In Doctor Who Series 6 Episode 2, The Day of the Moon, the main protagonists have been spending months investigating the Silence - a difficult task, since anyone who observes the Silence or has any knowledge about them forgets it as soon as they look away. To help them keep track, they keep a tally on their skin, marking themselves each time they see one of the Silence.

RORY: It's like they edit themselves out of your memory as soon as you look away. The exact second you're not looking at them, you can't remember anything.
AMY: Sometimes you feel a bit sick, though, but not always.
CANTON: So that's why you marked your skin.
AMY: Only way we'd know if we'd had an encounter.

So far so good. My question is: why do these tally marks disappear and reappear?

E.g. see the following scene:

Amy's skin is spotless at first, and then the tally marks suddenly appear when she's at the window. Why?

  • 4
    I don't see where they disappear. Like you said, they appear when they draws them on themselves, and then they forget (and for dramatic effect, we the audience "forget" that they drew them on as well, until the reveal is made and such is no longer needed). Unless I misunderstand the question: nothing causes them to disappear/reappear except the person themselves writing or removing them, which is simply kept from the audience for storytelling purposes.
    – Mwr247
    Jul 5, 2016 at 15:15
  • @Mwr247 They must have disappeared between the start of the episode (when Amy is running across the desert) and the start of this scene. And why would she remove them until it's all over? Surely the whole point of the tally is to keep count and remind herself, and removing them would destroy that.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 5, 2016 at 17:17
  • @Randal'Thor maybe she forgot what the marks were for? Or simply being around everyone else again and talking about the Silence meant they could have a wash (otherwise they'd be getting pretty smelly).
    – HorusKol
    Jul 6, 2016 at 1:42
  • @Randal'Thor My guess is the following: you can keep track of 4-5 marks, but can you make a clear - at a single glance - distinction between 150 and 151 mark? If not, those marks can easily lose their point aren't they?
    – mg30rg
    Jul 7, 2016 at 14:11

1 Answer 1


I don't see them vanishing, just not being there, initially. I believe they are taking a bit of artistic license with what we are being shown, much as we later see with the Doctor & Churchill in The Wedding of River Song. Just as we see there, there is no visible transition (to us) but we come to understand that the sections of time that are edited out of memory are not being shown to us.

I.e., we are seeing what Amy (in this case; the Doctor and Churchill, in the Wedding episode) remembers, not the actual sequence we would see if we were watching a video tape of the event. Between times we see her unmarked skin and then see it with tally marks, it's implied that she saw them again, made the marks (as explained earlier, a way to log how many of them they've seen), then looked away and forgot them.

It's not totally consistent, tho -- they show us a scene (after 52 seconds) where she looks up and sees them, despite forgetting it a few seconds later. Not consistent, but dramatically effective, as, by this point, we've gotten the fear of the unexplained marks, we know what is going on, and they stop jerking us around :)

More details:

  • At the start of the clip, she runs into the room. No flashing hand.
  • She turns and runs to the door; as she grabs it (7 seconds in), her hand is flashing (and has marks on the back) and she listens to the recording hearing what she has now forgotten.
  • 35 seconds; she's run back to the other side of the room. No marks visible.
  • 37 seconds; marks on her arms, then she sees them on her face in reflection
  • 52 seconds; she looks back and sees them above her.
  • 116 seconds; she makes a noise and lifts her hands to her face; it's hard to see, but the tally marks are still there
  • 123 seconds; looks down, forgets them, still has tally marks
  • 128 seconds; leaves the room -- still has marks.

In response to the observation that she had marks before the included scene, I went back and watched the episode again. I think you are thinking of the marks at the very beginning, which she later washes off.

Going to the start:

  • July 1969 opens with Amy running from the men with the body bag. When she falls, she has tally marks on her arm visible.
  • Canton then talks to the doctor, showing him pictures of her with the markings.
  • River and Rory both have marks when they meet their end (for the moment), but River dives into the swimming pool, and is seen toweling off, so we can presume that her marks have been washed off. At this point, we never really see Amy's arms, so we can't tell if she has any marks.
  • At 7:32, Amy and Canton pull up to the Orphanage, both check their palms and see no glowing indicator, and declare 'clear.' I think we can assume that Amy has washed her old marks off at this point, as they would confuse things, otherwise. (This is confirmed by the Flashback a moment later, showing them getting the recorders in their palms, and even Rory has washed his marks off.)
  • At 11:19, then enter, and Amy's face and neck are clearly clear of marks. As they walk up the stairs, there isn't a clear shot of them, but what we can see of her hands shows no markings
  • Amy then indicates that 'I'll check upstairs'; as she pushes open the door, we can see her hands are unmarked. As she crosses the room, she holds a Flashlight and a cell visible to the camera, in the process, showing both her hands (and wrists, and lower forearm) to be unmarked.

So, it looks like she had no marks when she went in to the scene you included; again, my guess is that you are remembering the marks from the earlier scene, before she 'died.'

If you still doubt, let me know, and I'll add screen-shots :)

  • 1
    "I don't see them vanishing, just not being there, initially." - well, they were there in earlier scenes in the same episode, but not at the start of this scene. But thanks; I hadn't thought of it this way. That way of showing events is damn confusing; I may have to rewatch the episode.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 5, 2016 at 17:16
  • @Randal'Thor - Checked out the previous scenes.. Added notes to my answer, but the short form is they WERE there in a much earlier scene, but were washed off between then and the scene you included, and we see her clean skin enough to verify that.
    – K-H-W
    Jul 11, 2016 at 23:25
  • OK, this is starting to make a bit more sense now. I may still have to rewatch that episode to understand it properly. Btw, it's Canton, not Fenton :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 11, 2016 at 23:33
  • @Randal'Thor - Thanks; fixed it. That's what I get for trying to transcribe while watching it on an airplane :)
    – K-H-W
    Jul 12, 2016 at 0:29

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