The Day of the Doctor
The Day of the Doctor was the fiftieth anniversary special of Doctor Who, the first full-length multi-Doctor story of the BBC Wales era, the first Doctor Who adventure shot in stereoscopic 3D, and the first adventure to be broadly available in cinemas in a number of different countries.
Moreover, it was shown at literally the same time round the globe on 23 and 24 November 2013 on television, prompting the Guinness Book of World Records to certify it as the largest ever simulcast of a television drama. In all, it was viewable in some 94 countries and 1,500 theaters worldwide. Domestically, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s 2013/14 Annual Report cited it as the most watched drama on the BBC in 2013, with 12.8 million television viewers, and an additional 3.2 million iPlayer requests. It also broke or neared viewing records in a number of other regions around the world. Because of its theatrical run and subsequently strong home media sales, it is the single adventure with the highest gross worldwide sales in the history of Doctor Who. The success of this release led to the Series 8 premiere, Deep Breath, receiving a similar theatrical simulcast as it aired on television on 23 August the following year.
Among fans, the story was exceedingly popular. In a 2014 poll by Doctor Who Magazine which ranked all of the Doctor Who television stories aired to date, The Day of the Doctor ranked as “DWM readers’ favorite adventure of the first 50 years”.
The episode featured the return of David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and the appearance of John Hurt as a previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor: the War Doctor, in what was the final chronological adventure for his portrayal of the Doctor. His only full-length adventure on screen introduced a new iteration of the sonic screwdriver and a unique TARDIS control room predating those seen in Series 1.
Furthermore, the War Doctor’s regeneration was shown, into what appeared to be the Ninth Doctor, completing a missing link in the chain of incarnations that started when Christopher Eccleston debuted in the 2005 relaunch of the series, Rose. The process of resolving the regenerations issue was being enforced by executive producer Steven Moffat, as he wished to have a “complete set” in time for Matt Smith’s upcoming final episode.
Moffat also chose to requisition actor Paul McGann for one more outing as the Eighth Doctor in a mini-episode production, The Night of the Doctor one week after production wrapped on the anniversary special, resulting in a second former Doctor returning to the screen as part of the festivities. McGann filmed his own regeneration into Hurt’s version of the Doctor, cementing the lineage of all Doctors up to Smith’s incarnation onward.
The Day of the Doctor saw the return of the Zygons, last seen in the 1975 Fourth Doctor serial Terror of the Zygons, 38 years after their initial debut.
The Day of the Doctor provided a chance to reveal a missing element of the Last Great Time War that dramatically altered the outcome as viewers were previously led to believe. Instead of allowing Gallifrey to be destroyed, the Doctors were able to save it, giving the current incarnation a chance to forever shed his guilt from the outcome and begin a new mission to find his way home. The unique circumstances of this revelation also upheld the previous narratives set during the Russell T Davies era where the Doctor believed Gallifrey and its residents had been lost in battle.
A police constable walks the beat by the Coal Hill School and passes by a sign advertising “I.M. Foreman, Scrap Merchant”. Inside the school, Clara Oswald is giving a lesson on. She ends on a quote by Marcus Aurelius: “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
The school bell rings. As her students leave, a teacher runs into the classroom informing Clara that her “doctor” called, and left an address. She grabs her helmet and hops on her motorbike. Exiting Shoreditch, Clara drives past a clock reading 5:16 p.m. and through a freeway tunnel. She reaches an open patch of road surrounded by grassland, where a lone police box is waiting for her.
Finally spotting the TARDIS, she drives straight through its open doors, closing them with a click of the fingers. The Eleventh Doctor, perusing a copy of Advanced Quantum Mechanics, welcomes Clara back with a huge hug. Unexpectedly, the TARDIS takes off without starting the engines. Startled, the Doctor looks out to see a helicopter carrying the TARDIS away from the field; it’s UNIT. He calls UNIT’s Chief Scientific Officer, Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, from the phone on the TARDIS exterior.
