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RTD’s Doctor Who Has Now Referenced Chibnall’s Timeless Child In 5 Out Of 6 Episodes So Far

May 13, 2024 - Movies

Warning: The following contains spoilers for Doctor Who season 14, episode 1, “Space Babies,” and episode 2, “”The Devil’s Chord”


Summary

  • RTD integrates Timeless Child plotline in new Doctor Who episodes, signaling commitment to lore shakeup.
  • RTD’s references to the Timeless Child suggest Doctor Who will reveal the Doctor’s true species eventually.
  • Doctor Who
    retains Chibnall’s Timeless Child twist, incorporating it into lore while using it to explore character growth.


Doctor Who isn’t necessarily moving away from the Timeless Child storyline, with the latest batch of episodes highlighting RTD’s commitment to the massive lore shakeup. One of the biggest stories during the 13th Doctor’s tenure on the show, the Timeless Child storyline revealed the Doctor wasn’t actually a Gallifreyan or a naturally-born Time Lord. Instead, they are from another dimension, with their ability to regenerate harnessed to elevate the Time Lords to their true cosmic importance. The change was a huge twist to the established lore of Doctor Who, and was met with resistance by some pockets of the fanbase.


Some had expected the revelation to be brushed aside by a returning Russell T. Davies, but instead the Timeless Child has become a major underlying element of both the 14th Doctor and the 15th Doctor, with the two characters referencing the Timeless Child retcon in the early episodes of RTD’s new run. This suggests the plot turn isn’t being forgotten and could continue to play into the Doctor’s ongoing character growth and cosmic adventures in RTD’s new run. Here is how references to the Timeless Child have already impacted Doctor Who‘s characters, and what it could mean for the future.

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All Timeless Child References Since RTD Returned To Doctor Who Explained

RTD Has Mentioned The Timeless Child In Five Of His Six First Modern Doctor Who Episodes

Ncuit Gatwa as the 15th Doctor and Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday in the TARDIS in Doctor Who.


The new season of Doctor Who has repeatedly referenced the Timeless Child plotline, confirming that RTD’s new run on Doctor Who will embrace the huge plot twist instead of brushing it aside. Across the six new RTD Doctor Who episodes available at the time of this writing, the Timeless Child is referenced in five. The lingering trauma of the revelation played into episodes like “The Star Beast,” “Wild Blue Yonder,” and “The Church on Ruby Road.” In each, the Doctor is shown still reeling from the revelation. “Wild Blue Yonder” saw the fake Donna needle the Doctor about these revelations.

The Doctor described themselves as adopted” in “Space Babies,” confirming that they don’t see themselves as a Time Lord anymore. The Flux and the Timeless Child are mentioned by the Toymaker in “The Giggle,” which suggested the reality-warping villain was responsible for changing the Doctor’s history. The only episode that doesn’t directly reference the Timeless Child is “The Devil’s Chord,” which nevertheless carries on the Toymaker’s revelations by focusing on the Maestro, a child of the celestial force. This means the overarching storylines from “The Giggle” will continue to drive the season forward, including their connections to the Timeless Child.


RTD’s Timeless Child References Suggest Doctor Who Will Reveal The Doctor’s True Species (Eventually)

The Mystery Of The Doctor’s Origins Still Needs A Clear Answer

Doctor Who 15th Doctor and Ruby

This all suggests the revelations about the Timeless Child aren’t ignored, despite the controversial reception the storyline received from the fanbase. It also means the show is likely to eventually approach the lingering mysteries set up by the story. As revealed to the 13th Doctor, the Timeless Child hailed from an unknown dimension, meaning their true origin is a complete mystery. They arrived in the core-Doctor Who timeline through a wormhole and were found by the scientist Tecteun. On ancient Gallifrey, Tecteun’s experiments on the Timeless Child elevated their race into the Time Lords and ultimately erased the Doctor’s memories.


However, the identity of the Doctor’s original species was never fully revealed. This mystery still lingers in the new season, and is clearly on the Doctor’s mind. Referencing the storyline so much in the aftermath of RTD taking the show back over makes it hard to imagine the show won’t delve into that lingering aspect of the story at some point, offering an explanation of who and what the Doctor really is. While the current episodes are more focused on mysteries surrounding Ruby Sunday and The One Who Waits, it’s unlikely the show can avoid the Doctor’s full origins forever.


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Season 14’s Timeless Child References Prove Doctor Who Isn’t Brushing The Story Aside

A Major Doctor Who Ret-Con Isn’t Being Ret-Conned Away

When RTD took over as showrunner for Doctor Who following the departure of Chris Chibnall, there was some question whether it would retain the revelations about the Doctor’s origins. The Toymaker’s reality-altering powers even offered a perfect in-universe explanation for the Doctor’s modified origins, in a manner by which they could theoretically be brushed aside and ignored going forward with another in-universe ret-con. However, the repeated references to the Timeless Child and the impact of those revelations on the Doctor remain a major part of the show. On one level, this ensures the lore remains consistent with what’s happened before.


This was something RTD’s earlier run also respected in regard to previous incarnations of the Doctor. It also highlights how RTD’s focus remains on the character of the Doctor, highlighting how such a big revelation about their origins would impact someone. This suggests that RTD is at least using the Timeless Child as a means of further exploring the Doctor’s personality, building off the revelation and ensuring they’re major elements of the character going forward. It also seems inevitable that the revelations surrounding the Doctor’s origins won’t remain a mystery forever, given the lingering questions such a revelation inherently invites.

Why Doctor Who Is Right To Retcon Chibnall’s Controversial Timeless Child Twist

Tweaking The Timeless Child Helps Fit It Into The Rest Of Doctor Who’s Lore

Composite of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor and the Timeless Child smiling in Doctor Who


Doctor Who‘s Timeless Child plot twist remains a foundationally massive plot turn, and it could have easily become a driving force behind Doctor Who. However, RTD found a way to tie the Timeless Child into other plotlines, seemingly connecting it to the return of the Toymaker and Ruby Sunday’s mysteries. This minor retcon was a good call, as it allowed the developments of Chibnall’s run to remain part of the lore while altering it just enough to fit into RTD’s plans for the show going forward. As a result, the mysteries of the Timeless Child aren’t necessarily erased or forgotten.


It also means the Timeless Child isn’t the sole driving factor for the Doctor’s new adventures. It honors Chibnall’s impact on the franchise and the character, while keeping the focus moving and growing outside of the Timeless Child. It’s probably the best possible way to address the Timeless Child as a concept, using it to help develop the new incarnation of the Doctor while setting up potential future storylines. While some fans may have hoped RTD would simply erase the plotline, it’s far more exciting to see Doctor Who using the set-up for both personal character growth and larger storylines.

Doctor Who Poster

Doctor Who

Originally premiered in 1963, Doctor Who is a sci-fi series that follows a powerful being known as a Time Lord, referred to as the Doctor. Using an interdimensional time-traveling ship known as the TARDIS, the Doctor travels time and space with various companions as they solve multiple problems and help avert catastrophe as much as they almost cause it. Though the Doctor is always the same character, they experience regenerations, allowing them to be recast every few seasons as a unique immortal being with new personality traits.

Release Date
November 23, 1963

Seasons
26

Writers
Mark Gatiss , Toby Whithouse , Neil Cross , Steven Moffat , Chris Chibnall

Franchise
Doctor Who


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