Sunday, June 30, 2013

Is The Answer in the Question?: A Further Rundown of The Eleventh Prophesy

The Universe is cracked.  The Pandorica will open.  Silence will fall when the question is asked.  The first question. The oldest question in the universe. Hidden in plain sight.  On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely, or fail to answer, a question will be asked. A question that must never, ever be answered.  "Doctor who?"

Above is what I'm going to start calling The Eleventh Prophesy.  It is a combination of three interconnected prophesies given to the Doctor in the course of the three seasons, all of them copied verbatim, their only changes that were made were made to fit them together into one coherent paragraph.  The words have not been rearranged in a way that might cover up a second meaning that Moffat hid in the words.  The first comes from Prisoner Zero, the second from the Teselecta, the third from Dorium.  If you put them together, you kind of get one full prophesy about the entirety of the Eleventh Doctor era.  An entire religion was created with the sole mission of preventing the fulfillment of this prophesy.  Essentially, every single episode of the Eleventh Doctor era, from "The Eleventh Hour" to "The Name of the Doctor" is held together with this one, strong, overarching prophesy.

So let's start taking another look at that prophesy.  Because I thought it had come to a terribly unsatisfying conclusion in "The Name of the Doctor."  But it occurred to me that I might have something wrong.  Maybe the prophesy's fulfillment just hasn't ended yet.  What if we're not done yet?

My biggest problem with "The Name of the Doctor" was that it failed to fulfill The Eleventh Prophesy.  On the fields of Trenzalore, the Doctor was asked the question that must never be answered.  But, the prophesy said that "no living creature could speak falsely, or fail to answer."  As a matter of fact, the Doctor distinctly failed to answer.  I had a problem with that, because I took it from the prophesy that it meant that the fields of Trenzalore were a place that acted like truth serum and forced any person there to answer any question posed to them truthfully.  Clearly, this didn't happen in "The Name of the Doctor."

But there's one thing that can't be overlooked:  "the fall of the Eleventh."  The Doctor did not really "fall" in any way in "The Name of the Doctor."  He was attacked in every part of his timeline, but Clara saved him.  So it's hard to believe that the events in "The Name of the Doctor" were "the fall of the Eleventh."  But I think I was expecting this episode to be the fulfillment of the prophesy so badly that it ruined my enjoyment of it when it turned out not to be what I thought it was.

It became clear at the end of the episode that the title "The Name of the Doctor" was a mislead.  Moffat wanted us to think that we'd learn the Doctor's name in this episode, as that was assumed to be his greatest secret.  Instead, his greatest secret was True 9, who he said didn't deserve "the name of The Doctor."  Essentially, this explains the title of the episode, and Moffat's promise that the Doctor's greatest secret will be revealed, in a way that has absolutely nothing to do with what we thought he meant when he named and teased the episode.  I was pissed because I thought that this meant that he had chosen to just throw out entire sentences of the prophesy and pretend they weren't even there to begin with.  But now I've realized:  just because this was a mislead from Moffat doesn't mean that he's not going to do what we were expecting.  It just means it didn't happen in this episode.

Okay, hopefully I'm still making myself clear.  This is the simple of it:  We all thought that "The Name of the Doctor" was going to be the fulfillment of the prophesy.  It failed to fulfill the prophesy.  But that doesn't mean the prophesy won't be fulfilled.

Credit where credit is due, it was my friend Dawn Gabriel who helped me realize something I hadn't thought of:  just because the Doctor went to Trenzalore in "The Name of the Doctor," doesn't mean he can't go back.  It's possible that this planet does have such "truth serum" properties, but only at certain times of the day, or the week, or the year, or every few millenia.  The prophesy does not say "where no living creature could speak falsely, or fail to answer."  It says "when."  The situation in which no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer might not simply happen in a place, it might happen only at a particular time, most likely a particular time in a specific place.  That time has not come yet.

"The Fall of the Eleventh" is obviously meant to be the Eleventh Doctor's regeneration into the Twelfth.  This could be Moffat lying or misleading us, but remember that sometimes, when we think Moffat's being too obvious, it's because he actually is being obvious.  The best example was "The Impossible Astronaut" where many people guessed River was the astronaut, and many of us said "No, she can't be, because that's what Moffat wanted us to think."  I try to remember that now.  It's possible that, when he says "The Fall of the Eleventh," it really is the "Fall" of the Eleventh.

With Matt Smith's announcement that he's leaving after the Christmas special, it all makes sense now.  There are only 2 more episodes of the Eleventh Doctor era.  One will be the 50th Anniversary special.  We know that that will involve the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors teaming up to fight the Zygons and that somehow True 9 will become involved.  The Christmas Special will be Matt's farewell.  At the end of the Christmas special, the Doctor will probably face the moment on the fields of Trenzalore when he is asked the question and cannot fail to answer.  He will then somehow be rescued from having to say it aloud, but will then regenerate, possibly due to the effect of the answer itself, or from what he has to do to be able to keep from answering.  It's also fairly likely that there is a strong arc from "The Name of the Doctor" through both the 50th Anniversary special and The Christmas Special that will slowly bring us to the Fall of the Eleventh.

What I find fantastic about this is that, if I'm correct, then Moffat has engineered one entire story arc that covers the exact lifespan of one whole Doctor.  One whole Doctor played out one long plot that pretty much made up his entire era.  Season arcs have been tried before, but never has there been an arc that literally ran from a single Doctor's first to last episodes; from regeneration to regeneration.  The slow march towards the Eleventh Doctor's farewell literally started on the first day of the Doctor's life when he first encountered the cracks that were made (presumably) by The Silence to kill him, and heard the first third of the prophesy.  That is a huge and amazing accomplishment, with the one arc being separated into three, equally fascinating sub-arcs, each of which took up one season.  Everything has interconnected perfectly, from the Doctor meeting Amy, to Amy's daughter turning out to be created by The Silence, an Order of the Question.  It wove in and out of the story so much that we almost forgot it was there sometimes, or thought it was about to resolve itself.  And every time we learned that there was at least one more corner we had to go around to finally get to it.

This would mean that True 9 isn't the end of the story, although it's possible that the 50th Anniversary special is so tied in to the prophesy and the overarching plot of the Eleventh Doctor era that Moffat actually thought up the plot for this special before writing "The Eleventh Hour."  Somehow, I think True 9 is the first to last surprise Moffat has in store for us.  Will the last one wow us even more than True 9 did?

It's possible that my faith in Moffat is misplaced and he'll just come up with something that doesn't satisfy the prophesy at all.  But I take back some (not all) of my comments about "The Name of the Doctor" very tentatively, and will reaffirm my complaints if the later specials fail to fulfill the prophesy properly.  Perhaps "The Name of the Doctor" was actually only part 1 of a 3 part answer to the questions we've been asking since 2010.

Or perhaps Moffat just gave up on the prophesy and doesn't care anymore.

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