Folks, we’ve got to be honest with you, this is a post chockablock with theories and spoilers aplenty, so if you’d rather remain ignorant to what may or may not be a feasible theory for season nine of Doctor Who, run away from this post tout de suite. Mmkay? K great.
Now, first things first: look at that hug! Isn’t it nice to see the Doctor and Clara unabashedly running through time together?
Of course it is! Duh. Shortly thereafter, though, we were greeted with a bevy of new aliens that have us quite curious about what’s going to go down this season. Including Zygons who are staging a worldwide uprising:
And these creepy, nearly desiccated-looking iterations of the aforementioned ‘gons (thought they’re probably something else entirely):
Goons, it seems, that can control water and the environment. CRAZY!
Given the image that was included with the press release about the trailer, we have some ~theories~ about this season, where it’s going, and why Moff might be lying again.
Space and time? That feels awfully wibbly-wobbly to us in terms of what sort of epic-ness this season is cooking up. After all, the Doctor has yet to find Gallifrey—something that’s definitely been on his mind this past season, especially after Missy (Michelle Gomez, a.k.a. The Master) toyed with his emotional heartstrings claiming that she’d found it.
And then there’s, of course, Maisie Williams, who could tie all of this together.
The mystery surrounding Maisie Williams’ to-be-confirmed guest role has been hot and heavy since Comic-Con. Because how could it not be, right? Throughout the clip, we see her not only interacting with Clara Oswald (in period garb no less), but also what looks to be a sentient cat-person. BECAUSE WHO DOESN’T LOVE CATS, AMIRITE? (also, thanks for that, Doctor Who. And prepare for all the purrfect puns this season.)
In the lore of sentient catfolk on Who, there are several iterations: the Cat-People and Cheetah People of the Seventh Doctor’s final episode (“Survival”); the Catkind of Tenth Doctor adventures “New Earth” and “Gridlock”; the various sort of felines in the comics, including Fatkats, Lion-men, Mercenaries of Gin-Seng, the Sehkmet burglars, and Kzinti warriors; and—of course—the Tharils of the Fourth Doctor adventure “Warriors’ Gate.”
It’s the first and last ones that have us the most interested and, frankly, pretty convinced that—despite what Steven Moffat said at the TCAs—Maisie Williams may be either Romana or Ace reincarnated. Stick with us! We promise it’ll be worth it.
Wearing what looks to be a cape with a fancy up-do, this moment from the trailer screams Romana to us. Plus, that catdude looks pretty intensely Tharil-esque. And for those not in the know, their partnership is well documented throughout the Who canon.
It was also documented that Romana spent a good amount of time living amongst and traveling with the Tharils through E-Space (an alternate universe), building up their ranks and freeing them from the slavery they were forced into given their ability to ride the time winds largely unimpeded. This meant their ability to travel through the time vortex was inherent and unaided by things like, say, a TARDIS. Pretty impressive skill to have, no?
Why do I believe they’re Tharils and not another race of catfolk? Because of this:
Could these dudes be the Mire mercenaries? Could they be Zygons dressed in fancy gear to coincide with their as-reported worldwide uprising? Something else entirely (like those creepy desiccated dudes I mentioned above)? Yes, of course, all of these are feasible. But what if these are suits made of Dwarf Star Alloy, the only known metal substance able to contain time-sensitive species like Tharils? Considering the press release explains that “through hidden alien dens,” the Doctor and Clara will go “to the very end of time itself,” and the Tharils travel the time vortex, it feels pretty likely that the Tharils would be involved somehow.
Once upon a time, the Tharils controlled an expansive empire centered on the gateway between N-Space and E-Space (feel free to Google that stuff to fall down a real timey-wimey rabbit hole). The empire was the way the Tharils passed between the different universes (and it just so happened to happen inside the walls of their big castle); anyone else who tried to passed through, though, was met with a very-much-dead end.
Here’s where we’d like to remind you that Gallifrey is stuck in another universe he needs to find in order to free the planet (and his people) from their perma-stasis. Hmmm!
Could this be the castle? It looks almost Gallifreyan in nature and if Romana—a one-time President of Gallifrey—was involved, it makes sense that any new construction on the place might have that vibe:
As we mentioned before, the Tharils were enslaved at a point, though. But how do you contain something that can travel space and time? Here’s where that alloy suit comes in again—wouldn’t that then make some sort of armor would be the only way to physically control them? Just look at the moment of the humanoid Viking fella seemingly controlling and/or working with the armor dudes in this GIF with a seriously creepy ghost and some line-faced dude (whom I think may or may not be one of those Mire mercenaries? But what do I know/it’s all speculation at this point):
They look pretty controlled to me, what with that Viking’s crazy red eye. And let’s have a moment: couldn’t you see Moff getting incredibly excited about the possibility of time-traveling Vikings? Given their aggressive nature and desire to conquer the world, we think an upgrade to universe-owning would be right up their alley, were they given the ability to do so.
Of course, given her spunky first appearance in the original trailer, there’s also a case to be made for Ace.
Because when we last saw Ace—the companion of Seventh Doctor, the last TV-ized iteration of the Time Lord before its 90s hiatus, movie notwithstanding—she’d managed to inherit some of the traits of the Cat-People during “Survival”, actually transforming into a cheetah at one point. Even after returning to her human form, however, the Doctor told her that the element that made the Cheetah Planet as it was, would remain within her body for the rest of her life.
Of course, there’s then, the issue of her changing form. What if she—like a baby River Song in utero—inherited/developed the gene that makes a Time Lord a Time Lord? It’s not all that unprecedented, given all of her travels through space and time—and this whole going-to-a-cat-planet-and-inheriting-its-element thing.
Regardless, we’re in for a walloper of a new series. If nothing else, we’re getting a bunch of Daleks and Missy/The Master once more.
HOW COULD WE NOT BE THRILLED?
Also we sincerely hope this dragon/medieval bit is a hat-tip to Maisie’s original TV home, Game of Thrones:
What do you think of the trailer, though? Any thoughts or theories? Let’s hear ’em in the comments below!
Alicia Lutes is the Associate Editor of The Nerdist and a total loon for Doctor Who theories. Let’s talk about ’em together on Twitter (@alicialutes)!