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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Doctor Who blogging: “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS”

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS Jenna-Louise Coleman Jahvel Hall Matt Smith

(all spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode… or unless you don’t care if it’s spoiled for you. this is a love fest only — all complaints and bitching must come from a place of love / previous: “Hide”)

(get my downloadable discussion guide to “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” for teachers, librarians, and everyone else who needs to keep kids amused, engaged, and educated at DoctorWhoTeachersGuides.co.uk)

Really? A giant reset button? An actual in-fact for-real big-friendly reset button? Really?

I’m not sure this episode works on any scale imaginable. There’s tons of little fiddly plot stuff that simply makes no sense. How did the Doctor end up outside the TARDIS when it got pulled aboard the salvagers’ ship? Why the hell would the head salvage guy tell his dumb brother to “get back to the console, strip it apart” when as far as he knows, that console is the only way for the Doctor to stop the self-destruct countdown he’s convinced the brothers he’s started? Why are the burnt zombies menacing everybody, even killing that one Van Baalen brother? Instead of being, like, dead? (I’m not even gonna get into the questionable physics of who burns and how, and who doesn’t, in the Eye of Harmony room. Also: see below for a dorky rant about the Eye of Harmony being on the TARDIS in the first place.)

In the medium scale, there’s all the wandering around the TARDIS that the title seemed to promise us. And all we get is corridors that look like they’re right outta every other science fiction spaceship?

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS Jenna-Louise Coleman

Sure, we glimpsed the pool and the observatory and the junk room

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS Jenna-Louise Coleman

and the library…

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS Jenna-Louise Coleman

but only just glimpsed. And what a disappointing paucity of the sort of weird cool stuff you’d expect to find on the TARDIS. Worse: none of it mattered one whit to the story.

And as always, none of that would matter if the big picture was satisfying. And here’s the problem with how it’s unsatisfying: either it’s setting up things for a payoff still to come and doesn’t care that it doesn’t work on its own merits (which it should), or it’s not setting up a payoff still to come, which means it doesn’t work at all.

Here’s what I’m talking about.

Clara is a conundrum… and I don’t mean the conundrum that’s puzzling the Doctor. She clearly senses that the TARDIS is at least semisentient — and she believes that it has, more than once, locked her out of the TARDIS — yet she refuses to make nice like the Doctor wants her to. She even insults the Doctor and the TARDIS in the opening scene here, by calling it “bonkers” that he wants the TARDIS and her to be friends.

Wouldn’t any reasonable person be just the teensiest bit worried that the ship might react to her even more vindictively than (she thinks) it already has? The TARDIS could suck all the air out of the room she’s sleeping in, or take off and scramble the coordinates and leave her stranded, or something nasty. (We might figure that the TARDIS wouldn’t do that, because it would make the Doctor unhappy and the TARDIS loves the Doctor, but Clara doesn’t know any of this.)

So, Clara could simply be a poorly written character who behaves inconsistently from episode to episode. Or she could be deliberately written as an annoying whiny little brat. Neither of these things is particularly interesting, and even feel manipulative in a story arc that is supposed to be about how mysterious and intriguing she supposedly is.

Or there could be reasons why the way that that Clara is behaving toward the TARDIS make sense… at least to her. Could the Claras somehow be the TARDIS, small self-contained echoes of the sentient being at its heart, perhaps spawned by the exploding TARDIS as a way to save itself and scattered across spacetime? (How the TARDIS used Clara’s own image to represent itself to Clara — in “Hide” — could be a clue to that.) Or maybe the TARDIS has already been very vindictive toward Clara, and, I dunno, dumped clones of her across spacetime in a fit of ire.

That’s pretty outlandish, but at least it would be something that might possibly begin to hint at some sort of explaination for Clara’s odd behavior (or at least it might when we eventually learned such a thing). The thing is, we’ve had no hint of a reason why Clara behaves as she does (like why here she’d tell the Doctor here that she’s “counting on” “anything” happening to her, yet in “Hide” she didn’t want to go after the ghost they had arrived to hunt).

It all might make sense in the end, but we need a little something to make sense now. Multi-episode arcs are great, but they have to stand on their own, too.

As for the TARDIS exploding…

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

…and the crack in spacetime…

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

Either this is the same explosion and the same crack that still remains unexplained (or they are related to or connected to those events), or they aren’t the same. If they are connected, has the connection been undone with the reset button? If they aren’t connected, isn’t this retreading ground that’s been covered before… also unsatisfyingly?

