Doctor Who – How Important are the Time Lords?

In the earliest days of Doctor Who back in the 1960s, everything about the Doctor was a complete mystery, from his name to his planet of origin. It is difficult to imagine now that back then people had no idea that the Doctor was even a Time Lord, and they certainly had no idea that they came from Gallifrey. In fact, one could argue that this was one of the main things that made the show so fascinating to viewers, the mystery of who and what the Doctor actually was.

However, over the course of Classic Who the many questions about the Doctor’s origins were answered one by one, to the extent that we not only know that the Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, but also that he comes from the Prydonian Chapter, that he attended the Time Lord Academy, and that the TARDIS he stole is a Type 40 with a malfunctioning Chameleon circuit.

It goes without saying that the Time Lords are a powerful race, as they are responsible for assuming the role of custodians of time and space, protecting the established web of time, and maintaining the delicate fabric of the universe. The Time Lords are capable of wiping entire races from existence, retro-engineering the evolution of their enemies to ensure that they do not achieve sentience, and if necessary removing entire empires from history.

In recent years, however, the Time Lords have diminished in importance. Episodes set on Gallifrey, which were once a fascinating insight into the Doctor’s homeworld and history, became tedious slogs through dense lore and bureaucracy by the end of Classic Who. Russell T. Davies wisely side-stepped having to write Gallifrey episodes by destroying the entire Time Lord race in the Time War, which was controversial at the time but is now generally considered to have been a good decision in the long-run as it opened up new narrative opportunities for the show.

This was obviously done to provide some emotinoal weight to the Doctor’s story, but this proves just how disposable the Time Lords are as a plot device, as the entire species was wiped out – presumably for good – just to give the Doctor a tragic backstory for the revived series. This was definitely the right move, as it gave the Doctor a strong character arc the likes of which the series had never seen up until this point, and it meant that there was an aspect of mystery to the Doctor’s character once again.

By the time Steven Moffat took over as showrunner, the Time Lords were in an interesting narrative flux. Although they were essential to Doctor Who lore, with characters like Romana, the Master, the Rani, Rassilon and many others being closely linked to Gallifrey, the Time Lords also presented a massive amount of narrative baggage as they were so closely linked to the Doctor’s past, and with the effects of the Time War added into the mix the writers were backed into a tight corner when it came to expanding the show’s backstory and lore.

When the 50th Anniversary came around, the writers took the opportunity to do something potentially controversial in order to free future writers from the narrative weight of the Time War. Moffat was able to bring Gallifrey back in a way that did not invalidate Russell T. Davies’ earlier work, as the Doctor’s psychological scars from destroying Gallifrey at the end of the Time War remained even though the Time Lords were able to survive the war and hide Gallifrey away at the end of the universe. The fact that the War Doctor cannot retain the memories of saving Gallifrey means that the character development of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors was preserved whilst also restoring Gallifrey to the forefront of the series lore once again.

Nonetheless, it was clear that the Time Lords still presented a narrative problem, as Hell Bent proved that the Doctor held little nostalgia for his lost homeworld, particularly after the horrors that the Time Lords unleashed during the Time War. In fact, the Doctor banished Rassilon and the other members of the High Council and took the role of Lord President before promptly leaving the planet after rescuing Clara, demonstrating just how little attachment he had to Gallifrey at that point.

Chris Chibnall’s decision to once again remove the Time Lords from the equation by destroying Gallifrey and then revealing that the Doctor is actually far more than just another Time Lord restores an aspect of mystery to the character of the Doctor that has arguably been lacking since the 1960s. Though fans now will inevitably complain and cry heresey as the long-established lore of Doctor Who is ‘destroyed’, as we have seen from previous controversial decisions taken by showrunners this change can only be good for the franchise.

In the long run, the show can finally shed the narrative baggage that the Time Lords present after so many years of being tied to the same backstory and lore. Doctor Who has always been about change and this philosophy has kept it alive when so many other shows have finished or been cancelled. There are few shows out there that could theoretically go on forever, and Doctor Who is one of them. But in order to continue, it has to change, and the longer it stays on air, the bigger those changes will have to be. Fans can either accept the change and move on, or reject the change and be left behind.

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Star Wars – How did Padmé Actually Die?

