Place of origin:
“The Gallifrey Chronicles”
A Time Lord agent, Marnal had several obvious and implied connections with The Doctor’s past despite the fact that they only met once; not only was he implied to have been an acquaintance of The Doctor’s parents, as well as there being a strong possibility that he was the father of The Master, but he was definitively established as the previous owner of The Doctor’s TARDIS.
Originally a Time Lord agent who went on missions to ensure Gallifrey’s safety, Marnal was known for interfering in history when the situation called for it, although he had a far more ruthless attitude than The Doctor, stating more than once that he would consider it better for a billion aliens to die rather than a single Time Lord, and later claiming when observing The Doctor’s actions in Earth’s history that The Doctor had no right to interfere to save Earth as it wasn’t his planet and things may have been better if humans were given an external purpose rather than allowed their freedom, even if the alien invaders were planning to eat humanity. However, on one of his missions, he witnessed a mysterious blonde woman seemingly working with a group of insect-like aliens around a scar in reality that appeared to know of Gallifrey’s existence, prompting him to mount an attack on the scar despite only being there to observe.
As he discovered when he returned to Gallifrey, however, his actions had resulted in that same race – which would become known as the Vore – being changed from a simple race of scavengers to a threat so powerful that they could have destroyed Gallifrey in future, and his attack had been based around a mistake; the Vore were nothing more than animals that had evolved to be attracted to such scars in the universe, and the advanced technology witnessed had been left by a survey team from a future Gallifrey. As putting Marnal on trial was impossible due to his knowledge of an ancient prophecy, meant to be known only to the High Council, that Gallifrey would face a series of attacks in the future that would be defeated by a Time Lord currently living, he was exiled to Earth in the late nineteenth century by the Time Lord Ulysses and his human wife Penelope Gate (A pair speculatively identified as The Doctor’s parents). As part of his punishment, his memory was erased (Most likely the chameleon arch that would be later used to turn Time Lords into humans (“Human Nature/The Family of Blood” and “Utopia”) had not been invented by this time) and his TARDIS was taken from him, leaving him with nothing but vague recollections of his past as he was left on Earth in 1883 with Penelope’s mother.
During his time on Earth, Marnal became a science-fiction writer, with most of his work being apparently based on his subconscious memories of Gallifreyian society, although it met with questionable reviews due to the nature of his work; one of his earliest novels was of a man from an advanced civilisation trapped in Victorian times who spent most of his time criticising his surroundings while providing little detail about his place of origin, and most of his other books focused on subconsciously -recalled details about Gallifreyian society without ever being able to recall the actual name of his home planet (He even wrote an episode of ‘Star Trek’ at one point, but the show’s producers changed the storyline so much that Marnal took his name off the credits). Marnal was apparently visited by his son during the 1970s – the context suggests that his son was The Master during the period when the Third Doctor had stolen his dematerialisation circuit (“Terror of the Autons” and “The Mind of Evil”) – but Marnal naturally failed to recognise his son in his current state and nothing apparently came of this meeting.
Regaining his memories after he regenerated in 2005, his previous incarnation dying of old age in the presence of his nurse, Rachel, the restored Marnal attempted to contact Gallifrey with a telepathic hypercube, but soon realised that he couldn’t reach Gallifrey as it no longer existed, having been destroyed in battle against Faction Paradox as they attempted to instigate the Future War (“The Ancestor Cell”). Having learned of Gallifrey’s destruction, Marnal was able to use a Time-Space Visualiser to observe the moment before Gallifrey was destroyed… and thus witnessed the Eighth Doctor firing the weapon that had triggered the planet’s destruction (Although there were over three minutes of ‘footage’ between The Doctor firing the weapon and the moment when Gallifrey actually exploded that Marnal couldn’t observe due to the temporal distortion caused by the blast). With this discovery – his identification of The Doctor aided by the fact that Rachel had been a schoolfriend of The Doctor’s adopted daughter, Miranda, in the 1980s (“Father Time”) – Marnal set out to capture The Doctor, determined to punish him for what he had done.
