What To Expect When The Time Lords Return
Guest contributor Mike Falino speculates on what might happen next.
I won’t deny it…while I loved the idea of the Time War I’ve always wanted the Time Lords to come back. I’ve written in the past about why I think they should, and now it seems that it will happen sometime in the future. And since you don’t bring back Gallifrey without the intention of having the Doctor eventually find it, what happens then? What happens when the Time Lords make their return, and more importantly, how does this affect the Doctor? It’s fairly obvious that it won’t be a sweet homecoming, free of any problems. After all, where’s the fun in that from a storytelling perspective? As we all know, nobody can accurately predict what will really go down, but let’s play around with how it might play out.
Supposing the Doctor has already located Gallifrey, the next step is for him to show his face…whichever one it might be at the time. There’s no doubt that the Doctor will be ecstatic upon his return, barring any portentous warnings, or prior knowledge that would spoil his arrival. He’ll materialize somewhere familiar, maybe the council chamber or even his real proper home. But when in the time line from the Gallifreyan perspective will he arrive, just after the Daleks have vanished, or some time after? It’s interesting to imagine what he might find. It could be a war-torn planet and war-weary people, or a society that has moved on in some way that is unfamiliar to him. Chances are the Gallifrey he finds won’t be exactly like it was when he last saw it before the war. His home as he knew it is still probably gone.
What happens then? Well, aside from the viewers possibly meeting some of the Doctor’s past relations and acquaintances, the real matter at hand is how the Time Lords will respond to the whole situation. Will they thank him, as he probably assumes they would? Will they find some fault in his actions and chastise him? Will they even know what happened at all? If the past Doctors’ memories of saving Gallifrey were erased at the end of The Day of the Doctor, did the Time Lords suffer some sort of disorientation of their own?
For the sake of argument, let’s say the Time Lords are aware of what took place. That still doesn’t ensure their pleasant outlook of the matter. I feel I can say with high confidence that the Time Lords aren’t going to be a benevolent race of “watchers” or “observers”. Rather, it’s more likely they will either continue their arrogant existence, or even take it a step further and become true villains. If they are not humbled by the events of the Time War and how close they came to extinction, could they go in the opposite direction? Perhaps the Doctor will end up having mixed feelings about saving his people. Having gone from regret and despair, to joy and hope, will he come full circle and regret his decision to not destroy them? Probably not, but such feelings could contort the Doctor’s psyche in a far darker way than destroying them did.
Depending on how negative the evolution of the Time Lords turns out to be we could see the Doctor take on roles never before conceived. Our only source of potential interaction between him and his people is Classic Who. For the most part these interactions where not wholly positive, but I suspect even the old stories will pale in comparison to how the Time Lords will be when they return. Don’t forget that the Doctor was once the Lord President of Gallifrey. He isn’t simply “one of them” as many modern fans who haven’t seen the old stories might think. So anything we can think of is, in my mind, not out of the realm of possibility. Imagine seeing the Doctor stage a coup to try and overthrow Gallifrey’s cantankerous government in an attempt to “save” his world in a completely different way.
Bringing back the Time Lords is possibly the most exciting thing about Doctor Who for a long while. It’s been nearly a decade since Doctor Who returned to our screens, and since then the Time Lords have been but a memory. Their existence opens up countless opportunities for dramatic, emotional storytelling that simply isn’t possible without them. At the very least it gives Doctor Who another chance to reshape itself by offering an entire world of advanced technology and culture to explore that is perfect for repeat visits. It gives the viewers, as well as the writers, a chance to explore political intrigue, Doctor-related backstory, history, and even perhaps the transformation of Doctor Who into a more mature, hard-SciFi show that simply isn’t possible without the Time Lords.
One hope of mine is that the Doctor can finally leave Earth for a while and focus on some other planet. There are countless new recurring characters that we haven’t met, that don’t have to be the Doctor’s companions, but could enrich the show in ways we have never seen before. Having the Time Lords in Classic Who added an element to the show that has been missing for too long. Seeing the Doctor living under some form of constraint, as opposed to the boundless freedom he enjoys nowadays, really shows a whole different side of the Doctor, as well as the show itself. I can’t wait to see how this all plays out!