Since we heard the sad news that Matt Smith is to bow out of his role as the Doctor, there have been many discussions and articles on what comes next e.g. who will be the 12th Doctor? Will the next Doctor be a woman? Will he/she be older? And what will the next Doctor’s personality be like and how will it shape Series 8? But in this article I will be pondering about how Smith’s brilliant and enigmatic Doctor will exit the show. Just to say, although I have seen the actual regenerations for the classic Doctors, I haven’t watched the full episode/s in which they made their departure, so I will only be talking about the episodes that featured Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant’s regenerations.
The regeneration story
Come this Christmas (or maybe even the 50th anniversary special, you never know!) we will be watching the 3rd regeneration story since Doctor Who came back onto our screens in 2005. For both of these stories, they A) were a two-parter and B) featured famous old foes: the Daleks were in Eccleston’s final episodes Bad Wolf/The Parting Of The Ways, and in David Tennant’s swansong the Doctor’s powerful race made their comeback along with John Simm’s Master in The End Of Time, Part 1 and Part 2. Judging by the current trend of regeneration stories, it seems likely that Matt Smith will also get a two-parter this winter to go out with. But since 9 and 10’s regeneration stories were scripted by Russell. T. Davies, and 11’s will be written by Steven Moffat, we may get something different, like a standalone episode that is longer, say 90 minutes.
Both of the two-parters for 9 and 10’s exits ended the first part on brilliant cliffhangers, Bad Wolf ended with Rose stuck on a Dalek ship with the Doctor’s infamous foes, with Nine defiantly vowing to rescue her and “wipe every last stinking Dalek out of the sky!”. The End of Time Part 1 ended with the entire Earth being transformed into the Master, with the Doctor helpless, and then Timothy Dalton declaring that “This is the day that the Time Lords return”. If Smith’s regeneration story is a two-parter, you can bank on Moffat ending part 1 on a humdinger of a cliffhanger, just look at episodes like The Pandorica Opens, and The Impossible Astronaut, say what you want about The Moff, but he knows how to leave the audience hanging.
What causes the regeneration?
Before I speculate on what will cause the 11th Doctor‘s regeneration, allow me to recap on all of the Doctor’s previous regenerations.
- The 1st Doctor collapsed and regenerated in The Tenth Planet.
- The Time Lords gave the 2nd Doctor a forced change of appearance in The War Games.
- The 3rd Doctor suffered radiation poisoning in Planet of the Spiders.
- The 4th Doctor fell from a radio telescope and was aided in the regeneration by the Watcher.
- The 5th Doctor was poisoned in The Caves of Androzani.
- The 6th Doctor regenerated when the Rani attacked the TARDIS and forced it to crash land in Time and The Rani.
- The 7th Doctor died during heart surgery following being shot.
- The 8th Doctor’s cause of regeneration is unknown.
- The 9th Doctor regenerated after absorbing the time vortex to save Rose Tyler.
- The 10th Doctor regenerated after suffering radiation poisoning to save the life of Wilfred Mott.
So judging by the previous ways in which our favourite Time Lord has been made to change his appearance, amongst other things, there are numerous ways in which the Doctor could be made to regenerate. Going by the trend since 2005, it seems fairly likely that the 11th Doctor will make a noble sacrifice in order to save someone he cares about, most likely Clara. But Moffat might want to change this trend, and I think another likely way in which he could be made to regenerate is if he is wounded during a battle with the enemy of the story, or caught in the crossfire.
It is highly likely that the enemy of the episode/s will be what causes the regeneration, or the events leading up to it, which has been the case with the last two regenerations, neither the Daleks or Time Lords actually physically caused the Doctor to regenerate, but they were responsible in a main way, i.e. Rose only absorbed the time vortex because she knew that if she didn’t then the Daleks would kill the Doctor, and it’s only because the Time Lords managed to return from the Time War that Wilf locked himself in the radiation chamber to free the man already trapped in there, thus causing him to be the one who knocks four times. And in my eyes, Matt Smith’s Doctor has always been willing to sacrifice himself to save others, an example being in The Big Bang. So I think it seems rather likely that 11 will sacrifice himself to save someone like Clara, possibly to repay her for saving him on countless occasions throughout his life, and or because of how much he likes and respects her.
The villains are what help to make and episode great, the villain needs to be threatening and to cause a genuine feeling of fear and tension to make them memorable, like the Weeping Angels from Blink.
From reading this site, I have interpreted that the villain that the fans would like to see the most in Smith’s swansong is the Silence. The Silence are a religious order that were created to prevent the oldest question in the universe being answered, that question being; Doctor who? The Silence were heavily mentioned throughout Series 5, and are widely thought to have been the ones to have blown up the TARDIS in the Series 5 finale. This has never been clarified on screen during a Doctor Who episode, although the voice of the being that took control of the TARDIS did state that “Silence will fall.” But this isn’t really confirmation, it could have been anything because the Silence aren’t the only thing to have stated that “Silence will fall”, Prisoner Zero also said that line in The Eleventh Hour.
Anyway, the Silence have manipulated human events from the dawn of time by using post hypnotic suggestion, and once you look away from them, you instantly forget that they were there, but they plant ideas in your head. The Doctor stopped them by using their own weapon against them. Many people want the Silence to return to tie up the whole arc and to give them more screen time and to give the 12th Doctor a clean slate so not to be continuing the troubles of the 11th Doctor. I think that the Silence would make perfect villains for a Christmas special because they are so creepy, and it gives Moffat the opportunity for a brilliant title of Silent Night.
Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant both went out differently. The 9th Doctor went out with Rose by his side and a big smile on his face and a great last line “before I go, I just want to tell you: you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? So was I!” The way the 9th Doctor went out was a brilliant way to show has his Doctor has grown and changed over his brief time: from the angry war-torn soldier who ended the Time War, to the man who had seen the light and learned that violence isn’t always the answer thanks to Rose.
David Tennant went out a bit differently, and his exit has divided opinion a bit more, by revisiting his companions. I felt bad for 10 because he regenerated all alone, after all those friends he made, and lives he saved and changed, he “died” all alone and scared. His last line, “I don’t want to go” was good in my opinion because at that point a lot of people didn’t want him to go, so it was a good way to connect with the audience.
I think Smith will bow out in a similar vein to Eccleston, content and with a smile on his face; I wouldn’t be surprised if his last word is “Geronimo” to be honest.
So in conclusion, I will be very sad to see Matt Smith go; he has been a wonderful Doctor and one of the very best. I think that his final episode will either be a two-parter or a 60+ minute episode, and that he will go out a happier man than his 10th incarnation was. Please feel free to let me know how you feel the 11th Doctor will regenerate. Thanks for reading!