God is in the Detail

God is in the detail (10-01)

Greetings, fellow Whovians! Welcome to Conspiracy Theory 101. This week, we’re taking a look at ‘The Pilot’ – superficially a thoughtful, crowd-pleasing character piece that wasn’t about anything except getting a couple of people together and giving them a chance to get to know each other.

But you and I both know that’s not what’s really going on.

Because the indisputed fact is that contemporary Doctor Who is absolutely loaded with hidden signs and clues and seemingly insignificant moments that will turn out to be VERY IMPORTANT LATER ON. We know this because the chief writer has designed it this way and because the internet says so. Still, collecting all these nuggets of information and analysing them and finding the hidden truths is a soul-crushingly lengthy process. Honestly, who has the time?

Me, as it turns out. So pull up a chair, open the Kool-Aid and let’s unpack it together, baby. Just make sure you don’t knock over anything fragile because all breakages must be paid for.

First, let’s take a look at those essay scores. Here they are stacked up for ease of reference.

88 and 92 first, because they both feature Daleks: 1988 marks, as everyone knows, the inaugural broadcast of ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ – and 1992, some four years later, saw the release of Dalek Attack, the side-scrolling platform game featuring several Doctors taking on a horde of Daleks. Hence we must conclude that the contractual obligation Dalek scene in ‘The Pilot’ WILL NOT BE THE LAST TIME WE SEE THEM THIS YEAR and that the Doctor is RETURNING TO TOTTERS LANE TO RETURN HIS LIBRARY BOOK.

But what of 1997? Does it refer to Destiny of the Doctors, the first-person game released in December of that year? Yes, it does. But not just that. To understand why, we must first unpack some of the episode’s other gems – basically, I’ll explain later.

Moving on for the moment: Christmas dinner.

Oh, there’s so much in this one it practically deserves its own entry. I mean look at those bookshelves. Look carefully. You see it, don’t you? It’s a stroke of genius, and I can’t believe the Radio Times didn’t spot it.

I thought it best to annotate this, rather than pick it apart in the text, so here we are.

Exhausted? Well, tough. Come on, we’ve got so much time and so little to examine. No, strike that. Reverse it.

Right, onwards.

Yeah, you spotted that too, didn’t you? The Doctor’s history with the Mary Celeste is well-documented, of course, with various incarnations encountering the ship – whether carrying passengers or bereft as the legend suggests – at different times. There’s probably even fan fiction, and I bet it includes Jamie and Zoe having a snog up in the crow’s nest.

But that’s not what’s going on here. This is about words. Because ‘Mary Celeste’ can be rearranged to form ‘Mel Ace Tyres’. In other words, the Twelfth Doctor and Bill will shortly be encountering former companions Melanie Bush and Dorothy ‘Ace’ McShane, both of whom travelled (in succession) with the Seventh Doctor and who have now established a successful tyre company in Streatham. THIS CANNOT POSSIBLY BE ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE.

Now, here’s the girl in the puddle.

This is a 14-sided object (don’t believe me? Count for yourself), thus referring to the thirteen canonical Doctors, including the War Doctor. But who is the fourteenth? Does it refer to the Doctor’s imminent successor? As it turns out the answer is no – it refers instead to the Valeyard. We know this because the puddle is located in a yard, and ‘vale’ ought to be fairly obvious.

What do you mean it isn’t?

In order to explain this we must delve into the world of Scottish folk – in particular the song ‘Wild Mountain Thyme‘, also known as ‘Purple Heather’. The connections to Who are transparent: Heather is seen wearing a purple top encrusted with flowers in the scene where she first meets Bill, and Prince – whose T-shirt, it has oft been noted, Bill has been observed wearing – titled one of his songs ‘Purple Rain’.

But there’s more to it than that, and it all links to 1997 – a year we explored earlier without ever really explaining why.

Consider:

1. Thyme grows among the Heather.

2. Bill is given photos of her mum.

3. Comedian Tim Minchin has a daughter called Violet, a form of purple.

4. Bill meets Heather in a bar – or a pub, or an inn.

5. 1997 – a year we’ve already mentioned – saw the release of Shooting Fish, which features ‘Neighbourhood’, a song by Space, on its soundtrack.

Still not with me?

I swear; sometimes I impress even myself.

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God is in the detail (10-X)

klf

It’s a good week for conspiracy theories. Nibiru is supposed to be returning. And the KLF – those enlightened Illuminati-conncted tricksters – have announced they’re planning something. Sort of. They’re not calling themselves the KLF these days, nor indeed was this anything other than a five-minute fad when viewed within the context of a thirty-year career. Still, they’re back, and thus there is much rejoicing.

But never mind that. We’re here to talk about ‘The Return of Doctor Mysterio’.

Christmas specials may be accessible, but that doesn’t mean they have to be simple. As is customary under Moffat’s reign, the latest episode of Doctor Who is in fact positively crammed full of IMPORTANT SIGNS AND CLUES that will be HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT later on. The problem is that most casual fans lack the time and the ability to decode them. Luckily you have me. So let’s unpack this treasure trove of layered meaning and find out what’s really going to happen in series 10, shall we?

I’ll start here.

mysterio_detail_1

There are precisely 24 columns of jars in this image – each column containing three jars, totalling 72. You’ll be aware by now if you’ve been following this series that these numbers are never just a coincidence – and in this case it all points to the Seventh Doctor.

How may we infer that from this image? The use of 24 columns is a big giveaway, given that season 24 is the Seventh Doctor’s first. Moreover, 72 refers to the 72nd story in the canon, ‘Death To The Daleks’ – which, despite being a Third Doctor story, eerily foreshadows the Seventh Doctor’s destruction of Skaro in ‘Remembrance’, some 14 years later. (Tangentially, if we substract 14 from 24 we are left with 10, and we may thus infer that this will all be connected with a returning appearance from David Tennant – but we’ll come back to that when we explore one of the other images.)

The C-shape this forms is actually a whopping great red herring, because what you actually need to do is turn it on its side.

mysterio_detail_1a

Viewed from this angle it is obviously a horseshoe. Horses were ridden by the Cheetah People in the last televised Doctor Who story of the 1980s, which (not so coincidentally) starred the Seventh Doctor.

It is also worth noting that in order to acquire this particular viewpoint it is necessary to tilt your head on one side. THIS IS NOT A COINCIDENCE. The other recent villain known to adopt this perspective is the Family of Blood. Which, by the way, featured in a Tenth Doctor story.

cheetah-family

How many jars are featured in each column in that first image? Three. And what do you get if you subtract Seven from Ten? I’ll just leave the colossal implications of that dangling there for a moment, because we must speak of them in hushed tones. THEY ARE NOT TRIVIALITIES.

