The tenth season premier of Doctor Who introduced actress Pearl Mackie as the Doctor’s latest BFF, Bill Potts, and in doing so, created at least four brand-new mysteries that the rest of the season will, presumably, have to solve. It also briefly reached deep into the show’s distant past by bringing Bill and the Doctor into the 1979 4th Doctor adventure “Destiny of the Daleks.”
Spoilers ahead for Doctor Who Season 10, Episode 1: “The Pilot”
As a first episode of a new season about a time-traveling alien from the planet Gallifrey, “The Pilot” did its best to acclimate a viewer who had never seen Doctor Who: Here’s a weird crazy guy can travel through time and space and generally likes helping out, but is sometimes a little tricky or at the very least unclear about his intentions. “The Pilot” practically began with Bill saying, “Doctor what?” and Pearl Mackie was saddled with asking a ton of questions for the remainder of the episode.
The answers to most of Bill’s questions were things a long-time Doctor Who viewer already knows: the Doctor is a Time Lord, the TARDIS is awesome, and the Daleks — while a little played out — are pretty much the most delightful cheesy killer cyborg mutants in all of pop sci-fi. But, other questions about Bill and this season remain unclear. Why were there no photographs of her real mother? Why did the Doctor take such an interest to her? Will she find Heather, her watery, star-eyed crush ever again? And what the hell is in the secret vault the Doctor put under the university?
But for old-school fans of the show, the biggest moment was easily when the Doctor brought the TARDIS into a battle the Daleks were waging against some silver-clad people with pink lasers and goofy hair. Who are they? Those are the Movellans! And they are basically the Rebel Alliance to the Empire of the Daleks. In the 1979 episode “The Destiny of the Daleks,” the Movellans were introduced as a race of androids and tried to wage a war against the Daleks back when the Doctor was still rocking a giant infinity scarf and a floppy hat.
Other than as a shout-out to older fans, why bring back the Movellans? It could maybe hint at a lot of retcon involving the Doctor’s previous actions for pretty much the past ten years.
Because if the Doctor is crossing his own timeline by revisiting the events of “Destiny of the Daleks,” what else could happen this season? If Bill doesn’t have a past, could her memory have been wiped before the Doctor threatened to in this episode? Or is Bill an android Movellan? At this point, anything could happen.
Doctor Who airs on BBC and BBC America on Saturdays.