Now this may be deemed sacrilegious by all those who voted the 50th Anniversary special the single greatest episode in Doctor Who’s history in DWM’s poll but I thought I’d give it a go anyway. One of the main disappointments I found during the episode is the fact that David Tennant and Billie Piper do not interact. Another issue is that Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603 but the National Gallery was not built until over 200 years later. I also was not a huge fan of Joanna Page’s performance. So to solve this I removed her character, changed the date and brought the Tenth Doctor and Rose back together. The Moment would then be a brief voiceover which only the War Doctor can hear. There is also a nice moment of Rose speaking with the War Doctor about his next incarnation and the changes that she saw after first meeting him.
Anyway, I hope you like it!
A policeman walks past Coal Hill School and passes a sign for “I.M. Foreman, Scrap Merchant”. Inside the school, Clara Oswald is teaching, ending on a quote by Marcus Aurelius: “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” The school bell rings and as the students leave, a teacher runs into the classroom informing Clara that she has had a call from her “doctor”. She grabs her helmet and hops on her motorbike. She approaches a police box stood at the side of a rural road. As she approaches the TARDIS the doors open and she drives straight inside, closing them with a click of the fingers. The Doctor, reading a book of ‘Advanced Quantum Mechanics’, greets Clara with a big hug. Suddenly, the TARDIS takes off without starting the engines. Startled, the Doctor looks out to see a helicopter carrying the TARDIS away. He calls UNIT’s head of Scientific Research, Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, from the phone on the TARDIS exterior doors.
UNIT scientist Osgood rushes to Kate with her phone. Kate instructs Osgood to tell Malcolm that the ravens need new batteries and for Osgood to use her inhaler at the sound of her heavy breathing before accepting the call.
The Doctor is told that he has been summoned. Kate is surprised to learn that he is on-board the TARDIS, which they thought was empty and were simply moving it for his convenience. Instead the TARDIS is brought directly to the “scene of the crime”. Upon arrival, the Doctor and Clara are taken into the National Gallery to investigate.
The Doctor explains his relationship with UNIT to Clara, who is sceptical of the Doctor ever having had a real job. They stop in front of something impossible, a 3-dimensional oil painting. The painting depicts the fall of the Gallifreyan city of Arcadia during 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 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 after the events depicted in this painting…
The Daleks ravage Arcadia. As children cry and the people scream, a soldier sends a message to 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 uses the weapon to shoot a message for both warring civilisations into a nearby wall: NO MORE. As the Daleks prepare to exterminate a group of Gallifreyans, the Doctor’s presence is detected and draws their attention away from the innocent people and they discover the message. Suddenly, the Doctor’s TARDIS crashes through the wall, demolishing several Daleks. The Doctor’s escape from Arcadia is witnessed by a single Dalek. It questions the meaning of “NO MORE”, bellowing “Explain! Explain!” but explodes into flames.
Gallifreyan Commanders gather in the War Room, planning their next moves, with the General dismissing the High Council’s 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 the ultimate weapon, capable of eradicating all life in its vicinity with the exception of the person who activates it, leaving them alone to be haunted by that action forever. 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 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 desert surface, a burlap sack over his shoulder. He 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. He puzzles over how to activate it grumbling “Why is there never a big red button?” Surprisingly he hears a voice. Confused he looks around the barn and realises there is nobody else there. Turning around he realises it is the Moment which is the voice which he can here. “How are you doing that?” the Doctor asks. “I exist on a higher plane of consciousness. I am the interface. I am the Moment.” War-weary and bitter, the elderly Time Lord confirms that the Moment needs time to activate, a strategy which he determines is to allow the person looking to use it time to consider their actions, to count the lives which will be lost. The Moment then reveals that it can provide an escape route out of his predicament, opening a time fissure. More than that the Moment can show him his future, to see what becomes of him after his action – but a fez falls out, much to the confusion of the Doctor…
Back in the 21st century, Kate Stewart explains that the painting was discovered deep within the gallery vaults, hidden away. The Doctor ponders how the painting could possibly be on 21st Century Earth. 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 move through the Gallery, he recalls a time when he investigated other strange occurrences in the National Gallery shortly after opening in 1838 but he was a different man back then…
The camera focuses on a particular painting but panning out there is a blur as two shapes sprint past the painting. The Tenth Doctor and Rose are running down the corridor. They turn round a corner and back up against the wall, short of breath Rose asks, “What the hell was that? All red and suckers!” The Doctor explains, “It was a Zygon. But what are they doing here?” “And I thought the Ood looked bad enough,” says Rose. The Doctor explains that they have to find out what the Zygons are doing here, they peer around the corner and are spotted by a Zygon. Another chase along the corridors begins until the Doctor and Rose reach a gallery, closing the doors and pushing benches up against them. Outside the Zygon bangs on the door. The Doctor triumphantly reports that the Zygon cannot get in, only for Rose to point out that they now also cannot get out. Suddenly a time fissure appears, and a fez lands in front of the Doctor and Rose, much to their bemusement.
