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Some Theories on Capaldi’s Familiar Face

Guest contributor Jesse Funk provides some speculation.

capaldi-tennant-fires

Now that Peter Capaldi is taking the reigns one of the major sticking points with some fans is that he has previously appeared in Doctor Who as Caecilius in “The Fires of Pompeii” during David Tennant’s reign as the Doctor. More notably he appeared in Torchwood as a major plot character named John Frobisher during the short Series 3 run, “Children of Earth.” Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat have apparently had some sort of brain­-trust on why it is that Capaldi can appear in the Whoniverse as other characters and the Doctor which is going to play into the upcoming series. Like all good fans we want to speculate on what this could be, so I’d like to humbly offer some possible theories of explanation as a fellow fan of both Who and Torchwood.

*Spoilers Alert*

The majority of this post is going to center around Capaldi’s character John Frobisher in Torchwood, so if you haven’t seen the show and want to this is your point of no return as there will be spoilers in the upcoming sections. Personally I suggest going to watch the first three series of Torchwood to get caught up and returning to this post, but that’s just me. There will also most likely be minor spoilers for Who episodes as well if you aren’t entirely up to date yet. Additionally as a note about Torchwood, it is an adult-oriented show versus the family orientation of Who so some of the plot discussed from Torchwood may not be appropriate for younger viewers. I believe most people reading this will be old enough, but just to cover my bases I figured a little disclosure was needed. Read on as you will.

Theory #1 – ­ The Doctor takes someone else’s face from history

caecilius-the-fires-of-pompeiiOne of the more easily placed theories I’ve heard about is that the Doctor’s faces have to come from somewhere so he takes them from people in history. After the 50th anniversary episode and the Series 7 finale we found out an important possibility about the Doctor’s regenerations. Simply put, that there is some degree of ability to choose the temperament of his next incarnation.

The Eleventh Doctor talks about his previous incarnations mentioning the Tenth incarnation and how he regenerated to the same face because he was vain at the time. Additionally the Sisters of Karn helped the 8th Doctor regenerate into a warrior to be the War Doctor so this seems to be enough precedent to say it’s a possible plot add on. Because Doctor Who isn’t entirely “hard sci­fi” i.e. doesn’t always obey the rules it lays down, anything could really happen here.

Supposing that the Doctor has the ability to take the face of someone from history rather than create his own face the next question is why John Frobisher and/or Caecilius? We know that the Doctor loves humans as fallible, hopeful, wonderful creatures. Given this I would suggest that he takes the appearance of Caecilius since we know they have met. Caecilius had an obvious affection for the TARDIS which may partially make him stand out in the Doctor’s mind over time. He may also remember that it was Donna that urged him to save Caecilius and his family so his friendly affection for the plucky girl from Chiswick could be affecting this incarnation.

I would posit that it’s unlikely that the plot would say he would take the face of John Frobisher. The Doctor never officially appears in Series 3 of Torchwood despite Gwen Cooper’s mention of him and the lack of his presence. Theoretically it’s possible that the Doctor would know of John Frobisher as the man responsible for interacting with the 4­5­6 on behalf of the human race. For me it would take some really good writing (i.e. finagling of the story) to get me to believe the Doctor is using his regeneration as a memorial for a man he never knew that met an untimely demise.

Theory #2 ­ – Peter Capaldi is the Doctor in all instances of his appearances on Who and Torchwood

torchwood-john-frobisher-peter-capaldiNow here’s the theory I would absolutely love to see the writers pull off. I have enjoyed some of the longer developing story arcs during the Davies era of Who so this would probably take the cake. In this theory I want to suggest that every time Peter Capaldi is on screen in both Doctor Who and Torchwood that he is in fact the Doctor. I don’t however want to suggest that he knows that he’s the Doctor when he’s John Frobisher and it’s just a workable possibility when he appears as Caecilius.

There’s an already set precedent for how the Doctor might not know that he is a Time Lord. In Series 3 episode 9, “The Family of Blood,” the Tenth Doctor has decided to hide himself as a human to avoid detection by a yet unknown person or persons chasing him. All of the Doctor’s Time Lord traits and solid memories are locked away in his fob watch so he doesn’t know who he is and doesn’t have any Time Lord ability unless the watch is opened.

If the Doctor, at some point in the future during the Twelfth Doctor’s incarnation, decided that he needed to go back into hiding it’s possible that he could take on the personality of John Frobisher. Since John is a middle­man in the government it can be an ideal situation for the Doctor to hide in plain sight. Additionally, from our previous experience with a Doctor in hiding we know that some of those memories can seep through his consciousness from Time Lord to Human. This could make him a better candidate to be the guy in the room with the 4­5­6 since he already has experience with aliens (being one himself).

