"Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one." – Marcus Aurelius
It is highly appropriate—and no accident—that those words of wisdom are the first we hear in “The Day of the Doctor." For that maxim is one of the principles of Marcus Aurelius, from the book we call Mediations, but which the emperor simply titled “To Myself.” Aurelius was not—primarily, at least, if at all—writing for a wider audience: he was composing his own self-improvement book, grappling on paper with the larger questions so that he could teach himself to be a better man. What better introduction to an episode in which the Doctor comes together with his own various facets to teach himselfimportant things, and to answer the question, once and for all, of how good a man he is? (At the risk of giving Moffat even more credit for being a clever genius than is already evident, I will merely point out that the Meditations is divided into—you guessed it—12 books, each representing a different period of the emperor’s life.)
To the best of my knowledge, the Doctor has not met Marcus Aurelius in his travels—yet—but I think they would find a lot to talk about. “Remember that man lives only in the present, in this fleeting instant,” the emperor writes. “All the rest of his life is either past and gone, or not yet revealed.” It is as true for a regenerating time traveler as it is for everyone else: whether in the past or in the future, the Doctor is always in the present, and it is the decisions he makes in each fleeting moment that define who he is.
Moment. I use that word deliberately, for it’s an important word in this episode, as it’s an important word for Marcus Aurelius. (“Objective judgment, now, at this very moment. Unselfish action, now, at this very moment. Willing acceptance, now, at this very moment, of all external events. That’s all you need.”) “The Moment” is also the name given—originally by Russell T. Davies in “The End of Time”—to the weapon with which the Doctor annihilated two civilizations. Moffat, here, builds on that idea, setting the entire 50th anniversary tale in the Moment of the Moment—the very instant in which The War Doctor (John Hurt) must decide to accept his duty, do the unthinkable, and justify an act of unspeakable evil in the name of the greater good. It is the moment that Moffat has been heading towards his entire run, the very moment that defines the modern series.
For Moffat (as I’ve argued before) has always been preoccupied with the dichotomies within the modern Doctor: how he can be a healer and a warrior; how he can be both an anonymous trickster and “the most feared being in all the cosmos”; how one moment he can be a Christ-like messiah figure, and the other “a nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies.” It’s the oldest question in the universe: who is the Doctor? That question has been at the heart of this era of Doctor Who, and it has been the driving force behind the Moffat Masterplan—to explore these tensions, to resolve some of these questions and inconsistencies, and to deal once and for all with the over-sized and unwieldy cosmic legend the Doctor had become. Throughout his run, Moffat has explored the darker side of the Doctor—and its ramifications for both the universe and his own companions—while taking careful steps to systematically dismantle the Doctor’s bloated reputation. The Doctor that Moffat inherited from previous showrunner Russell T. Davies had grown from the unassuming vagabond of the classic series to an all-powerful and universally known messiah/demon—the very word “doctor” had been perverted to mean “great warrior”—but Moffat set out to fix that. By the beginning of Season Seven Moffat had given the Doctor his anonymity back—faking his death, erasing his trail from every database in the universe, and even deleting him from the collective memories of his most hated enemies.
But what always remained was the darkness within the Doctor, the knowledge that he was responsible for terrible acts, and that he carried within him both the guilt over these acts and the capacity to one day repeat them. This, too, was a legacy of the Davies era, and I think it was a brilliant one, ushering the Doctor into the modern age by adding layers of emotional depth and ethical complexity to the character. Since the revival in 2005, the arc of Doctor Who has largely been about the Doctor’s recovery from the Time War. Christopher Eccleston was the battle-scarred Ninth Doctor, angry and distant and slow to trust. David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor was the “lonely angel,” the guilt-wracked last survivor, and sometimes the power-mad “Time Lord Victorious.” Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor has, to some extent—as he says in “The Day of the Doctor”—”moved on”; he is gentler and more social than the others, able to forge genuine emotional ties to his friends—but he is also capable of carelessly causing harm to the people he loves, and apt to shock them with sudden ruthlessness.