But perhaps most frustratingly is that there’s some really good stuff here. The Doctor is very dark and bitter and angry and suspicious and capricious in this episode.

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS Matt Smith

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS Matt Smith Ashley Walters

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS Matt Smith

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS Matt Smith

(And Clara is really convincingly, properly scared by him:

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS Jenna-Louise Coleman

a reaction you might expect he’d inspire more often.)

He’s intense and he’s chillingly calculating, things we haven’t seen Matt Smith’s Doctor be before — it calls to mind, appropriately, the occasional coldness of David Tennant’s Doctor, and Peter Davison’s, particularly because it seemed to come from nowhere, and reminded you suddenly that he’s not human, and he’s not a nice kooky cute young man. He’s ancient and alien. He flat-out lies to the Van Baalens when he promises them “the salvage of a lifetime” — there’s no way in hell he was going to hand over the TARDIS to them, not even for the sake of Clara. He flat-out lies again when he convinces them he’s set the TARDIS to self-destruct; I’m not sure we’ve ever seen the Doctor bluff like that before. We see him genuinely unnerved by the mystery of the multiple Claras, and genuinely worried that she has learned his name. (Her muttered “So that’s who…” suggests that the name she reads in the book means something to her, that it’s a name she has heard before. When the Doctor tells Clara that “Secrets protect us. Secrets make us safe,” is he thinking about himself? Does his name need to be secret to protect him? If so, from what?)

But all of that — all of that good stuff — gets erased by a big (un)friendly reset button. As if it never happened.

Random thoughts on “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS”:

• Ooo, very James Cameron:

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

Very Colonial Marines.

• Clara wants to know if the Doctor put the TARDIS into basic mode because she’s a girl. He says no… and then he smirks:

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS Jenna-Louise Coleman Matt Smith

At this point, I’m wondering whether the Doctor is afraid of catching girl-cooties.

• So, who wrote The History of the Time War?

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

Gallifrey is gone, as are all the Time Lords, so it couldn’t have been them. The Daleks aren’t exactly known for their literary output. The Doctor doesn’t seem to have the patience required to write a book, nor the interest to do so. And as far as we’ve heard — I think Jack mentioned this once? — the Time War seems to be nothing but a distant rumor or dim myth to the rest of the civilized universe.

So who wrote this? Is there a lot more to the Time War than has yet been hinted at? That we’re going to see, I mean…

• An encyclopedia in a set of bottles?

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

Like a pensieve? Or like a Jim Croce song?

• Didn’t we see this in Raiders of the Lost Ark?

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

And didn’t we pretty much see this in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

• Since when is the Eye of Harmony on the TARDIS?

Doctor Who Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

I mean other than in the not-very-good American Doctor Who movie that we try to pretend as much as possible never really happened (except that it gave us Paul McGann as the Doctor)?

Sorry to be such a total dork, but the Eye of Harmony was beneath the Panopticon on Gallifrey, and it supposedly powered all of Time Lord civilization. It was, like, a total flub that it somehow ended up at the heart of the TARDIS in that bad attempted reboot.

Sure, Gallifrey is gone now, but why on Earth would the Eye of Harmony have ended up in the Doctor’s TARDIS?

• Great quotes:

“Don’t get into a spaceship with a madman. Didn’t anyone ever teach you that?” –the Doctor

(next: “The Crimson Horror”)

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  • Pretty sure the “So that’s ‘Who’…” line was a reference to (as my punctuation suggests) “Doctor who?” and not anything deeper.

    There was a brief, amazing moment when I saw the crack in time and the exploded engine room, where I was suddenly in awe. And then they did absolutely nothing with it.

  • Jem

    Hmmm – lots of good things here – the visuals, particularly the frozen explosion at the heart of the TARDIS, the cool tree of life whatsit and the Harry Potterish liquid library; apart from the girl cootie moment, a great layered performance from Matt Smith (he is *so* going to be nominated for a BAFTA next year even given some poor scripts); some properly emotional scenes between Clara and the Doctor, but WTF was the point of all of that???? Don’t even get me started on the subplot about the jolly japes of making your brother part-cyborg for a prank. (and haven’t we all been there before…)

    I admit I had to watch this twice to ‘get’ how the big friendly button played out. When viewing it again, I began to wonder if the entire episode wasn’t in fact a 45 minute in-joke. For example:

    – like the Escher influenced poster, we had a completely circular plot that seemed to take us on a journey but didn’t, made little sense and brought us back to where we started.

