. In essence, you have the opportunity to legitimately meet yourself (though, quite frequently, such an action is very specifically avoided). 



WHAT IS NOT CROSSING YOUR TIMELINE:

Just so we're really clear, we'll look at a few examples where one might almost feel that there's been a proper crossing of timestreams. But, according to my definition, that's not what truly happened.

Communication Only:  
We see numerous examples of this. The Doctor is, sort of, crossing his own timestream in order send a message to himself. A future version leaves an important note for his seventh incarnation to find that saves the day in Battlefield. Eleven calls Clara from the past just after he's regenerated in Deep Breath and Twelve is in the background, listening. The Doctor places all kinds of recorded messages for himself in Time Heist. Technically, the Doctor is crossing his timeline to do this. But I wouldn't say he's truly doing it. It's a pretty big grey area.

So Close: 
Very near misses could almost constitute a crossing of timestreams. But, if you want to be a purist about it - it doesn't fit the definition. We get the impression Eleven arrives just after his assassination in The Impossible Astronaut. So, not a proper crossing. Or the Doctor and Jo go off on a huge adventure on the planet Uxarieus and then return to the UNIT lab only seconds after they've left in Colony In Space. Again, they're very close to crossing their own timestreams - but not quite. 

Basic Geography: 
"you have the opportunity to meet yourself" - is a key point in my definition. The Doctor has been in the same relative time period so often that it's quite likely that there's been a bit of an overlap from time to time (Twentieth or Twenty-First Century Earth would be the best case of this - although we've also seen him doing a lot in the Fifty First Century during New Who). But if he's not within distance of meeting himself, I don't qualify it as a "proper" crossing of his timestream. A good example of this would be the fact that The War Machines and The Faceless Ones do seem to take place on the same day. But the First Doctor, Ben and Polly are in one part of Britain while the Second Doctor, Ben and Polly are in another. There is probably some overlap, here. Where the trio are all in the same place at the same time. But they are a considerable distance from each other and have no chance of meeting. So we're not really going to dwell on this too hard. It's another instance where, technically, this is a crossing of the timestream - but it's not enough of one for me to give it much more attention than this particular paragraph.

Multi-incarnation encounters: 
Two or more different incarnations coming together is, most definitely, a proper crossing of timelines. But I've already examined the whole process quite thoroughly in another essay (https://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2017/11/analytical-psychology-behind-multi.html) so I'm not going to do much of a re-tread, here. It will get mentioned from time-to-time, But if you really want to read the observations that I've made on such a process, go to the link I just provided.


BASIC STRUCTURE AND RECURRING PATTERNS (AND EVEN SOME BASIC RULES):

Okay, we've got some nice clear definitions in place. Let's actually look at some of the things that go on when such a process occurs. Even with all the different production teams that have worked on the show over the years, they do tend to adhere to certain guidelines when they use this particular device in a story. Here are a few of the major things I've noticed:


Entry and Departure Points: 

Aside from a notable exception or two, the show always bothers to go to the trouble of showing the breach in the timeline and the moment where the decision is made to make the breach in the timeline. In The Big Bang, for instance, we see the Doctor appearing to Rory at Stonehenge and giving him instructions on how to release him from the Pandorica Vault. Later in the episode, we see the Doctor running around in the museum with Rory and both Amies (I'm guessing this is how you pluralize "Amy"). Suddenly Rory points out to the Doctor that he appears the way he did when he visited him at Stonehenge. The Doctor realizes this is the moment where he's meant to go back in time and release himself from the Pandorica Vault. So he uses the vortex manipulator to do that.

Both points in the crossing of the timeline are clearly illustrated in this instance. Where the breach occurs and where the decision is made to create the breach. There can be interesting variances on the formula - but the convention persists. For example: Again, in The Big Bang, we see an older version of Amy meeting her younger self in the pre-titles. After the title sequence - we go back and see how the encounter was arranged. It's a bit of a reversal of what we will see the Doctor do in the same episode (he encounters himself after he's been shot by a Dalek then goes and gets shot by a Dalek and jumps back in time to meet himself). If the narrative had been told in its proper linear fashion, we would have seen the Doctor and Rory placing Amy in the Pandorica Vault and then we would see Young and Old Amy running into each other at the museum. But it's still the same basic principle. Both points in the crossing are displayed.

This is an important aspect of illustrating a crossed timeline. So much so, that even an android being displaced in time during Timelash gets that treatment. It's usually shown in the proper linear fashion, too. Someone pops out of nowhere at a weird time in the story and we only see, later, where and when they make that decision to go back in time and cause that appearance to happen. It's a great story-telling device as it builds a certain level of intrigue that only gets properly explained later. It's also some very tidy plotting. On the rare occasion where we don't see both points in time, it does feel strangely out of balance. 



One Time Around: 

This is a variation on the entry and departure points principal. We haven't seen it demonstrated much, but it does happen from time-to-time.

Occasionally, a timeline crossing creates a sort of aborted timeline. Events have to happen a certain way and then the Doctor has to go back into his past and cause them happen in a different way. In so doing, of course, he wipes out the first sequence of events and time re-sets itself slightly.

We really only see this happen in the New Series. The first time was in Father's Day. When Rose lacks the courage to go to her father and comfort him in his final moments, the Doctor takes her back one more time to try again. We actually see the Doctor and Rose in two different iterations at once. The Rose that makes the second visit runs forward and saves her father's life. Causing the other Rose and the Doctor to fade out of existence because she's changed the course of events. But the first sequence had to occur before the second one could. If things were going purely by the entry and departure point principal, then the first set of Rose and the Doctor would have watched the Second Rose run forward and save her dad. Instead, the First Set have to go through the sequence of events that leads Rose and the Doctor to making the second visit. It's pretty wibbly wobbly and timey whimey but it does make a sort of sense and is something time travelers are capable of doing under the proper circumstances.

It's interesting to note that there seem to be times when you can't cross your timestream in such a manner. When Clara is trying to get the Doctor to go back in time and save Danny Pink during Dark Water, he points out that it wouldn't work. That, in that instance, events would collapse in upon themselves. He would never go to save Danny Pink because Danny Pink would have never died. And yet, in Journey to the Center of the TARDIS he goes back in time to see himself and stop the TARDIS from being destroyed but only because the TARDIS got destroyed. The same rule should apply here - but it doesn't. 

This seems to indicate that Time Lords have a sort of instinct that enables them to see when they can go one time around and when they can't. Whether or not this is true or it was just a bluff to see the full extent of Clara's treachery - we're not entirely sure.



Side Effects:

Something else that we don't see all that frequently, but it occurs often enough to make it something time travelers must be wary of when they interrupt their own timestream.

One would think that entering into your own past or future would be a clean enough affair. You use some sort of temporal mechanics to displace yourself. You end up meeting yourself (or try to avoid meeting yourself). You pop off again and return to your proper place in time and space. No fuss, no bother. Right?

Most of the time, that is the case. But, every once in a while, weird stuff can happen. Side effects occur and things get a bit sloppy.

The most common side effect is that the senses of the people in the time zone you're visiting can be affected. In both The Space Museum and Big Bang, for instance, people could not see or hear the Doctor or the TARDIS Crew when they crossed their timeline. During Space Museum, they even became intangible. 

