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Great Intelligence

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Great Intelligence
GreatIntelliFace
Main aliases: Yog-Sothoth, The Intelligence
Species: Great Old One
Place of origin: Pre-Universe
First seen in: The Abominable Snowmen
Appearances: see list
Main actor: Richard E. Grant
Other TV actors: warning.png
Main voice actor: Ian McKellen
Other voice actors: Cameron Strefford
Memorable moment
Clara Dies on Christmas Day - Doctor Who - The Snowmen - BBC 04:18

Clara Dies on Christmas Day - Doctor Who - The Snowmen - BBC

The Great Intelligence, which usually referred to itself simply as the Intelligence and was originally known as Yog-Sothoth, was a disembodied sentience who attempted to find a body and physical existence.

Existence

Originating from the universe before this one, Yog-Sothoth and his brethren survived the end of their universe by passing through a parallel universe/dimension that ended one second after theirs. Shifting again allowed them to enter the current universe shortly after it began expanding. (PROSE: All-Consuming Fire, Millennial Rites) Like the other Great Old Ones, it may have lost its body when it ran from the Fendahl. (PROSE: White Darkness) The Intelligence constantly sought physical existence to replace being a shapeless, formless cloud hanging in space. (TV: The Web of Fear)

The Intelligence possessed several people as its main instruments, namely Walter Simeon (TV: The Snowmen), Padmasambhava (TV: The Abominable Snowmen), Staff Sgt. Arnold (TV: The Web of Fear), and Edward Travers (TV: The Web of Fear, HOMEVID: Downtime), eventually adopting Simeon's persona as a recurring avatar, speaking in that guise to its operative Kizlet through a large wall-mounted video screen. (TV: The Bells of Saint John, The Name of the Doctor)

Downtime balls

The control sphere pyramid. (HOMEVID: Downtime)

When not using a living being, it maintained a basic manifestation as a three-sided pyramid composed of control spheres (TV: The Abominable Snowmen) or ivory. (HOMEVID: Downtime) When forcibly summoned to Earth by Anne Travers, and being combined with three sets of physical laws in the Great Kingdom, the Intelligence was an emerald tetrahedron and, because of Travers' meddling, was merged with the god Saraquazel. (PROSE: Millennial Rites)

Biology

The Great Intelligence possessed some amount of artron energy. (PROSE: Millennial Rites) and consumed the mental energy (the "soul") of humans, growing from the minds it feasted on. (TV: The Bells of Saint John)

The Intelligence took on the form of a swarm of "living snow"; carnivorous, multi-nuclear crystalline organisms which generated a low level telepathic field that could detect and respond to thoughts and memories, mimicking and mirroring whatever it found and feeding off thoughts to learn what it could. This snow-form seemed independent, with some ice crystals forming mindless predatory snowmen and a perfect duplicate of human DNA in ice form, while the main Intelligence remained separate. Thoughts affecting a critical mass of snow could affect all the snow, leading to the loss of this body when the snow turned to rain.

SnowmenAttack

Ice-like life form used by the Intelligence to a new attempt to create a new body (The Snowmen).

In its many attempts to achieve form, the Intelligence tried to manifest as ice people based on the human form (TV: The Snowmen) and a slime that glowed brightly with a piercing light. (TV: The Abominable Snowmen) It also manifested as a dense fog that consumed anything entering it, and a poisonous web/fungus which spread through the London Underground and trapped the Doctor's TARDIS, incapable of being destroyed by chemicals, explosives, or flamethrowers. (TV: The Web of Fear) A fourth invasion of Earth had it trying to perpetuate itself in every machine and being, with the whole planet cocooned in web: one mass of thoughts in one global body. (PROSE: Downtime) At the supposed end of its life, the Intelligence had never found substance but rather used the Whisper Men to manifest in empty bodies. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)

What was it?

