Although I’ve had my fair share of criticism towards series 11, I did enjoy about four or five episodes out of ten, so I gave it more than a fair shot.
Is it perfect? Nope, is it the worst? Nope, just in-between, neither here nor there, half-way up the stairs is the stair where it sits. Neither up nor down, neither in the nursery or in the town
That’s enough Jim Henson analogies.
I went into the New Year knowing the big cliffhanger in advance, unlike some fans, and thus my expectation was tempered. Would I have been blown away by the big reveal had I not known? I believe I would have sussed it out pretty quickly given the actor and alias he was going under wasn’t credited in the Radio Times, I’d have smelt a rat.
Was this episode good, and does it warrant a fanedit? Yes and hell yes, but as you’ll find here I only cut two things, as I enjoyed the full thing for the most part, never finding it dull and eager to see more of everyone. Only real complaints I have are the script needed a bit of a punch-up to sharpen the dialogue, and there wasn’t much of Doc and Graham together as they had to share screentime with Sascha Dawan. Still, there were a few scraps here and there that I used for a few fanfics, all centred on ‘shipping Thirteen and Graham.
So what did I alter? Come on, what do you think? The “upgrade” line of course. Men and women are equal, not one gender is superior to the other.
And lastly, the cliffhanger now comes directly after The Doctor is transported away and we crash into credits on the shot of the plane hurtling to it’s apparaent doom, taking the companions with it.
You’ll probably see the official release of this on FE.Org sometime in November 2020, but if you can’t wait that long, I have a try-out TX version to hold you over until then
Graham took a deep intake of breath as he sat down beside Agent O, the evening before had put both of them as well as The Doctor on an apprehensive edge, but they still felt like they could brave whatever was to come, and they trusted the reassuring light of morning more than the distrust and danger of night.
“How’s Yaz?” said O as he handed Graham a cup of tea
“Ryan’s outside with her now, she looked pretty shaken, here’s hoping his company does her some good, but if that don’t work, we’ll have to put a group effort in. That’s what we do you know, we support each other”
“One big happy family” O said under his breath
Graham got the distinct impression that O muttered this with some degree of envious resentment; he wasn’t quite sure where he had gotten it from, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask down the line.
However, in this instance O was quick to ask his own questions.
“How long have you known the Doctor, Graham?”
“Well it’s a tricky question that, see things never really happen in a straight line with the Doc”
Graham sensed O wanted to share more than what he was already telling, he knew things of The Doctor, things he felt he needed to know. A part of him also felt slightly frustrated he hadn’t taken the lead with the inquisition.
“Why? How much do you know about her?”
“A bit,” ha “our paths crossed very briefly once, when she was a man.”
Graham almost choked on his tea.
“When she was a what?” he said aloud
“Has she never mentioned that?”
“Yeah, yeah she did. The night Grace, my wife, died, when we first met her. She claimed she’d been a white-haired Scotsman. I thought it was some wild random joke only she got, but obviously there was more to it”
“You seem surprised” said O.
“I suppose, shouldn’t I be?”
“Well, it IS current year” O elaborated.
“Oh, well, forgive me then, I come from a time where news like this would level anyone of my generation’s upbringing. It’s quite a lot to take in, especially since I…”
He trailed off, almost letting something slip to O that he preferred to keep private.
“..Never mind, not important”
“You got any idea where she’s from?” O asked next.
“Well, we’ve tried to ask, but she just changes the subject, yeah.”
O’s eyes glanced in the direction of a stack of folders and files perched on the top of a shelf.
“I’ve got everything up there, anything you want answered about The Doctor can be found up there, all the Intel I could gather while working at MI6. It can be all yours Graham”
“Isn’t that all confidential? Official secrets act and all that?”
“Come on, I won’t tell” O said.
Graham now sensed that O was pressuring him, almost mischievously, like they were two errant schoolboys who had gotten their hands on the answer to a really tough exam and were daring the other to take a peek at the answers.
“What do you say Graham? Do you want to take a look?”
Graham took another sip, stared at the shelf, teased he’d get up out of the seat, and then stopped to process what he was considering.
Finally, he turned back to O and shook his head.
“I’d rather she tell me, when she’s ready”
“Quite right, you’re a good catch for her Graham”
“Eh? The Doc? I suppose she’s alright” Graham replied, before mentally cursing himself.
