From what I understand, saving Clara equals changing the past which means fracturing time. I assume the Time Lords are now hunting for Clara so that she can be returned to the extraction chamber to die.

But isn't it already the end of the universe? How much time do the Time Lords save if they return Clara to the chamber?

Also in the new TARDIS, Clara mentions she does not have a pulse and essentially time isn’t healing. Even if it is somehow important to not fracture time, why is Clara endangering it by going on a joy ride?

  • It depends on when time would fracture. At the point when the Doctor goes back in time and saves her (the end of the universe), or at the point where Clara was supposed to die but doesn't (about 2.5 billion years before the end of the universe). My guess would be on the latter. – Anthony Grist Dec 8 '15 at 9:33
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    The implied threat is that the fracture in time starts at the end and travels backwards, potentially growing in size. – MrDobilina Dec 8 '15 at 9:58
  • Words like “already” lose some of their utility when we’re talking about time travel. – Paul D. Waite Dec 8 '15 at 10:24
  • @MrDobilina Ooh, cracks in the very fabric of space and time. Spooky. – Mr Lister Dec 8 '15 at 11:53
  • Because a girl having no pulse is awkward. The Doctor wanted to make Clara normal... – I Love You 3000 Dec 8 '15 at 16:14

Doctor Who, particularly the revised series, talks quite a lot about "fixed points in time". These are events that are set in stone, and for whatever reason, can't be changed. One of the gifts of being a Time Lord is knowing when these are. (Preventing the death of someone seems to be a common one, for example.)

We've only seen two cases, so far, where The Doctor tries to prevent a fixed point in time from happening:

  • In "Waters of Mars", he rescues the captain the Mars station, who was supposed to die. Her death was fixed partly because it would inspire future astronauts. We never see any negative effects here because she commits suicide in order to fix the timeline.
  • In "The Wedding of River Song", we see a much more useful example: River prevents herself from killing The Doctor as Lake Silenco. This causes time to fracture, exactly what the Time Lords are warning about in "Hell Bent"

The key here is that River Song breaks all of time with what she did. The past, present, and future all break down at the exact moment where the fixed point was changed. We end up with Winston Churchill riding a mammoth, among other things. In addition, the damage to time seems to start out localized but spread out: the entire universe, for all of its history, seems to be at risk of being destroyed.

So, the reason Clara's death is so important is that changing such a fixed point (and we have to assume it is one, since multiple Time Lords claim it is) wouldn't just break things from that point forward. They would destroy all of time, eventually causing the universe to never have existed.

However, the other thing we have seen, repeatedly, is that time is rather flexible with it's definitions of what makes a "paradox". Going back to the "Waters of Mars" example, the fixed point in time was "broken" for several hours, at least, before it was fixed; similarly, in episodes like "Rose" we seen very long periods of time go by with no long-term negative consequences.

The way things seem to work, time is malleable enough to handle a bit of bending and stretching, as long as the damage isn't permanent. As long as Clara eventually gets back to the extraction chamber and reinserts herself into her own timeline, and death, that's enough. Because time is not the linear progression that humans imagine it to be, there's really no issue of "taking too long" to fix something. (If Clara died somewhere else, though; or for some other reason became unable to reach Gallifrey again -- that would be a different story. That would be a permanent break in time, and bad things might happen.)

  • As I understood it, Clara is an immortal now. She can't die anywhere else, except for the Trap Street where the Timelords extracted her before her last heartbeat. It's safe to assume that EVENTUALLY she'll go back to Gallifrey and meet her fate. We might see it in the 55th or 60th anniversary special or something. – tilley31 Dec 8 '15 at 16:45
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    This is a good answer within the bounds of what we've seen on TV, and pretty much what I figured out as well and what I would have answered. I'm frustrated that Moffat made Clara's status quite so open-endedly magical. Biologically, if she has no circulatory system, she shouldn't really be able to do much of anything. Eat, for example. She can chew and swallow, but not digest. If this held true, then Clara would find unlife palling pretty quickly and thus return after a few subjective days. But it's not clear that any of that is true. She shouldn't have been able to cry, either... – Michael Scott Shappe Dec 8 '15 at 22:48

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