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Headscratchers / Doctor Who S35 E11 "Heaven Sent"

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    Filled pool 
  • Gruesome question: if the pile of skulls was already that deep during the first iteration shown, how did the middle of the castle not get filled in completely from the billions of additional iterations before the episode's end?
    • Eventually the older ones would disintegrate. Which adds some Fridge Horror, since even that massive mountain of skulls is only a fraction of the number of Doctors that have died.
    • This also means that there would be lots and lots of crude oil made entirely of the skull of The Doctor floating around underneath there.
    • Nah, the organic components of his body burned up. Lots of calcium phosphate sand on the seabed, though.
    • On that note: why is it only his skull that doesn't disintegrate? Shouldn't there be a ton of Doctor bones there too?
    • Possibly it's left intact by the mechanism so the leads will have something to stick to. If his skull fell apart, the transfer of energy would be cut off before the rest of him had given up whatever it could.

    Sand in the teleport room 
  • Another gruesome question: where did the sand in the teleport room come from? Is it left over from the Doctor's consumed body? If so, then if, like the skulls, it doesn't disappear during a reset, why doesn't it pile up until it fills the room? If it does disappear, and comes from only his latest death, how is he able to write "BIRD" in it as he's being burned up?
    • When another Doctor visits the room, he leaves the door open and the wind blows some of the sand away into the sea, but leaves enough to write a new message.
    • And the reset doesn't get rid of it because the final collapse of the previous Twelve's body happens after the gears start turning.

    First cycle 
  • So how did the first cycle (which wasn't shown onscreen) take place? It seems like The Doctor would of had no clues to guide him and would have been running around naked after taking a dive through the window in order to set up the drying clothes loop.
    • Unless this is just an unintentional case of a bootstrap paradox?
    • Perhaps in the first iteration, the Doctor got as far as the room with the fire, took his clothes off to hang them up, but waited for them to dry and was attacked by the Veil. In no state to get dressed again, he quickly made his way back to the teleport room to create a new clone of himself (who went the same route, found dry clothes already waiting for him, did a quick switch, and avoided being killed there the second time. Then the action loop continued much as we saw it throughout the episode).
    • Or maybe the first iteration went as above, but then it took him several hundred more before he successfully broke into Room 12. He had to make it far enough to see the crystal wall before he could start adding the "BIRD" clue, after all.
    • Assuming any of it happened physically at all — the Doctor is inside his confession dial, and emerges with his hands intact despite their bloody state moments earlier.
    • If putting the clothes there is part of the reset then it's fine. You could assume the system scanned his clothes upon arrival and made sure copies of his clothes were there in case he fell in the water. The doctor leaving everything as it was is simply typical Time Lord OCD, but essentially unnecessary.
    • The reset probably has to be part of it, otherwise the clothes would've been crusted with salt from the seawater.
    • There was probably no need for him to go naked. There's lots of stuff in the castle, and it's not much of a stretch to imagine there'd be some clothes in his size. (Who else's?) Of course, with his sartorial habits, he naturally prefers to keep wearing his own clothes when possible.

  • Word of God confirms that:
    • The first few loops lasted for many years each, with the Doctor having no clue that Room 12 was important.
    • Originally he left his clothes to dry, changed into new clothes found in the castle, then returned to pick his own outfit back. However, once the loop changed and he didn't make it back to pick them again, the next Doctor found them waiting for him and left his own to complete the loop.
    • The spade outside teleporter chamber, missing octagonal paving stone and the clue "I am in 12" buried under the dirt were not part of the original loop, but were left as clue by earlier Doctor, in order to get the next iteration into Room 12 much faster.

    Resetting rooms 
  • Why do some areas seem to reset after the Doctor leaves them, and not others? For instance the room where he drops his eyeglass clearly resets (otherwise the room would quickly become filled with eyeglasses after a few years, nevermind the thousands, millions or billions of years he repeats over), and the same goes for the room where he drops the flower petal. And of course all the blood stains through the castle when he's dragging himself back to the teleporter at the end of an iteration, they vanish too. But on the other hand, the room with the dry spare clothes may or may not reset (it's hard to tell, he leaves his clothes behind in place of the spares, so the room is essentially how it was when he found it), and the skulls always fall into the ocean, building up on the seabed in over the iterations (if they reset, there'd never be any skulls down there). And finally of course, the room with the wall clearly doesn't reset, as that's the whole point of his Cloning Gambit in the first place.
    • Possibly things only reset if he returns to that location. Each version of him only dives into the water once, and he only reaches the top of the tower one time per iteration. And each time he enters Room 12, he crawls out of it and dies.
    • Another possibility is that the skulls and the Azbantium wall can't be reset because they technically aren't part of the castle. The skulls fall into the water below the castle, and the wall is an outer barrier that exists beyond the castle's control.
    • This also leads to the question of why doesn't the damage to the wall reset after each cycle?
    • One possibility is that rooms only reset when the Doctor revisits them. Each incarnation of the Doctor who enters Room 12 has never actually been there before, so it remains as it is.
    • Alternately, only the outer parts of the castle reset, same as only those parts rotate. The central spire remains unchanged, which is why the previous iteration's skull and "BIRD" survive as well as the slow erosion of the crystal wall.
    • The other alternative is that the rooms reset, the Doctor and his things don't. The eyeglass isn't his. He found it in the room. Hence, it resets. His skull and clothes are his, so they don't reset. The dust he writes in may well be his remains. The wind blows it about, so it wouldn't stack up too much. The only exception is his blood does get wiped clean when the castle resets. For everything else, if it came through the teleporter, it stays. If not, it resets.
    • There's actually one really glaring inconsistency in the resetting rules: we know the portrait room resets, because of the flower, loupe, and window. But we also know from Word of God that the portrait was painted by an early loop of the Doctor, rather than already existing in the room. So the portrait should have been erased from existence the first time the room reset after he put it in there. It's much harder to handwave this away than, say, the buried slab that doesn't reset despite the rest of the garden doing so (which, as suggested elsewhere on this page, may be due to the slab being buried deep enough to qualify as "outside" the resetting area).

