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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. Sheโ€™s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Sean Dillon
    September 24, 2018 @ 4:21 am

    Welp, on the one hand I’m slightly disappointed that you didn’t change the image. On the other, it works with the thematic point of the episode in regards to the Doctor’s relationship with River and Clara. (To be honest, I thought this was going to replace the review of the episode as oppose to one of your [admittedly lesser] posts. [I mean, I liked what I remembered of your Name post, but it’s clear even without your confession in the Rings of Akhaten post that you didn’t have a handle on Clara yet.])


    • Sean Dillon
      September 24, 2018 @ 3:20 pm

      Oh wait, nevermind. I just remembered how these posts work…


  2. MatthewB
    September 24, 2018 @ 9:14 am

    …ah, HERE we are! ๐Ÿ˜€


  3. Przemek
    September 24, 2018 @ 10:10 am

    A wonderful essay, as always. I knew this episode was more about the River that the Doctor but I never really connected the dots like you did to show that it’s actually all about her, so it’s a refreshing new perspective for me. Thank you.

    Now I wonder how would the Doctor’s and River’s relationship work if he had told her about her final fate in the Library as soon as possible. The Doctor’s lying seemed like kindness at the time… but now it looks to me more like lying to someone with a terminal illness about their life expectancy. Had River known, she might have appreciated her adventures and her life even more. I believe she would’ve viewed her eventual death much like Clara did. And their relationship might’ve been closer without the constant distance created by his lies. But no, the Doctor doesn’t like endings and his pain is more important than anything else, so…


    • mimhoff
      September 24, 2018 @ 11:03 am

      From Silence in the Library, it seems that River appreciated her life and accepted her death just fine. She keeps her spoilers away from the Doctor (except about the Singing Towers) to the end and even orders him not to risk rewriting their time together – “Not those times. Not one line. Don’t you dare.” [ Actually, as an aside since we just discussed Hell Bent, there are similarities here with Clara’s “tomorrow is promised to no-one but I insist upon my past”, but Donna hasn’t yet been mind-wiped… ]

      But this is a time travel romance so things get weird. from the Doctor’s point of view (and ours), River is the one with all the secrets when we first meet her, and he goes along with the rules of their relationship that were basically her dying wish. But… when did River decide on these rules? Back when she first met the Doctor and he was the one with all the “spoilers”?


      • Przemek
        September 24, 2018 @ 11:26 am

        In “Silence in the Library” she tells him he mustn’t look into her diary because of [i]his[/i] rules. But it’s all a bootstrap paradox anyway. There was no beginning; it’s their rules.

        I guess it all depends on how one interprets the time travel aspects of their romance. Personally I’m reminded of being in a relationship with someone without telling them in a few years you’ll be moving to the other side of the planet for good. It’s not neccessarily unforgivable to hide that information but it’s also not really fair to the other person.

        I’m not saying the Doctor was wrong to hide that secret from River. I’m just wondering if his years of quiet anguish over her future death were really necessary. Had he revealed that information, perhaps they might’ve both come to terms with her fate and move past the sadness to have all these exciting adventures together.


  4. Anton B
    September 24, 2018 @ 11:33 am

    Feeling nicely smug that I hound this entry. Also feeling weirdly like I should have already read it before. Like a kind of reverse fdeja vu. Or as the Buzz cockspur put it. Nostalgia For an Age Yet to Come.

    I’ll comment later. Or sooner.


    • Anton B
      September 24, 2018 @ 11:34 am

      *found not hound.


      • Anton B
        September 24, 2018 @ 11:38 am

        Also final sentence should have read.

        Like a kind of reverse deja vu. Or as the Buzzcocks put it. Nostalgia For an Age Yet to Come.

        Yes I’m fine. Just a bit of time travel dizzyness!


        • Daibhid C
          September 24, 2018 @ 5:02 pm

          “Reja Vu: the feeling that you are going to be here again.” — Terry Pratchett


        • Peeeeeeet
          September 26, 2018 @ 11:33 am

          Buzz Cockspur is my new favourite fictional character.


  5. Aylwin
    September 24, 2018 @ 2:44 pm

    The last end, in the place of the previous and currently final end, in the place of the first beginning and first end that follows it. Nice.


  6. Sean Dillon
    September 24, 2018 @ 3:29 pm

    I also just realized that the joke for Time of the Doctor’s placement within Eruditorum is actually what happened to the Steven Moffat era. And that’s kind of funny in its own haunting way.


    • Nindokag
      September 25, 2018 @ 5:25 pm

      What do you mean by that? What happened to the Steven Moffat era that parallels the blog placement? I think you’re onto something intriguing but I don’t quite get it.


    • mimhoff
      September 28, 2018 @ 2:26 am

      On a similar note, we just spoke about Clara and Jenna Coleman having multiple exits from the show, and so does Moffat himself.


  7. Nindokag
    September 24, 2018 @ 5:29 pm

    I laughed out loud when I loaded and saw Name of the Doctor next to the picture of that off-brand Space Marine*. I was wondering what Husbands would do to your River Song chronology but haha, of course! you had it planned all along.

      • I took the whole King Hydroflax subplot as a parody of Warhammer 40k and all its fascist, macho excess, which added a really enjoyable dimension to this episode.

    Since we’re done with the weird, wild, amazing ride that was Season 9, this seems like a good a time as any to say how much I’ve been enjoying all your posts on the Capaldi era. Often I don’t comment because you already perfectly said everything I wanted to say and there’s nothing left to add.