    – the use of the literal and metaphorical reset button

    – the fan-baiting title

    – the teasing glimpse of rooms in the TARDIS like the pool, which technically delivered on the promise that we would see more of the TARDIS than ever before. (well there are certainly a lot of corridors!)

    – the tease of special nods to the entire history of the show (the whispered voices in the console room)

    – the fact that there is an actual Domesday like book sitting in the library which Clara can turn to immediately and find the Doctor’s name

    – the description of Clara as ‘feisty’

    – Clara’s girly scream as a nod to past assistants (not companions!)

    – the Scooby Do influenced corridor running which had no purpose whatsoever apart from filling the time

    – dumb monsters lumbering about

    – love changes history twinkle for the brothers at the end

    Given that the details of the plot made less than even little sense (why is the
    Doctor outside the TARDIS and Clara inside after the explosion; why does the Doctor need the salvage guys when he can open the TARDIS with a key; why would the TARDIS create echo rooms; why do the lava zombies want to attack their former selves; why can’t the Doctor just get the TARDIS to locate Clara; what ever happened to the fruit globe thingy in the end and why did it matter; why does the Doctor use the self-destruct ruse to get the salvage guys to help; hell, what is the actual point on the salvage guys plot at all…(I could go on), I can’t see how this script could have got past a decent editor/the execs unless it was all actually *meant* as a big old smug meta joke.
    While we have now established that Clara is Clara, and not a plot device, I just wish they could settle on a character for her which is more than sass/feisty. If she is a normal girl, most of her reactions in this episode made no sense (apart from the discussion on the burning bridge). I don’t blame the actress – just another indicator that something just isn’t quite gelling at the moment across the production. Did *love* the cute dress and boots though.
    (Sorry for the long post again – it’s just so frustrating that these last few episodes could have been literally been awesome with a little more attention from the Execs).
    — the and then thought that maybe what I saw as

  • I saw a good point on a FB page somewhere so I don’t know who to credit for it but I’ll try to paraphrase it.

    We don’t know what language The History Of The Time War was written in. The cover has English but we didn’t see the pages, I don’t believe so let’s say it was written in Gallifreyan.

    It was established in A Good Man Goes To War that The TARDIS doesn’t translate Gallifreyan. So, if that’s the case, how did Clara read the book?

  • Ohiopokey

    I expected to see the Doctor’s hand come through the crack, holding a rag, to pick up a charred piece of exploded Tardis…

  • I too was hoping for more. A lot more. Although several of the rooms- they were past episodes, right? I wasn’t reading too much in there? The Library was THE LIBRARY. The cliff they were standing on was from the second Angels episode (totally blanking on the name…), The crack. The mysterious, unanswered crack. I need to watch the episodes again, but I thought I saw quite a few (only very recent) seasons of history. It intrigued me enough to wonder, when the Doctor says the TARDIS is “infinite” when asked how big it is, if it mirrors his mind, and literally creates rooms from his memory. We know he and the TARDIS are linked. How linked? These, along with using Richard Grant’s voice again for The Great Intelligence in the Bells of St John, who went after Victorian Clara in the snowman Christmas episode, make me wonder if Clara is a figment of the Doctor’s imagination in some way. In the recent incarnation, the Doctor himself is certainly the greatest intelligence, and we’ve seen him personify his own mind as a villain before. Alas- I fear these are the plot designs that are placed but never answered.

  • Also also- really sick of the “icky girl” thing, but still kinda touchy feely with Clara in a way that seemed not totally wholesome.

  • Froborr

    This was like a Greatest Hits reel of Everything Bad About the Moffat Era. You have the reset button, the cheap copouts, the tons of promising notions that go nowhere, the Doctor being a sexist git, the companion who’s mysterious instead of actually having a character, and the sense that the whole thing is so in love with its own cleverness it forgot to have characters or make sense or, ultimately, be clever.

    My only hope is that this was like an exorcism or a purge–they got all the badness out of their systems and now they can be free of it for the remainder of the season. Well, okay, the much more realistic hope is that Neil Gaiman’s episode will be really good. The finale is practically guaranteed to be terrible, and next week… well, it’s as close as I’m ever going to get to a spinoff series about Victorian interspecies lesbians who hunt criminals with the aid of their disgusting-amusing Sontaran medic, so I suppose I’ll probably enjoy it. Unless they find a way to ruin that trio, too. *sigh*

    I’ve just lost all confidence in the show. It’s not that I dislike it now, it’s just that I no longer have any expectation that next week’s episode will be good.