    Required time 
  • How long would it really take to punch through a wall 20ft thick and 400x tougher than diamond? Assuming the rate of the few punches he does, every 2 days...
    • Fridge Brilliance: The wall wasn't actually Azbantium, but a manifestation of the Time Lock that keeps Gallifrey cut off from the universe. The Doctor's status as a Time Lord has previously allowed him to physically bull his way through Time-based obstacles, as per his ability to move with great effort when time was frozen in "Invasion of the Dinosaurs". In this case, that ability to force one's way through such barriers was exploited by the Confession Dial to ensure that only a legitimate Time Lord could break through, albeit in the cruelest way possible.
      • Word of God states that the Azbantium wall is actually the outer wall of the Confession Dial itself. That's why when the Doctor breaks through it, he's out of the dial and on Gallifrey.
    • Also, remember what the Half-Faced Man said in Deep Breath? The Doctor, like all Timelords, is stronger than he looks.
    • Don't forget the effect that sheer time has on any substance. In two billion years even diamonds would turn into dust from nothing but contact with air. It's possible that the substance was growing increasingly brittle as the Doctor went along.
    • His obstacle was a six-meter thick wall and he faced it about 300 billion times. This means that each time he had to wear out 20 picometers (20 * 10^-12) off the surface by average. Combined with his bounding box, that comes as about 0.018 cubic millimeters of the crystalline material, each iteration.
    • Plus due to the gaining distance, progressive iterations would have more time to punch more.
    • And probably more enthusiasm, as they'd be able to see clear evidence that he's going to make it eventually.
    • The best guess of the Sisterhood is that the Doctor was inside the dial for 4.5 billion "years," as indicated by the simulated sky outside the simulated castle, and always remembering he has no memory of previous loops, starting each loop with the same body and the same memories. Assuming the Doctor reaches room 12 every two "days" of the simulated "years," that's 821,812,500,000,000 punching events. Call it about 822 trillion.
    • It'd have to take longer than 2 days per iteration, though, because it takes him more than a day just to crawl back to the teleporter after the Veil touches him. He definitely doesn't reach Room 12 in half a day, because there's at least two nights - one when he digs in the garden, the other when he looks at the stars atop the tower - that pass while he's searching for it.

    Second of Eternity 
  • The king asked "How many seconds are there in eternity?", not "What is a second of eternity?". And whether you use those special seconds or just plain old seconds, shouldn't the answer to the king's question be the same? There are infinite seconds in eternity.
    • The point to the shepherd boy's answer isn't to give an actual number: it's to express to the king that counting off seconds is irrelevant to the "eternity" concept. Any finite amount of time, whether an actual second or the eons it takes the bird to wear down the entire mountain, is inconceivably brief from the perspective of eternity.

  • Did Clara's portrait show its actual age, despite the bedroom's reversions? The Doctor judges it to be "very old" when he examines it in the first iteration shown, and a later shot when he's moving from room to room gave a glimpse of a chamber with empty picture frames on its walls. If so, did his later iterations only see an empty frame and a pile of disintegrated canvas dust which isn't a bad reminder of her absence in itself...?
    • An earlier Doctor may have painted it.
      • The fact the Doctor painted the portrait was confirmed by Steven Moffat in an interview published in Doctor Who Magazine #495.
      • So then the question is, did the Doctor touch up or repaint the portrait whenever it started to fade too much? Or did the Doctor see how old it was getting, and arrange for it to become incorporated in the resets the same way he did with the buried octagonal stone and the shovels?

