|This is an attempt to try and answer some of those Frequently
Asked Questions about one of the most confusing stories in Doctor Who's
history, "The Trial of a Time Lord."
Well, why is it so confusing, you ask?
One reason is a fundamental one about stories that
have two plots running, with one in an outer frame. I can recall being
given "Man of La Mancha" to read in a drama class once. Myself and about
half the students had little trouble with it, but for some reason or
another, the other half of the class couldn't follow it and had difficulty
keeping the two plots straight. I've noted similar confusion among some
people who have seen the Trial.
The second reason is one of our FAQs, which is the
story behind the scenes. I'll try and make this brief.
Eric Saward, the Script Editor for the series at the
time, came up with the idea of an umbrella theme to the entire 23rd season
that would involve the Doctor being placed on Trial by the Time Lords for
crimes of intervening in the affairs of other planets. Producer John
Nathan-Turner liked it and the two went ahead with the plan.
This plan was that the fourteen-episode season would
be split into two four-part sub-stories, and three two-part stories, the
last of which would wrap up the Trial. The first two stories would
contain evidence against the Doctor for the prosecution. The second two
would be evidence he offers in his own defence.
There was also a deliberate decision made to follow
the pattern of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." The first segment would be of
the Doctor's past, the second of the present, and the defence segments
were to be of his future.
Writers were assigned for all of the stories. Robert
Holmes was chosen for the first and the last, and Philip Martin would
write the second. Things were much less stable concerning the defence
evidence. The first segment was to be written by David Halliwell, and the
second two-parter by Jack Trevor Story. It was decided at this time that
the two should work closely so that ideas from Halliwell's segment could
merge into those in Story's.
Eric Saward was not pleased with what Halliwell and
Story were each doing, and eventually rejected their stories
After this, Saward and Nathan-Turner felt that as
time was getting a little tight, it would be simpler to make the defence
evidence all one story and for it all to be written by one writer.
Christopher H. Bidmead was chosen for this task, but it wasn't long before
Eric Saward pulled the plug on this story as well, feeling it lacked any
Next up to bat was P.J. Hammond, and this time Eric
Saward liked what was being written. The same was not true of John
Nathan-Turner, and he rejected the story.
With things really getting tight now, Nathan-Turner
turned to Pip and Jane Baker to write the defence segment, as the two are
known for being able to write quickly. JNT and Eric Saward told them that
they wanted a "whodunnit" in space, and that is what Pip and Jane
produced. This final script was completed on a rush and just in time to
meet production deadlines.
In the meantime, Philip Martin was doing OK with his
script (by comparison), and Robert Holmes had completed the first story.
However, after completing the work on Part 13 of the Trial, Mr. Holmes
fell ill and soon after died, leaving nothing but an outline for the final
Eric Saward stepped into the breach to fill the gap,
as Script Editors have had to do in the past, and rewrote the ending of
Part 13 to bridge the gap into his concluding episode. This episode was to
have followed the original ideas Saward, Holmes, and JNT had discussed
prior to the season's beginning, but John Nathan-Turner found reasons to
dislike it and ultimately reject it. JNT and Saward had a falling out, and
Saward quit the BBC altogether, taking the rights to his script with
With only a week to go before the shooting deadline,
JNT turned to Pip and Jane Baker again and asked them to write a segment
that would conclude the entire Trial. JNT was not allowed to discuss the
original endings of either the Holmes or Saward scripts, due to copyright
difficulties with Holmes estate and with Saward himself.
The resulting episode was five minutes too long, but
it was allowed to air this way in any case by Controller Jonathan
Is it little wonder then that "The Trial of a Time
Lord" had a somewhat confusing and convoluted ending?
So just what did happen then?
The following is my personal intrepretation of the
events told in the canonical televised stories, told in a chronological
order from the point-of-view of the Time Lords of Gallifrey. (the Valeyard
theories that follow it are based on the canon, but extrapolate from it
too) Assume for this that the "present" is Gallifrey and the Time Lords as
we see them at the end of the Trial.
