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Recap / Doctor Who S35 Prequel "The Doctor's Meditation"

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The one where the Doctor digs a well. Repeatedly.
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And drags a whole gaggle of medieval men along for "Lessons In Well-Digging With The Doctor".

This prequel to Series 9 of Doctor Who debuted with the North American 3D theatrical screenings of the Series 8 finale "Dark Water"/"Death in Heaven" on 15 September 2015.

In the previous short "Prologue", the Doctor told Ohila that he was off to "probably meditate on a big rock somewhere" to prepare himself for the final thing he will do in his life, something he must do alone for no one can help him now. An old... acquaintance is sick and wants to see the Doctor, before...

Now in an Earth castle in 1138 Essex, the Doctor is attempting to medititate, but after three hours he feels restless. Deciding better water to drink would aid him, the castlefolk — headed up by Bors, a loyal friend and confidante who regards the Doctor as a magician — and "Sir Doctor" head out to find a source. It takes almost two weeks to find a proper well (owing to the Doctor's faulty dowsing skills) and after that the Doctor can't help but put plans into action for renovations to the castle: a visitor's centre for the well, an expansion to the throne room, etc.

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Thus a total of three weeks pass by the time the Doctor decides he must return to his meditation. He leaves tonight and The Last Dance will reach its end. In the lonely tower the Doctor tries to isolate himself in, Bors — who's known all along the Doctor is scared and desperate for distraction, to avoid this meeting — declares that there will be a joyful revel in the magician's honor to serve as a sendoff, something more fitting to his personality. And at last, he coaxes the Doctor to explain why he is preparing to die.

It all began when the Doctor and the TARDIS, seeking out a bookshop, ended up on a battlefield instead... his last battlefield...


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Tropes:

  • Breather Episode: In the midst of a dark, emotional storyline of the Doctor's last days comes a mostly comic short. As the season that follows does not have any breather episodes, this is the last televised Twelfth Doctor tale to qualify as one until the post-season Christmas Episode "The Husbands of River Song".
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Fork Fencing: See Call-Back above.
  • Framing Device: As the short ends, the tragic event that began the Doctor's march to his doom is being explained by the Doctor to Bors, but the audience only sees the beginning of the anecdote.
  • I Owe You My Life: Bors feels this way about the Doctor, even though... well, see Minor Injury Overreaction below.
  • The Last Dance: The Doctor is in the midst of this.
  • Lighter and Softer: This short is far more comical than the highly emotional finale and Christmas episode at the end of Series 8 and "Prologue", and the unusually jokey attitude of the Doctor is mentioned by Bors. It's all leading into a season premiere two-parter in which the Doctor faces the worst of the worst, and as it turns out, Series 9 will see him face even greater trials than those by the time it's through.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Bors claims the Doctor saved his life, at which the Doctor claims it was only a splinter.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Bors notices that the Doctor is frequently telling jokes and keeping a lighthearted air around him, which he recognizes as a sign that the Doctor is using humour as a coping mechanism for what happened to him recently and his resultant preparations for his death. What exactly that event was is only revealed in full in the next episode.
  • Self-Deprecation: When the Doctor tells Bors he's an idiot, Bors says he already knows.
  • Skewed Priorities: While he is approaching his last days, the Doctor is concerned about the quality of water.

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