We've seen the Doctor grow genuinely ill during more complex time crossings. During The Five Doctors and Name of the Doctor, he became incapacitated for a time because of the complications that developed when crossing his own timeline (it could be debated that, by my definition, Name of the Doctor does not constitute a proper crossing of timelines - it's difficult to say). These ill feelings, of course, were created because it was not just a normal crossover. His fourth incarnation had been stranded in the Time Vortex during Five Doctors. And his entire past was being altered several times during Name of the Doctor. When these sort of variables get heaped on to a crossover, severe side effects of this nature can influence a time traveler. 

And then, of course, there's the memory issue. Sometimes, you can just plain forget what you did when you met yourself. Again, I believe that complexity has something to do with this. It usually only happens in multi-incarnation encounters. Several versions of the Doctor are banding together and it becomes too complex to retain. Yes, Missy was telling her previous incarnation that this was happening to her - but I still maintain that she was lying. 




Keeping a Distance:

This is something that gets emphasized heavily most of the time that we see a crossover. Don't actually let your past self see your future self. If they do, don't talk to them. And, for God's sake, don't come into physical contact with yourself (we'll dwell more heavily on this point in a moment).

The exception to the rule seems to be multi-incarnation encounters. Different versions of the Doctor seem to have little or no problem with interacting with each other. But we've even seen the Doctor try to avoid himself when it's the same incarnation crossing over. Episodes like Father's Day or Before the Flood demonstrate this quite clearly. The Doctor firmly instructs Rose to wait until her past version flees the scene before going to be at her dying father's side. He, most emphatically, does not want their past selves to meet their future selves. Under The Lake, of course, adheres to this principal even better. The Twelfth Doctor goes to great lengths to avoid himself when the TARDIS "traps" him in his own timestream. He even sets the hibernation unit to only release him after he has left the sea base in the TARDIS and gone into the past.

The biggest reason for staying away from yourself when you cross your own timeline seems simple enough: you run the risk of accidentally telling yourself something you shouldn't know about your own future. Learning something about what is to come can have all kinds of bad effects on that causal nexus. Best not to expose the Universe to that level of risk. So, if you do slip into your own timestream - keep a distance from yourself! 



No Contact:

This is a bit of sore point. It's a rule that has been heavily emphasized but frequently broken. While it does relate to the Keeping a Distance requirement, it merits a discussion of its own. 

In Mawdrn Undead, the Doctor expends endless amounts of histrionics emphasizing that the Current Day Brigadier can not meet the Brigadier From the Past. There will be a huge explosion that will take out the better part of a galaxy if he does. It's all quite dramatic and very intense and creates a really awesome resolution to the story's central conflict. And we learn, very succinctly, that people from two different time zones should never come into physical contact with each other. It could prove disastrous if they do.

And yet, the only other time we see a violent reaction of this nature is when the sonic screwdriver comes into contact with itself in Big Bang. There's a bit of a pop and then everything is fine.

Admittedly, an object from two different time zones probably wouldn't have as much impact when it comes into contact with itself as would a sentient being. But the real problem with this rule is the fact that we have seen sentient beings come into contact with themselves on numerous occasions but there's been no reaction like the one we saw with the Brigadier. Why is that?

Time Lords are obviously exempt from this rule. There is probably something built into their DNA that allows them to run into themselves and have physical contact without the usual consequences. This gets all those multi-incarnation encounters to work just fine. Different incarnations love to shake hands with each other as they depart. This should be causing all kinds of massive explosions - but it doesn't. It even makes moments like when the Eleventh Doctor takes hold of his "dying" self in Big Bang be okay. Even if the same incarnation from two different time zones touch each other there will be no real ill effects.

But while on the subject of Big Bang,  Adult Amy Pond has quite a bit of contact with a younger version of herself and we don't get that Sensational Brigadier Reaction that happened in Mawdryn Undead. One episode later, Kazran also has quite a bit of physical contact with himself, too (there is no way to phrase that without it sounding just a little bit wrong!). How do they get away with doing this without a group of immortals with a deathwish around to absorb the blast?

Aside from these two circumstances, we don't really see this happen anywhere else (well, it does occur in Father's Day but the Chronovore-like creatures probably harness the time energy to boost their own strength and enter the church). The best guess I can venture is that the Universe had just been destroyed in Big Bang. The Laws of Time were a bit wobbly during such a fragile period. Particularly with Amy. Her incident took place during an alternate timeline where the Universe was in the process of collapsing. All sorts of rules might suddenly stop working during such a situation. Kazran's incident took place shortly after the Universe re-booted (it's clear that this is a honeymoon gift to Rory and Amy so Chritmas Carol probably happens immediately after Big Bang). Perhaps, because the re-boot is so fresh, Time isn't working completely properly. Because of this, Kazran is able hold himself as a boy and it doesn't cause the galaxy to implode or something horrible like that. But if there had been a few stops along the way before getting to Kazran's planet, it might have been a different story. It's probably also likely that the Doctor, as a Time Lord, knew the Laws of Time weren't quite properly restored so he didn't need to freak out with Kazran like he did with the Brigadier.


And there we have some basic recurring patterns or even a set of rules that apply to crossing your own timestream. I'd like to write a second installment in this little saga where we look at the Doctor's specific experiences with this sort of phenomenon. We'll also look at the experiences of various companions and supporting characters who have also gone through this. Which means, of course, that another ANALYTICAL essay is soon to come. 

No doubt, you're waiting with baited breath....






 









Tuesday, 9 October 2018

UNADULTERATED BOORISH OPINION: A FEMALE DOCTOR - THE SEQUEL

A little over a year ago, I took it upon myself to voice my opinion on the casting of a woman in the role of the Doctor (you can see it here:http://robtymec.blogspot.com/2017/07/unadulterated-boorish-opinion-female.html). For those of you who are just too damned lazy and/or occupied to go back and read it, the basic gist of the essay was that I would need to see her in action before I could express any real opinion on the matter. 

So, I've seen her in action, now. What do I think of her? Well, let's take up an entire essay discussing it....



JODIE'S ACTUAL PERFORMANCE:

Jodie, pretty much, follows the pattern both Paul McGann and Chris Eccleston used. She hits the ground running. Someone else said it best in a review I watched on YouTube: from the moment she falls through the ceiling of the train, she is the Doctor. I totally agree with that sentiment.

In some ways, she almost had no choice but to have this sort of attack on the role. Frequently, new Doctors are given a bit of time to settle into the part. But, like McGann and Eccleston, she was part of a crucial moment in the series. She needed to establish herself firmly to give the show, itself, a proper foothold with its audience. She does all that quite admirably. I'm very impressed with the presence she shows. I'd go so far to say that her performance was one of the most solid ones I've seen in a New Doctor Story.

Purely from a performance standpoint, the Thirteenth Doctor is awesome. She might be a woman, now - but she is still the Doctor. I look forward to seeing more of her. Wherever she takes the character, I think I will enjoy it.



