By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Two prequels mark the coming of an individual who is both an old friend and enemy of the Doctor’s prior to the broadcast of the season nine episode, “The Magician’s Apprentice.” If this series writers are clever, they better be making connections to season 26 when the Doctor was first referenced as Merlin (“Battlefield“).
The latest prologue premiered after the cinema screening of season 8’s finale (“Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven”) and it shows that The Doctor has fled to the Middle Ages to meditate. Comedy ensues as he’s the type who can barely last three hours in a quiet state, and he needs fresh water to quench his palette. More humour gets added as he guides a would-be knight, Bors, with his soldiers across a field in search for the perfect spot for a well.
I have to wonder if this knight is Bors the Elder from King Arthur’s time. Camelot is not founded yet, and there is no sword in the stone in sight. Sometimes the name is as important as the location, and I was scanning the screen for tell-tale signs to connect this little prequel to the rest of the series. There was a goblet mentioned from “The Night of the Doctor,” but I could not discern if that’s of significance … unless that happens to foreshadow what’s to come for Bors, as he’s the only knight to succeed in the quest for the Holy Grail. Amusingly, the Doctor is seeking meditation under Bors’ care.
Tiny spoilers in the dialogue suggest a time where he would fancy a walk into a bookstore than to tour a battlefield. Just what he has to face next is not something he’s keen on facing head on. For a moment, I wondered if he’s making reference to the season 26 episode “Battlefield,” where he had to fight Morgaine in a quest to return the scabbard of Excalibur to King Arthur. Could she be another incarnation of Missy?
Even more interesting is a potential connection where the Lady of the Lake might see a return to the series in the third episode of the 9th series (season 35) “Under the Lake.”
One detail I found intriguing with seeing the season 8 finale again is that the Master is up to his / her own tricks again. After his transformation to become a female, she uses deception to disguise the fact that she’s building an army of the undead who would become the next generation of Cyberman. Almost similarly, in “The Dæmons,” The Master summons a force of evil. Technology wins out in this latest version, but I have to wonder if connections with the early series are being made.
I find The Master’s fascination with necromancy sometimes at the forefront and using this dark magic is about the only way he can survive. During the Fourth Doctor’s time, he was a corpse surviving through pure strength of will. He used up all his regenerations. In the episode, he tries to steal artifacts of Rassilon to get a new set of regenerations. Ultimately, he fails and waits to try again in “The Keeper of Traken“. This time, he’s managed to transfer his essence to a new body. After the events of “The End of Time,” many fans must be asking, “How did he escape the pocket universe?”
He most likely found passage when cracks between dimensions plagued the universe. Only his will can travel through and it needed a host, hence the origins of how Missy came into existance. When the September 16th screening included a new interview with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman teasing at what’s to come, I took note of when Capaldi revealed this new season will change your way of thinking how regenerations work. What I read from it is that there are more than a few Time Lords lurking about, and who knows, audiences may finally get to see the Doctor’s Daughter return, albeit in a new body.