We’ll come back to the Tenth Doctor later but in the meantime let’s have a look at this.

mysterio_detail_4

There’s that number again: 24. Specifically story 4 in series 2, ‘Dragonfire’, which introduced Sophie Aldred, WHO ALSO RODE A HORSE IN ‘SURVIVAL’ AND HELPED THE DALEKS BLOW UP SKARO AND WHO APPEARED IN TREE-FU TOM OPPOSITE DAVID TENNANT.

I know. Mind blown, right?

The column of green lights on the right of the screen ought to be self-explanatory, referring as they do to the twelve canonical Doctors (and omitting John Hurt) and leaving room for a further nine, making the BBC’s long term plan for Doctor Who as transparent as if they’d organised for it to be leaked by one of those ‘sources close to the show’. But what are we to make of the mysterious ‘tx’? Could it refer to the TX witnessed in the third Terminator film? The postal code for Texas, indicating a possible Doctor Who / Preacher crossover?

Now, that I’d watch. The truth, sadly, is far less spectacular, although it is still highly significant: it refers, instead, to the Tsukuba Express, the Japanese railway line linking Tokyo and Tsukuba. Launched in 2005 – the same year Doctor Who returned, which is not a coincidence – the route follows twenty stations, but it’s the name itself which causes most intrigue. Because the words ‘Akihabara and Tsukuba Station’ may also be reformed to make ‘AA! AA! AA! SKITTISH ABBOT UNDRUNK!’, which is an indication that PHILIP MORRIS HAS BEEN LYING TO US AND THEY HAVE ALREADY FOUND ‘THE MASSACRE OF ST BARTHOLOMEW’S EVE’.

sushi

We also might point out that ‘The Return of Doctor Mysterio’ directly foreshadows this early in the episode when we observe the Doctor eating sushi (seen above). Although we might also conclude that its sudden disappearance when he’s walking down the stairs indicates the return of the Crack In Time. But that would be silly, and as everyone who reads this column is aware, I don’t do silly.

Now, take a look at Lucy’s kitchen.

mysterio_detail_3

It’s those mugs on the counter you want to be examining. Note the striking multi-coloured design (favouring red) on the left and the plaid on the right. And you’d be forgiven, at first glance, for assuming that this was a reference to ‘The Two Doctors’. I mean, it’s obvious.

twodocs

But as is traditional with these multi-layered shots, the true meaning is hidden until you look closer. Note the proximity of that red mug to the toaster. Note also that the mug can be seen reflected in the surface of the toaster, and that THE SEVENTH DOCTOR LOATHES BURNT TOAST. Conclusion? We are going to revisit the Sixth Doctor’s regeneration story, only this time it will be televised in the form of a flashback experienced by the Twelfth. How do I know this? Consider the spoon dipped into the Sixth Doctor’s mug – the Twelfth Doctor’s weapon of choice, and the Seventh’s favoured musical instrument.

The other mug confirms this theory, given that it contains a cryptic reference to Spaceballs.

spaceballs-plaid

The Doctor Who connection ought to be transparent: it’s Bill Pullman, last seen in series four of Torchwood. And any fan will tell you that this was also the last time we saw Jack – apart from The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, in which John Barrowman drives the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors from London to Cardiff. In doing so, he evicts David Tennant’s daughter from the car. From this we may IRREVOCABLY AND UNAMBIGUOUSLY CONCLUDE that next year’s Christmas special will feature a cameo by the Tenth Doctor, in the company of Jack.

Finally, this.

mysterio_detail_5

Oh, there’s so much to unpack in here we barely have time. The most transparent of references is the Third Doctor story that’s playing at the cinema on the left hand side. (You will note also the proximity of the American flag, sticking out of the wall like the entrance to an embassy, and that ambassadors played a crucial role in this story.)

The references to ‘The Mind of Evil’ are reflected in the pizzeria across the street – owned and presumably operated by someone named Joe, a direct reference to the Third Doctor’s companion, both in ‘Mind’ and a great many others. But it’s the club in the middle that caught my eye, given that ‘The Missing’ is a CLEAR AND DIRECT reference to ‘The Lost’, the final episode of Class. If you’ve seen that, you’ll be aware that a familiar face pops up, and we may thus conclude that even if Class doesn’t get a second series they will continue that story here, using New York (or possibly the moon, which is prominently featured) as a location.

But it’s the pink that got me. Could it refer to Danny Pink, perhaps, who played a small but important role in ‘Kill The Moon’? Is it a reference to the Pink Ladies from Grease, indicating that there will at some point be a scientology episode, with John Travolta starring? We can only hope. But the answer, when it hit me, was like a bolt from the purple. Because I suddenly remembered where I’d seen a pink TARDIS.

happiness_patrol_pink_tardis

Oh, lucky Seven. It always comes back to you.

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God is in the detail (9-11)

Let me deliver some news first: unless there happens to be anything catastrophically important in ‘Hell Bent’, this will be my last God is in the Detail entry of the year. I simply can’t keep up the pace. It’s Christmas in three weeks, for crying out loud. I haven’t wrapped a single present or written a single card. If I don’t get engaged with it soon we’re going to have a big fat pile of unpeeled chestnuts on Christmas Eve and everyone is going to be miserable. And I’d rather save the misery for Christmas Day itself, thank you very much.

You will have to look elsewhere for your conspiracy theories. The Radio Times, for example. Did anyone else read that story about the secret message? You know, the one on the wall? This one?

Heaven_Detail (5)

(I borrowed this image from the RT article; the arrows are nifty. I may steal that for next year.)

Anyway, the text reads:

As you come into this world,
something else is also born.
You begin your life
and it begins a journey.
Towards you.
Wherever you go.
Whatever path you take.
It will follow.
You will notice a second shadow next to yours.
Your life will then be over.

[Engage Double Rainbow guy voice mode] But WHAT DOES IT MEEEEEEEANNN???? [/voice mode off]

“TWO SHADOWS?” comments Chris Wilkinson (who, I suspect is a kindred spirit) in the Radio Times article’s comments section. “IS THIS A RIVER EASTER EGG?”. To which I say good try, Chris, but clearly not. No, it’s an unambiguous reference to Shadow Weaver, the shrouded sorcerer from She-Ra: Princess of Power. 

shadow_weaver_by_nightwing1975-d5h8n5v

How do we know this? Well, simply because we can rearrange ‘Hordak, Catra, Clawdeen’ to ‘Accord hate, warn Dalek’. I mean, there it is, folks. It doesn’t get much more concrete.

Some of the clues in ‘Heaven Sent’ aren’t visual. You remember that montage they stuck in the last few minutes whereby two billion years pass while the Doctor beats his way through the wall of Handwavium? Well, it’s a clue. You’re not just supposed to sit there and take it all in, you know. You have to be listening. And luckily for you, I’ve dug out all the Doctor’s battlement observations (you remember, when he looks up at the stars and says “If I didn’t know better, I’d say I’ve travelled seven thousand years into the future”, while we were all shouting at him to watch out for the approaching Veil). And here are the numbers he mentions:

7000
7000
12000
600000
1200000
2000000
20000000
52000000
1000000000
1000000000 (or well over)
2000000000

(For clarification of all these, I am indebted – as ever – to Chrissie’s Transcripts. She had a hell of a job with this one, and she did it brilliantly.)

