Notes on ‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’
OK, this was a tricky one. The TARDIS – for a sentient, labyrinth-like spacecraft possessing an entire room dedicated to building “anything you could want” – does seem to have an awful lot of nondescript corridors. Nonetheless there were clues this week, if you look for them, and without further ado here is the latest installment of SEEMINGLY TRIVIAL THINGS THAT WILL TURN OUT TO BE VITALLY IMPORTANT. (Remember, dear reader, that if you attempt this sort of scrutiny at home you do so at your own risk. I watched this episode twice so you don’t have to.)
Let’s start here.
Think those protruding white tubes in the background are loose cables? Think again. That’s clearly an emulation of the tentacles of an Ood. OR IS IT? Well, you’d better hope so. Because the alternative is ghastly.
Conclusions: the fearsome one is set to make its demonic return. Which is bad news for all concerned. Unless it’s this one, of course, which is quite cute.
Plus it would look good perched on the shoulder of the Fourth Doctor, right next to his scarf.
(As an aside, why hasn’t there been a Whovian-Lovecraft crossover outside the realms of fanfiction? I think we should be told.)
Moving on to something slightly less sinister but no less important, let’s take another look at that exploding engine.
Ah, but look. Look closer. There’s a bit that stands out. It’s the big catapult-shaped thing on the centre-right. Only it’s not a catapult. It’s a letter ‘y’. Or, to be more specific, ‘Why’. Which is as CLEAR AN INDICATION AS YOU’RE EVER GOING TO GET THAT THEY WILL BE CHANGING THE TITLE OF THE SHOW. Come November, and the anniversary edition, it’s going to become Doctor Why. And why is this going to happen? Because Moffat will be answering the first question in a few weeks, that’s all, and the whole mystery of the Doctor will change from Who he is to Why he is. Trust me. You know I’m right. And stick with me because further down, as a worldwide you-heard-it-here-first-exclusive, I’m going to reveal his name.
Of note: ‘Why’ is only one letter away from ‘Who’, and if you take the letters O and Y and reverse them you get the acronym Y.O., or Yarn Over, which is a knitting reference and thus unambiguously linked to the Fourth Doctor (see above).
If you read the God is in the detail post I did for ‘The Bells of Saint John’ you’ll note there was a lot of stuff in there about other Doctors and their companions – the surviving companions of dead Doctors, and the return of Doctors who were still kicking around, although thicker of waist. Ignore Clara and her tedious running from that insufferable lava monster. Look at the bookcase, and the hardback tomes that are stacked on their side. No, it’s nothing to do with the rather awkward design of a second-rate Ikea do-it-yourself – these five books (note: five) have clearly been left like that for a reason. Again, please note: five. On their SIDE. And how do parallel lines work? Yes, they’re SIDE by SIDE. And what inhabits a PARALLEL TIMELINE? Yes, the Fifth Doctor. You see where I’m going, can’t you? Ah, Steven, you thought you’d slipped this one past us, but WE WILL NOT BE FOOLED.
OK, now it’s time to bring out the big guns.
The first time I saw this, I was so busy trying to work out the backwards writing that I missed Clara’s three rings. Note: three rings. You’re thinking about Tolkien, aren’t you? So was I, at first. But that’s a clear red herring. No, think about this: Three rings. Where Three is a proper noun. As in Doctor number Three, ringing on the TARDIS phone.
“But Jon Pertwee’s dead!” I hear you cry. To which I say, Aha!
Still, that’s not the big reveal. For that, we have to look at the very beginning of the episode, in a blink-and-you’ll miss it panel on the side of the salvaging ship. Have a look.
You’ll have guessed that this is to do with those letters and numbers, right? Right. Specifically, it’s to do with 0989, which may be translated as September 1989. Historians of Classic Who will know that this was the month in which ‘Battlefield’ saw its first terrestrial broadcast on British television. Said story saw the Doctor and Ace encounter all manner of Arthurian characters, and it was strongly implied that the Doctor would some day find his way into the history books and fables, playing the role of a rather famous wizard.
The Doctor’s real name is Merlin.
That’s what Clara read in The History of the Time War. Strewth, even River Song pretty much said it out loud when she admitted in ‘The Pandorica Opens’ that she always hates old wizards in fairy tales, because “they always turn out to be him”. Think it’s too simple? Too obvious? Go and read Digital Fortress. Sometimes simple and obvious is what works. This may seem overconfident, but if I’m wrong about this, I’ll buy Tom Baker’s hat on Ebay and eat it.
Speaking of Tom Baker…as an unconnected aside, presumably designed to throw us off the scent, the other number on that panel – A89 – clearly alludes to ‘The Face of Evil’, listed as no.89 in the serial chronology of Who television stories, in which the Doctor met Leela, and in which the two of them ventured inside a gigantic cliff-based sculpture of the Doctor’s head.
Which is appropriate, given that Moffat’s spent the last three years disappearing up his own arsehole.