    Confession dial workings 
  • So the Doctor was teleported into the Confession Dial. He told Ashildr in "Face the Raven" that he didn't know how it worked, and it was said earlier in the season that it could only open when he died. What was the point of the castle if the dial didn't actually contain the Doctor's confession? Why would it have contained a fragment of the Time Lock capable of being destroyed by the Doctor and the Doctor alone? Why would the Doctor have given the dial to Missy, if she couldn't have used it to get to Gallifrey (and it didn't have his confession ready to be played)? How did the dial itself get to Gallifrey from Ashildr (since we see it open to let the Doctor out at the end of the episode)?
    • Possibly the dials are normally used to create a captive copy of a Time Lord's personality, whose intellect can be transferred into the Gallifreyan Matrix upon their final death. Each dial would need a communication-link to Gallifrey to do this, and the true nature of the dials would be kept secret from all but the highest-ranking Time Lords to ensure that link couldn't be exploited to hack the Matrix. When Gallifrey became Time Locked and trapped in its pocket universe, the link to the Doctor's dial got blocked by the crystalline wall, so instead of having to work his way into Room 12 just once, the Doctor had to punch his way in. The castle, Veil, and mechanisms were all custom-generated to drive him into Room 12 and goad him into entering; the fact it took him several billion tries was an unintended consequence of the blockage being there. By the time he managed it, his confession dial had been brought into Gallifrey in the same way that the white-point star diamond got out of the Time Lock for "The End Of Time", and had been adjusted so that it'd construct yet another copy of the Doctor's body for him to occupy there as he stepped through the link, instead of dumping his disembodied mind into the Matrix. Alternately, there are actually two copies of every confession dial: one to be carried by the Time Lord it belongs to, and another left safely behind on Gallifrey, both of them linked to the same Bigger on the Inside pocket reality. As for why the dial requires confessions, it's to prime the deceased Time Lord personalities to give up all their secrets to the Matrix: something they'd otherwise be reluctant to do.
    • The answer from "Hell Bent": the Confession Dial is designed to give dying Time Lords a chance to live peacefully and get whatever they need to off their chests before they're uploaded to the Matrix. The Doctor is rather angry that it was used to torture him into giving up information. Gallifrey escaped the Time Lock/pocket Universe on their own at some point offscreen, and the Dial was brought there so Rassilon could hear his confessions.
    • Still, physically teleporting someone (someone dying, so possibly incapacitated) into a pocket dimension doesn't make much sense when you have a perfectly serviceable VR technology that would work for the stated purpose. It would be so much more elegant to just put them in the Matrix already, perhaps some sort of antechamber for confessional purposes.
      • But not being able to just read the answer unambiguously directly from the Matrix is exactly the reason they need the Doctor to tell them! Sending him into the Matrix would put any answers he carries out of reach.

    Killed by the Veil 
  • When the doctor is killed by the veil, why doesn't he regenerate?
    • Is there any actual death involved? Or is the castle, the veil & the transporter a tailored, repeating format the dial uses to elicit confessions. If so, is that how the dial usually works or are the Time Lord council using it to find the Hybrid?
    • Time Lords are capable of stopping themselves from regenerating, like the Master did in "Last Of The Time Lords". Given the Doctors plan required him to return to the transporter room and create a new copy using his life energy it's likely that he stopped his regeneration on purpose.
    • Except if he could still regenerate, doing so would have been the logical course of action: he'd have had plenty of time to come up with a better way to break through the wall than punching it, because the Veil'd disappeared after it grappled and wounded him. Instead, he muses about how Time Lords take a long time to die even when wounded too severely for regeneration, suggesting that's the state he's in.
    • Did you miss the entire speech that he gave at the end? There are some deaths that even regeneration cannot cure. The body tried but it simply could not.
    • Presumably, the Veil is designed specifically to kill Time Lords, and therefore has some method of preventing regeneration.
      • The Veil is designed for one specific Time Lord, so presumably is quite capable of killing him permanently if that is the desired ability for it to have in order to be truly frightening.

    Location of the dial and the teleport 
  • When the doctor transported at the end of "Face the Raven", was he sent into the dial which was itself sent to Gallifrey or was the Doctor sent direct to Gallifrey and his confessions given at some other point (the recording being in existence since "The Magician's Apprentice")?
    • The bracelet probably transmitted him into the dial. He did say that the maximum range for a long-range teleporter was about a light-year, and Gallifrey was a whole lot farther off than that, even before it got dumped into another dimension.
    • That bracelet is probably very similar to the one Missy used in series eight.

    The Doctor making the Confession Dial 
  • Let me see if I've got this right: The Doctor made the Confession Dial, then someone or something made a deal with Ashildr to trap The Doctor inside his own Confession Dial, and then The Doctor broke through it into Gallifrey. Who's plan was this? Did The Doctor set up this insanely elaborate plan and then erase his memory in order for it to work? If he knew how to get to Gallifrey in the first place, why set any of this up? Or was this some plan somehow set in place by The Timelords from within the Time Locked Gallifrey?
    • The Doctor notes to Ashildr that he has no idea how a Confession Dial actually works, implying that he didn't build his own. Keep in mind, the Time Lords sent a message back in time into a child's head to get out of the Time Lock on the War, Rassilon sent the Master a White-Point Star from within the Time Lock, and they were able to send regeneration energy through The Crack on Trenzalore - in short, they're locked up, but not powerless. The functions of the Dial may very well have been engineered by them at any point before (or after, since they're big on closed-loop paradoxes) their return to get them out of the lock, and sent back in time to the day he picked it up.
    • Indeed, so far as the Time Lords know, the Doctor's the only one left who might still want to bring them back, now that the Master/Missy knows how they'd been exploiting her since childhood. They're hoping he can manage it before the silly sod gets himself killed, but can't count on that given how dangerous his life is. It's very likely that they rigged his Confession Dial to ensure that if he died, he'd be downloaded into it Nethersphere-style and have one last posthumous chance to penetrate the Time Lock. Then they lucked out, and managed to manipulate Ashildr into transporting him into the thing while still alive, same as Missy could visit the Promised Land via her own bracelet.
  • Perhaps the Confession Dial the Doctor ends up in is not the one he made. When Rassilon or one of his minions learned the Doctor had made a Confession Dial, they hatched this evil plan, and created a second Dial, identical on the outside but very different on the inside. Me collected the Doctor's original Dial, while the teleport bracelet sent him into the nightmare version.