THE QUALITY OF HER FIRST EPISODE - THE GOOD STUFF

It's always a good choice to keep the first story of a new Doctor (or, as I like to call them, a New Doctor Story) fairly simple. We're trying to get used to a change of the lead in the show and it's good for the writer to use up a lot of screentime familiarizing us with them. They need to devote some time to just letting us see what sort of quirks the latest incarnation might have. As much as some fans might revile Twin Dilemma, making its central thrust the fact that Peri is having a hell time accepting the Doctor's change was a good move. And this rings true with so many other New Doctor Stories that make this same choice. I'm glad that The Woman Who Fell to Earth uses thar format too.

There are a few things that particularly stand out in the episode. Probably the strongest is the wonderful speech that the Thirteenth Doctor delivers about settling into a new incarnation. Not only does it have a gorgeous poetic quality to it, but it offers some great insights into the character. It's one of those speeches that will probably make it into the Great Monologues of Doctor Who Hall of Fame. Along with the "Homo Sapiens!" speech in Ark In Space or "Hello Stone Henge!" in The Pandorica Opens.

I really like the stakes of Woman Who Fell. She's not stopping an invasion of Earth or saving the Universe. She's just trying to stop a Stenza from killing one person (well, placing one person in eternal torment - if you want to get technical). This might not even stop the alien species from using the Earth as a hunting ground, but it will make a difference to that one person. It's a great way to show where the Doctor stands. She will tolerate no injustice on any level. No matter how slight.

I also quite like the monster in this story. We learn a lot about him with the little dialogue he's provided. He has a sort of warped warrior's code and can kill people the way Kane did in Dragonfire. I also love that he has a ball of floaty electric eels to help him! He was really quite cool.

Yes, he does bear just the vaguest resemblance to The Predator. Both in terms of appearance (he has an ugly face beneath his space helmet) and habit (he uses Earth as a hunting ground). But, really, the similarities end there. So can we stop with the "he's a total rip-off of The Predator!" comments I'm already starting to see. People that are doing this may want to refer to another UNADULTERATED BOORISH OPINION essay that I've written (http://robtymec.blogspot.com/2017/07/unadulterated-boorish-opinion-silliness.html).

Oh yes, the Doctor jumping from one crane to another was brilliant. 



THE QUALITY OF HER FIRST EPISODE - THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF 

While I have praised Woman Who Fell to Earth for keeping its plot simple, it does still mean that the episode can still only inspire so much wonder. This is always the great paradox of any New Doctor Story. It can't be complicated. But its lack of complication means it will, usually, be mediocre.

It's not to say that it didn't have the potential to be great. I consider, at least, three New Doctor Stories to be outstanding (Power of the Daleks, Spearhead from Space and Castrovalva). It also had the potential to be awful, too, of course. One New Doctor Story achieves this in my Book (not Twin Dilemma or Time and the Rani - but rather, Robot). Woman Who Fell sits in the middle with so many other New Doctor Stories. A nice foundation is built as we get to know this latest incarnation. But it doesn't achieve much beyond that. Since that is the real point of the whole episode - we're satisfied. But there is that lingering feeling of: "this could have been better".

We're also seeing a bit of that "Exposition is Evil" mentality that writers for Doctor Who all seem to have. From what I gather, the Doctor survives her fall from the TARDIS because she's still within the first 13 hours of her regeneration and can heal her wounds (which is what the whole nap on the couch was about). It would be nice if she had been given a line to explain that, though.

Otherwise, there's not much else I can say that I find bad about the first impression a female Doctor has made on me. Both, in terms of performance and story, she's doing quite well. 


A SLIGHT THEMATIC CONCERN

There is but one more thing that I wish to take up before I click on the "Publish" prompt and let you guys endure my latest bloated opinion. We saw just a hint of it in this episode and I'm hoping we don't see too much more of it. A bit more would be okay - but I hope they don't abuse it.

A female Doctor is certainly empowering. It's a great message that's being sent to women of all ages: Gender does not define heroism. Women can be anything - even the Doctor. I'm all for this. But I do hope these feminist undertones remain undertones and don't start getting crammed down our throat.

Rescuing Karl on the crane was a full reversal of the classic "damsel in distress" trope. More times than I can count, the Classic Series gave us this scenario. Each time that they did, I found it fairly nauseating. A woman being completely useless unless a man can save her was something I found a bit distasteful. It marred the reputation of many female companions from the 60s because it made them look like they could do nothing without a man nearby to look after them.

A female Doctor saving a completely useless male victim was a cute moment that almost seems to acknowledge all that horribly sexist writing from yesteryear and make up for a it a bit. But I hope we don't push this particular agenda too hard. I'm nervous that the show will keep giving us male characters that are near-superfluous and women who are getting everything accomplished. It didn't help that neither Graham nor Ryan contribute much to the plot either. Whereas Grace and Yas do take a lot more initiative and solve more problems. Again, if this only happens now and again - I'm perfectly cool with it. But, if every episode has a sort of "Girls rule. Boys Drool." undertone to it, it could get tiresome fast. 

We may see this some more. I don't mind if it only happens now and again. In fact, it should be something we occasionally witness. It is a sort of re-dressing of the balance. But I hope it's not continuous. At this point though, we can't tell how much more this will occur. We'll have to wait and see what the rest of the season gives us....




Okay, so that's the second installment on this particular series. There will be one more at the end of the season. Normally, I wouldn't be writing anything so opinion-based like this at regular intervals. I would just let the fans enjoy the new season without having to hear my reviews about it. But so much opinion is going to get thrown around this season because of the decision Chibnall made with the casting that I feel I should "throw in" a bit, myself. I just have the advantage of a well-read blog to use as my platform.  






Saturday, 29 September 2018

CHRONOLOGIES AND TIMELINES: THE GREAT INTELLIGENCE

I was thinking of doing an ANALYTICAL essay since it had been a while. I even had a couple of cool ideas for some recurring concepts in the show that I'd like to explore. But then I looked at this blog's stats and saw that you guys have been obsessed with CHRONOLOGIES AND TIMELINES, lately. Particularly the one I did for River Song (which is nice to see - I really put a lot of work into that one!  Just in case you haven't looked at it, yet:   http://robtymec.blogspot.com/2017/03/chronologies-and-timelines-complex.html). So I thought to myself:  "Give the people what they want!" and decided to set myself to work on figuring out the linear history of a character we've seen several times throughout the series. 

If you'll recall the last time I wrote in this style, I pointed out how I was running out of material. That there just weren't that many returning characters and/or monsters who still needed their timelines sorted. But, upon reflection, I realized there were a lot more than I had originally believed.    

I was almost embarrassed to have forgotten about the Great Intelligence. He spans both the Classic and New Series and his story is definitely told out of order. I'm almost ashamed I haven't covered him sooner. 



UNKNOWN ORIGINS:

If you read my History of Weeping Angels essay, you'll note that I was complaining about how little we truly know about this particular species. Well, I'm about to complain even more! 

We have, at best, slight "teases" about where the Great Intelligence may have come from or even what he truly he is. For the most part, we have only seen his activities on Earth. I believe he has caused all kinds of trouble on other planets before he visited humanity.That, like so many other Who Monsters, he probably has a long history of invading and absorbing worlds. But, because the Doctor defends the Earth as well as he does, he ended up becoming stranded here for far longer than he expected.