UNIT scientist Osgood rushes to Kate with her personal phone as she is eating and observing their ravens of death, which need a change of batteries from Malcolm. Kate reminds Osgood to use her inhaler at the sound of her heavy panting before accepting the call.
The Doctor learns that he has been summoned to the Tower of London. Kate is surprised to learn that he is on board the TARDIS, which they thought was empty and were moving for convenience. She has it and him brought directly to the “scene of the crime”. Upon arrival, he is handed sealed orders from Queen Elizabeth I and taken into the National Gallery for proof of her credentials.
As they walk, the Doctor explains his relationship with UNIT to Clara, who is skeptical of the Doctor ever having had an actual job. They stop in front of an impossible painting, something that belongs “not in this time or place”: an oil painting in 3-D. It depicts the fall of the Gallifreyan city of Arcadia on the last day of the Time War. Kate tells the Doctor that there is some controversy over the work’s name. It is either named No More or Gallifrey Falls. The painting is a slice of frozen time, a form of Time Lord art.
The Doctor is visibly disturbed by the painting. As his old memories awaken, he shares with Clara his darkest secret: the life he has tried to bury for years. There was a past incarnation of the Doctor that fought in the Time War, and made the ultimate decision to eliminate the Daleks and the Time Lords. And it was done on the very day this painting depicts…
As the Daleks ravage Arcadia, a family of Time Lords are running in fear. There is little hope of survival. As children cry and the people scream, a soldier messages the High Council of Time Lords: Arcadia has fallen. He looks around and sees the Doctor’s TARDIS. Then the elderly voice of the “War Doctor” asks the soldier for his gun. The Doctor carves a message for both warring civilizations to see into a nearby wall: NO MORE. As Daleks prepare to exterminate the Time Lords, the Doctor’s presence draws their attention away from the innocent people and leads them to the wall with the message. Suddenly, the Doctor’s TARDIS crashes through the wall, demolishing several Daleks. The Doctor’s escape from Arcadia is witnessed by one surviving Dalek of the attack, though it is bisected. It questions the meaning of “NO MORE”, bellowing “Explain! Explain!” The nearby Time Lord soldier shoots the Dalek with his gun, and the slain Dalek erupts in flames.
The High Commanders gather in the War Room, planning their next moves, with the General dismissing the High Council’s upcoming plans as “they have already failed”. They receive the Doctor’s message, and the General is not pleased to learn of his presence, calling him a madman. A Time Lady rushes in to inform the War Council that there has been a breach in the Omega Arsenal in the Time Vaults.
The most feared and forbidden weapon in the universe is missing: The Moment. The Doctor has stolen it, and intends to use it to end the Time War once and for all. The Time Lords have already used all of the previously forbidden weapons, but dared not unleash this weapon in particular. It was said that the Moment was so advanced as to have developed a conscience, and could stand in judgement of the user. The General muses that only the Doctor would be mad enough to use such a weapon.
Footsteps can be seen leading away from the battle-scuffed frame of the TARDIS, which has been uncharacteristically abandoned by the Doctor. The sound of his voice issuing an ominous final warning is heard: “Time Lords of Gallifrey, Daleks of Skaro, I serve notice on you all. Too long I have stayed my hand. No more. Today you leave me no choice. Today, this war will end. No more. No more…” The Doctor’s tired face comes into view as he strides across a desolate desert, a burlap sack over his shoulder.
He eventually enters a barn-like dwelling, where he uncovers a complicated mechanical box, covered in gears. The device ticks loudly as its clockwork-like parts rattle and clank. As the Doctor studies it, he cannot find a discernible trigger mechanism. While he puzzles over how to activate it — grumbling “Why is there never a big red button?” — he hears a rustling sound. He opens the door and calls out. A girl’s voice behind him reassures him that it’s “just a Wolf”.