I will admit, the Doctor’s actions in the Time War were such an important part of the modern characterization, it never occurred to me that Moffat would have the gall to actually undo them as well—but that’s exactly what he does in “The Day of the Doctor.”
One of the best ideas to be found in “The Day of the Doctor” is the notion that a weapon could be so powerful that it actually tries to talk you out of using it. (Forget safety locks and complicated launch codes—every weapon should come with the ability to say “Are you sure you want to do this?”) Here, the Time Lords describe The Moment as a machine so sophisticated that its operating system achieved sentience and developed a conscience, and that conscience manifests itself to the Doctor in the form of Rose Tyler (Billie Piper).
More cynical fans than I might take issue with the way Rose is shoehorned into this anniversary special, but I think it’s structurally clever and thematically perfect. What have the companions of the Doctor been—especially in the modern era—but his conscience? (“Sometimes I think you need someone to stop you,” Donna Noble [Catherine Tate] told him, a long time ago.) So the Moment takes the form of the first—and arguably the most important—of those companions: the one who had to bring the Doctor back from both a long television hiatus and from the bitterness and despair of the Time War. Who better to serve as his conscience now? She’s doing what she always did, what the Doctor’scompanions always do, and what Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) also does at the end of the episode: reminding him to always be his best self.
(She’s just starting a bit early. And of course, in a bit of classic Moffat wibbly-wobbly, her appearance to prevent his using the weapon would not have been possible if the Doctor had not used the weapon the first time. We don’t know how the Conscience manifested itself on the Doctor’s first run through these events, but it could not have been as Rose Tyler: it is only the consequences of this act that lead him to meet the right teachers to prevent this act.)
And of course there are no better teachers than our future selves—those who will have to live with the guilt of our actions—and so Rose/The Conscience arranges for the War Doctor (Doctor 8.5? Doctor 9.1?) to encounter the Tenth (David Tennant) and Eleventh (Matt Smith) Doctors. The pleasures of a multi-doctor story, of course, are largely to be found in watching the Doctor interact with his own previous and future incarnations. (There were three such stories in canonical, classic Who: the 10th Anniversary special “The Three Doctors,” the 20th Anniversary special “The Five Doctors,” and a story called “The Two Doctors” during the 1985 season.) Here, there is delight in just watching Tennant and Smith play off each other, but Moffat is to be given tremendous credit for actually making this fan-servicing collaboration make sense thematically as well as logistically. For the second time—as he did in 2010’s “A Christmas Carol”—Moffat takes his lead from Dickens, showing us that one way to change a man is to show him who he will one day become.
"The Day of the Doctor" wisely recognizes that Tennant and Smith’s approach to the character has more similarities than differences—the sequence in which they mirror each other’s actions is a joy—and John Hurt’s War Doctor becomes the voice of the classic series, wondering aloud why the new Doctors act and speak so childishly, why they wield their sonic screwdrivers like weapons—"What are you going to do, assemble a cabinet at them?"—and just how much kissing he can expect. ("Is there a lot of this in the future?”)
But this episode also picks its moments to highlight the differences between Ten and Eleven. “The Time War, the last day, the day you killed them all,” Eleven says to the War Doctor. “The day we killed them all,” Ten corrects him, owning the guilt and responsibility in a way that his successor no longer does. The War Doctor asks if they ever counted the children who died on Gallifrey, and Eleven doesn’t see the point. “Two-point-four-seven billion,” Ten says, and then expresses horror that Eleven doesn’t even remember. “I’ve moved on,” Eleven says. Eleven has had more time to heal, more time to put those events behind him—but what is more terrifying: a future version of yourself crippled by guilt for monstrous crimes, or one who no longer is? (As recently as the previous episode, “The Name of the Doctor,” we were reminded that “the Doctor lives his life in darker hues, day upon day”; last season we saw him unnecessarily murder Solomon the Trader in “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship,” and—in “Nightmare in Silver”—annihilate millions of Cybermen in a situation that very much parallels the one on Gallifrey.)