Several centuries ago, the Matrix was
The Matrix is a vast databank and storehouse of
technological knowledge, including the experiences of all Time Lords
wherever they may be, and the entire minds of most Time Lords who have
died. Most scientific scans and functions of the Time Lords in some way
involve the Matrix, and in most of those cases, it is the principle
component. Terminal interface with the Matrix's functions can be achieved
at various points throughout the Capitol, while direct "super-user"
software-to-mind interface is available only to the President of the High
Council, and the hardware is monitored and tended by the Keeper of the
Matrix (the sole posessor of the Key of Rassilon which permits physical
entry into its probably fifth-dimensional "interior").
The Matrix's security was thought to be inviolable.
Yet somehow someone in the Universe had found a way to hack into the
system and start making copies of some extremely advanced technological
files. All the secrets of the Time Lords were at risk, from the time
travel facility to trans-dimensional engineering.
The High Council is supposed to be concerned about
this because it would mean the delivery of dangerously advanced knowledge
into the hands of less advanced cultures. The normal course of action
would be to trace and seal the leak and assess the damage done to the
culture. .. .
However, this High Council wasn't as noble as their
oaths of office said they should be. Their reaction was one of anger and
fear that their monopoly of Time could soon be broken, and they decided on
swift and penalizing action against those who had dared to steal from
them. And by "those," they meant not only the thieves, but the entire
planet of origin of the thieves.
They traced the leak in the Matrix to a planet called
Earth. (On Earth's calendar, the year would be two million A.D. or so) The
High Council then ordered that a device called the Magnotron would be used
to draw the Earth and its entire constellation two light years off its
This killed two birds with one stone. Not only was
the planet now in a position that no species knew of (and therefore
isolated), but in the motion, a solar fireball was created that destroyed
nearly all life on Earth, and, so they thought, destroyed those who had
stolen from them, and their civilization so that the breach could never
occur again. Following the motion, the High Council renamed the planet
Ravolox to cover their tracks, and made certain that their actions
remained carefully buried, as they were highly illegal and broke several
of their own Laws of Time, not to mention a moral travesty. The fact that
an ancient civlization had been destroyed to save their scientific
advances was of little consequence in the High Council's planning.
And as it turned out. . . their actions were not
entirely successful. Earth was not in fact the civilization that had
spawned the Matrix thieves. The real thieves were a group from the
constellation of Andromeda. They found the way to break into the Matrix,
but before they did so, they set up shop on Earth as a cover because they
knew that the Time Lords would eventually trace the leak and take punitive
And when the Time Lords did trace the leak, the
Andromedans were able to see the fireball attack coming and set up an
underground survival chamber for three of their number, called the
Sleepers. Also, every secret they had taken from the Matrix was stored on
a large tape of microdots, and the entire underground system was put under
the charge of an L3 robot named Drathro, who was given a workforce of 500
of Earth's natives to assist him in maintaining the underground
Drathro and the Sleeper's hibernation system were
fueled by a black light system, assuring that there would never be a loss
of the source of power, making the only limit on the system's lifetime one
of the hardware rather than the source of energy.
The Andromedans also sent a robot recovery mission
from Andromeda intended to rendezvous with Earth and recover the Sleepers
and their secrets. In this case, however, the High Council won a battle as
the repositioning of the planet meant that the robot mission missed Earth
altogether and sped out into empty space. The hibernation system
eventually failed, and the Sleepers died. However, Drathro lived on, and
the box of secrets of the Matrix survived intact, still guarded by "the
Immortal" and his underground dwellers.
For five centuries this dark secret of the High
Council's goes undiscovered except by a handful of rogues and treasure
hunters, who over the years attempt to get the secrets that were left
behind. All fail because of their own devious methods when dealing with
escapees of the underground system.
Until one day. . . only a few months ago.
The Time Lords' most famous renegade, known as the
Doctor, was looking for somewhere interesting to go. He stumbles upon a
planet listed in his TARDIS databanks that has startingly similar features
to those of his favorite planet of all, Earth, including angle of tilt,
mass, and period of rotation. Seeing this as quite a phenomena, he decides
to investigate the planet.