Startled, he turns around to see what appears to be Rose Tyler. He doesn’t recognize her, as this point in his timeline predates his first meeting with Rose. He grabs her arm and throws her out the door, only for her to appear inside the barn again, sitting on the Moment. She begins questioning the Doctor as to his motives and rationalizations (though it looks like she is making fun of him). The Moment also asks if the Doctor parked his TARDIS far away from the dwelling so that it would not witness what he was about to do. Not realizing what she is, he orders her out, and then burns his hand on the box. Impishly, she guides the Doctor to realize that she is the interface of the Moment. She can hear the Doctor’s thoughts, and has attempted to assume the form of a familiar figure from his past; however, the Moment has a history of confusing the past with the future, and so has chosen the form of Rose Tyler as the Bad Wolf to be its manifestation.
War-weary and bitter, the elderly Time Lord tells her to stop calling him “the Doctor”, claiming he has lost the right to bear the title. She replies that he will be the one to save the universe. He explains that the suffering of the universe is too great, and he must end it. He also intends to meet his death after using the Moment, not wishing to live through the bloodshed, but she decides that his fate and punishment will be to survive the activation and face the consequences. Like a conscience, she challenges his words and actions, guiding him towards his future. He will destroy the Daleks, but he will also murder his own people, asking him how many children on Gallifrey will die, but he has no idea. After suggesting that one day, he will find a way to count them, the Moment opens a window in time, to show him the man he will become. A time fissure opens – and a fez falls out, much to the mutual confusion of the Doctor and the Moment…
Back in the 21st century, Kate explains that Queen Elizabeth left the painting to prove that the orders do come from her. The Doctor breaks the seal and reads her words: “My dearest love: I hope the painting known as Gallifrey Falls will serve as proof that it is your Elizabeth that writes to you now. You will recall that you pledged yourself to the safety of my kingdom. In that capacity, I have appointed you Curator of the Under-Gallery, where deadly danger to England is locked away. Should any disturbance occur within its walls, it is my wish that you should be summoned. Godspeed, gentle husband.” As Kate leads the Doctor and Clara away, a nearby UNIT scientist named McGillop receives a mysterious phone call. Befuddled, he stares at the painting, wondering why he should move it.
The Doctor and Clara approach another painting, which shows the figure of Queen Elizabeth the First, and the Doctor. Clara sees this is proof the Doctor once knew her. However, it is the past incarnation of the Doctor, and from the Eleventh Doctor’s vantage point, that portrait was done a long time ago, long enough that he was a different man back then…
In England in 1562, the Tenth Doctor and Queen Elizabeth I ride out of the TARDIS on horseback, the Doctor having proven that it really is bigger on the inside. They share a picnic on a hill, after which he proposes marriage. When she joyfully accepts, the Doctor accuses her of being a Zygon shape shifter that has replaced the real Elizabeth. He whips out a “device that goes ding” to prove that she is a Zygon, before realizing that it was the horse they were riding. They run for their lives, the Doctor now an engaged man. They split up in the woods, but Elizabeth is accosted by the Zygon. The Doctor runs through the woods, even threatening a rabbit before he is reunited with Elizabeth. However, a doppelganger of her appears, and he is unable to tell who is who. Suddenly another time fissure appears, and a fez falls through, shocking the Doctor and company.
Back in the National Gallery, Kate welcomes the Eleventh Doctor and Clara to the Under-Gallery, established by Elizabeth I to house dangerous art. The Doctor notices that the floor is covered in stone dust, and asks a scientist named Osgood to analyse it (with a triplicate report and lots of graphs). As they walk through the gallery, the Doctor spots a fez in a glass case and immediately dons it, much to the bemusement of Clara, who wonders if he can ever go past one without putting it on (answer: no).
Kate shows them more 3-D paintings, all landscapes, with the broken glass from their shattered frames covering the floor. The Doctor notes that the glass has been shattered from the inside, and Kate says that they all contained figures which are now missing. Suddenly, another time fissure opens. Annoyed, the Doctor faintly recalls seeing the fissure before, before realizing that the fez that had fallen through in 1562 was the fez he was now wearing. Delighted, he throws the fez into the fissure and follows it. Clara tries to follow, but Kate restrains her.
