"The Timeless Children" is the tenth and final episode of the twelfth series of Doctor Who. It was the final part of a trilogy of related episodes, and was also 65 minutes long, and involved more special effects and more scenery than the average Doctor Who episode.

At the end of the last episode, The Master, who had last been seen in Spyfall, appears to whisk The Doctor off to the wreckage of Gallifrey, to reveal secrets to her. Meanwhile, the companions and remaining humans are back in the real world, fighting or fleeing from the army of Cybermen. Whereas the previous episode showed just how powerless untrained humans are against the technology of the Cybermen, this episode features a more standard Doctor Who take on the matter: despite being hopelessly outgunned, our scrappy humans cleverly evade or fight against the Cybermen for the episode, while the Doctor...

So the main point of this episode is that in a series of flashbacks, The Master reveals the secret history of Gallifrey and the Time Lords, which is a shock to The Doctor, and also to the audience. Because rather than being just a "standard" Time Lord that ran away for adventure, this episode describes how the Doctor was actually an alien child from a different dimension, and that the powers of the Time Lords, such as regeneration, were derived from them. And that, after possibly hundreds of regenerations, the Doctor was mindwiped and became the William Hartnell First Doctor. All of this is revealed in straight exposition and flashback scenes, while the fighting goes on "outside".

Then, in a final climactic scene, the very hammy Master reveals a new master plan: since he has killed all the time lords and has Cybermen handy, he is going to use...Time Lord corpses to reanimate Cybermen into a horde of hybrid killers. A plot that is foiled, at the last moment, by Doctor and companions, ending the series arc, but leaving many questions for the viewer. On one hand, the revelation that The Doctor has had countless regenerations opens up the possibility for the character, and reinforces the idea that the Doctor is something beyond understanding. On the other hand, it undermines the character development the Doctor has had over sixty years. For me, I thought the story was exciting and interesting when I watched it, but when I woke up the next day, I had almost a hangover, wondering what all the gigantic, disruptive revelations in this episode would mean. Would it really change anything, or was it merely an attempt to shock the viewer, with no relevance or substance?

This episode certainly gets points for taking chances, but it has two major flaws: first, it is given in the form of an infodump with the Doctor herself merely a passive audience to the Master's revelation, and second, I am not clear on what this revelation means in terms of character development.

You've handed over a cashier's check for $498,237, and you're handed a set of keys for your brand-new 2022 McLaren 765LT. You hop inside and start up the 754hp twin-turbo V-8 engine. Hmmm, it sounds a little...weak.

You hop out and open the bonnet. Inside you find the engine from a 1980 Yugo. And the body panels are all made from old Walmart cardboard boxes.

I'm sure you'd be a little upset. This was exactly how I felt after I watched the Doctor Who episode, "The Timeless Children".

For context, I've watched Doctor Who since the 1960's. I have every episode that is available (excluding the lost ones, of course) up to the end of the season this node is about. I have stopped watching the show and buying merchandise.

Is it because of Jodie Whittaker? Nope. I was actually looking forward to her run because I liked her in Broadchurch, plus it would be fascinating to see an exploration of the Doctor from a woman's perspective. The episodes were mostly pushy and preachy, but some items I did like, such as the Rosa Parks episode.

So what has caused this big shift in my enjoyment of the series?

The Timeless Children episode completely retconned everything I loved about the show for sixty years. It was all a lie. The TARDIS has a Yugo engine and the Daleks are cardboard. William Hartnell is not the original Doctor. The Timelords are child murderers who continuously killed this one alien child over and over to learn how to steal her regeneration ability. Plus, there have been thousands of "Doctors", pre-dating Hartnell.

Unfortunately for the series, I'm not alone in my despair. The show has lost so many hardcore fans from this one episode that the BBC had to do something drastic. They've hired back Bad Wolf Productions with Russell T. Davies, who was the showrunner for some of the best New "Who" years, and the one caveat he had is that Bad Wolf/Davies would have absolute, complete control of the series. The BBC, realizing their cash cow was halfway through the sausage grinder, relented. There's even talk that fan favorite David Tennant will be back to try and correct some of the serious damage to the franchise.

The only way I would return would be if Bad Wolf made the whole Jodie Whittaker run a "(Dallas) Bobby in the shower moment", making it all a dream. Or even a hoax, since The Master was involved. Which is sad, because the problems are with the writing, not the actors. While I still like Jodie, I found she really didn't have the gravitas or presence that is needed for the role. Surprisingly, there was a woman Doctor that I thought did have the stage presence needed, and it was Jo Martin, who appeared in an earlier episode of this season and revealed she was one of many previous incarnations before Hartnell. I think if one teamed up Jo, who would be the first person of color, plus a woman to boot, and someone who knew how to write episodes of Doctor Who and was actually familiar with the lore and fandom, THAT season would absolutely kick some butt. If they do bring in Tennant for one season of "specials", I'd be happy if he transitioned over to Jo Martin with Russel T. Davies at the helm.

We can only wait and see...

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.