Last year’s Doctor Who fall finale, “The Angels Take Manhattan,” put a capper on the tenure of the Doctor’s then-most-recent companions, Rory and Amy Pond. After a typically convoluted case involving the Weeping Angels, the couple was transported back to — and trapped in — 1930s Manhattan. There was a whole timey-wimey explanation about why the Doctor couldn’t go back and visit them, but the explanation seemed a bit forced for a series that regularly rewrites the rules of time and space to suit its whims. After all, it the problem was the Doctor specifically being unable to return to Manhattan of that era, why couldn’t he just travel back to a different location, same time period, and send the Ponds a letter inviting them to meet him for a picnic or whatever?
As reported by Blogtor Who, a chap named Dan Martin recently posed that very question to Moffat, and actually got a relatively straightforward answer. Not terribly satisfying or convincing one, mind you, but straightforward.
So what would happen if the Doctor and the Ponds met up somewhere other than Manhattan?
New York would still burn. The point being, he can’t interfere. Here’s the ‘fan answer’ — this is not what you’d ever put out on BBC One, because most people watch the show and just think, ‘Well there’s a gravestone so obviously he can’t visit them again’. But the ‘fan answer’ is, in normal circumstances he might have gone back and said, ‘Look we’ll just put a headstone up and we’ll just write the book’. But there is so much scar tissue, and the number of paradoxes that have already been inflicted on that nexus of timelines, that it will rip apart if you try to do one more thing. He has to leave it alone. Normally he could perform some surgery, this time too much surgery has already been performed. But imagine saying that on BBC One!
I can understand the idea of fans wanting a more detailed, “in-canon” explanation than the casual viewer, but Moffat’s answer has the waft of B.S. about it. The show is constantly finding narrative ways around paradoxes, and those “fixed points in time” pretty much only occur when it suits the writers’ needs. I’d respect Moffat more if he would just admit that. “Look, we wanted to give the Ponds a nice exit, so we did this and made this rule.” Even if I still thought in-show explanation was arbitrary and dumb, that honesty would be a lot better than this “Oh, the universe’s rules won’t let him” nonsense.
He’s a bit more candid when asked if the Ponds might ever return in some form, whether via flashbacks or something similar.
You could never eliminate the possibility of dream sequences and flashbacks, but will the Doctor see them again? No. When I was first talking to Karen and Arthur about it, we said ‘Let’s make it the proper ending’. Bringing back things just gives you sequel-itis. Just end it and get out. Heaven knows if they’ll appear in some form of flashback — I have no plans to do that I have to say — but the story of Amy and The Doctor is definitively over.
Doctor Who returns — with a new companion! — on Saturday, March 30th.