RJDiogenes, on 04 March 2020 - 07:24 PM, said:
So. This is the big change in the lore of Doctor Who. I have some mixed feelings.
I haven't seen it -- don't know when I will -- but I spoiled myself on the big surprise, since I knew I wouldn't be able to avoid the conversation for long.
The Doctor has always been special among the Time Lords, so it's certainly appropriate to have that special status made implicit in some way. Being a mysterious entity from another dimension who is the progenitor of all Time Lords is perhaps a little too special, but I can live with that. When you think about it, it's really not that much of a change. Before this episode, she was one of a species of regenerating aliens called Time Lords-- now she's one of a species of regenerating aliens who we don't know the name of.
I don't think the Doctor needed to be a Chosen One to be special. The Doctor was special just for being an iconoclast, for not playing by the ossified rules of the Time Lords. The Doctor was just a kid on a joyride, essentially, but he started hooking up with human companions who pushed him to be more responsible and altruistic, and he started helping people, and he kept doing it so long that he got really good at it. That's enough for me. There are too many Chosen One stories in pop culture already, too many stories about heroes who are more special than everyone else. The ones that work best for me are the ones where the Chosen One perception is explicitly just hype built up around an otherwise fairly ordinary person who has to rise to others' expectations or defy them, like Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen.
Besides, I got tired of how the Steven Moffat era stopped being about the Doctor exploring the universe and became about the universe reacting to the Doctor. It's too fannish if the main character's own identity or specialness becomes the one overriding thing that the stories are about. It would've been cool to see the Doctor confronting a deep dark secret in the Time Lords' past, but did it really have to be about the Doctor herself? Couldn't it at least have been about her mother or her mentor or somebody she cared about?
The revelation that countless regenerations preceded the Doctors that we know is a bit dubious-- and doesn't entirely make sense. Why did Doctor Ruth have a TARDIS if she preceded the Doctor who stole the TARDIS?
Well, there were plenty of TARDISes on Gallifrey -- the question is why she had a TARDIS in the form of a police box.
And do we even know that the Timeless Child was this being's first regeneration?
I don't think that matters. The fact that we don't know what came before the Child was found is the mystery that I assume will be explored going forward.
Indeed, that's the thing that might redeem this for me. Making the Doctor's identity a mystery is going back to the origins of the series -- it's called Doctor Who
for a reason -- but it's a new twist to have it be a mystery to the Doctor herself.
And just the fact that there were so many seems to diminish the Doctors that we know somehow. It was such a special thing when she went beyond that magical number of thirteen-- now it doesn't mean much.
I get where you're coming from. But it has been hinted at before. "The Brain of Morbius" showed about eight different mystery faces in the Doctor's memory that were implied to be earlier incarnations, even though "The Three Doctors" had explicitly established Hartnell as "the earliest Doctor" years earlier. I always figured they were Morbius's past selves, but apparently they were always meant to be past Doctors, despite the contradiction. DW continuity was always very loose, and one writer or story editor didn't necessarily define things the same way as their predecessors or successors.
When the first series ended in '89, they were building toward the "Cartmel Masterplan" (named for story editor Andrew Cartmel) in which it would be revealed that the Doctor was a sort of reincarnation of the Other, an ancient figure who'd been one of the founders of the Time Lords. So his current life had begun with Hartnell's incarnation, but he'd been technologically resurrected from a previous existence. This new retcon seems to be along similar lines.
And if the Doctor grew up with the Master, that means they somehow got him to regenerate back to a child's form, which seems to contradict the pattern. An error, or do they have further revelations in mind about the mechanics of regenerations?
Time Lords often change age when they regenerate, and now we know they can change sex or ethnicity too. Maybe it is possible for them to regenerate into children.
And is this the first time we've had a season-ending cliffhanger? Don't they usually mostly wrap things up?
No, it's happened before. The Series 7 finale "The Name of the Doctor" had a cliffhanger ending leading into the postseason special "The Day of the Doctor," and the Series 10 finale "The Doctor Falls" had a cliffhanger leading into the special "Twice Upon a Time."