Anyway. If we add all these together, we get this:

4075825000

But what does it mean? It turns out to be a telephone number. A Whitepages lookup only gives us very scant information, but does reveal that its owner is based in Orlando, Florida. Which ostensibly means nothing at all, until we remember Orlando: A Biography, a novel by Virginia Woolf in which the titular Orlando lives for hundreds of years and has a sex change halfway through.

And what can we glean from this?

– The Doctor’s next series will feature an adventure in Disneyworld
– He will encounter rogue CIA agents (whose headquarters are in Langley, Virginia)
– Billie Piper will appear in her raggedy costume
– THE NEXT DOCTOR WILL BE A WOMAN

Further proof – as if any were needed – may be acquired by rearranging the words ‘VIRGINIA WOOLF WROTE ORLANDO: A BIOGRAPHY’ into ‘LANGLEY WIFI AGGRAVATION – BORROW HOOD OR PI?’, which refers to so many episodes it would take more time than we have to unpack them, but you know what I mean.

Next:

9_11 Heaven_Detail (3)

[tumbleweed]

OK, I’m lost. I’m sure this has some sort of significance but it’s gone. Sorry. Please leave your thoughts on it below, if you have any.

Let’s take a look at something else.

9_11 Heaven_Detail (1)

I mean, here’s the Doctor, in the middle of his own prison, looking carelessly at a monitor and HOLY SHIT IT’S THE TARDIS.

No, it is. Seriously. Look, it’s even got a candelabra just above it to simulate the light on the top. The only difference is the number of windows. Three windows. As if to represent…I don’t know, three TARDISes?

Day_Tardis

Finally:

9_11 Heaven_Detail (4)

The numbers. Look at the numbers. 17 and 46 may be combined to form 1746, the year in which ‘The Highlanders’ took place, and the year to which Jamie was returned at the end of ‘The War Games’ with his memory erased – an act, by the way, perpetrated BY THE TIME LORDS. Also note that the Doctor is pointing towards the number 7 with his thumb – referring, of course, not to the Seventh Doctor, but the seventh episode of season 17, part three of ‘City of Death’, WHICH FEATURES THUMBSCREWS.

102 clearly refers to ‘Golden Death’, part of The Daleks’ Master Plan – Daleks got a mention above, and the word on the street is that we’ll see them in the series finale. But Golden Death is also an obvious nod to Jill Masterson’s violent death at the beginning of Goldfinger – a film that co-starred Honor Blackman, WHO APPEARED ALONGSIDE THE SIXTH DOCTOR IN THE TRIAL OF A TIME LORD STORY ARC. And what happens in this week’s story? Well, if you’ve seen the Next Time bit you’ll have already joined the dots and maybe started doodling round the edges of the page and adding a little moustache to the plumber you’ve drawn so that he looks a bit like Mario. Anyway, it all means I get to post this again.

Baked Alaska

 

Only a true Gryffindor could have pulled that out of the hat, Harry.

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God is in the detail (9-10)

Edward’s had a birthday this week and I have a service to finish planning and I’m rather short on time, but I have spared as many hours as I could to bring you the latest installment of VERY IMPORTANT CLUES AND SIGNS in ‘Face The Raven’, in advance of tomorrow’s episode. I’m sure you’re all inundated with Black Friday emails and don’t want to spend a lot of time reading, so let’s get on, shall we?

First: this image.

9-10 Raven Detail (5)

The smaller circles are red herrings (more on the colour red later): it is the larger one that we need to examine. It resembles a vinyl disc, but for the sake of the argument we need to assume it’s a clock. Note the presence of lines that refer to ‘Day of the Doctor’ and the minisodes that surrounded it:

9-10 Raven Detail (5b)

As a purely ephemeral point, while the outer circles do not in themselves allude to anything specifically Whovian, the image as a whole does chart the development of recorded music, from the vinyl record to the CD (bottom right) and finally digital downloads (the dots in the remaining circle CLEARLY AND UNAMBIGUOUSLY referring to fragmented sectors on a hard drive). And all in the space of a second or two. What other microcosmic technological histories are contained in other episodes? Shall we do a series? We might, in the new year. I’ll tell you, you’re lucky you have me to fish this stuff out.

Next:

9-10 Raven Detail (1)

This has a number of connections to the Tenth Doctor, but also his immediate predecessor. It helps if we know that episode 526 of Doctor Who was part one of ‘The Leisure Hive’. First, there’s that word ‘Hive’ – an image which calls to mind the bees that the Doctor and Donna follow in ‘The Stolen Earth’. Also of note: ‘The Leisure Hive’ begins in Brighton, or Bright On, which is what happens in ‘Journey’s End’ when Donna becomes a super-genius (for about ten minutes) when she touches a glowing hand. Now look at the image scan of Riggsy on the monitor, in which assorted body parts highlighted with circles. The thighs are highlighted – we may rearrange ‘Thigh’ to ‘High T’, which occurs in Agatha Christie’s home (offscreen) during the events of ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’.

However, in order to unpack this fully, we must look at the number 526 in a different light. Note the presence of the HEXagon in the middle of the column of Gallifreyan symbols, and recall that Thomas Hector Schofield – Hex for short – travelled with the Seventh Doctor, and that we may obtain the number 7 by combining the digits 5 and 2, as shown on the right hand side of the screen.

What does all this mean? Well, if we examine the lyrics of Tim Rice, we find the following:

“All you will see is a girl you once knew
Although she’s dressed up to the NINES
At SIXES and SEVENS with you”

This, as any musical aficionado will tell you, is from ‘Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina’, and from this we may UNAMBIGUOUSLY CONCLUDE that the next series will feature an episode in South America. With the Ninth Doctor. Oh, and Jonathan Pryce was in the film version of Evita. I’m just saying.

Here’s Clara, Riggsy and the Doctor on the streets of London.

9-10 Raven Detail (4)

Note that the sign points to several places: The City, the West End, Holborn and the Marble Arch. The fact that it is a young woman, or a GIRL, standing underneath the sign, is CLEARLY SIGNIFICANT, instantly calling to mind ‘West End Girls’, a song by the Pet Shop Boys. Lest we forget, David Tennant chose his stage name from frontman Neil, and thus THIS IS ALL CONNECTED WITH THE TENTH DOCTOR.

But it goes further. Holborn features heavily in ‘The Web of Fear’, while the Sixth Doctor finds the remnants of Marble Arch in ‘The Mysterious Planet’. Combining these two episodes with ‘City of Death’ and rearranging them slightly, we get ‘Demystify The Web Planet. Fear Her? Hotfoot, suit! Ace!’, which implies the THE IMMINENT RETURN OF THE ZARBI, AND SOPHIE ALDRED.

