Theories of the Doctor
Since the airing of the Doctor Who episode The Name of the Doctor, people have been speculating fast and furious about the version of the Doctor introduced at the end of the episode, the one played by John Hurt. Granted, more speculation has been given to who is replacing Matt Smith when he leaves after the Christmas episode, but there is still a lot of mystery about this version of the Doctor, a seemingly darker version that is supposedly not worthy of the name Doctor.
Who exactly is this Doctor? Where does he fit in? Naturally, I have a few theories.
(For clarification sake in this post, I will refer to the Doctors by their incarnation – One, Two, etc. – when the circumstances merit, and the John Hurt version as the Hurt Doctor)
He Is A Future Doctor
This seems to be the most plausible answer. The only drawback to this theory is that previously, the previous incarnations of the Doctor have not been all that aware of how he will regenerate. In the classic series episode, The Five Doctors, Two and Three look on Five as if they had no idea this is how they would look when they became him. This concept seems to be supported by the Children in Need special Time Crash, where Five does not recognize Ten as himself. Thus, it would not seem likely that Eleven would recognize the Hurt Doctor as well as he did.
Yet, in The Five Doctors, when Three is talking to Sarah Jane, he does seem to describe Four when she mentioned he changed. Yet, this could be described as something as simple as the Doctor being aware of what his next regeneration will hold. It still does not explain who Eleven would know so much about the Hurt Doctor, unless…
He Is The Valeyard
For those not in the know, the Valeyard is a future incarnation of the Doctor had encountered before. Described by Wikipedia as:
He is described as an amalgamation of the Doctor from between his twelfth and final incarnations
The Valeyard appeared in the Doctor who series Trial of a Time Lord, where Six is put on trial by the Time Lords for breaking the first law of time. In the series, Six learns who the Valeyard really is and eventually defeats him.
Thus, if the Hurt Doctor is the Valeyard, Eleven would have definitely remembered him and what he did, thereby being judged not worthy of the name Doctor. And since the Valeyard is considered to manifest somewhere between 12 and 13, we would not even be close to knowing what happens to lead to him.
He is a past Doctor
This is where the theories start to get tricky. Up until this point, we have had a definitive lineage of Doctors. One regenerated into Two, Two into Three, and so on. The only regeneration we had not seen (barring lost footage) is the regeneration from Eight to Nine. Thus, if the Hurt Doctor is a past Doctor, the most likely spot for him to fall is between Eight and Nine. It would seem that this would be the case, since Doctor Who costume designer Howard Burden said so in an interview. But it does not really explain all that much, and leaves it open to so much more speculation.
Let’s just take it as a given that the Hurt Doctor does fall between Eight and Nine. How does he fall in. Is he just the Eighth Doctor aged even more? The Name of the Doctor would suggest otherwise, since Clara says she met all of the other Doctors except him. That would imply that The Hurt Doctor is different from Eight.
Could he be like the Valeyard, an amalgamation of Doctors not fitting into any particular sequence in time, making him 8.5. Eleven alludes that this Doctor broke a promise that he made to himself when he took the name Doctor. What could this Doctor have done that was so horrible is left to us to find out. But, again assuming that the Hurt Doctor fits in during the last great time war, what he did must have something to do with this great and mysterious event.
The other option here is a bit obscure, but falls into the speculation that the sequence of the Doctors after Eight may be suspect. There are a few out there that The Hurt Doctor is really the Ninth Doctor, thus shifting all the Doctors after him up one. Thus, Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor is really the Tenth Doctor, and so on. This turn of events makes Matt Smith the Twelfth Doctor and thus his replacement, the last Doctor. This does not seem to jibe with Clara referring to Smith’s Doctor as the Eleventh Doctor.
My theory about this stems back to the afore-mentioned The Five Doctors episode. In this 20th anniversary show, four of the five Doctors are gathered to find the Tomb of Rassilon by an unknown adversary (the Fourth Doctor is trapped in a limbo – caused by Tom Baker not wanting to return to the show after having just left). In trying to find out what happened to the Doctors, The Time Lords summon The Master. If he cooperates, the Master would be given a pardon for his crimes and a new set of regenerations.
That is the key. This establishes that the thirteen incarnations are not a hard biological fact, but a Gallifreyan law that is to prevent near immortality. This concept seems quite likely since immortality plays into the themes of the episode.
Let me expand on the concept a bit more to explain. The Time Lords know of the imminent war with the Daleks and summon Time Lords from all over to fight in the war. As the series has established, both the Doctor and the Master have fought for the Time Lords. Would it be too far-fetched to thing that the Time Lords would have given all their soldiers a full set of regenerations. With each soldier having thirteen incarnations, it would mean that each soldier would be able to regenerate and return to the lines twelve more times, stretching troop numbers. It seems feasible since we have seen the Master regenerate in the new series and he was (according the classic series) at the end of his regeneration cycle.
How this affects things is that now Eight would not have 5 more incarnations after he died, but twelve more. At any time during the war, Eight could have fallen, regenerating into the Hurt Doctor. During his life, the Hurt Doctor could have done whatever horrible acts that Eleven suggests, ending up dying and regenerating into what we all assumed as the Ninth Doctor.
Since this detail of the Doctor’s life may not have been known to Clara, she still referred to Eleven as the Eleventh Doctor, since she really did not seem to make any allusions to meeting his future selves (only River Song has said she has met all his incarnations).
Granted, this leads to an even greater number shifting mess than the Hurt Doctor being a lost Ninth Doctor, but it would allow Doctor Who to continue on after the next actor tires of being the doctor, and the actor after that gets tired.
- Dr Who Matt Smith Steps Down As Time Lord (news.sky.com)
- Matt Smith Officially Quits DOCTOR WHO (comicbookmovie.com)
- Matt Smith quits Doctor Who (geeknative.com)
- Doctor Who: My Top 12 Picks for the 12th Doctor (sensuousenemy.wordpress.com)