Doctor Who: what is Trenzalore?

Feature Andrew Blair 15 May 2013 - 08:17

What do we know about the mysterious Doctor Who planet Trenzalore? Andrew gives us some serious, and non-so-serious, suggestions...

This article contains spoilers for Series 7b (And also The Wedding Of River Song and Black Orchid if you haven't seen those yet).

Trenzalore. Is it ready to claim its place among the pantheon of memorable planets in Doctor Who's history? Is it the new Karn, or is it the new Karfel? Ever since a big baldy blue head in a box said its name (although I'd pay good money to hear Sylvester McCoy say it), we knew that some Saturday soon, some serious stuff would be going down. And that Trenzalore would be involved.

But just how important is Trenzalore? Not hugely, it isn't real. But within that context, how important is Trenzalore? I don't know, I haven't seen this Saturday's episode. But within that context, how important is Trenzalore? Very.

A prequel featuring the Doctor and Clara - He Said, She Said (which is apparently set after the events of The Name Of The Doctor) – suggests that they didn't have a lovely time the day they went to Trenzalore, and it's the place where two mysteries will be resolved. We've already flailed around speculating about Clara, but for those of us who haven't been seeking spoilers, what do we know about Trenzalore?

Dorium Maldovar mentioned its name as the site for the 'fall of the Eleventh'. The Eleventh falls over a lot, seeing as he's quite gangly. Let us not put it past Steven Moffat to use this as the literal meaning of the phrase. Still, Dorian's dialogue from The Wedding Of River Song was as follows:

"On the Fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the Eleventh, when no creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked — a question that must never ever be answered: 'Doctor Who?'"

So, from this we can conclude the following:

We're apparently going to find out what the Doctor's name is - or at least be put into a situation whereby we technically hear some semantic get-out-clause relating to the Doctor's name and are told “Well of course we weren't actually going to say the Doctor's name". What we're going to hear, and how much of it, we'll find out on Saturday.

Trenzalore has more than one field. From which we can extrapolate that Trenzalore has experimented with Agrarian economies. That's probably not a hook on which to hang white-hot shards of drama, so it probably won't come up too often.

Instead of extrapolation – it's fun, it's fresh, it's free – let us focus on what we do know. Not too much, as it happens.

* 'Trenzalore' is an anagram of 'Learnt Zero'.

* More tellingly, Trenzalore appears to be the site of River Song's grave, but we know she features in this episode despite her death. How does she fit into events? Given that she last appeared in The Angels Take Manhattan is she now a harbinger of doom? Why is her grave on Trenzalore? Is there a connection to the Library?

* Alternatively, Trenzalore could just be a big graveyard with no significance whatsoever other than graveyards looking creepy and this being A Good Thing for Doctor Who episodes.

* 'Trenzalore' is an anagram of 'Real Zen Rot'. Hmmm, don't think we're onto something with thee anagrams.

* The white-faced, eyeless creatures on Trenazlore resemble the Trickster from The Sarah Jane Adventures. The Trickster (and his brigade) have been seen in Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane?, The Temptation Of Sarah Jane Smith, The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith, and Turn Left.  Their reason for being is chaos, and therefore the fall of the Doctor and knowledge of his name could be useful to them. It is possible that they act in opposition to the Silence, a religious order who exist specifically in order to prevent such the answering of the question 'Doctor Who?' (and as such have clearly never read the jokes page in The Beano).

* Richard E Grant is back and will play the Great Intelligence's avatar, potentially walking about the surface of Trenzalore with his legs and feet. This raises questions: how does the intelligence have a corporeal presence based on a body that died in 1892? When is this episode set? Presumably post-The Bells Of St John? What has the Intelligence been doing all this time, besides working for Team America?

* 'Trenzalore' is an anagram of 'James Stoker'. Nope. We're stopping these. We probably shouldn't point out that in Catalan, 'Trens alors' means 'Alue Trains'. 'Alue' is a Finnish word which means 'area'. As a boy, the Doctor always wanted to drive a steam train (compare: Black Orchid), so, er, perhaps the Doctor's essential nature is tied up in a vivid dreamscape involving his lifelong love of trains?

* From the trailer, the planet looks like it's hot. Tectonic plates, cracks in the firmament, spurty lava amidst shifting land masses sort of hot. These fields might not be green and pleasant and boring, like England's. We could be due for some choral flourishes from Murray Gold and some Revenge Of The Sith style denouements.

'Tren zalar' means 'Train zalar' in Basque. 'Zalar' means 'Cottager' in Slovenian, although some interpretations would say 'Tenant' instead. Will the Tenth Doctor therefore arrive at the end of the episode by funicular railway?

* Despite the fissures appearing in the surface,  the trailer's action seems to depict medieval tunnels and Edwardian windows. Also people moving about and talking and doing stuff. If it was just the former it'd be incredibly dull. We know nothing of the people of Trenzalore and their society, but if Vastra and Strax are involved then it is possible these segments don't take place on the planet. So. Victorian London probably. Present day Cardiff no longer exists.

* 'Trenza' is Spanish for 'pigtail'. 'Lore' is an old English word meaning learning. Could we be about to learn the tale of the porcine? Could the relatives of the space-pig from Aliens Of London finally be getting their revenge? Tune in this Saturday to find out.

* I'll get my coat.

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