Finally, look at the large letter ‘C’ in a red circle. The Red Sea is an expanse of water sandwiched between Sudan and Saudi Arabia, and is indicated by the red marker on this map.

Red_Sea

Which, of course, means absolutely nothing until we do this.

Red_Sea_2

Oh – and that’s the ELEVENTH Doctor’s screwdriver. Just saying.

Last image of the week; we won’t dwell on it for long. But look in particular at the highlighted words.

9-10 Raven Detail (2)

Yes, well. I think that tells you everything you need to know, right?

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God is in the detail (9-9)

Can you hear me? Right. Good. Important announcement: DO NOT READ THIS. You cannot unsee it. Insanity lies therein. It’s too late for me. I’m seeing patterns everywhere, and they haunt my dreams like images of childhood bullies and doing the school run stark naked. You still have a chance. Get out now, while you still can. Before it’s too late.

First, congratulations are in order to Chris Kibbey, for being the only person to take a public stab at last week’s homework – getting it absolutely correct into the bargain. The answer, as I’m sure you all know by now, is ‘START PAIN NOW LATER’, which is a clear and direct reference to the upcoming ‘Face the Raven’, in which it is looking increasingly likely that Clara will die, and which – according to Capaldi – is set to be “sad over a number of weeks”. Furthermore, having broken the cipher, we may rearrange the letters of this message to form ‘AIRPLANE TWATS TORN’, which hearkens back to the events of ‘Death In Heaven’. Obviously.

Anyway, well done Chris, and having dealt with this we may now move on to look at ‘Sleep No More’. There were the usual abundance of CRYPTIC BUT IMPORTANT messages hidden in assorted visual clues, but we start with one of those crew-identifying close-ups.

9_9 Sleep Detail (3)

First, look at the dots beneath Nagata’s 8/10 survival rating. Eight solid red, each corresponding to the first eight canonical Doctors. The subsequent black represents both the War Doctor and also the Valeyard, and we may therefore conclude that the Doctor will spend the series finale tussling once more with his darker self, before meeting up once more with John Hurt.

However: Nagata shares her name with Nagata Acoustics – which “provides comprehensive consulting to achieve the proper balance among architectural, acoustical, visual stage and other space requirements”, and which has offices operating out of Los Angeles, Paris and Tokyo. Of note: Los Angeles was visited by the Eleventh Doctor (‘The Doctor and the Nurse’), the Tenth Doctor visited Tokyo with Martha (‘Operation Lock-up’) and the Fourth Doctor famously hung out in Paris in ‘City of Death’. Note that the actors for ALL THREE DOCTORS appeared in ‘Day of the Doctor’. Figure that one out.

Now examine this:

9_9 Sleep Detail (1)

Once more, dots are the key. Each of the red dots on the visual display on the left corresponds to a different Doctor, thus forming a central chain of six Doctors around the cylindrical column in the centre. On the left and right, a further two, thus leading the total once more to eight. YOU WILL NOTE THAT THE FIRST IMAGE ALSO CONTAINED EIGHT. THIS IS LEADING UP TO THE RETURN OF PAUL MCGANN.

More than this, the presence of all eight Doctors surrounding the column neatly (and intentionally) summarises the finale of ‘The Light At The End’, in which the first eight Doctors perform a time ram on the Master’s TARDIS (which, in several stories, took the form of a column), thereby undoing his diabolical scheme.

Finally, consider the eye-type display at the bottom left. We’ve already discussed the Valeyard, an evil counterpart to the Doctor sandwiched between two late regenerations – and this is linked to him. Sit down for this next bit, because it’s something of a belter. The presence of the white dot on the bottom, positioned neatly between the ‘3’ and ‘4’ sections on the dial, purports to another Watcher, one that was present in UNIT in the 1970s / 80s / whenever, during the scene in ‘Planet of the Spiders’ when the Doctor regenerated.

Except that this Watcher was not needed; in the end, the Doctor’s regeneration was facilitated by the mystical Cho-Je. Therefore, this Watcher remained drifting, unused and unrealised; this Watcher thus become the Valeyard. (The close alphabetical proximity of ‘U’, ‘V’ and ‘W’ – used for significant words in that last sentence – is not a coincidence.)

Let’s move on. How’s your reading?

9_9 Sleep Detail (2)

As you’ve anticipated, numbers are the key. They repeat, so I’ve isolated the specifics:

39900076 – Gagan Rassmussen

8880234 – Osamu Chopra

633389 – Deep-Ando

HJSSLL56890 – Daiki Nagata

H999267 – Leverrier

474T000 – 474

00002458888C – The Doctor

Clara Oswald

And I’ll give you this, and we’ll say no more about it, except that I recommend opening it in a separate tab so you can read it properly.

Sleep_Numbers

Finally, this piece of wall writing, which I’ve lightened for the sake of clarity.

9_9 Sleep Detail (4)

The ‘Fast Forward’ and ‘Rewind’ symbols are CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS INDICATORS that the next adventure will take place in both the Doctor’s past and also his future. Note that the figure beneath is both LOOKING TO and POINTING TO the LEFT. You know why that’s important. YOU KNOW.

However, that top image. It’s a difficult one, isn’t it? Unless you’ve been to a supermarket recently.

shopping-trolley-sign-9282477

Why is this significant? Well, if you know your Big Finish you will recall that Arabella Weir played an alternate version of the Third Doctor, living out her exile on Earth in the guise of an alcoholic supermarket trolley stacker. There were VISITING TIME LORDS and DODGY TROLLEYS and a TIME LORD WHO HAD CHANGED GENDER. And there was vodka. All this points towards AN ENFORCED REGENERATION at the hands of the Time Lords, which will then be undone in time for the Christmas special.

And speaking of vodka, I think I need some now. I promise not to get trolleyed.

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God is in the detail (9-8)

Ah. ‘The Zygon Inversion’. How do I analyse thee? Let me count the ways. Remember, this is the stuff the BBC DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT, so you’re very lucky to have me on hand to reveal the Hidden Truth. And there is a lot of hidden truth this week; enough to kill a small horse.

Let’s take a look first of all at the clock in Clara’s flat, at the very beginning of the episode.

Zygon_Inver Detail (5)

6:26 is, of course, a timestamp, and using the same methodology as last week we can draw out the exact lines of dialogue at the 6:26 mark across all previous episodes of the series. Assembling them in order, beginning with ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ and concluding with ‘The Zygon Invasion’, the list reads thus:

“We bring harm.”

“Help me!”

“Are you sure?”

“Listen, we’ve come from the future and you’re about to send a signal. How do you do it? Is it a special pen?”

“I AM ODIN.”

“My curioscanner! It scans for curios. I’m just realising how it got its name.”