But this still tells us very little about him. What exactly is the Great Intelligence? 

While various forms of spin-off fiction have come up with different types of origin stories for him, little is said about where he came from in the actual TV Show. The Second Doctor speaks of him as being a sort of formless mist hanging in Space that has an evil sentience to it. My guess is that this mist can look over great distances and pick out planets that it sees as worthy of occupation.

Beyond that, however, we really don't know what he is. I do like the idea the New and Missing Adventures by Virgin Books put forward. That he is part of a race of "Ancients" that existed in the Universe before us that managed to slip into our own as theirs died. But this is far from canonical. As always, I go with what is said in transmitted episodes only (for the most part). Since the show does seem to be done telling his story, we will probably never truly learn his origins.


INVASION TECHNIQUES:

The Great Intelligence looks for planets that are populated by intelligent creatures that show great potential. They must be using a decent level of technology - but it doesn't need to be that advanced. Victorian-era Earth was suitable enough. When he finds an acceptable culture to invade, he concentrates himself into crystal form and projects himself towards that planet.

It is when he first arrives on a new planet that he is at his weakest. No doubt, the long journey he has taken from wherever he was sitting in the Universe as a mist has rendered him frail. He barely has an identity of his own and must "mirror" the emotions of the beings on the world he has arrived on for a time before he can re-constitute himself.

The Intelligence will find one being in specific to form a telepathic bond with. It searches out someone who is largely anti-social. This way, the potential host will be eager to connect with him. The two of them will then go about to find a way to hybridize the local population so that the Intelligence's crystalline form can merge with the DNA of the dominant species of that world.


THE SNOWMEN 

When the Great Intelligence arrives on Earth in 1842, he adopts his usual strategy by bonding with a young boy named Walter Simeon. He then assists the boy in rising to prominence so that he can amass the appropriate resources for the Great Intelligence to actualize himself and invade the Earth.

In his crystalline form, the Intelligence is quite similar to snow (which makes sense, he has to withstand the extreme cold of outer space as he travels through it). Earth's warm climate makes it a difficult place to establish a foothold in. But, after a good fifty years, Simeon and his benefactor devise a way to overcome this limitation. Fortunately, the Doctor comes out of his funk over losing Rory and Amy and thwarts their plans.

It is, more so, by luck that the Doctor wins this battle. In fact, he makes a tactical mistake by using a memory worm on Simeon. Up until that moment, the Great Intelligence was never able to take over his host's mind. But, now that Simeon has been emptied of all memories, he can completely possess him. This seems to even open the door for the Great Intelligence to completely control the minds of other humans, too. As we will see more examples of him doing this in the future.

The Intelligence has made mistakes of his own, however. He'd left too great of a critical mass of himself around the home of Captain Latimer. When Clara dies (or, more accurately, one of her splinters dies) the grief her death causes overwhelms the Intelligence's psychic receptors and causes him to disperse. More than likely, he reverts back to gaseous form and is hovering somewhere just outside of Earth's atmosphere for quite some time.

SPECIAL NOTE: It is uncertain if the Doctor willingly helps the Great Intelligence by letting him see a map of the London Underground in 1967 or if it's done by accident. As he stands at Clara's grave with the Paternoster Gang, he seems to only vaguely remember his old enemy (which makes sense - it's been centuries in his own timeline since he last fought him). But he also acts very intentionally in the way he presents the tin with the map on it. As if he knows he's helping to cement certain things that will happen in the Great Intelligence's future. So it's difficult to tell what he's up to, here. Does he know who he's dealing with and is purposely giving him a clue to his own future? Or was that all by accident? If there was a greater amount of things to expound upon, I could almost make this a POINT OF DEBATE essay! 


ADVENTURES WITH THE SECOND DOCTOR - PART 1

The Intelligence floats in space just beyond our world - trying to find a way back in. Again, he needs to form a psychic bond with someone isolated to assist him in re-actualizing himself. His brief moment of possessing Simeon's mind has benefited him greatly, though. He is now able to completely take over the minds of his hosts if he needs to.

He finds the partnership he's looking for, this time, from a monk in Tibet named Padmasambhava (who wins the "Doctor Who Character with the Longest Name" contest). Through various meditation techniques, Padmasambhava has learnt to extend his consciousness and even his lifespan. During astral projection, he makes contact with the Great Intelligence and becomes mentally enslaved to him. Although, we should note that the Intelligence's ability to control minds is not perfect, yet. Padmasambhava does manage to re-assert his identity from time-to-time.

This time, the Intelligence focuses heavily on technology to assist him in his invasion plans. He has Padmasambhava build robots to work for him and construct a specific relay point to draw his consciousness to Earth. Rather than crystal, he will manifest himself as a sort of a fungus. His plans are about to reach fruition sometime in the 1930s when the Doctor arrives at the Detsen monastery and puts a stop to it. Ultimately, he gets Jamie to smash the relay point (in the form of a small pyramid) and cut the Intelligence's connection to our world. With that bond severed, his Yetis and even Padmasambhava become lifeless.

SPECIAL NOTE 1: The Great Intelligence has met the Doctor previous to this tale. There is no specific "So Doctor, we meet again..." speech to make this readily apparent. But the Intelligence does seem to understand who he is quite quickly. Which could, if you're willing to make the stretch, indicate prior experience with him. Yes, the Doctor's appearance is different but the Intelligence probably knows about Time Lords and is aware they can regenerate. Like Time Lords, he probably uses telepathic recognition, anyway. Physical appearance has little bearing in this process. The Doctor is identified by his mind pattern.

SPECIAL NOTE 2: The Abominable Snowmen seems to heavily insinuate that the plans of Padmasambhava and the Great Intelligence take some 300 years. This would, of course, make the timeline of The Snowmen rather complicated. Was the Great Intelligence working two plans at once to manifest himself?

I'm more inclined to believe that the Intelligence makes contact with Padmasambhava shortly after his failure with Simeon. That Padmasambhava works away for a good fifty years under the Intelligence's dominion. His extended lifespan is due more to the ways in which he expanded his consciousnsess before he makes mental contact with the Intelligence (there have been real-life examples of Tibetan monks living abnormally long lives so this isn't too huge of a stretch). The Intelligence continues sustaining him artificially after he takes him over until the relay point is finally broken.



ADVENTURES WITH THE SECOND DOCTOR - PART 2

While his plans in Tibet may have been ruined, this doesn't stop the Great Intelligence from trying to establish another bridgehead to Earth. This time, we don't see how he does it.  But he definitely manages to manifest himself as a fungus on the planet's surface. He re-builds some of his technology that he first used in Tibet. Shortly thereafter, the events of Web of Fear ensue.

Thanks to a clue given to him during his first encounter with the Doctor, he uses the London Underground as a tactical point in his invasion plans. He will probably establish a foothold in Britain's capitol city and then sweep out across the rest of the world.