The Great Intelligence's exact nature was a mystery. The Second Doctor thought the best way to describe it was as a "formless, shapeless thing, floating out in space like a cloud of mist, only with a mind and will." (TV: The Web of Fear). Both Lethbridge-Stewart and the Eleventh Doctor identified it as a mind parasite, whereas the Intelligence considered itself a mass of thoughts with a single thought. It once reflected on whether or not it remembered what its original body was:

Was it huge with massive claws to crush and maim? A bloated spider-mind filling every cavernous gap with billowing web? Was it a mountain? A bank of mountains looming and rumbling like clouds in another sky or on another continuum?Downtime

The Eleventh Doctor, unaware he was facing the Intelligence, commented that he was facing a hive mind, which accounted for the "mass of thoughts" theory, (TV: The Bells of Saint John) while the Intelligence claimed itself as an embodiment of information. Jenny Flint described the Intelligence as "a mind without a body". (TV: The Name of the Doctor)

Powers

The Great Intelligence had no physical existence and thus relied on possession of living creatures and other shapes or allies in order to manipulate its environment. It existed on the astral plane and could enter the people it encountered. It allowed Padmasambhava to live over 300 years while he created the Robot Yeti as servitors. (TV: The Abominable Snowmen) Whether the Yeti could act independently without the Intelligence or not is unknown.

It also reanimated the dead (or near-dead) bodies of Staff Sergeant Arnold and Professor Travers (TV: The Web of Fear), filling itself in every cell and having control of every movement. At full strength it could even save a human from fatal illness, or death by extreme age, if only to possess their bodies. (PROSE: Downtime) It could also exert a mental control similar to hypnosis without completely possessing a human as it had with the monks of Tibet and Victoria Waterfield. In the cases of Walter Simeon and Miss Kizlet, it had done this since childhood. (TV: The Bells of Saint John, The Snowmen)

In addition, it could possess animals like rats and ants by extending its will as well as inhabiting machinery like computer terminals. It resided in the New World University network while reaching out into the Internet. However, the majority of its consciousness was still trapped in the campus mainframe. (HOMEVID: Downtime) It also inhabited a computer system with a video monitor linked to the firm run by Miss Kizlet on the 65th floor of the Shard. The peripheral units linked to this system (computers, including at least one tablet, the walking base stations nicknamed Spoonheads, and a wall of video monitors representing the data cloud) could edit or absorb the mental traits of users, enabling Kizlet to feed her client. The minds absorbed, if not already consumed, could be released providing they still had a body and Kizlet's staff eventually had their memories erased; this "reduction" seems to have occurred through the technology and not from a direct ability of the Intelligence. (TV: The Bells of Saint John)

It had considerable mental powers, namely telekinesis. It was able to make a Eurotrain rear up like a snake and launched missiles, playing with them and engineering near-misses before letting them fall. (PROSE: Downtime) While merged with Saraquazel it telekinetically constructed robot Yeti from its surroundings to defend itself. (PROSE: Millennial Rites)

It also tracked the Second Doctor and followed him through time and space, having built a machine that could drain his mind of knowledge and experience for the Intelligence. (TV: The Web of Fear)

While on Trenzalore, the Great Intelligence utilised the Whisper Men, who appeared as faceless humanoids dressed just as his servant Walter Simeon was when he died. They told Clarence DeMarco that they were a manifestation of the Intelligence when they revealed the location of the Doctor's tomb to him. (HOMEVID: Clarence and the Whispermen) Their bodies were free for the Intelligence to manifest in, their blank face changing into that of Simeon's. He could easily take another Whisper Man should his current body be destroyed. However, the other Whisper Men seemed indestructible as they dissolved upon being struck, only to reform. They could reach into people's hearts and stop them. They were able to bring themselves and their prisoners from Earth to Trenzalore. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)

Personality

The Great Intelligence was arrogant and thought very highly of itself, informing the Doctor that his brain was too small to grasp its purpose. This arrogance was often reflected by its human servants. It sometimes referred to itself as "we", although this habit had worn off by the time it encountered the Second Doctor. Without a body, it became obsessed with having physical form, craving symmetry of light, colour, and shape. The Intelligence took its defeats by the Doctor as unforgivable wounds to its pride. It tended to hold grudges for a very long time. Although once stating that it had no need for revenge, it developed such a hatred for the Doctor after several encounters with him that it was willing to sacrifice itself to destroy his life. (TV: The Abominable Snowmen, The Snowmen, The Name of the Doctor)

It was the unseen but generous Chancellor of New World University, with Victoria as Vice-Chancellor. It designed invasions based on a "Great Plan" it had, having been the military strategist of the Old Ones, and when it thought resistance was useless for humanity, it asked Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart which part of its brilliant plan he found most effective. When horribly bound to Saraquazel, it did not care about him or crave his assistance, thinking it possessed enough power and intellect to find its own escape. The Intelligence, however, did warn Saraquazel of the duplicity of human beings. (HOMEVID: Downtime, PROSE: Millennial Rites)