“It’s her.”

Written out in this manner this is CLEARLY a conversation between a deity and a poor Earthbound worshipper asking for help, and this is a theme that develops further when the number ‘626’ is interpreted in other ways. The notion of mythological deities also figures when we examine episode 626 in the chronological run – part four of ‘The Twin Dilemma’, a story featuring twin boys named Romulus and Remus, both conceived with the help of the god Mars.

And it goes further. Consider season 6, episode 26 of the original run: episode three of ‘The Seeds of Death’, an episode which concludes with a pod that hides a deadly secret, in a story about malevolent warriors from the planet Mars, which features a character named Osgood. NONE OF THIS IS A COINCIDENCE.

Now, the boxes.

Zygon_Inver Detail (4)

This is this week’s snowglobe moment. Those of you who have seen The Matrix will note the OBVIOUS AND DELIBERATE reference to the two pills that Morpheus offers Neo; the red pill brings enlightenment, while the blue brings memory loss. Memory loss is a key theme to ‘The Zygon Inversion’, particularly during this scene. But there’s more to it than that…

Pokemon Red and Blue are two different entries in the phenomenally successful Japanese series, in which players capture monsters inside golf-sized balls that are clearly bigger on the inside. The Red and Blue Design Hotel is in Prague, a city visited by at least nine incarnations of the Doctor. And in football, Crystal Palace FC are known as the Red and Blue Army; the Crystal Palace was visited by the Eighth Doctor and C’rizz in ‘Other Lives’, and thus this is a CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS clue that the Eighth Doctor WILL BE IN THE SERIES FINALE.

Also of note: the Mire helmet, secured behind glass. Note that when the word ‘Mire’ is reversed (or INVERTED) it reads ‘Erim’, the name of a village in Turkey and also the surname of a number of at least two Turkish academics and one politician. We may therefore conclude that Mr Copper, the clueless tour guide from ‘Voyage of the Damned’, who believed that the people of Earth went to war with Turkey every December, will cameo in the Christmas special. There is no possible alternative. Just don’t tell anyone; the press leak is presumably still pending.

The Tenth Doctor shows up again here:

Zygon_Inver Detail (2)

Note the ROSE-coloured bottles of Rubicon hidden just behind the poor Zygon. In ‘Tooth and Claw’, the Tenth Doctor offers to take Rose to observe ‘Caesar crossing the Rubicon’. Note also that both of actors were in ‘Day of the Doctor’, although Billie Piper played a character with a different name who looked like Rose, just as this week Jenna Coleman played both Clara Oswald and someone who looks like her. Note that in ‘Tooth and Claw’ the Doctor and Rose meet Queen Victoria. Note that Queen Victoria is shortly to be played by Jenna Coleman. Note that Zygons have claws. Sort of. That’s enough notes to be going along with. My brain hurts.

Not-quite finally, observe Clara’s lounge / sitting room / snug / living room.

Zygon_Inver Detail (3)

[Parenthesis]

“Eddie! I think there’s someone in the drawing room!”
“The what-room?”
“The drawing-room!”
“I don’t think I’ve been in there. What, you mean we’ve got a room just for drawing in?”
“God, you’re so common, aren’t you? What do you call it, the snug or the saloon or something?”
“Oh, the lounge!”
“That’s it! Yes, the laaunge! There’s someone down in the laaunge!”

[Parenthesis ends; a moment of silence for Rik Mayall]

Note the three lamps, drawing clear parallels with the three separate Doctors featured in ‘Day of the Doctor’ – the last story featuring the Zygons. The one on the back wall is clearly the War Doctor, given his preoccupation with walls the first time we see him; additionally he is at the back of the room, just as the memory of the War Doctor was pushed (or at least acknowledgement of his existence) is pushed to the back of the Doctor’s mind. The one to its left is clearly the Tenth Doctor, situated as it is on a table with a RED CLOTH, signifying the Tenth Doctor’s RED TRAINERS. And on the right is the Eleventh Doctor, given that the shadow it casts on the wall looks partly like a Fez while simultaneously resembling a Trilby, as worn by –

4d60001827089e38d082d721138994f8-fourth-doctor

Who, of course –

day_03

Yes, well.

Finally, class, here’s your homework. I know we don’t tend to give homework but your task – should you choose to accept it – is to decode this.

Zygon_Inver Detail (1)

Just the headline in red, that is. I know what it means already, and I’ll tell you next week. But let’s see who can figure it out before I reveal the answer. First correct guess wins my seal of approval, and also a lollipop. A rose-coloured one. Go on, get cracking.

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God is in the detail (9-7)

Good morning, class. Right, we’ve got a lot to get through, so let’s skip the pre-amble and crack on with this week’s CLUES AND SYMBOLS. Today we’ll be looking at ‘The Zygon Invasion’, which is crammed full of detail. Pay attention, as there may be questions later, but no need to make notes; I’ll be providing a handout as you leave.

First, take a look at this – an image which, for the sake of clarity, I have lightened slightly.

9_7 Zygon Invas Det (3)

The dials may appear to regulate temperature or something, but this is a show about TIME TRAVEL and they really ought to be viewed within the context of clock faces. By that rationale, ostensibly the one on the left refers to Matt Smith, as it’s clearly pointing to Eleven, while the right-hand gauge refers to Patrick Troughton.

Except it doesn’t. “It doesn’t?” I hear you cry, audibly enough I suppose although with a little less ardour than I’d have liked. Still, it’ll do. Anyway, to answer your question, no, it doesn’t. It instead refers to THE ELEVENTH HOUR and THE SECOND COMING. In other words, references to Jesus Christ in the Eleventh Doctor’s opening episode. But there aren’t any.

Or are there?

Eleven-Statue

Biblical narratives are typically avoided in Doctor Who, but that doesn’t stop iconography from making frequent appearances. This, of course, is the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro – itself noteworthy as a location that the Doctor, Amy and Rory singularly failed to visit in ‘The Hungry Earth’ – but most significant is that this exact moment happens at 53:11. Timestamps, as we’ll discover later on, are very important this week, and this particular one may be translated as an embodiment of the Doctor and his TARDIS, if we assume that 11 is the Doctor and ’53’ symbolises a sentient, classically unreliable means of transportation – in other words, a vehicle with a mind of its own.

Herbie-Rides-Again-Mrs_-Steinmetz

Told ya.

Next we move to the notice board in the deserted town of Truth or Consequences.

