Doctor Who: The Unanswered Questions of the Matt Smith Era

Feature 1/10/2014 at 8:59AM

The Time Of The Doctor answered so many of our questions, but Andrew ponders the Matt Smith-era answers we're yet to hear...

It doesn't matter if you're paying attention to Doctor Who or not, there will always be questions. In fact, the more attention you're paying, the more questions you'll have. Fortunately many of these can now be answered with 'Clara did it'.

In Genesis of the Daleks, how come it will take the Daleks a thousand years to get out of a short, broken corridor? Clara did it.

In The Two Doctors, why does the Chessene look out of the window when she hears a noise rather than, say, use her telepathy? Clara did it.

Why does Turlough always wear his school clothes even though the TARDIS has a full and expansive wardrobe and they must smell like a gym bag by now? Clara did it.

Actually, scratch that last one. That's just weird.

In order of how obvious the answer is to me, here are some questions from the Matt Smith era that have been playing on our mind. And hey, while we're all here, why not add some of your own in the comments! It might even be fun.

How exactly was Clara 'born to save the Doctor'?

A turn of phrase, or a clue to something else? Are we one day going to pan away from the shot of the leaf hitting Clara's Dad in the face, and see River Song underneath a tree with a pair of scissors? Or Rassilon, free from the Time War, spitting furiously and raising his Doom Gauntlet really, really slowly again?

Is there still an element of mystery to be revealed about Clara Oswald, or will she now be free to have some character development? Jenna Coleman hopes so, according to an interview with zap2it:

"We couldn't get to know too much about her because she was a mystery [in Series 7]. It's going to be nice just to have her as a human, as a girl. There's quite a lot to explore still, I think."

Coleman's done great work so far, so hopefully a new Doctor will shed some new light on his companion. Possibly someone to talk to regularly other than the Doctor might be a help.

What happened to Trenzalore?

At the end of The Time of the Doctor the survivors of Christmas on Trenzalore were left with a town to rebuild, as their protector finished regenerating and promptly buggered off (why, oh why do they always set the TARDIS in flight before regenerating? It never goes smoothly. Notice the Master in Utopia cunningly waits until he's finished before attempting to go somewhere).

By the end of The Time of the Doctor Trenzalore was not in the same condition as the planet we saw in The Name of the Doctor, lacking a huge graveyard and a giant looming police box. It's not confirmed explicitly, but either it's still out there in the Doctor's future, still his final resting place, or time has been rewritten.

Clara asked for time to be changed, and the Time Lords involvement certainly helps make that seem more plausible. Incidentally, if this is the case, changing the events of two episodes ago, it's not actually the quickest alteration of a timeline in Doctor Who; it's beaten by the alternate 1980 in Pyramids of Mars and the Master's reign of terror in The Last of the Time Lords.

What happened to the time machine from The Lodger and Day of the Moon?

The Lodger

In The Lodger the primitive time machine was described as having 'crashed some time ago', and the Silence faction in Day of the Moon have been influencing human history to, err, build a space suit (can't help but feel there must've been an easier way). While this remains unexplained, it also doesn't feel colossally important (it might well just be a crashed Silence ship), and might only be brought back if a writer thinks of a link.

Who was the woman in the shop who gave Clara the number to the TARDIS?

This one, from The Bells of St John, may well be resolved at the end of Clara's arc, but for now it's still hanging loose. Hell, maybe the woman in the shop was another Clara, and maybe the disguise she used contained traces of lead so she died again. Other options are River Song, Tasha Lem, and literally anyone else in the universe apart from Susan, Romana and the Rani.

Who is Tasha Lem?

Besides being the Mother Superious of the Papal Mainframe, she's probably River Song isn't she? There are too many similarities for it not to be (a very forward psychopath in a relationship with the Doctor), and it makes sense for her to be in the Eleventh Doctor's last episode somewhere, so it's probably River, QED.

Only then we have to ask where the Tasha Lem incarnation fits in to River or the Doctor's timeline.

Where might Tasha Lem fit into River's timeline?

We might not find out onscreen, though we don't know what happened to River between regenerating in Sixties New York and being Mels alongside her parents in Leadworth, so it probably happened there. However, this allows for the possiblity of Tasha regenerating, and she was meant to have died. If she is River, then she could occur after Silence in the Library/The Forests of the Dead. Churches do go in for resurrection, although not usually by extracting assassins from one of their breakaway sects from a computer in the future.