Back in the National Gallery, Kate welcomes the Eleventh Doctor and Clara to the Under-Gallery, a secret storage area established deep underground. The Doctor notices that the floor is covered in stone dust, and asks a scientist named Osgood to analyse it and produce a report (in triplicate with 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, which he cannot do.
Kate shows them more 3-D paintings, landscapes this time but 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 have now disappeared. Suddenly, another time fissure opens. Puzzled, the Doctor faintly recalls seeing the fissure before, before realising that the fez that had fallen through in 1838 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 his predecessor in the nineteenth century. Stunned, the Tenth Doctor dons the fez himself. The Eleventh jumps up and rambles excitedly about how skinny his predecessor is, which makes the Tenth realise his identity. They incredulously pull out their sonic screwdrivers and compare them. Rose takes a liking to the Eleventh Doctor, pointing out that his sonic is bigger! As the Doctors begin bickering, the time fissure increases in intensity. The Eleventh shouts through the tunnel to Clara. Hypothesising 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 1838, 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 and landing in front of his future selves. He jovially greets them, asking after the Doctor and mistaking them for his companions. The two older Doctors, both disturbed on seeing their former incarnation, pull out their sonic screwdrivers, affirming their identity to their younger self. Unimpressed by his future incarnations, the War Doctor asks if he is going through a mid-life crisis. Suddenly, the Zygons break through the door and into the gallery surrounding the three Doctors and Rose. They are threatened by the Zygons, but Clara’s voice sounds from the fissure making them cautious about destroying the Doctors and Rose, so instead the Zygons imprison them.
Kate has returned to Clara, comes up with an idea and takes Clara to the UNIT Black Archive to retrieve Jack Harkness’ vortex manipulator in order to save the Doctors.
The Doctors and Rose are thrown into a cleaner’s cupboard. The War Doctor tries to sonic the door, but it fails and so sits down. The Tenth asks why these three Doctors have been brought together, whilst he and his Eleventh incarnation try to work out a way of getting through a tiny ventilation shaft.
In the present, Osgood and McGilop 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 realises that the statues must have been smashed, and suddenly understands why: the inhabitants of the paintings needed a place to hide. The Zygons reveal themselves from underneath the dust cloths covering what the humans had believed were statues. The aliens accost McGilop, 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 away.
Kate and Clara enter the Black Archive, housing the most dangerous alien artefacts recovered by UNIT. Its contents are so top secret that staff have their memories wiped every day. It transpires that this is not the first time which Clara has visited the archive. They view the Vortex Manipulator. Osgood and McGilop enter the Archive, to Clara’s surprise. They reveal themselves as Zygons, as does Kate. Whilst Zygon Kate updates Zygon Osgood and Zygon McGilop that they have acquired the device, revelling in the fact that the Zygons now possess the ability to time travel, Clara takes her opportunity, grabbing the Vortex Manipulator and uses it to travel to the past.
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 ashamed of being a “grown-up”. Subdued, they look at him darkly, reminding him of the day he ended the Time War. Rose sits down and talks with the War Doctor. She remembers back to when she first met the Doctor, his ninth incarnation. He was a broken man, haunted by his actions. But it didn’t make him a bad person. The War Doctor asks his future selves ‘How many children died on Gallifrey that day?’ The Eleventh Doctor says, “I’ve absolutely no idea.” The Tenth Doctor suddenly gives him a look of outrage and disgust, 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.” Irked by this remark, the Eleventh Doctor coldly replies, “No, you really wouldn’t!” The Tenth Doctor looks back at him, deeply concerned. Rose 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 War Doctor muses 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 realises 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 bursts in through the door, telling them that the key had been in the door the whole time. Clara chastises the three Doctors for being so obtuse.
The real Osgood walks through the halls of the Under-Gallery, before discovering the real Kate trapped in a Zygon body print chamber. Osgood frees her, but Kate bemoans the fact that the Zygons now have control of the Black Archive and also the planet.
The Doctors, Rose and Clara sneak back through to the gallery, whereupon they observe the Zygons preparing their plan. The Eleventh Doctor explains to Rose and Clara that the Zygons have decided to take Earth as their new home after their planet had been destroyed in the early battles of the Time War. However, the nineteenth century version of Earth is too primitive for the invading shape shifters, so they intend to invade the future in order to establish their new home world. They therefore have translated themselves into stasis cubes using the Time Lords’ three-dimensional painting technology. Clara points out that the Zygons have not just infiltrated the future but have access to the UNIT Black Archive.