This time, however, he also wishes to gain mastery over all of time and space by absorbing the Doctor's knowledge into him. He has fought the Time Lord several times, now, and sees how taking all his memories from him could be of enormous benefit. Now an expert at mind control, he gets his slaves to construct special machinery to do this. The Doctor manages to secretly fiddle with the device so that it will destroy the Intelligence rather than absorb his mind. However, the Time Lord keeps his meddling a secret from his friends. They smash the machine before it can accomplish this. Which, again, sends the Great Intelligence back into space in his gaseous form.

I do believe that, at this point, the Great Intelligence has given up on conquering Earth. He wishes to go elsewhere in the Universe. However, he has been greatly weakened by all his defeats and projecting himself over great distances is too heavy of a task for him. He must find ways to build back up his strength.



BACK TO SIMEON

The Great Intelligence almost appears to have a "soft spot" for the host he first used when coming to Earth and starts his using his image, again. He doesn't actually re-create his body, yet. But when he appears to his hosts as a mental image, he uses his form.

Over the next few decades, the Intelligence finds various means to simply absorb the minds of other sentient beings into himself. This enables him to build up his strength so that he can, eventually, project himself to another world more suitable for occupation (ie: a planet the Doctor is less likely to visit). He will, however, always remember his various defeats at the Doctor's hand. Though he claims in Web of Fear that he isn't motivated by revenge - he was fibbing just a tad. Someday, he would like to well and truly crush the Time Lord.

With the creation of Wi-Fi in the 21st Century, the Intelligence sees an excellent means of taking in vast amounts of human minds all at once. This can finally give him all the power he needs to leave Earth. Using a host who he has been completely controlling since the earliest days of her childhood, the Intelligence sets up a special "dummy company" that will enable him undertake his mass absorption.

The Bells of Saint John takes place, here.

Though he is defeated, once more, by the Eleventh Doctor - the Intelligence has gained the strength he needs to leave Earth. But he does seriously hate the Doctor, now. He will go out into the Universe and wreak havoc for quite some time. But, someday, he will get his revenge.... 



MANY YEARS LATER....

It's my personal belief that, sometime after Bells of Saint John, the Great Intelligence achieves escape velocity and leaves the Earth. He conquers many more worlds and plunders their technology. This, in turn, enables him to move through our Universe in a smoother fashion. Eventually, he reaches a point where he can travel anywhere in Time and Space. He also creates a special vessel in which he can pour his consciousness into. He then makes copies of that body so that if one is destroyed, he can easily transfer himself into another. He dubs these special bodies: The Whisper Men.

For over 2 000 years, a desire to exact revenge on the Doctor still burns in his heart. Eventually, the Great Intelligence learns of the Doctor's final death on Trenzalore. Understanding the sort of rupture in reality that a time traveler's death would cause, he uses this to his advantage to create a scenario of ultimate vengeance. 

Re-adopting the shape of Dr. Simeon, the Great Intelligence goes back in time to kidnap the Paternoster Gang. He knows this will lure the Doctor into any kind of trap of his devising. The "scar" the Doctor's death will leave in time is inside the TARDIS. Even though it is also dying, the Intelligence cannot enter the TARDIS without the Doctor's help. So he takes the Paternoster Gang to Trenzalore and forces the Doctor to open the TARDIS doors for him (well, technically, the ghost of River Song does it - but that's a complicated story in itself!).

Entering the time fissure of the Doctor's death, the Great Intelligence alters the Doctor's past so that he loses to the Great Intelligence over and over. This very act erases him from existence. From this point onward, he is lost within the Doctor's timeline.But he is content with this. He has achieved his revenge.

Until, of course, Clara also enters the Wound in Time and undoes everything the Great Intelligence has accomplished. Re-setting the Doctor's timeline to the way it was meant to be. The action also turns her into The Impossible Girl and creates a mystery in the Doctor's life that he spends the better part of a season trying to solve! 

It seems that the Great Intelligence has reached his end, here. Not only did he fail to achieve his revenge. But that lust for vengeance destroyed him in the process.

The Universe has rid itself of one of its worst menaces.




One of the rare occasions during a CHRONOLOGY AND TIMELINES essay where we actually see a definite ending to the being we are chronicling. This wasn't one of the more difficult timelines to set up, but I do hope I managed to reconcile a few of its inconsistencies effectively. Particularly the idea of getting The Snowmen and The Abominable Snowmen to work a bit better within each others' contexts.   

As I mentioned in the intro, there are a few more timelines for me to sort out. I'll probably do another one of these soon... 







Monday, 3 September 2018

UNADULTERATED BOORISH OPINION: WAS IT REALLY SO BAD? WARRIORS OF THE DEEP

Not quite a new type of essay, but a new series that I'll be featuring in my UNADULTERATED BOORISH OPINION style of essays. 

This will be similar to the "Unsung Classics" that I, sometimes, like to write about but it will have its own slant. While an Unsung Classic is a great story that should have gotten more props than it deserves, "Was It Really So Bad?!" is about stories with legitimate problems to them that I feel have been blown out of proportion. They're not quite Guilty Pleasures (we've written about those in a BOOK OF LISTS series. Here's the first of the five - just keep clicking to the next entry if you want to keep going:  http://robtymec.blogspot.com/2016/05/book-of-lists-top-five-guilty-pleasures.html). Guilty Pleasures are legitimately bad but I still like them, somehow. A "Was It Really So Bad?" story may have misfired on a few fronts but I still wouldn't call it a legitimate "clunker". It's still actually quite decent most of the time. But, because of a few rough patches, Fandom has decided that it absolutely sucks. My point in this particular type of essay is to try to build a bit of a case in the tale's defense. 

If you think the story I'm defending stinks then I probably won't change your opinion. But I'll still enjoy the cathartic value of stating what I think about the whole thing and how much it irritates me that fans crap on something that was actually half-decent. 


WARRIORS OF THE DEEP - WAS IT AS DEEPLY CRAPPY AS THEY CLAIM? 

It's the mid-80s. We've all just settled down from a really fun anniversary celebration that wasn't big on plot but still hit all the right notes with nostalgia. Season 21 comes along a short while later and we're all anxious to see what it holds. "Hooray!" We rejoice, "The Silurians and Sea Devils are coming back!"

What ends up hitting our screens, however, doesn't make us rejoice so much. There are a few glaring problems with Warriors of the Deep that let Fandom down so much that they turned on the whole thing rather quickly. So much so, that it tends to make it on to a lot of peoples' Worst of Lists.

This can happen when an old monster is brought back and the story is a bit lacking in places. Even in the New Series, we've seen this occur. Sontaran Strategem/Poison Sky, for instance, was a passable tale. But, because it had Sontarans attached to it, our disappointment becomes magnified. An okay story becomes more heavily reviled because it failed to re-introduce an old foe effectively.

I suggest that Poor 'Ole Warriors of the Deep got hit that way, too. If we can look past a few things and get over that it's not the best story featuring Silurians and/or Sea Devils (though, it's not the worst, either) then we actually find that there's still a fair amount of decent things about it.



THE GOOD STUFF

There's an interesting behind-the-scenes story that many fans feel contributes quite strongly to the detriment of Warriors of the Deep. Johnny Byrne, the author of the story, specified in the script that Seabase 4 should be very dark and gloomy and appear very worn down. It was meant to symbolize how the Cold War, itself, had gone on way more than it should and was causing everything to decay. The production team, for whatever reason, chose to go another way with it. Which is, ultimately, how things go in the Biz. What you write on the page doesn't always make it to the screen. Johnny Byrne, however, ended up having so many problems with this that he never contributed again.

