Daddy is waxing lyrical…
Logopolis is described as the keystone of the universe, and similarly "Logopolis" is the keystone of Doctor Who's eighteenth season, with its story arc of CHANGE AND DECAY.
Script editor and, for this story, author Christopher H. Bidmead wanted to base Doctor Who's stories on sound science again.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics is NOT technobabble: it's not just words put together to "sound" like they mean real science. It IS real science. The entire story, the entire SEASON is building up to this one point: things fall apart; EVERYTHING DIES.
But it is more than that, because "Logopolis" is also telling us a story though art as well as science.
Where Season Seventeen gauchely name-drops Leonardo Da Vinci and juggles a half-dozen Mona Lisas, Season Eighteen quietly but confidently shows us the series as a different form of art for four serials in a row: "Warriors' Gate" is a German expressionist piece after La Belle et La Bette; "The Keeper of Traken" is all velvet Shakespearean play; and "Castrovalva" is most famously an etching by Escher.
Between these, we have the Greek tragedy that is "Logopolis": the Doctor as protagonist, the Master as antagonist, and a chorus of companions all step out onto a sparse stage to tell us a sad story of the ending of things. The Doctor gets to be his own deus ex machina too, literally depending from the great machine as he intervenes to overcome the forces of evil. "Logopolis" ends, not with the inevitable triumph of entropy, but by overturning the message of all the season: not everything dies: the Universe lives and the Doctor is reborn.
The regeneration at the end – when the Doctor doesn't die, but actually becomes YOUNGER – is such a triumph, a real rage against the dying of the light moment.
Still, it does raise one or two rather puzzling points.
The obvious one is just what DOES he think he's doing: flooding the TARDIS to get rid of the Master?
But then, and rather more worrying, is it possible that the Doctor might actually be responsible for the destruction of a good third of the Universe?
To take the obvious point first: the Doctor has learned that the Master has hidden his own time machine somewhere inside the Doctor's. He was able to do this by predicting that the Doctor would go to Earth and materialise the TARDIS around a genuine police box and by getting there first.
This poses a bit of a problem for the Doctor: not only is the Master already aboard, it seems likely that any plan that the Doctor can concoct can also just as easily be predicted by his rival.
"He's a Time Lord. In many ways we have the same mind," he tells Adric.
So, how can he outwit the Master?
Well possibly, he realises that what he needs is an unpredictable – random almost – course of action. This is not without precedent, since he previously tried navigating the TARDIS out of E-Space using the I-Ching, and with some success too. So maybe he decides to do just whatever it is that Adric says next.
He first gets the idea to materialise the TARDIS under water just after confessing that the Master can effectively read his mind and Adric's reply is:
"Can't we flush him out?"
So maybe he tries that because, knowing it's bonkers, he also knows it's not something the Master will be remotely expecting.
Of course, he never actually does it, because another random factor intervenes, and instead he ends up heading off to Logopolis with the Master still ensconced.
Laurence Miles and Tat Wood's "About Time 5" suggests that by doing this the Doctor is, at least in some part, responsible for the devastation that ensues.
They also say that despite this being almost certainly the single highest body count of the entire series, there appear to be no consequences to the timelime.
Or are there?
Well for starters, Earth's galaxy is described as having several hours left… by the end of which the Doctor and the Master have stabilised the Cassiopeia CVE and saved the Universe. So in local "galactic" terms the events of "Logopolis" may not affect us or any of our neighbours, so it would be difficult to tell.
Although, in fact, it's notable that although the Seventies are rather busy on the invading the Earth front, there's a sudden halt to hostilities in 1980. (At least until the Cybermen start bothering us, and they come from the Solar System anyway.) Maybe even the nearby aliens noticed something we missed.
But what about powers outside of our galaxy?
Well, the Dominators claim to be masters of ten galaxies but are never heard of again. Is that just because they are rubbish villains, or could it be because their ten galaxies are among those annihilated by the entropy wave?
But ignoring such trivial figures, there are two major forces from outside Earth's galaxy.
In the first case, there's the Daleks. It's always the Daleks.
The Dalek Invasion of Earth takes place in the Twenty-Second Century. Any Daleks on Earth earlier than that ("Evil of the Daleks", "Day of the Daleks", "Resurrection of the Daleks", or "Remembrance of the Daleks", never mind "The Chase" and "The Daleks' Master Plan") are always quite obviously established as time travellers.
(Only "Power of the Daleks" with its near-Earth colony Vulcan poses a question here, though it seems very likely that the Dalek factory – apparently dimensionally transcendent – is a Dalek time machine. Or just fix the dating of "Power…" to sometime around the Dalek Invasion.)