While there, the underground survival system,
Drathro, and the secrets are destroyed due indirectly to the Doctor's
intervention and to that of another prospector from the constellation of
Andromeda, Sabalom Glitz. However, the Doctor does learn several secrets
about Ravolox that the High Council would rather he not know, such as the
fact that Earth and its constellation are inexplicably two light years off
course and that there was a box of secrets that Glitz was very interested
Such knowledge would be dangerous in anyone's hands,
and are ten times as dangerous in the Doctor's. Someone on the High
Council, possibly the President, learns of the Doctor's visit to Ravolox
shortly after the fact and of how close he came on that occasion to
cracking their entire cover-up wide open. The danger that he someday will
crack it is extremely great now, especially when considering his affection
for Earth and his natural curiosity.
This is a breach of security which could not be
ignored. The Doctor had to be silenced, once and for all.
It seems that the Council's judgement of how to deal
with the problem runs along similar lines to that of Servalan's in the
Blake's 7 episode "Trial." Clearly the Doctor must be silenced, but it
must be done in such a painstaking and seemingly honest way that a guilty
verdict can never be questioned. Along the way, the Council would like to
introduce the Doctor's visit to Ravolox into the evidence, thus if he is
found guilty, any conclusions he might have come to then about the planet
would be not taken seriously by other Time Lords since they would be the
conclusions of a convicted and executed renegade. It could be dangerous,
but if handled correctly, the hole in their cover-up could be neatly
sealed and put away once and for all.
The Council therefore decided to take the Doctor out
of Time and get him tried by the Ultimate Court of Appeals for crimes
against the First Law of Time, that of intervention in history and the
affairs of other peoples and planets. As the Doctor is such a meddler, at
least half the conviction should be assured by his own actions by
However, the Council is also afraid that their former
Lord President will yet again find a clever means of escape. They must
therefore make certain that the prosecuting counsel be of equal intellect
and cunning, and someone who can get under the Doctor's skin and use his
own strengths against him. It would also be advantageous if the evidence
could be "fine tuned" by this counsel to assure a guilty verdict.
The Council knows of someone who certainly knows the
Doctor well, who is his equal in intellect and cunning, and who has a link
to the Matrix already established that only a President of the High
Council can ever get, and therefore an affinity for manipulation and
control of the Matrix should the Council allow it...
He is known as the Doctor.
A possible future self of the Doctor's own would be
asked if he would prosecute the case for all of the above reasons, and as
a reward, he would be given the six remaining regenerations of the
"present" Doctor's. This Doctor with no regenerations of his own agrees to
this deal, and is given the title of "learned court prosecutor," or
This future Doctor's origin and motive questions will
be discussed later. The Valeyard is charged with assuring a guilty verdict
by any means, and he is also told to include the Ravolox visit as part of
The Valeyard and the Council wait a little for the
Doctor to become involved in a particularly nasty adventure that would be
difficult to explain, and indeed they find one tailor-made to suit their
ends. They lift the Doctor out of Time at a critical moment, and then as
an emotional knife to the hearts, the Valeyard alters evidence of this
adventure to make the Doctor appear to be antagonistic towards his
companion, Peri, and to make it appear that, as a result of this, Peri
died at the orders of the High Council.
The TARDIS and the Doctor arrive at the space station
where the Inquiry will take place before the Ultimate Court of Appeals'
members, and the Ravolox affair is the first Matrix evidence used against
the Doctor by the Valeyard. As the proceedings move forward, the Valeyard
succeeds in elevating what had been an Inquiry into a full-scale Trial, as
he was charged to do by the High Council. The Ravolox evidence also has
certain pieces of evidence excised to prevent the Court from learning of
the break-in in the Matrix. During the evidence in this segment and the
next, the Valeyard knows exactly what buttons to press on the Doctor to
make this version of himself explode into what the Court and the
Inquisitor will regard as immature bramblings that hurt his
The Ravolox evidence by itself is incriminating, but
perhaps insufficient. The next segment is anything but insufficient,
particularly after the Valeyard has tampered with the evidence.