  • Isabelle May

    If the TARDIS contained the Eye of Harmony inside herself, then why in the hell did they need to stop off at Cardiff to fuel her on Rift energy? Didn’t RTD explicitly lay out that the Eye was explicitly out-of-bounds due to the Time War?

  • I think we’re getting near the point where even the hard-core fans are getting disillusioned. You can have an emotionally opaque Doctor, or you can have a companion who is just a mystery and little else. But to have both at once is really pushing it. Particularly when the whole narrative can be scrapped and rebooted at any moment. There isn’t much left apart from metatextuality and fanwank references to the show’s history. Time to take a break and come back in a few years’ time when everyone’s forgotten the cul-de-sac the show’s written itself into.

  • Jim Mann

    I haven’t viewed the Doctor’s periodic backing away from touching Clara as fear of “girl cooties” but as his trying not to get too close to yet another companion. But he’s torn. He forgets that he’s trying not to do that, so he does hug her or put his arm around her, then remembers that he’s trying not to get close so he backs away.

  • RogerBW

    The point is that there is no point. The legacy is that there is no legacy. This is a cunning parody script sneaked in by someone who can see through the flim-flam and demonstrate exactly what this show has become.

    The TVM is in many ways a model for what nu-Who has become: emotional entanglements with companions! Cinematic action sequences! Big ‘splosions! So why not credit the source?

    Or so I might believe if Thompson hadn’t also written Curse of the Black Spot.

  • Froborr

    Oh yeah, and I refuse to accept that *that* is the TARDIS library. The TARDIS library should be a wonderland, beyond any earthly library–it should be, basically, Borges’ Library of Babel.

    Whereas that thing we saw managed to be less impressive than the (admittedly quite impressive) Jefferson Reading Room at the Library of Congress (with which it shared quite a lot of architectural similarities).

  • RogerBW

    This was a great advantage offered in the old, low-budget days: they knew they couldn’t afford to show something that was meant to look impressive, so they talked about it instead.

  • Trigguy

    Oh dear. Perhaps that’s all that should be said.

    One general comment on Clara. I wonder if the uncertainty about who/what she is has actually made it more difficult for writers to develop her character. Has Moffat told the others where he’s heading? If not, then they probably have to just write a generic modern ‘feisty’ companion with little to really distinguish her from many others, and probably with inconsistencies too. One can only hope that this gets better as writers discover how to write properly for Clara when (if) we find out who she really is.

  • Danielm80

    I wish the episode had been based on this map of the TARDIS:


    But I’ll come forward as the one person who genuinely liked the episode. After seven seasons, I’ve learned to take plot holes for granted.

    On the other hand, I’d like to see an episode that explores the TARDIS in more detail. And I’d like it to be written by Norton Juster.

  • Jim Mann

    I consider myself a hard core fan, and I was a tad disillusioned last season. I thought Moffat’s first series was great, but last year, despite a few great episodes, never came together as a season (but then again, I don’t think the first two Davies seasons did either, but the expectation and setup wasn’t there then). And I had a few problems with the finale of the first half of this season. But overall I’ve enjoyed this year, including the latest episode.

  • Mark

    Oh dear. Oh dear of dear.

    Not for the episode, which was immense fun, had knowing nods to the past, little hints for the future AND a swimming pool AND a big, winking “this ending’s for YOU, forum posters!” send up of the plot reset device. I’ve been watching since Troughton, and my daughter since Eccleston, and we both thought that this episode (and ‘Hide’) have come to the rescue of this series. No, I’m really left shaking my head at the response of the dour, po-faced puritan brigade that seem to be getting so vocal. All we seem to get is bickering about lack of consistency in sci-fi power sources, musings on the motivations of molten zombies and complaints about rooms being connected by – oh, the shame of it – CORRIDORS. And the big friendly in-joke went “whoosh” over their heads, too.

    This was a great example of what Doctor Who actually is – a programme that goes on the telly on a Saturday tea-time that you can watch with the kids. Bear that in mind when analysing the underlying context of the Doctor/Clara/TARDIS/ paradigm.

  • Danielm80

    This quote from Douglas Adams suddenly popped into my head:

    Modern elevators are strange and complex entities. The ancient electric winch and “maximum-capacity-eight-persons” jobs bear as much relation to a Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Happy Vertical People Transporter as a packet of mixed nuts does to the entire west wing of the Sirian State Mental Hospital. This is because they operate on the curious principle of “defocused temporal perception.” In other words they have the capacity to see dimly into the immediate future, which enables the elevator to be on the right floor to pick you up even before you knew you wanted it, thus eliminating all the tedious chatting, relaxing and making friends that people were previously forced to do while waiting for elevators.