He hadn’t responded with something that definitively took issue with what O had suggested, and now he was going to pounce on that to further an already complicated conversation.
“She’s quite the looker”
Graham smiled, but the look on his face told O that pursuits like that just weren’t meant to be.
“Oh I don’t think along those lines, I’m old enough to be as much her granddad as I am Ryan’s’”
“Then you don’t know the stories?”
“She’s got a reputation; we learn something about that every day around her”
“Yes, but if you did read the files I have on her, you’ll find she’s older than she looks, even older than you. Age needn’t be an issue with you two. You’re both the oldest and the wisest of your little group”
“Oh come off it, me and her? Only in a fantasy world”
“Strange, that…does appear to be something you’re both currently qualified for”
“I’m not a well man O; I’ve had my share of scares with the big C”
“Oh I’m sure C was just splendid around you”
“The other ‘C’, cancer” Graham corrected him.
“Oh, but of course, my apologies”
“Yeah, I’m not out of the woods with it either. Me and Doc couldn’t have anything, if we got too attached, she’d end up saying goodbye to me just as soon as she learned how to listen”
The Doctor suddenly burst out of the TARDIS carrying a large jug of liquid.
“Come on you two, everyone outside. Lot’s to catch up on. I made ice tea. Possibly” she said, showing the contents to Graham proudly, before dashing towards the front door, beckoning Graham and O to join her.
“So considerate” O said.
“Ice tea? Grace loved to take that while we were abroad. Haven’t drank it since she passed. How did she know?”
“Maybe she does listen once in a while…perhaps she even made it to impress you, let you know just how lucky she is to have you in her life” O said.
Graham gave him a piercing glance, more perturbed than ever with what he was implying. This was not the kind of conversation he had desired in the morning, nor the kind of feelings he wanted to confront.
“Just saying” he concluded.
“O, not a whiff of this conversation reaches her ears, you got that?”
“Absolutely” he said.
The two got up, ready to head outside, Graham did one last look at the files on the shelf, then turned and joined The Doctor.
O put his right hand on Graham’s shoulder.
“Rest assured Graham, nothing of what I said was meant to make you feel uncomfortable, it’s just…when one comes to understand The Doctor like I do, you tend to see more of what makes her so…satisfying”
“You got something for her yourself? I know my pulse can race, but you’re acting like your own beat is a bit of a beast around her”
“Oh it very much is…it’s like a drumbeat” O said.
Soaring across the skies of the heavy traffic junctions of Kledbal, Blue Transit was caught in a precarious situation. And the passengers hadn’t even tipped its pilot yet.
Colby screamed into the com-link attached to his helmet, desperate to hear a voice on the other end, his hands trembled as he tried to maintain his grip on the ship’s steering wheel.
“Red W, this is Blue Transit, I repeat, this is Blue Transit…its Colby, they’re overwhelming us, I need a clear as path as you light for us”
To maintain vital communication with Red W, there had to be a clear visual, something made impossible by dreary and murky clouds forming in front of him, making it not just difficult to see, but difficult to speed up the acceleration of the ship as he feared he might crash into Red W.
“I thought you said the skies were clear Doc”
“I can’t predict the forecast Graham, I’m not a weather person” said The Doctor.
“Yeah, well it’s a bit murky now, all those drones flying overhead emitting that flaky smoke” Graham pointed out.
“Sorry, are you telling me these conditions are deliberate?” asked Colby in a state of panic.
“Hey, you’ve got a good eye there Graham” The Doctor observed.
“It must be the work of the Kilaters, part of their protests” Colby explained
“Oh protests? Me and Grace did a few of those. All peaceful. Frankly she only went for the free cups of Nescafe they passed out on their tidier breaks” Graham admitted.
“Everything is under control, I assure you, and Red W will light the path” Colby assured his passengers.
“You’ve put a lot of faith in Red W, but how do you think they’re coping right now? They may need someone in front of their path to light their way”
“It’s so much easier where they are, it should be” Colby replied, desperation in his voice, almost needy. He depended on a clearer path.
“Well, we are not over there are we? But I bet you want to be, so own it, and take us high up. Go on”
Colby was hesitant.