The three Doctors, Clara and Rose return to the Tenth Doctor’s TARDIS, with the other two Doctors insulting the desktop theme. The presence of three different Doctors causes the TARDIS to short out, revealing the interior of the War Doctor’s TARDIS, then finally the most current TARDIS desktop, which also receives an insult, except from Rose, who really quite likes it, much to the hurt of the Tenth Doctor. 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 is heard begging Kate not to detonate the warhead, via the space-time telegraph he had once given to her father, 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, using 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. The Doctors, Rose and Clara have frozen themselves in a painting, but now face the Fall of Arcadia as it unfolds, and are immediately met by an attacking Dalek, which the Doctors repel with their sonic screwdrivers. It crashes through the glass of the painting and the Doctors emerge. Clara and Rose soon follow.
The three Doctors hand the two Kate Stewarts an ultimatum when they refuse to disarm the Black Archive’s nuclear warhead: they corrupt the memory modifiers to confuse everybody making them unaware if they are Human or Zygon. Then, if they stop the detonation and create a peace treaty, which is bound to be 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 and begin to negotiate the treaty.
As the treaty negotiations continue, Clara speaks to the War Doctor. She explains 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. Clara goes to get a cup of tea. Across the room, the War Doctor notices a time fissure has opened and realises that the time has come to make his choice. When Clara returns the War Doctor has vanished.
Back in the barn, the War Doctor stands in front of the Moment, which now has a trigger mechanism in the form of a big red button for him to push. The interface questions him once more. He still doesn’t believe he is worthy of the name “Doctor”, losing all hope, that is until his future selves arrive and step out of their TARDISes. They join him at the Moment, finally forgiving him, and themselves, for their 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 planet, but she had never imagined the Eleventh Doctor, her Doctor, with his hand on the button. Rose begs for them to come up with another idea.
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 and Rose believe there is a different solution. They remind 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 in 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 and never giving in.
A brilliant new idea descends upon the group of Time Lords; the Eleventh Doctor says that he’s had a long time to think about it — he’s changed his mind! The Tenth Doctor has the same lightbulb moment. The intent of the Moment has worked: the War Doctor saw the future he needed to see and thus a better solution has been thought up. Picking up on the idea, the War Doctor 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, tucked away in a parallel pocket universe, the way the Zygons froze themselves into the Time Lord art. When Gallifrey vanishes, the sphere of Dalek ships surrounding the planet and firing constantly will be destroyed in their own crossfire before they can stop 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 in their respective TARDISes travel towards Gallifrey, and transmit a message to the War Room. Three transmissions, each showing a different Doctor (much to the General’s dismay), appear. They explain their crazy plan to save Gallifrey. They will position themselves around the planet equidistantly, and freeze it using the stasis cubes. 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. The voice of the First Doctor is heard contacting the War Council of Gallifrey. More police boxes fly around the planet, all the past incarnations of the Doctor have come together to save Gallifrey. His second through eighth incarnations check in with High Command, while the post-war Ninth Doctor delights in the act of redemption he always wished for. The General bemoans the idea that all twelve Doctors have arrived, when three was bad enough. However, his count is one short. All thirteen regenerations of the Doctor are present to save Gallifrey — a new incarnation from the Doctor’s days yet to come is also present, briefly glimpsed in the form of a hand moving a lever and his fierce eyes. As the Daleks increase their attack upon seeing the thirteen TARDISes, the General instructs the Doctor to do it now. After a colossal explosion, the space becomes empty and quiet as a 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 or not. 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 reach their Eleventh incarnation. However, right now, the War Doctor is content. He gives Clara and Rose a farewell kiss and takes a moment to identify his TARDIS from the other two in the gallery. As he dematerialises his TARDIS, he notices his hands glowing with regeneration energy, and realises it makes sense, as his old body is “wearing a bit thin”, he collapses to the floor of the Tardis. 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 regenerates into his new incarnation but he awakens confused, disorientated and suffering from amnesia caused by the time lines being out of sync.
Acknowledging that he won’t be able to remember the answer, the Tenth Doctor questions his successor as to “where they’re going”, something which the Eleventh Doctor so clearly wants to forget. 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, receiving a glare from Rose as she enters the TARDIS, and with a smile the Tenth Doctor also 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 dematerialises, 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 realises that he was successful, and Gallifrey was indeed saved. The mysterious man reveals that it is simply “lost”, and that the Doctor still 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 its people to the universe.
Reflectively the Doctor speaks of his dreams, as he is seen to walk through the TARDIS console room. He says that he finally realises where he has been travelling all this time: home. As he exits the TARDIS, 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.
“It’s taken me so many years, so many lifetimes, but at last I know where I’m going. Where I’ve always been going: Home, the long way round.”