Doctor Who: Three Things to Think About After “The Pilot”


The new season of Doctor Who is here – with a new companion and a bunch of new questions. Here are three big things we want to know after the season premiere.

The new season of Doctor Who is here – and with it a new companion, a lingering mystery, and the promise of more exciting adventures across time and space to come. The season 10 premiere felt like a refreshing return to form in many ways. (Check our review of “The Pilot” for some reasons why.) But it also left some dangling plot threads out there that seem worth pulling on just a little bit. Or, at the very least, thinking about for a while.

Here are three of the biggest questions we have looking forward to the season’s second episode, called “Smile.”

What’s in the Mysterious Vault?

The secret of the Doctor’s mysterious vault in the university basement will probably not be revealed any time soon. This particular twist screams “season-long secret,” so no one should be surprised if we make a few trips back to the Doctor’s professorial digs over the course of the next few episodes. Thus far, we don’t know much — either about what the secret item is, or how dangerous it might be.

What we do know is this: Whatever is in the vault under the school, the Doctor and Nardole put it there. They decided to hide this thing on Earth for some specific reason. And whatever it is, it needs guarding with a rather high tech security system. Whatever it is has to be extremely dangerous or valuable. Why? Well it’s important enough that the Doctor has stayed in one place for decades, watching it. Oh, and the doors are scrawled with Gallifreyan writing. Because the Time Lords are nothing if not subtle, it seems.

Beyond that this item is something shrouded in mystery, we have no idea yet what it is, or what it could mean for the rest of the season. Or, heck, if it’s even an item. What if it’s a person? After all, we know that John Simm’s version of the Master is coming back at some point this season. What if this…whatever it is, is the vehicle by which he manages to return? After all, we’ve seen that the Master can hide out in inanimate objects before (see also: “Utopia”). It wouldn’t even be that surprising. We literally just did it a couple of seasons ago with the Pandorica.

Who is Bill Potts?

We don’t exactly know the Doctor’s new companion very well yet. That’s not too strange. We only just met her. And part of the fun of new additions to Team TARDIS is getting to know them as the Doctor does and watching how their relationship grows. But it also comes with questions. Who is this person? How did the Doctor find them? And could there be more to them than meets the eye?

After all, Steven Moffat is still running things on Doctor Who this season. And we all know he will probably not be able to resist the temptation to add some kind of bizarro mystery to Bill’s past. He did come up with “The Impossible Girl” schtick for Clara after all. And the Amy-as-River’s-mom twist. He doesn’t seem to be a huge fan of having the Doctor just pick up ordinary people. But who might Bill be? On the surface, she seems really, refreshingly ordinary. And yet…there’s a hint that something could be different about her.

First of all, it seems like a lot to take on trust that the Doctor was only drawn to Bill in his lectures just because she smiled. Let’s not forget that Bill managed to follow the Doctor and Nardole down into their secret, super secure vault. And she didn’t trip the security system, which Nardole explained was set to something called “Friends and Family.” Now, that could just be code for “People the Doctor Likes.” Or it could mean something bigger. The cameras weren’t shy about cutting to that big picture of Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter, on his desk during several meaningful lines of dialogue. Are we meant to wonder if there’s a connection between the two? It seems preposterous, on paper, but this show has done stranger things. (And Moffat has proven he’s not above changing major pieces of Doctor Who canon when it suits him.)

And What’s Up with Nardole?

We first met Nardole on the planet Mendorax Dellora in 2015 Christmas special “The Husbands of River Song.” Back then, he was very definitely human. But he might not be anymore. In his first appearance, Nardole served as River’s servant and general employee. In typical it’s-kind-of-a-long story Doctor Who fashion, he was decapitated and his head was reattached to the mechanical body of King Hydroflax during this adventure. (Also, his consciousness was absorbed into the cyborg.) Good times, huh?

Counting 2016 Christmas special “The Return of Doctor Mysterio,” this is the second episode in a row in which the Doctor is now hanging out with Nardole. And we still don’t know what happened between them. How did they reunite? How did Nardole get free from the Hydroflax robot? And what did he do after (presumably) leaving River to face the fate we already know was waiting for her in “The Silence in the Library”? Oh, and who built him the cyborg body he’s currently walking around in? (Everyone surely noticed that Nardole is a robot, thanks to the various mechanical bits falling off of him in the premiere.)

Next: Doctor Who Season 10 Premiere Recap and Review

Doctor Who Season 10 continues Saturday, April 22 on BBC One and BBC America.