Looking Over The Silence Will Fall Arc
John Hussey examines the development of the story arc from Series 5 up to Series 7.
‘Silence will fall’ has been a long, twisted and questionable story arc that has been running since the beginning of Steven Moffat’s reign as Head Writer. It has been a very interesting piece of storytelling, which has created an ongoing plot throughout the last three series, along with creating sub-plots which interact with the main plot, and is set to create even more story-arcs in the near future. Allow me to remind you of that said arc, and share why I like it so much.
The first mention of this arc goes back to the The Eleventh Doctor’s first outing in ‘The Eleventh Hour’ where young Amelia Pond tells him about a crack in her wall. Although if you wanted to be more technical; the very first mention of this arc would be way back in ‘Silence of the Library/Forest of the Dead’ where River Song is first introduced. It was also in that story where River first reveals she knows the Doctor’s name; which left the question of how did that event come about.
The Crack wasn’t just any ordinary crack, but instead turned out to be a crack in Space and Time. After resealing it with his Sonic Screwdriver, the Doctor thought he had seen the last of it; he was dead wrong. These cracks would then, without the Doctor’s awareness at first, begin popping up across the universe and time. It was certainly an interesting and suspenseful idea for a first stage within the story-arc. It created many questions and left our minds thinking of the possible dangers that were just around the corner.
The question that built up, after the Doctor’s encounter with the one in the Byzantium, what was creating the Cracks? The only thing the Doctor figures out at this point was that the explosion which causes the Cracks happens in Amy’s time; the day of her wedding. He would later go on to discover, after his encounter with the Silurians, that the cause to the explosion is in fact his own TARDIS. When the Doctor found out about this discovery, I was left in complete shock. The impact of this revelation was perfect in building up the story’s suspense and thrills.
Another ongoing thread within the arc was the mentioning of a certain object, known only as the Pandorica. This was first mentioned by Prisoner Zero in ‘The Eleventh Hour’ and later foreshadowed by River Song in ‘Flesh and Stone’ as their next encounter together. It is revealed in ‘The Pandorica Opens’ to be a mystical prison which contains the greatest of all evil and every villain and monster the Doctor has ever faced wishes to get their hands on it. This message derives from a painting by Vincent van Gogh which foreshadows the TARDIS explosion.
It turns out the Pandorica is a massive trap set up by the Doctor’s enemies to imprison him in order to prevent him destroying the universe. This doesn’t work, as whatever is truly behind the Cracks, controls the TARDIS to land back in Amy’s time and begins the chain-reaction towards the end of the universe. Then due to a Timey-Wimey set of circumstances, the Doctor manages to free himself from the Pandorica and he and his companions prevent the universes destruction by creating a secondary Big Bang via flying the Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS.
The massive question of the hour was: What is the Silence? We never actually saw or found out what exactly that phrase meant. All we could gather was that it was some kind of species, via the taunts of Prisoner Zero, the Weeping Angels and Rosanna Calvierri’s encounter with them, and for some reason they wished to cause the Time Cracks to destroy the universe. It was also assumed that the voice inside the TARDIS was also that of the mysterious Silence. But as the Doctor stated, whatever it was that caused the Cracks was still out there, perhaps waiting for their next chance….
In ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ we were thrown into the deep end as the next stage of the complicated and brilliant arc began. The Doctor from the future sends out four TARDIS blue envelops with date and map references to his most trusted friends and then meets up in Utah where they go to Lake Silencio. Little do they know this is the Doctor’s fixed death at the hands of the Astronaut. This was certainly a surprise turn of events and something I wasn’t expecting at all. It opened a wealth of new questions which would keep us all in suspense for the remaining twelve stories of 2011. Then the present-day Doctor arrives to complete a task set down by his future-self (which he doesn’t know about). They then go to 1969 Washington DC to find a man called Canton Delaware III, after they met his older self at the Doctor’s death, and discover a task set by President Nixon to find a mysterious girl who keeps phoning him.
The next interesting part comes in the appearance of the Silence, who have come out of the shadows into the frontal line of the attack. It is revealed they possess the power to wipe people’s memory of their existence upon looking away and can actually influence their minds through hypnotic suggestion. The creatures have been manipulating mankind since the dawn of time and are making them travel to the Moon all for the sake of gaining a spacesuit for their own sinister deeds.
It is also revealed that the child is inside the suit and for some reason has a photograph of Amy holding her as a baby. The child later escapes the Silence and months later regenerates in the streets of New York. This was in many ways the ultimate cliffhanger as it left us with one massive question mark above our heads. The Doctor then defeats the Silence but is then left pondering on whether or not Amy is actually pregnant as the TARDIS monitor can’t determine. Meanwhile, Amy worries about the Doctor’s fate and whether or not he should know about it. Questions and worries lied on both sides, which was an interesting character development for both Amy and the Doctor. Amy wanted to tell her best friend the truth, wondering in doubt about whether she has the right, while the Doctor shows off his manipulative side with his own god complex.