“I’ve never broken tradition before”
“That’s what the Kilaters are probably counting on, they want to change the world around them because it’s inflexible, kept in the same corner, don’t just sit in that corner, kick away at it ’till you break down the barriers it forms a part of. Everyone on every world, be it your own or one alien to you, has moments where they refuse to sit well over there and light their own way home, showing everyone how big and brave they were for doing it all by themselves”
Colby pulled up, the gravity of the high altitude pushing his gums back over his teeth, but he preserved and Blue Transit soon rode clear of the fog, flying over Red W and making a beeline for home.
“You’d make a class substitute for Frizzle on the magic school bus someday Doc”
“River rode it, she said it was rubbish” The Doctor replied.
A piece inspired by the cover of this week’s Radio Times
“Come along you lot, this is a special occasion” The Doctor said, beaming as she presented a colourful box to Graham, Yaz and Ryan.
“What’s in the box Doc?” asked Graham as they all gathered around.
The Doctor looked at him with a spirited frown, no intention to scold, but expecting better of him.
“If I told you that, the surprise would be lost now wouldn’t it?”
“This doesn’t come with bubble wrap does it?” said Yaz with a cautious tone.
“Yeah, we won’t want to go through all that again” said Ryan.
“You can trust me fam, you won’t want to miss this” The Doctor assured them.
Yaz, ever the curious, asked what the occasion was.
“Why should the day matter?”
“Usually, we don’t get presents unless it’s an anniversary, or a birthday, or a wedding, or Christmas”
“Or it could be because you’re my lifers” said The Doctor.
“Lifers?” said Graham.
“Lifers, best friends, the ones that stick with you through all your days, short or long”
“Oh I’m sure you’ve met a long list of lifers on your travels Doc, we’re not that special” said Graham.
“You’re the first faces I set my eyes upon in this form, you never forget your firsts, everyone’s equally important to me, and I’ll show you what I mean with this”
The four formed a circle around the box as The Doctor prepared to open it.
“Excited?” she asked.
“Terrified” said Graham; The Doctor nudged his shoulder with her arm.
Wasting no time, The Doctor opened the box. White smoke poured from the contents, and a loud, warm almost emotionally stirring howl could be heard emitting from it.
“It’s essence, pure essence. Say hello to it, it won’t bite”
“Hi there” said Ryan, waving to whatever form he assumed was in the box.
The wisps of white energy flickered and briefly burst into a mesmerising light that almost blinded Ryan.
“What just happened?”
“It absorbed that moment and stored it in its tidy little memory”
“A little? Doc, I can hear about a thousand different voices in my heads, I’m pretty sure it’s coming from there, it’s packing a lot”
“The universe is a big place Graham, more than a billion souls inhabit it, and I’ve only ever explored a fraction of it in this rackety old thing”
The TARDIS let out a slight wheeze from its engines, almost in protest at this.
“Sorry” The Doctor said.
“So this box somehow contains the essence of everyone you’ve ever met, and it now includes Ryan?” guessed Yaz.
“It’s called The Cloud, it was developed on my homeworld, my people had created technology that could allow us to send telepathic messages through time traversing space cubes. One brilliant scientist, a mentor of mine, proposed we upgrade the technique so as to gather the telepathic recordings of people we met on other worlds for research. This was the only one of its’ kind created”
“And it fell into your lap how exactly?” said Ryan, most intrigued.
“My people had a strict rule of non-intervention, so the cloud was bequeathed to me, and I’ve put it to good use with all of my loved ones ever since”
“Well, consider me in this for life” said Yaz, and leaned over to add her voice to the cloud.
“My name’s Yaz and the tea at my place is never cold” she said.
There was another bright flash, Yaz stumbled back, and The Doctor gathered her up in her arms.
“You OK?” she asked.
“Yeah, I feel real good about that, it felt right, like something I needed” Yaz revealed.
Graham looked hesitant; The Doctor grabbed him by the arm and dragged him back over to where the cloud was stationed.
“Oh don’t drag me into this Doc; I wouldn’t know what to say”
“Yaz and Ryan didn’t say much, you’ll be fine, if you want to, you can tell it a story, actually I’d really like that, it can even be a sad story, maybe you’ll feel better when it’s finished, you look like you’re in need of something that can perk you up this winter” The Doctor insisted.