Miss Kizlet believed that the Intelligence loved humanity - in the same way Burger King loved cattle. The Intelligence was unconcerned about feasting on people's minds to grow stronger, and showed little concern for its servants, reverting them back to their original state of mind, although it did say goodbye to Kizlet before doing this. (TV: The Bells of Saint John)

History

Early history

Yog-Sothoth was a being who existed before the universe in which the Doctor resided. It was a member of a race of beings called the Great Old Ones, who were the equivalent of the Time Lords. They shunted themselves into a parallel universe/dimension to pass into the next universe. Yog-Sothoth discovered it had gained god-like powers and being the military strategist of its people, the Great Intelligence decided to try the various gambits and games it had only played on computers. Over the billennia, it mounted millions of campaigns against inhabited planets. It used the Hisk version of koalas on Hiskith and domestic animals equivalent to dogs on Danos. (PROSE: Millennial Rites) The Intelligence had been exiled from another dimension, and was forced to wander the universe to find a body to possess. (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Web of Fear)

GreatIntelligenceSnowGlobe-in-TheSnowmen

The Great Intelligence's snowglobe in Dr Walter Simeon's institute. (TV: The Snowmen)

Pre-20th century

At some point in the 18th century, the Great Intelligence possessed the Tibetan lama Padmasambhava while it was travelling the astral plane and forced him to build its Robot Yeti over the next two centuries. (TV: The Abominable Snowmen)

In the 19th century, the Intelligence made an attempt to destroy Earth, manifesting as living snow that used Walter Simeon as a host. His dark thoughts powered it; Simeon had, as the Doctor put it, poured his darkest dreams into a snowman . He established the Great Intelligence Institute as the snow slowly swarmed to Earth over 50 years. In 1892, its presence was sufficient enough to consume mankind. Having erased Simeon's mind and memories from after meeting the Intelligence, the Eleventh Doctor was surprised to see the Intelligence survived. He had thought that it had been created by the host Simeon, but discovered that it had learned to survive beyond physical form. Controlling the now-mindless Simeon, it attacked the Doctor, but was stopped in the last minutes of Christmas Eve when the snow changed to "rain", mimicking the form of the tears of Captain Latimer's family after Clara Oswald's death. During this encounter, the Eleventh Doctor inadvertently facilitated the Intelligence's later (or earlier, from the Doctor's perspective) attack in the 1960s by showing it a schematic of the London Underground and making a comment that the Underground was a key strategic weakness in the metropolitan area. (TV: The Snowmen)

In 1893, a future version of the Intelligence familiar with the several defeats it received from the Doctor used the Whisper Men to kidnap Madame Vastra, Strax and Jenny Flint. He spoke through their "conference call" link with another version of Clara to take the Eleventh Doctor from 2013 London to Trenzalore in an unclear timezone. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)

20th century

In 1935 at the Det-Sen Monastery, the Second Doctor and Edward Travers, a westerner determined to find the Yeti, intervened with the Intelligence's plans to take the mountain the Monastery stood on, the Lama realising that it would want to cover the world as slime. They destroyed the pyramids that controlled its Yeti and Padmasambhava's physical body died as the Intelligence melted away. (TV: The Abominable Snowmen) Though it had failed to take over Earth, it was under pressure from the other Old Ones, who themselves embarked on similar campaigns and conquered other planets, forcing him to use the Yeti in London, an environment to which they were not well suited. (PROSE: Millennial Rites)

Thirty-five years or so later, the Yeti re-activated and the Intelligence manifested as webbing. It ensnared the Doctor's TARDIS in space and forced it to land in the London Underground. Reunited with Travers, the Doctor assisted British military in their battles with the Yeti. The Intelligence re-animated and possessed the corpse of Staff Sergeant Arnold, using him to track the Doctor's actions. The Intelligence captured the Doctor and tried to use a conversion headset to take over the Doctor's body. The Doctor attempted to reverse the process, allowing him to absorb the Intelligence and destroy it. When the control spheres that formed the focus of the Intelligence were smashed by Jamie McCrimmon, the Intelligence vanished, powerless but still alive. (TV: The Web of Fear) With everything reversed, it was blinded in unending darkness.

