Doctor Who, What I Think

All the Problems with “The Timeless Children”

I have a ton of problems with the Season Finale of Series 10 of “Doctor Who.”  After I finished watching it, I had this bad feeling in my gut, as if I’d eaten something that couldn’t sit well.  After spending some time thinking about it, the retcon they did to the Doctor’s past created far too many problems and discrepancies with the established canon.  So to reconcile these feelings, I’ve written out all my questions and problems with the new world of Doctor Who after “The Timeless Children.”

  • How did the Master manage to wipe out the entire Citadel full of Time Lords who have the ability to regenerate?  Did he just keep killing them and killing them until they ALL used up all their regenerations?  Something like that he’d absolutely brag about that much killing and death to the Doctor, and yet he never mentions how he did it.
  • If all the Time Lords are dead (or “cold” as the Master describes it), how then could their bodies be placed inside Cyber armor, activated, killed and then suddenly be able to regenerate again?  If the Time Lord body is dead, that means it’s used all of its regenerations.  Putting a Time Lord body inside a Cyberman shell doesn’t magically restore it’s ability to regenerate.
  • How could 1 scientist (Tecteun) discover space travel, travel between planets, find the Timeless Child and then spend so much time discovering the genetic secret to regeneration?  That kind of scientific research and growth would take several generations to accomplish, and yet 1 person manages to do it all in a single lifetime.
  • Plus, someone who had that massive an impact on the society of the Time Lords wouldn’t just be forgotten and never mentioned again.  Tecteun would be considered the Great Ancestor of the Time Lords, like Abraham or Adam and Eve. There would be monuments and museums all over re-telling her story.  Otherwise, it’s just another mystery that some Time Lord would try to uncover, and certainly a secret the Time Lords couldn’t keep for long.
  • If you’ve labored that long and hard to discover regeneration and the secret to immortality, why put a limitation on it?  If the Time Lords were the “dusty senators” that they were, why wouldn’t they simply choose to live forever?
  • If a person is made stronger by knowing who they are and made more clever with each regeneration, why hamstring them by erasing all that knowledge and history?
  • Did we really need to wipe out the Time Lords again?  Oh, sorry, twice.  First by the Master and then again by Ko Sharmus using the death particle.  Now the Master is the last of the Time Lords.  The Doctor is still the one and only of her race in this Universe.
  • The death particle has got to be one of the biggest McGuffins I’ve ever seen.  Introduced and used all within a single 90-minute show.  Just dumb and lazy writing.  And it could only be used once?  Doesn’t seem like that would help the Cybermen goal of eradicating all organic life everywhere?  Seems like your goal should be to make more death particles, not an army of soldiers.
  • How convenient that the Time Lords left a bunch of TARDIS units lying around near the Matrix chamber just ready to be stolen by anyone who just walks inside them.  One of the most valued prizes in all of space and time and they’re sitting around waiting to be picked up like rent-a-bikes.  Now there’s a TARDIS just sitting in 21st century Sheffield and on the last planet of the humans (unspecified) as well as Gallifrey (now devoid of organic life … the buildings, technology and TARDIS will all be intact).
  • If the ability to regenerate came from the genetic material of the Doctor added to Shebogans, how did River Song, the daughter of two humans, develop the ability to regenerate?  Supposedly she got the ability from being conceived inside the time vortex.  Did the Doctor gain this ability before meeting Tecteun because the Doctor was also conceived in the vortex?  If so, is River Song more like the species that the Doctor originally came from or is she still a human?
  • So, the great villain of the series, the Lone Cyberman, is taken out in an instant by getting turned into a doll?  What was the point of making so much of his human body exposed?  If he was so intent on destroying anything organic, why not complete the conversion and be the true symbol of the future of organic beings?  The Master all but asks and never gets a clear answer.  Dumb villain.  What the hell was his plan again?  To quote Tony Stark, “Not a great plan.”
  • So now the Master has all the knowledge of the Matrix plus all the knowledge of the Cyberium inside him, and now he’s basically become a Nihilist?  Why does he want everyone to die?  And if he wants everyone to die, why not just do it?  Why make any arrangements with the Cybermen to accomplish this?  Seems like a waste of time and effort when you could get to your goal quickly by applying the Gallifrey-killing weapon to every inhabited planet you visit.  That being said, Sacha Dhawan’s portrayal of the nihilist Master is really spot on!  He captured the psychopath alongside the strategist and the genius.  Most importantly, he captured the important tie between the Master and the Doctor that keeps bringing them back together.  It’s always been a competition between the two of them, and the Master will never be satisfied until he has found the way to change the Doctor to be more like him, whether that’s giving him an army of Cybermen, trying to turn into a good person or revealing the ultimate truth of the Doctor’s history.
  • The Division is the Section 31 of the Doctor Who Universe, and it’s main agent is the Doctor?  Another secret that doesn’t make sense to have survived this long.  Although, it does explain how the War Doctor could be created so easily.
  • Try as they might, seems like the Time Lords, whether they were in the Division or not, sure did a whole LOT of interfering over the millennia.  Remember that time they used the Master to try to restore Gallifrey even if it meant the destruction of another planet?
  • The other Doctors shown to the Time Lord Morbius are now officially the Doctor, and if the Doctor saw them in that battle of wits (as it were), why didn’t the Doctor spend any time over the next 2000 years trying to understand who those faces were?
  • So now every guest star appearance on “Doctor Who” could simply be another incarnation of the Doctor throughout their lifetime?  All of time and space to choose from, and the producers/writers are going to keep us tied to the Doctor’s timeline?  How dull.
  • Speaking of timelines, when Clara jumped into the Doctor’s time stream to save him from the Great Intelligence, why didn’t she find all these past incarnations of the Doctor alongside the War Doctor?
  • Did she save all of them from the Great Intelligence or just that previous 10 incarnations?
  • When she visited Gallifrey and helped the First Doctor steal the TARDIS, which eventually became a police box, if the Doctor already had the police box from a previous incarnation (i.e. Ruth), why need to steal it at all?
  • How did the Jadoon teleport inside the TARDIS when so many others with far greater technology couldn’t even get through the doors?  Answer? They can’t.  It just needed to happen to setup the Holiday Special.

The real question is then, why didn’t the producers of the show think this through before moving forward with?  The answer?  Ratings.  Setup a big mystery.  Bring back the Master and Captain Jack to set it up, then hook us with a terrible image of Gallifrey destroyed.

But it leaves too many questions unanswered, many of them above and more that I haven’t thought of.

The big question for me is: why the need to retcon the history at all?  There’s more than enough mythology established to tell tons of great stories without having to re-write so many foundational elements of the character.  There are plenty of tidbits of the Doctor’s history (going only back to the First Doctor) that could be explored.  Plus plenty of gaps between the Doctor’s to have fun with.  Well, at least he’ll get to retire as the Curator at some point.

I wish I could say I’m excited for the Holiday Special.  I’m definitely not excited about the next series if all it’s going to be is an exploration into all the versions of the Doctor we’ve never seen before.  I’ve got a feeling that could kill the whole show dead.  I hope the producers and writers put a great deal more thought into what they’re going to do next than into what they showed us in this series.

About Bradford W Wendel