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"Doctor Who" The Day of the Doctor (TV Episode 2013) - Plot Summary Poster

(TV Series)

(2013)

Plot

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Summaries

  • In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London's National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion.

    BBC

Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • A police constable walks the beat by the Coal Hill School and passes by a sign advertising "I.M. Foreman, Scrap Merchant". Inside the school, Clara Oswald is giving a lesson. As her students leave, a teacher runs into the classroom informing Clara that her "doctor" called, and left an address. She grabs her helmet and hops on her motorbike. When finally spotting the TARDIS, she drives straight into its open doors. The Doctor, perusing a copy of Advanced Quantum Mechanics, welcomes Clara back with a huge hug. Unexpectedly, the TARDIS takes off without starting the engines.

    Startled, the Doctor looks out to see a helicopter carrying the TARDIS away from the field; it's UNIT. He calls their head of Scientific Research, Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, and learns that he has been summoned to the Tower of London. Kate is surprised to learn that he is on-board the TARDIS, which they thought was empty. She has it and him brought directly to the "scene of the crime". Upon arrival, he is handed sealed orders from Elizabeth I and taken into the National Gallery for proof of her credentials.

    As they walk, the Doctor explains his relationship with UNIT to Clara, who is skeptical of the Doctor having an actual job. They stop in front of an impossible painting, something that belongs neither on Earth nor in 2013; an oil painting in 3-D. It depicts the fall of Arcadia on the last day of the Time War. Kate tells the Doctor that there is some controversy over the work's name. It is either named "No More" or "Gallifrey Falls". The painting is a slice of frozen time, a form of Time Lord art.

    The Doctor is visibly disturbed by the painting. As his old memories awaken, he shares with Clara his darkest secret: the life he has tried to bury for years. There was a past incarnation of the Doctor that fought in the Time War, and made the ultimate decision to eliminate the Daleks and the Time Lords. And it was done on the very day this painting depicts... As the Daleks ravage Arcadia, the Gallifreyans are running in fear. There is little hope of survival. As children cry and the people scream, a soldier messages the High Council of Time Lords: Arcadia has fallen. He looks around and sees the Doctor's TARDIS. Then the elderly voice of The War Doctor asks him for his gun. He carves a message for the warring civilizations to see: NO MORE. The High Commanders gather in the War Room, planning their next moves, with the General dismissing the High Council's upcoming plans "as they have already failed". They receive the Doctor's message, calling him a madman. A Time Lady rushes in to inform the War Council that there has been a breach in the vaults. The most feared and forbidden weapon in the universe is missing: The Moment. The Doctor has stolen it, and intends to use it to end the Time War.

    The Doctor strides across a desolate desert, a burlap sack over his shoulder. He enters a barn-like dwelling, and uncovers a complicated box, covered in gears. While he puzzles over how to open it, he hears a rustling sound. He opens the door and calls out. A girl's voice behind him reassures him that its "just a Wolf". Startled, he turns around: it's Rose Tyler, or at least an entity in her shape. He grabs her arm and throws her out the door, only for her to appear again, sitting on The Moment. She begins questioning the Doctor as to his motives and rationalizations (though it looks like she is making fun of him). Not realizing what she is, he orders her out, and then burns his hand on the box. Impishly, she guides the Doctor to realize that she is the interface of the Moment. She can hear the Doctor's thoughts, and has chosen the form of Rose Tyler/Bad Wolf as a familiar figure from his future. War-weary and bitter, he tells her to stop calling him the Doctor: he has lost the right to bear the title. She replies that he will be the one to save the universe. He explains that the suffering of the universe is too great: he must end it. Like a conscience, she challenges his words and actions, guiding him towards his future. He will destroy the Daleks, but he will also murder his own people. As to how many children on Gallifrey will die, he has no idea. She opens a window in time, to show him the man he will become. A time fissure opens, and a fez falls out.