With nothing better to do with her time, Rachel continued to visit Marnal, even as he found himself frustrated at his attempts to create a chronological timeline of the Eighth Doctor’s temporally complex existence due to its various paradoxes, such as his encounters with anti-time (“Zagreus” and “The Next Life”) and his future three ninth incarnations (The Doctor of “The Curse of Fatal Death”, The Doctor of “Scream of the Shalka”, and the canonically established War Doctor (“The Night of the Doctor”). Eventually, acting on a suggestion from Rachel to stop creating a timeline and instead think about where The Doctor would go in future, Marnal set a trap in the form of a signal beacon placed on the grave of The Doctor’s former companion Samantha Jones (Marnal claimed that it was Sam’s real grave, stating that she had died years before her ‘destined’ time as a result of The Doctor’s involvement in her history, but considering his obvious vendetta against The Doctor anything he had to reveal about Sam’s status at this time is questionable at best). while The Doctor visited the grave to investigate the signal, Marnal stole the TARDIS while leaving a trail that The Doctor could easily follow, allowing him to capture The Doctor when the other Time Lord tried to break into Marnal’s house to recover the ship.
Although he had succeeded in his goal, when he attempted to question The Doctor, Marnal was surprised to learn that the other Time Lord was currently suffering from total amnesia, unable to remember the destruction of Gallifrey or anything that happened to him before that. Despite The Doctor’s ignorance, Marnal nevertheless showed The Doctor the partial recording he had created of The Doctor’s confrontation with Grandfather Paradox prior to Gallifrey’s destruction (Although the recording was missing such moments as the appearance of the Third Doctor’s temporal ghost, created due to The Doctor’s infection with the Paradox biodata virus (“Interference: Book Two”) and the TARDIS’s attempt to save him, simply showing The Doctor and the Grandfather arguing before The Doctor fired the weapon). Regardless of his amnesia, The Doctor continued to justify his actions after watching the fight, arguing that the danger posed by Faction Paradox had been too great for him to make any other choice, but Marnal simply denounced him as guilty even if he was stuck for what to do next due to The Doctor’s apparent lack of grief and the lack of precedent for such a crime.
Unable to win Rachel to his side due to her own frustration with the world and her knowledge of his ‘crime’, The Doctor attempted to meditate and explore his lost memories now that he knew what he had done, as well as contemplating the holes in Marnal’s interpretation of events. Deducing that the idea that he had lost his memory due to trauma was impossible as he had witnessed greater loss during his recent clash with Sabbath (“The Adventuress of Henrietta Street”) and the Council of Eight (“Sometime Never…”) – which had seen entire alternate universes being destroyed as The Doctor sought to preserve history – The Doctor began to speculate that something else had cost him his memory, offering to help Marnal investigate what had happened in those missing three minutes of footage in case they changed Marnal’s mind while agreeing to accept Marnal’s judgement if it didn’t.
However, Marnal’s arrogance was further reinforced when the cold fusion reactor he had created to power his Time-Space Visualiser began to overload while The Doctor was experimenting with it; Marnal was in favour of hiding in the TARDIS to escape the explosion, but knowing that the destruction of the reactor if it exploded could annihilate London, The Doctor instead threw the reactor into the TARDIS, leaving Marnal enraged that The Doctor would risk the last known TARDIS for the sake of a few million humans. Taking advantage of Marnal’s anger, The Doctor dived into the TARDIS while the ship was still recovering from the explosion, turning on the interior sprinklers to put out the fire and checking the scale of the damage, which led him to the Eye of Harmony, where a voice spoke to The Doctor from within the Eye, showing him a projection of Marnal’s last mission in the TARDIS for an unknown reason. With the projection useless, The Doctor continued to search through the regenerating TARDIS, eventually discovering none other than his old companion K9 – sent up to the TARDIS by Romana prior to Gallifrey’s destruction in an attempt to stop Grandfather Paradox by killing The Doctor before he could become the Grandfather – who had been contained behind a wall in the ship after it collapsed and reconstructed itself (“The Burning” and “Escape Velocity”) until the wall keeping him trapped (“Trading Futures”) was damaged by the explosion. Although K9 initially tried to complete his programming, when The Doctor asked K9 to scan his mind, K9 ceased his efforts to kill The Doctor, happily noting that ‘The Doctor-Master never loses’ as he realised what The Doctor had done.
