Time And The Doctor: an article of temporal delicacy, by GF Willmetts.

There is always something odd about the travels of the Gallifreyan called the Doctor. Although in the early days, the TARDIS travelled apparently randomly in time and space and even appeared in different time periods of the Daleks own history and seemingly annihilating them completely repeatedly amongst other things. We were after all following the Doctor’s time-line and his TARDIS preventing him crossing over his own time-line…mostly as his later regenerations showed.

Even when that happened, his early regenerations wouldn’t remember because that would have an influence on his present regeneration would know the outcome of the events. Time tends to protect itself from paradoxes. The Doctor’s time-line does not necessarily follow that of the regular order of temporal events.

Presumably, this is true of all regularly time travelling Gallifreyans. How much of that is true for other time travellers does take a bit more unravelling, let alone if they are aware of it. River Song was certainly going in an opposite direction to the Doctor’s time-line. Clara Oswald seems to be everywhere at once. The whereabouts of Jenny, ‘the Doctor’s daughter’, does also raise some interesting parallels as well.

Just because you move around in time doesn’t necessarily mean you might meet other time travellers in the right order in their time line which might also explain the absence of the Doctor’s grand-daughter, Susan, for so long. In time, nothing and no one is lost forever although reappearing in non-time travellers lives in a contrary order to their lives would cause paradoxes, hence the Doctor’s relationship to the Amy Pond and Rory Williams was always linear.

There is also a dilemma that there are fixed events in history that shouldn’t be changed or at least put back on track. Oddly, the Time Lords never thought that would be a problem with interfering with the Daleks origin and stopping Davros or at least change the Daleks programming so they would be less ruthless but still fulfil their part in the time-line. Ultimately, the Doctor himself realised that not only had he not got the right to do such a change but out of all their evil, a lot of good also arose as well. Despite being one of the greatest evils in the universe, things could be far worse without the Daleks being one of the most single dangerous threats.

A common enemy can make possible enemies work together, despite their differences. That’s not to say, other threats would arise. The likes of the Mechanoids, Movellans and even the Cybermen spring to mind and one would have to wonder what they would have been like had they not fought the Daleks. Would the likes of the Sontarans and other alien species with their own empires grown ever larger had they not been wary of the Daleks?


Anyway, one does have to wonder why the various regenerations of the Doctor never faced any of these threats in a temporal order than an apparently random order. I mean, time generally goes forward in one direct and its only time travellers like the Gallifreyans, the Time Agency which little is known about and the Daleks that have time machines that can step outside of the time stream and jump back into it at different points along it. Even so, the Daleks have been more cautious about changing history drastically, no doubt they are concerned about messing up their place in the galaxy. They have also been careful to chastise Davros but not outright kill him.

It should be pointed out that the Doctor isn’t the only Gallifreyan to tamper with the time-line. The likes of the Monk, the War Chief, the Master/Missy, the Rani and even Romanadvoratrelundar have also been guilty of such activity but stopped by the Doctor. Ultimately, this might well be the reason why the Time Lords Council have had a mostly hands off approach with him. One would even surmise that they saw the need to induce the second regeneration into the third regeneration to fulfil his place in time.

After all, had the second regeneration been allowed to escape then he would have been less likely to have stopped the alien invasions on Earth during that time period or at least not in the way that happened. In other words, the Doctor’s place in history is already predestined even if he might not be consciously aware of it. That being the case, then he has no control of when he fulfils events in the order that is given to him. This is very important because if the Doctor appeared in the time-line in the right order, he could potentially disrupt the fabric of time. This would explain why he often thought he was at the end of the Daleks time-line and then turned out he wasn’t. Whether he really has been at their final demise has yet to be proven, especially after his contribution in rebuilding the time-stream.

This also presents other problems in regarding the order of intervention. What makes one event important enough to stop over another one is a lot harder to determine. After all, for much of his many regenerations, the Doctor thought the TARDIS was travelling randomly across the time-line. It wasn’t until the Smith regeneration that he realised the TARDIS was taking him where he was needed.

In that respect, we need a time-out to examine the TARDIS itself. The Type 40 TARDIS was up for repair and its homing device non-functional making it an ideal choice, helped along by one of the multiple versions or lives of the impossible girl, Clara Oswald, to ensure she was there in significant events to nudge the Doctor in the right direction. In some respects, this is ensuring events unfold at the right time.

Indeed, the Doctor himself ultimately does the same for her on a couple occasions. Although Gallifreyans are aware of changes in the time-stream and instinctively know when things aren’t going the way they should, there is also a level of temporal censorship preventing him being self-aware when it applies to himself. In that respect, the Gallifreyans would also unaware of their losing in the Last Great Time War and even their later possible resurrection. Being able to step outside of time does not make them immune to being manipulated by its mechanics.

In an odd paradox, the Gallifreyans might seem themselves as lords of time but really they are as much part of events as any non-time travelling species. They might not want to interfere with events too much but a word in the right ears with the right information could change things ever so slightly and make all the difference. Ergo, if there were no time travellers then reality would have to create them to keep things in order.

They might have a non-interference policy but really it is beyond their control to not interfere or put things right. In other words, if there wasn’t a Doctor then you would have to create one. Indeed, time might have ensured he fulfilled his destiny.

© GF Willmetts 2019

If you borrow to show elsewhere, let me know.

One thought on “Time And The Doctor: an article of temporal delicacy, by GF Willmetts.

  • Hi, thank you for a great article. Hope you don’t mind but I didn’t get a reply to an earlier email asking permission so have posted on Whovian Amino. Have made sure you’re listed as the author with a link to the origin.


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