    Kate explains that Elizabeth left the painting to prove that the orders do come from her. The Doctor breaks the seal and reads her words. "My dearest love: I hope the painting known as Gallifrey Falls will serve as proof that it is your Elizabeth that writes to you now. You will recall that you pledged yourself to the safety of my kingdom. In that capacity, I have appointed you curator of the Under-Gallery, where deadly danger to England is locked away. Should any disturbance occur within its walls, it is my wish that you should be summoned. Godspeed, gentle husband." As Kate leads the Doctor and Clara away, McGillop receives a mysterious phone call. Befuddled, he stares at the painting, wondering why he should move it. DNA detector The Day of the DoctorDing! In England 1562, the Tenth Doctor and Queen Elizabeth I ride out of the TARDIS on horseback, to prove that it really is bigger on the inside. They share a picnic on a hill, after which he proposes marriage. When she joyfully accepts, the Doctor accuses her of being a Zygon. He whips out a "device that goes ding" to prove that she is a shape shifter, before realizing that it was the horse. They run for their lives, the Doctor now an engaged man. They split up in the woods, but Elizabeth is accosted by the Zygon. The Doctor runs through the woods, even threatening a rabbit before he is reunited with Elizabeth. However, a doppelganger of her appears, and he is unable to tell who is who. Suddenly a time fissure appears, and a fez falls through, shocking the Doctor and company.

    Kate welcomes the Doctor and Clara to the Under-Gallery, established by Elizabeth I to house dangerous art. The Doctor notices that the floor is covered in stone dust, and asks Osgood to analyze it (with a triplicate report and lots of graphs). As they walk through the gallery, the Doctor spots a fez and immediately dons it, much to the bemusement of Clara. Kate shows them more 3-D paintings, all landscapes, with the glass covering the floor. The Doctor notes that the glass has been shattered from the inside, and Kate says that they all contained figures, which are now missing. Suddenly, another time fissure opens. Annoyed, the Doctor faintly recalls seeing the fissure before, before realizing that the fez that had fallen through was the fez he was now wearing. Delighted, he throws the fez into the fissure and followed it. Clara tries to follow, but Kate restrains her.

    The Eleventh Doctor falls through the fissure and lands in front of the Tenth. Stunned, he dons the fez himself. The Eleventh pops up and gabbles excitedly about how skinny his predecessor is, which makes the Tenth realize who he is. They incredulously pull out their sonic screwdrivers and compare them. As they begin bickering, the time fissure increases in intensity. The Doctor orders the two Queens to run away. They both kiss the Tenth Doctor and flee. The Eleventh shouts through the funnel to Clara. Hypothesizing that the fissure can go both ways, he tosses his fez in, but it fails to appear in Clara's time. Kate then leaves, to call one of the UNIT members, not noticing a dark shadow behind her.

    The War Doctor picks up the fez and steps into the fissure. Back in 1562, the two Doctors try to reverse the polarity, but the War Doctor falls through, landing in front of his future selves. He jovially greets them, asking after the Doctor and mistaking them for his companions. The two older Doctors simply pull out their sonics, affirming their identity to their younger self. Unimpressed by his future incarnations, the War Doctor asks if he is going through a mid-life crisis.

    Suddenly, they are surrounded by the Queen's soldiers. They are threatened by them, but Clara's voice sounds from the fissure, allowing the Doctors to convince them that she is "The Wicked Witch of the Well". Kate has, at that point, returned to Clara. The Queen returns to the group, implying that her human counterpart is dead. She has them arrested and taken to the Tower of London (the Eleventh loudly hinting for her to take them there). The hint is picked up on by Kate, who takes Clara to the Black Archive to retrieve Jack Harkness' vortex manipulator.

    The Doctors are thrown in a cell with a wooden door. The War Doctor tries to sonic the door, but it fails. The Tenth asks why these three Doctors have been brought together.

    Osgood and McGilop are reading the results of the analysis of the stone dust. The dust is from materials not found in the structure of the building, but statues. Osgood realizes why the statues were smashed: the inhabitants of the paintings needed a hiding place. The Zygons reveal themselves, accost McGilop, and corner Osgood. Osgood prays for the Doctor to save her, but instead of being eaten, she is faced with her duplicate. The Zygon taunts Osgood, but she gains the upper hand by tripping the alien with its own scarf, and runs.