Following it, the Doctor is even convinced that
unless he puts up a decent defence, he will be condemned. The wind in his
sails is also severely curtailed when he learns of Peri's death.
The Doctor is allowed Matrix access by the
Inquisitor, and he takes the defence that he will improve in his future, a
defence probably unique to the Time Lords but logical given the fact that
they are, well, Time Lords.
However, once again, certain pieces of evidence in
this case are altered by the Valeyard to make the Doctor's actions
suspect. The alterations are a little more clumsy here, probably due to
the fact that the Valeyard has much less time to change things the Doctor
has just found than to alter evidence he himself was preparing to use.
This arouses the Doctor's suspicion even more, and gives him a suspect in
The Valeyard is unconcerned by this, knowing that the
Doctor might know who is manipulating him, but he will be unable to prove
And indeed, following his evidence, the Doctor is
unable to prove any Matrix tampering. He can get the Keeper of the Matrix
to admit that the Matrix can be physically penetrated, but there is no way
for the Doctor to prove that anyone has actually done it, and the
Inquisitor will accept the Valeyard's evidence.
The Doctor has also put his own foot in his mouth by
opening himself up to a charge of genocide from his own evidence, which
under Article 7 would mandate a death sentence without possibility of
reprieve or for the Inquisitor to lighten the sentence.
Things are going fine and dandy for the Valeyard,
until one of his oldest enemies decides to show up and blow the roof off
the space station.
The Master arrives from within the Matrix, proving to
one and all that not only qualified people can get inside, as he's got a
copy of the Key of Rassilon. He also brings Glitz and the Doctor's future
companion Melanie to the space station as witnesses in the Doctor's
defence, although Glitz's testimony goes more to indict the High Council.
(Melanie featured in the Doctor's defence evidence.) Glitz explains why he
was on Ravolox (and it turns out he was hired to do so by the Master, who
was probably wary of going there himself as his presence might have been
detected by the Matrix and alerted to the Council) and what the Time Lords
did to the Earth to protect their own interests. The Valeyard can do
nothing but get angry, and the Doctor takes the opportunity to point out
the Time Lords' own hypocricy. The Master then introduces the Court to the
true identity of the Valeyard, and the Valeyard flees into the Matrix,
where he has contingency plans of his own in the making.
Back on Gallifrey, the news from the Trial of the
Doctor breaks, and the entire High Council is almost immediately deposed.
Reports say that an insurrection is taking place, collapsing Gallifrey
Meanwhile, the Doctor pursues the Valeyard into the
Matrix, and finds that his future self has set up a fantasy world similar
to that he had encountered once before. Before the Valeyard will show
himself, he has his minion, Mr Popplewick, get the Doctor to sign a
consent form which will bestow his remaining lives to the Valeyard should
the Doctor die within the long and dark corridors of this Fantasy
The Valeyard then immediately manipulates the fantasy
to try and kill the Doctor. An attack by illusion fails partly due to
Glitz's intervention, but mostly because of the Doctor's refusal to
believe in the illusion. He next tries a short, physical attack, but the
Doctor and Glitz are rescued from this by the Master with the use of his
TARDIS which he has managed to nest within the Matrix.
The Master's motives begin to show themselves at this
point. His intention, he says, is to get the Doctor and the Valeyard to
destroy one another. While this is certainlsomething he'd like to see
happen, the truth is that he wants them to be so concerned with fighting
each other that the Valeyard will not notice when he takes control of the
Matrix memory tapes himself. When he believes he has achieved this, he
delivers an ultimatum to the Court of Appeal, telling them that as he has
control of the Matrix, only he can impose order on the now chaotic
Gallifrey, and if anyone disregards his commands, they will invite summary
execution. The Master connects the Matrix tape to his TARDIS controls, and
only at this point finds out that it has been boobytrapped by the
Valeyard. (and it might not have been the real tape at all) The trap pins
him in his own TARDIS for the duration of this tale...
