“Doctor Who”: 10 Things You May Not Know About “The Timeless Children” | Anglophenia
For a show that has time travel and regeneration in its DNA, it’s surprising that Doctor Who more often does not explode its own history with inconceivable paradigms. And this is the story that has the most force in terms of challenging public perceptions of who the Doctor is.
It does the same for the Doctor herself, of course. And offers a cycle of eternal rebirth for the Cybermen, with the Master at his best, clad in a burgundy frock coat that closely resembles that of the Eleventh Doctor. It is, as they say on social networks, a lot.
Here are a few things to watch out for the next time you watch.
1. This episode is riddled with deep references to the Doctor’s previous adventures on Gallifrey. For example, she rightly points out that she once fought the Matrix, as happened when her fourth incarnation had to find the master, in “The Deadly Assassin”. This story is also the source of the Master’s reference to “murdering presidents together” and to the Panopticon, the seat of parliament on Gallifrey and the seat of the He of Harmony.
And in “The Ultimate Foe”, the Sixth Doctor had to fight the Matrix while facing the machinations of Valeyard’s accomplice. The Valeyard is later revealed to be another incarnation of the Doctor, which begs the question: will we ALL eventually become the Doctor?
2. Likewise, the Master is misty-eyed as he talks about running away from Borusa, a Time Lord who both appeared in “The Deadly Assassin” and ultimately became a cropper during the Fifth Doctor’s reunion with the Most of its elders, “The Five Doctors”:
3. This story also continues a Doctor Who scriptwriting tradition, in which the Master is oddly knowledgeable about British television. When applying for an alliance with Cyberium, he says “I deserve to be your business partner because I have done all the tasks well”, a fairly common cliché expressed by candidates in the UK version of The apprentice.
4. Sharmus. Graham and Ryan have a quick chat about girdling their loins. Well, if they knew their bible quotes, they would know that it’s about tying long robes so that they don’t get in the way if you are in a hurry.
1 Kings 18: 45-6 says, “And Ahab rode and came to Jezreel. And… Elijah… girded his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel, ”and by the time it appeared in the New Testament, it was already a metaphor:“ Therefore, gird up the loins of be sober in your mind, and wait for the grace which will be brought to you to the end … “(1 Peter 1:13).
5. Remember when everyone was going crazy over the “Hybrid” prophecy at the end of Season 9? This story follows some of the key elements of the legend:
The Master merged with the Cyberium to become a hybrid, he stands on the ruins of Gallifrey and untangles the Web of Time (uncovering the true origins of the Time Lords). He breaks a billion hearts (killing the Time Lords) to heal his own (finding part of him to be the Doctor has him incredibly upset).
6. Prior to the episode airing, the listings included references to a character called “Fakout”, who was played by a “Barack Stemis”. Barack Stemis is an anagram of “Master is Back”.
It’s also an anagram of “Karmas Bisect”, “Macabre Skits” and “Crab Mistakes”, but that doesn’t matter.
7. When we see Tecteun standing in his Time Lord set alongside two other Time Lords, the production notes included this tidbit: “We can assume [the other two] maybe Rassilon and Omega. Marc Corden took on the role of Omega – a Time Lord later disgraced to fight the Third, Second, and First Doctors in “The Three Doctors” – and for Rassilon, he brought a doppelganger of Don warrington who has played the imperious leader of Time Lord in numerous Big Finish productions.
8. There are at least two direct poetic quotes in the script. The Master sings above the Doctor with the phrase “Look at my work, Doctor, and despair”, which is a quote ripped from Percy Bysshe Shelley‘s Ozymandias: “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look at my works, mighty, and despair!
9.… and the Doctor’s self-confidence returns with the phrase “I contain multitudes”. This is an appropriate quote from the 1855 Walt whitman poem “Song of Myself”, which reads: “Am I contradicting myself? All right, so I contradict myself, I’m great, I contain multitudes.
10. This is the big deal. When we see the Doctor overloading the Matrix with his story, one of the images that scroll is of the Fourth Doctor fighting Morbius in “The Brain of Morbius”. This is another story of Time Lord vs. Time Lord (albeit with a touch of Frankenstein) and the Doctor’s past is projected onto a screen during a mental battle. We see his three previous incarnations and a few other faces, which likely refer to doctors prior to the one we know as the Prime. This underscores the idea that she may have regenerated several times before what she believes to be her first incarnation quite clearly.
The full list of memories she conjures up includes (deep breathing):
All incarnations of the Doctor that we know of, including the Doctor of War, Doctor Fugitive and the various incarnations of the Timeless Child up to and including Brendan; seven of the Doctor’s Morbius faces; the TARDIS; Rose Tyler; Donna Noble; Clara Oswald; Amy’s pond; Rory Williams; Song of the river; Sarah Jane Smith; Bill Potts; Wilfred Mott, Captain Jack Harkness; Martha Jones; Mickey Smith; Davros; The Master (all incarnations, including Missy; Ashad and her Cybergards; Cyberium; Praxeus Infected Birds; Nikola Tesla; Rosa Parks; Tzim-Sha; Sutekh; Scaroth; Abzorbaloff; Queen of Skithra; the Empress of Racnoss; Sharaz Jek; Daleks; Sontariens; Autons; Sil; Dregs, Vocs; Ogrons; Ood; Sea Devils; Zygons; Kasaavin; Ux; Scarecrows; Sycorax; Solitract; Morax and the Plenitude Sisters) .. . phew.
What’s your favorite part of “The Timeless Children”?