I don’t read Doctor Who blogs, generally. That’s important to understand the following, much as it’s important to know that Marley is dead if you want to understand the beginning of A Christmas Carol.
Watching Flesh & Stone on Saturday, I was struck by one particular sequence of scenes: the Doctor’s sidekick, Amy, must wait crosslegged in a forest clearing with her eyes closed (lest something horrible eat her from the inside out) while the Doctor goes off in his shirtsleeves to solve a problem. “Later,” the Doctor says, and then, to someone out of screen: “I need your computer!”; “Later,” Amy says, and the Doctor leaves.
A beat passes, in which Amy sits alone and scared, wringing her hands in the silence.
The Doctor’s hands reach in from out of frame and grab hers. We have not heard him approach, and neither has Amy. She feels his hands, tries to look at him but cannot open her eyes. Their faces fill the frame in iterative shots.
“You have to learn to trust me,” the Doctor says. And then: “Remember what I told you when you were seven.”
“What did you tell me?”
“No, that’s not the point. I need you to remember.”
Amy is, if anything, even more confused than before. The Doctor leans forward – the sleeve of his jacket brushes her face – he kisses her on the forehead and is gone.
Cut to: the Doctor in his shirtsleeves, hard on the heels of a soldier and a scholar stomping through the wood in a desperate attempt to save the universe, wisecracking all the way.
The shift in tone struck me as strange, as did that “Remember” line, which was never explained in the episode. It never seemed critical that Amy remember anything in particular for the plot of this episode, much less anything the Doctor said when she was seven.
So what? Writers drop threads all the time – but seldom so boldly, and anyway this is Stephen Moffat we’re talking about, not some kid fresh from the typing pool.
My initial thought: what if that was not the Doctor from the timeline of the episode? What if it was the Doctor from another time entirely? From the future, perhaps, come back to give Amy a warning, disguised as a reminder – or a crucial piece of advice. That would explain the out-of-place dialogue, and the Doctor’s whiplash-inducing shift from flip, excitable, adventure mode to deadly serious and emotional mode and back again within the space of a single camera cut.
Then I forgot about this theory, because I don’t like to speculate too far in advance. Last night, however, I watched the episode again, with friends. My suspicion deepened, and, at the end of the episode I mentioned my theory. Rolling back, we played those two minutes again, and there it was, the proof:
The Doctor, in the first scene, is in his shirtsleeves; his green tweed jacket has been stolen by the angels. He’s also wearing a pale blue shirt. The Doctor kneeling before Amy, the “Remember” Doctor, is wearing the jacket, and a different shirt to boot.
The future relies on Amy remembering something the Doctor said when she was seven. Why? At a guess: The Doctor will, at some point near the end of this season, be wiped from the timeline. River’s memories of him before she started to travel in time will be erased, but not her memories of those memories. Those are post-time travel sense experience, and she can access them.
I know some of this stuff has been figured out on other forums (I checked immediately after I saw the jacket), but it’s a thrill to “get it” all by myself, and have my wild suppositions confirmed.