So, now that it seems to have been confirmed that Matt Smith is, indeed, the Thirteenth Doctor, that leaves us with the question of The Valeyard. Now, I say “seems to have been confirmed” because if Rule No 1 is that The Doctor lies, surely Rule No 2 is that Moffat lies, so I’ll continue to take everything I hear with a pinch of salt until Christmas Day. Nevertheless, if the Meta Crisis Doctor does count as an incarnation for the sake of calculating the correct number of regenerations and incarnations then that means that The Valeyard needs to be accounted for.
Of course, we could call “timey wimey” on it all and say that The Doctor’s efforts to avoid becoming The Valeyard were successful and so he never happened. That’s an entirely valid explanation, but it’s not much fun. So I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve come up with a little theory that might just have become a new bit of personal headcanon…at least until it’s flatly contradicted by the show itself.
So what do we know about The Valeyard? In The Ultimate Foe The Master tells us, “There is some evil in all of us, Doctor – even you. The Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say you do not improve with age.” To be even more specific, in the novelization of the same story he says, “The Valeyard, Doctor, is your penultimate reincarnation… Somewhere between your twelfth and thirteenth regeneration.” It’s safe to assume, I think, that at the time of The Ultimate Foe The Master would have fully believed that The Doctor was limited to only twelve regenerations and therefore thirteen incarnations, even though we can be fairly sure that as of The Time of The Doctor his life will be extended beyond that (unless The Doctor, as we know him, truly dies, and some other Time Lord played by Peter Capaldi takes on that title, which is entirely possible). My point here being that The Valeyard exists between his Twelfth and Thirteenth incarnations.
Now, The Doctor’s twelfth incarnation, if what we’re being told is correct, is the Meta Crisis Doctor and his Thirteenth incarnation is the current Doctor, player by Matt Smith. It was always assumed that The Valeyard would be some kind of transitional form that he would pass through after the Twelfth Doctor “died” but before he regenerated into the Thirteenth Doctor, but, of course, the Thirteenth Doctor regenerated from the Eleventh Doctor (the first of two incarnations played by David Tennant) and not the Twelfth Doctor, so that rules that one out. So…who or what is The Valeyard?
This is my theory…my little headcanon. You’re not going to like it. Remember what The Doctor said about the Meta Crisis Doctor in Journey’s End?
DOCTOR: But you’ve got to. Because we saved the universe, but at a cost. And the cost is him. He destroyed the Daleks. He committed genocide. He’s too dangerous to be left on his own.
NEW DOCTOR: You made me.
DOCTOR: Exactly. You were born in battle, full of blood and anger and revenge. Remind you of someone? That’s me, when we first met. And you made me better. Now you can do the same for him.
ROSE: But he’s not you.
DOCTOR: He needs you. That’s very me.
Even without committing genocide against The Daleks the, now, Eleventh Doctor went on to become the Time Lord Victorious, the Twelfth Doctor is the same man but he is full of blood and anger and revenge. The Eleventh Doctor believes that Rose can save him, she can help him in the same way that she helped the Eleventh Doctor…who…still became the Time Lord Victorious despite that. Do you see where I’m going with this?
So, here’s my theory…the Twelfth Doctor is trapped in this alternate universe with Rose, and she’s supposed to help him, save him. Maybe she does, for a time, maybe they’re happy together, they settle down, get married, maybe Rose becomes pregnant with their child…and then she dies. But she’s not killed by Daleks or Cybermen, she doesn’t die a heroic death, saving the world, she doesn’t go out in a blaze of glory…she gets hit by a car. Just like her dad. It’s a stupid, arbitrary, pointless, accidental death. The Twelfth Doctor, this man born in battle, full of blood, anger and revenge, loses everything, his wife, his unborn child, for no reason, just a random, pointless, twist of fate. There’s nothing he could have ever done to stop it. And at that point he breaks. He remembers the words they spoke to each other all those years ago, again, in Journey’s End…
NEW DOCTOR: I look like him and I think like him. Same memories, same thoughts, same everything. Except I’ve only got one heart.
ROSE: Which means?
NEW DOCTOR: I’m part human. Specifically, the ageing part. I’ll grow old and never regenerate. I’ve only got one life, Rose Tyler. I could spend it with you, if you want.
ROSE: You’ll grow old at the same time as me?
NEW DOCTOR: Together.
And so he chooses to end it all. After all, he believes that he can’t regenerate, he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, and now she’s gone, he can’t bear to carry on. So that’s what he does, he takes his own life…but he’s wrong…that part of him that was born in battle, that part of him that’s full of blood and anger and revenge wants to carry on…he’s wrong…he can regenerate and he does regenerate, not into The Doctor, because that man could never be The Doctor, but into The Valeyard. All he wants is revenge, revenge against the man who did this to him…himself. He dedicates himself to finding a way back into our reality, to finding The Doctor and doing everything he can to make sure that he never meets Rose Tyler. That’s who The Valeyard is.