    Grave confession 
  • What was the Doctor's confession at the bottom of the grave? He realized that the Veil wouldn't kill him if he confessed, and stated "it was a lie, it was always a lie"; everything he said before that was too quick and... Scottish... to comprehend.
    • He said he hadn't left Gallifrey because he was bored, he left because he was scared.

    The Veil as a threat 
  • So, was the confession aspect of the trap just an Excuse Plot or did the creator of the whole scenario actually expect to get to know something about The Hybrid as a result of it? The Veil actually does very effectively kill The Doctor on contact, so it's a genuine threat - but it's actually too much of a threat to be useful as a torture mechanism (since The Doctor only has to resist once before, well, dying). The general theorisation here is that The Point was to get The Doctor to break through to Gallifrey, but this seems like a needlessly complicated way to do that, as well (why have The Veil be this deadly if you want The Doctor to act most effectively to get through that wall). This feels more like it's actually intended as an existential punishment device, rather than an effective means at either of the two previous ideas...
    • Which also leads to the thought - who hates The Doctor enough to do this to him? The Doctor has previously mentioned that nobody hates him as much as he hates himself...
    • Or someone wanted him to be very pissed off when he finally got to Gallifrey.
    • Or someone just plain didn't have any other way to get him there, and needed him to do so no matter how much it hurt or angered him.
    • "Hell Bent" provides the answer: Rassilon wanted to know what the Doctor knew about the Hybrid, and didn't actually anticipate him spending four and a half billion simulated years chipping away at a diamond wall with his fists.

    Spilling the secret at the end 
  • So, the Doctor is so determined not to reveal the truth about the Hybrid that he endures two billion note  years of repeated torture and death....and as soon as he escapes the trap meant to force the truth out of him, he just spills the beans for no apparent reason?
    • They just spent billions of years scaring him to death. Now that he knows it's the Time Lords who were behind it, why wouldn't he want to return the favor?
    • Because all the reasons why that secret could never be told should still apply just as much at that moment as it did one minute earlier when he was punching the wall.
    • He couldn't tell them then because he wasn't on Gallifrey yet. If he'd admitted it while he was still trapped in the castle, they could've dumped his Confession Dial in the nearest trash-disintegrator and checked "Avert the Hybrid menace" off their To-Do list. Now it's too late: he's arrived, and their plan to identify the Hybrid has only succeeding in bringing him there, implying the prophecy is fated to play out despite their best efforts to stop it. And they'll know that.
    • He may be lying through his teeth. There were *two* Time Lords of questionable provenance connected up to the Cloister Room during the McGann film, and the only other evidence of the Doctor being half human comes from the Doctor's own lips (pathological liar) and something shown to the Master by the TARDIS - who would probably quite cheerfully lie to the Master as well. Russell T Davies- admittedly, no longer in the driver's seat- has always maintained that a) the McGann film is canon, and b) the Doctor is not half human. Perhaps the closing line is not so much a confession as it is "Right, now to scare the Time Lords silly by telling them the Hybrid is coming for them, to keep them off the scent while I try to figure out what the hell to do about the *real* Hybrid...
    • He is doing it for dramatic effect, to convince any eavesdroppers that he really does know. But he slips the sonic sunglasses on just before speaking the last two words. Maybe he's deliberately using the sunglasses to generate some kind of interference field so the eavesdroppers can't hear the last part of what he says.
    • The shooting script and the next episode reveal that when he says "me" he actually means "Me" — aka Ashildr. But if he truly believes her to be the Hybrid, why does he feel the need to keep that a secret when he'd have an even better bargaining chip by allowing them to capture her and perhaps execute her, which would kill two birds with one stone — vengeance against her for what she did to him and Clara (even if she didn't intend to hurt her, she had no problem betraying him) and satisfaction for the Time Lords. A hefty reward might be granted him for getting the Hybrid finished off, after all.
    • Probably because even though that is likely the truth, the context of that answer implies that the Hybrid is the Doctor. Like the earlier point mentioned, there's no way Gallifrey would let him out of that Confession Dial after that admission and would've certainly destroyed it to prevent him from getting out. Which, when you think about it, is a Fridge Brilliance on the part of Ashildr; "How do I make sure nobody gives up my identity as the Hybrid? Use a name which implicates the witness instead." The Doctor thought the same and decided against confessing it until he got out.

    Repeating the loop 
  • In the billions of years that the Doctor is there does he do anything slightly different each time he is there like turning left instead of right?
    • Possibly the first few iterations didn't get far enough to reach Room 12, and had to crawl back to the entry chamber without ever seeing the crystal wall. But as soon as one of him happened to win through, the others to follow would do exactly the same thing each time, because his previous selves had left the necessary help (BIRD, dry clothes) for him to solve the puzzle. From that point, all his iterations' lives were pretty much the same, because they all have the same mind and make the same choices; at most, a few might have beat the odds and not passed out when they dove into the water, but they'd just have surfaced a little faster and completed their cycles a tiny bit sooner.
      • Confirmed by Word of God here.
      • And if you watch closely, most or all of the repeated sections are actually different takes, so the repeats aren't exactly the same; they're just the same in all the important ways.