Actually, this raises the vexed question of whether Skaro is in our galaxy or not. On the whole, the evidence is that it isn't: "The Daleks' Master Plan" sees the Daleks forming an alliance of the Outer Galaxies against Earth and the Solar System, suggestive at the very least, and they also establish a base of operations on a planet that is in Earth's galaxy (in this case Kembel) – something they do again in "Planet of the Daleks" (Spiridon) – which would also imply that their own home is extra-galactic; "Destiny of the Daleks" sees the Daleks' enemies the Movellans travel in a ship that Romana identifies as having intergalactic drive – so Skaro is probably in a different galaxy to the Movellans, if not to Earth. "The Parting of the Ways" has Captain Jack describe them as the most dangerous force in the universe, not just the galaxy, and as a time traveller he should know.
Maybe of most significance, there's the discussion between the Doctor and Kaled scientist Ronson in "Genesis of the Daleks". Ronson informs the Doctor that "Davros has proved that there is no other intelligent life in the nine galaxies". The Doctor's response is interesting: he says, "it is also a fact that there are more than nine galaxies". He doesn't flat out deny Davros' evidence, so perhaps Skaro really is isolated in a distant galactic group – isolated, that is, until something wipes out large chunks of the intervening universe and suddenly unleashing the Daleks on an unsuspecting Milky Way.
But even if a sudden "shrinking" of the universe doesn't bring them into contact with Earth, it would appear that the Daleks don't interact with Humans until well after the events of Logopolis.
The other big extra-galactic force, actually a pair of forces, is the endless war between the Rutan Host and the Sontarans.
The Milky Way seems to be of little strategic importance to either side most of the time, but now and again the front lines pass through our galaxy. There may be a battle front nearby during the twelfth century ("The Time Warrior") although Larry and Tat convincingly argue that the Sontaran Linx may be a time traveller (it would certainly explain the title).
In that case, the first major development that we know about is the series of strategic withdrawals made by the Rutan during the early twentieth century, Earth time ("Horror of Fang Rock"). But then the next thing we know is the Sontarans considering whether to occupy the Milky Way sometime at least fifteen thousand years in the future ("The Sontaran Experiment").
So what held up the Sontaran advance? Why wasn't the galaxy ravaged in the meantime by the war? Could it be the unexpected wiping out of great chunks of their own (and the Rutan) territories suddenly rendered Earth's galaxy right off the war map?
(Of course, another explanation would be that the Daleks barrelling into the Milky Way from the other side rather put off both Sontaran and Rutan armadas!)
It might be seen, then, that in both cases there is a significant change in our relationship with an inter-galactic power in the millennium following the Logopolis catastrophe.
But the main question is one of responsibility.
The Doctor is adamantly against going to Logopolis with the Master aboard the TARDIS until he talks to the Watcher, and then suddenly he changes his mind entirely. (Perhaps another instance of being able to get around the Master's mind reading because he's following an unpredictable external suggestion.) And here he talks about "a chain of events that lead to the unravelling of the Universe itself".
Incidentally, it seems with hindsight that the Watcher may only speak to the dead. Here he talks to the Doctor, and later, in the TARDIS, he speaks to Adric – who has a date with destiny in "Earthshock" – alone, rather than to him and Nyssa together. (Nyssa does say at one point: "he said he was a friend of the Doctor" but we never see him actually talking to her – maybe he approached Consul Katura, doomed with Traken, and spoke to her and it was she told Nyssa). Is it significant that Auntie Vanessa sees the Watcher across the Barnet bypass when Tegan doesn't? Mind you, everyone is likely to die sometime, so perhaps it's not so significant.
The Master is clearly familiar with Logopolis, enough to know it holds a single great secret. Also, it may be Adric who ends up in his Hadron Power Web in the next story, but the fact that the Master has it ready – and his easy familiarity with the potential uses of Block Transfer Computation – suggest that he was planning on plugging in a Logopolitan. Perhaps his original plan, before Entropy turned it all to dust, involved kidnapping the Monitor. The Doctor is clearly quite right when he realises that Logopolis (rather than himself) is the Master's target.
Consider also: the Master has trapped Tegan aboard the TARDIS, rather than killing her (see how he indulges himself with Auntie Vanessa because she is extraneous to his plans) – if he's not just bonkers then he has a reason, and it is probably so that he can kill her later to prove to the Doctor that he means business, and still have Adric as hostage.
But the Doctor's decision gets the Master to Logopolis for free and without the Doctor finding himself held at the business end of the Tissue Compression Eliminator.
Essentially, the Watcher's message may be that it is inevitable that the Master will get to Logopolis, it is his intention and he has the means to force the Doctor to take him. And once there – though his lack of understanding – the consequence will be the release of the Entropy and the actual end of not a third but the entire universe.
This is the Doctor's choice then: go to Logopolis now, even though it means his own death – the Watcher's presence proves that – and have a chance to save something, or else end up being forced there with no choices and die anyway.
"Castrovalva" is only more explicit about having the power to make choices and defy pre-destination. "If" can be the most powerful word in the English language, Tegan says.
The Doctor gives up his life for the biggest "if" in the Universe.
No, he's not responsible for the death of a third of creation; he's responsible for saving two-thirds of it.
Episode Four of "Logopolis" was first broadcast on 21st of March 1981, so 2007 is its 26th anniversary!
PSNine days to go!