Last night’s Doctor Who was the most at-sea I’ve been during an episode of the series in a very long time, and it was pretty great 📺 because of it. (Note: I will not be running spoilers though rot13, so reader beware.) After the ads telling us that if we’d thought the return of the Master was something just wait until this episode, I was pretty sure while watching that the appearance of Captain Jack Harkness was merely the setup for something else. With the introduction of Jo Martin as the Doctor I’m hoping that Chibnall doesn’t turn around and reveal that something else is happening here (Twitter chatter’s been talking a bit about the Valeyard). There’d be such power in a retcon that effectively announced that there’s always been so much more to the Doctor than we’ve seen, and that, on the meta-story level, it was only our own narrative incompetence and incompleteness and intolerance that restricted our viewpoint. Naturally enough, elements of fandom are being ugly, with nonsense coming in from the edges—whether it’s fanbros complaining about social justice warriors again or others using this episode as an excuse to attack Jodie Whittaker. As the man said, Doctor Who if it’s about anything is about the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism, and neither of those two factions have anything to do with Doctor Who. Which brings me back to my hope that Chibnall isn’t just fucking with us here, because that itself would be something of a cynical move. The idea that the Doctor might have been a black woman, perhaps even originally, before ever being a series of white men, is profound, and later turning it into a fakeout would be just as profoundly disappointing.
- “The important thing to say is – she is definitively the Doctor,” Chibnall told the Mirror. “There’s not a sort of parallel universe going on, there’s no tricks. Jo Martin is the Doctor, that’s why we gave her the credit at the end which all new Doctors have the first time you see them. John Hurt got that credit.”
- I just want to reiterate how exciting I find this. It’s a showrunner saying that it’s not the character’s fault, per se, that we only ever saw the character as a white man, it’s decades’ worth of showrunners’ fault for not being imaginative enough to put reality in their science-fiction. The retcon establishes that the reality was there all along; it’s just our fault we never included it in the Doctor’s story.