London, 5:02 p.m., 22nd April 2011
Steam trains run across the city as hot-air balloon cars drift through lanes of traffic. Children playing in the park notice the pterodactyls flying overhead, and are forced to run when the creatures notice their sandwiches. A Roman charioteer waits at a traffic light while the newspaper headlines talk about the War of the Roses entering its second year. On the morning shows, Charles Dickens is talking about his upcoming Christmas special.
The Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill returns to Buckingham atop his personal mammoth and Dr Malokeh, his personal Silurian physician, tends to him. Churchill notices that it’s 2 minutes after 5 on April 22... and that it has always been the same. Malokeh doesn’t find anything unusual about the fact it’s always the time and day, but Churchill summons the Soothsayer from the Tower. He reminds the Soothsayer that he always says that something is wrong with time and all of history is happening at once, and demands an explanation. The Soothsayer, the Doctor with a beard, looks up and says that a woman caused everything.
The Doctor, wearing his cowboy hat, goes to see a Dalek in a crashed spaceship. He opens it up and taps into its data core to find out everything the Daleks know about the Silence.
The Docks of Calisto B
The Doctor goes to a bar and demands to meet with Father Gideon Vandeleur, former envoy of the Silence. When the barman proves reluctant, the Doctor shows him the Dalek eyestalk. The eyepatched Gideon comes out and the Doctor offers his condolences, pointing out that Gideon has been dead for six months. He scans “Gideon” with his sonic screwdriver, shorting out its system, and asks to speak with Commander Carter and his miniaturized crew within the shapeshifting justice robot, the Teselecta
. The Doctor notes that they can pose as anyone in the universe and figures that they’re investigating the Silence. He wants to know one thing: the Silence’s weakest link.
The Doctor is soon playing an eyepatched opponent, Gantok, in a game of live chess. Gantok’s queen is electrified and he’ll never survive his next move. Gantok offers the Doctor in anything in return for his concession, but balks when he realizes the Doctor wants information on the Silence. The Doctor says that the Silence will kill him as well, but he wants to know why he’s dying first. Gantok tells him that only Dorium Maldovar can help him. When the Doctor points out that Dorium is dead, Gantok offers to take him to Dorium if he concedes.
The Doctor forfeits and Gantok takes him to the tombs where the headless monks keep their “leftovers. The decapitated skulls move, turning to watch them, as Gantok takes the Doctor to a box. Inside is Dorium’s decapitated head. Gantok draws a gun and prepares to kill the Doctor, but he inadvertently steps off a trap and falls into a pit containing thousands of the skulls, which chew him to bits.
In April 22, Churchill insists that the Soothsayer’s story is absurd. The Doctor explains that in another reality, the two of them are friends and Churchill is listening because he can sense that. Churchill asks about the woman and if she’s attractive, and the Doctor says that she’s hell in high heels.
Dorium explains that he can pick up wifi and keeps himself entertained, and explains that the Silence consider themselves the sentinels of history. They want the Doctor eliminated because of the potential of his future, when he asks the First Question at Trenzalore during the Fall of the Eleventh, the question that can never be answered because, when it is, the Silence must fall. Dorium asks if he wants to know what the First Question is, and the Doctor says to go ahead.
Once he knows the First Question, The Doctor returns to the TARDIS with the box containing Dorium’s head. He brings up the file on the date of his death: 22 April 2011, at 5:02 p.m. Dorium tells him that now that he knows the First Question, he must understand that he has to die.
Churchill asks why the Question means the Doctor’s death. The Doctor explains that the Silence needed to eliminate a secret before it could be spoken, and Churchill realizes that the man must be eliminated. It is the Doctor’s silence that must fall so the Question is never asked. Churchill brings the Doctor to the Senate room and draws a revolver, and the Doctor notices a slash mark inked on his arm. After a moment he resumes his story.
The Doctor asks Dorium why Lake Silencio in Utah, and the alien explains that it’s a still point in time. That makes it easier to create the fixed point of the Doctor’s death. The Doctor insists that he has a time machine and there are always things for him to do, but Dorium warns that time catches up with everyone. The Time Lord makes a call only to learn that his old friend, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, has passed away a month ago. Stunned, he hangs up and then takes out the three blue envelopes from his coat pocket and admits that it’s time.