  • Oh this is going to play fun with people trying to determine the age of the doctor. Do you include just the one final iteration he got through, or a Billion+ years of copies - or does he even count as the same Doctor?
    • The Doctor is still just over 2000 years old, because the one we're left with didn't personally live out those billions of identical lives; it's the episode that's billions of years long. And he's as much the same Doctor as the Donna who was retrieved from the Library is the same Donna, or the Danny Pink who exploded over London with all the other Cybermen was the same Danny.
    • However, even though his physical body (and mind) is just as old as it was before the whole ordeal, the data comprising his existence is now 2 billion years older than it was before. It was stored for a good time in a "harddrive" of the teleport machine after all. It is an interesting metaphysical question whether data can actually age. If you have software on a floppy, losslessly preserved, written there in the 1980s, nobody is questioning the claim that the software is now decades old. But if you got a time machine and got a chance to send the floppy back to the 80s, would the software on the floppy still be decades old?
    • Remember that the Doctor says as he reaches the wall that he can remember everything at that point. Whether real or subjective, The Doctor has experienced the 4.5 billion years it took to penetrate that barrier. Physically, he may not have aged. Mentally and emotionally, on the other hand...
    • I don't think the Doctor's age is just a single number any more. Even though he remembers the 4.5 billion years, the Doctor we're left with also remembers Clara's death as if it was just a few days ago (or however long each iteration took). It's like with Rory after The Big Bang - even though he remembers living 1,894 years as a plastic centurion, Rory's still a young man, and his memories of his life with Amy before his wedding still feel like recent memories. This means it makes sense for his character to be written mostly the same way as before. The same will happen with the Doctor, because, for the sake of the show, his default state needs to be the mad man with the box, gallivanting around the cosmos having adventures with a companion, even though, as of this episode, 99.9999% of his life has not been like that.
    • It wouldn't be too much to think that, after a decade of debate over the Doctor's real age, and the script for "Day of the Doctor" indicating that he doesn't really remember his true age anymore, that this could act as the mic drop on how old the Doctor is. Once you get into the billions, age becomes meaningless. Physically, however, the Doctor is only a few days/weeks older than he was when Clara died on trap street. But we do know that part of him does age because Clara later spots this herself.
    • Just to make for even more of a Mind Screw: if the four-and-a-half billion years only count in the Doctor's memory, not in the chronological age of his body, then did his subjective age (i.e. age from the perspective of his memories) become a lot younger when his recollections of Clara were erased in "Hell Bent"? After all, a lot of his time inside the Confession Dial was spent thinking about Clara, and he's forgotten that part of each iteration.

     Why not use the shades? 
  • Since the Doctor's sonic shades are with him, why doesn't he do anything with them to break out of the loop faster? While he crawls to the teleport room, he could record a detailed message describing the nature of the castle to his future self into the glasses memory. Then, instead of leaving the cryptic BIRD message behind, a message whose meaning he only figures out when he's already in Room 12, he could leave the shades behind for his future iteration to found. At the very least, he could record the message, Bring the spade with you to Room 12!, into the shades, thus making the process of digging through Room 12's wall faster. That's the least he could do, but given the Doctor's skills, it shouldn't be impossible to re-engineer the glasses into some kind of laser or force beam device, which would make the process even shorter.
    • Probably the shades would disappear as part of the reset if they weren't actually on his person, same as the bloody trail left behind when he crawls. Word of God has it that he had to think of burying that paving stone deeply in the garden - presumably, out of range of the reset - before even it would remain intact.
    • But clearly the teleport room is exempt of the reset, or at least the reset doesn't happen immediately after he dies, since the word BIRD remains there when he rematerializes. So why not leave the shades in that room for the next incarnation to find?
      • Huh? The whole point of the teleport room is that it does reset; otherwise the Doctor's pattern wouldn't still be in the buffer and he wouldn't be able to re-create himself. The writing BIRD seems to have become a part of the loop, perhaps because it happens during the reset instead of the reset happening while he's in another part of the castle.
    • The shades may get damaged when the Veil's touch wracks his body, same as his clothes do. Also, remember that one of the "rules" for time travelers is that you don't seek information about your own future from books, notes, gravestones or whatever, lest you deny yourself freedom of action by validating the future events described. If a new-made Twelve found a pair of his own sonic shades with a message recorded on them, he probably wouldn't dare listen to it, thinking they'd been left by his near-future self.
    • He probably tried that, along with a few thousand other variations, and found it didn't work.

     Why not use a shoe? 
  • A sole is not usually much softer than a timelord's hand. If the Doctor is lucky, there could be small rocks stuck in the grooves. Taking a shoe off would take some time, but so does reaction to pain. Moreover, a leg is usually stronger than an arm or a hand, and bucking the wall would give a chance to see the Veil and flee from it once again. Rule of Drama?