9_7 Zygon Invas Det (4)

The first thing to say is THAT’S NOT A ZYGON LOGO, IT’S A TRIDENT. Which, of course, we’ve dealt with before. However, to really get to the meat of what this image is trying to say, we need to examine the posters for the jazz festival, all of which feature a quaver, followed by two semiquavers and a crotchet (all right, quarter note if you’re in the U.S.). Quavers and semiquavers are also known as 8th and 16th notes respectively, and thus if we were to express this sequence mathematically we would get

Music

Merging the two semiquavers gives us a year – 1616 – pointing to something happening on 04 August of that year. But what? Google is on hand to give us the answer. Examination of Fernando Braudel’s The Wheels of Commerce reveals an exchange on that date between Don Hernando Carrillo and Philip III, in which Don Hernando informed the monarch that:

“Everything is kept going by means of silver…and Your Majesty’s strength consists essentially of silver; the day the silver runs out, the war that will be lost”.

From this, we may CLEARLY AND UNAMBIGUOUSLY infer that series ten will feature a Cyberman story, set in seventeenth century Spain. There is no other possible explanation.

Next, have a look inside the Turmezistan building where Osgood was kept prisoner.

9_7 Zygon Invas Det (1)

In this game of what looks like Risk we can see:

– 24 red pieces
– 5 yellow pieces
– 9 green pieces

(Note that this is the number of total pieces; each doubled-up piece is counted as two.)

We may break this down in terms of the story running order as follows:

005 – The Keys of Marinus
009 – Planet of Giants
024 – The Celestial Toymaker

Those of you who read our previous edition will remember that ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ has already featured, linking once more back to the IMMINENT RETURN of Peter Purves. However, this also ties in heavily with Jacqueline Hill – or, more specifically, her character Barbara Wright, again for reasons that will become apparent later.

But there’s more, and for this we must specifically examine the patterns laid out by each colour – to be specific:

Yellow (Keys of Marinus): four pieces, representing the four leads, moving away from a box-shaped piece, thus mirroring the characters’ journey away from the TARDIS

Green (Planet of Giants): note the two single circular pieces perched on top of the elongated piece at the edge of the board, symbolising the consolidation of episodes three and four into a single episode three

Red (The Celestial Toymaker): the nearest red tiles form an upside-down letter ‘C’, mirroring the inclusion of a character named Clara in the Toymaker’s lair, and her namesake’s treachery (or INVERSION) at the end of this week’s story.

Back in Truth or Consequences, there’s a gloomy-looking sheriff’s office.

9_7 Zygon Invas Det (2)

There is not much to say about this one, except to point out that THE THING ON THE DESK IN THE MIDDLE IS CLEARLY A SNOWGLOBE. And snowglobes, as we’ve already established, are VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE THEY REMIND US THAT THIS WHOLE SERIES ISN’T REAL.

Finally, let’s look at the lift camera.

9_7 Zygon Invas Det (5)

For this, we need to carefully examine the timestamp at the top left. 18:46 is the information to be taken, specifically how this relates to previous episodes in the series. Extracting footage from the six previous episodes (‘The Zygon Invasion’ is, for reasons that should be obvious, not included), I’ve compiled the images shown at each of these points, as well as the deliberate visual clues that stand out. Thus:

Zygon_1846

And there it is in – well, I was going to say black and white, but it’s really more a sombre shade of dark blue. The first thing to note is that this relates specifically to London, as that is the home of the underground – also known as the Tube. Furthermore, adopting a slightly different spelling for the final image in the sequence enables us to narrow it down quite specifically. In other words, we are looking for a brick building that lies between a cafe, a Boots chemist, an underground station and a post office, within the vicinity of Hyde Park.

And here it is.

Kensington

This street view image is of a spot right next to a Caffe Nero, itself apparently attached to High Street Kensington station, with a Boots pharmacy clearly visible next door and a post box just about visible in the top image (up the street, next to the approaching taxi). And the location? 12 Wrights Lane, Kensington. And the name of Susan Foreman’s history teacher? Barbara Wright. You couldn’t make it up. I swear.

(Incidentally, the 46th day of 1846 was the day that Parliament discussed the issue of bone-crushing in workhouses, but I did think this was pushing it.)

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God is in the detail (9-6)

There’s an old joke. A married couple are sitting by the fireside one evening – perhaps she’s reading, perhaps he’s sewing, just for the sake of gender equality. She looks up from the Times and says to her husband “Would you come and rescue me in distress?”

“Of course,” he replies. “Wouldn’t make any difference what you were wearing.”

There is a dress in this week’s list of VERY IMPORTANT THINGS. I sometimes wonder whether my lists of VERY IMPORTANT THINGS are getting closer and closer to the mark. Perhaps this sort of guesswork is all a matter of practice, the sort of thing you have to spend ten thousand hours mastering (thus far, I’ve managed about fifty-six). Or perhaps it’s that if you make enough wild stabs you’re bound to hit the correct answer sooner or later.

Doyle

Let’s have a look at the dress.

9_6 Woman Detail (4)

Regular readers of this blog might be aware that I spend my August bank holidays at Greenbelt festival – a fine event, although it has meant that I’ve missed several series openers over the last few years. Greenbelt is an intoxicating mix of art, literature, worship and music – it’s a feast for the eyes and ears and every year is different, but if you’re a regular attendee the sculptures dotted around site tend to burn their way into your brain after a while. Take this.

GBelt

For example.

Greenbelt has, for the last two years, taken place at Boughton House, Northamptonshire, visible in the top right corner of the map below – with its previous venue, Cheltenham Racecourse, visible bottom left.

Boughton

Sandwiched between the two is Banbury, famous for cakes, and this:

Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes

Let’s deconstruct this. The Doctor rides a horse in this story, so we needn’t dwell on that. ‘Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes’ refers unambiguously to ‘The Gunfighters’, a promising story marred by the omnipresent ‘Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon’, which bookends EVERY. SINGLE. SCENE. Curiously the ballad was sung by Lynda Baron, who also appears in ‘Enlightenment’, dressed as a FINE LADY who happens to be a pirate captain.

A cock-horse is a children’s toy. Those of you who recall ‘Closing Time’ will recall the Doctor’s job in the toy department of a big shop, working undercover in order to investigate mysterious electrical activity – a shop that featured Lynda Baron among its staff. From this we can draw the UNAMBIGUOUS CONCLUSION that this is all connected somehow with Peter Purves. There is no other possible explanation.

And music? Wherever she goes? What do you hear in the TARDIS whenever history is altered / the universe is about to explode / the Doctor’s left the iron on? Yes, that same ominous bell. But there’s more! Because there’s an alternative verse:

Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To buy little Johnny a galloping horse;
It trots behind and it ambles before,
And Johnny shall ride till he can ride no more

‘Johnny’ is undoubtedly connected with John Smith, the well-worn pseudonym adopted by the Doctor, particularly during his time with UNIT. But it’s the words ‘Trots behind and ambles before’ I want to examine, referring as they do to the notion of being from the future and the past simultaneously. In other words –

day_03

[coughs]

Let’s move on from dresses, and look at the crystal pendant thing the Doctor and Ashildr recovered from Lucie Fanshawe’s house.

