The Eleventh Doctor

The Eleventh Doctor’s motivation has returned to the series original model. He’s no longer a hero and saviour; he’s an explorer and a scientist. Is this a direct result of the Tenth Doctor’ final adventure?

The most striking thing about the ending of Asylum of the Daleks, isn’t that the Doctor leaves the Dalek Parliament echoing to them screaming “DOC-TOR WHO? DOC-TOR WHO”, then joyously repeats this to himself as he whirls around the TARDIS console. No, the most striking thing about the scene is that he leaves the Parliament of the Daleks. Alive.

Other than Victory of the Daleks, when he had no choice, When does the Doctor ever do this?. The Third Doctor wouldn’t leave Spiridon because there were Daleks on the planet. The Tenth Doctor utterly destroys them every time he encounters them.

Clearly from a writer’s point of view, it’s far better to have a Dalek Empire in place for future Dalek stories than the old series-style, which RTD carried on, where on virtually encounter they are completely wiped out. It was becoming more noticeable in the post-Time War era that their re-appearances were becoming more and more convoluted.

This led me to reflect on two other major events in the Eleventh Doctor’s adventures:

1. At the end of The Eleventh Hour the Doctor takes Amy aboard the TARDIS and sees The Crack that will plague his movements on the scanner. He frowns and quickly turns it off. It then becomes increasingly apparent that the Crack represents a huge problem, not least when he sticks his hand in it and pulls out a fragment of the TARDIS. But he doesn’t investigate, he just plows on having adventures, and waits for events to catch up to him.

2. In The Day of the Moon, having identified that the little girl who inhabited the space suit was the key to everything, he briefly debates looking for her, or just having some more adventures, and again plumps for the latter.

Again, from a story-telling point of view, this happens so that the story arc can be maintained for an entire season. But it seems a departure from the previous incarnations of the Doctor, who love a mystery and will not rest until they get to the bottom of it.

The most extreme example is the Seventh Doctor, who actually went looking for trouble. He arrives on Terra Alpha because he’d heard disturbing rumours; he’s the first incarnation to get around to going back for the Hand of Omega and in Silver Nemesis has set an alarm to go and sort out the Nemesis statue. It’s increasingly difficult to imagine the Eleventh Doctor doing anything like this.

Then in The Power of Three he sums up his new joie de vivre:

“I’m not running away. But this is one corner in one country in one continent in one planet that’s a corner of a galaxy that is a corner of a universe that is forever growing and shrinking and creating and destroying and never remaining the same for a single millisecond. And this is so much, SO MUCH, to see, Amy. Because it goes so fast. I’m not running away from things. I’m running to them before they flare and fade forever.”

This Doctor wants to have a good time, enjoy himself and have new experiences. He no longer sees it as his job to police the universe. The exchange in Asylum of the Daleks “They say you can help.” “Do they? I wish they’d stop.” shows he has turned his back on this life, and by The Angels Take Manhattan River reveals he has deleted himself from every database in the universe.

Could this attitude by traced back to the moment the Tenth Doctor realises he will have to sacrifice himself to save Wilfred Mott?

“…But me! I could do so much more. So! Much! More! But this is what I get. My reward! And it’s not fair!”

He feels so aggrieved that he spent all that time saving people and got no ‘reward’ that in his eleventh body he seems determined to be a bit more selfish. Compare the Power of Three speech cited above to the similarly-themed Seventh Doctor’s closing voice-over in Survival, which includes the line “somewhere there’s injustice.” In many ways this makes the Eleventh Doctor closest to the First. Completely unable to control the TARDIS, and with no loftier goals in each adventure than to depart again safely. Even by the end of his second incarnation he justifies himself to the Time Lords by the enemies he has thwarted, rather than wonders he has witnessed.

Obviously he’s not totally passive, and clearly acts in each episode to save the day… when he HAS to. It’s no longer the reason he travels When Amy is kidnapped and replaced he goes to extraordinary measures in A Good Man Goes to War to retrieve her, further than ever before.

So, although he will right wrongs, and fight injustice where he finds it, he will no longer actively seek it out; it no longer seems to be his reason d’etre, and he just wants to have fun, and see and do new things. “This is new” has become something of a catchphrase for the character. One wonders if the faking his death in The Wedding of River Song wasn’t entirely because he’d become “too big”, inspiring The Silence’s war against him, and making the Daleks stronger in fear of him, but to give him his life back.

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