Steven Moffat has said that River won't be involved from now on except for story reasons, if someone comes up with something where her presence fits. However, Moffat lies. Obviously he does. Not only has he said so, but Doctor Who isn't even real. We've checked and everything.

Of course, the possibility exists that Tasha Lem is not River.

When does Tasha Lem fit into the Doctor's timeline?

I can imagine – though I have been told I have a sick and diseased mind – the Second Doctor sitting, arms folded, huge smile on his face, as she puts an arm around him while they're watching The Muppet Movie. Then nothing at all happens. Nothing. So don't imagine that. Or that. You disgust me.

If Tasha was a member of the Church when she met the Doctor, it's always possible that he forgot about the Silence, otherwise that would have been a bit of a clue. The Doctor could also have first met her after he knew about the Silence, during one of his offscreen travels. Then cheated on River with her, as the Eleventh Doctor's went from childlike awkwardness to randy teenager towards the end of his life.

You have to extrapolate a lot doing this. No wonder most people don't bother poking at story logic.

What happens if the Time Lords come back?

This is quite a big problem. As seen in The Time of the Doctor, if the Daleks get the slightest hint of the Time Lords' return they will mobilise in force/bring one really big flying saucer. So, assuming the Doctor does manage to sneak his people back into the universe through a back door, like an eighteen year old smuggling underage drinkers into a club, what's to stop someone shouting 'Let's do the Time War again' and all hell breaking loose?

We don't even know if the Time Lords have calmed down after the whole 'Being shoved into a pocket universe' thing, or if Rassilon's still planning on turning everyone into beings of pure thought, or if the Master's still about and turning into a big jumpy skellington. Presumably there have been lots of meetings, and that bloke who keeps saying 'Doctor...who?' is getting a sore throat.

There's only one solution to my mind: TIME LORD MINISODE PLEASE.

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In order....

Clara was "born to save the doctor" in that the bazillions of Claras scattered across time were all born for that purpose. That doesn't mean Clara Prime (who we have now) was - I think it's safe to say that circle has been broken now.

Trenzalore - We don't know, of course. Most likely, the future has been changed. That doesn't mean The Doctor won't spend a lot of time avoiding it of course.

Old Time Machine - I assume the Silence had to get back in time somehow. A primitive time machine in 2009 is still going to be fifth millenium technology. As for the spacesuit, it would be a Bad Thing for the Silence to have created a paradox by scooting humanity along too quickly. So, nudge humanity instead.

Who was the woman? - Has to be River Song, especially since we are apparently going to be seeing her again.

Tasha Lem - I don't think we'll see much from her again. I think she was a one shot who the Doctor has interacted with before...but that will remain off screen. I see no indication at all she'd have anything to do with River.

Tasha and River's Timeline - Nothing

Tasha an the Doctor's Timeline - Nothing. People are analyzing too hard.

Time Lords - Who knows? The biggest problem I had with the Day of the Doctor and the changes it made to the general layout of the Doctoriverse is that I could have sworn everything had led us to believe that the Time War was a balls-out struggle and that the people of the universe were being trampled by the two giants. But instead it was the Time Lords about half an hour from extermination. In that case the Doctor's decision to wipe the Time Lords was 100% sensible - the Time Lords were finished anyway. May as well take the Daleks with them. It was a much more interesting character moment when the Doctor chose to wipe his own species to save the rest of the universe.

People keep saying that the woman in the shop HAS to be River, but it's impossible. Clara, in the dream world she was summoned to by Madame Vastra, met River for the first time. Ergo, she had never seen her before.

The only real options are:

Any companions left on Earth by The Doctor. (Sarah Jane would be a nice nod, even though we'd never see her, but I'd like to think it was Susan, she's due for a return...though she did come back for 8).

As for Tasha being River, I agree with you. Nothing to do with each other. I guess it's possible, but HIGHLY unlikely, because when Mels regenerates into River, she explicitly says that the last time she did this, she turned into a toddler...which lines up nicely with the very young Melody regenerating at the end of Day of the Moon.

My biggest annoyance is that a lot of the Series 6 storyline is kind of messed up by Time of The Doctor. He starts to regenerate in The Impossible Astronaut (yes I know it was the Tesalecta), but he never would have made it to the next body regardless of being shot because there wasn't enough regeneration energy left to do it. THEN again in Let's Kill Hitler, The Doctor says something to the effect (after being poisoned), "Well, guess I better regenerate." Though, Amelia does say regeneration is "disabled," so maybe that means he's out and that's when he figures it out. Alas...

Additional...
Why would the Silence want to destroy the universe by destroying the TARDIS?

