(Here's another warning: more spoilers, folks. Do not enter unless you've seen the Fiftieth!)
As if Gallifrey wasn't enough, there are a huge amount of loose ends still in need of resolution. I can't find every one, of course, but there are a few really big ones that deserve a look.
First things first:
1) What's up with the Fourth Doctor?
I've already touched on this some in my previous posts, but there are all sorts of mysteries surrounding the appearance of a previous Doctor – an old version of him called “The Curator”. (And in case anyone was wondering, the scarf that the one girl was wearing was, in fact, given to her by the Curator.) And he implied, also, that the Doctor would be revisiting some “old favorites”—are there more Classic Doctors in our future?
Or, for that matter...a modern one? Although the Ninth Doctor declined to be in the Fiftieth, if there was some reorganization in the BBC and Doctor Who changed producers and head writers, there might be a possibility of his return. Revisiting old faces could be the perfect excuse for a cameo. It's a long shot (and, if we look at reality and precedent, completely impossible), but seeing Nine on the screen again would be worth a stretch of the imagination.
I've got a pretty good hunch that Four's appearance has something to do with Capaldi appearing twice before in Doctor Who. Moffat says that Davies had planted the Capaldi idea in previous seasons, and the idea will pan out over several more seasons. Perhaps the whole “old Doctor” thing has something to do with his regeneration limit. We may yet get some more hints this Christmas!
Which brings me to another point:
2) Eleven is about to die, there's a regeneration limit, and the Silence and Trenzalore will both be featuring in “Time of the Doctor”. Whoa!
Although I much prefer Davies's approach to the Doctor's regeneration—he started foreshadowing the Tenth Doctor's death in the middle of Series Four and gave Ten an epic and monumental two-part special to say farewell—this year's Christmas special is shaping up to be packed. Hopefully as the Eleventh Doctor's life draws to a close, we'll get some final resolution in his story arc: Silence Will Fall.
The Name of the Doctor mentioned the Valeyard. Could it be that the Doctor's dark side, the man between “his twelfth and final regeneration”, will also have a part to play in the special? Some people claim that John Hurt doesn't count as a Doctor and that Eleven is still Eleven; others claim that Hurt and Tennant's metacrisis fiasco count as regenerations, and that Eleven is actually the Thirteenth Doctor. We'll see!
And then the episode takes place on Trenzalore. Trenzalore is supposed to be the place where the Doctor dies; does he actually die there, and what about the battle that supposedly takes place? And if he doesn't die there, what's up with the giant dying TARDIS and the Doctor's time-travel “scar tissue”?
If that's not enough, Moffat is supposed to be addressing the regeneration limit, too. Like I said, it looks like this Christmas is going to be packed!
3) What about River Song?
While River has seen two regenerations of the Doctor, she really seems like an Eleventh Doctor “companion”, if she can be called that. The Name of the Doctor could work as her last episode, but everyone agrees that we need more resolution than that. Forest of the Dead was a perfect ending; but Moffat didn't leave her there and went beyond, leaving us with no end in sight. Does she just keep popping up now and then? Or does she have one last part to play before leaving the Doctor's story once and for all?
My hope is that she'll make a brief appearance in the Christmas special to see Eleven off, and that their stories will end...together. It could be wonderful and sad.
But what about after Christmas?
4) The Capaldi Era is coming. What new stuff could it bring?
Almost every Whovian is looking forward to the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi. Gallifrey was a “seismic shift” in Doctor Who, but Capaldi is no less momentous. For once, the media is going against the grain: he's not young and attractive, unlike the Doctors of the last seven years.
And really, he looks intense. Old and somewhat grizzled, he brings John Hurt's Doctor to mind—and I definitely wouldn't mind a sensible and grumpy old fellow as the Doctor. Some of Nine's intensity and angst would be wonderful, too. Matt Smith was a fairy-tale Doctor, a young guy in a bowtie traveling through space and time with his magic box. Perhaps Capaldi could once again embody the sci-fi of the show: an ancient Time Lord traveling through the crazy and wonderful universe in his incredible time-travel machine.
If the BBC goes against the grain now, what other things might they do in the future? Non-modern companions, perhaps? Non-romantic companions? Male companions? Or even aged companions? (Dude, bring back Wilf already!) There's only so many things you can do with young women traveling with a guy in a blue box. If Doctor Who's producers broadened their horizons and looked beyond the stereotypes that it has developed in the last eight years, they could do a lot of awesome things.
Or, for that matter, they could start focusing less on convoluted plots (I'm looking at you, Moffat) and more on character development. Viewers like to laugh and they like to be shocked. Good character development is more subliminal and not as easily recognizable—but, in the end, makes the story better than the most hilarious one-liners.
4) Clara's got to leave sometime.
Speaking of character development, can somebody direct the character development gun at Clara? She's painfully underdeveloped. What's wonderful is when you make a character hurt, when you give them awful dilemmas and make them choose. So far, the only thing Clara has really done is flirt, retort, and save the Doctor a thousand times. I appreciate the self-sacrifice of her action, but she needs more substance. She's just kind of...there.
It's a bit early to start thinking about her departure, especially since Moffat's last companions stayed for two and a half seasons, but still. What would be ideal would be for her to stick with Capaldi for a season and get developed like nobody's business. Then, she dies, or something equally horrible, and we get room for a Time Lord companion.
Maybe I'm just working her arc into my own preferences, but my point still stands. Having her on board at the same time as a new companion could work, too. There's precedence for it in Classic Who!
Whatever happens, it looks like the BBC has enough material to run Doctor Who for ten more seasons. Here's to hoping we get some resolution soon.
And a Time Lord companion!