    Kate and Clara enter the Black Archive, housing the most dangerous alien tech recovered by UNIT. Its contents are so top secret that its staff has their memories modified every day. Apparently, this has happened to Clara, as she has already obtained the necessary clearance to enter the archive. They view the Vortex Manipulator, by trying to find the activation code. The Doctor has the code, but he hasn't informed UNIT of it. A scientist phones Kate, and she orders him to take a picture of some numerals (possibly the code) and text it to her. Osgood and McGilop enter the Archive, to Clara's surprise. They and Kate reveal themselves as Zygons. As they prepare to kill Clara, she sees the picture of the numerals on the phone. Taking a desperate gamble, she enters the code and travels to the past.

    The Eleventh Doctor scratches the activation code onto a wall in their cell, while the other two Doctors puzzle out how to escape. The War Doctor proposes an isolated sonic shift in the door molecules in order to disintegrate the door, but the Tenth Doctor rejects the idea, saying it would take centuries to calculate necessary formula. The War Doctor starts bickering with the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, chastising them for their shame of being "grown-up". Subdued, they look at him darkly, reminding him of the day he ended the Time War (unaware that this is that Doctor in the process of making that choice). The Moment reappears, and urges him to ask his future selves the question that he needs to know: How many children were on Gallifrey that day. The Eleventh Doctor claims he doesn't know, and that he's forgotten the events of that day. The Tenth Doctor bitterly states that there were 2.47 billion children that day. The Tenth Doctor has become "the man who regrets" and the Eleventh "the man who forgets". They are the future of the Doctor.

    The Moment reminds the War Doctor that his sonic screwdriver, at the most basic level, is the "same software, different face". They realize that if the War Doctor scans the door and implants it as a permanent subroutine in the screwdriver, it will take 400 years to calculate the formula necessary to disintegrate the door, meaning that the Eleventh Doctor's screwdriver, being essentially the same as the ones before it, has the completed calculation ready. They exuberantly congratulate themselves on their cleverness, before Clara pushes open the door, which has been unlocked the entire time. Clara chastises the three Doctors for being obtuse, and the Queen comes in, telling them that she left the door unlocked the entire time as a test. She takes them down to the Zygons' lair to show them their plan.

    Osgood walks in the halls of the Under-Gallery, before discovering Kate trapped in a Zygon nest. She frees her, but Kate bemoans the fact that the Zygons have control of the Black Archive.

    The Doctors and Clara follow the Queen to the lair, whereupon they discover that the Zygons intend to invade the cushier future in order to establish a new home-world. They therefore have translated themselves into stasis cubes, which are the Time Lord's three-dimensional paintings. They are freezing themselves to escape the primitive time period they are trapped in. The Tenth Doctor tries again to prove that the Queen is the Zygon version, but she reveals (to his mortification) that she is the real Elizabeth: she slew her twin in the forest and took her place as Zygon commander. She calls on the Doctor to save England, but first whisks him away to be married (with his past and future selves as reluctant witnesses, and an enthusiastic Clara). TenGetsMarriedDOTDThe Tenth Doctor marries to Elizabeth.

    The three Doctors and Clara return to the Tenth's TARDIS (with the other two insulting the desktop theme). The three Doctor's presence causes the TARDIS to short a bit, showing the interior of the War Doctor's TARDIS, then finally the most current TARDIS desktop (which also receives an insult). They set sail for the Black Archive. Kate, Osgood, and McGillop confront their doppelgangers in the Black Archive. She threatens to detonate a nuclear warhead in order to protect the planet, and voice-activates it. The Doctor's voice crackles on, begging Kate not to detonate. He tries to land, but the Tower of London is TARDIS-proof. However, they figure out a way to get in. The Doctor calls McGillop in the past, and instructs him to bring the painting to the Black Archive.

    The two Kates fight over the detonation, both needing to agree in order to stop the detonation. Osgood begs the Doctor to save them again, as the Doctors and Clara force their way out of the painting, having frozen themselves in it earlier. The three Doctors hand the Kates an ultimatum: they trigger the memory modifiers to confuse everybody as to whether they are a Zygon or a human. Then, if they stop the detonation and create a peace treaty, they will have their memories restored. Utterly confused over their identities, the Kates stop the detonation and negotiate a treaty. As they hash it out, Clara speaks to the War Doctor. She figured out that he hasn't used The Moment yet, explaining that her Doctor always talked about the day he wiped out the Time Lords. She says that he would do anything to take it back, but the War Doctor remains convinced that his actions will save billions of lives in the future. The Moment has come.