Some major obstacles to overcome are that the Doctor as John Frobisher has built a life. His oldest daughter appears to be at least 10 years old. It’s possible that his wife could miss that he doesn’t age during this time period, but beyond that would be stretching it. We see no on­screen companions wandering about trying to take care of him and make sure he gets to his fob watch when he needs it like Martha did so that would need to be accounted for as well. This is of course ignoring that we never see the watch on­screen, but it could easily be kept in a desk drawer at work or home in scenes we never even visit.

The bigger plot point to overcome however is that John Frobisher is supposed to be dead. At the end of Children of Earth, John decides to kill his daughters and wife rather than let them be abducted by the 4­5­6 to be used as drugs in an out-­of­-this­-world alien drug market. We see him send his wife and children upstairs, then follows with his requisition .31 pistol before closing the door as he walks in the room. We as the audience stare at the closed door and hear 3 gun shots in succession followed by a pause and then a fourth. It would normally be acceptable to say that he killed his children and wife, then paused before shooting himself. However, I’m going to posit a slightly more twisty scenario.

torchwood-children-of-earth-capaldi-endWe go back to the scene as Frobisher closes the door. The three gunshots are heard as he kills two of the people in the room and injures the third (I doubt he’s a master marksmen so this is entirely plausible). The pause is a moment of horror as he sees what he’s done and the last remaining person alive in the room with him is begging for him not to shoot as the fourth shot goes off and kills them. Frobisher remains alive and sick with grief. At some point he wanders to wherever his Time Lord pocket watch is kept safe. There’s something about it that makes him feel secure, at home, like he’s had it for a very long time. Sitting down wondering what he’s going to do about the impending abduction of 10% of earth’s children he flicks his watch open to see what time it is and how close they are to the designated time. Boom, Time Lord memories flood back into him and he returns to being the Doctor.

Normally we would see the Doctor rush in to the rescue of humanity against the 4­5­6, but this scenario is different now that he realizes he’s killed three innocent people that were his family. Ruined with contempt for himself and his scenario he gets in the TARDIS to travel as far away from that place as he can get. This clears up a dangling string of why Frobisher never returns to work to deal with the 4­5­6. Additionally it’s never said explicitly that Frobisher is dead, only that one of his long time co­-workers will certainly miss him.

A similar watch scenario can be posited for the Caecilius scenario, or you could suggest that Caecilius is the Doctor just pretending to be human since he knows that he is going to save himself from the the volcano in Pompeii. What else is a Time Lord to do with all of his time aside from occasionally travel back to ancient Rome and become a master sculptor while raising a family on a volcanic island?

If some way Moffat decided to go with Theory 2 as an explanation for Capaldi’s previous appearances I would expect that there would only be vague references to the happenings in Torchwood with his family. The subject matter would be too graphic for the typical nature of Who in my opinion, although it would add a certain depth of underlying sadness to the Twelfth’s character after the timeline syncs up properly for our viewing. Only time will tell what Moffat decides to come up with as an explanation. I just hope it isn’t some timey­-wimey cop­out.

Step back in time...

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219 comments
SammieRhodaPark
SammieRhodaPark

Perhaps the doctor is an 'Impossible' man, meaning he pulled a Clara Oswald and jumps into his own time stream, making a million copies of himself throughout his own history, (total shot in the dark here but maybe as some crazy attempt find Galifrey) This could also feed into what Tom Baker (#4) says in the 50th anniversary "...In years to come, you might find yourself revisiting a few [incarnations/past doctor faces]..." Tom Baker never specified–because he is the freakin' Doctor–that he meant revisiting though regeneration, he could have actually just literally meant revisiting past regenerations (through a copy of your future self). Maybe in the past #4 runs into one or more of the Capaldi Copies, somehow figures it all out, then goes and ages himself (like the Master did to #10) as part of a disguise so UNIT wouldn't recognize him (and they need a copout for Tom Bakers age) and briefly retires as the curator so he can wait for #11 to show up, have that little spiel, and initiate the adventure. But wait, Sammie; why didn't #4 and all the Doctors after him remember all these events? Oh I'll feed you baby birds, #10 and War Doctor couldn't remember Day of the Doctor (DotD) events because the time stream was too scrambled, you think a way past Doctor hiding out at UNIT headquarters–where he would find out about a TON of his own future adventures besides DotD–the whole time would remember? He most likely woke up in his Tardis like "Gosh, what'd I do over the weekend?" Also, he probably loaned his scarf to the inhaler girl, knowing it always comes in handy (especially when you're fighting off Zygons).