The Doctor goes back to see “Gideon” and asks him to deliver the envelopes since he can’t without crossing his own time stream. Carter reminds him that, according to their files, it’s the Doctor’s final journey, and assures him that they’ll deliver the messages. As the Doctor goes, Carter insists that they have always been champions of law and order and asks if there is anything else they can do. The Doctor turns and leaves.
Churchill asks why the Doctor would invite his friends to watch him die, and the Doctor admits that he couldn’t bear to die alone. He warns Churchill that they don’t have much time.
The Doctor and his friends picnic on the shore of Lake Silencio. Canton Delaware arrives and everything is in place. The astronaut emerges from the lake and the Doctor tells everyone not to interfere. He steps forward to face the astronaut, which opens its helmet and reveals River inside. She warns that she can’t stop it and the Doctor tells her that she’s not supposed to and he has to die. The Doctor assures her that she won’t remember it happened and points out her future self, serving time for his murder. He tells her that she must watch him die so that she can hear him say that she is completely forgiven.
The suit aims and fires repeatedly, but nothing happens. The Doctor opens his eyes and a smiling River tells him that fixed points can be rewritten. There’s a flash of light...
Churchill wonders what happened, and the Doctor explains that nothing happened, and it has kept happening and will never stop. Time is dying and it will be 5:02 in the afternoon for all eternity. The Doctor discovers that he is holding a spear, and Churchill realizes that he’s fired his gun. As they retreat, the Doctor explains that they must have defended themselves from the Silence, which are memory-proof once you look away. There are now four slash marks inked on his left arm and he tells Churchill that in small numbers they’re not too difficult. However, he then looks at his right arm and finds dozens of marks. They look up and see dozens of the Silence gathered on the ceiling of the Senate room.
Before the aliens can attack, a grenade rolls into the room and detonates beneath the Silence. Soldiers run in and keeps their eyes trained on the Silence, and Amy enters the room to take charge. She’s wearing an eyepatch and she shoots the Doctor with a stun gun.
The Doctor wakes up on a train bound for Cairo and Amy apologizes for stunning him. He tries to explain that in another reality they’re the best of friends. However, the Doctor quickly realizes that she’s remembered everything. Amy has his clothing for him and provides a shave, and he’s soon back to normal. She explains that several people have noticed that time has gone wrong and that they’re working on it. When the Doctor asks where Rory is, Amy has a drawing of him and knows she loves him, but can’t remember him. She remembers the Doctor both living and dying at Lake Silencio, and the Doctor explains that time is disintegrating until reality will fall apart.
An eyepatched soldier comes in to make his report and the Doctor realizes that it’s Rory. Amy doesn’t recognize him, even with her drawing, and wonders why the Doctor looks older. He explains that time is passing for him and that he’s the epicenter of the disintegration.
The train arrives at the Area 52 pyramid and Rory gives the Doctor an eyepatch to wear. It’s an eye-drive that communicates directly with the brain, reminding it of the Silence. They have captured over a hundred Silences and stored them in tanks that insulate them. All of them react to the Doctor’s presence and Rory orders his men to check the systems. The Doctor hangs back to tell Rory that he should ask Amy out and that she claimed Rory was hot. Rory doesn’t believe him and suggests that he move along.
Amy takes the Doctor to the command center where River is there, wearing an eyepatch like the others. They have Madame Kovarian prisoner and River claims she fell in love with the Doctor. The Doctor wants to focus on the fact that time is disintegrating and tries to grab her. Amy orders his men to stop him, but he grabs River’s arm and time begins to move. There’s a flash of light and they’re back at Lake Silencio. River breaks free and has the soldiers handcuff the Doctor. He explains that they are opposite poles of the disruption and if they touch, they short out the differential and time will begin again.
One of the Silence touches the wall of its tank and the glass begins to crack. Below, Rory sees insulation fluid leaking through the ceiling.
River explains that no one has ever determined if she married the Doctor or murdered him. He doesn’t want to marry her and she doesn’t want to murder him. Meanwhile, Amy notices fluid leaking from the ceiling and warns the Doctor.