The Eleventh Doctor falls through the fissure and lands in front of the Tenth in the sixteenth century. Stunned, the Tenth Doctor dons the fez himself. The Eleventh pops up and gabbles excitedly about how skinny his predecessor is, which makes the Tenth realize who he is. They incredulously pull out their sonic screwdrivers and compare them. As they begin bickering, the time fissure increases in intensity. The Doctor orders the two Queens to run away; both kiss the Tenth Doctor and flee. After pointing out that one of the women his counterpart just kissed was definitely a Zygon, the Eleventh shouts through the funnel to Clara. Hypothesizing that the fissure can go both ways, he tosses his fez in, but it fails to appear in Clara’s time. Kate then leaves, to call one of the UNIT members to bring her the Cromer file – not noticing a dark shadow behind her…
At the end of the Time War, the War Doctor picks up the fez and steps into the fissure. Back in 1562, the two Doctors try to reverse the polarity, but the use of two sonic screwdrivers at once confuses the polarity, resulting in the War Doctor falling through, landing in front of his future selves. He jovially greets them, asking after the Doctor and mistaking them for companions-to-be. The two older Doctors — both horrified to see him — simply pull out their sonic screwdrivers, affirming their identity to their younger self. Completely unimpressed by his future incarnations, the War Doctor asks if he is going through a mid-life crisis.
Suddenly, they are surrounded by the Queen’s soldiers. They are threatened by them, but Clara’s voice sounds from the fissure, allowing the Doctors to convince them that she is “The Wicked Witch of the Well”. Kate has, at that point, returned to Clara. The Queen returns to the group, implying that her human counterpart is dead. She has the trio of Doctors arrested and taken to the Tower of London (with the Eleventh loudly hinting for her to take them there). The hint is picked up on by Kate, who takes Clara to the Black Archive to retrieve Jack Harkness’ vortex manipulator. The Doctors are thrown in a cell with a wooden door. The War Doctor tries to sonic the door, but it fails. The Tenth asks why these three Doctors have been brought together.
In the present, Osgood and McGillop are reading the results of the analysis of the stone dust. The dust is from materials not found in the structure of the building, but common in statues. Osgood realizes that the statues must have been smashed, and suddenly understands why: the inhabitants of the paintings needed a hiding place. The Zygons reveal themselves from underneath the dust cloths covering what the humans had believed were statues. The aliens accost McGillop, and corner Osgood. Osgood prays for the Doctor to save her, but instead of being killed, she is faced with her duplicate. The Zygon taunts Osgood, but she gains the upper hand by tripping the alien with her scarf, and runs.
Kate and Clara enter the Black Archive, housing the most dangerous alien tech recovered by UNIT. Its contents are so top secret that its staff has their memories modified every day. Apparently, this has happened to Clara at least once, as she has already obtained the necessary clearance to enter the archive. They view the Vortex Manipulator, by trying to find the activation code. The Doctor has the code, but he hasn’t informed UNIT of it. A scientist phones Kate, and she orders him to send a picture of some numerals (the activation code) that the Eleventh Doctor carved into the wall of the cell in 1562 for them to find centuries later. Osgood and McGillop enter the Archive, to Clara’s surprise. They and Kate reveal themselves as Zygons. As they prepare to replace Clara, she sees the picture of the numerals on the phone. Taking a desperate gamble, she enters the code into the Vortex Manipulator and travels to the past.
In the 1562 Tower of London, the Eleventh Doctor scratches the activation code onto a wall in their cell, while the other two Doctors puzzle out how to escape. The War Doctor proposes an isolated sonic shift in the door molecules in order to disintegrate the door, but the Tenth Doctor rejects the idea, saying it would take centuries to calculate the necessary formula. The War Doctor starts bickering with the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, chastising them for their shame of being “grown-up”. Subdued, they look at him darkly, reminding him of the day he ended the Time War (unaware that this Doctor is actively in the process of making that choice).
