Spoilers ahead for the doctor who episode “The Power of the Doctor”.
Weather doctor whoThe transition episode of “The Power of the Doctor”, brought a TARDIS full of surprises, also managed to turn the tide of an accepted idea about where the incoming iteration of the Time Lord of Ncuti Gatwa fits numerically.
The on-screen swan song of Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor was, as expected, an emotional farewell, capping a five-year run as a star of the venerable sci-fi institution. However, the show’s traditional regeneration scene, in which the outgoing Doctor metamorphoses into his successor, was something of a curveball this time. The ostentatious display of energy emanating from Whittaker’s transformation was not followed by the screen debut of his confirmed successor, Ncuti Gatwa. Rather, the Thirteenth Doctor shockingly became none other than the Tenth Doctor (now the Fourteenth Doctor), making an unprecedented backward regeneration. Wearing that ensemble, incoming showrunner Russell T. Davies officially confirms that Ncuti Gatwa will (eventually) arrive as the Fifteenth Doctor.
As Davies teases “The Power of the Doctor’s” Timelord twist, “if you thought David Tennant’s appearance was a shock, we’ve got plenty more surprises on the way! The road to Ncuti’s Fifteenth Doctor is paved with mystery, horror, robots, puppets, danger and fun! And how does it relate to the return of the wonderful Donna Noble? How, what, why? We give you a year to speculate, and then all hell breaks loose!” Likewise, the What’s Coming Trailer for the doctor who The franchise provided the first glimpse of Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor, who is shouting a request that is likely echoed in the show’s fandom: “Someone tell me what the hell is going on here!”
Doctor Who Upside Down Regeneration
In fact, fans might be wondering where that leaves the series. Well, it turns out that it leaves it exactly where a recent edition of Doctor Who Magazine confirmed as it has already been revealed that Tennant will return as the Tenth/Fourteenth Doctor for a three-part series of “special episodes” to air in November 2023, celebrating the franchise’s 60th birthday. Of course, no one could have imagined the context of said return. It would have been easy to assume that Tennant’s Doctor would somehow share the screen with the newly minted version of Gatwa via a temporary plot device for a reunion of Doctors similar to the crossovers that have taken place over the years. Instead, it will presumably culminate in another respawn sequence, and this one will introduce the Fifteenth.
Gatwa comes to the series buoyed by her scene-stealing role on Netflix. Sex education like the boisterous Eric Effiong. However, based on the few seconds of footage provided in the preview, this wasn’t a typecasting situation, and the Fifteenth Doctor will apparently come through with a unique level of intensity mixed with Gatwa’s comedic swagger. While the 30-year-old Rwandan-born Scottish actor has a daunting legacy to live up to, his predecessor, Whittaker, believes he is perfectly capable of leaving a powerful mark in this proverbial cement. “I’m certainly not giving that phenomenal actor any advice!” Whittaker recently said. “He doesn’t need it from me [and only my advice is]: it’s yours and you’ve earned it.”
Unfortunately for fans, the wait for the eventual debut of Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor will be well over a year. So we can expect a long period of speculation from rabid Whovians until then.
doctor who will return for a new three-episode arc with David Tennant in November 2023 on BBC and BBC America.