P.S. If I'm right about the copies, #CapaldiCopies




JoeRichie
JoeRichie

I think I can simplify and add to one of the theories here.



If he's trying to send himself a message, like he says in Deep Breath then lets remember that Pompeii was a fixed point in time and there were consequences. 


Add to that the fact that he changed that point in time because Donna was his conscience when he couldn't allow himself to have one.


As to being Scottish I think that was part of it because of his incredibly deep relationship with Amy, who's Scottish.


I don't think it has to be specific to the person but what the person represents to him.


Moffat has said that Russell T. Davies had a theory on how to tie these appearances to Capaldi's face. 


I can totally see this being worked into the show and good on Moffat for giving Davies the credit for working this theme into the show.

TyraBroadhead
TyraBroadhead

It seems to me that it will be explained just as they did for Romana's second version looked just like the princess (Laila WardLalla Ward ) they had just saved (Tom baker series). She had control over her transformation and she wanted to look like that.

I would really like to see Romana she was not on Gallafrey and not in the normal universe or time/space, so she wouldnt be affected by the time bubble, or the reset (Matt smith)

Mlpaula
Mlpaula

Well, let's see... Colin Baker acted as a Gallifreyan guard in Davison's era, and soon after he was the Doctor... And no explanation was necessary. Maybe something happened at the time, as well as with Capaldi...

The clock is a good explanation, or he wanted a life of his own for a little while, but the fact is: it 's already happened before.

dalekdestroyer
dalekdestroyer

My theorie is Peter Capaldi is the Doctor but he losses his memory and crashes in Pompeii. After the events of 'Fires of Pompeii' the Doctor then realizes he's the Doctor and goes on traveling. This is a theorie that me and my brother made up.  

WilliamDelPrete
WilliamDelPrete

I believe that the Doctors new face is that of Clara's grandfather.

MrEvers
MrEvers

Perhaps he finds out that the angel didn't send Amy to 1930's Manhattan, but to ancient Pompeii and goes back there to save her. Of course he can't just deliver her to Rory, because of the screwed up time, but he sends her a few years before that moment, as close as he can take the TARDIS, and Amy will have to wait again, this time for Rory.

RoweMatthew
RoweMatthew

It would be better if he was the Doctor in every appearance and he knew he was the Doctor. Why does he have to forget? Maybe this Doctor can act 

OnceTheDoctor
OnceTheDoctor

I don't want it to be a big story arc, just a drop in line in the first episode or something. Good theories though!

the doctors name is bob
the doctors name is bob

Why does every little thing have to be a major plot ark, I know we haven't seen it yet but by the way things are going it looks like the major series ark, or Capaldi's entire run as the doctor ark, knowing Moffat.

VictorWong1
VictorWong1

Theory 2? No. Absolutely not.

All actors, writers and directors know that roles in a play, unless deliberately designed to do so, absolutely have to be treated as their own entity and concept without any effect on a future performance.

The performance of Commander Maxil is not the Sixth Doctor, Princess Astra is *not* Romana II, the First Doctor is *not* the Abbot, and the Second Doctor is *not* Salamander.

Capaldi's interpretation of the Doctor should not be restricted by the roles that he's done in the Whoniverse in the past.

serenitydan
serenitydan

You have to remember this isn't the first Doctor who played someone else first. Also the second Doctor met someone who looked just like him.

Joe17
Joe17

I actually DON'T want any twists on Capaldi's previous roles. Just let him be The Doctor. 

MarlonJBonnici
MarlonJBonnici

"I just hope it isn’t some timey­-wimey cop­out."

That's exactly what I'm preparing for.

Noybusiness
Noybusiness

"However, I’m going to posit a slightly more twisty scenario. We go back to the scene as Frobisher closes the door. The three gunshots are heard as he kills two of the people in the room and injures the third"

Uh, yeah, no. The only way Frobisher could be the Doctor is if he didn't successfully kill *anyone* in that room. It would be totally unacceptable for a children's hero to have shot his family, even if he was in another form at the time. A so-called timey-wimey copout would be better.

CaitlinAshford
CaitlinAshford

OK how about this -
Timelord Physiology records and stores copies of DNS of everyone they encounter.
When the time comes to regenerate a random selection is made from that store as a basis for the new appearance and fwoosh, regeneration into a face we've seen before.