The Moment reappears, unseen and unheard by the other Doctors, and urges the War Doctor to ask his future selves the question that he needs to know: How many children died on Gallifrey that day. The Eleventh Doctor says, “I’ve absolutely no idea.”
After the Eleventh Doctor claims he doesn’t know how many children died, he says he’s forgotten the events of that day; he’s so old that he’s not even sure of his age anymore, so old that he can’t remember if he’s lying about his age. However, the Tenth Doctor angrily asks how the Eleventh could ever forget something as important as this particular number, and bitterly states that there were 2.47 billion children on the planet that day. Disturbed by his successor’s impassive nature, he asks him, “For once, I would like to know where I’m going.” Vexed by this remark, the Eleventh Doctor coldly replies, “No, you really wouldn’t!” The Tenth Doctor looks back at him, eyes wide with fear. The Moment explains to the War Doctor that the Tenth Doctor has become “the man who regrets” and the Eleventh “the man who forgets”. They are the future of the Doctor.
The Moment reminds the War Doctor that his sonic screwdriver, at the most basic level, is the exact same device as the ones used by his counterparts: “Same software — different case”. He realizes that if he scans the door and implants the calculations as a permanent subroutine in the screwdriver, it will take hundreds of years to work out the formula necessary to disintegrate the door, meaning that the Eleventh Doctor’s screwdriver, being essentially the same as the ones before it, has the completed calculation ready to go. They exuberantly congratulate themselves on their cleverness before Clara pushes open the door — which has been unlocked the entire time. Clara chastises the three Doctors for being so obtuse, and the Queen comes in, telling them that she left the door unlocked as a test. She takes them down to the Zygons’ lair to show them their plan.
Osgood walks in the halls of the Under-Gallery, before discovering the real Kate trapped in a Zygon nest. Kate’s body template is being used to refresh the image of her Zygon doppelganger. Osgood frees her, but Kate bemoans the fact that the Zygons now have control of the Black Archive.
The Doctors and Clara follow the Queen to the lair, whereupon they discover that the Zygon home world was destroyed in the early days of the Time War, and so they have decided to take Earth as their new home. However, the sixteenth century version of Earth is too primitive to be comfortable to the invading Zygons, so they intend to invade the cushier future in order to establish their new home world. They therefore have translated themselves into stasis cubes, which are the Time Lords’ three-dimensional paintings. The Tenth Doctor berates the Zygon commander for doing a lousy job of replicating the real Queen Elizabeth, but she reveals (to his mortification) that she is the real Elizabeth: She slew her twin in the forest and took her place as Zygon commander. She calls on the Doctor to save England, but first whisks him away to be married (with his past and future selves as reluctant witnesses, and an enthusiastic Clara throwing confetti).
The three Doctors and Clara return to the Tenth’s TARDIS (with the other two insulting the current desktop theme). The presence of three different Doctors causes the TARDIS to short a bit, showing the interior of the War Doctor’s TARDIS, then finally the most current TARDIS desktop (which also receives an insult). They set off for the Black Archive.
Kate, Osgood, and McGillop confront their doppelgangers in the Black Archive. Kate threatens to detonate a nuclear warhead beneath the Tower, destroying all of London in order to protect the planet from the Zygons, and voice-activates it, blocking her Zygon duplicate’s attempts to stop the countdown with her identical voice pattern. The Eleventh Doctor’s voice crackles on via the space-time telegraph he had once given to her father, begging Kate not to detonate but she cuts him off. He tries to land, but the Tower of London had been made TARDIS-proof to prevent his interference. However, the War Doctor figures out a way to get in – the stasis cubes. The Doctor calls McGillop in the past, and instructs him to bring the No More/Gallifrey Falls painting to the Black Archive…
The two Kates fight over the detonation, both needing to agree in order to stop the detonation. The real Osgood begs the Doctor to save them again, as the Doctors and Clara force their way out of the painting, having frozen themselves in it earlier. The Doctors now face the Fall of Arcadia in real time as it unfolds, and are immediately met with an attacking Dalek, which they repel with their sonic screwdrivers. It crashes through the glass of the painting and the Doctors emerge. Clara soon follows.
