In Heaven Sent, we are told that The Veil seeks

[...] not any old truth [...]. It's not just truth it wants, that's not enough. It's confession. I have to tell truths I've never told before. That's the only thing that stops it.

Yet, in the end we find out that

this is not the first time the Doctor confesses these secrets; he has confessed them thousands of times already and is going to confess them for many billions of times.

So, what is actually going on?

  • I think it wanted painful truths? Not sure though. – Riker Jun 23 '16 at 20:51

In a very real sense the Doctor has never confessed each of these truths before.

Each iteration of the Doctor could reasonably be considered a separate 'I'. Each has no memory of the iterations before, or of making the confessions. Each iteration has in fact died, and a new one is born exactly as he was when he entered the teleporter. For each iteration, each confession is the first time. You also have to remember that the point of the exercise was not to get any old fresh information from the Doctor, but to get him into a psychological state where he gave out the one specific piece of information they wanted. The Veil wouldn't care if pieces of information were repeated, as long as the Doctor thought he was giving out information for the first time.

Even if the Veil was not reset, the criterion for the Doctor to " tell truths I've never told before" is being satisfied. It's certainly true from a psychological standpoint, and psychology is what it's all about here.

  • 1
    That's a nice interpretation! – giorgian Jun 23 '16 at 21:23
  • Good points. Note also that the "truths I've never told before" thing was only the Doctor's surmise, and he's been known to be wrong before. – Rand al'Thor Jun 23 '16 at 23:19

Probably this is because the Veil was reset along with the castle.

After each time the Doctor 'confesses', the Veil freezes and the castle resets, before the Veil also resets and begins to come after him again. At the very end of the cycle, after the Veil kills the Doctor, it disappears entirely - and yet we know that it must reappear to begin following the new version of him after he returns to the teleporter room and is reborn.

In fact, this question is answered in the episode's very first words (emphasis mine):

As you come into this world, something else is also born. You begin your life, and it begins a journey towards you. It moves slowly, but it never stops. Wherever you go, whatever path you take, it will follow. Never faster, never slower, always coming. You will run. It will walk. You will rest. It will not. One day, you will linger in the same place too long. You will sit too still or sleep too deep, and when, too late, you rise to go, you will notice a second shadow next to yours. Your life will then be over.

Each time a new version of the Doctor appears in the teleporter chamber, a new version of the Veil also comes into existence to follow him, hear his confessions, and ultimately kill him and disappear itself.

TL;DR: the Veil is reborn all those billions of times along with the Doctor.

  • But, when the Doctor appears, does the Veil incur in a major reset, deeper than the normal reset after each confession? Or, in other words, what has been my doubt since watching the episode: would the same confession as before (in the same cycle) work? – giorgian Jun 23 '16 at 21:04
  • 1
    Apparently it is a bigger reset: after each confession, the Veil simply freezes, but after it kills the Doctor, it disappears completely. I don't think the same confession as before in the same cycle would work; doesn't the Doctor try that at some point? – Rand al'Thor Jun 23 '16 at 21:05
  • 7
    Also, its purpose is interrogation. Let's say the Veil DIDN'T reset. On the second time around, the Doctor would die because he's not going to suddenly blurt out an old secret to keep it away. The idea is to keep him talking, giving up bigger and bigger secrets. So it doesn't have to accept only secrets that it's never heard, or that no one's heard, it can merely accept secrets that the Doctor thinks he has never told. And in each cycle, the Doctor doesn't think he's told those secrets. – starpilotsix Jun 23 '16 at 21:26
  • I thought the truth that the Veil wanted was information about “the Hybrid” and that the Doctor decided to die rather than give it that information. – Paul D. Waite Jun 24 '16 at 1:47

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