DOCTOR WHO: Roman Arc - The Fires Of Pompeii

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Christopher Morley prepares for Volcano Day...


We round the "Rome Arc" off nicely now with the Tenth Doctor's timely stopover in Pompeii, which would later mark the start of a facial mystery for the man he would become in two selves time.



Caecilius may have had to buy the TARDIS in order to appreciate what to him is a status symbol, a nice bit of "modern art" to impress Lucius Petrus Dextrus, but now an older Peter Capaldi - who of course played the marble merchant - is ensconced in the good old police box as the Twelfth Doctor!



And with hints dropped that he will indeed return to where an old face of his first saw his newest one, a re-examination of that turning point is surely long overdue?
DOCTOR: That's right. It's cold. It's cold, I knew it was a thing. I need um, I need clothes. I need clothes, that's what I need. And a big, long scarf. No, no, move on from that. Looked stupid. Er, have you seen this face before?
BARNEY: No.
DOCTOR: Are you sure?
BARNEY: Sir, I have never seen that face.
DOCTOR: It's funny, because I'm sure that I have. You know, I never know where the faces come from. They just pop up. Zap. Faces like this one. Come on, look at it, have a look, come on, look, look, look. Look, it's covered in lines. But I didn't do the frowning. Who frowned me this face? Do you ever look in the mirror and think "I've seen that face before"?
We know now that when he first saw it it was being worn by Caecilius.
"Why this one? Why did I choose this face? It's like I'm trying to tell myself something. Like I'm trying to make a point. But what is so important that I can't just tell myself what I'm thinking?"
We've been promised that Series Nine will tell us exactly what that point is! But in order to begin to formulate possible answers for ourselves we might find it prudent to take ourselves back to the day Vesuvius erupted and turned everyone to ash.



Everyone except Caecilius & his family, that is, after a bit of tearful persuasion from Donna. Proof that he does indeed try to be a good man even after seemingly deciding on a course of action that might suggest otherwise, perhaps?  Lest we forget he was all too ready to allow everyone to die before Ms Noble's intervention.....
DONNA: But can't you change it? With these controls?
DOCTOR: Course I can, but don't you see? That's why the soothsayers can't see the volcano. There IS no volcano. Vesuvius is never gonna erupt. The Pyrovile are stealing all its power, and they use it to take over the world.
DONNA: But... you can change it back?
DOCTOR: I can invert the system, set off the volcano, and blow them up, yes. But… that's the choice, Donna. It's Pompeii or the world.
DONNA: Oh, my God.
DOCTOR: If Pompeii is destroyed then it's not just history. It's me. I make it happen.
But thanks to her impassioned reasoning, before he does indeed make it happen there's someone to be saved. And for doing so, the lonely god will earn a sort of immortality as the god of Caecilius's household, the TARDIS presented as a temple just as it had been when a much younger Doctor was mistaken for Zeus during the siege of Troy!

HECTOR: You pretend that old Father Zeus will descend to Earth and take Troy for you. I guarantee to trim his beard for him if he dare attempt it!
ACHILLES: Beware the voice of Zeus, Hector. Beware the anger of Olympus.
HECTOR: Oh, I do not fear the thunder, you superstitious, dark-dodging decadent! Hear me, Zeus! Accept from me the promised life of your cringing servant Achilles! Or else, I challenge you. Descend to Earth and save him!
HECTOR: Zeus! Forgive me.
DOCTOR: Stop! You must not kick a man when he is down. You have killed this poor fellow!
ACHILLES: Oh, but in your name.
DOCTOR: In my name, indeed! Get up! Get up, I tell you! This is terrible.
ACHILLES: If Zeus bids me to rise.
DOCTOR: What is this? What is it you take me for?
ACHILLES: The Father of the Gods and ruler of the world.
DOCTOR: What! Do you really?
So, godhood is nothing new to the Doctor. And now he quite literally wears a mortal face. A face which has already been creased in pondering whether he is a good man. Like the man he was two selves ago he has already faced a similar dilemma over whether to stay or go in Kill The Moon.



Could we make the case that the point made in adopting the face of someone he's saved against all the odds is a visual reminder of exactly what he's here for?
CLARA: So what do we do? Doctor? Huh? Doctor, what do we do?
DOCTOR: Nothing.
CLARA: What?
DOCTOR:We don't do anything. I'm sorry, Clara. I can't help you.
CLARA: Of course you can help.
DOCTOR: The Earth isn't my home. The Moon's not my moon. Sorry.
CLARA: Come on. Hey...
DOCTOR: Listen, there are moments in every civilisation's history in which the whole path of that civilisation is decided. The whole future path. Whatever future humanity might have depends upon the choice that is made right here and right now. Now, you've got the tools to kill it. You made them. You brought them up here all on your own, with your own ingenuity. You don't need a Time Lord. Kill it. Or let it live. I can't make this decision for you.
But like the man he was at Pompeii, he will eventually return after quite some soul-searching.
DONNA: No! Doctor you can't! Doctor! You can't just leave them!
DOCTOR: Don't you think I've done enough? History's back in place and everyone dies.
DONNA: You've got to go back! Doctor, I'm telling you, take this thing back! It's not fair.
DOCTOR: No, it's not.
And now he must, according to rumour, revisit Pompeii once more. Will he see his past self through new eyes?

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