Series 12 of Doctor Who has been, for my money, leaps and bounds more exciting than series 11. From the surprise reveal of the Master on New Year’s Day to that crazy big one-two punch of Captain Jack Harkness AND a surprise new Doctor a couple weeks back, it’s been a year to remember. But we’ve only got two episodes before the two-part finale, and there’s a lot we don’t know. There are several plot threads showrunner Chris Chibnall needs to deal with–and now that the BBC announced the episode titles for said finale, we at least know he’ll deal with two of those threads.
BBC America Tweeted the above image.
Okay, so a lot to unpack here. First, we have episode nine, “Ascension of the Cybermen.” This will surely introduce, and possibly end, the threat of the Lone Cyberman. Captain Jack told the Fam about him in “Fugitive of the Judoon” a couple weeks ago. We’ve already seen in the series’ trailer the image of an old, derelict-looking Cyberman marching toward Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor.
So the word “ascension” is a really interesting one in this context. If the Cybermen are all but wiped out as Jack suggested, that means the Lone Fellow will try to reignite the race. But we’ve had titles like “Rise of the Cybermen” in the past; “ascension” points to the biblical or spiritual. Like maybe they’ll ascend to a higher plane of existence…maybe even become the Kasaavins, those weird inter-dimensional ghost aliens from “Spyfall”.
Either that, or they’ll “ascend” to new heights and dominate the universe. This feels a bit of a stretch; ascension seems like a step toward enlightenment and less like assuming the throne of somewhere. Cybermen began as a race of near-humans who augmented their bodies with technology to stave off death. In the process, they began assimilating other planets in an attempt to make every species “better,” like them. But what this doesn’t take into account is the mind. Maybe the Lone Cyberman will create a new, more powerful race through uploading their consciousness to some kind of sci-fi cloud.
What’s very telling about both of these titles is plurality. We know there’s a Lone Cyberman out there, but the title is the ascension of the Cybermen as a race. This is doubly intriguing when we get to episode 10’s title, “The Timeless Children.”
Since a passing reference in “The Ghost Monument” in series 11, we’ve heard about the Timeless Child; from the Master’s confession at the end of “Spyfall,” we know the Timeless Child, the legend the Time Lords passed down to their children for generations, is a lie. Now, I have all but assumed since the beginning that the Timeless Child they’re talking about is the Doctor, somehow.
The “lie” might mean the Time Lords’ apparent 12-regeneration limit. A physical quirk or just something voted on by the High Council of Gallifrey a poop-zillion years ago, Time Lords can apparently only regenerate 12 times. The Doctor got a whole new set of regens from the Time Lords at the end of “The Time of the Doctor.” According to that, the Thirteenth Doctor is actually the Second Doctor mark 2.
However, there’s a theory that the Doctor was “the timeless child,” a Gallifrey born with unlimited regenerations. The Time Lords lied about this, wiped the Doctor’s memory, and forced the rule of 12 on them. The title “The Timeless Children” might mean the Doctor, both as Whittaker and as Jo Martin, are indeed this Timeless, deathless entity. Or it could mean that all Gallifreyans are actually able to regenerate in perpetuity but the council restricted it to 12 for reasons. That might explain why the Master was so angry; so much of the Master’s life has been living scared of running out of lives. He’s even stolen more than one body to squeeze some more life out of it.
Or, as is often the case with Doctor Who, it could be something completely different that I haven’t thought of yet. I’m notoriously awful at predicting things.
What do you think? How will the Cybermen ascend? How many children are without time? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured Image: BBC America