Here we go again. Comes a new issue of Doctor Who Magazine, comes another round of Ask Steven Moffat – which is either your chance to address the head honcho with relevant burning issues or Moffat’s chance to plug a few plot holes, depending on how cynical you’re feeling.
This month’s burning concern is Heaven Sent – namely, the brain-melting puzzle box disguised as a castle wherein the Doctor found himself trapped alone, well, alone with a terrifying monster. Oh, and he’d been there for millions, then billions of years attempting to, quite literally, crack the mystery at the heart of this baroque torture chamber.
Unsurprisingly, there were a few questions, well, a lot of questions but narrowing them down to just a few such as: If every room in the castle reset every so often, why didn’t the diamond wall do the same? Who left a set of dry clothes by the fire for the Doctor to find? And why was there an ancient picture of Jenna Coleman’s recently-deceased Clara hung on the wall? – DWM pinned Steve Moffat down, tied him down to a chair and got him to answer them.
First order of business, that harder than diamond wall; why didn’t it simply reset every time the castle reset?
“It’s not a room in the castle, it’s the outer wall of the [Confession] Dial,” he explained. “The clue is that it’s 20 feet of Harder Than Diamond. Why bother making it so hard, if a resetting stone wall would do?”
Fair enough, but what about that other set of clothes? As the Doctor dives into a pond to escape the monstrous Veil, he finds an identical dry set of clothes for him to try on. But who put them there? How did they know his size? And, if it was a respawned Doctor, isn’t there a naked Doctor running about the place?
“Naked Doctor Who?? It’s AGAINST THE LAW, I tell you,” Moffat responded. “Showrunners have been executed for less. No, of course there wasn’t – I sort of wrote that moment to force you to think that the first time round the castle (the first of many times) wasn’t the same as the version we saw.”
Moffat then explains that, in his mind, the first few times the Doctor went into that room he merely found a generic pair of clothes in his size – who put them there and where from? – and later changed back into his normal ones. But then once he didn’t make it back to them…
“Next time round, the Doctor finds his own clothes drying for him. The loop is complete – the end now triggers the beginning and that makes it permanent.”
That loop getting tighter also serves as an explanation for the missing paving slab – the one that literally points the Doctor towards the location of the diamond wall – well, it’s simply another note from a past self who is getting impatient with how slowly it’s taking him to figure out just why Room 12 is significant.
His hope, which thankfully for him turns out to be true, is that these clues will survive the reset process: the skulls in the lake, the drying clothes and the dust in the teleport room (as well as the portrait of Clara, which Moffat says the “soppy” Doctor painted himself) – all pointing him towards Room 12 and his eventual rendezvous with the Time Lords and Gallifrey.
So do you buy Moffat’s explanations? Does knowing Moffat’s reasoning somehow lessen what is an outstanding episode? Do you still have burning questions about just what happened in Heaven Sent?