It has been a very long time since we’ve had The Doctor back on our screens. After a pandemic, the announcement that Russell T. Davies was taking over as showrunner in 2022, and the news that Jodie Whittaker was leaving the show, it is exciting to have a new season to watch. However, despite the excitement about Season 13, there is an air of uncertainty hanging over Doctor Who as fans wonder what the program’s looming course change has in store for the future.
Getting to Season 13 was not easy. A 12 story season was truncated to only 6 stories, meaning several ideas and plot points had to be consolidated or scrapped altogether. The cast and crew did an intrepid job of filming around Covid to bring us a season filled with Weeping Angels, Cybermen, the Odd, Sontarans, and probably returns from the Daleks as well. There’s also a new companion named Dan Lewis, the Swarm, and an appearance from the Ravagers. With “drastic changes” promised for its future, this season (and the three specials slated for 2022) could bed some of the boldest and biggest of the 13th Doctor era.
While nothing is official until confirmed by the production team and the BBC, there is, of course, some peculiar and rabid speculation about what comes next with this series. Some rumors have mentioned a return from Catherine Tate and River Song. While Tate’s publicity team has already denied her involvement and there has been no official word on the return of River Song. I think a guest spot from Alex Kingston is highly improbable for this season since there is already quite a lot going on, and her character has been given a proper exit already.
Another rumor that could pan out is the return is Sacha Dhawan as The Master. His appearance is most likely in the final episodes of the series. There also has been mention of a multiple Master story, something which seems unlikely due to scheduling issues with John Simm and Michelle Gomez.
The last week has seen an uptick in rumors that a shocking revelation is coming. Whether this is erasing previous Doctors from time, seeing a change in The Doctor’s relationship with Yasmin, or a return to Gallifrey, it does appear that some big surprises are coming, beginning in Episode 1. Rumors of returns by Bradley Lewis and Tosin Cole this season or during the next year’s specials have been mentioned. With a departing Doctor, it is not unusual for former companions to have cameos, so there could be some truth in this. I do not expect either to have significant roles in Season 13.
Despite fan speculation and a divisive dialogue across fandom about the state of the show, it is great to have Doctor Who back! With all the tumult of the last year, it is a miracle that we have any kind of season at all. In addition to the difficulties of filming in a pandemic, outgoing showrunner Chris Chibnall has had to deal with fans who are unhappy about his writing, a serious lack of character development, and the backlash over the Timeless Child story arc.
Moving forward to the new series, the Timeless Child arc is continuing with a unified story arc entitled Flux. Told in six chapters in one epic adventure, Season 13’s episodes were directed by Jamie Magnus Stone and Azur Saleem. Chris Chibnall penned each story, except Chapter Four, which is co-written by Maxine Alderton.
While I wanted a longer season, I am hopeful that writing for a shorter season will enable Chibnall to tighten up his scriptwriting. After all, Chibs did give us some stellar television with Broadchurch, which also had a unified arc throughout each season.
Here is a promo trailer for Season 13.
The BBC has also released a synopsis for Flux.
Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, John Bishop, and Jacob Anderson star in an epic six-part adventure that will take the Doctor and her friends to the edge of the universe and beyond in a battle for survival. Packed with action, humour, terrifying new villains, and iconic returning monsters such as the Sontarans and the Weeping Angels, the new series of Doctor Who tells one story across a vast canvas. It features a host of acclaimed British acting talent including Rochenda Sandall, Annabel Scholey, Craig Parkinson, Kevin McNally Sam Spruell, Robert Bathurst, Steve Oram, and Thaddea Graham. From Liverpool to the depths of space, via the Crimean war and a planet named Atropos which shouldn’t even exist, fighting old foes and new creatures from beyond our dimension, the Doctor and company face a race against (and through!) time to uncover a universe-spanning mystery: what is the Flux?
Guest stars for the season have been announced. The most notable is Jacob Anderson as a recurring character named Vinder, a stranded fighter pilot who meets up with the Doctor through the season. Anderson, a Game of Thrones alum, spoke with The Radio Times about Vinder.
There is some speculation that this character is a replacement of sorts for Captain Jack, who was written out of the season after scenes with John Barrowman were dropped amidst offscreen issues. Despite this, there are rumblings that Barrowman will appear in the season, although this has not been confirmed.
Other noteworthy guest stars for Season 13 include Sam Spruell (The North Water), who appears as The Swarm, Ripper Street alum Craig Els as the mysterious Karavanista. Joining them are Rochenda Sandall from Line of Duty, Robert Bathurst, Paul Broughton, Jonathan Watson, Sue Jenkins, Thaddea Graham, Blake Harrison, Craig Patterson, Sara Powell, Annabel Scholey, Gerald Kid, Penelope, Ann McGhie, Steve Oram, and Nadia Albina. Returning to the Whoniverse is Kevin McNally, who previously Appeared in Colin Baker’s debut, The Twin Dilemma.
Meet Dan Lewis
By all accounts, Dan looks like an intriguing character. We know very little about him, except that he hails from Liverpool and is introduced early on in the season opener.
Played by comedian John Bishop, it would not be at all surprising to see Dan develop as a character with his own secrets and backstory.
The BBC has released a short clip of Dan in action.
Dan’s parents will also be shown in the series premiere.
Chris Chibnall commented on the new companion with The Radio Times,
The Halloween Apocalypse
The BBC recently released some information on the first story of Season 13, The Halloween Apocalypse.
On Halloween, all across the universe, terrifying forces are stirring. From the Arctic Circle to deep space, an ancient evil is breaking free. And in present day Liverpool, the life of Dan Lewis is about to change forever. Why is the Doctor on the trail of the fearsome Karvanista? And what is the Flux?
Here are some promotional pictures from the story.
The Halloween Apocalypse features a return from the Weeping Angels and a new character named Karavanista. The episode also features a continuation of the tension between The Doctor and Yasmin seen in Revolution of the Daleks.
War of the Sontarans
It looks like the days of the funny Sontarans are gone; there’s no sign of Strax in the second chapter of Flux, War of the Sontarans.
During the Crimean War, the Doctor discovers the British army fighting a brutal alien army of Sontarans, as Yaz and Dan are thrown deeper into a battle for survival. What is the Temple of Atropos? Who are the Mouri?
A few thoughts….
This one hits the ground running and doesn’t hold back in throwing the Doctor into peril.
I am excited to see another historically based episode with the 13th Doctor. I think it is a nice change of pace for the deluge of contemporary stories normally featured. Some of Jodie Whitaker’s best episodes have been historically based.
Could The Charge of the Light Brigade actually be the British Army fighting the Sontarans?
Will the TARDIS crew’s encounter with legendary nurse Mary Seacole change history?
How does Vinder figure into all of this? Can he be trusted? Is Vinder another forgotten incarnation of The Doctor?
In addition to giving us more information about The Swarm, this story also features a return from another classic alien, the Sontarans, led by Commander Riskaw. The story also finds Dan right in the middle of things as a full-fledged companion.
Setting aside concerns about its future, I am looking forward to more adventures across time and space. With the pandemic wiping away hopes for more new stories in 2020 and early 2021, knowing that The Doctor is out there once again, comes as a huge relief.
Next time… More on RTD’s return, Season 13 news, convention updates, and more!
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