'Doctor Who:' Could the Thirteenth Doctor Find Herself Stranded on Earth?
It wouldn't be the first time.
WARNING: SPOILERS for "Twice Upon A Time."
With the airing of the 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special, 'Twice Upon A Time," Whovians have now seen the groundbreaking first appearance of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor. Whittaker, who is best known for her work on Broadchurch with new Doctor Who show-runner Chris Chibnall and former Doctor David Tennant, is the first woman to take on the role. While this was seen as a controversial casting decision by some, for the most part, fans have accepted their new Doctor with open arms.
Unfortunately, things did not exactly go well for the Thirteenth Doctor in her first moments.
Fall To Earth
After a rousing pep talk from the Twelfth Doctor to his future self, reminding them of all the most important things they would need to know to succeed as The Doctor, he regenerated into his/her thirteenth incarnation. Rather than being surprised or troubled, The Doctor seemed pleased with the changes that had occurred.
"Oh, brilliant!"- The Thirteenth Doctor.
Unfortunately, she did not have much time to enjoy it. Like most regenerations depicted on the new series of Doctor Who, The Doctor's regeneration energy caused quite severe damage to the Tardis. As she attempted to set the Tardis right, the ship spiraled further out of control, sending The Doctor flying out the doors and plunging towards the Earth, left to watch helplessly as the Tardis de-materialised.
Why did the Tardis leave The Doctor?
Now, until series eleven of Doctor Who premieres sometime in 2018, viewers will be left with these questions: one, how will The Thirteenth Doctor survive her dramatic fall? Two, why did the usually loyal Tardis seemingly abandon her beloved Doctor? And three, how long will it be before she gets the Tardis back? While viewers will definitely have to wait until the show returns for the answer to the first question, the second and third can be more easily speculated upon.
One possibility is that the Tardis HADS—standing for Hostile Action Displacement System—was activated. Used fairly regularly in the classic series the HADS was a system intended to temporarily relocate the Tardis if it came under attack. Unfortunately, the system was not always helpful, once causing the Third Doctor, his exile on Earth recently ended, to briefly lose the Tardis after the HADS mistook a hailstorm for an attack. It did not come into play in the revival until the series seven episode "Cold Blood." Before the episode begins, The Eleventh Doctor reactivated the long dormant HADS, causing it to flee to the South Pole after it is fired upon, while leaving The Doctor and Clara behind on a Russian submarine. The HADS was used again in the series nine episode "The Witch's Familiar," although with a slightly altered program which The Twelfth Doctor names the Hostile Action Dispersal System.
In the Thirteenth Doctor's case, the Tardis could have perceived 'hostile action' within itself as the console seemingly exploded, activating The HADS in an ill-advised attempt at escaping the danger. Alternatively, it is possible that the Tardis does not yet recognise The Doctor in her new female form, and cast her out on purpose. While the Tardis is probably aware that this kind of change could happen, for the ship, just like for some of the show's viewers, it is a change that may take some time to accept.
When will The Doctor get the Tardis back?
It is easy to assume that The Thirteenth Doctor will be reunited with the Tardis, complete with customary brand-new console room by the end of her first episode, but this may not be the case. New show-runner Chris Chibnall is said to be planning something not seen in NuWho before: A continuous series-long storyline. The loss of the Tardis, leaving The Doctor alone and stranded, could be the perfect way to kick off such a storyline. It is also important to note that the series has precedent for this type of scenario.
Season seven of classic Doctor Who begins with the just regenerated Third Doctor stranded on Earth after being exiled there by the Time Lords. While the Tardis is with him, it is unable to travel, except on the rare occasions that the Time Lords give him a task. During his exile, The Doctor takes up a position as scientific advisor for U.N.I.T, working closely with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. This became the series status quo until the beginning of season ten, when the Time Lords finally lift The Doctor's exile.
It has often been noted in the revived Doctor Who that The Doctor never officially resigned his post as scientific advisor, and is therefore technically still employed by U.N.I.T. Upon realising she may be stuck on Earth for some time, The Thirteenth Doctor may seek out U.N.I.T for help in finding the Tardis, and possibly even take up her old position, at least temporarily. This would also tie in with the events of 'Twice Upon A Time," in which the Twelfth Doctor was reminded of a promise made by his first incarnation to watch over the Lethbridge-Stewart family. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart's daughter, Kate, is currently head of U.N.I.T's science department. Assuming The Doctor does not meet her three new companions—Yasmin, Luke, and Graham—all at once, having her work with U.N.I.T could be a nice way to introduce each of them gradually.
Of course, this is all assuming that The Doctor is in the present day. For all we know, we may rejoin her in an unknown time period. Whatever the outcome, Whovians are sure to be on the edge of their seat when Doctor Who returns.