"I don’t know who you are, either of you," the War Doctor says, for he no longer recognizes himself; ironically, the incarnation of the Doctor who is destined to commit that monstrous act of genocide is the only one who can’t really conceive of doing so. It is Clara alone, later in the episode, who recognizes that he is still a more innocent Doctor, because he’s the only Doctor in the room who hasn’t done it yet. “Your eyes,” she says to the grizzled old man. “They’re so much younger.”
Towards the climax of the episode the three Doctors have learned only to accept their responsibility, joining together at the Moment of the Moment to commit the crime as one. But Rose and Clara—the first and latest companions of the modern era—are not willing to accept it. Rose has given them—through the adventure with the Zygons—both a practical solution to their dilemma and a reminder to alwayslook for a peaceful outcome. And it is Clara—the current companion/conscience—who reminds her Time Lord who he really is; it is she who answers the oldest question in the universe, the question that titles the show, and the question Moffat has grappled with since he took over: who is this man, really? What does his name really mean? “We have enough warriors, and any old fool can be a hero,” she says. “Be a doctor.”
In other words, waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be: be one. The past is gone, and the future is not yet written: all that is ever needed is the conscience of the moment, the willingness—as the War Doctor says—to have “failed doing the right thing, as opposed to succeeding in doing the wrong.” And it is the Eleventh Doctor, our Doctor, the one who has learned the most, who sees the way to do this: after all, he’s been doing it all his life.
He does it by calling on all his selves, on the long, glorious history of this show, which has always been dedicated to—in the words of Craig Ferguson—”the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.” Russell T. Davies was not wrong to complicate the character of the Doctor by shouldering him with the guilt of annihilating his own people in the Time War—but neither is Steven Moffat wrong to undo that terrible act now, for it is wrong for the show, and wrong for the Doctor. What was the promise he made when he chose his name? Clara asks the Doctors. “Never cruel or cowardly,” they reply. “Never give up, never give in.” (“Never value anything as profitable to thyself which shall compel thee to break thy promise, to lose thy self-respect, to hate any man,” Marcus Aurelius wrote. Yes, I think he and the Doctor will like each other, if they ever meet.) All twelve Doctors—no, sorry, all thirteen Doctors—come together to keep their promise, restoring Doctor Who once again to a show about the triumph of intellect and romance.
That’s the show Doctor Who always was, and that’s the show it once again has become. We are assured of that as all the Doctors and TARDISes from fifty years of stories come together to save the Doctor’s people after all, succeeding in undoing the one moment in his life when he gave up and surrendered to brute force and cynicism. We are assured of that as the oldest living Doctor, Tom Baker, stops by to close the circle, confirming to us that it was always the same man, the same story, the same Doctor Who. And we are assured of it in the final shots, as all the Doctors stand together, and the Eleventh Doctor’s voice-over reminds us that, sometimes, the longest way round is the shortest way home.
It’s been a long way round indeed, a fifty-year journey that feels like it’s just getting started, and a nearly four-year journey under the Moffat Masterplan to get us back home to where we all began: the Doctor is once more neither a warrior nor a famous hero, but just a nameless cosmic vagabond wandering the universe in his blue box. (Starting next year, he will even once again be played by a 55-year old man, as he was way back in the beginning.) Somewhere out there is his home planet, Gallifrey, and his people, the Time Lords: somewhere out there, perhaps, are Romana and Leela, Rassilon and Omega, the Master and the Valeyard and the Rani. Somewhere, out there, are old friends to revisit, and an infinite number of new stories to tell. As it always was, it’s a show about the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism, and—so long as we are never cruel, never cowardly, and never give up—anything is possible.