How exactly did the Silence destroy the TARDIS? Did one of the Silent "priests" get inside with River? Why the different voice for "Silence will fall" heard inside the TARDIS?

After watching the Big Bang the first time, I was excited by the idea of an Eternal being involved - since only someone living outside of the universe would not mind destroying the universe to get at the Doctor.

I guess it could be argued that destroying the universe was "an accident" (whoops - butterfingers!!)

As some bright spark figured out before me, when Clara received her summons to the conference call, the address on the letter clearly stated Clara was nannying in Chisick. Donna won the lottery. She could have set up a shop - even a PC shop - in Chisick. Or she might have been in a PC shop at the time, buying a PC. So, the woman in the shop could have been Donna. Even though her head might explode if she remembers, even for a moment, she could have just had the Doctor's number written down somewhere and remembered it was a helpline. :)

The biggest question for me in the Matt Smith era is:

Who in their right mind thought 'Asylum of the Daleks' was a good enough script to put in front of the cameras?

As some bright spark figured out before me, when Clara received her
summons to the conference call, the address on the letter clearly stated
Clara was nannying in Chiswick. Donna won the lottery. She could have
set up a shop - even a PC shop - in Chiswick. Or she might have been in a
PC shop at the time, buying a PC. So, the woman in the shop could have
been Donna. Even though her head might explode if she remembers, even
for a moment, she could have just had the Doctor's number written down
somewhere and remembered it was a helpline. :)

Chiswick - sorry!

Many people. Including me

One more unanswered question: Will Steven Moffat continue to create story arcs without having any plan whatsoever as to how those arcs will play out?

The regeneration at Lake Silencio is easy to explain since that was the Teselecta rather than actually the Doctor, also as per Azmael in The Twin Dilemma, who was in his last incarnation, their bodies can still try to regenerate, but it kills them.

Though the bit from Let's Kill Hitler is a good point, and there's another from The Next Doctor, when the tenth Doctor thought Jackson Lake might be the 'next but one' Doctor, as in a Doctor beyond his next incarnation. Which considering this was after he'd used the extra regeneration up, he should've known would be impossible (or rather as it turned out,very improbable, but being the tenth he would've called it impossible several times in an incredulous voice).

undesired side effect is one. Time lords attempting to erase the doctor as revenge is another...high council plans given that the DR wasn't releasing them for 600 years of him being right next to the crack, they influence the silence to go back and erase him from time/space so that they can just stop the Daleks and the Dr. from ever existing.

A far more plausible scenario regarding River and Tasha is that Tasha was the prototype/model/inspiration that Madame Kovorian used as a "template" when building/designing/engineering River Song. River, after all, was engineered to be this "perfect sociopath," so who better to base her personality traits on than Madame Kovorian's former boss Tasha Lem?

Credit to the wonderful Verity! podcast for this theory!!!

I felt instead of the papal they should have brought back the Shadow Proclamation i thought it would have been easier to buy them than some new group of people we never heard of judoon running around would been epic

one other thing may i ask why the whole thing revolves around river song who cares to be honest river is gone moved along we need to move along also if anything where was captain JACK!!!!!

Interesting, I had forgotten both lines. As a fanwank perhaps we could imagine that he didn't realize that the Tennant Doctor using his severed hand to regenerate back into himself "counted" as a regeneration until some time after Let's Kill Hitler (like, maybe he ran some sort of Time Lord medical scan on himself in the TARDIS and only then did he realize).

The Doctor is hardly "Cheating" on River since THEY ARE NOT MARRIED! I know the trolls and the crazies love to prattle that they are, but they're not. Period. If some fools with their heads up their butts want to insist they are, please leave a light on for the men in the white coats.

River should be destroyed. She is the worst villain of all time. A cold-blooded monster who thinks her feelings for the Doctor are more important than the entire universe?! ONLY A SICK DEMENTED PSYCHOPATH THINKS LIKE THAT! And that has NOTHING to do with Real Love! Only the sick creepy kind that make psychiatrists rich from treating. lol

Matt's Doctor started out good and then deteriorated into a joke. Regardless of what the butt-kissing morons of this page claim! The Doctor turned into a joke! Let's hope the Next Doctor will be more like the Doctors of old.

