Home > BBC, Doctor Who, Series Seven > The Question Behind The Name – UPDATED

The Question Behind The Name – UPDATED

On the Fields of Trensimore, on the Fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked. A question that must never ever be answered.

With this quote from 6×13: The Wedding of River Song the stage is set for Series Seven of Doctor Who. Now before I go on, this article will deal with theories for Series Seven and also spoilers for those who have yet to see Series Five and Six. So read on at your own risk.

Way, way, way back. In 2×04: The Girl in the Fireplace the first beginning seeds were planted for this storyline that has gradually been built up throughout the course of Doctor Who’s long run. Even while the Torchwood, Mr Saxon and the Missing Planet story arcs were begun and completed. This seed continued to be gradually nurtured and with Series Seven we are beginning to look at its culmination.

Reinette: Such a lonely little boy. Lonely then and lonelier now. How can you bear it? Doctor. Doctor who? It’s more than just a secret, isn’t it?

Steven Moffat loves planting his seeds and he frequently makes use of foreshadowing, it is one of his many unique skills as a writer and this throwaway line from 2×04: The Girl in the Fireplace hints that there is far more to learn about the mysterious time lord.

UPDATE: It should be worth pointing out that this isn’t the first time that there has been hints about the Doctor’s identity. If we go back even further, into the time of the Classic Doctor Who series and look at the Sylvester McCoy episode Remembrance of the Daleks. In a cutscene from the episode, the Doctor stated the following to Davros.

Davros: In the end, you are merely another Time Lord!
The Doctor: Oh, Davros, I am far more than merely another Time Lord!

This was all part of the Cartmel Masterplan. A storyline that had been intended to bring about an air of mystery to the Doctor. By this point in the series, it was believed that there was too much known about the Doctor and the plan was to shake up the series. Unfortunately, this project was planned at the same time that Doctor Who was fighting a losing battle for survival. The show was ultimately cancelled and the project never saw the light of day (although the New Adventures Novel “Lungbarrow”  was written as a way of concluding the plan).

Now lets skip on to Series Four and the two part storyline 4×08: Silence in the Library and 4×09: Forest of the Dead. This episode serves as the primary introduction of the character River Song. However there is still a line in this story which hints at the future.

River: Doctor. One day I’m going to be someone that you trust. Completely. But I can’t wait for you to find that out. So I’m going to prove it to you. And I’m sorry. I’m really very sorry. whispers in his ear. Are we good? Doctor. Are we good?
The Doctor: Yeah, we’re good.

What River whispered into the Doctor’s ear has never been fully established but it’s long believed that in order to gain his trust River was whispering the Doctor’s name.His true name. After this point the Doctor trusts River completely and seems resigned to the fate that he is going to know more about River.

UPDATE: I had originally completely forgotten about another quote from the same episode that confirms this theory as well. Thankfully a member of Reddit was able to jog my memory and the full quote appears below.

River: Not those times, not one line. Don’t you dare! It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s not over for you. You’ll see me again. You’ve got all of that to come. You and me. Time and space. You watch us run!
The Doctor: River you know my name. You whispered my name in my ear. There’s only one way I would ever tell anyone my name. There’s only one time I could.

When the quotes are placed into the context of the revelation made at the end of Series Six. Questions do get asked about how River will learn the Doctor’s name.

6×13: The Wedding of River Song implies that the revelation about the Doctor’s name is the reason that the Silence are working to prevent the Doctor from answering it. They’ve used incredibly advanced methods to achieve their goal as well. They’ve shown that they understand how to destroy a TARDIS (5×13: The Big Bang). They kidnapped Amy Pond, replaced her with a ganger clone and were able to keep the connection despite the TARDIS travelling through various time periods (6×01: The Impossible Astronaut – 6×07: A Good Man Goes to War). This is obviously not some two-bit operation or some monster of the week threat. This is a organisation that is every bit as deadly as the Daleks, mysterious as the Weeping Angels and more soul-less than the Cybermen.

In one of my earlier articles I speculated about the fate of Amy Pond and how it might affect the Doctor. Now throw in the implications of the Question. If Amy is destined to meet a fateful end, if the Doctor is going to fall far deeper than he has before as stated by River in 6×07: A Good Man Goes to War.

River: This is the Battle of Demon’s Run. The Doctor’s darkest hour. He’ll rise higher than ever before and then fall so much further. And… I can’t be with him ’til the very end.

That episode saw the Doctor rise far higher and fundamentally achieve his goals. But he didn’t truly fall. But the beginnings of his fall can perhaps be traced back to this point.

If the Question is going to be one day asked and one day answered. Who will it be. River apparently knows the Doctor’s name which means she already knows the answer. If River asks the Question, if she asks the Doctor Who he really is. He has to tell her because he has already told her.

Dorium: The first question! The question that must never be answered! Hidden in plain sight! The question you’ve been running from all your life! “Doctor Who.” “Doctor Who.” “Doctor Who”!

UPDATE: Additionally. This article could not have been made if it had not been for the Planet Claire website which provided the quotes to the episodes. Also I have to pass on my thanks to Reddit member Tgjer for jogging my memory on the additional quote from 4×09: Forest of the Dead.

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Categories: BBC, Doctor Who, Series Seven
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