The final shot of the Doctor Who Christmas special was both familiar and shockingly surprising. But the big question now isn’t whether or not the Doctor will have a TARDIS when the show returns in 2018 for Season 11. Instead, will she have her old one or a brand new version of the classic combination spaceship/time machine?
Spoilers ahead for the big Doctor Who Christmas finale, “Twice Upon a Time.”
After Peter Capaldi gave the farewell speech to top all farewell speeches, that telltale orange energy shot out from his hands, and the Doctor became Jodie Whittaker. After uttering her “brilliant” first line, the new Doctor was blown out of the TARDIS by a giant explosion. So what’s going on here? Obviously, we don’t actually know yet, but nerding out on previous Doctor Who situations might help fill the painful gap between now and Fall 2018.
These days, it’s pretty much required that a new Doctor regenerate and immediately find themselves in a crashing TARDIS. David Tennant crashed the TARDIS in his first episode, as did both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. In fact, it seems like “Twice Upon a Time” was consciously trying to one-up the crashing TARDIS trope by also having the Doctor also fall out of it only to watch her beloved ship seemingly engulfed in flames.
But why did the TARDIS malfunction? Other than the fact that it made for an awesome cliffhanger?
For one thing, it’s possible that this is just how it goes now when the Doctor regenerates. That damn lighting that shoots out of a Time Lord’s fingers, might, on some level, be actual lighting. We saw the TARDIS burning when the 10th Doctor regenerated in “The End of Time,” and the 12th Doctor’s regeneration looks similar, though with a decidedly more proton-stream feel to it, though with a decidedly more proton-stream feel to it, though with a decidedly more proton-stream feel to it. The point is, there’s a precedent for the TARDIS suffering actual structural damage because of the Doctor regenerating.
In the 11th Doctor’s first episode, “The Eleventh Hour,” the TARDIS spent the entire episode rejuvenating itself, all of which included a revamped interior, a brighter blue exterior, and the return of St. John’s Ambulance seal, which had been absent since the tenure of the 1st Doctor.
However, the earliest promotional photo of Jodie Whittaker in costume as the Doctor revealed that the exterior of the TARDIS once again lacks the ST. John’s Ambulance seal, and has inverted colors for the instructions on the outside of the door. The size of the windows also appears to have changed again. So, is the 13th Doctor’s TARDIS the same TARDIS or a new one?
It’s probable that it’s the same TARDIS, and that we’ll get to see the 13th Doctor fixing up the old one at some point in her first proper full episode. However, since Gallifrey was rediscovered in the Season 9 episode “Hell Bent” we know there are other TARDIS’s out there now. Meaning, it’s not insane to think the Doctor could steal a TARDIS again and start fresh. In fact, it might be kind of awesome if the 13th Doctor got a brand new TARDIS, one without any of the baggage of her previous selves.
Doctor Who returns in the Fall of 2018.