LOL!! My Friend has the whole problem solved! Her fanfic is way more clever than anything Moffat has come up with. She has created new devices for Time Lords to play with, plus (Unless she has changed the story's outcome) a way to bring back SOME Time Lords and Gallifreyans (since NOT ALL Gallifreyans are Time Lords. Time Lord is a rank. NOT A RACE) And hide their presence (somewhat) and Deal with the Daleks. In a believable way.
Too bad Moffat doesn't seek help from writers other than his personal friends. Tsk Tsk Tsk. She's already started on Part 6 of HER 50th anniversary special. The stories have been good but short. I wish I could see the actors acting out these stories and hear the music accenting the scenes. Oh well, I guess we each have to use our imagination. That IS what Reading is all about.

Obvious Casual Viewer is Obvious

We have heard of the Papal Mainframe before...

Just because something hasn't been resolved yet does't mean it won't be. This is't some crappy show that's expected to have a limited run.

Works for me, I'll go with that. Maybe when he dished a little regeneration energy out to fix River's wrist he realised "whoops, doesn't feel like I've got as much as I thought in the bank there, better check that out".

The Doctor didn't cheat on River with Tasha, because Tasha clearly indicates she first met the Doctor in a different incarnation when she asks "is that a new body?"

And Tasha being River makes no sense. The reason her character is like River is because that is the kind of woman the Doctor finds attractive. Like Clara says, "boss of the psycho space nuns? So you."

The Doctor isn't cheating on River because she's DEAD, uploaded to the mainframe of the Library a long time ago in his timeline. Though you don't like to admit it, they were married. He didn't have to go through the quick version ceremony when all he had to do is tell her to look in the eye of the Teselecta.

If you don't like the way Matt portrayed the Doctor, blame the writing. I personally like it. I'm sorry, but he won't be like the Doctors of old. All you can hope for is the writers make the character good.

I have mentioned several times I think the writing team was taken off guard with Matt's decision to leave. Hence the mad rush to try and tie so many things up as well as do the 50th. Also unlike RTD who reused the original idea of how the 3rd Doctor would leave Moffet did not have a plan till until he put pen to paper on how Matt would leave.

It does show the issue with multi season arcs. They tend to get out of hand. I generally prefer single season arcs.

As for the questions,

I presume Trenzalore will still happen as the Doctors death is generally considered to be a fix point in time. The last time we changed one of this the whole Universe collapsed into one moment of time. I did think the Doctors new regeneration cycle could be considered a death and rebirth. However how does the TARDIS get there.

The Time machine in the lodger got destroyed. I am presuming it is the same one as we saw in the Day Of The Moon and it got destroyed after those events. So no open end there.

I am hoping Tasha will be left as a one of Character and we don't go down the River route. I am hoping River will not reappear. Her character is done.

As for who gave Cara the number. Let us leave it as a mystery.

I did laugh at the comment of why the Doctor always puts the TARDIS in motion when he regenerates which could be considered a bad idea. It may be it helps he process but it does seem often to cause more issues then it resolves.

The problem I had with Asylum is wouldn't the first question you ask be where did all these bloody Daleks come from? I really do not like the fact that they got destroyed at the end of The Time War got totally overlooked.

The Silence did not want to destroy the Universe. They wanted to either kill the Doctor or strand him somewhere so he could never get to Trenzalore. This would stop any chance of the Time Lords returning through the crack in the Universe and starting the Time War again.

How they managed to blow up the TARDIS it is unexplained (the Doctor joked he thought he had left a bath running) and as the Doctor stated had the effect of creating the problem they were trying to stop. Destination paradox.

The Doctor never regenerated or even attempted to regenerate at Lake Silencio. It was all faked aka a fancy light show around a Tesalecta ship with his form to show what looked like a regeneration followed by his death. This allowed the fix point in time to be maintained without him dying and thus stop time collapsing as seen in The Wedding of River Song.

No one apart from the Doctor and apparently the Daleks knew he was on his last life. They all presumed just like Cara if he could regenerate. The Doctor wanted to keep the fact he had no regenerations left a secret and we all know the Doctor lies.

River using all her remaining energy to heal the Doctor (without him regenerating) and the Doctor then using some to heal her wrist for me was a bit of a loose end. I like your idea that this is when the Doctor realized he had little energy left and not enough to perform a complete regeneration if needed.

It does tie in a little bit with the Night of the Doctor when the 8th is brought back to life by The Sisterhood of Karn. Although he still has to regenerate to repair himself completely.

Not all the daleks got destroyed in the war....just the ones that were attacking Gallifrey. Even if they were all destroyed, a few of them survived, like the supreme dalek and several others. Whoever was left simply made a million more Daleks. It's happened before.

Phone number in Bells ox St. John's. Just my take on it, but. Sally Sparrow?