    That is to say, it’s easy to talk about how much better things were in the good old days. Some of the Classic Who episodes really were better, and some were much worse than the Moffat era. But sentimentalizing the lousy special effects on Classic Who is kind of like getting nostalgic for slow elevators.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Because the terms “Doctor Who” and “continuity” are mutually exclusive. Also, “Doctor Who canon” is an oxymoron. Why do so many people not understand this?

    Personally, and I have no sources to support this, I think “Boom Town” happens in Cardiff because part of the show’s production deal with BBC-Wales required that the city feature prominently on the show sometime during that first season. “Refueling the Tardis” was Davies’s (rather thin) excuse to put everyone there. I think the only reason Davies used the “refueling” thing again was because he needed to get Jack Harkness on the Tardis. Those are the only two times in nu-Who that the Tardis has needed to be “refueled”.

    Didn’t RTD explicitly lay out that the Eye was explicitly out-of-bounds due to the Time War?

    Do you have a source on this? Because without (ed.) one, I’m not seeing any reason why the Eye of Harmony couldn’t be on the Doctor’s Tardis. For all we know, having possession of the Eye may be what allowed the Doctor to utilize the Moment and put Gallifrey and the Daleks behind the Time Lock.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I too consider my fandom to be pretty hard core, and I’d rather appreciate it if you could speak for yourself, and not for me, kthxbai.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Wouldn’t any reasonable person

    Reasonable people often don’t make for interesting characters. And I don’t think Clara has ever shown herself to be particularly reasonable. She’s the only regular character the show has seen who’s flightier than the Doctor.

    Clara could simply be a poorly written character who behaves inconsistently from episode to episode.

    I dunno, I do think she’s been pretty consistently catty with the Tardis.

    Or she could be deliberately written as an annoying whiny little brat. Neither of these things is particularly interesting, and even feel manipulative in a story arc that is supposed to be about how mysterious and intriguing she supposedly is.


    (That’s not really directed at you, MaryAnn. As far as I can recall, you never had much love for Rose, but an inordinate number of fans really do love her.)

  • singlestick

    I genuinely liked this episode, except for the Big Friendly Button ending, which seemed almost a deliberate poke at some of the more cranky fans than an honest attempt to resolve the story in any kind of satisfying manner.

    Similarly, the shots of the various TARDIS rooms seemed more for the viewers than for Clara or any of the other characters. And the corridors seemed more a concession to real world budget constraints (although I wondered why there had to be more running horizontally than the use of stairs, elevators, diagonal escalators, etc). But ultimately I don’t know that ANY view of the TARDIS interior could match the one in our imaginations.

    I also like that Clara is so feisty that she won’t take any guff from even the TARDIS. There is no particular reason that she has to be as respectful of it as fans are. She doesn’t know all the history of the TARDIS; and supposedly she doesn’t even know all her own history. I imagine that Moffat has something in mind here about Clara’s relationship with the TARDIS. I just hope he is able to pull it off (because some of the later revelations about River Song felt flat and didn’t quite deliver all that was promised).


  • singlestick

    And yet this may be an example of Moffat being too clever for his own good. I think that Clara is already a great character, and a great companion. I would have been happy had her only secret been that she was a Victorian barmaid who secretly worked as a posh nanny, or a posh nanny who also worked as a barmaid at a tavern (or a woman with an entirely different identity who sometimes slipped into the identity of a barmad or nanny). She was perfect as an ordinarily extraordinary human being. Giving her a secret that neither she nor the Doctor yet understands is a bit like gilding the lily.

    And you are right that it makes it harder for the writers to write properly for her if they don’t know, or have to dance around, future revelations about her character. And I hope that whatever secret ultimately unfolds doesn’t change or weaken the character, and gives us more episodes with her as a continuing companion.

  • tinwatchman

    Maybe all TARDISes are powered by *an* Eye of Harmony. The one on Gallifrey was simply the first. Either that, or perhaps the Doctor stole it at the conclusion of the Time War — needed it to power whatever system he used.

  • Isabelle May

    I must confess that I made an assumption on that front that went along the lines of:

    All TARDISes powered mainly by Eye Of Harmony, which is located in/around Gallifrey (discounting The Movie);

    Doctor uses time-space rift in Cardiff to “fuel-up” instead;

    If phenomenal power used by all Time Lords is still accessible, why go to Cardiff for a pit-stop?