Before the climactic duel between Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and the newly-christened Sith Lord Darth Vader on Mustafar, Padmé Amidala was choked and knocked unconscious by her husband and would later go on to give birth to twins on Polis Massa before apparently losing the will to live and dying.

Upon the release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, many fans were rightly frustrated at the ambiguous nature of Padmé’s death, as she was a popular character and a great role model for girls who was seemingly brushed aside and disposed of as soon as her role in the story was completed.

Whilst this happened to several other characters in Revenge of the Sith, including Count Dooku, General Grievous, Mace Windu and the entire cast of Jedi, Padmé’s death was more difficult to accept for fans due to the bizarre excuse that is given for why she died. The medical droid tending to her explains that she is dying because she has lost the will to live.

Several sources in both Star Wars Legends and Canon have either implied or outright stated that Padmé’s death was a direct result of Palpatine’s actions, indicating that he either murdered her through the force or instigated some other scheme to ensure she would die as soon as Anakin accepted his new role as Darth Vader.

Fans have long speculated that Darth Sidious had something to do with Padmé’s sudden death, as he tells Vader that she is dead despite having no confirmation of the fact. This could be the evil Sidious manipulating Vader once again, or perhaps an indication that he knows something we don’t about Padmé’s demise.

Exactly why Palpatine did this is clear, as there were several reasons why he wanted Padmé out of the picture once Anakin had fallen to the dark side. The most obvious reason is that she represents a link to Anakin’s good side, the part of him that is still Anakin Skywalker even after he has become Darth Vader. Palpatine also secretly disliked Padmé because of her strong will and tendency to interfere with his plans. Indeed, if Padmé had not been a critical factor in manipulating Anakin, Palpatine would have likely had her killed long before.

Whatever his motivations, it is clear through implications in the dialogue and expanded universe stories from both Legends and Canon that Darth Sidious killed Padmé. It is unfortunate that many fans seem to take the medical droid’s confused diagnosis as fact when there is likely a much darker and more malevolent explanation lurking in the background.

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Doctor Who – How did the Daleks Survive the Time War?

The Daleks are the Doctor’s most fearsome enemies, and are well-known for their brutality, their ingenuity and above all, their survivability. The Daleks have survived everything from an attempt by a temporal race of demi-gods to avert their creation to a civil war that rendered the surface of their home-world a charred cinder, but one conflict that the Daleks seemingly could not escape was the Time War.

This huge temporal conflict saw the Daleks fight an all-out war with the Time Lords, a war that would destroy the Dalek race and leave only a few scattered survivors, including the Emperor and the Cult of Skaro. One by one, however, these survivors would be killed, usually due to the intervention of the Doctor.

The last Dalek drone known as the Metaltron would kill itself after absorbing Human DNA, as we see in the episode Dalek. In the Series 1 finale The Parting of the Ways we see that the Emperor Dalek was killed trying to invade Earth in the year 200,100. Finally, in Evolution of the Daleks, all but one member of the Cult of Skaro would die during the disastrous Final Experiment in New York in the 1930s.

The last member of the Cult of Skaro, Dalek Caan, went back into the Time War to rescue Davros and rebuild a New Dalek Empire, but in the process he saw the Dalek race for what it was and in the Series 4 finale Journey’s End we learn that we decided to wipe his own kind out, engineering the destruction of Davros’ empire to apparently ensure a final end for the Daleks.

However, just like every ‘final end’ the Daleks had suffered so far, the destruction of Davros’ empire would prove to not be the end of the Daleks, as three surviving Daleks would go on to uncover a lost Dalek Progenitor and create a New Dalek Paradigm, as seen in Series 5’s Victory of the Daleks. The new breed of Daleks created from the Progenitor would escape via time travel and begin rebuilding the Dalek Empire.

Exactly what happens next for the Daleks is a bit murky because each episode they feature in seems to tell its own story in terms of what the Daleks do next. The Paradigm Daleks essentially disappear after Series 7’s Asylum of the Daleks, and now the Daleks have established a Parliament, perhaps in order to keep peace. The Magician’s Apprentice implies that Davros has rebuilt a new Dalek race on Skaro, though the Dalek City is later destroyed.

Other Dalek appearances are even stranger. The fact that Bronze Daleks are attacking the Movellans in Series 10’s The Pilot seems to indicate that the Daleks are either interfering with their own history or resuming their past conflicts with post-Time War vigor. The fact that various Classic Daleks are present in the Asylum and Davros’ Dalek City on Skaro would seem to indicate some kind of temporal shenanigans, but it is unclear exactly what they are up to.

