Attention, Whovians! You don’t have to wait until the 50th Anniversary episode, which airs November 23rd, to get some answers about John Hurt’s Doctor. All will be revealed in this recently released minisode. Also, Paul McGann, who played the 8th Doctor in the 1996 television special returns, bridging a massive gap in the Doctor’s history. Click “play” now so I can start talking spoilers!
For a second there, I really thought it was going to be just another typical Doctor meets Companion love story and then BAM! The meet-cute turns sour when the would-be-Companion, Cass, reveals she already knows what a TARDIS is and wants absolutely nothing to do with it. The Time War has become so destructive to the universe that the Time Lords are as loathed as the Daleks are.
The Doctor shows true integrity by making good on his word not to leave the crashing ship without Cass. At any point he could just hop in the TARDIS and fly away but no! He stays on until the very moment of impact and dies. So much for Mr. Nice Guy.
Luckily, the ship crashes near the Sisterhood of Karn, who are able to resurrect him for four minutes. In that span of time, he is given the option to drink an elixir to trigger a regeneration to make his resurrection more permanent, as long as he agrees to fight in the Time War and end it once and for all.
Then we get into the importance of the name. Let’s revisit something the Eleventh Doctor said in last season’s finale: “The name I chose is the Doctor. The name you choose, it’s like a promise you make… He’s the one who broke the promise.”
In this minisode, the Doctor is defined as a good man. The kind of guy who would stay on a crashing ship just to prove a point. More importantly, a pacifist who would never fight in the Time War. Unfortunately, the Time War is tearing reality apart, meaning he’s going to have to break his promise pretty damn soon. The Sisterhood have perfected “Time Lord science” to a point that the Doctor could regenerate into any form he chooses, including the kind of person who could fight in the Time War. “
I don’t suppose there’s any need for a Doctor anymore,” he says. “Make me a warrior now.” He then drinks a special elixir and regenerates into John Hurt, who says, “Doctor no more.” And thus the minisode provides an emotionally fulfilling origin story in under seven minutes. Superhero movies, take note! P.S. I hope everyone caught the amazing pun as the 8th Doctor prepared to drink the elixir: “Will it hurt?”