Unfortunately, The Doctor had no time to enjoy this discovery; as he would soon learn – although some of these details were naturally unknown to him given his amnesia – the damage to the TARDIS caused by the reactor’s explosion had created an unanticipated side-effect, creating a minor rift in the Eye that allowed The Master – trapped in the anti-matter universe after his last battle with The Doctor (“Doctor Who: The Movie”) – to delay The Doctor’s efforts to close the Eye, resulting in the damaged Eye creating a minor temporal ‘scar’ that drew the Vore to Earth. As the Vore attacked, they soon opened a hypertunnel to the TARDIS’s last known coordinates and captured Marnal and Rachel, with Marnal attempting to make a deal with the Vore to lure The Doctor back to Earth in exchange for sparing Marnal and Rachel so that he could take the TARDIS for himself. However, when The Doctor arrived, he bluntly informed Marnal that his attempts to communicate with the Vore had been doomed from the beginning as the Vore communicated by physical movement rather than sound and therefore had no idea what Marnal had been trying to say to them.
The Doctor also revealed that, in the three minutes of footage missing from their previously-observed destruction of Gallifrey – which he had ‘remembered’ by meditating in the TARDIS while writing automatically, allowing him to write down at least some of what had been said in that time by drawing on his subconscious recollection of events, his deductions confirmed thanks to K9’s scan – he had erased his own memories to store the entire repository of the Time Lord Matrix in his subconscious in the moments between the erasure of Faction Paradox purging it of their infection and Gallifrey’s own destruction. As a result, he had essentially saved every single Time Lord lost in Gallifrey’s destruction, compressing their minds into a dormant state in his subconscious so that he wouldn’t be driven mad in the process and wouldn’t be aware of their existence, simultaneously programming himself not to want to recover his lost memories in case he either accessed the Matrix or restored his own memories and drove himself mad or overwrote the Matrix data, creating the possibility that he could reconstruct Time Lord society despite Gallifrey’s destruction (Although he had apparently deleted his plan to recover the Matrix when he was erasing his memory).
Although Marnal was in favour of working on a new repository for the Matrix straight away, The Doctor preferred to focus on saving Earth, the three retreating back to the TARDIS, where Marnal sacrificed himself to fight off the Vore guarding the ship until The Doctor and Rachel could enter the ship. As Marnal lay dying, he asked The Doctor to do everything in his power to restore Gallifrey, accepting The Doctor’s promise while acknowledging that The Doctor’s interference did achieve a great deal of good in the universe, even if it was probably for the best that he was only one-of-a-kind. Following Marnal’s death, The Doctor was able to create a new scar on the Eye of Harmony within the TARDIS to trick the Vore into moving their entire moon into the TARDIS, allowing him to trap the majority of the Vore in the event horizon of the Eye before doing something to defeat The remaining Vore on Earth (The precise details are unknown, but it can be assumed given recent discoveries that The Doctor was able to stop the Vore).
Considering that the modern series has revealed that Gallifrey was seemingly destroyed in the final battle of the Time War between the Time Lords and the Daleks – with the Eighth Doctor regenerating into a new incarnation (Known as the ‘War Doctor’) to fight in the War and later end the conflict (“The Night of the Doctor”) – it seems likely that The Doctor was able to find a way to restore Gallifrey before the new Time War seemingly destroyed it once again (“The Day of the Doctor”), thus ensuring that he fulfilled his last promise to Marnal.