Rory sees a Silence crack the glass of its tank while another one approaches him from behind.
The Doctor asks how many Silences that they have trapped, and Madame Kovarian says that they’ve never been trapped. They’ve been waiting for the Doctor to arrive. Rory runs in to warn everyone that the Silence have broken free and are killing the soldiers. As he bolts the doors, Kovarian points out that the eyepatch they’re wearing are based on hers. They start to spark, killing several of the staff before the others can remove them, and Kovarian boasts that the Silence would never give anyone an advantage of them. Her own eyepatch sparks and she demands that the Doctor remove it. He ignores her and tells River and Amy that they’re risking eternity to save him, but they ask to show him what they’ve done. The Doctor agrees and River takes him to the receptor chamber at the top of the pyramid. Amy tells Rory to remove his eyepatch before it activates, but he shakes in pain as he says that it already has. He tells Amy to go on while he holds the Silence back as long as he can. Amy thanks him and goes.
The Silence break into the control center and advance on Rory as he collapses in agony. They boast that this time Rory will die and never come back, but Amy returns and guns them down with a submachine gun. She yanks the eyepatch off of Rory and starts to lead him away, and Kovarian begs for help. Amy reminds her that she took Melody from her as a child and she will never see her as a baby. Kovarian says that Amy will save her because the Doctor would, and Amy would never do anything to disappoint him. Amy points out that the Doctor isn’t there and then places the eyepatch firmly back on her eye and walks away with Rory, suggesting that they have a drink and get married.
River takes the Doctor to the top of the pyramid. There is a temporal distress beacon there and she explains she’s sent a distress message everywhere, outside of the bubble of time/space containing Earth. The message: “The Doctor is dying. Please help.” The Doctor says that it’s meaningless and that she’s embarrassing him, but River says that the sky is full of messages from millions of entities saying that they’ll help. River says that he’s decided that the universe won’t help him and ignored all the people that he’s helped. However, the Doctor warns that his death is a fixed point and nothing can be done, and he has to die. She refuses to let him die without him knowing that he is loved by so many, including herself, and refuses to kill him and go through the suffering no matter the cost to the universe.
As Rory and Amy arrive, the Doctor blames them for their daughter. He asks Amy to uncuff him and then takes off his tie and has River wrap one end around her hand. The Doctor holds the other end and then has Rory and Amy perform a wedding ceremony for them. The Doctor then tells River that he’s going to whisper something in her ear, and she has to remember it but never tell anyone. She stares in wonder and the Doctor says that’s his name. He then asks her to marry her and asks her to end his life because he can’t bear the guilt of Earth’s destruction. River agree to kiss him and time begins flowing again.
At Lake Silencio, River kills the Doctor as his friends look on. Earth and its timestream are returned to normal.
Sometime later, River comes back from the Byzantium to see Amy. Amy admits that she killed Kovarian even though it never happened, and wants to talk to the Doctor. River tells her that the Doctor isn’t dead and Amy assumes she’s talking about how she’s seeing the younger versions of the Doctor. Her daughter hesitates and then tells Amy that the Doctor didn’t tell her his name. Amy demands to know what he did tell her.
Rory comes out a minute later and sees his wife and daughter hugging and laughing. They tell him the news and Amy realizes that she’s now the Doctor’s mother-in-law.
Dorium complains as a hooded figure returns him to the tomb. It opens the box and turns to leave, and Dorium says that he can sense that it’s the Doctor. He wonders how he could have possibly escaped.
Atop the pyramid, the Doctor tells River, “Look into my eye.” She looks into the shapeshifted Teselecta and sees the miniaturized Doctor inside, telling her to stay quiet.
The Doctor removes his hood and explains that the astronaut "killed" the Teselecta
at Lake Silencio while he was inside. He plans to stay in the shadows, refusing to draw attention to himself. When Dorium asks if River will stay in prison for her crime, the Doctor says that she’ll be in prison during the day and what they do at night is no one else’s business. When Dorium reminds him that everything is still waiting, and the Final Question remains to be asked, the Doctor walks away as the alien calls out, “Doctor who?”