     Nobody loves the Doctor 
  • So billions of years pass and not only do the Time Lords never think to just free the poor, mad Doctor from his Self-Inflicted Hell and instead just let him get madder and madder, nobody in the universe cares that the greatest hero space and time have ever known is missing? It's possible that all his friends, colleagues, loved ones, etc. across the eons just don't realize he's trapped and suffering since he is a constant wanderer, but'd think Rigsy or Anahson and her mum would have raised the alarm with UNIT that he was effectively kidnapped, or UNIT might have noticed his TARDIS is abandoned and companion dead...
    • Even if somebody's noticed his absence, they may not be able to find the Confession Dial, let alone have any hope of freeing him from it: Time Lord technology is millions of years beyond anything UNIT or Torchwood ever mastered. Possibly Missy could break him loose, but she might think it's absolutely freakin' hilarious that he's trapped in there, and none of the other Time Lords on Gallifrey can risk crossing Rassilon until the Doctor incites them to toss the old tyrant out. Besides, if he returns to Earth in 2017 after 4.5 billion years of torment, and still looks the same, why would anyone realize he's been away any longer (from his perspective) than he usually wanders off for?
      • If the Time Lords aren't willing to risk crossing Rassilon, doesn't this just make them cruel and cowardly — exactly what they and Ohila accuse the Doctor of being in the next episode? Just Following Orders isn't an acceptable excuse in the Whoniverse.
    • The above troper is spot on. You have to remember that, from the rest of the universe's perspective, The Doctor is still popping up all over the 2000's and 2010's, not to mention the latter half of the 1900's, the year 300 trillion, the Elizabethan Era (a number of times), during Cleopatra's reign, a train in the future, a mansion in the past, etc. It's kind of hard to notice when a time-traveler is missing—he's still basically simultaneously appearing all over space and time, even while trapped in the dial. As a sidebar, it's the reverse of the reason why the time-lock was such a big deal. Even in the confession dial, the Doctor's past and future were sill "occurring." For the Time Lords locked in the time-lock, they weren't.
    • Think about it from other peoples' perspective: the Doctor teleports away, and witnesses either don't have the power to find him or have good reason to fear him if they meet again (Me was told explicitly by the Doctor to stay away). Soon after, the TARDIS disappears (as it is found outside the diner in Hell Bent, the paint of Clara's memorial still fresh), so why would anyone think that the Doctor wasn't able to find a way back himself, particularly because he has gotten out of other equally inescapable traps before? How would any of his friends even know to come looking for him?

     Is the protagonist of the show now the Doctor — or just a clone who has his memories? 
  • So, is the Doctor dead? Are we going to see his clone on adventures from now on?
    • His five-billionth clone, I guess. Yes.
    • The Doctor's teleported plenty of times before this episode, so if you're applying that standard, he's been a "clone" for most of the series.
    • Since "The Keys of Marinus", which was the first time he was seen to teleport.
    • He's teleported more recently, he escaped the "Dalek Asylum " using a teleport.
    • I think the real question is: If this is not the Doctor, then why the hell should we care about him anymore? This man is a fake. A stranger. An imposter. Pick whatever word you like, he is not THE Doctor. That man died all the way back in his first incarnation and someone else took his place.
    • If you want to go even deeper, I could always bring up the Cartmel Masterplan and argue that even the First Doctor himself is a lie.
    • To quote the Fifth Doctor, "A man is the sum of his memories... a Time Lord even more so." What is the Doctor but the person who has all the Doctor's memories, his personality, his relationship with his TARDIS, his beliefs, his outlook on the universe, etc?
    • A theory I came up with is that it they are all literally the same person.

Firstly, if the teleportation 'kills' you and replaces you with a clone, nobody's going to use it. It would be reasonable to assume in the whoniverse, teleportation works by breaking down the body, actually transporting it, then reassembling it when it arrives; not a clone, but a reassembled being.

Now consider this example to demonstrate what's presumably going on here (which also explains the issue of "where did all the building blocks for all these doctors come from?"): you're walking along and that period of time is unaffected, then for a portion of time you're walking and it will be repeated, then an I looped third section. Firstly it plays out normally, then the second part gets reset and replayed: instead of walking forward, you take a quick step to the left while walking. This doesn't impact the third period: the original second period DID happen, but was then played a second time. Rather than changing the outcome in the third period, the outcomes are both true, and you end up walking beside yourself, you exist in two states.

That's what I believe has happened here: the doctor teleports in, the doctor walks around and such, the doctor becomes a corpse, those are the three periods. The second period replays, the same man walks around, the same man becomes a corpse again, joining the relic of the previous time.

As for why relics remain during the second period rather than staying in the third, the entire rooms reset but not the things that now exist in the third period. Imagine a building turning back in time independent of you, unbuilding itself while you watch in confusion. It would be a bit like not cleaning out your oven while baking lots of cakes: it starts off spotless, then you get a splat of cake mix on the side. You reset the cake baking process (that time repeats) but that doesn't stop the stain existing, and more stains will happen until it's a sea of dust and skulls.

TL;DR: I'm my interpretation, they're all the same doctor, right down to the atoms used to build them. THE Doctor is dead, existing as a skull in the ocean. THE Doctor is also dead, existing as dust on the wind. THE Doctor is also alive, successfully punching through a wall and escaping. Has he really died when he's alive and well but is also literally dead at the same time independently? That might be a whole other head scratcher...