    -leads to assumption that Eye of Harmony is somehow inaccessible at current stage

    I do like the idea of him using the Eye as part of his weapon (I sometimes forget that the TARDIS is potentially infinite), which could then mean that it had a “downtime” of sorts, which resulted in the need to go to Cardiff. Does feel a little like clutching at straws with the last part though XD

    Honestly though, it mainly seems that the Eye was only there for the purposes of making people go burny and angry (and inexplicably not dead).

  • Paul

    Same goes for me. And I’m not even hard core.

  • I wonder (from a science fiction POV) in what sense the Eye of Harmony is inside the TARDiS? Clearly this eleven-dimensional machine has a rather looser relationship with space and time than we are used to. Perhaps the main console doors lead into one space, but the doors to the Eye of Harmony room lead to somewhere else which is not, strictly speaking “inside” or “contained by” the TARDiS. Just what do we fans think that “inside” and “during” can mean for a TARDiS?

  • There is no particular reason that she has to be as respectful of it as fans are.

    Um, her life is in its hands? :->

  • Reasonable people often don’t make for interesting characters.

    Unreasonable people don’t automatically make interesting characters, though, either.

  • I’m not sure that smirking at her the way he does here would fit into that.

  • Did that get established? I don’t remember that.

    I was assuming the TARDIS was translating.

    If the TARDIS doesn’t translate Gallifreyan, how does anyone understand the Doctor?

  • Paul

    Glad you said that, and so succinctly. I was thinking the same thing.

  • JimandCathleen

    I think you may have it on something there worth Clara being a manifestation of the exploded TARDIS from series 5. My own pet theory is his first wife/ love (aka Susan’s Grandmother) who may have been a Scarlioni-style fragmented casualty of the Time War.

    As for the Eye of Harmony- Think of the Heart of Gold. The Infinite Improbability Drive took the ship through every point in space simultaneously. So I imagine the Eye of Harmony (which unfortunately was described as “the nucleus of a black hole” in TDA) could then have been engineered to exist simultaneously on Gallifrey and in the heart of Every TARDIS providing the Time Lords with potentially infinite amounts of energy . But now, that the planet is gone and all of the other ships are presumably destroyed…it only exists on the last TARDIS. My only plot hole I have to deal with is why he occasionally has to land on the rift in Cardiff to soak up power…but it was just a plot device to get Jack on the trip, so I don’t lose sleep over it. Douglas Adams makes that stuff work because he gives us an explanation. DW writers just declare things and hope we accept it.
    And that is about as geeky as I have been in 30 years! Back to work now!

  • Just Me

    Yes, I genuinely like Clara, but I think her unresolved mystery and inconsistencies leaves the writers and viewers confused. Clara hasn’t really been given a fair chance because we’ve basically had to meet her three times, and get to know her three times, and each time is different. I know a lot of people met Victorian Clara and really liked her then met Modern Clara and found her very dull by comparison. I find Modern Clara more down to Earth and realistic and with room for growth, but she does have some contrasts that don’t quite add up, like seeming to really want to have adventures, yet being afraid to actually have them once she’s in situations, needing plenty of reassurances, etc. It could be that she’s just feeding off of the Doctor’s overprotectiveness. He does seem extra protective of Clara, I’m guessing due to having watched her die twice before and feeling particularly guilty over that. She might be sensing him being like that and it could add to her own unsure feelings about these new adventures. Even if she’s feeling bold and adventurous, to have someone as daring as the Doctor, panicking each time you get anywhere near a hint of trouble, could make you anxious.

    As for her mystery, they have been drilling it into our heads each week that Clara is nothing more than an ordinary human girl. I’m hoping this is the case and that whatever has happened to her/will happen to her, is something that can be resolved or explained and then moved on from. Otherwise, if it ends up being something that overtakes her character itself, that really will have made anyone invested in caring about her character, feel cheated.

  • Just Me

    I see just what you’re saying. I enjoyed the episode, in spite of the plot holes, I really did, but I do understand what you mean. I did find the big friendly button ending to be a poke at fans and perhaps a bit of lazy writing trying to be clever instead of an attempt to make a real resolution. I LOVED seeing the Doctor having those darker, scarier moments and would enjoy seeing more of those. It’s a shame we don’t get more dark Doctor as Matt is a brilliant actor and pulls it off so well! I feel we were cheated a bit in having it all mean nothing in the end since it was reset and only the Doctor seems to possibly remember any of it, and even that is questionable as to how much he remembers. It makes all those moments of growth even, in particular between him and Clara, vanish and mean nothing. At least to her. Does he remember them fully, or does he just remember seeing himself chuck the reset button since he didn’t actually live those moments? Or did he? Who knows! On the other hand, I DID enjoy seeing extra bits of the TARDIS, and I liked the library a lot, also I’d imagine the TARDIS would have a lot of corridors.