The Valeyard's third attack is perhaps his best. He
decides that the best way to kill the Doctor is to convince him that he
must sacrifice his own life, and he sets up an illusion of the Trial room
that he uses to convince the Doctor that he has been found guilty of the
genocide charge and will shortly be executed. The Valeyard doesn't know
that the Doctor has spotted the illusion, but he aborts it in any case
when the real Melanie intervenes and blurts out loud that the Trial was an
If the Valeyard had another plan to kill the Doctor
(while both are within the Matrix and therefore the "will my lives away"
pact would stay true) after this, we do not find out about it as the
Doctor goes onto the offensive, and the Valeyard is distracted by Glitz
and the Master's activities.
While investigating the Valeyard's illusions, the
Doctor finds a list of the names of the Court of Appeal, all crossed
through, and in his handwriting. Glitz then arrives with Mr Popplewick,
the two having stuck up a deal whereby Glitz would deliver the Doctor to a
certain location if he were given the Matrix memory tape. The deal is
completed, albeit not quite as Popplewick would have liked, and then
before Popplewick can carry out his plan for the Doctor, the Doctor turns
and captures him, revealing to Melanie that this Popplewick person has
been the true Valeyard all along in an elaborate disguise.
However, just before this happened, the Valeyard
managed to activate a contingency plan. In this place in the Matrix is a
Particle Diseminator which, when used, will use the Matrix screen in the
Court to destroy all the members of the Court of Appeals, and as the
Valeyard put it, cause "the catharsis of spurious morality." The list, the
Doctor realizes, is a hit list for all the members of the Court.
It is not known if this was something the Valeyard
was told to do by the High Council, or if he was doing this on his own. It
would be in character for the Valeyard, after collecting his "fee" of
regenerations, to want to send the Council up a creek without a paddle and
kill off the Court of Appeal as well, thus leaving a power vacuum for
himself and his then-exclusive control of the Matrix to fill. Indeed, the
Master seems to have similar but less thought-out ideas like these of his
own. Fortunately, the Doctor is able to cause the system to self-destruct,
and the Court is saved. The Valeyard appears to be destroyed in the
The Doctor and Melanie leave the Matrix and the
Inquisitor drops all charges against him, and suggests he run for the
Presidency again, but the Doctor has a better idea and suggests that she
do so. She doesn't say no, and the Doctor and Melanie depart together. (A
non-canon source, the novel of this story, provides a means whereby the
temporal problem of a future Melanie leaving with the present Doctor is
unravelled. Even when not considering this, there is no reason to suspect
that in the interval between this and the next story, Melanie could have
met the Doctor as they were "supposed" to and for the Vervoid story to
have happened, along with several other adventures) The Inquisitor and the
Court prepere to leave for Gallifrey, with the Inquisitor telling the
Keeper of the Matrix to repair the Matrix's damage from the
But as it is revealed, it is not the Keeper of the
Matrix who is now wearing his robes, but rather the Valeyard, who seems to
have escaped the Matrix alive and well and now again in another
It seems to me that the Trial was intended by Robert
Holmes at least to be not so much a Trial of _a_ Time Lord, but to be the
Trial of the Time Lords, plural. In the end, it is the Doctor who is
passing judgement on the Time Lords' decadent and corrupt actions, while
at the same time they admonish him for interfering in the affairs of the
Universe while trying to make it a better place. And even when the tables
are turned, the Time Lords still don't actually do anything to help the
Doctor when he enters the Matrix to battle his evil self. Melanie can't
believe it, but the Inquisitor tells her twice words to the effect of, "We
are not empowered to interfere." All these stuffed shirts will do is sit
back and watch the struggle on a glorified television screen and comment
And what is it we the audience are doing?
It seems to me that Holmes was close to completing
another morality tale of the type Doctor Who has told before, with an
allegory to modern society. We tend to do a lot of watching of what
suffering and evil is going on in the world, but we tend to not do a lot
about it and worry more about our own skins and what could happen if we
interfere. The Doctor's answer has always been to just leap in and get on
with it. Perhaps Mr. Holmes was going to suggest we do the same?
