Having covered the beginning of the end for poor old Colin Baker, it is only coldly logical that we now come to his swan song as the Sixth Doctor, as he delivers what must rank as one of his finest performances before being so cruelly cast aside in favour of Sylvester McCoy.....
And it would seem someone wants to bring forward the end of his days - the Matrix has been toyed with! But who did it, should be the next question?
INQUISITOR: Do you still maintain the Matrix has been tampered with?Like everything about this whole series arc, that's not strictly true! Somebody has, and just who that someone is surely surprised viewers watching first time around. A bigger surprise even than the identity of the whistleblower who ties everything into a neat temporal package for the benefit of the naïve once more Doctor.
DOCTOR: Yes, madam, I do. All I do not yet understand is who did it and why.
INQUISITOR: Your accusation would be laughable if it were not so outrageous. However, as you see, I have summoned the Keeper of the Matrix. Keeper?
KEEPER: My lady.
INQUISITOR: You have heard the Doctor's allegations. Is it at all possible for the data stored within the Matrix to be tampered with in any way?
KEEPER: Quite impossible, my lady. No one may enter the Matrix without the Key of Rassilon.
MASTER: Of course, Doctor. To protect their own secrets, they drew the Earth and its constellation billions of miles across space/In essence, The Mysterious Planet summed up just in case you missed anything. The upshot being a grave revelation indeed!
DOCTOR: Causing the fireball which nearly destroyed the planet.
MASTER: Of little consequence in the High Council's planning. The robot recovery mission from Andromeda sped past Earth out into space. Gallifreyan secrets were saved, except that at the first intimation of the coming fireball, the Andromedans were able to set up a survival chamber for the Sleepers.
DOCTOR: So that's why Earth was renamed Ravalox. That sanctimonious gang of hypocrites were covering their tracks.
MASTER: Exactly. It takes time, Doctor, but eventually you get there.
DOCTOR: They put an ancient culture like the Earth to the sword for the sake of a few miserable, filthy scientific advances?
"They made a deal with the Valeyard, or as I've always known him, the Doctor, to adjust the evidence, in return for which he was promised the remainder of the Doctor's regenerations."
The carrot of a future darker incarnation was dangled before the eventual cancellation of the programme in 1989, with retrospective potential to rear its head once the Doctor returned to our screens. With a potential clue as to when the game may change also dropped
"Between your twelfth and final incarnation."That is when darkness threatens to descend. And so when news broke of the arrival of said twelfth self many years later, the rumour mill went into overdrive. Would Peter Capaldi's take on the Doctor live up to the prophecy?
But lest we forget the Sixth also displayed signs of near psychotic behaviour...
Whether he had sown the seed for the arrival of his own dark side, we'll never now know. The argument rests, though, that he made a damn good start if that was originally intended to be the case! The idea that he's been running from it ever since has been fairly prominent in New-Who, at least, coming to fruition in a dream-state as the Dream Lord, a short, fat distillation of everything he despises in himself.
"The Dream Lord was me. Psychic pollen. It's a mind parasite. It feeds on everything dark in you, gives it a voice, turns it against you. I'm nine hundred and seven. It had a lot to go on."And with Steven Moffatt soon to stand aside as showrunner, could Chris Chibnall's opening gambit as his successor be to begin the Twelfth Doctor's transition towards the dark side, or have him regenerate into a new man capable of giving voice & body to the side even the Doctor himself has shown to be unable to contemplate? About as palatable as carrot juice to some. But in the right hands, a gambit worth taking, those considering themselves more progressive might conclude. The only way to establish whether it works is to try it, the logically-minded might add. As a great man once said,
"Life depends on change and renewal."And might it be the biggest of game-changers if the answer to whether or not he is a good man turned out to be no?
"Demons run when a good man goes to war. Night will fall and drown the sun, when a good man goes to war. Friendship dies and true love lies, night will fall and the dark will rise, when a good man goes to war."Whether that war could be against his own dark side, and what happens if he loses, is a fascinating question with ripe potential to be revisited in future. Another worth asking is whether you think it could work, and who could portray this new Valeyard should the various titbits of speculation that Peter Capaldi is considering handing over the TARDIS key in tandem with Moffatt's leaving....
"This could be my final year – it’s terrifying. I love Doctor Who but it can be quite an insular world and I do want to do other things. There will come a time when this is over. But I knew that when I started. I was thinking about my regeneration scene from the outset. That’s my terrible melancholic nature. When you accept the job you know there’ll come a day, inevitably, when you’ll be saying goodbye."And the Doctor saying goodbye to his pretensions of being the harbinger of universal good, as hinted at several times in retrospect during the post-2005 run, would be equally earth shattering.
"I'm not just a Time Lord, I'm the Last of the Time Lords. They'll never come back. Not now. I've got a TARDIS. Same old life, last of the Time Lords. And they died and took it all with them. The walls of reality closed, the worlds were sealed, gone for ever. The Time Lords kept their eye on everything. It's gone now. But they died, the Time Lords! All of them, they died. I'm the last of the Time Lords."Viewing that survival as a victory for however long could be seen as the first step on the road to embracing the darkness.
"For a long time now, I thought I was just a survivor, but I'm not. I'm the winner. That's who I am. The Time Lord Victorious."
And who killed them, or at least believed himself to have before the truth was revealed? That he could be comfortable with the deed surely says something.