(In case you didn't expect spoilers, here's a warning: this post is chock full of them.)
David Tennant, when speaking of Day of the Doctor, said that it was a “seismic shift” in the history of Doctor Who, taking it in an entirely “new direction”.
And I have to agree with him. Bringing back Gallifrey is a seismic shift – for seven seasons, the Doctor has suffered from what he thought was his decision to destroy his own people. Now, as it turns out, he didn't make that decision after all, and Gallifrey is still out there somewhere, along with the war-torn remnants of his people.
It wasn't badly foreshadowed, either. The first hour of Day of the Doctor set up Gallifrey's return perfectly. And it makes me wonder whether Davies had this idea too, or whether Moffat just utilized the subplots that he found. The Time War has been set up as far back as the second episode of “NuWho”, the End of the World. (“There was a war. A Time War.”) And the fact that the Doctor still had to come to terms with his decision has been sowed since Doomsday, which aired seven years ago: “I was there, at the Fall of Arcadia. I fought on the front lines. Someday I may come to terms with it.”
Properly viewed, Day of the Doctor was the culmination of seven seasons of Doctor Who. While it was definitely not as dark or dramatic or huge as anyone expected, “Gallifrey Falls – No More” is more than enough to make up for the rest of the episode.
But where will the show be going now, and what are the ramifications if and when Gallifrey returns?
1) The Doctor is no longer the last of the Time Lords – and that's going to bring a lot of new vigor to the show.
Time Lords bring, quite literally, a whole new world of possibilities to the show, including more of a “Classic Who” feel, since the old seasons featured Time Lords quite often – as enemies, friends, and even companions.
Something I've wanted for a long while is a non-modern companion: a Time Lord companion would be a thousand times better, and it has precedent. It's happened before; why can't it happen again?
And with the Time Lords back, the Doctor's role will definitely change – there are a thousand possibilities. Could the Doctor be held accountable for stealing the Moment? What about regeneration limits? (That one apparently won't be featuring prominently, at least for the Doctor, since Moffat has promised that the Doctor's regeneration limit will be addressed in Time of the Doctor.) Or the fact that the majority of the Time Lords were corrupted by years of war? What sort of things might the Doctor have to stop them from doing? And what's up with Rassilon, anyway? He's certainly not dead – he was sent back to Gallifrey in The End of Time. Is he the immortal Time Lord from The Five Doctors, or is he just a namesake?
Speaking of The End of Time, that leads into my next point...
2) The Master could be coming back – and soon.
In The End of Time, the Master threw Rassilon and the Time Lords back into the Time War, and presumably went with them. With Gallifrey still alive, the council of Time Lords is still at large, and so is the Master. (The council's work was mentioned briefly in the Day of the Doctor: “the council is making its own plans”, as one Time Lord said to another in Arcadia.)
Until now, the prospect of bringing back the Master seemed like a convenient “Oh, looks like he's not dead after all” thing, like the Daleks. But with Gallifrey back, the Master's reappearance will be easy and organic. No need to force a plot twist there!
And let's get a regeneration, while we're at it. A regenerated – or even better, incognito – Master would be a plot twist and a half.
3) Could there be resolution for The End of Time in the future?
Russell T. Davies had a penchant for throwing in foreshadowing, even when he wasn't going to use it. The End of Time is a prime example: to this day, there are unanswered questions. Who were the two “dissenters” who refused to comply with Rassilon's decision? What did Rassilon mean by his Weeping Angels reference? Who was the woman in white who kept helping Wilf throughout the episode?
With Gallifrey back, these questions could easily be answered, or expanded into plot twists and new characters.
4) Time Lord technology could literally open up whole new universes.
In “Rise of the Cybermen”, the Tenth Doctor mentioned that travel between parallel universes was possible with Time Lord technology. But since Gallifrey was gone, so was the ability to travel to other universes.
But with Gallifrey back, travel between universes could be possible again. This may mean that the Doctor could revisit one universe in particular: the one where Rose Tyler is living with the Metacrisis Doctor. What happened to them? What if they had children? Could those children have unknown abilities? In a deleted scene, the Doctor gave Metacrisis a piece of the TARDIS so he could grow his own; is that still canon, and if so, what sort of possibilities does that bring?
Parallel universes aren't the only things that might be found with Time Lord technology. More TARDISes, for one thing. What do those look like?
Like I said, bringing Gallifrey back opens universes of possibilities. Moffat has a lot of material to work with!
But what about the other loose ends? I'll be addressing those in my next post.
Until then, what did you think about Day of the Doctor? Did you see any implications that I missed? Let me know.