For nearly a year, Doctor Who fans have been deprived of a full season of the wibbly-wobbly time travel/outer space melodrama. And, for nearly that same amount of time, fans have been teased with the idea that the new season would be friendly to new viewers while essentially starting the show from scratch. And while new companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) was sufficiently bewildered throughout the episode, this reboot was decidedly “soft,” rather than hard. The Season 10 debut of Doctor Who — titled “The Pilot” — did explain the concept of the series through new eyes. But, it also split the difference. There are plenty of references to times of Doctors past in this first episode, more so, actually, than perhaps any season premiere in recent memory.
From photos of old friends to hints at retro enemies and even some time travel foreshadowing, here are the tidbits and Easter eggs you may have missed in “The Pilot”:
Spoilers ahead for Doctor Who Season 10, Episode 1
Most of the Doctor’s Old Sonic Screwdrivers
While Bill is sitting and waiting for the Doctor, there on his desk, like pens, are nearly all of his old sonic screwdrivers. There are even two versions of the one wielded by the 9th and 10th Doctor. But how? In the case of the 11th Doctor’s sonic and the 10th Doctor’s sonic, we saw them get destroyed or discarded only to “regenerate” later.
In “The Day of the Doctor,” it was established that though the outer shell of the Doctor’s infamous sonic screwdriver can change, it was essentially the same device on the inside. As a metaphor for the Doctor’s changing face, this was fairly neat, but now, all of his past sonic screwdrivers are seemingly all in one place. While this could just be a casual fan service nod, this does seem to contradict the previously established idea that it’s just the same screwdriver. But, a lot has seemingly happened since we last saw the Doctor. He’s somehow being lecturing at the same prestigious university for nearly 70 years. That’s just enough time to travel around in his own timeline, picking up old versions of his sonic screwdriver along the way.
Photos of the Doctor’s Wife and Granddaughter
As bookends to the beginning and most recent episodes of the Doctor’s life, there are photos of his granddaughter Susan Foreman on the right, and his time-traveling wife, River Song, on the left. Of course, River Song first appeared on Doctor Who in the 2008 episode “The Silence in the Library,” which turned out to be the last time in her life they would ever meet (even though it was the Doctor’s first because time travel is tricky). Meanwhile, Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter, was his very first companion and appeared in the first episode ever in 1963 called “An Unearthly Child.” Later, Susan stopped traveling with her grandfather to get married in “The Dalek Invasion of Earth.” After the events of the Time War, it was never explained what happened to Susan. When the Doctor talks to Bill, he pointedly looks at a photo of Susan a few times. Left-field fan theory: Could Bill be a regenerated Susan Foreman who has used a chameleon arch to make her believe she is human? Nah … they wouldn’t do that. Right?
The Doctor Plays Beethoven’s 5th on His Electric Guitar
In the Season 9 episode “Before the Flood,” the Doctor gets mixed up in a paradox in which it’s unclear where certain information came from. This episode begins the now-classic Peter Capaldi monologue in which he spins the tail of a time traveler who becomes Beethoven. When Bill is waiting for the Doctor in the opening scenes of “The Pilot,” the Doctor is playing Beethoven’s 5th on his guitar in the other room.
Heather Seems Like the Flood from “The Waters of Mars”
The girl with the star in her eye, Heather, is eventually absorbed by a watery alien. This is eerily very similar to the water zombies from the 10th Doctor episode “The Waters of Mars.” Back when the Doctor was still David Tennant, he referred to this alien force as “The Flood.” Because the Flood was indigenous to Mars, it’s possible this is connected to Mars … because … that raspy voice that says “Pilot selected” sounds a lot like an Ice Warrior, another race of aliens from Mars. Could the Flood have teamed up with the Ice Warriors?
Gallifreyan Writing All Over This Secret Vault
Throughout the episode, there are hints that the Doctor and Nardole are tending to a vault hidden at the university. And, if you look closely, there are symbols all over the vault that make it look like it’s from Gallifrey. Does that mean the Doctor is hiding some Time Lord tech down there? Or, even better, some actual Time Lords?
Bill Questioning the Spelling of TARDIS in English References Susan Foreman
At one point, Bill points out that is makes zero sense that the TARDIS is an English word because the Doctor is an alien. In an alien alphabet, the TARDIS should spell something else altogether. This references the fact that during the 1st Doctor era, Susan Foreman claimed she invented the name TARDIS, a fact seemingly contradicted by the rest of Doctor Who.
The Movellan’s War With the Daleks
When the Doctor and Bill attempt to outrun Heather through all of time and space, they are briefly in the middle of a battle with some silver-haired people with pink lasers. The Doctor says, “Never mind them. It’s who they’re firing at.” But, these are Movellans, androids who are in a war with the Daleks from the 4th Doctor episode “Destiny of the Daleks.” Is the Doctor crossing his own time stream? Notably, the Doctor wanted Nardole to use a retro sonic screwdriver on this ship, too. He also asks the Daleks to scan his sonic screwdriver, so they’ll know it’s him. That’s because the Daleks from this era wouldn’t recognize him otherwise.
Clara’s Theme Plays Briefly Before the Doctor Tries to Wipe Bill’s Mind
When Bill argues with the Doctor about wiping her memory of Heather, she implores him not to and says, “Just imagine what it would feel like if someone did this to you.” As she does, very subtly, the notes of Murray Gold’s “Clara’s Theme,” play, a reminder to the audience that the Doctor just had his memories of Clara Oswald erased in the Season 9 finale “Hell Bent.”
“Time” Changes the Doctor’s Mind
After Bill leaves the Doctor’s office with her memories intact, suddenly he’s out on the lawn with the TARDIS. He seems to be in a totally different mood, and when asked what changed his mind, he says, “Time.” This seems to imply a lot of time has passed for the Doctor in those few minutes. And, the rest of the season is certain to answer exactly what happened to the Doctor during that time.
New episodes of Doctor Who air on BBC and BBC America on Saturdays at 9 p.m. Eastern.