There are a couple of small other FAQs I want to
address before heading into the biggie. The first is the question of what
evidence was true and what was not.
Well, "Mysterious Planet" doesn't seem to have any
evidence changed other than the excisements, and this is probably to make
sure that that segment was not beyond doubt when the guilty verdict would
come down. "Terror of the Vervoids" seems to have two pieces changed,
which the Doctor protests about.
The difficult one is "Mindwarp" as the Doctor's
memory of the story was still hazy when he viewed it. Clearly the ending
did not happen the way we saw it. Perhaps someone like one of the bearers
leaped in front of Peri/Kiv before Yrcanos fired. Perhaps that time bubble
never really happened and the entire final segment was fiction. (If it was
real, I think we're owed an explanation of how we're viewing this as the
Doctor's TARDIS is out of collection range past this point. Of course, I
suppose they have ways around this if they really want to tune in, but
still. . . ) The difficult bit for me about "Mindwarp" was never so much
Yrcanos' shooting but rather how the transplant was resolved. I'm
relatively becalmed these days. In case you hadn't noticed, Crozier's
operations were still erratic, and in fact his regular brain cortex
transplant of Kiv into the fisherman starts to revert, and the body's
leftover brain starts to assert control and influence on Kiv's. As Crozier
has never attempted a "mental patterns"-only type transplant before, I
would theorize that something similar happened before too long after the
transplant, and that Peri's mind wasn't as dead as he told Sil it
The other big altered scene in "Mindwarp" is probably
the interrogation scene. I note with suspicion that the Doctor is asking
Peri questions about the Alphan resistance. For one thing, I wonder how
the Doctor knew about the Alphan resistance since no one had told him
about it yet that we saw (yes, it could have been off-screen, but that
doesn't affect the next point), and for another, I wonder why he's asking
Peri about them when he knows (even if he really were evil here) that she
can't know anything about them. This means that this is all either bluster
he's putting on for the watching Mentors, or that the Valeyard changed the
I also notice that Peri doesn't go on and on about
him changing sides throughout Parts Seven and Eight and does in fact save
his life on the cliffhanger where Yrcanos was going to kill him. Perhaps
he really did tell her something to give her hope in the interrogation,
but told her not to tell anyone?
Another question that comes up from time to time is
that the solar fireball in "Mysterious Planet" and the mentions to
Andromeda make it sound as if there are some common events between this
and things we see in "Ark in Space."
Can the two stories be resolved in terms of dating to
I think so. Follow.
As far as dating goes, the only hurdle we have to
overcome is the Doctor's theorizing in "Ark" that components of the space
station had been constructed in the late 29th or early 30th centuries,
which he then extrapolated to suggest that Vira and the others were from
the same time frame. However, prior and future series continuity suggests
against this as we've seen stories in years beyond 3000 that take place on
Earth at least in part. "Daleks' Masterplan" and "The Invisible Enemy" are
The solution may be in dialog between the Doctor and
Harry on Nerva again but this time in "Revenge of the Cybermen," when
Harry asks about them being on the beacon before the time of the solar
flares. The Doctor tells him that they are "thousands of years" before
that point. If one is imaginitive enough, one can conclude that this also
means that "Ark" has to take place several thousand years beyond the 30th
century, and that even though the components may have been built then, the
station wasn't set up as the Ark until the 2 million A.D. mark.
This would be in keeping with an Earth that sees a
solar flare/fireball coming very soon and needs to set up a survival
station fast. They do a quick inventory of the junk in orbit and find a
still-viable space beacon that they can convert quickly into their
survival station in time to beat the flares.
There. That sorts out the dates. The only question
now is Andromeda. In "Ark" we learn that before the flares hit, humans
sent last-ditch colonist missions to many different worlds, and that one
succeeded on a world in Andromeda where the Wirrn used to live, and in
fact drove out the Wirrn. And we then learn in "Sontaran Experiment" that
the humans went on to build a pretty sizeable little Empire which the
Sontarans would like to add to their collection.
