After Doctor Who’s triumphant return this past weekend in “The Star Beast,” all eyes are now on this weekend’s second of three 60th anniversary specials, “Wild Blue Yonder.” But the fact that those eyes are upon it and the BBC is not willing to say almost anything of substance about it is leading Doctor Who fans to go a little bit doolally with the wait.
We knew a lot about “The Star Beast” in the run up to its release—it’s arguably the special we saw the most of in trailers for the trio of anniversary episodes, and we saw lots of things like the Meep and the Wrarth Warriors, Donna’s return, and her daughter Rose. Likewise, while we know less about it, we’ve seen quite a bit from “The Giggle,” the climactic third special that will see Neil Patrick Harris play returning deep-cut villain the Toy Maker, but also sees the return of UNIT and Kate Lethbridge Stewart, and will, presumably, bid farewell to the 14th Doctor and Donna Noble’s renewed time in the TARDIS, to set the stage for the arrival of Ncuti Gatwa’s 15th Doctor. And yet, “Wild Blue Yonder,” the middle chapter, is being kept awfully under wraps.
You’d expect this kind of secrecy for the final episode of the trio, but the middle chapter? We have almost nothing. The BBC didn’t attach a “Next Time” trailer to “The Star Beast” for the episode, only releasing it online afterwards. A lot of the imagery we’ve seen from it comes from a seeming handful of scenes, as do two tiny preview clips dropped so far. We only know one extra actor joining David Tennant and Catherine Tate in the cast so far: Susan Twist, playing someone called “Mrs. Merridew.” Even the episode description is deliberately vague: “The TARDIS takes the Doctor and Donna to the furthest edge of adventure. To escape, they must face the most desperate fight of their lives, with the fate of the universe at stake.”
Naturally, Doctor Who fans—who already do not, despite being fans of a show whose title is a literal mystery, cope well with not knowing things, and, in anniversary years especially, are very fond of setting expectations stratospherically high—have taken this vagueness, and run with it to the end of time itself and back. Perhaps even more so, impacted by similarly vague, yet ominous teases from showrunner Russell T. Davies that “Wild Blue Yonder” will be “The Secret One” of the trio, and star David Tennant adding that it “is unlike any Doctor Who episode ever.” So what are they doing? Expecting perhaps anything and everything to happen on Saturday night.
Some have speculated that the mysterious location the Doctor and Donna are whisked off to is, somehow, the insides of another TARDIS, explaining why their own TARDIS apparently runs off during the course of the episode, leaving the duo stranded. Others have, naturally, assumed that because this is an anniversary episode, we could meet returning familiar faces like past companions (Carol Anne Ford’s Susan is a popular choice, for some reason), or even previous Doctors—like Matt Smith, who recently made a big to-do at a convention appearance that he hadn’t been contacted about the 60th anniversary at all. Davies has also teased that the episode will somehow touch on two of Chris Chibnall’s most controversial additions to canon, the Doctor’s true origins in “The Timeless Child,” and the universe-destroying events of “The Flux,” that the episode could either take us back to Gallifrey, the Doctor’s true home beyond it, or even outside of the boundaries of space and time.
But perhaps the wildest of, well, “Wild Blue Yonder” theories suggests that the episode is a multi-Doctor special… but, from our perspective and that of the Doctor and Donna’s, one featuring a future Doctor, more specifically, Ncuti Gatwa’s rapidly incoming 15th Doctor and his new companion Ruby, who we’re already anticipating meeting on Christmas Day. On Doctor Who’s anniversary itself, November 23, the BBC released a trailer delivering “60 seconds of Doctor Who in 60 years,” which climaxed with a shot of the 15th Doctor and Ruby running down a spacey-looking corridor that looks vaguely similar to some of the darker shots we’ve seen from “Wild Blue Yonder.” What if the Doctor is literally running from his recent past, trying to avoid crossing timestreams when he, presumably, already knows why his old face returned for a little bit?
Of course, given the strange fates that brought the Doctor and Donna together again, meeting a future self could certainly be up there on the mysterious destinies. It would be something Doctor Who’s never done before—a twist on the traditional anniversary hope for a multi-Doctor story, but doing it to introduce us to a new Doctor a little earlier than planned, kind of like how Steven Moffat introduced Jenna Coleman in “Asylum of the Daleks” and then “The Snowmen” as a plot thread tying into the eventual arrival of her as full-time companion Clara. And of course, what else could get the TARDIS to run away and freak out with its Hostile Action Displacement System than the presence of another version of the Doctor it didn’t expect to find during a crash landing? If you think about it long enough, it kind of starts making sense.
Which is likely to mean that we’re all just a bit overexcited by new Doctor Who after over a year of anticipation, and now can’t even wait seven days between doses of adventures in Time and Space—and, given a sudden drought of new information, Doctor Who fans are filling the void with anything and everything and willing it into potential existence. Maybe. After I was like “oh it’s a very ridiculous fan theory that Doctor Who would bring back David Tennant, and as a brand new incarnation not even the 10th Doctor” when rumors swirled last year and then that that turned out to be exactly what happened, I’m inclined to let a fandom high on its timey-wimey supply run wild with speculation for a bit before definitively expecting otherwise.
Either way, we’ll definitely find out what’s up with “Wild Blue Yonder” in just three more days, when it hits BBC One in the UK and Ireland, and Disney+ worldwide, this Sunday, December 3.
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