Doctor Who returns for a tenth season tonight, April 15, 9pm on BBC America.
So, we all know by now that the upcoming tenth season of Doctor Who will be Peter Capaldi’s last as the Doctor. Christmas Day of this year is the date we’ve been given for his exit, but could he actually regenerate before then? And how will the twelfth Doctor meet his downfall?
The second trailer that was released for season ten ended with two brief glimpses of the Doctor’s hand exuding regeneration energy. Of course this doesn’t confirm that the clips were of his actual regeneration. We’ve seen before in The Stolen Earth and The Witch’s Familiar amongst others, that the Doctor can use his regeneration energy for purposes other than actual full regeneration. Assuming what we’ve seen is definitely from season ten, and not the Christmas special, it’s no guarantee that he’ll meet a premature end. However, with so much evil – in the shape of Daleks, Mondasian (and other) Cybermen, Ice Warriors and not one, but two incarnations of the Master – being thrown at the season, it seems plausible that at least one of the listed threats will contribute to the Doctor’s demise. Season ten could easily be left on an almighty cliffhanger (we know Steven Moffat loves a cliffhanger) and the Doctor could begin the Christmas special in the process of regenerating. Perhaps we’ll get a Tom Baker style “Watchman” scenario, where the Doctor is told by his future self he is set to die and spends the special preparing for the inevitable. Just because we’ve been told Peter Capaldi is here ’til Christmas, doesn’t mean the twelfth Doctor won’t fight his final battle before then. Remember, Steven Moffat tells lies.
So what or who could end the twelfth Doctor? The possibilities are pretty much infinite, but here are some fairly likely ways I’d like to see him go.
First of all, John Simm’s return adds a completely different dimension to season ten. If he’s responsible for the death, or even watches on or knows how the twelfth Doctor dies, it means Missy would have known his fate all along. That would certainly explain how harmless she’s been directly to the Doctor so far, and would also perhaps help to shape any grand plan she may have been scheming since season eight. If she knows exactly how the twelfth Doctor’s story ends, she could have been putting the pieces in place to make the thirteenth Doctor’s life a misery, right from the get go. Even if incoming head writer Chris Chibnall wishes to dispense with. Michelle Gomez’s services, he could still use Missy’s knowledge and gile to challenge the thirteenth Doctor right from the start of his life. Back to this season and era of the show, and John Simm’s presence could see Rassilon back for revenge. The now ex-President of Gallifrey will be seething after his humiliation at the hands of the Doctor in Hell Bent. Surely he will have something to do with John Simm’s re-emergence too. Missy, Master and Rassilon together would trump all scheming triumvirates that have come before them in terms of power, ruthlessness and insanity. It’d be great to see them use each other to bring the twelfth Doctor back to Gallifrey to die.
One big question looming over season ten is what role will Nardole play? Matt Lucas’ comeback in The Return of Doctor Mysterio was met with a mixed reaction from fans, and the decision to bring his character back on a full time basis is a slightly strange one. We’ve been teased by Moffat about the significance of Nardole’s return, so could he be the man that brings an end to the twelfth Doctor? Truthfully, so far Nardole has been nothing but a simpleton. He’s delivered some funny one-liners but has also ruined a couple of serious moments with childishness. There only really seems to be one side to his personality, so could it be possible that he’s been altered or controlled to come across as dense? Any sort of personality change, using a fob watch for example as we’ve seen before, could be behind Nardole’s – what should we call them – eccentricities. Perhaps the Doctor has sensed something isn’t quite right, and the reason Nardole is travelling in the TARDIS is the Doctor wants to keep an eye on him. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Nardole himself is a Time Lord and he doesn’t know it, one who’s been deployed to spy on or return the Doctir to Gallifrey. This again, could all come back to Rassilon who may have employed Nardole to do his bidding. We don’t know a lot about the Doctor’s new friend, which leaves the possibilities regarding his intentions numerous and fascinating.
Lastly, Time War II has been on the cards since The Day of the Doctor, so could the Doctor sacrifice himself to try and prevent the universal battle from reigniting? Season nine brought the return of Davros, Skaro, Rassilon and Gallifrey, so all of the major players are in place to kick start the clash again. We know the Doctor is haunted by the Time War, so to give up his life to prevent another one would make sense. Taking down Rassilon and/or Davros and his Daleks in a blaze of glory would certainly be a worthy way to bow out. If Moffat doesn’t wish to touch anything to do with the Time War in his last year, then maybe we’ve already seen the twelfth Doctor in his final moments. Think about it, Steven Moffat loves making things as intricate and clever as he can. Was the first we saw of Peter Capaldi in action, the last moments of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor? How he knew to save Gallifrey in The Day of the Doctor is yet to be explained. So could it be that he found out how himself and in doing so, meddled with time in a way that forced his regeneration? Messing with time has caused the Doctor to regenerate in the past, most recently the ninth Doctor absorbed energy from the time vortex to save Rose. A similar sort of act to discover how he must help his previous incarnations, would again be a fitting climax to this Doctor’s run. Showing us a new Doctor in his dying moments before we actually meet him properly is exactly the sort of ingenious quirk that Steven Moffat gets off on. The little snippet of Peter Capaldi in The Day of the Doctor could be him at his peak in his final moments, and what a poignant way to bow out that would be.