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File:The Family Of Blood 7597.jpg
"Who am I then? Nothing...? I'm just a story?"
John

Continued from Doctor Who.

Mild-mannered Edwardian schoolteacher John Smith is baffled when alien monsters turn up and demand that he turn himself into "The Doctor". But the strangeness is jogging memories deep inside him, memories of a life he's sure he never lived but only dreamed, and more and more fragments of his dreams are turning out to be real. Deny it he tries, but eventually John has to consider the possibility that Martha and the aliens are telling the truth: "the Doctor", his dream-self, is the reality, and John Smith is the fabrication.

Still frightened and confused, John quizzes Martha on the Doctor, and is horrified by her description: a tremendously lonely alien, the sole survivor of the universe's greatest holocaust, as remote and inhuman as a force of nature, who -- for all his careful planning -- never even considered that he might fall in love while hiding among humans.

Timothy asks how it's possible that he himself can learn things from John's watch and even see the future sometimes. With John now holding the watch that contains his Time Lord self, the Doctor's Motor Mouth starts automatically explaining how it's just a regular human "low-level telepathy field" (which will become important later). "You were born with it, just an extra-synaptic engram causing--"

"--Is that how he talks?" John asks in utter horror, realizing fully that this Doctor is real, and inside him, and that he needs to make the most horrible decision of his life.

John would give anything to stay human and marry Joan. While spending his last evening with her, he even has a brief vision of that future: a long and happy life and a peaceful death, secure in the knowledge that everyone he loves is safe. But even that future is illusory, as the aliens are closing in on John and will spread destruction across the galaxy if they win. John must sacrifice himself and become the Doctor, though he doesn't even know if any fragment of his identity will survive.

With the help of Timothy, John eventually makes the decision to open the watch, essentially commit suicide and become the Doctor again. He defeats the aliens without much effort, and as punishment for what they've done, traps them in different time event horizons... for all eternity. The creatures realize that the Doctor wasn't simply escaping from them -- he was being kind to them, in giving them a chance to die without ever encountering him.

The Doctor returns for Joan. She's horrified to see him, even though he tells her that John is part of him now, somewhere deep inside him. He invites her to the TARDIS, and asks her if she wants to give him a proper chance for what he really is, starting their relationship again from a blank slate. She refuses. Decades into the future, Martha and the Doctor visit Timothy, now a war veteran, and give him some closure.

Not much later, the Gallifreyan technique to hide in human form will become important again...

Tropes

  • And I Must Scream: "We wanted to live forever… so the Doctor made sure that we did."
  • Badass Boast: Oddly, made about The Doctor by someone else:

  Tim Latimer: He's like fire, and ice, and rage. He's like the night and the storm in the heart of the sun. He burns at the centre of time and he can see the turn of the universe. And… he's wonderful.

 Son of Mine: And so we found out the reason this man, who had fought with gods and demons, had run away from us and hidden - he was being kind.

  • Boarding School
  • Broken Masquerade: John Smith suffers this when he starts to realise the truth about who he really is.
    • Then this happens when Timothy asks him why he can hear the watch.

 As The Doctor: Oh, it's just a low-level telepathy field, you were born with it, just an extra-synaptic engram causing—

As John Smith: [gasps in utter horror] Is that how he talks?

 We'll blast them into dust, then fuse them into glass, then SHATTER THEM ALL OVER AGAIN!

 Son of Mine: War is coming. In foreign fields, war of the whole wide world, with all your boys falling down in the mud. Do you think they will thank the man who taught them it was glorious?

Headmaster: Don't you forget, boy, I've been a soldier. I was in South Africa, I used my dead mates as sandbags, I fought with the butt of my rifle when the bullets ran out, and I would go back there tomorrow for King and country!

Son of Mine: Etcetera, etcetera!

 He was braver than you, in the end — that ordinary man. You chose to change. He chose to die. … If the Doctor had never visited us, never chosen this place — on a whim — would anyone here have died?

    • Though the end of the episode shows that at least two people survived because of him, thanks to Latimer's knowledge of the future.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The entire episode falls into this trope. Although a descendant of Joan Redfern has written a book about John Smith and his Journal of Impossible Things in The End of Time, the Family's attack on the village, from the disappearances to an aerial bombardment, seem to have completely vanished from English history, as the show never mentions it again.
    • A valid explanation is put forward in Series 5.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The Family certainly don't by the end.
  • World War One
  • The X of Y
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