When Steven Moffat first introduced the phrase "timey wimey" in "Blink," it was seriously cute — and sounded like it might be a reference to actual science. But since then, "timey wimey" has sometimes seemed like a sort of all-purpose get-out-of-logic-free card. And with "Wedding of River Song," it seems clearer than ever that for Steven Moffat, time is basically magic.

Take the whole bubble universe where "all of history is happening at once." It's a cute idea — but it makes no sense even on the face of it. If time was stopped, then everybody would be just standing still like statues. Time is obviously moving, because people can travel from Point A to Point B, and remember conversations they had an hour ago. So in fact, there's something wrong with clocks, but time is working just fine. Also, if all of history was happening at once, that would mean everybody who'd ever lived would be on Earth at once — and there would be rather a lot of overcrowding. It's more like that time is jumbled up, but even that doesn't ever quite make sense. It only works as a cute idea, as long as you don't think too much about it.


And then there's the notion that River has to be the one who kills the Doctor, rather than some random dude with a gun, or an empty spacesuit or whatever. After all, the Doctor gets guns pointed at him every week, and any one of those guns could kill him. But we're told that Lake Silencio is a "still point" in time, which makes it easier to create a fixed point in time. (And until now, I'd thought "fixed point in time" meant that too many crucial historical events depend on this one event happening, as in "Waters of Mars.") I'm guessing that River has to be the one who stands in the spacesuit, while the suit's systems kill the Doctor without any help from her — because she's a child of the TARDIS and she has special timey-wimey powers that make the fixed point more fixed.

Oh, and then there's the magical transmitter that can send messages to the entire universe, from the beginning of time to the end — although that, at least, answers the longstanding question of what the heck the Master thought he was doing at the end of "Logopolis."


Doctor Who has never really taken great pains to have its time-travel stories make sense. But the show is more concerned with time-travel shenanigans than it's ever been before, and just like the fabric of time itself, the show's logic is showing signs of disintegrating.

The Question Hidden in Plain Sight

So finally, that brings us to the oldest question, the question from the beginning of the universe, which has been hidden in plain sight. Which turns out to be the title of the show we're watching. It's cheeky, but could actually become a great lead in to the show's 50th anniversary in 2013.


Reading between the lines of a few things that people say in this episode, it seems as though the Doctor's identity, in itself, isn't the great secret. It's that the Doctor knows something universe-shattering, and that knowledge is somehow tied up with his origin. The question of who (or what) the Doctor really is cannot be untangled from the terrible secret that he knows about some cosmic mystery.

And the Silence have somehow determined that unless the Doctor dies by the lake in Utah, he will be forced to answer the question ("Doctor who?") in his future — on the fields of Trenzalore, at the "fall of the Eleventh," when nobody can speak falsely or refuse to answer. Whatever the answer to this question is, it's momentous enough that the Doctor actually considers just dying, to spare the universe from the answer. As he tells Winston Churchill: "Suppose there was a man who knew a secret. A terrible, dangerous secret that must never be told."


Could this secret have something to do with Omega, the creator of Time Lord society? (People keep insisting that they see Omega symbols scattered here and there, hinting at his return.) Or could it be something even older and more fundamental than that? It's sort of funny that an episode which finally answers the question "Has the Doctor gotten too big?" then turns around and makes him bigger than ever.

The last time we were told to ask who the Doctor really is was on the show's 25th anniversary, in the dreadful "Silver Nemesis." And now, it seems likely that the show is finally going to give us the answers it hinted at back then — just in time for the 50th anniversary. (Although I doubt it'll be the Cartmel Masterplan, exactly.) Let's hope the show leaves some big revelations for the 75th and 100th anniversaries, though.