For months fans of the British adventure series DOCTOR WHO have speculated two things: who would be the big bad villain of the 7th season and how would the Ponds exit be handled in a way that would be both exhilarating and tragic at the same time. From the first episodes of the season a few clues have been revealed, the most significant is the idea that a person’s greatest fear is to be forgotten.
The legend and legacy of DOCTOR WHO has always been founded on the fact that The Doctor’s reputation has both preceded him and left ripples in his wake after he was gone as The Doctor has never been shy about who he is and the power he wields. In fact, he relishes it. It makes his job so much easier when his enemy quakes in his presence. It also draws a certain amount of prestige and opens doors that may have been closed quite easily to him. The Doctor breezes right in, swaggers a bit and then dashes off once the world or the terror of the day has been righted once again.
The power of The Doctor’s name was employed as a tool to destroy The Master’s diabolical rule worldwide domination in “Last of the Timelords” — for there is, after all, great power in a name.
Even in “Silence in the Library”/“Forest of The Dead” River Song trusted that, while The Doctor had not yet formed the memories of their life together, that the power of his name would be powerful and persuasive enough that he would do everything in his power to save her and remember her – despite the fact that they had lived their lives in the opposite directions of their respective timelines.
The power of identity was employed again in “The Big Bang” as Amy’s memories were used to bring The Doctor back into existence after he sacrificed himself to save the entire universe. By simply encouraging Amy to remember something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue (the brand new ancient blue box) – Amy was able to bring The Doctor back – and time itself was rewritten.
In addiction, Doctor also used the power of memory in “Day of the Moon” to send The Silence fleeing into the universe. The power of the creatures known as The Silence was that the second anyone looked away they forgot that they ever saw the scary beings lurking in their peripheral vision. But The Doctor knew that by simultaneously broadcasting to the entire planet information of The Silence existence that they would be unable to erase everyone’s minds all at once. The Silence were no longer invisible amongst us as everyone could see them and fight back against them.
For, in the end, that is all we are: our name and the memories we leave behind.
However, imagine if everyone forgot The Doctor. How terrifying would that be? In “Left Turn,” we watched with sorrow as The Doctor’s former companion Donna Noble was forced to have her memories of The Doctor erased. This idea was poignantly hinted at again in “Asylum of the Daleks” when Oswin Oswald only asked that The Doctor remember her after she realized that he could not save her. For each of us — and for The Doctor Who — we simply desire to be remembered. Memories and identity are important. It is what connects us all together and is the foundation of the thread of love between us all. Memories are just that powerful, and The Doctor uses memories both as a weapon and a way to keep hold on the people his lives he touches along his journeys throughout space and time.
Yet what if there were no memories? Just like Oswin erased the collective Dalek memories of The Doctor (prompting the Daleks to inquire “Doctor Who?”), it seems as if there is a ripple-effect and The Doctor’s identity and the memories others have of him is slowly being erased out of the universe. Who would The Doctor be, if no one remembered him? He would just be a funny man traveling around in a blue box, popping up in and out of time.
Interestingly, we have also seen the damage that remembering The Doctor has caused; for it caused little Amelia Pond to wait 12 years for his return and then, even in as an adult, Amy Pond has waiting on and off for years for The Doctor. In fact, nearly all of The Doctor’s companions have waited long periods of time for his return in their lives; from Sarah Jane Smith, who waited decades to be reunited with The Doctor in “School Reunion” to Captain Jack Harkness who waited over 5 billion years for his return in “Gridlock” as the Face of Boe. The curse of memory can steal a person’s life if they are waiting for The Doctor’s return. Amy even brought this to The Doctor’s attention in “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.” She told him that she and Rory cannot just keep waiting around for The Doctor to pop in and out of their lives; for from the moment The Doctor crash landed in Amelia Pond’s garden in “The Eleventh Hour,” Amy and Rory’s (“The Girl Who Waited” and “The Boy Who Waited”) lives have been spent waiting for The Doctor.
The final clue was revealed in “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” when The Doctor did not show up in Solomon’s computer scan — which meant that Solomon did not fear The Doctor, nor did it give him pause when he encountered The Doctor. Thus, Solomon blithely tasered Rory’s dad and then later killed the triceratops dinosaur out of ignorance in attempt to bend The Doctor to his will. That was just crazy as we all know, and incredibly dangerous as Solomon found out. But most interesting was the fact that The Doctor were not listed in Solomon’s database. For if The Doctor was not listed, then it meant that someone had erased that data.
This is actually The Doctor’s greatest fear – he just does not know it yet. It begs the question: Is this how The Silence shall repay The Doctor for outing them to the entire universe? It would be just pay-back and poetic justice in their mind – for The Doctor unveiled their existence and destroyed any ability for The Silence to remain hidden, so perhaps they have cloaked The Doctor’s existence and nullified his ability to be remembered.
Due to Steven Moffat’s fondness for large overarching themes and bookending his stories, it his likely that he has found an interesting way to end the tale of Amy and Rory (“The Girl Who Waited” and “The Boy Who Waited”) — by erasing The Doctor, and they shall wait no more. Thus, Amy and Rory will on living with no memories of him, no longer waiting. It would be both a tragedy and a blessing. A blessing for as Amy told The Doctor, she and Rory do need to stop waiting and to live their lives together; and a curse, because there is no greater loss than to forget such an amazing man and all the adventures they shared. Plus, it could also mean they forgetting about their daughter River Song.
“Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” may have seemed like just another DOCTOR WHO fun and silly romp, but embedded in that story were two clues that we needed to pay special attention to and it verified the lesson that Oswin had taught us: the need to be remembered. These final five episodes of The Ponds are not just glorious adventures; they are stories leading up to the epic end of their journey. The Weeping Angels foreshadow the possibility that Amy and Rory may be transported to any place in time and space that The Doctor cannot find them; but they would remember him. The greater crime would be if they forgot him entirely. That would be more heart-breaking.
So watch for the signs that The Silence are hovering just out of sight. With all the other great villains in play this season, chances are that they too will make one last appearance – and leave their four-fingered prints all over the finale. Our hearts break at the thought that one day someone could take away our memories of The Doctor.
To keep diligent watch for more clues, be sure to tune in for an all new episode of DOCTOR WHO entitled “A Town Called Mercy,” which airs Saturday, September 15th at 9:00PM on BBC America (Space in Canada). Bring your Stetson!