Web above New World University

The Great Intelligence's web. (HOMEVID: Downtime)

At some point in the late 20th century, while Miss Kizlet was still a young girl, the Great Intelligence began to "whisper in her ear," leading her to eventually found her company. (TV: The Bells of Saint John) In the 1980s, the Intelligence again used the Yeti in Tibet to attempt world conquest, only to be defeated by the Lama Gampo upon calling the real Tibetan Yeti to fight the machines. (COMIC: Yonder... The Yeti)

The Intelligence later contacted the Doctor's former companion Victoria Waterfield and manipulated her into using computers to return to physical existence in 1995, attempting to cover the Earth in web. When the generators to the New World University were destroyed, the main bulk of the Intelligence faded away. (HOMEVID: Downtime)

The Intelligence was flung back into the void, where it could recover from the damage done to its being. In 1999, Anne Travers, who had been left traumatised by the Intelligence's first attempts to enter the universe, believed millionaire Ashley Chapel would try to use a special program, the Millennium Codex, to summon the Intelligence to Earth. She prepared a counterspell to force it back into its own reality. However, this had destructive effects, including dragging the Intelligence back to Earth and merging it with the benevolent god Saraquazel into a single malevolent being. It altered reality around London to form the Great Kingdom, a realm partly obeying the laws of the Intelligence's universe, this universe, and Saraquazel's universe; here, the Doctor's TARDIS was worshipped as "the Lady TARDIS" and the Intelligence was worshipped as "the key and the guardian of the gate," forming the triad of gods with Saraquazel. Anne sacrificed herself to fix reality, but instead of destroying the Intelligence and being no better than it, she banished it. The Intelligence became stranded on the edges of the universe, riding the blue shift outwards into infinity. (PROSE: Millennial Rites)

21st century

The Great Intelligence survived and returned to Earth in the 21st century, where Miss Kizlet had established an organisation based on the 65th floor of the Shard, which used the Wi-Fi and servants nicknamed Spoonheads to capture human minds. The Great Intelligence used the internet as its 'web', similar to what it tried to do at the New World University. Its operation fell apart when the Eleventh Doctor used a captured Spoonhead to trick Miss Kizlet into being trapped in the Wi-Fi after she refused to release the uploaded Clara Oswald native to that era, who was under the Doctor's protection. The workers downloaded Clara, Kizlet and others captured in the server, returning them to their bodies. When UNIT, itself an organisation created after its attack on the London Underground, arrived at the Shard, the Great Intelligence ordered Kizlet to restore their employees to their 'Factory Settings', effectively erasing everyone's memories to avoid detection. (TV: The Bells of Saint John)

Other encounters

The Seventh Doctor, Lysandra Aristedes and Sally Morgan encountered the Great Intelligence during their travels in the black TARDIS. (AUDIO: Black and White)

11GI staredown

"What is your name?" (TV: The Name of the Doctor)

After using the Whisper Men to bring the Eleventh Doctor's friends there, the Great Intelligence came to the Doctor's tomb on Trenzalore to turn all of the Doctor's victories into defeats so the Intelligence could have his ultimate revenge. He did so by directly entering the Doctor's time stream, which appeared as an open wound in reality inside the tomb. However, this plan was foiled by the Clara from 2013, who followed the Intelligence through the wound. Just as he was, she was ripped into countless versions of herself throughout history, and saved the Doctor countless times, undoing the damage the Intelligence had done to his timeline. Madame Vastra assumed that entering the time stream "killed" the Intelligence. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)

Behind the scenes

  • Yog-Sothoth is the name of a fictional deity created by H. P. Lovecraft, first appearing in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. It was implied to be one of the most powerful beings in the universe (second to only Azathoth), the key and the gate through which the Old Ones entered the world. Its appearance is often a mass of spheres and it is described as being imprisoned outside of the space-time continuum in a place where it exists at every point in time and space.
  • Whether the Great Intelligence should be referred to as 'it' or 'he' is perhaps best left to personal preference. As the Intelligence has no physical body, it is doubtful as to whether it can be said to have a gender. Although a male face resembling that of Walter Simeon appeared to Miss Kizlet on a large wall-mounted video screen, and it spoke with a male voice in Victorian England and on Trenzalore, this could have been a favoured avatar rather than a gender choice.
  • Writer Neil Gaiman disclosed in Doctor Who Magazine [which?] that earlier drafts of his script for The Doctor's Wife implied that House, the villain of that story, was actually the Great Intelligence. These hints did not make it into the episode as aired. The idea of the Great Intelligence as a villain for the revived series Doctor Who would later lead to TV: The Snowmen.
  • With a gap of 44 years, the Great Intelligence holds the record for longest period of time between televised Doctor Who appearances.

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