# Why had 5 1/2 hours passed on the ship?

Doctor Who series 2 episode 4: The Girl In the Fireplace

Reinette is 37 ...

After the clockwork androids are stopped the Doctor is trapped in Versailles because all the time windows are broken. Then Reinette brings him to the fireplace and he returns to the ship. Rose tells him that 5 1/2 hours had passed on the ship. From the time the Doctor broke through the glass in the ball room and he returned to the ship via the fireplace, only few minutes had passed in Versailles timeline. But time moves slower in the ship timeline so only few seconds should have passed instead of 5 1/2 hours.

First time- Reinette is 7

Second time- few mins passed on the ship, weeks passed in France

Third time- couple of hours on the ship, years passed in France... Reinette is 23.

and so on... few minutes in France should mean few seconds (or even milliseconds) on the ship. Why had 5 1/2 hours passed? And why does the Doctor tell Rose to always wait 5 1/2 hours?

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Wibbly wobbly timey wimey... stuff. – Meat Trademark Dec 14 '13 at 9:18
Someone will have an answer. – Arjun U. Dec 15 '13 at 10:59
Yes. And his name is Steven Moffat. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to participate in this Exchange. – Meat Trademark Dec 15 '13 at 18:09

You're assuming a never-stated correlation between time differences. The examples are not a fixed, linear 1 minute = 1 week pattern. One second could be a year. Another second could be a decade, another just a minute, etc.

As you said:

After the clockwork androids are stopped the Doctor is trapped in Versailles because all the time windows are broken. Then Reinette brings him to the fireplace and he returns to the ship. Rose tells him that 5 1/2 hours had passed on the ship. From the time the Doctor broke through the glass in the ball room and he returned to the ship via the fireplace, only few minutes had passed in Versailles timeline. But time moves slower in the ship timeline so only few seconds should have passed instead of 5 1/2 hours.

You also said:

Third time- couple of hours on the ship, years passed in France... Reinette is 23.

First off, what made you think hours had passed? It seemed just a couple minutes. This is another example of lack of "typical" continuity. The last example towards the episode's end was less than a minute for the Doctor on the ship and twenty years in Versailles.

And as your first quoted observation shows, the episode has already proven that your assumption is not the case. Your examples of the discrepancies are proof of this.

How often does the Doctor and / or TARDIS show up in a time other than anticipated? A LOT. One can safely assume this is because time is not easily manipulated or plotted. Also, the ship the Doctor and his companions landed on was "generating enough power to punch a hole in the Universe" producing a "spatial temporal hyperlink" (which he made up instead of saying "Magic Door"). An anomaly like this wouldn't have to be constrained to our current understanding of time and space.

As to why he said "Always wait 5 1/2 hours?" It seemed like a joke to me. He was just excited.

As a postscript, this is also an episode the Doctor advises "You never want to listen to reason."

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Time did behave in a known pattern: fast in France but slow on the ship. I agree that the examples are not fixed. Can't say X minutes in France = Y minutes on the ship but we know X>Y which is satisfied from the beginning until the point I'm referring to. The show doesn't give complete explanations and it doesn't have to because it's fiction. But at least some reasoning should be present. – Arjun U. Dec 15 '13 at 13:04
If by "known pattern" you mean time moves at different intervals for no apparent reason (other than slower on one end and faster on the other), that's a pattern, I suppose. I thought you were after a more cohesive answer. In my mind, known patterns are predictable because they are known. Your question seemed to be asking about the pattern because you didn't see a logical one, and there doesn't appear to be one. – Meat Trademark Dec 15 '13 at 17:19
Right, wibbly wobbley timey whimey stuff. "“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff." – meer2kat Apr 28 '14 at 15:18