“You can’t equate regeneration with death, because nobody dies. He doesn’t die, but what is frightening for The Doctor, what is alarming for anyone is just - if you were told that tomorrow morning you will be somebody else, you will be alive but rewritten. That would be frightening and that’s what The Doctor faces each time. He is at home with his current persona and his current body and some one’s gonna come along and they’ll say we are gonna change everything.”
This is what Doctor Who show runner Steven Moffat said about the Doctor’s regeneration in the Behind the Lens video for this year’s Christmas Special. The above statement really hit me. I couldn’t help but think about how I would feel if this regeneration thingy was going to happen to me and as I dove deeper and deeper into my thoughts, I really began to appreciate all the intricacies of this amazing process.
I personally like to think that a man is largely if not wholly affected by the experiences in his life and what’s even more important is what we take from those experiences, but what we take depends on what sort of person we are. The point being, that two different people will form different opinions even if they share the same experience. Now when the Doctor regenerates, he retains his core beliefs and memories but everything else changes, so how he reacts to those memories and feels about them is also different. This explains the disgust that Tennant’s Doctor and Smith’s Doctor feel for Hurt’s War Doctor in The Day of The Doctor. Another example is when the Eleventh Doctor tells Clara about the “VANITY ISSUES” he had during his time as the Tenth Doctor in The Time of The Doctor. This means that the regeneration not only affects how the Doctor will experience all the future events but also all the things that he has already experienced.
Another more visible yet defining change is his apparent age. When we first saw the Doctor, he was assumed to be a really old man, but for Time Lords age and appearances don’t really go hand-in-hand and so in his Eleventh (Or Thirteenth) incarnation he starts off really young, all hyper and energetic even though he is actually much older. Now if you think about it, this really is a big deal considering he is the same man that he was in the beginning. We humans age normally and in the right order, because otherwise it can all be really confusing. How would you react if tomorrow morning you grow up half your current age? (With the same memories of course!), because I am sure after the initial delight has run its course, the situation would turn out to be quite dramatic to deal with.
Firstly your whole relationship-dynamic with the world would change (Say you were 60 thus end up being 30, so yesterday you could have been all mature, wise and worldly and the others would have taken you seriously given how experienced you looked, but today you are this attractive young man who still might be finding his way around this world). I think this is why the Eleventh Doctor always had trouble with making people trust him, because to them he appeared to be a foolish young man (And all that frolicking around certainly didn’t help) like in The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People or The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood. All his wisdom seemed lost on people, they just wouldn’t listen to his advice.
Secondly, how you look at world would also change and so would you behavior. I mean one moment there you are considering the sonic screwdriver – “a sophisticated scientific device” and “BAM!” Hey look, I’ll fling it about as if it’s a “water pistol” (Oh, I really love that scene).
Then comes the whole personality do-over, everything changes from ‘accents’ to ‘likes and dislikes’. It is really a mystery to me that the Doctor wears sand-shoes throughout his time as Tenth only to ridicule them when he is Eleventh, but I suppose this can be the combined effect of the above discussed points. Maybe this is what post-regeneration period is all about, a sort of coping-mechanism to deal with all the changes in the least confusing way possible. Another mystical thing about regeneration is the actual transition, because even if the physical regeneration takes only a few seconds, the psychological impact is evident for a very long time. A great example of this is The Beast Below. I love how the Doctor seems both sure and confused at the same time, because I know that Tenth wouldn’t have agreed with Eleventh’s decision(to painlessly kill the whale) and you could see him coping with his new identity while simultaneously being true to himself i.e. The Doctor.
Thanks for reading. Be sure to leave what you think in the comments below.