Nice neat and can easily fit into cannon

DamianChristie
DamianChristie

Why do fans continue to appeal for some overly complicated, ludicrous explanation as to why the Twelfth Doctor may (or may not) look like Caecilius and John Frobisher? As far as outlandish theories go, this article really takes the cake! What next? Do we have to explain the Sixth Doctor's resemblance to Commander Maxil or the Brigadier's resemblance to Bret Vyon or Sara Kingdom's likeness to Morgaine!?! Caecilius' wife in The Fires of Pompeii was played by Tracey Childs who has played Elizabeth Klein alongside the Seventh Doctor in the Big Finish audios - do we have to surmise that Klein's a descendant of Caecilius' wife as well!?!

As can be expected of a 50 year old series, Doctor Who has had numerous actors (including two Doctors) who started out in guest roles in the show before graduating into regular roles! Another SF series Star Trek was also renowned for recasting actors - and there were no convoluted attempts to explain why certain characters looked alike either! All this speculation is a ridiculous waste of fans' time! 

Occam's razor applies here - the simplest explanation is often the best! That a bunch of actors have had multiple roles in two long-running SF TV franchises! Why can't certain fans just accept that and move on?

Master Michael Moon
Master Michael Moon

Very odd theories, especially theory 2. I would like to think it is just sheer coincidence to be honest. Saying that there are two Peter Capaldi's in the Whoniverse before the 12th Doctor is wrong, there is one Caecilius and one Frobisher, they just happen to be played by Peter Capaldi himself. Did RTD really think back then that Peter Capaldi could ever be the Doctor in the future, have Moffat and RTD been plotting this for a while now...?

Antee991166
Antee991166

I don't mind an explanation being offered to explain the similarity, but I hope they don't well too long on it.

Americanwhovian
Americanwhovian

The only reason tennant kept the same face was because he put the regeneration energy into his hand before it was competed, stated by the doctor himself (Moffat!)

GibbyBlogger
GibbyBlogger

Hmm... some interesting theories there, Jesse. I love the Frobisher suicide idea in your second theory. Whatever it is, I hope it's not too over-complicated (or in any way unbelievable).

WhoPotterVian
WhoPotterVian

I like to think that John Froshiber and Caecilius were the consequences of the Doctor falling down his own timeline,like Clara's echoes. My theory is also that John Hurt's Doctor never existed before the Doctor fell down it and was created from the Doctor's grief about the Time War. It also resulted in the Doctor gaining fake memories of fighting as the War Doctor, leading him to believe it as his greatest secret.



Adric the Genius
Adric the Genius

I wonder if the actual explanation will work for Commander Maxil being identical to the Sixth Doctor.

Richy Woo
Richy Woo

I think the most likely source of multiple versions of doctor already exists, I think when The Doctor entered his own time stream to save Clara in The Name Of The Doctor he scattered fractured versions of many of his different incarnations throughout his own time stream.

This would explain the various version of Capaldi wandering around and why the Tom Bakers Curator was aware of his connection to the Doctor.



haydenburke
haydenburke

Theory #2 is a plot hole when you think about it... If you go back to Series 4 when the Doctor met Capaldi at Pompeii, he was yet to travel to Trenzalore. It wasn't until the Time of the Doctor that the Doctor actually erased the events of Trenzalore from happening, meaning that there was no 12th Doctor in existence back in Series 4 as he was always meant to die at Trenzalore... There's no getting past it, we even saw his grave there!

Diana van der Pluijm
Diana van der Pluijm

Or we could just ignore the whole 'he looks like a previously encountered character' and move on. I for one would not want to see this be 'explained' by either saying that 'it was the Doctor all along' (which doesn't make sense and would require a very in-depth explanation that I doubt will ever be written out or shown) or that he 'takes on the face of someone he knew'. That last 'explanation' is something that has never, ever been alluded to before and I don't see WHY the Doctor would do that or even HOW. Especially since it's been established that the Doctor has never been able to control the outcome of his regenerations. The War Doctor doesn't count, 'cause he was given an option due to that drink. But now he suddenly is able to choose which face he wants? Let's just gloss over it and ignore it for the most part and enjoy what Capaldi will bring us.





LordOfTime
LordOfTime

The question is ; does the doctor look like them, or do they look like the doctor

LordOfTime
LordOfTime

I think it's not the doctor , because it would be weird if he has children and wife. Possibly its a trap! A person wich looks like a future incarnation is showed the tenth doctor , as twelfth he wonders why he looks lik Caelcilius goes back to pompeji and the trap closes! 



                                                                                                                                (possibly they need the tenth or eleventh something to do so the can't use him when he first was in pompeji?)


