Monday, March 2, 2020

Doctor Who - The Timeless Children

As has been the tendency of writer and producer Chris Chibnall over the course of this season, the finale of "The Timeless Children" thumbs its nose at Doctor Who canon. Pulling on the thread from the classic Doctor Who serial "The Brain of Morbius," "The Timeless Children" confirms that William Hartnell was not the first incarnation of The Doctor. Although this contradicts several episodes of Who canon, it's an idea that has been suggested before. If that was the only change Chibnall had made in "The Timeless Children" it would have been groundbreaking enough. Instead, that's just one piece of the story. And while that can be, somewhat grudgingly, accepted... the rest... Well, it plays like fan fiction. And not even good fan fiction.

The episode picks up from the cliffhanger with the Companions being separated from The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and at the mercy of an army of Cybermen who are about to kill them off. Leaving her friends to fend for themselves, who do an impossibly good job by the way, The Doctor heads off through the rift in space to Gallifrey with The Master (Sacha Dhawan) who shows off his handiwork proudly and invites the Cybermen to journey through the rift after them so he can combine Time Lord and Cybermen into a new race of undying warriors at his command. As Master plots go, it's not the worst idea he's had. Although it certainly undercuts the Lone Cyberman (Patrick O'Kane) as the big threat of the finale. The Doctor doesn't so much out-think The Master in the end, but instead allows one of the humans to sacrifice himself to kill of both The Master (sure, I'm sure he's really dead this time) and the regenerating Cybermen. So I guess that's a win?

Let's get to the fallout of the episode as The Doctor sends humans from the far future to live in present Earth. Questionable, but okay I guess? She also abandons not one but two working T.A.R.D.U.S. where eventually someone will come across them. Again, not exactly well thought-out. Then there's the timeline issue. Unwilling to let The Doctor simply be a Time Lord, even an exceptional one, Chibnall rewrites all of Who history to recast The Doctor as the Timeless Child who appeared millennia ago and was responsible for the regeneration the entire race of Time Lords was built on. Aside from contradicting pretty much every episode, movie, novel, comic book, or audio story ever created, about the evolution of the Time Lords the idea comes from an awfully bad premise that The Doctor wasn't special enough yet and somehow needed to stand-out more from other Time Lords (who are all dead, again, by the way). Sigh. The opening up of a pre-Hartnell history could have been done without such a seismic shift which only raises other issues that I'm dreading Chibnall will want to answer in episodes yet to come.

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