Doctor Who’s Latest Sneaky Easter Egg Is A Very Weird Deep-Cut

Who’s borrowing Romana’s clothes?

Mary Tamm, who has been cast as the new assistant on Doctor Who.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Ima...
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Doctor Who

At the end of the latest Doctor Who finale, “Empire of Death,” the universe is saved but all loose ends are not wrapped up. While this season more or less answered one mysterious-lady-hiding-in-plain-sight question, another remains. At the very end of the “Empire of Death,” just as with the 2023 Who Christmas special, Mrs. Flood (Anita Dobson) appears, addresses the camera directly, and drops some hints about what’s next for the Doctor. In 2023’s “The Church on Ruby Road,” she cheekily made a point of knowing what a TARDIS was, despite acting like an innocent old crone. But things got a bit weirder in “Empire of Death.” Not only is Mrs. Flood talking about the Doctor’s future, but she’s also... maybe... cosplaying as former Doctor Who companions?

Let’s take a look at what Mrs. Flood said and wore in “Empire of Death,” and see if it might link back to one very beloved Who character who first debuted in 1978. Spoilers ahead.

Mrs. Flood’s outfits in “Empire of Death”

It’s not the same sweater. Exactly. And yet.


Among hardcore Whovians, Mrs. Flood’s sartorial choices in “Empire of Death” seem to be deep-cut Easter eggs. While regaining life, and comforting Cherry Sunday, Mrs. Flood says, “That clever boy!” which can’t help but remind us all of Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) from Seasons 7 through 9, who often called the Doctor a “clever boy.” In this scene, Mrs. Flood is rocking a brown sweater over a collared shirt, reminiscent of Clara’s outfit in “Face the Raven,” the moment when she was seemingly killed.

Then at the end of the episode, as Mrs. Flood tells us that the Doctor’s story will end in “absolute terror,” she’s decked out in an all-white ensemble with a white hood. This looks very similar to something that Romana I (Mary Tamm) wore in her first Doctor Who episode ever, “The Ribos Operation” in 1978.

Did Mrs. Flood steal Romana’s look?


So, what does it all mean? Is Mrs. Flood just accidentally cosplaying different companions of the Doctor? If so, is she a Time Lord herself? From her first appearance in “The Church on Ruby Road,” fans have suggested that she might be a new incarnation of the Rani, a renegade Time Lord who battled with the 6th and 7th Doctors. To date, only Kate O’Mara has played the Rani, which might seem like a bit of a deep cut for Doctor Who at this point. And yet, the Doctor name-checked the Rani in the latest season premiere, “Space Babies.” Not to mention the return of Sutekh in the last two episodes of this season was also a massive deep cut to 1975.

While the quasi-Clara cosplay could be dismissed because it’s such an innocuous sweater, the “clever boy” thing seems pointed. And, because Romana was such a prominent Time Lady (Time Lord) throughout the latter half of the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) era, and was present for most of the “Key to Time” story arc, it also feels intentional that Mrs. Flood seems to have recreated Romana’s first outfit, ever. But are these just Easter eggs, or is there a deeper meaning?

The Mrs. Flood riddle of Doctor Who

Vest twins?


In the interest of taking this theory way too far, it’s also notable that Mrs. Flood also wore a vest in “The Church on Ruby Road,” and that pivotal TARDIS companion of the 11th Doctor, Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) was also a fan of vests. So, that means, if the Romana outfit is 100 percent an intentional homage, and we can count the Clara sweater and the Rory vest, that means we’ve got Mrs. Flood paying weird, subtle homage to the clothes of people who traveled with the 11th, 12th and 4th Doctors.

If she next shows up in a leather jacket covered in patches à la Ace (Sophie Aldred) or dons Nyssa’s (Sarah Sutton) Victorian-ish frock, we’ll have full confirmation that this is some kind of a pattern. Mrs. Flood not only knows about the TARDIS and the life of the Doctor, she knows about tiny details of his entire timeline. She said to Cherry that she had “such plans” and as of now we only know part of those plans. The larger scheme is unknown. But clearly, whatever her ultimate aim is, bitting on the style of former companions of the Doctor is crucial.

New episodes of Doctor Who stream on Disney+. Seasons 1-13 (2005-2022) stream on Max. The classic series (1963-1989) — including “The Ribos Operation,” Season 16 episodes 1-4 — streams on Britbox.

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