  • singlestick

    Still doesn’t mean that she has to be respectful of it as an entity, or that she really even understands all the implications of what it might mean that the TARDIS is a kind of living … being. I really like that she called it an “old cow” in a recent episode; this fits with her feisty nature. I also like that the TARDIS reacts to Clara’s feisty side with snark of her own, as a UK reviewer of “Hide” noted: “the gag about the TARDIS choosing the image it believes Clara holds in highest esteem is absolutely brilliant.”

    There is a mysterious, playful back-and-forth between Clara and the TARDIS that is great precisely because it is not based on fear, awe, or respect.

  • I would have to go back and see the episode over again but from my memory, the translator wasn’t translating the Gallifreyan words on The Doctor’s crib and River said it wouldn’t translate because the language was too old.

    That’s an excellent point about how anyone understands The Doctor. I’m working my way back through the classic series (I’ve seen all of 5, 6, 7, and the TV movie and just finished “the Deadly Assassin”) so maybe the answer is an episode I haven’t seen yet but has it been established whether The Doctor is speaking Gallifreyan?

  • btw, here’s Moffat’s attempt to clear up some of the tangles from The Angels Take Manhattan: http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2013-05-02/steven-moffat-clears-up-doctor-whos-statue-of-liberty-mystery-kind-of

  • singlestick

    I’m not a hard core fan, but I am not totally disillusioned yet. I understand what you say about the Doctor and Clara (although I think that she is much more than just a mystery), but I think that there have overall been more hits than misses this season. And I still can’t wait to see what will happen next (and I don’t care whether all the ginned up mysteries are “resolved.”)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    The Doctor insists River tell him who she is; River asks if the Doctor can read; he looks down.

    Cut to Amy trying to follow the Doctor’s gaze; cut to Gallifreyan writing on the crib.

    The Doctor departs; Amy picks up a gun and threatens River.

    River tells Amy that the TARDIS’s translation matrix is drama sensitive*; cut to shot of the still Gallifreyan writing on the crib; Amy says she still can’t read it.

    River says, “That’s because it’s Gallifreyan. It doesn’t translate.”

    As for understanding the Doctor, clearly the written language doesn’t translate (neither the modern, nor the “old high” forms), but at least one spoken dialect does. Or, the TARDIS might not translate written Gallifreyan for reasons of security and/or paranoia.

    * i.e. the translation kicks in, or doesn’t, as it’s dramatically appropriate. That’s a common trope: think about the drama-sensitivity of the doors on the Enterprise. I don’t think that this is a Moffat invention (have we ever seen an English translation of Gallifreyan?). And I’m not surprised he used this. He’s clearly of the school that favors an emotionally effective visual of perfect logical consistency. What surprises me is how he had a character point it out.

  • Danielm80

    Here’s my problem with Clara: Oswin Oswald was one of the few people who was as clever and self-confident as the Doctor. Governess Clara was unusually outspoken and adventurous for the society she lived in. Modern-day Clara is…a girl who likes to travel. Jenna-Louise Coleman has almost nothing to play, and I’m getting more bored with her by the week.

  • Bob

    I think this might have been the episode that I’ve least liked in this season so far, but it was still great fun. I like the way that the mystery of Clara has been more like a thread running through a series of self contained, and satisfying stories, rather than an ”arc”, where mysteries lead to other mysteries, and it can all get a bit confusing. One thing I particularly liked in the last episode was the image of the characters being pursued by horribly burned alternative versions of themselves. This gave me a real chill, and was reminiscent of some of the scarier moments from the first season of ”Space 1999”, a show that I never missed when I was eight.

  • innpchan

    in re: Eye of Harmony. This.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    You’re not the one person. :)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    the fan-baiting title

    One the one hand, shouldn’t we all have come to expect the fan-baiting? I mean, does anyone really think that we, the audience, are going to learn “The Name of the Doctor”?

    On the other, I think we got exactly what the title promised. We got see the engine room – or what was left of it – which the Doctor described as the centre of the TARDIS. It was a journey, due to having to negotiate a treacherous path created by an angry and injured TARDIS. It’s not like the title of the episode was “A Comprehensive Tour of Every Room in the TARDIS”. XD

    the teasing glimpse of rooms in the TARDIS like the pool, which technically delivered on the promise that we would see more of the TARDIS than ever before. (well there are certainly a lot of corridors!)