Other recent appearances for the Daleks in episodes like Into the Dalek, Resolution and Revolution of the Daleks state that the Daleks have a roaming fleet that serves as their headquarters, and as the Dalek saucer that was destroyed in The Time of the Doctor was apparently the Dalek Parliament, it could be that now the Daleks are ‘between empires’ at the moment and are instead rampaging around the Galaxy in a nomadic fleet. We can only wait and see what the future holds for the Daleks, but needless to say that after surviving the fires of the Time War they are now here to stay – and are more powerful than ever.

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Halo – Why did the Prophets Betray the Elites?

Did you know, Arbiter, that the Elites have threatened to resign? To quit the High Council? Because of this… exchange of hats?

We have always been your protectors.

These are trying times for all of us.

-The Prophet of Truth and the Arbiter discuss the Brutes replacing the Elites as the Honour Guard of the Prophets

The Changing of the Guard

After the Prophet of Regret was assassinated by the Master Chief during the events of the Halo 2 mission Delta Halo, the Prophet of Truth decided to take radical action, allegedly in order to protect the remaining Hierarchs from attack. This resulted in all the Elite Honour Guardsmen being replaced by Brutes in a controversial and unprecedented move.

However, the Prophet of Truth’s decision to replace the Elite Honour Guardsmen with Brutes in response to Regret’s death was more than just a precautionary measure, it was the first step in his plan to remove the Elites from the Covenant entirely and replace them with the Brutes.

The question remains, however: why would the Prophet of Truth want to replace the Elites, a loyal race of powerful warriors, with the Brutes, a race whose greatest achievement up until this point had been nuking their entire civilization back to the Stone Age?

The Great Schism

The answer lies in the Prophet of Truth’s grand plan to ensure the firing of the Halo Array, as he was certain that the Elites were never true believers and as such declared the entire race Heretics. The Prophet of Truth’s decision to do this was an early sign of his increasingly power-hungry, treacherous and unstable personality that would eventually result in the death of the Prophet of Mercy.

Truth would later order the Brutes to begin killing their Elite counterparts once the Elite Councillors were grounded on Delta Halo. During the mission Gravemind, we see first-hand the result of Truth’s treachery as High Charity is torn apart by civil war as Brutes and Elites fight each other for control of the city.

Truth’s motivations for doing this were more than just religious, he saw the Elites as a threat to his power. The Elites had powerful figureheads in the Covenant such as Rtas ‘Vadum, the Arbiter and the Councilors, and Truth sought to kill anyone who would limit his power in a bizarre religious purge.

The Prophet of Truth’s Master Plan

After the Prophet of Truth’s decision to betray the Elites resulting in a huge civil war in High Charity, the Gravemind chose the most opportune moment to attack the city with a captured Human ship filled with Flood spores. This soon resulted in High Charity being infested with the Flood, forcing Truth to flee in the Forerunner Dreadnought that powered the city.

Disconnecting the ancient ship from High Charity doomed the inhabitants to die at the hands of the Flood, and Truth’s once-mighty Covenant was reduced to a handful of carriers and cruisers. This last fleet fled to Earth in a last-ditch attempt to find the Ark, and the remaining Elites followed close behind. Unfortunately for Truth, the remaining Human forces on Earth, including Miranda Keyes, Sergeant Johnson, Lord Hood, the Arbiter, the Master Chief, and of course the legendary Chips Dubbo were able to repel his forces long enough for the Elites to arrive at Earth.

Although Truth was able to flee to the Ark, the Elites were close behind, and as soon as they arrived the Elite fleet were able to make short work of the Brute fleet whilst the Master Chief and the Arbiter destroyed Truth’s forces on the ground. By the time the Prophet of Truth got round to firing the rings, the last of his fleet and the final two Scarabs of the Covenant had already been reduced to scrap metal.

The Fall of the Covenant

The Prophet of Truth’s hubris would eventually come back to haunt him, however, as his decision to betray the Elites would not only result in Humanity being saved from certain extinction by not only the Covenant but also the Flood, but it would also lead to Truth’s Brute forces being absolutely devastated by the surviving Elites during the Battle of the Ark.

