As you probably already know, during the Doctor’s fourth incarnation, when Tom Baker faced off against the Master in The Deadly Assassin, the series established the bounds on a Timelord’s regenerative ability – 12 regenerations was the limit. This episode was a critical time for the Master as he had entered into the end of his 13th incarnation – a period that marks the end of the existence for a Timelord. The Master’s constant desire to cheat death is at the heart of the plot of The Deadly Assassin, however an even more important aspect of this story is the implication of what effect this limitation will have on the doctor in the future.
Much lore has been established over the years about what lies ahead for the Doctor; the series has occasionally played with the myriad of possibilities. It has been suggested (more than once) that the Doctor may have a dark persona that lies ahead. In fact, if you take the time to study some of the references in the classic series – one might even be led to believe that the Master is actually a future incarnation of the Doctor! (Check out the Trial of a Timelord series)
Admittedly, the Doctor and the Master being the same person might be a bit too extreme of a plot twist, not to mention breaking the first law of time (think The Three Doctors…), but now we have what may be even more extreme: The Doctor Is Immortal.
That’s right – According to the newest Sarah Jane Adventures two-part episode The Death of the Doctor airing 25-26 October, the Doctor is now immortal. So much for lucky 13, eh? In an apparently un-emphasized, un-dramatic, lackadaisical moment between Matt Smith’s Doctor and Clyde, Clyde asks the Doctor how many times he can regenerate, to which the Doctor replies that there is no limit. It seems that the BBC has casually put in place an insurance policy to keep the series going for quite some time. I’m happy to see that they are sending out the message that Doctor Who is here to stay, but I have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed in the form that message. Call me crazy – but wouldn’t you have wanted to see such a major change introduced in the show and with a bit more grandeur? Maybe even integrated with the plot of an episode that would provide a plausible explanation for this shift? I think I would have much preferred that. I guess it’s not impossible that the next season will address this; seeing as that it will inevitably become crucial at some time.
Time will tell… It always does. Don’t forget to check out the latest Sarah Jane Adventures two-part episode!