But in "Mysterious Planet," we are told that
Andromeda already has humanoid-looking inhabitants, and that it did before
Well, this is easy enough to resolve when you
consider that the entire constellation of Andromeda could have quite a few
worlds in it that are habitable, and that we know that at least one of
them is vacant of humans as the Wirrn owned it. It makes sense that the
Andromedans might never have wanted to colonize it themselves because of
that, and that with "no vacancy" signs everywhere else in the
constellation, the humans were forced to land there. The neat thing is
that they beat the Wirrn and eventually start building their own
The next FAQ I want to address about the "Trial"
before getting to the biggie is the names of the stories. The last "Doctor
Who Magazine" insists in several places that we should start referring to
early stories by their "proper" titles, such as "100000 B.C." for "An
This argument applies to the Trial because the four
substories that were eventually produced all had their own working titles
which the recent "Sixth Doctor Handbook" tells us about, and they insist
that the titles most people know the third and fourth stories by are wrong
and that they should be called "The Ultimate Foe" and "Time Inc."
respectively. ("Foe" should be the Vervoid story)
This is a load of rubbish, and its another thing that
that book and that DWM have got wrong lately.
The owner of a copyright is the only authority who
should decide the title of something. In "Doctor Who"'s case, this is the
BBC. Therefore, what they say about the shows goes. Therefore, because the
BBC Video of the first story ever is labelled "An Unearthly Child," I will
call it that and not "100000 B.C."
Therefore, because my videos of the Trial call the
last two stories of the Trial, "Terror of the Vervoids" and "The Ultimate
Foe" respectively, I will call them that. Nevermind the fact that it makes
more sense to call them by these titles. :)
One other little much-published error that I want to
correct is in John Peel's book "The Gallifrey Chronicles." In it, he
maintains that the Valeyard seems to have stolen the Keeper of the
Matrix's body at the end of the Trial. I can't see any evidence for this
whatsoever. We don't see the merging take place, and we've already seen
the Valeyard use a disguise earlier, therefore I think the fact that he's
wearing his robes at the end is merely another disguise.
Yes, he imitates the Keeper's voice for two words
quietly, but the Valeyard should be just as capable of imitating a voice
as the Master was in "The Time Monster" (where he reproduced the
Brigadier's voice perfectly in terms of sound) or as the Doctor himself
was in "The Masque of Mandragora" (Hieronymous).
Also against Peel's theory is the continuity of the
series. When mergings take place, the resulting person looks like the
"interim" state, not the other way around as it would have to be in this
We see it in "Planet of the Spiders" and "The Keeper
of Traken" this way, and in "Logopolis," the new self was obscured by the
whiteish wrappings and we couldn't see the face underneath so we can't be
certain. Still, Peter Davison doesn't look like Tom Baker.
Michael Jayston's was the face in the robes at the
end of "Foe," not James Bree. Case closed.
The big remaining question about the Trial is the
Valeyard and his origins. Who is he? Where does he come from? And why does
he want his own earlier self dead?
All we know about the Valeyard comes from statements
from himself and from the Master.
I'll start with the Master. This is how he describes
the Valeyard when first revealing his identity.
"They [the High Council] 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." When asked about his calling the Valeyard, "Doctor," he
explains thusly, "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you. The
Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere
between your twelfth and final incarnation."
This statement is one of the most key. It suggests
that either the Master does not know if the Valeyard is Doctor No. 12 or
Doctor No. 13, or that (as seems more likely) the Valeyard is an "interim"
state between the Twelfth and Thirteenth Doctors of the future, as had
been seen in the series on two previous occasions. The first such was of
the Doctor's old teacher. The "host" body was that of the old monk K'Anpo
Rimpoche. Walking around some time before this, completely corporeal and
interactive and sentient, was K'Anpo's next self, at that time called
Cho-je. When the moment of regeneration came, Cho-je faded away from sight
and simultaneously melded into the body of the "host" K'Anpo, so that the
resultant Time Lord was one again. He looked and spoke like the old
The second occasion of such melding and an interim
self is of the Doctor's own regeneration from his fourth to his fifth
selves. In this case, the new self was again fully sentient, but this time
more ghostly, and perhaps as a result of this, the Doctor was caught by
surprise by his presence. The new self did not take on its final form
until the regeneration came.