But, as much as Byrne's specifications might have helped contribute to the atmosphere of the adventure, I don't think that going against his wishes did any actual real damage (though some fans would like to think otherwise). The truth of the matter is, the sets to Warriors of the Deep look great. Aside from a wobble here and there during action sequences and some very obvious 80s digital images on display screens, they hold up quite well. Everything looks pretty slick, really. So we shouldn't complain too hard that Byrne's vision wasn't accomplished. Cause what we did get was still quite impressive. So let's brush aside that Popular Fan Objection here and now. Sea Base 4 might not have looked the way it was intended to be - but it still looked pretty good. Some might even say awesome. 

Another great strength to this story is pacing. Earthshock set this interesting precedent in the Peter Davison Era. If a famous monster from the past was coming back, then the whole plot needed to feel like things were moving very quickly. There was a stronger emphasis on action and there might even, perhaps, be a bit of grittiness to the whole thing. Warriors of the Deep accomplishes this quite well. It doesn't quite "hit the ground running" like Earthshock or Resurrection of the Daleks did. We do get some establishing scenes that move a little more lazily. But that sense of pace does start kicking in fairly early in the game. Once the TARDIS confronts the defense satellite, a very nice sense of urgency ensues. The scenes are stacked against each other quite effectively for Parts 1 and 2 as things propel at a very good speed. That idea of the TARDIS crew always being in peril is well-established in the first half of the story. We really are whisked along quite nicely in the adventure. But things feel more tense than normal. Which, again, is the way things seem to work when Doctor Five is dealing with a returning monster. Honestly, those first 2 parts of Warriors of the Deep are pretty damned solid.

Some folks get upset that the Silurians have shells, now. That it's a blatant attempt to cash in on the Ninja Turtle Fever that was going on at the time. I'm not sure how valid of an issue that is. The costumes for both species actually look quite good. There's a bit of a problem with the heads here and there - a Silurian mask was not put on properly at one point. And the heads of the Sea Devils are actually hats that hang off the artistes poorly, sometimes. But these sort of problems happen quite often in Classic Who. I find it hard to get too caught up in it. But I do think that the updates that were done to both creatures were very strong.


THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF 

For me, Part Three is where some real problems start to arise. The cliffhanger to Part One was great. That was actually a really good fight sequence. But Part Two's ending signposts a big issue on the horizon. The sequence of events is well-written. We are genuinely concerned for the Doctor and Tegan as they get trapped on the wrong side of the bulkhead. But the execution of that scene falls very flat. And much of the direction in Part Three continues suffering.

The real problem here, of course, is the Myrka. Even by Classic Who standards, the visual is just too embarrassing to handle. Again, as a concept, it works well. It's nice to see a very different kind of monster trying to be created. But what we actually get is laughable. It's just difficult to handle a pantomime horse with any degree of seriousness. It doesn't help that several cringe-worthy visuals happen around the thing, too. Our first sight of it through airlock doors that are blatantly not made of metal is pretty ludicrous. As is the "fight" that Ingrid Pitt is meant to have with it before she perishes. It's all pretty awful. This is a legitimate Fan Objection that I can't really dismiss. The Myrka really does ruin things for a bit.

What Fandom doesn't seem to notice is that the writing is also only doing so well in this episode. Warriors of the Deep, I feel, would have worked so much better if they had started doing those three-parters in the McCoy era right here. Byrne is really trying to sustain the episode when there isn't quite enough plot. There's some structural issues, too. The most blatant being just how long it takes for Commander Vorshak to get from the bulkhead to the Bridge. Watch it for yourself. Everyone else displaces themselves quite quickly after the Myrka and the Sea Devils break through. Vorshak just seems to stroll along during all the peril. Did he stop for a bowel movement or something?  

There's another really silly writing choice that gets made that I feel needs to be highlighted. When Nilson is uncovered as the traitor - no one thinks to disarm him. Wouldn't that be the first thing one would do in a military operation when someone is suspected of treason?!  Instead, Nilson makes his escape and leads us to a very weak cliffhanger.

Really, for my money, Part Three is where things go off the rails for a bit. Most complaints that are leveled against it cannot be disputed. This is where Warriors of the Deep becomes legitimately bad.

Does it stay bad, though?

I don't think so....


BACK ON TRACK

It's almost like Part Four brushes the third part's dust off of itself and gets back on its feet. Quite mercifully, both Nilson and the Myrka are dead. The issues they created die with them and we can get back to the real plot.

The pace really starts to pick up again. Some quick captures and escapes happen to pad things out a bit but not too much. As is often the case with Doctor Five Returning Monster Stories, there is a nice moment where the Doctor abandons his gentle disposition and "lets rip" for a few minutes with unadulterated outrage. This time, though, his target is humanity, itself. He is truly disgusted by Preston's desire to wipe out the enemy with hexachromite (which, admittedly, could have been introduced more subtly in Part One!). It's quite the speech that sits almost as strongly as the verbal attack against the Cyber Leader in Earthshock. I'm very impressed by it.

The tension that ensues once the hexachromite is released into the ventilation system is extremely well-performed. Those last few minutes of Tegan and Turlough running around trying to save the Silurians while the Doctor attempts to stop the missile run really are frantic. Our three leads sell the moment very well and we're even holding our breath a bit.

Again, we can make a bit of an Earthshock comparison, here. This final scene is extra effective because it actually works against itself a bit. There are two well-placed contradictory elements going on. Which makes the peril of the moment all-the-more effective. In Earthshock, they're trying to save Adric. But, at the same time, they can't. If they do, established history could be corrupted. In Warriors of the Deep, they want to preserve what remains of the Silurian Triad - but also can't. Because, no doubt, Icthar will try some other way to wipe out humanity if he survives. This is actually some pretty solid writing. It tears us in two different directions and makes the climax of the story that bit more exciting.

The ending of Warriors of the Deep does take a pretty big risk. Some feel it didn't work. I, however, am of the "This is a Super-Cool Ending" Camp. But then, I also liked the broken math badge in Earthshock. So maybe I'm just a sucker for when the show tries to stray from its regular "well, we saved the day lets go back to the TARDIS" formula. Because the Doctor looking over the devastation and pronouncing: "There should have been another way." is absolutely spectacular. It really rams home what the whole story is trying to say about War. The Cold War, in particular. That, basically, we need to find a better way.

A bit corny, perhaps? Probably. But, sometimes, corny is nice...



ONE LAST FAN OBJECTION TO DISMISS....

Okay, I've made my case. Aside from some bad stuff in Part Three, I think this story does half-decently. A lot of the Popular Fan Objections have, by my definition, been cut down to size (you may think otherwise, of course - and you're perfectly welcome to your opinion!).

But there is one last complaint to deal with. It doesn't refer so much to the specific story, itself. But rather, how the story affects the larger scale of continuity.