We learnt in ‘The Almost People’ that the Doctor has known for some time that Amy is in fact a Ganger, a clone created to disguise the fact that the real Amy is a prisoner on Demons Run. Madame Kovarian, a mysterious woman seen by Amy throughout the first half, turns out to be a servant of the Silence. She employs the Clerics and the Headless Monks as a mighty army to help combat the Doctor. But nothing can stop the rage of a Time Lord. He and his army take over Demons Run, but not without certain sacrifices, namely the loss of Melody Pond: the Ponds baby. They took Amy for the purpose of kidnapping her child, due to being born on the TARDIS, and to create a Time Lady who will become the perfect assassin to kill the Doctor. This assassin grows up to become River Song. This became a very interesting turn of events, showing off the dark nature of the Doctor’s warrior powers and how high and mighty he has become. It also showcases that these powers have consequences which harm those around him, and in doing so has put in motion the events that lay before him.
The ‘silence will fall’ arc then goes on to explain the origins of River Song. She is developed as the ultimate assassin to kill the Doctor, which upon their meeting in Berlin she almost succeeds but is unable to due to her sudden love interest in the mysterious mad man with a box. It also explains that after her regeneration in New York, she went on to find her parents as children and potentially had them looking after her and raising her like a daughter. Eventually young Melody, nicknamed Mel, creates the ultimate paradox by creating her own future by getting her parents together in the first place. The Silence return for River and force her into the Astronaut suit in order to kill the Doctor at his fixed death in time. She is unable to kill him, but after the Doctor whispers a certain word to her in an alternative reality – created due to his survival – River finally finishes her programming and kills the man she has fallen in love with. It was during their encounter in Berlin where the Doctor first met the Teselecta and discovered the truth behind his companions’ secrets; he was destined to die.
The Doctor discovers that the Silence is a religious order who believe ‘silence will fall’ when the First Question is answered. From then on his future was set in stone and due to his concerns and worries, he decided to send Amy and Rory back home where they would be safe. The Doctor then travelled the universe for 200 years as a sort of farewell tour before having one final adventure with his old friend Craig Owens. At the end of his battle with the Cybermen, Craig gave him the Stetson he wore in ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ and he also took with him the blue envelopes which were used to give his friends the message.
Before going to Lake Silencio, the Doctor decides to investigate the meaning behind his fixed death. After killing a Dalek, he receives information about a member of the religion who turns out to be the Teselecta in disguise. Through the Captain of the robot, the Doctor visits Gantok and bribes information out of him via a live game of chest. This leads the Doctor to visiting Dorium, who was last seen being beheaded by the Headless Monks at Demons Run. Dorium tells him all about the First Question, with the Silence wishing this question to remain unanswered by silencing the one man who knows that said answer. This knowledge frightens the Doctor into running away again but then the sad news about his old friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart dying forces him to give in to his fate.
After the long and twisting events of ‘The Wedding of River Song’ it is discovered that the Doctor has in fact cheated his fate by hiding inside of the Teselecta. He remains alive while the rest of the universe, including the Silence, believes him to be dead. I thought this revelation was truly brilliant and well presented and executed. Again, like most of the arc, I didn’t see this coming and it certainly left a massive opening for the next stage within the story. Dorium then warns him about the events that will now surely follow because of his inference with the course of history; on the Fields of Trenzalore he will face the First Question – the question he has been running away from all of his life: Doctor Who?
Series 7 and Beyond
It was shown at the end of ‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’ that the Doctor finally gained the guts to return to the Ponds and show them that he is still alive. This was a sweet and tender moment, and it just showed how much the Doctor cared for his companions and just how much they care for him. After all, they did state they kept laying a place for him at the dinner table every Christmas since his disappearance.
Upon the Doctor’s return in ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ it is established that he has been living in the shadows, hiding himself from existence. After being brought back into the light, he is assigned by his old enemy the Daleks to infiltrate the Asylum in order to destroy it and all the insane inmates within. The conclusion resulted in his enemy forgetting about their greatest enemy, due to Oswin’s computer genius, and the Doctor once more slipped back into the shadows. One of the side effects of his lonely travelling results in his release of aggression and dark nature – seen quite clearly in his actions of causing the death of Solomon and then forcing Kahler Jex out of Mercy and threatening him with a gun.
Now that the Ponds have been exiled from his life permanently, the Doctor has many things he must now face along with his new companion Clara, who arrives at Christmas. The Fields of Trenzalore and the Question await for him somewhere in the future. And also, it won’t be long until the Silence discovers that the Doctor is actually still alive and will return to once more in an attempt to silence his answer once and for all.