    But I wanted to let you know that Tardis Eruditorum has been one of my favorite things to read for the two years since I discovered it, and it’s no exaggeration to say it’s changed the way I think about storytelling. (I had a very bad experience with English class in high school that made me hate the idea of fiction having deeper or symbolic meanings in fiction, at all, and put me off of looking for them or understanding them for a decade. I’m now unlearning that, in the process of trying to write my own fiction, and Eruditorum has been a big help.)

    My wife sometimes jokes that I’m not so much a Doctor Who fan as I am a Lizard Blog** fan who watches Doctor Who episodes in order to better understand Lizard Blog posts.

    ** – she calls this website “Lizard Blog” because of the white lizard in the upper-left-hand corner that she sees when looking over my shoulder at my screen.

    Anyway there’s lots to love about this episode. “I’m an archaeologist from the future. I /dug you up/” is such a great punch-the-air moment for River. It’s got the Doctor’s very sarcastic version of the “bigger on the inside” speech. After this I went back and watched Silence in the Library again — already one of my very favorite episodes — and it’s even better now.

    Also, Season 10, unnecessary fluff add-on or not, was the first new Doctor Who season to come out after I became a fan, so it was the first one I watched in real-time with not even vague foreknowledge of what was coming. So I’m looking forward to those posts, too. Thanks for everything you write!


    • Przemek
      September 25, 2018 @ 8:24 am

      I just wanted to join in on the praise. Eruditorum has greatly influenced my undestanding of culture and my writing – and continues to do so. And the Capaldi era entries are one of the best ones I’ve read. Thank you.


    • MattM
      September 25, 2018 @ 12:58 pm

      I see the thing in the top left corner as a frog, and in my mind this website’s logo and mascot is a frog ๐Ÿ™


      • thesmilingstallioninn
        September 25, 2018 @ 5:10 pm

        While I was going to say that technically it’s a scroll with a ribbon, I just realized it’s a scroll in the shape of a lowercase E!


        • Nindokag
          September 25, 2018 @ 5:21 pm

          (I know it’s supposed to be an e-shaped scroll, but ever since my wife pointed out the lizard I can’t unsee it. The head is pointing up and to the right, the scroll ribbon is the front leg, the swoop of the “e” is the tail.)


          • Aylwin
            September 25, 2018 @ 6:33 pm

            This has been mentioned before, but I just can’t see the lizard. I could never do those Magic Eye things either.

          • dave
            September 25, 2018 @ 10:13 pm

            I’d never seen the ‘e’ before! Or the ribbon. I just thought it was a salander/frog/lizard thing…

          • dave
            September 25, 2018 @ 10:14 pm

            sorry, salamander

        • darkspine10
          September 25, 2018 @ 9:39 pm

          Oh wow, I thought it was some kind of pen all this time, never saw it as a scroll (a black scroll? Of Rassilon?!).


        • Przemek
          September 26, 2018 @ 7:38 am

          Oh, it’s a scroll? That explains things…


    • Aylwin
      September 27, 2018 @ 2:05 pm

      Also, how badass can Space Marines really be, when they get all their armour from Primarch?

      I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.

      I just thought of that joke and then I couldn’t help myself.


  8. Rodolfo Piskorski
    September 24, 2018 @ 8:50 pm

    Well, as you make clear in the content and in the structure of this post, this episode is all about RIVER’s grief. And our recognition of her grief.
    The emotional payoff is essentially the fulfillment of the grieving speech she gave before dying about “her” Doctor, the Singing Towers, the suit, the haircut, etc.


    • Przemek
      September 25, 2018 @ 8:20 am

      Which raises an interesting question because the details of her speech almost, but don’t quite, match what we see here. The Doctor didn’t really “turn up on her doorstep”, he didn’t “take her to Darillium to see the Singing Towers” as much as he crashed into it, her calling Twelve “the real you” sounds strange given that the majority of her relationship with the Doctor happened with Eleven. Not to mention the fact that if you watch “Silence in the Library” River really doesn’t act like someone who just spent 24 years with Twelve or is aware of the legends that Darillium was supposed to be their last night together (like she says in “Husbands”).

      Which would all be fanwanky nitpicking – but I like to think that these small inconsistencies prove that that DVD short with Eleven and River going to Darillium was in fact what originally happened. It was only after the Doctor cheated death by receiving a new regeneration cycle that history got rewritten and she got to spend 24 lovely years with Twelve. Even the fact that she doesn’t recognize Twelve in “Husbands” points towards him being an anomaly in her timeline.

      Come to think of it, there’s even a possibility that Eleven regenerating on Trenzalore erased the events of “The Name of the Doctor” as that future never happened, therefore also undoing the Doctor’s final goodbye to post-Library River. But that’s another fanwanky discussion…


  9. Rodolfo Piskorski
    September 24, 2018 @ 8:54 pm

    So where is in fact the actual essay about Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead?


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      September 24, 2018 @ 11:04 pm

      End of Matt Smith, serving as the original final essay of Eruditorum.

      It’s, erm, somewhat long.


  10. UrsulaL
    September 28, 2018 @ 1:38 pm

    Eleven was all about flirting and dating with River. It never felt like a marriage.

    This felt like the Doctor doing the work of being married. Planning to stay together for one night, yes, but it will last decades. That means actually living together, and having quiet times as well as adventures, and seeing each other through good and bad. Rather than just a chain of disconnected, out-of-order adventures.

    River had the calm comfortableness of a long-term happy marriage during the Library episodes. I didn’t see the foundation for that until I saw them commit to their decades together during the long night at the Singing Towers.


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