“I’m at the age where I don’t need anything really”
“Oh don’t talk rubbish; everyone needs a bit of the universe in them”
“I’ve got the entire universe I’ll ever need Doc, you, Ryan, Yaz, I don’t have to be part of a bigger club to know where I stand with you”
“You’re the sweetest man I’ve ever known Graham, but you’re thinking a bit too selfishly here. That’s not what the fam’s about. If you’re not going to do it for yourself, then at least do it for me”
“The Doctor’s right Granddad, she wants us to share parts of ourselves with this Cloud so she can be reminded of us when we leave, or pass on”
“She’s got a time machine, she can see us anytime”
“You’re right, I can visit them at any point, but there are paradoxes to consider, there’s a matter of whether or not they recognise me, go too far and it’s almost too late. When I go well beyond my reach in the universe, where all that greets me when I return is a grave yard, I need them to still be around me, sending me reminders of who I was thirteen times over, letting me know it’s ok to still be who I am. I lose that, and I lose all sense of myself. I need my sense of identity, without that I am not a Doctor, I am a Warrior, I am someone who forgets, someone who regrets, and I don’t want to be made of those things. I’m a healer Graham, and maybe not right now, but eventually I’ll be in need of healing myself and I need everyone to help me do it. I need my universe around me Graham, and most of all, I need you”
Graham made eye contact with The Doctor’s startling eyes as they welled up ever so slightly, a look of genuine care and desire in her eyes, he realised how much this cloud meant to her, and what he could provide for it and her.
“A friend of mine I knew from work, a bit of a lifer to me actually, told me this morning he couldn’t get his car started today, he’s calling to get it towed over to the work shop in a couple of hours and that they’ll work on it tomorrow. Trouble is, he’s always telling me tomorrow never comes with these mechanics, the car’ll sit in there unattended to while they got on with work on motors whose owners all pay better for their services. It’s a real disgrace. I told him yesterday’s full of mistakes but tomorrow is the future, and it’s always better to look towards that than what you said then, because before you know it, tomorrow is today, and today’s the day.”
The Cloud flashed brightly yet again, Graham threw his hands over his face as his eyes reacted harshly to the burst of energy, he reeled back only for The Doctor to catch him by the back and hoist him back up, giving him a tight hug in the process.
“That’s more like it” The Doctor said
“You were right Doc, that did perk me up”
“I knew something was on your mind, you’re always thinking of others, that story of yours will go a long way towards reminding future me of what matters in a life that goes between today and tomorrow, whichever it is, today will always be the day”
She gave Graham a quick kiss on the cheek.
“And you lifer, as always, have made my day”
(Spoilers for “Mistress of Chaos Part Three” From Doctor Who Magazine#545)
I would like to give a big THANK YOU hug to Doctor Who Magazine comic strip writer Scott Gray for his hard work on the comic strip adventure story “Mistress of Chaos”, not only for the gripping adventure, but for the absolutely spell-binding moment of vulnerability between The Doctor and Graham that inspired this piece. You are a gift to our cause Mr. Gray!
She once contemplated whether or not she was a good man.
Her pal at the time told her she didn’t know.
After a while, upon given an army tailored for destruction as a birthday present, she declared she was not one. She was an idiot.
Maybe this is what this was.
The mark of Idiocy.
She and Graham had discovered The Herald, a powerful alien entity in The Doctor’s image, a creature they had encountered before in Bohemia during the 17th Century. It had escaped the Catastrophea, a dimension of perpetual disorder, The Doctor and her friends had sent it back.
Now, trapped in a logic cube with Berraka Dogbolter, they found the Herald being tortured. Its screams would scar any normal being.
The Doctor wouldn’t stand for it. She couldn’t.
Were The Doctor’s attempts to cut through the noise to settle The Herald courage on display? Or bull-headed stubbornness? A willing defiance and denial of danger to always ensure the right deed was done?
Graham had warned her, he asked if she was being wise, reminding her the last time they met her, she almost swallowed the planet whole.
The Doctor’s response was quick and all too overconfident. The rationale was simple, if they could overcome the danger once, they could do so again.
She could not stand to see someone tortured, even a former enemy.
She should have been wiser than this, now was no time to play the fool.
Someone had told her that once before, in her fifth incarnation, after too many people had died that day.
But that’s who she chose to be, that’s what she was defining herself as, a foolhardy go lucky, confident woman who relied too much on her own wisdom.
