Night of the Doctor

During the Time War The Doctor attempts to rescue a young pilot, Cass, from a spaceship before it crashes into the planet Karn. But mistrust of Time Lords means she’d rather sacrifice them both…


It seems remarkable, given the recent number of spoilers, that this mini-episode was kept under wraps until it was released on Thursday 14th November. It was a brilliant surprise for fans, especially those of us lucky enough to see it without already knowing who was playing the Doctor.


It came as no surprise to listeners of the Big Finish Doctor Who stories that Paul McGann is superb in the part, and Steven Moffat’s script here allows him to show great range in the few minutes of screen time he is afforded. Unbelievably, it is seventeen years since McGann last played the Doctor on screen. His regular performances in audio form have kept him ‘match fit’ as it were though, so it’s nice that this is paid tribute to by effectively ‘canonising’ his tenure and name-checking Charley et al.


It makes perfect sense that the Sisterhood of Karn would have an interest in the Time War. They first appeared in the Fourth Doctor tale, The Brain of Morbius, where it was revealed their Elixir of Life helped Time Lords through tricky regenerations. Like Varos, a source of TARDIS fuel Zeiton-7, such places would be of huge tactical significance. The sisterhood are able to crash passing spaceships with their mental energy, to keep the secret of their sacred flame, but even they are worried by the mass devastation of the Time War.


The Sisterhood’s elixir being used for a bit of unnatural selection; to influence the characteristics of a Time Lord’s next regeneration is interesting. It makes you wonder if other Time Lords have taken a quaff of the same brew to make them a match for the Daleks.

It is established in Journey’s End that the Time War is ‘time-locked’, meaning that it is virtually impossible to travel back to those events. Presumably this could only have been done by the Doctor himself. The Doctor’s dismay in Night of the Doctor at how he is seen as a Time Lord due to the war, seems to have meant that the Time Lock also somehow restored the Gallifreyan reputation. In School Reunion, the Krillitane only remember the race as ‘dusty senators’, certainly not as monsters on par with the Daleks. Likewise to the Forest of Cheem, there’s no fear, just awe.

Perhaps we will learn more about the end of the War and the time lock, as it seems John Hurt’s ‘War Doctor’ will be seen deploying The Moment in The Day of the Doctor. But has the Moment been prepared for?

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