During the Prophet of Truth’s final stand on the Ark during the mission The Covenant in Halo 3, he desperately attempts to fire the remaining Halo rings as the Arbiter and the Master Chief infiltrate the Citadel and finally kill the Prophet once and for all. In the end, Truth’s faith in the Brutes turns out to be poorly placed, as the Arbiter finally executes the Prophet after the Master Chief deactivates the Halo array after murdering all the Brute bodyguards.

Clearly, had Truth not ordered the Brutes to remove the Elites from the Covenant, Humanity would have lost a powerful ally and Truth wouldn’t have had to worry about a civil war, the war with Humanity and the war with the Flood. Truth’s decision to betray his allies inevitably causing him more harm than good, as it not only lost him the Holy City of High Charity but also the Covenant itself.

Remnants

Despite the death of the Prophet of Truth, the Covenant did survive, albeit in a fractured form that was a hollow shell for its former self. Warlords like Jul ‘Mdama began to seize Covenant assets like backwater defence fleets, outdated weapons and mothballed vehicles in order to continue the Covenant’s crusade against Humanity.

This inevitably led to the conflict between the Elites and the Brutes taking on a new form, as there was now also a civil war between the Elites loyal to the Covenant, led by Jul ‘Mdama and other warlords, and the Elites that followed the Arbiter and were allied with Humanity, called the Swords of Sanghelios.

In Halo 5: Guardians, Spartan Locke is able to finally put Jul ‘Mdama down and help the Arbiter to remove the Covenant’s final stronghold on Sanghelios, freeing the Elites from Covenant influence. However, the Covenant undoubtedly survives in some form or another, because as long as one faithful believer survives, the Covenant survives, and although the main enemy in Halo: Infinite seems to be the Banished, there is no doubt that Halo fans have not seen the last of the Covenant, despite the Prophet of Truth’s inability to hold the Empire together.

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Doctor Who – What Happened to Rusty?

As the focus of the second episode of Series 8, Into the Dalek, Rusty was a one-of-a-kind, a character that initially seemed like it could be the universe’s only example of a Dalek that was morally good. That is, until the Twelfth Doctor discovered that it was simply suffering a malfunction, cured the problem, and instead accidentally taught Rusty to hate the Daleks. At the end of Into the Dalek, we see Rusty leave for parts unknown, but what happened to this unique Dalek?

Escaping the Dalek Fleet

At the end of Into the Dalek, Rusty leaves the Human hospital ship Aristotle and joins the rest of his kind in their saucer, and he then presumably stays undercover until he reaches a strategic position. Interestingly, early drafts for Into the Dalek depict Rusty self-destructing to destroy the saucer in a manner similar to the Metaltron from Dalek, though this was cut from the final episode.

What we do know is that Rusty would survive and live among for the Daleks for a while before defecting and waging an unending war against his own race. Rusty would go on to destroy countless Daleks, and he became somewhat of a legend both among his own people and in the wider universe in general. According to the Twelfth Doctor, Rusty would go on to live for billions of years, slaughtering Daleks and becoming a quasi-mythical figure.

Waging War against the Daleks

After meeting the First Doctor in Twice Upon a Time, the Twelfth Doctor would eventually reunite with Rusty after travelling to his fortress on Villengard. Rusty has clearly been busy since his last encounter with the Doctor, as there are dead Daleks strewn around the entrance to his tower, and he has been living there for so long that the scattered Dalek survivors have adapted to live outside their casings and latch onto the faces of humanoids in order to feed, implying that Rusty had been there for hundreds of thousands of years, if not millions.

A former weapons production facility, Villengard was perfect for Rusty’s purposes, and he not only installed himself atop a tower with external weapons, but he also tapped into huge Dalek databases in a bid to become one of the most intelligent life forms in the universe. The Doctor would tap into this knowledge to learn more information about the Testimony, eventually discovering its benevolent nature. The Twelfth Doctor was then teleported away and Rusty is left alone once again.

Rusty’s Future

Twice Upon a Time is the last time we see Rusty, so what he gets up to after this and what eventually becomes of this Dalek is unknown. His unending hatred of the Daleks that has lasted for billions of years will undoubtedly motivate Rusty to continue his crusade against his own kind, and perhaps he will appear in a story in the future and shed some light on how he has managed to evade destruction and wreak havoc on the Daleks for so long.

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