She reached out to the tortured Herald calmly; it identified her as “little mirror”, a commentary on its connection to The Doctor, as the real deal assured it she could ease its pain.
And then that pain opted to share itself with her.
The Herald’s mind opened to her, pouring into her like blood from an open wound, a transfusion of memories, faces, friends and rivals of old. River, Sarah Jane, Ian, Barbara, Susan, Jaime, Missy.
Regrets and romance, feelings and ferocity, every emotion the Doctor tried to let sleep in her mind had awoken.
She realised to her horror that the Herald was not just a creature that had patterned itself on her body to use as a template, it had absorbed everything that made her who she was. Mind, body, and possible soul.
The Herald was her.
Graham was right, she had not been a wise one this day. And now the truth frightened her. It chilled her to the bone.
In her state of vulnerability, her mind cast back to earlier, to how they had found the Herald in the first place, to the man whose very instincts picked up on the Herald’s cries for help and who had led the expedition down the tunnels to the torture chamber that contained her.
That man was her beloved Graham O’Brien.
Even when it wasn’t exactly her, he could distinctly hear the echo in her image, it’s cries, and he could lock on to it and find his way to it.
He could always find his way to her.
In an attempt to do good, she had overlooked the negative traits she had within herself, traits that compelled to splinter the Herald, she saw what a fool she had been to try and tame herself.
But Graham? Graham could ease her pain, a part of her contemplated having him ease the Herald, but she dared not risk exposing him to such turmoil.
As she explained what the Herald was to him, the vulnerability overtook her, and she held on to him, gripped him tightly, her warm delicate features grazing against his own, her arms wrapped tenderly around him, she felt safe. Terrified and sad, but content where she was.
For as long as she held him, she was in a wise place, a good place.
And in his grasp, she needn’t fear any future.
Author’s Note: Ok, this probably isn’t going to go the way it’s conveyed in the series twelve trailer, but a desperate ‘shipper can dream can’t they? Enjoy.
The TARDIS’ radiant emerald yellow light diminished and the central column gently came to a halt, the whole of the interior almost drowning in pitch blackness were not for a vibrant blue light.
The Doctor’s back came very close to leaning against one of the columns, her head was titled back, and her right hand was clenched, as if she were trying to draw enough strength to physically attack an unknown force that was driving her to an intense discomfort.
As a child, she had ran away from the untempered schism, as an elder with the temperament of a child, he had stolen away a ship and took his granddaughter to the stars. She was fearless in that instant.
When the time came to let her grandchild go, she had no fear there either
In thwarting the terrors of Mondas, she had faced the first of many deaths with just as much bravery.
This was an altogether different feeling.
This was a different kind of fear, a fear that rivalled the one forged in the caverns of Metabelis III.
A fear she wasn’t sure she could conquer.
Her face was a complicated jigsaw, changing expression to match the unease in which the anxiety had swept over her.
She felt an ache in the pit of her stomach, she felt a tremble in her hand, sensations of pain that only drove her to distraction, and set her on course for confusion.
There was anger and resentment towards this feeling, there needed to be a counter emotion, a strong show of force, an urge to resist and reject that fear, but it was proving a trying task.
Yaz couldn’t know, Ryan couldn’t know, she needed to hold it together for them, and for one other in particular.
That significant other soon walked into the room, whistling a few Broadway show tunes to himself.
“Hey Doc, what’s with the lights being out in here? We’re almost ready for supper…good on Ryan for paying, I’m skint. We could do with a few egg and ham sarnies from Greggs’, something to chew on while on the go, y’know?”
The Doctor didn’t dare turn around; she didn’t want to subject him to her pain when he was in such jubilant spirits.
But he could sense the disquiet in her soul, and he gently perched himself down where she sat and, seeing that she was now trembling, leaned over and placed a hand over her shoulder.
“What’s the matter Doc?”
The Doctor gently slid over to her side, leaning her head gently on Graham’s shoulder.
“Something’s coming for me…I can feel it” she whispered to him.
The two lay there, precious minutes ticking by, minutes that could be spent reassuring Yaz and Ryan that things were OK and they could go out for sandwiches.
The Doctor’s fears hadn’t left her, but she knew the courageous man providing her warmth in the uninviting darkness, both inner and outer, would never leave her either.
She could feel it.