    A couple of comments here: this is a mid-season episode of a BBC television series that may-or-may-not have been hit with budget cuts. Sets for entire rooms are expensive, be they practical or virtual (which the show did make good use of). But a couple-few corridor sets, redressed and shot from different angles, are relatively cheap. Unless and until the BBC dedicates a budget of several tens of millions to a feature length story set almost entirely inside the TARDIS, I think this is about as much of the TARDIS interior as we are likely to see in any one episode.

    And it’s really quite a lot: the Observatory (glimpsed), the Swimming Pool (glimpsed), the Engine Room, the Eye of Harmony Room, the Library, the Place-Where-the-Things-that-Make-the-Other-Rooms-are-Stored Room*. We also saw the TARDIS create several versions of rooms, offset in time and space from each other (whether she did that on purpose or if it was an unintended result of the time leakage, I’m not sure).

    I do think there was a point to the corridor running. It was the TARDIS making a point about what she would and wouldn’t allow the passengers to do.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    So, who wrote The History of the Time War?

    I’m thinking the TARDIS. And I’m thinking that no matter what page Clara had opened that book to, the Doctor’s Name would have fallen right into her eyeline. Why the TARDS wants Clara to know his Name, I can’t say.

    Since when is the Eye of Harmony on the TARDIS? I mean other than in the not-very-good American Doctor Who movie that we try to pretend as much as possible never really happened

    I appreciate the wish that the TV movie never happened. Personally, I wish “Journey’s End” never happened. And certainly “Doctor Who” has never constrained itself to its own canon. But haven’t you answered your own question here? At the risk of getting meta, Mathew Jacobs remembered that the Time Lords had a power source called the Eye of Harmony, and retconned it into the TARDIS. 10 years later, RTD retconned it out, either accidentally or deliberately, so that the TARDIS could refuel in Cardiff. 8 years after that, Steven Thompson remembered that in at least one previous, officially recognized story, the Eye of Harmony was powering the TARDIS, and retconned it back in.

    Sorry to be such a total dork, but the Eye of Harmony was
    beneath the Panopticon on Gallifrey

    Sure, the Eye of Harmony is. However, in this episode, the Doctor never uses the definite article to describe it. Of course, he doesn’t use an indefinite article either. He just points to it and says, “Eye of Harmony.” So this doesn’t have to be the exact same Eye of Harmony as the one on Gallifrey. At some point, either the 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th Doctor put one in his TARDIS. As an astrophysicist, I’m here to tell ya, collapsing supergiant stars are not hard to find, particularly in the first few billion years of the Universe. Not that calling it “The Eye of Harmony” necessarily makes the one under the Panopticon unique. It’s a very poetic and non-technical name.

  • VanessaDK

    “I wondered why there had to be more running horizontally than the use of stairs, elevators, diagonal escalators, etc)”

    You are brilliant! Some vertical movement even if it were in essence like corridors, would have broken the visual monotony and cheapness of teh corrider running!

    Ah well…

  • Elwood72

    Perhaps I’m putting too much faith in the (very undisciplined) writing team, but I’m hoping the Eye of Harmony being on the TARDIS now is a clue to the “Doctor’s Greatest Secret” and that this will make sense in a couple weeks. As for Clara, unfortunately I think she’s currently “a poorly written character who behaves inconsistently from episode to episode” due to the writers wanting to keep her true nature a mystery to pump up the season finale. The character and the story would have been better served by revealing her mystery after a few episodes so she could get on with being a proper companion. The Doctor’s constant suspicion of her has left their relationship, and me, cold. Which is kind of tragic because she was so great in the first few episodes she was in, playing a different character each time and nailing it.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Well, at least the writer had enough self-control to avoid the otherwise inevitable Amboy Dukes reference. But I’m not sure that the constant playing of the Cult’s “Fire Woman” was much of an improvement.

  • Radek

    If the big friendly button tossed into the past allowed the Doctor to prevent the TARDIS crashing into the pirates’ ship, where the hell did the button come from then?

  • Adam Stevenson

    Just rewatched it, still no idea what is happening and why. Still don’t get why the TARDIS and Clara don’t get on, still frustrated and confused about loose ties going back 3 series now. Day of the Doctor better be damn good and if it isn’t… at least we have Capaldi to look forward to.

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