Therefore, if the Valeyard is an interim state, he is
in fact probably what the Thirteenth Doctor will look and sound like, but
is not necessarily the "destined" Thirteenth Doctor, as he has not yet
united with the twelve selves that come before him.
Perhaps it would be good to consider another
statement of the Master's at this point.
"But the Valeyard, a distillation of all that is evil
in you, untainted by virtue, a composite of your every dark thought, is a
This, coupled with his earlier description of the
Valeyard as an "amalgamation" seems to suggest, at least to me anyway,
that his creation is not a natural one, but is perhaps more like someone
purifying a mixture, only wanting the evil aspects. "Distillation,"
"composite," and "amalgamation" suggest to me a third agency at work as
It has been my pet theory for several years that the
High Council, in its quest to find the ultimate prosecutor for the
Doctor's trial, used the Matrix's abilities to predict the future and its
unique two-way connection to the Doctor's mind to create for themselves a
Doctor who was nothing but evil traits, and who would hate and despise his
other "proper" self for his good traits and would like to seem him
destroyed. They chose the "interim" state between Doctors 12 and 13 for
two reasons. One: by picking a Doctor so far in the future, they get
the most experienced Doctor ever who will therefore have a better chance
of winning. Two: by picking this Doctor, who has no regenerations of his
own, they can offer regenerations as a carrot-on-a-stick for their little
I came up with this theory because it seemed to me to
be a logical one, and because it solved the temporal paradox problems
involved with a future Doctor travelling into his own past to kill his
earlier self. However, I've since this time thought of some other possible
explanations for the Valeyard's origin and actions.
He could indeed be a rogue future self that was
naturally created, who does indeed travel into his own history and who is
indeed hired by an earlier (to him) High Council to prosecute one of his
earlier selves. The deal probably would have meant that the original
Doctor would be executed in the act of the Valeyard merging with his body
and quashing his mind, taking over the Doctor's life from this point
The argument against this has always been that it
would change his own history, but as I better understand these days,
changes in history can and do happen, and the result is alternative time
lines. All that would probably happen to the Valeyard is that the time
line he travelled back from would become inaccessible to him should he
have wished to return, which he might not have wanted to do
However, when I look at the Fifth Doctor's fading in
"The Five Doctors," and see what such temporal instability in someone's
time line can indeed do, I start to go back to my first theory
In fact, I still like my first theory better because
it also implies heavy Matrix-links to the Valeyard's origin, which would
give him more power over it and make him a more dangerous and therefore
more entertaining villain. But even without that, I still think he's a
better villain than others like the Master for the simple reasons that he
*is* the Doctor.
I also like the way the Trial ended, because it
suggests that the Valeyard is alive and well, and was at first under the
Keeper of the Matrix's guise. This would give him an edge on control of
the Matrix. I am also not confident that the Inquistor and the Court of
Appeals would be able to set up their own "good" High Council if he
rallied forces against them. And then when you add to that the fact that
the Seventh Doctor not long after this sends the Hand of Omega and
possibly the Nemesis as well to Gallifrey. . . and that only the Doctor
(and hence the Valeyard) can have control of these objects....
Let's just say I look forward with great anticipation
to the day we get to see read or preferably see a return to a Gallifrey
which may be very different to the one we knew before, one which may have
a Lord President Valeyard, who would get to make good on the threats he
made to his good self in the Matrix in "The Ultimate Foe."
"Come now, Doctor? How else can I obtain my
Operate as a complete entity?
Unfettered by _your_ side of
Only by ridding myself of you and your misplaced
Your constant crusading. . . only by releasing myself from
misguided maxims that you nurture can I be free."
"With you destroyed, and no longer able to
and with unlimited access to the Matrix,
be nothing beyond my reach!"