     The Doctor and the stars 
  • If the whole thing is taking place inside of the confession dial, how can he get any information out of the location of the stars?
    • Because the stars are moving naturally rather than resetting into position with the rest of the castle, and the Doctor can probably see light trails or something else super-visual that indicate to him that they've moved.
    • Nothing super-visual is required. Over the course of thousands of years, stars naturally change their position relative to each other (and hence in the sky) as they don't orbit the centre of gravity of their galaxy at the same speed. (It has been noted that when the ancient Babylonians or whoever came up with the current constellations, the stars weren't quite in the same position as they were today, for example). So, the Doctor will be simply noting the pattern of stars in the sky has shifted and is giving a rough estimate of how much time has passed based on the size of the shift.
    • Presumably because the sky is an accurate simulation of a real sky somewhere the Doctor knows, just as the water is an accurate simulation of a sea.
    • I'm with the original questioner: If the whole thing takes place inside the confession dial, and if everything resets itself to its starting point except the magic wall the Doctor eventually punches through, why shouldn't the star pattern in the simulated sky reset too? It's not as if the Doctor is looking out from the confession dial into the actual, realtime sky. I'm also puzzled as to why everyone keeps saying that 4.5 billion years have gone by, and everyone is now at the end of the Universe. When and how did Gallifrey exit the pocket universe the Doctors put it into? When is it now? The Earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old, and I don't see anybody with vivid memories ot the creation of the Earth. Yet the civilians, military, and elite of Gallifrey remember the Time War vividly, as if the three Doctors had won the war only two years ago (in November 2013). They remember it so vividly they recognize the Doctor instantly even in a new regeneration.
    • Um, did you miss the part where they have mastery over Time Travel? Even if they escaped the pocket universe at the beginning of our own, it's not too unbelievable for them to move their planet to the end of it, especially if they want to avoid all the other races. And considering they were trapped in a pocket universe, there's no reason that they should come back into the real one around 2013-15, they could easily have spent a few years in the pocket universe but emerged billions of years into the future. As for why they recognise him, the classic series showed Time Lords recognising each other after a regeneration instinctively on several occasions, so they same could be true here. And at the very least, the General and the War Council knew of his regeneration ("No Sir. All thirteen!") and considering the General is shown to now be on speaking terms with Rassilon and the High Council again, it's likely that they passed that on (and it wouldn't be too much of a stretch for it to be unlikely for thirteen versions of the same Time Lord and same TARDIS showing up in orbit to go unnoticed, explaining why the civilians knew, assuming the information wasn't leaked by the soldiers or even made publically available).
  • How is the Doctor able to recognize the Gallifreyan sky two BILLION years in the future? Two billion years is a long time, even by astronomical standards. Not only would the relative positions of the stars have moved to such an extent as to be unrecognizable, a significant number of stars would have died/been born/gone supernova/been sucked into the galactic center/etc.
    • Estimating one's temporal location from the stars is probably a basic skill young Time Lords learn, same as human Scouts learn orienteering by the stars. All they have to do is take a TARDIS field trip during Astronomy class, or stop off at a simulator-observatory programmed by other Time Lords who've been there.
    • The Doctor once claimed to have been to every star in the universe, knowing how and when it would end. Knowing which stars remain after 2 billion years should still be possible.
    • How is the Doctor able to recognize what year it is by licking his finger and holding it up into the breeze?
    • It's not the Gallifreyan sky. The Doctor states early in the episode that he's only a light year from earth so the stars in the sky are basically earth's stars, not Gallifrey's.
  • At the end of the episode, when the Doctor escapes the Confession Dial, he looks at it, and it's open, with the castle and sea clearly visible. Therefore, there was no need to see through the top of the dial to see the stars, there was nothing visible in between the top of the castle and the sky. (There might have been a clear dome or somesuch protecting and containing the dial's contents, but if there was, it could be seen through.)

     The buried clue 
  • Why did the Doctor leave the "I am in 12" clue buried so deeply (or at all)? I considered that maybe it was in an attempt to circumvent the whole "resetting" thing, but the chalk arrows pointing to the burial spot didn't reset, so why not just leave it at surface level? Also, why not mention something like "take the spade to 12"? Surely having a metal implement would shave off a few million years.
    • Presumably "I am in 12" was the only thing he had the time to write before the monster caught up with him? Since we don't see the Doctor write those words during the loop that repeats in the episode, it must've gone happened in an earlier iteration where things went differently. Presumably in that iteration the monster could've appeared at any point while the Doctor was digging the grave and writing words, so he decided to keep the message as short as possible so that he would have the time to write it.
      • But still, why bury it? That takes a lot more time than just scrawling a message.
      • "Hell Bent" explains this. The Doctor has to keep the Time Lords believing that he knows what the Hybrid is, so some events needed to repeat with each cycle until he could punch through the wall. One of them was his declaration of why he left Gallifrey which only happened because the Veil cornered him while he was digging in the grave. He couldn't bypass it.
      • Things inside the castle revert, things outside of it don't. Presumably by burying the slab in the soil beneath the castle, an earlier iteration of Twelve managed to Logic Bomb the reset mechanism, presenting it with something (that particular flagstone floor) which was both inside and outside the castle at the same time.
  • The Doctor doesn't know that he's left these clues for himself. He's very suspicious of everything, knowing that he was sent to this place by the people he holds responsible for Clara's death. He needed something that would lure himself in, intrigue him into investigating despite his suspicions. By phrasing it as "I am in 12", he implies that there is someone else in the castle, possibly also trapped and needing his help — a situation sure to get the Doctor to search for the person in need of saving.