The three Doctors hand the Kates an ultimatum when they refuse to disarm the Archive’s nuclear option: They trigger the memory modifiers to confuse everybody as to whether they are human or Zygon. Then, if they stop the detonation and create a peace treaty (which is sure to be incredibly fair, as the negotiators can’t remember which side they’re on), they will have their memories restored. Utterly confused over their identities, the two Kates stop the detonation in the nick of time and begin to negotiate the treaty.
As they hash it out, Clara speaks to the War Doctor. She has somehow figured out that he hasn’t used the Moment yet, explaining that “her” Doctor always talked about the day he wiped out the Time Lords. She says that he would do anything to take it back, but the War Doctor remains convinced that his actions will save billions of lives in the future. Across the room, the War Doctor sees the form of the Bad Wolf once more. The Moment has come. He tells the interface he’s ready, and Clara turns to find who he’s talking to; when she turns back, he’s vanished.
Returned to the barn on Gallifrey, the War Doctor stands in front of the Moment, which has simplified its interface by his request — the trigger mechanism is now a big red button for him to push. The interface questions him once more, trying to convince him of his goodness. He still doesn’t believe he is worthy of the name “Doctor”, losing all hope for himself and his people. The interface reminds him of his hope as his future selves step out of their TARDISes. They join him at the Moment, finally forgiving him, and themselves, for his actions, ready to support the man who was the Doctor more than anybody else. The three of them prepare to push the button together, but Clara tearfully objects. She knew that “the Doctor” had activated the Moment and destroyed his home world, but she had never imagined the Eleventh Doctor, her Doctor, with his hand on the button.
The reality of the Time War projects around them: children crying, innocents suffering. The Doctor could not find another way to end it all, but Clara believes in a different solution. She reminds the Time Lord of who he is: the Warrior, the Hero, and the Doctor. They’ve had plenty of warriors, and what he will do is a heroic act unto itself. What the universe needs now is a Doctor who lives up to the name he chose for himself: never cruel or cowardly, never giving up, never giving in. A new day dawns on Gallifrey: a day of hope.
At that, a brilliant new idea descends on the room; the Eleventh Doctor says that he’s had a long time to think about it — he’s changed his mind! The intent of the Moment worked: the War Doctor saw the future he needed to see. Picking up on his future self’s idea without explanation, the War Doctor exclaims that he could just kiss “Bad Wolf girl” right now, which catches the Tenth’s attention, only for him to be distracted from it as he realizes what his counterparts were getting at and agrees that it’s a wonderful idea. They have changed their minds about using the Moment, and the Eleventh Doctor disarms the device with his sonic screwdriver. Instead, they intend to freeze Gallifrey in a moment in time, slipped away in a pocket universe, the way the Zygons froze themselves into Time Lord art. When Gallifrey vanishes, the sphere of Dalek ships surrounding the planet and firing constantly will be exterminated in their own crossfire before they can cease firing, and the universe will believe that the two races destroyed each other.
On the last day of the Time War, another message from the Doctor appears before the High Command: GALLIFREY STANDS. The three Doctors race in their TARDISes towards Gallifrey, and transmit to the War Room. Three transmissions, each showing a different Doctor (much to the General’s dismay), appear. They explain their mad plan to save Gallifrey. They will position themselves around the planet equidistantly, and freeze it — just like the stasis cubes, but to a whole planet and all the people on it. The General objects, claiming that the calculations would take centuries, but the Eleventh Doctor is well prepared for the task. After all, he’s had centuries to think about it.
At that, the voice of the First Doctor is heard contacting the War Council. Ten more phone boxes fly around the planet, and all the past incarnations of the Doctor come together to save Gallifrey. The General bemoans the idea that all twelve Doctors have arrived, when three was bad enough. However, his count is one short.