We seem to be under the impression that the Doctor, in this point in his timeline, has met the Silurians and Sea Devils on three occasions. Those incidents were all shown onscreen in Doctor Who and the Silurians, The Sea Devils and Warriors of the Deep. Some confusion ensues, however, when references are made in Warriors of the Deep to Silurians and Sea Devils that don't seen to make sense. The Doctor claims to have knowledge of Myrkas, Triads and has even met Icthtar. But we never saw any of this happen in those two previous tales. Fans are angered that Warriors seems to have gotten its continuity wrong.

The answer is simple, really. I go into this in far greater detail in my the CHRONOLOGIES AND TIMELINES that I do about Silurian History (I'll post links at the bottom of the essay), but Warriors of the Deep is referencing untelevised encounter(s) that the Doctor has had with the Silurians. It's entirely possible, in fact, that the Silurians and Sea Devils that we see in this story have absolutely no knowledge of the onscreen adventures the Doctor had with them. In the same way that the Silurians we've been seeing in New Who don't seem to know about the groups of Homo Reptilia he's met in the Classic Series. These are creatures that have been living in hibernation chambers scattered throughout the planet. It's likely that there's not a whole lot of communication going on between them. So the Doctor's encounters with them can be very isolated. 


THE FINAL ANALYSIS

Now we have, officially, dealt with all the problems and strengths of Warriors of the Deep. I'd like to think that my analysis has shown there are far more positive points to the tale than negative. Not sure if you see that, yourself. But, as I said earlier, if I didn't change your mind on the matter - the cathartic process of it all was still nice! 

Nonetheless, I hope I've helped you to re-evaluate things a bit.




That's all for now for this new series. Hope you've enjoyed it. From time to time, we will look at other stories that I feel have always gotten more flack than they deserve (you can bet that both Twin Dilemma and Time and the Rani will show up here, someday). I look forward to ranting further on such matters....   

Want a bit more elaboration on those unseen Silurian/Sea Devil stories?  Here are links to my Comprehensive Homo Reptilia History:  

Part 1:   
http://robtymec.blogspot.com/2017/09/chronologies-and-timelines-probable.html

Part 2: 
http://robtymec.blogspot.com/2017/10/chronologies-and-timelines-silurian.html





Tuesday, 21 August 2018

POINTS OF DEBATE: WAS MISSY TRULY CONVERTED?

I can't help but notice that I'm running out of material for two of my five styles of essays. There aren't too many Continuity Glitches left for me to fix nor are there a lot of Chronologies and Timelines that I still need to work out. 

It's time to come up with a few new styles. 

I did start doing Unadulterated Boorish Opinions this year but I don't want to indulge too deeply in this one (as I've said many times before, fan blogs that are just opinion pieces are a dime a dozen) so I need to dream up another new type of essay. After some thought, I invented POINTS OF DEBATE.

This new category vaguely resembles FIXING CONTINUITY GLITCHES but works quite differently. When I'm repairing those continuity glitches, I'm trying to correct the mistakes made by various production teams over the years. POINTS OF DEBATE will look at issues that production teams have left intentionally ambiguous. We'll examine various arguments surrounding these issues and try to present a logical conclusion of some sort.

Will the conclusions I reach truly be the right ones? I'd like to think so! But, truthfully, if your opinion completely contradicts mine - it's just as valid. 

Always hurts when I say that.     



DID MISSY TRULY BECOME "GOOD" AT THE END OF SERIES 10? 

While I do wish, sometimes, that New Who wouldn't concentrate so hard on season-long arcs, I did greatly enjoy what they did in Series 10. Building up the "what's inside the box?" mystery during the first half of the season was great fun. But then the mystery evolved into something far more complex and interesting during the latter half. For a brief time, it looked like the Doctor's greatest enemy was going to turn into something far more benevolent. She might even become a positive force in the Universe.

But did she? Was any of this desire that she expressed to be a better person sincere in the slightest? The entire process she goes through is presented in a way that leaves us wondering. There are several signs that seem to indicate she does "convert" briefly by the end of the season. But there are other ideas to consider that could lead us to believe that all of this was a bit of a facade. Something to get the Doctor to believe that his worst adversary was becoming his best friend again. When, in truth, she was still rotten to the core. Let's examine both sides of the argument and see which one holds stronger. 


NEGATIVE POINTS

Probably the thing that most strongly supports the idea that Missy was putting on an act the whole time is the fact that she only makes this decision when she's about to be killed. She sees that her situation is inescapable. It's either get killed or take advantage of her rival's idealistic views. Missy knows the Doctor believes there is good in everyone. Her back's against the wall so she might as well try to exploit his romantic nature and see if that will get her out of the fix that she's in.

While the Doctor does save her from her execution, he doesn't set her free. She's still imprisoned in the Vault where she must work out her redemption. Missy does claim, at one point, that she could break out of her prison if she really wanted to - but it's entirely possible that this is all just a bluff. That the Vault really is escape-proof but saying she could get out if she really wanted will help to make it look like she really is trying to change. If this is truly the case, then it shows just how clever she is. Boasting of an ability to break out of something you can't really leave to convince your sentimental jailer that you are improving is a good strategy.

We see Missy fighting the process on several occasions. Most of these moments take place in Lie of the Land and are subject to varied interpretations. Since we are focusing on the negative side of things, let's look at them through those lenses first. Missy asking for rewards for her help is, quite simply, her revealing her true nature. She's still selfish and will only do things that will bring her gain. Her "I'm engaging in the process" claim is to be ignored. This is the real Missy we're seeing.

When she later berates the Doctor for his more arrogant form of morality in the same episode, she is attempting to divert him from the idea that she is still bad. She's trying to say that she'll find her own sense of good and that he should let her. But what's really going on is quite different. The Doctor's ideas on morality are the true sense of good. To try to wander outside of his values is to participate in various levels of corruption or even evil. But, if she can get him to believe that his truth is not absolute, then maybe he'll let her go when she's not exhibiting all the right traits that he wants to see. Essentially, she's trying to get the Doctor to doubt himself a bit and so that he might set her free even if she isn't behaving quite the way he wants her to.

There are a few occurrences that happen next that really work against Missy's facade. She starts actually crying over the people she's killed. The Doctor actually vocalizes that these could be just "crocodile tears" and Missy responds with a sort of "if only it were so..." statement. More than likely, the Doctor is entirely right and Missy is just trying to double-bluff him.

Missy helping Nardole get back to Mars is a harder one to dispute. My guess would be that Missy recognizes that there's more to Nardole than meets the eye. That he may appear goofy and harmless on the surface but he can be a force to be reckoned with when he needs to be. She could try to steal the TARDIS away at this point but Nardole might actually be able to put up a fight. Better to just play along for a bit longer til she gets a better opportunity. 

For the next little while, Missy is allowed some freedom - but with heavy restrictions. Naturally enough, she's going to behave fairly nicely, here. There's going to be no attempts to display any of her true nature because she is so close to convincing the Doctor that she's made the changes he wants to see. The truth is, of course, that she's nowhere near to converting.

When, at last, she's joined by her previous incarnation - the real Missy comes out. The Doctor is heavily beaten and restrained. She does knock out her earlier self at one point - but this is because she needs to get some of the Doctor's trust back. He is, after all, an expert at beating Cybermen and an army of them is coming for her. Look how, moments later, she's urging Nardole to leave the Doctor behind now that they've found a means of escape.