     More on Room 12 vs. the rest of the castle 
  • Why is Room 12 the only part of the entire castle that doesn't reset with each cycle?
    • Probably the individual rooms are designed to re-set themselves just before he returns to them. He never returns to Room 12: his next copy does.
    • Everything inside the castle resets. Things outside of the castle do not. Hence, the skull which falls into the water escapes the reset. If it had fallen the other way, it would disappear each round. What is labeled as "12" is actually the way out, that's the whole point of it. What is beyond that super-wall is outside of the castle, and apparently the "outside" area begins at the start of the wall.
  • So given, by the end of it, the Doctor has done this billions of times. At minimum two billion, assuming he spends a full year in the castle each cycle which is quite generous, it's probably closer to a week or month. We see an entire lake full of skulls the first time we go through this at 7,000 years into the future. A billion is a really big number. Surely, by the time the Doctor gets that far, the lake would entirely fill up with skulls, thus eventually killing him when he lands on a compressed bedrock of skulls instead of the water. There's also the little issue that he seems to be getting more energy out of repowering the teleporter than he's putting into it. Each time the Doctor goes through it, he's creating a new skull. So either the Doctor should be getting weaker as the cycles go on, or the process is violating the law of Conservation of Mass/Energy.
    • The skulls wear out and disintegrate from the weight of the ones above them as fast as he's adding them. The waves wash the bone dust away. As for the energy issue, who knows how much energy might be in his body when it's trying extremely hard to regenerate, but can't get the process started because it's too damaged? Surely enough to remake a body, because that's what it's normally used for.
    • For that matter, shouldn't the skulls be intermixed with thousands of stools, broken glass, and bits of window frame? All of those things also fell into the water every cycle.
    • The window and the chair are part of the castle's furnishings. They probably re-set no matter where they're moved to. After all, the castle can't afford to have one Doctor throw the shovels out a window and force all his successors to dig with their bare hands, can it?
    • Even if the skulls disintegrate, it's not like their matter completely disappears. So after a billion years there should be no lake anymore, just thick mud made of bone dust and water.
    • Once every ten-thousand years, the Doctor dives into the water, smacks his head on the mountain of skulls, dies, and regenerates. His newly-regenerated self says, "I'd better clean up all those skulls in case I need to dive in again," and then spends several years clearing them out. Then the cycle begins again.

     The Episode's Title 
  • I'm confused as to what "Heaven Sent" means and refers to in the context of the episode. The phrase "heaven sent" means "providentially opportune" and refers to something that's a blessing, but there's nothing like that in the episode here. What exactly in the episode is "Heaven Sent"? Aside from the Doctor sending himself through the whole thing, I can't think of anything that could possibly be considered heaven sent in that episode. Can someone please explain the title for me? What does "Heaven Sent" refer to? I know "Hell Bent" refers to an angry, off-the-rails Doctor (Moffat's words, not mine), but what about "Heaven Sent"?
    • "Heaven Sent" refers to the Doctor. How many times was his arrival providentially opportune to others? How many worlds has he saved? To some races and individuals, he's a trickster and a demon, but to others he's an angel. And then people who owe him their lives heartlessly betray and/or torture him. In his Darkest Hour, none of those people who see him as good, who ostensibly care for him, are there for him. (See "Nobody Loves the Doctor" above.) And the result is that he ends up trapped in anguish, grief, and rage, and mentally if Hell bent him. Perhaps the way that "Gallifrey Falls" and "No More" were meant to be said together as "Gallifrey Falls No More", these titles describe the Doctor over the course of this Story Arc: "Heaven Sent, Hell Bent".
    • It's called irony.

     Does the Veil also reset itself? 
  • The rooms in the castle reset themself after a while, but it's never explained if the same happens to Veil. However, we pretty much have to assume that the Veil does reset as the rooms do, because if it doesn't, every time it catches the Doctor he would have to confess a new secret to it. And this wouldn't work with the whole billion-year loop plot, because of two reasons: 1) When the Doctor first encounters the veil, he would probably try to confess the same (fairly) harmless secret, but the Veil would only accept it once, so in the subsequent loops confessing that secret wouldn't work anymore, and the Doctor wouldn't figure what stops the Veil, thus changing the whole loop. 2) Even if the Doctor somehow manages to remember the previous loops, it's not like there are billions and billions of secrets only he knows that he can confess to the Veil. So when he inevitably runs out of secrets the loop would again change. But since the loop we see remains unchanged, we must assume the Veil always resets itself, forgets about the previous loop, and always accepts the same two confessions from the Doctor. But if that's the case, it raises the question, why did the Time Lords come up with such an inefficient way of extracting a secret from the Doctor? If the Veil keeps on resetting, and the Doctor can always feed it with the same couple of confessions, the Time Lords will never get the confession they want out of him.
    • The Veil doesn't have to forget the previous confessions. It just needs to be programmed to extract a series of unique confessions out of each individual who turns up in the castle, and to acknowledge that each iteration of the Doctor is an individual it hasn't encountered before. That they all look the same and keep blabbing the exact same confessions isn't going to make it deviate from treating each subject in accordance with its mandate.


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