“Spoilers? Who cares about steenkin’ spoilers?”
We know, a lot of people do. Sometimes we here at TVWriter™ are among them. But not this time around. Because every single one of us slaving away for our Beloved Leader Larry Brody agrees that knowing the info in this essay by Kyle Anderson on nerdist.com richer.
Not only that, it also has made the entirety of our Doctor Who experience fuller and just plain more fun. Ignore this if you must, but enjoy it if you, erm, you know, mustn’t.
by Kyle Anderson
As both Riley Silverman and I have said in various pieces this year, there were a whole lot of threads at play in series 12. Chris Chibnall went from having nothing and nobody of interest to maybe too much in the span of just one season. But going into the finale, we had a few big lingering questions to answer:
1. Who is/are the Timeless Child/Children?
2. Why did the Master destroy Gallifrey?
3. How does the Jo Martin Doctor fit into the timeline that we know?
4. Who was Brendan whose strange life we saw in “Ascension of the Cybermen”?
Luckily, the first question is maybe the simplest. Yet its implications bleed over into so much of Doctor Who, past present and future. The Master pulls the Doctor away from her friends—trapped in a life-or-death struggle against the Cybermen—to hook her up to the Matrix. Now, the Matrix, in Doctor Who terms, is the virtual reality-like depository of all Time Lord history and knowledge. We first learned about it in the 1976 story “The Deadly Assassin,” one of the most important stories of all time.
A quick digression about “The Deadly Assassin,” because “The Timeless Children” directly references it a LOT. That episode featured the Doctor’s first on screen jaunt to the Citadel, the Time Lord’s big central city on Gallifrey. There he fought the Master who had attempted to extract info from the Matrix to save himself. The Master was a decaying husk at the time, out of regenerations. “The Deadly Assassin” was also the story that introduced the deep held lore that Time Lords have only 12 regenerations, their lives end after 13 iterations. Obviously, there’s some fudging throughout the series on that front.
“The Deadly Assassin” was also the first mention of the Shobogans. The Shobogans are an indigenous race of Gallifreyans who, apparently, do not have the ability to regenerate and are therefore not Time Lords. And as the Master explains when he and the Doctor enter the Matrix, a Shobogan scientist named Tecteun traversed the stars until she found a mysterious portal on a distant world. At the foot of this portal, Tecteun also found a small child. Tecteun took the child with her and raised the little girl as her own. During a fight with a playmate, the child fell off a cliff and seemingly died. Except, she didn’t. She regenerated….