Adapted from here:
"His exact words were, “A fucking reset button? Like fuck am I coming back to canonically nullify my character arc.” I still can’t figure out what he meant by that."-
Steven Moffat, on Christopher Eccleston’s absence from the 50th Anniversary. (via sea-change)
#Imao did a person just reblog a quote from moffatsays and not realise that moffatsays is full of completely fake quotes #and then make fun of steven moffat for being ignorant while exposing their own ignorance #bless(via stuffertystuffstuff)
Why do people get mad at those of us who like the villains? We don’t like them because they’re evil and do bad things, we like them because they’re deep and multi-layered and incredibly well rounded characters. A well written villain MAKES you love him and understand the life he went through that brought him so low.
When a villain is well written enough for us to love them, it’s because we can see why he’s the protagonist of his own story.
1800’s French Military Uniform
Today’s Military Uniforms
where did all the style go
where was the time when you could just
out-fab your opponents
do you really think it’s a good idea to take military advice from the French
REBLOGGING BECAUSE OF EVERYTHING OMFG
ACTUALLY ITS REALLY AN AWESOME IDEA TO TAKE MILITARY ADVICE FROM THE FRENCH.
Since 1495 out of the 125 major battles that have taken place within Europe, France has participated in 50. Out of 168 battles fought since 387 BC France has won 109, lost only 49, and 10 ended in a draw. And for an added bonus that I just learned, most of our military lingo/terminology has basis in French. [Source]
So I am like super excited for Tauriel. Besides for the fact that she looks like a complete and utter badass, the stuff coming out of interviews with Ms Lilly make me giddy.
But I am not super excited for this love shit. Besides for how would a guy who was raised around Thorin ’Ew-an-elf-made-that’ Oakenshield admit in any way to even liking something elvish, let alone fancying an elf. My biggest reason though I don’t like Tauriel/Kili is because of Gimli. In that I feel that it takes away from the deep friendship, bond, what have you he develops with Legolas. It was supposed to be such a unique and special relationship…. And just yeah. I’m not even talking shipping or that stuff, but the legit canon relationship of Legolas building a boat so that he and Gimli can sail into the undying lands and live together.
Though overall I really don’t won’t any sort of romance at all relating to Tauriel, cause can’t a lady exist and not being the center for a lusty, or love gaze? Can’t she exist with out a love plot line?
Won’t lie, ship her and Leggy like crazy, and have dreams of them having hordes of strawberry blond babies named after famous bows. ((And then there is the whole she’s a ‘lowly Silvan elf’ thing, hows a girl to resist?))
there were so many excited reactions at the idea I was going to draw Balin and Dori together, so here they are! they are total old cuties. and were lots of fun to draw. but their noses are total bitches to get right
and I probably didn’t.
people: “it didn’t feel like Lord of the Rings”
people: “that character isn’t even in the book”
people: “why is it three movies the book is too short for that”
people: “it felt too childish”
"Mildred Reed is his first-great-grandmother on George Washington, and on Obama, Mildred Reed is his tenth-great-grandmother."
- BridgeAnne d’Avignon, 12-year-old genealogist
I know, six months late to the party, my mind is still blown. All US presidents except Martin van Buren are descended from John Lackland Plantagenet. Yes, that John Lackland Plantaganet. Yes, all US presidents as of 2013.
12-Year-Old Discovers All U.S. Presidents Are Direct Descendants of King John Of England (by CONTAGIONNEWSdotcom)
I’ve been laughing for three years over the fact that in ye old England you could chose to have ‘trial by cake’ in which you ate a piece of cake and if you choked you were guilty and if you didn’t you were innocent, and the only time it was used the guy on trial fucking choked and was executed for it
what if it was just really dry cake and they did it on purpose
So the Eddie Izzard joke is in fact true..
countdown till smaug ✦ Lord of the Rings: The Desolation of Smaug (1/9)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug NEW Film Clip: You Have No Right To Enter That Mountain (X)