up pom­peii!

Starburst Magazine - - Outside The Box -

The mys­tery deep­ens as Se­ries Nine of Doc­tor Who ap­proaches! For when we first saw the Twelfth Doc­tor, he was wear­ing a fa­mil­iar face. One we had in fact last seen on Lobus Cae­cil­ius, the mar­ble mer­chant from The Fires of Pom­peii. Of course, that was two selves ago from the Doc­tor’s per­spec­tive.

But con­sider the new­est in­car­na­tion’s con­ver­sa­tion with Bar­ney the tramp in Deep Breath and it be­comes ap­par­ent that he’s seen his new fea­tures be­fore some­where. It’s that some­where that we’ll be ex­am­in­ing here, so hold on tight as we dive head-first into ‘ vol­cano day’...

BAR­NEY: Oh, it’s cold. DOC­TOR: That’s right. It’s cold. It’s cold, I knew it was a thing. I need um, I need clothes. I need clothes, that’s what I need. And a big, long scarf. No, no, move on from that. Looked stupid. Err, have you seen this face be­fore? BAR­NEY: No. DOC­TOR: Are you sure? BAR­NEY: Sir, I have never seen that face. DOC­TOR: It’s funny, be­cause I’m sure that I have. You know, I never know where the faces come from. They just pop up. Zap. Faces like this one. Come on, look at it, have a look, come on, look, look, look. Look, it’s cov­ered in lines. But I didn’t do the frown­ing. Who frowned me this face? Do you ever look in the mir­ror and think ‘I’ve seen that face be­fore’? BAR­NEY: Yes. DOC­TOR: Re­ally? When? BAR­NEY: Well, ev­ery time I look in the mir­ror. DOC­TOR: Oh, yes, yes, yes. Fair enough. Good point. My face is fresh on, though. BAR­NEY: Err... DOC­TOR: Why this one? Why did I choose this face? It’s like I’m try­ing to tell my­self some­thing. Like I’m try­ing to make a point. But what is so im­por­tant that I can’t just tell my­self what I’m think­ing?

Our next log­i­cal ques­tion might be ex­actly what the point he’s try­ing so hard to make to him­self is.

Early on, he had seemed con­cerned with a rather big ques­tion of moral­ity - is he a good man? His ac­tions while wear­ing an ear­lier, younger-look­ing side­burn-sport­ing face in Pom­peii would seem to sug­gest that he at least tries to be, even if it took a rather big tear­ful nudge from then-com­pan­ion Donna Noble to stop him con­demn­ing ev­ery­one to fiery death as Mount Ve­su­vius erupted.

CAE­CIL­IUS: God save us, Doc­tor! DONNA: No! Doc­tor, you can’t! Doc­tor! You can’t just leave them! DOC­TOR: Don’t you think I’ve done enough? His­tory’s back in place and ev­ery­one dies. DONNA: You’ve got to go back! Doc­tor, I’m telling you, take this thing back! It’s not fair. DOC­TOR: No, it’s not.

And who were the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of that change of tack? Cae­cil­ius and his fam­ily! Which earned the younger Doc­tor a spot as the god of his house­hold, the TARDIS his tem­ple, fol­low­ing a mes­sianic res­cue from the flames. “Come with me.”

Echoes of that abound in Kill The Moon as he does the un­think­able and seem­ingly aban­dons hu­man­ity to make a de­ci­sion re­gard­ing that odd egg-moon – though per­haps see­ing that fa­mil­iar set of fea­tures even­tu­ally re­minds him of a re­spon­si­bil­ity to step up and at least try to be the good man he as­pires to. In­deed, per­haps that’s the whole heart of the mys­tery, a stark vis­ual re­minder of the good he’s done through all his lives even in the face of seem­ingly in­sur­mount­able odds.

CLARA: So what do we do? Doc­tor? Huh? Doc­tor, what do we do? DOC­TOR: Noth­ing. CLARA: What? DOC­TOR: We don’t do any­thing. I’m sorry, Clara. I can’t help you. CLARA: Of course you can help. DOC­TOR: The Earth isn’t my home. The Moon’s not my moon. Sorry. CLARA: Come on. Hey! DOC­TOR: Lis­ten, there are mo­ments in ev­ery civil­i­sa­tion’s his­tory in which the whole path of that civil­i­sa­tion is de­cided. The whole fu­ture path. What­ever fu­ture hu­man­ity might have de­pends upon the choice that is made right here and right now. Now, you’ve got the tools to kill it. You made them. You brought them up here all on your own, with your own in­ge­nu­ity. You don’t need a Time Lord. Kill it. Or let it live. I can’t make this de­ci­sion for you.

Of course he knew what he was do­ing in the grand scheme of things. Much as he thought he did a lot ear­lier in his per­sonal time­line...

DONNA: But if it’s aliens set­ting off the vol­cano, doesn’t that make it all right, for you to stop it? DOC­TOR: Still part of his­tory. DONNA: But I’m his­tory to you. You saved me, in 2008, you saved us all. Why’s that dif­fer­ent? DOC­TOR: Some things are fixed, some things are in flux. Pom­peii is fixed. DONNA: How do you know which is which? DOC­TOR: Be­cause that’s how I see the uni­verse. Ev­ery wak­ing sec­ond, I can see what is, what was, what could be, what must not. That’s the bur­den of the Time Lord, Donna. And I’m the only one left. DONNA: How many peo­ple died? DOC­TOR: Stop it. DONNA: Doc­tor, how many peo­ple died? DOC­TOR: 20,000. DONNA: Is that what you can see, Doc­tor? All 20,000? And you think that’s all right, do you?

And now the man who once bought a cer­tain ‘ box, big blue box, big blue wooden box’ to dis­play as ‘ Mod­ern art’ ahead of a visit from Lu­cius Petrus Dex­trus, Chief Au­gur of Pom­peii and also a leader of sorts to the Cult of Vul­can, is in charge of its con­trols.

Vul­can, not in­con­se­quently, is the Ro­man god of fire. And what did we see lots of in that first trailer for the Twelfth Doc­tor’s maiden se­ries? Great big walls of flame...

“The blue box - a tem­ple made of wood. And yet, the Sy­bil fore­told that the box would ap­pear at the time of storms, and fire, and be­trayal.”

Which it did, and if ru­mour is to be be­lieved, could again. Giv­ing truth to some of the last words spo­ken by the Doc­tor to the man whose face he’d later pinch!

“It’s never for­got­ten, Cae­cil­ius. Oh, time will pass, men will move on, and sto­ries will fade. But one day, Pom­peii will be found again. In thou­sands of years. And ev­ery­one will re­mem­ber you.”

Much time has in­deed passed from when he left, hav­ing since re­gen­er­ated into some­one who looks fa­mil­iar and first creased those ‘at­tack eye­brows’ in anger. But will the lessons learned two selves ago stick? Should he re­turn at a point be­fore or af­ter the ash cloud blan­kets the place?

“I don’t know. Isn’t that bril­liant? I love not know­ing. Keeps me on my toes. It must be aw­ful be­ing a prophet, wak­ing up ev­ery morn­ing, ‘Is it rain­ing? Yes it is, I said so.’ Takes all the fun out of life.”

Never was a truer word spo­ken. Luck­ily for us, we know noth­ing of the mys­tery of the new/old face yet. Though time will tell. It al­ways does!

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