Both incarnations "play nice" for a bit after that. Until they've figured out a way to escape. Once more, Missy doesn't seem to care about helping the Doctor to save the colonists on the solar farm. She and her last incarnation have the dematerialisation circuit for their TARDIS and can go. 

But for a final twist, it really does seem like Missy was putting up a front the whole time and had no intention of changing. There's plenty of evidence to support this. However, that last choice she makes just before she's shot by himself would lead us to believe she really has converted. But I have a theory that backs up the idea that Missy never changed. I'll go into it after I present the case for Missy's Defense. 



SEEING THINGS FROM A POSITIVE VIEWPOINT

Thank you, Pessimist Rob Tymec, for refusing to believe that people can change. Let's try to re-examine these points with a more optimistic spin.

Yes, Missy had to have a near-death experience before trying to change her heart(s) - but isn't that what gets really rotten people to adopt a new attitude?! Something traumatic or even life-threatening causes them to re-evaluate their existence. Isn't it possible that this happened to Missy as she knelt on the execution platform?

Maybe she was trying to just tell the Doctor what he wanted to hear when she was about to get killed, but it seemed there was some sincerity in her pleading too. This is best evidenced by the time she spent in the Vault. She wasn't bluffing when she said she could break out of her cell if she really wanted to (has there ever been a prison that can truly hold her?). She was staying in there because she was tired of living her lives the way she had been and she wanted to turn over a new leaf (one that she wouldn't use to make a gun!). She had been in that Vault for something like 50 years. Surely, after all that time, she could've found a means of egress. Unless she really did want to change. Keeping herself restrained in a place where she could do no harm would be a good way to work on herself. And, for someone as evil as her, such a process could take several decades. 

As I said earlier, those moments in Lie of the Land are subject to a lot of interpretation. We've taken the negative slant, now let's try to color things differently.

Missy, quite simply, is being honest in both incidents. Yes, she's asking for rewards for her benevolence- but she is engaging in the process. She's trying to change. She's just not at the point of being good for the sheer sake of it so she still wants something back for her kindness.

Pointing out that there are various types of morality is, in fact, very realistic. Developing actual values can take on many different hues. She's very much right in her voice-over speech.. The Doctor shouldn't be so convinced that his brand of goodness is the only true one. She must find her own path, her own version of The Right Way. And that's what she's genuinely trying to do.

Rescuing the Doctor and Bill from Mars is some pretty strong evidence that she has changed. Nardole might put up a good fight, but an evil Missy would still try to betray them with such an opportunity placed in front of her. Unless, of course, she was trying to be nicer to everyone.

Yes, security precautions are being taken with her during such stories as Eaters of Light and World Enough and Time - but they were hardly necessary. Those tears Missy are shedding are real. Guilt truly is sinking in and she wants to stop being so destructive.

As with all people trying to make a better way for themselves, there are relapses. When her previous incarnation joins her, Missy starts feeling conflicted. Part of her still yearns to be good. Another part wants to join in the revelry of her past. She admits as much during the brief moment where she's knocked himself out (I do wish I'd quit switching around personal pronouns!).

If we need any final proof that Missy has turned good, we see it in her last moments. With an escape path clearly established before her - she chooses, instead, to initiate the regeneration that will create her and then return to the Doctor's side to aid him in his moment of need. Had it not been for the vengeful madness of the incarnation before her, she would have accomplished just that. She would have done the right thing.

Sadly, she is cut down just as she is about to become good. But the intention, at least, was there....


YET ONE MORE IMPORTANT POINT

To all intents and purposes, the solution to this debate seems quite straightforward. Some of you may even be wondering why I'm considering this ambiguous. It's pretty clear-cut. In the end, Missy decides to be good. Possibly at the expense of her own life.

But here is where my own personal goofy fan theory clouds the issue. 

I've been discussing Missy's means of escape from her latest peril in The Doctor Falls in some other entries. Here's the one that deals with it the most directly (scroll to the last subsection entitled: One Last Bit of Speculation. Although, if you want to read the whole entry I won't stop you!): http://robtymec.blogspot.com/2017/07/chronlogies-and-timeline-history-of.html.

The basic gist of what I'm saying in that particular post is that Missy's claims to not remembering what happened when she met her previous incarnation because the timelines are too tangled was a lie. That she had to pretend that she didn't remember because the Master would have been more thorough in his dispatch if she didn't. Because she remembered everything, she knew she would be shot. So she put on some sort of protective gear that absorbed enough of the blast to not kill her but would still cause her to regenerate (yes, I recognize that summarizing what I said in that entry here might make you less motivated to read the link but I really can't continue with my point if you don't know this information).

So here's my real point: Missy knew her ultimate fate would be death by the hand of her last incarnation (by my reckoning, at least). Since she was aware of her final destiny, did she feign her redemption even to her own self? She had dipped into her future. She knew she would be shot by her previous incarnation. He did it and she remembered it all happening. As a Time Lord, she knows cycles such as these must be completed (she is, in fact, more responsible of a Time Lord than the Doctor. He managed to re-write his timeline on Trenzalore during Time of the Doctor even though he'd visited his own grave during Name of the Doctor). So she suffered the attack knowing that she had to. She'd seen it all happen before.

Death by your own hand is a horrible future to have waiting for you, yes. But Missy knew it would also free her from the Vault. That if she just faked her whole conversion process it would, ultimately, lead her to the Mondasian colony ship where the Doctor would become too busy with saving the solar farmers and allow her to slip away. Yes, she still had to go through the pain of being shot by her own laser screwdriver but knowledge of this fate meant she could take the necessary precautions and survive the attack. At the end of it all, she would have her freedom. So maybe she was faking her conversion the whole time. All so she could face this horrid fate but also escape the Vault and terrorize the Universe again.

Alternatively, she may still have chosen to become good. She knew that this decision would outrage her earlier self and precipitate the violent actions that he would take to stop her. Nonetheless, she would be ready for it and protect herself. After surviving the attack, she could go on to do good things in the Universe. 

If you look at this way, you can see there are still quite a few grey areas. 



THE FINAL SOLUTION:

Ultimately, we may only get our answer to this debate when we see the Master/Missy next. She will probably be in a new incarnation. Possibly, a man again. Time Lords might gender swap a bit but they tend to favor one sex over the other, for the most part. There are some rumors that Michelle Gomez might want to take on the role one more time but, more than likely, it will be a new incarnation (or we get Michelle for a few minutes in the episode and then she regenerates into someone new). If that new Master/Missy seems to be rotten to the core again, then there's a good chance that the whole arc of Series 10 was just one big sham. Missy never truly changed her stripes.

Or did she? Could it be that she was trying to improve for a bit but then went back to her old ways? It's always possible. Especially if it is a new incarnation. Regeneration does tend to trigger personality changes. So perhaps Missy was trying to be good at the end of her life. But then the regeneration changed her back into the monster she once was.

The World may never know the truth....



Hope you enjoyed this new topic. If you have opinions of your own on the matter, feel free to express them in the Comments. By no means is this Point of Debate over. Argue away if you so desire!!!