This article contains spoilers for “The Timeless Children,” episode 10 of Doctor Who season 12.
Everything we know about Doctor Who is a lie.
Since assuming the role of showrunner in 2018, Chris Chibnall has woven the “Timeless Child” into his series (like Russell T. Davies’ Bad Wolf story arc in 2005.)
The entity, first mentioned in the Thirteenth Doctor’s second episode, resurfaces with the Master at the beginning of this season.
Now—finally—in the second half of a two-part finale, we have answers. Which, of course, lead to more questions.
The Timeless Child is a “refugee” from another dimension, rescued by Tecteun, who watches in awe as her adopted daughter regenerates her body.
After a lifetime of studying the shifting scion, Tecteun eventually cracks their genetic code, successfully splicing it into her own. This powerful discovery is then passed down through the generations—each Gallifreyan within the Citadel bearing a piece of the Timeless Child’s DNA.
As the planet evolved, the newly anointed Time Lords—founded by Tecteun—restricted regeneration to a maximum of 12 times.
Pacifism Tomorrow, Survival Today
But what happened to the child?
Well, they grew up to star in a long-running sci-fi television show on the BBC.
The revelations don’t stop there.
After joining a mysterious organization known as The Division, the Doctor lived what we can only assume was an extraordinary life—which was redacted through the Time Lord Matrix to prevent her from learning the truth.
Remember the strange story of Irish cop Brendan during last week’s episode?
That bizarre plot device, it turns out, was simply a ploy by the Master—alluding to his frenemy’s previous existence(s) (likely including Jo Martin’s canonical Doctor). Those memories—as seen in Brendan’s story—were wiped by the The Division before rebooting the Timeless Child into the regenerating Time Lord we know and love.
(So, technically I was right when I posited that the Garda is the Timeless Child…)
Be Brave, Be Swift, Be Lucky
While audiences wrap their heads around that, the companions reunite to save the Doctor—and the world.
Mostly relegated to the background, Team TARDIS+ avoid being turned into Cybermen by, well, temporarily turning themselves into Cybermen.
I was convinced one of the trio wouldn’t make it out of this episode alive: Probably Graham or Yaz, following that heartfelt moment between the two, which felt like a set up for an impending goodbye.
It was Ko Sharmus, though, who volunteers as tribute.
Part of the group that sent the Cyberium back in time, the old man feels responsible for the Master gaining control of the mercurial AI, and volunteers as tribute in the destruction of all organic life on Gallifrey.
Of course Ko Sharmus should be the one who go down with the ship. But his big reveal in the Citadel undercuts the Doctor’s decision not to stoop to the Master’s level, instead happily accepting mass carnage—as long as she’s not the one pulling the trigger.
Into the Unknown
Was the Master really vaporized with Ko Sharmus and the Cyber-Time Lord army? Unlikely.
But it remains unclear what this means for Sacha Dhawan’s giddily savage turn as the villain, who, carrying hand-me-down DNA, does have the power to regenerate.
“I’d love to” return for season 13, the actor said in a recent interview with Digital Spy. “I’m just waiting to be asked, to be honest.”
The character’s disappointing lack of screen time leaves me wanting more of Dhawan’s Master; unlike John Simm and Michelle Gomez before him, audiences haven’t spent as much time with this scene-stealing version of the Time Lord.
It was basically impossible for “The Timeless Children” to live up to the hype (mostly of Chibnall’s own making).
If nothing else, though, I am excited to see where the story goes next, and how the Doctor deals with this bombshell. (Not to mention what plan she thinks up to escape from Judoon jail.)
Missed Doctor Who episode nine? Check out our recap of “Ascension of the Cybermen.”
Doctor Who returns this festive season with “Revolution of the Daleks.”
“We can’t leave the Doctor there! On that cliffhanger! Well, we did,” Chibnall said in a statement. “But rest assured, the Doctor and her friends will be back for a one-off extended special around Christmas and New Year.
“There will be Daleks. There will be exterminations,” he continued. “Thrills, laughter, tears. You know. The usual. See you at the end of the year.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I dread the return of one of the show’s most overused characters (aside from the Cybermen). But the lead writer surprised me with his skillful sort-of Dalek origin story in season 11. So perhaps I’ll reserve judgement until the holidays.
Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker will be joined by all three companions for the special.
Doctor Who Glossary (for all your British-to-American English needs):
- Got form: To have previous convictions
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