The New Doctor is Almost Here!
With Peter Capaldi taking the reigns of The Doctor in just one short (long?) day, it seems charitable to offer showrunner Stephen Moffat a couple of options by which he can explain the prior appearance of Peter Capaldi on the show. Many a Whovian are aware of Peter Capaldi’s role in “The Fires of Pompeii” as the Caecilius, the sculptor/merchant who purchased the TARDIS from under the Doctor’s nose (his own nose?). It must be explained!
Moffat, ever a man to play both sides, stated earlier this year “…audiences do understand that the same actor can play different parts.” But in another interview he also said “We are aware that Peter Capaldi’s played a part in Doctor Who before and we’re not going to ignore the fact.”
Alas, the possibilities for an explanation (you’re welcome, Steven):
1. The Doctor is using the Chameleon Arch.
Like the Tenth Doctor and the Master, the Twelfth Doctor (13 if you count John Hurt) placed his essence within his Fob Watch for an urgent, presently unknown reason. The TARDIS then created his persona in Pompeii (c’mon TARDIS, do better). There could be a great story line here: why did the Doctor use the Arch, who he is hiding from, who his his companion, where is his companion? If a Chameleon Arch is the reason the Twelfth Doctor is in Pompeii, then surely he has a companion near by, right?. There seems to be one reasonable option: Caecilius’s family, Metella, Evelina and Quintas, played by Tracey Childs, Francesca Fowler and Francois Pandolfo, respectively, are actually The Doctor’s companions. There’s a history of the Doctor having multiple companions, most recently with the Ponds.
It makes reasonable sense that the companions assumed the role of the Doctor’s family in order to protect his true identity and keep a close watch on him. Unfortunately, the TARDIS disappeared until the Tenth Doctor showed up. The story around the companions influencing Donna Noble, who then influences the Tenth Doctor to save Caecilius and his family, is quite intriguing.
Not unlike John Smith’s (the Tenth Doctor’s persona) use of a journal to document what he believed were dreams but were actually memories trying to break through his mind, Caecilius felt a connection to the TARDIS and obtained it for study. Or did he…?
Though it’s probably completely unintended, I’d be remiss to not also point out the the interesting coincidence of season 8’s premiere date and the date of the Doctor’s arrival in Pompeii…
2. Twelve traveled to Pompeii to see Donna Noble again.
A quick recap: Donna Noble touched the Tenth Doctor’s severed hand and imbued his knowledge, which she used to save the Earth (yay!) but the Doctor had to wipe her mind because the knowledge would overwhelm her and she would burn up (boo!). This also means she cannot see or remember anything related to the Doctor ever again. Donna does not know the Doctor as anyone but David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, however, so seeing Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth (Thirteenth?) Doctor should have no impact on her. Why the Doctor chose to see Donna in Pompeii near volcano day is a mystery, but the TARDIS often sends the Doctor to places he did not intend (see: every episode ever). The TARDIS herself has even admitted that though she doesn’t always take the Doctor where he intends to go, she does always take him where he needs to go. So maybe seeing Donna was the intent of the Doctor, but it could be possible something far more sinister is happening in Pompeii that requires the Twelfth Doctor’s attention–and the TARDIS knows it.
We’ve seem the Doctor interacting with himself in the 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor”. The Bad Wolf (Rose) puts the War Doctor, Ten and Eleven in the same place and time while the War Doctor decides if destroying everyone involved in the Time War is the right call. The Eleventh Doctor forgot his role of tossing his fez through the vortex until the exact moment it came time to do so. His memory of the events as Ten and John Hurt are completely absent. In Pompeii, the story could be similar: only after Ten arrives does Twelve recognize his roll of purchasing the TARDIS (which brings Ten to him) so he, and his family of companions, can be saved.
In either scenarios that brings Twelve to Pompeii, it would seem that he manages to lose the TARDIS. The explanation of this could be quite fun. The TARDIS has a history of being stolen, disappearing, running off to safety. Take your pick. Recognizing the dire straights of the Twelfth Doctor, the TARDIS brings Ten to the rescue. You’ll recall Ten did not intend to be in Pompeii near volcano day but that’s where the TARDIS brought him. So, once again, who’s the real hero? Time. And. Relative. Dimension. In. Space.
Or, perhaps Moffat will ignore it altogether…just like Karen Gillan’s appearance in the Fires of Pompeii…
All of this just goes to show what we already know: the BBC has, like, 7 actors and they all just take turns doing the different shows.
Doctor Who returns on Saturday, August 23rd! Will you be watching?