    The Doctor stands in front of the Moment, a big red button to push. The interface questions him once more, trying to convince him of his goodness. He doesn't believe he is worthy of the name "Doctor", losing all hope for himself and his people. The interface reminds him of his hope as his future selves step out of their TARDISes. They join him at The Moment, ready to support the man who was the Doctor more than anybody else. They prepare to push the button together, but Clara tearfully objects. She never pictured the Doctor actually pushing the button, despite the fact that she knew he did it.

    The reality of the Time War projects around them: children crying, innocents suffering. The Doctor could not find another way to end it all, but Clara believes in a different solution. She reminds the Time Lord of who he is: the Warrior, the Hero, and the Doctor. They've had plenty of warriors, and what he will do is a heroic act unto itself. What the universe needs now is a Doctor: never cruel or cowardly, never giving up, never giving in. A new day dawns on Gallifrey: a day of hope.

    A brilliant new idea dawns on the Doctors. The intent of the Moment worked: the Doctor saw the future he needed to see. They change their minds about using the Moment. Instead, they intend to freeze Gallifrey in a moment in time, slipped away in a pocket universe. The Daleks will be exterminated in their own crossfire, and the universe will believe that the two races destroyed each other.

    Another message appears before the High Command: GALLIFREY STANDS. The Doctors race in their TARDISes towards Gallifrey, and transmit themselves in the War Room. Three transmissions, each showing a different Doctor, appear. They explain their plan, their mad plan to save Gallifrey. They position themselves around the planet, and prepare to freeze it through the stasis cubes. The General objects, claiming that the calculations would take centuries, but the Doctor is well prepared for the task. After all, he's had centuries to think about it. 8 and 7 Time WarThe Doctors protect Gallifrey Ten more phone boxes fly around the planet, and all the incarnations of the Doctor come together to save Gallifrey- even a thirteenth incarnation from the Doctor's days yet to come. As the Daleks increase their attack upon seeing the thirteen TARDISes, the High Command gives their blessing, and the Doctors save the planet and the Daleks destroy themselves.

    Back in the National Gallery, they muse on the ambiguity of whether their plan succeeded. The mysterious painting remains an enigma to the Doctors, another thing lost to time. The War Doctor bids a fond farewell to his replacements, who finally address him as "Doctor": a man finally worthy of the title, even if he only knows it briefly. The War Doctor and the Tenth Doctor won't be able to retain the memory of these events until they occur to their Eleventh incarnation. The War Doctor pilots his TARDIS away, noticing that his body has worn thin again. Regeneration energy begins to overtake the War Doctor, but he is not alarmed in the least. He only hopes the change will leave him with less conspicuous ears this time and smiles peacefully as his next regeneration begins.

    The Tenth Doctor questions his successor as to "where they're going"; he relents and reveals that they are destined to die on Trenzalore, in battle. He tells himself that the future is in good hands, and with a smile, he starts to step into his TARDIS, before expressing his desire to change their final destination, stating,"I don't want to go," and then vanishing. With the Eleventh Doctor remarking how "he always says that," smiling reminiscently, remembering his final words before regenerating into his present self. TheCuratorThe Curator of the National Gallery Clara asks the Doctor if he would like to sit to look at the painting for a little while. He smiles, asking how she knew. Clara kisses him on the cheek and tells him that she always knows. As she steps into the TARDIS, she mentions that an old man, possibly the Curator, was looking for him.

    The Doctor muses out loud on the fact that he would be a great curator, and that he could retire and be the Great Curator of the gallery. A very familiar voice affirms this, and the astonished Doctor looks over to see a very familiar face sitting next to him. An old man who greatly resembles the Fourth Doctor speaks to him of the painting, and how its two names are actually one: Gallifrey Falls No More. This mysterious curator reveals that Gallifrey is indeed saved. The Eleventh Doctor has a mission, the mission of a lifetime: he must find Gallifrey and return it and all its people to the universe.

    The Doctor joins his past selves gazing up at the magnificent planet in the sky, determined to save his home once and for all.

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