Doctor Capaldi
Doctor Capaldi

I have always through that timelords need a face from somewhere, I don't know why they'd need to, but all of the evidence points to this: 

1st Doctor - Abbot of Amboise

2nd Doctor - Raymond Salamander, 

Romana II - Princess Astra of Atrios 

6th Doctor - Commander Maxil - Though he'll have needed to take it from where else

12th Doctor - John Frobisher and Caecillius 

The 4th Doctor - The Curator (?).









CurtConners
CurtConners

or maybe its a total coincidence! why did we need this?


Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!
Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!

@DamianChristie  On the other hand, why are people being so closed-minded about adding to the show and two of its older characters, and putting in an interesting explanation for something that we previously thought was unimportant? I thought this was a show about change.

Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!
Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!

@Master Michael Moon  No, originally the idea was just meant to tie Caecilius and Frobisher together, but RTD never got around to it. When Moffat cast Capaldi as the Doctor, he asked Russell if the idea still worked and Russell said that it did and explained to him what it was. And that is precisely why I expect it to be something like spacial-genetic multiplicity, or something with morphic fields, or that "thumbprints across the Time Vortex" theory mentioned in this comment section. Basically, anything that isn't dependent on one of the characters being the Doctor. I think that it will pertain to a natural function of the universe.

YgorVale
YgorVale

@haydenburke Your so called "plot hole" doesn't make any sense since 12 visited Gallifrey and it was series 4 era Ten was also there at the time.

blueboxgirl
blueboxgirl

@Diana van der Pluijm  i agree entirely. I just dont think it matters, especially as Colin Baker set the precedence, and Capaldi's previous appearences were, in one case, 6 whole  years ago and in the other, a different programme that many dw viewers may not have watched...(me, for one.)

craig33
craig33

Wise words diana. I like the cut of your jib. Glad to know that there's someone else out there that makes sense and realises that it doesn't matter. Nice one.

DamianChristie
DamianChristie

@Doctor Capaldi The Doctor did not base his first and second incarnations on either the Abbott of Amboise or Salamander - he'd never met either of them. (In fact, the First Doctor had not regenerated at that point - his original face would not have been modelled on anyone's, it's just a coincidence he bore a strong resemblance to the Abbott).  It's also unlikely that the Fifth Doctor regenerating into the Sixth would have modelled himself on a thug like Maxil! Of all the characters here, the only character who explicitlly based one of her incarnations on another person was Romana!

craig33
craig33

Exactly. There's only a certain amount of facial combinations, admittedly that means millions but also means that some people look like other people. They have resemblances or are the spitting image of people. Thats why I work with a woman who is the spitting image of the young tom baker. It's weird but there you go.

LordOfTime
LordOfTime

@Doctor Capaldi  Possibly timelords CAN decide in what they regenerate into the tenth didnt wanted to regenerate so he regenerated in some form. Eleven thought "okay I must regenerate , thats not worse , I don't die!" so he (or his subconscious) could decide in what he is regenerating. 


Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!
Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!

@CurtConners  Why do people keep asking if we "need" this? They're not doing it because we "need" it. I didn't "need" the muffin I had with my breakfast today, but I had it anyway because it was yummy. If they have the opportunity to add in a fun little detail, why shouldn't they?

craig33
craig33

5 stars to this smart fellow.

Diana van der Pluijm
Diana van der Pluijm

@CurtConners  Couldn't agree more. No need for an explanation other than 'the BBC keeps on using the same actors over and over again'.

gavinbarsby
gavinbarsby

Because they want to be clever.

It does beg the question as to how long they knew about Capaldi being the Doctor for the old head writer to have a theory about how he is other people.

Djcr
Djcr

@YgorVale @haydenburke Although, you could also see the moment they saved Gallifrey as another dramatic change to the timeline which resulted in the Trenzalore change. 


This means the appearance of Twelve then and there would be the "first appearance" of an effect of the new timeline where Gallifrey survived (and the Doctor post-Trenzalore).

Regardless, the second theory is pretty out there, especially the darker implications. The first one seems more likely, especially considering there's already precedents for it.

Doctor Capaldi
Doctor Capaldi

@gavinbarsby  No, the theory was how Frobisher and Caecillius were the same but in two different places in time. Capaldi being the Doctor was added on later when Moffat and RTD had a chat over the phone.

gavinbarsby
gavinbarsby

Just Googled it, yeah you are right I got my wires crossed a bit

gavinbarsby
gavinbarsby

I thought it was said that the phone call was made to see if his theory would still be able to work now.

Trackbacks

  1. […] He played Caecilius in series four of Doctor Who and John Frobisher in series three of Torchwood, and now he’s the Doctor. Naturally, I think some clever in-story explanation for this would be cool… and I think we’ll get one. Moffat keeps saying that it will be explained, and there are all sorts of theories about it. […]