9_6 Woman Detail (3)

There are twenty-four studs decorating the outer edge. Thirty-four sit round the next layer, and eighteen surround the jewel. This refers to the following stories in the sequence:

018 – Galaxy 4
024 – The Celestial Toymaker
034 – The Macra Terror

Conclusion? This is a ploy by the BBC to point us towards the missing episodes they’ve secretly found but DON’T WANT US TO KNOW ABOUT YET. Further proof of this may be found when we examine the Chumblies, the friendly robots encountered in Galaxy 4, which are layered in four tiers in an eerily similar fashion.

Chumblies

Oh, and two of those stories feature Peter Purves. Just saying.

Moving on: when Sam Swift is led to the gallows we get a fairly good (if brief) glance at the wanted posters that are stuck to the wall in Tyburn.

9_6 Woman Detail (5)

It’s a little blurry, but about the best I could do, and it’s enough to see (just about) that the posters on the left are concerned with ‘HEAVEN’S SPEEDIE’. To clear things up, this is a reference to Missy. But it’s also a reference to Heaven’s Speedie Hue and Cry, a seminal pamphlet produced by Henry Goodcole in the seventeenth century that expanded upon the traditional method of writing about murderers and criminals to place them within a greater sociological context. (Look it up; it’s quite interesting.)

Now, we could talk about the fact that Henry Goodcole is an anagram of ‘Hoed Necrology’, itself an apt description of ‘Death in Heaven’. Or we could talk about Hue and Cry, a reference to the Scottish pop duo most famous for ‘Labour of Love’, which is a CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS reference to ‘Blink’, most notably its “Look to your left” catchphrase. If you think I’m being silly about this, take a look here and here. It’s the third time this series.

Finally, here’s the Doctor, chatting with Ashildr.

9_6 Woman Detail (1)

Let’s ignore the large book on the stand next to the fireplace which is OBVIOUSLY A History of the Time War, and look instead at the other detail. There are five scrolls on the left-hand side of the desk (as we see it), referring to the five Doctors (including John Hurt) that we’ve seen since 2005, and a further eight on the right. Moreover, there are eight bookshelves, each containing twelve books – a clear indication that Ashildr designed her library to foreshadow the second coming of the Twelfth Doctor.

Of the books Ashildr has in this shot, seventeen are invisible or partially obscured. A further nine (over on the left) are partially hidden in shadow, although just about visible. Twenty-six books. Twenty-six missing stories. This couldn’t be more obvious if you stuck a great big sign on top of the shelves saying “THIS IS WHY THE PAGES WERE RIPPED OUT; MAISIE WILLIAMS WAS AT ST BARTHOLOMEW’S, WITH PETER PURVES”.

By the way, the hook shape in the fireplace isn’t just there for decoration; it’s an indication that they’ve already cast the next Doctor, or are at least thinking about it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Colin O’Donoghue.

Hook

It would work. You know it would work.

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God is in the detail (9-5)

This was very nearly a Back to the Future post. You know I’m always one to throw a grappling hook in the direction of a receding bandwagon, clinging on for dear life even as it disappears into the distance. I mean, I was going to write about how strange it was that Doctor Who‘s become a show about a middle-aged man who becomes fixated with a schoolteacher named Clara.

But we won’t do it. I’m bloody sick of the Back To The Future crap that’s been clogging my timeline for the past eighteen months, before the internet went into meltdown yesterday. We’re celebrating a fictional day visited by characters in an eighties movie and sneering about all the things the writers got wrong when THEY WEREN’T EVEN TRYING? We’re making fake products and producing trailers for fake films that got seven seconds of screen time? Is this really where our creativity’s taken us? I’m tired of it. I’m tired of all the memes that did the rounds two or three years ago warning that “The day they visited” was imminent, and which fooled about ninety per cent of the internet, when it should have been criminally obvious to anyone who ever saw the films that THEY DON’T GO ANYWHERE THAT DOESN’T END IN A FIVE. And I’m sorry, but the conversation between Lloyd and Fox just upset me, because it’s sad to see Michael looking so ill.

I mean, it’s a movie. It’s a big part of my childhood but this was just saturation point. Listen up, everyone: BTTF 2 isn’t even that good. It’s convoluted, confusing and Jeffrey Weissmann is crap. Moreover, it contains a whopping great paradox in that it would have been impossible for Biff to return the De Lorean to Marty and Doc’s 2015 timeline – he’d have gone to a parallel future where they’d have been somewhere else entirely. Once you realise that, absolutely nothing makes any sense.

No, we’ll look instead at ‘The Girl Who Died’, although I’ve ranted a bit so I may have to cut this one short.

Firstly: trees.

9_5 Girl Detail (1)

Notice the white tree next to the Doctor. Those of you who know your Tolkien will have this figured out straight away: for the rest of you, the tree is (as the LOTR Wiki puts it) “fashioned in the image of Telperion, elder of the Two Trees of Valinor”: ‘Telperion and Valinor’ may be rearranged to form ‘Adopt Nonlinear Liver’, which is a CLEAR REFERENCE to Ashildr’s new hybrid form come the end of the story. (The flowering of the white tree also symbolises new hope and life, which is rather more obvious, and thus not the sort of thing Moffat would have done. No, this is right.)

Also note that there are two visible stumps in this picture, both to the left of the white tree. This, coupled with the fallen trunk on the right hand side, is a clear reference to cricket, and the IMMINENT RETURN OF THE FIFTH DOCTOR.

Now, have a look in the banqueting hall / lodge / whatever the Vikings called it and let’s be honest who cares because THEY HAD HORNS.

9_5 Girl Detail (4)

The candelabra (centre) is a gift from Odin. Two tiers. Eight on the bottom, four on the top, corresponding exactly with the number of canonical Doctors. Beneath them, a dragon. And what does this have to do with Doctor Who? Well, those of you familiar with prime time fantasy costume drama that isn’t Game of Thrones will remember this:

Coincidentally, David Schofield – co-starring as the fake Odin in ‘The Girl Who Died’ – also appeared in Merlin as King Alined: a word that can be rearranged to form ‘Denial’, which is precisely how the Vikings spend half the episode before the Doctor agrees to train them, but which is also a river in Egypt, the home of Queen Nefertiti, who was in ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’, which also featured an appearance from Richard Hope, who was in Poldark, and A DARK POLE IS HOLDING UP THE CANDELABRA. LOOK AT IT. But not too long or it will etch certain words into your mind, making you a target for ghosts, or telesales pests.

Finally: farm animals.

9_5 Girl Detail (3)

The chickens at the side have so many layers of meaning we don’t have time to unpack them all. Suffice to say that they appear in ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ (an episode referenced heavily) and also ‘City of Death’ (see below). However, most significant is the Doctor’s affirmation in ‘Blink’ that his Timey-Wimey Detector (which goes ding when there’s stuff) can also boil an egg from up to thirty paces, “so I’ve learned to stay away from hens”. This is one of two major scenes for the Doctor in ‘Blink’, the other being a video conversation in which he instructs Sally Sparrow to, among other things, to “Look to your left”.

