BBC's Doctor Who Series 12 finale this coming Sunday promises big changes to the show's lore. It's all about Gallifrey and how everything we thought we knew was wrong. Of course, the BBC saw fit to put together a video primer about the Doctor's home planet as both a summary and way to get newer viewers up-to-speed.
At first glance, this looks like another "Greatest Hits" compilation video like all the rest.
But this one feels… different.
The clips here feel like they were handpicked. It feels like they're trying to tell us something beyond just giving us a potted history of Gallifrey on the show.
"Doctor Who": Gallifrey's Shaky History
The Doctor's home planet never had a clear origin or lore. Back in the old show, the writers made it up as they went along. The Doctor's people were always shadowy and mysterious. They never showed up until The Second Doctor's (Patrick Troughton) final story The War Game. The Timelords took him into custody for running around Time and Space and interfering with history. They forced him to regenerate as they exiled him to Earth. He turned into the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) for the next few seasons. They didn't even call it regenerating then, and it took a while before Gallifrey was even named.
The rest of the video shows the emergence of the corrupt, callous and bureaucratic High Council of Gallfirey. The High Council were a bunch of old duffers who spent their time hindering the Doctor, needing his help or trying to kill him. Sometimes, they did all three things at once. Writer Robert Holmes often based them on his former lecturers at Oxford as satire.
Basically, the High Council was awful. They brought back Rasillon to fight "The Time War" and he became a tyrannical maniac. Because they're all awful.
So What About The Regenerations?
The big clue to this compilation video is that it included as many clips involving regeneration as possible. And not just The Doctor's. The common thread in the video is the Doctor's relationship with Gallifrey and regenerating. The lie of "The Timeless Child" and the truth about regenerating and Gallifrey lie at the heart of the mystery that's set to be revealed in the finale. Everything we thought we knew, as seen in the video, has a secret behind it, and the video is setting us up for that reveal.
That's my theory, anyway – guess we'll find out something on Sunday.