Androgar points out that all thirteen incarnations of the Doctor are present to save Gallifrey — a new incarnation from the Doctor’s days yet to come is also on the way. A brief glimpse of this future Doctor shows a hand reaching for a lever in the Eleventh Doctor’s console room, and a pair of piercing blue eyes watching the console monitor. As the Daleks increase their attack upon seeing the thirteen TARDISes, the General tells the Doctor to do it now. After a flash and a colossal explosion, the space becomes empty and quiet as one damaged Dalek fighter pod goes spinning off.
Back in the National Gallery, the Tenth, Eleventh, and War Doctors muse on the ambiguity of whether their plan succeeded. The presence of the mysterious painting of the fall of Arcadia remains an enigma to the three Doctors. The War Doctor bids a fond farewell to his replacements, who finally address him as “Doctor”: a man fully worthy of the title, even if he will only know it briefly. Because the time lines are out of sync, the War Doctor and the Tenth Doctor won’t be able to retain their memories of these events. They will forget them completely until they catch up to their Eleventh incarnation. However, right now, the War Doctor is content. He gives Clara a farewell kiss and takes a moment to sort out his TARDIS out from the other two in the gallery. As he pilots his TARDIS away, he suddenly sees his hands glowing with regeneration energy, and notices it makes sense, as his old body is “wearing a bit thin.” After surviving the Time War, he is ultimately dying of old age. With his work done in the battle, the energy begins to overtake the War Doctor. He expresses one last desire that the change will leave him with “less conspicuous” ears this time. The War Doctor smiles peacefully as his next regeneration begins.
Acknowledging that he won’t be able to remember the answer, the Tenth Doctor questions his successor as to “Where it is we’re going that you don’t wanna talk about.” The Eleventh Doctor relents and reveals that they are destined to die on Trenzalore, in battle, with millions of lives lost. The Tenth Doctor says that’s not how it’s supposed to be, but the Eleventh Doctor tells him it is determined now. Preparing to leave, the Tenth Doctor tells himself that he’s glad his future is in good hands. He kisses Clara’s hand, and with a smile, starts to step into his TARDIS. Before he does, he expresses his desire to change their final destination of Trenzalore, saying: “I don’t want to go.” As the TARDIS de-materializes, the Eleventh Doctor remarks “he always says that”.
Clara asks the Doctor if he would like to sit and look at the painting for a little while. He smiles, asking how she knew. Clara kisses him on the cheek and tells him that she always knows — it’s his sad old eyes. As she steps into the TARDIS, she mentions that an old man, possibly the Gallery’s curator, was looking for him.
The Doctor muses out loud that he would be a great curator. He could call himself “the Great Curator”, retire and become the curator of this gallery. A very familiar voice affirms that he really might. The astonished Doctor looks over to see a very familiar face standing next to him. An old man who greatly resembles the Fourth Doctor speaks to him of the painting, which he says he acquired under “remarkable circumstances”. He tells the Doctor that its two names are actually one: the true title of the painting is Gallifrey Falls No More. The Doctor realizes that he was successful, and Gallifrey was indeed saved. The mysterious man reveals that it is simply “lost”, and that the Doctor has a lot to do. He also muses that he and the Doctor might be the same man from different perspectives, sounding wistful about days gone by, congratulating the Doctor on the new journey he is about to commence. As to whether or not he truly is an incarnation of the Doctor from the future, the Curator simply teases the thought, “Who knows, eh? Who… ‘nose’?”, and with a tap of his nose, he turns and walks away. The Eleventh Doctor concludes that he has a mission, the mission of a lifetime: he must find Gallifrey and return it and all its people to the universe.
Later, the Doctor speaks of his dreams, as he is seen to walk through the TARDIS console room. He says that he finally realizes where he has been travelling all this time: home. He simply has taken the long way around. As he exits the TARDIS in the dream, the Doctor joins his eleven past selves in gazing up at the magnificent planet in the sky, determined to find Gallifrey and save his home once and for all.