How did you find those chickens? Where did you have to point your eyes? Yes, that’s right. (Or rather left.)

You will also notice three ducks, centre stage. Ducks are mentioned in the very first Amy Pond story, in which the newly-regenerated Eleventh Doctor enquires why there are no ducks on the Leadworth duck pond. Veterans will also note that the Ponds’ penultimate story was ‘The Power of Three’. Three ducks. Count ’em. THREE.

But there’s more. The Three Ducks is a hostel on Place Etienne Pernet in Paris, location for ‘City of Death’. Here’s the hostel on Google Maps, along with assorted locations from the shoot, including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

Paris_Map

(For more details, see here.)

Now watch what happens when we add the two parks (which are significant for obvious reasons that I won’t go into here) and then join the lines up.

Paris_Map2

IT IS CLEARLY AN UPTURNED TARDIS. As in the one that appeared in this episode.

TheEleventhHour1

(Those of you who know your Big Finish will also be aware that Sophie Aldred voiced a military duck with an assault rifle in ‘Zagreus’, but I really thought that was a step too far.)

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God is in the detail (9-4)

I really didn’t want to have to think too hard about this episode; it’s on my list of things I may get round to seeing again if I ever run out of X-Files, the likelihood of which is minimal. But a gentleman’s dedication to his crusade to find the SERIOUS AND IMPORTANT CLUES in these stories knows, it seems, no bounds, or at least relatively few. Pay attention, class: we could be here for the duration.

In the first instance, look at this opening image of the Drum, as used in the recap.

9_4 Detail (1)

The word ‘Previously’ is in the process of forming, but it’s no coincidence that when I was scanning for clues and subtleties, my image grabbing software stopped on this THREE TIMES. Clearly this image is watermarked in some way. But what does it mean? Well, for a start the word ‘sly’ is derived from the Old Norse word ‘sloegr’, meaning ‘cunning and crafty’, and as we’re all aware VIKINGS ARE GOING TO FEATURE IN NEXT WEEK’S EPISODE.

But let’s leave the etymology aside, and look at the word as an acronym. An acronym for Safety, Liquidity and Yield – stock market lingo, but also a CLEAR AND TRANSPARENT reference to the contents of the episode (Clara and the others in the Drum spend the whole time trying to find a place of safety; the Doctor is almost forced to yield to his seemingly inevitable death; and the whole thing takes place underwater). And, of course, SLY is the airport code for Salehard. WHICH IS IN RUSSIA. (Salehard is, coincidentally, the closest town to the Polar Circle, WHICH IS WHERE THE LAST CHRISTMAS SPECIAL WAS SET.)

Here’s the Doctor, in the abandoned military town.

9_4 Detail (3)

Look at those twin dolls. Are they Russian? No, they appear to be standing still. Note their twin-like appearance. This is an UNAMBIGUOUS reference to the Grady twins, who appeared in The Shining, a film set in a haunted hotel – just like another episode of Doctor Who that happened to have been written by Toby Whithouse. I’d say “You couldn’t make it up”, but that’s because NOBODY DID – IT’S ENTIRELY DELIBERATE.

shining_2twins

Twins also feature in The Parent Trap, the 1961 Disney comedy in which Hayley Mills played twins Sharon and Susan, which also happens to be the names of two of the Doctor’s companions (yes, there was a Sharon; look it up). The songs for ‘The Parent Trap’ were written by the Sherman brothers, both of whom also provided songs for Mary Poppins – a film that has strong ties with Doctor Who – while rearranging the letters in ‘Sharon McKendrick’ leads to ‘ark mensch dornick‘, both a reference to ‘The Ark In Space’, and its immediate successor, ‘The Sontaran Experiment’, in which the Doctor goes off to look at rocks.

Here’s a spookily empty lounge.

9_4 Detail (6)

One word: snow globe. And we’re back with St. Elsewhere (see this entry) and the conviction that this is NOT REAL. Note also the presence of the Autons in the back – human pretenders who are NOT REAL. Note also the lampshade, which is pink. Note that the last time we saw Danny Pink was in an episode where things are NOT REAL. I don’t think we need elaborate any further. I’ve got a nagging feeling somewhere in the back of my head that we should, but I am dismissing it, as it is NOT REAL.

Next: El Doctor, wandering once more through the town.

9_4 Detail (5)

The poster – as you might have guessed – is our focus here. The six tanks evoke six different stories:

‘The Magician’s Apprentice’, in which the Doctor rides into a medieval banqueting hall on top of a tank

‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’, in which the Monk’s TARDIS briefly assumes the shape of a tank

‘The Power of Three’, in which UNIT roll a tank over a Shakri cube

‘Robot’, in which the Brigadier unsuccessfully endeavours to destroy the K1 robot with a tank (and in which an organisation entitled Think Tank features prominently)

‘The Runaway Bride’, in which the Webstar is annihilated with the aid of tank fire

‘The Time of the Doctor’, in which a broken tank is spotted on Trenzalore.

What do all these stories have in common? Well, I think you know that, don’t you? So we needn’t dwell on it. It is obvious to anyone who isn’t an idiot. Suffice to say that the THREE Dalek stories, not to mention the POWER OF THREE, the fact that ‘The Runaway Bride’ is the first episode of series THREE, and the fact that the newly regenerated Fourth Doctor tries on THREE costumes before deciding upon his iconic scarf and hat combination should give you some clue.

But it’s the chap on the right that is of particular interest. Clearly his pose is meant to mimic this one.

Angels_River

River Song, of course, and her triumphant entry into the TARDIS. The longest river in Russia is the Yenesei-Angara-Selenge River – words that can be rearranged to form ‘Venereal energy series, again’. Those of you who have not blanked the first series of Torchwood from your heads will recall ‘Day One’, the early episode that dealt with Carys Fletcher, sexual predator in a quite literal sense, as her victims exploded at the point of climax. THIS IS A CLEAR SIGN THAT CAPTAIN JACK WILL COME AGAIN.

Of course, this chap also looks a little like the Mandarin, so…

9_4 Detail (5b)

Well, you know, red and all that.

Finally, to the TARDIS.

9_4 Detail (4)

OK, kids. Here’s where it gets complicated.

The trick here is to examine the shapes. The circles are a dead giveaway, although we must ignore the one at the bottom, which is a red herring, for obvious reasons. But the presence of the Doctor himself is significant, and suggests an obvious arch-type shape. Hence, with a bit of trickery:

9_4 Detail (4b)

Note also that there are two Doctors in this scene, necessitating the doubling of such a thing. Look, to cut a long story short, if we mash all this together we get this:

9_4 Detail (4c)

Case closed, and padlocked, and lost on a luggage carousel somewhere in Bulgaria. Or maybe Salehard.

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