The Eighth Doctor is destined to be reunited with his old friend Cass – who originally died within two minutes of meeting him! So how will she return for new adventures at Big Finish?
“Anything’s possible,” as someone once said, and the audio production company Big Finish has a habit of achieving the unlikely. And when it comes to the Eighth Doctor and Cass, this is certainly one of the more unlikely partnerships to find a new home in the world of audio.
For those of you who have seen the Eighth Doctor minisode ‘The Night of the Doctor,’ you will know that the Doctor and Cass first met on board a crashing space vessel. But alas, this was a short-lived meeting; the Doctor attempted to whisk Cass away in his TARDIS, but Cass wouldn’t let him. When she discovered that he was a Time Lord, she was appalled at the idea of letting such a person come to her aid, given the atrocities that the Time Lords had already caused in the Time War. And despite his best efforts, the Doctor was unable to persuade her. The vessel crashed and killed them both, triggering the Eighth Doctor’s regeneration.
In all, ‘The Night of the Doctor’ lasts under 10 minutes, and his scenes with Cass amount to a small fragment of this. So the idea that Big Finish could ‘resurrect’ her character (or even tell a prequel story) is intriguing. ‘The Night of the Doctor’ features their first meeting, and she dies shortly after this – so how can she be joining the Eighth Doctor in a whole box set of stories?
Well, the adventures in question are titled ‘Time War – Cass’ so there may be a clue in the title. After all, we know that things got complicated and considerably timey-wimey during the Time War. As one of the Time Lords in ‘The End of Time’ explained: “But at [the heart of the Time War] millions die every second, lost in bloodlust and insanity, with time itself resurrecting them, to find new ways of dying over and over again. A travesty of life.”
So could this explain how Cass can have a series of adventures with the Eighth Doctor before their first meeting in ‘The Night of the Doctor’? Possibly, if “time itself” is resurrecting people over and over again, to die in different ways.
Indeed, the box set’s producer David Richardson hinted at this possibility in Big Finish’s press release. “Cass is back and she even gets to be the title of this fifth box set in the Eighth Doctor’s Time War saga!” he said. “But how can this be? Cass met the Doctor once in ‘The Night of the Doctor’ and died at the end of that story. Unless something cataclysmic is happening to the course of history… something huge like a war within time…”
Emma Campbell-Jones, who plays Cass, added: “I’ve been very much hoping and wishing ever since we did that minisode that there would be more adventure and magic at some point. Words can’t describe how happy I am to be back.
“In ‘The Night of the Doctor,’ it felt like Cass was just starting out and then her story was very much curtailed. It was desperately heartbreaking. I love that she has another chance – unwittingly, as she doesn’t know her story yet. I’m really excited about her journeys to come and that she has more life to live. It’s beautiful and exciting.”
Certainly, the timey-wimey explanation for Cass’ reunion with the Eighth Doctor seems the most likely given the titles of the episodes that comprise this box set: ‘Meanwhile, Elsewhere,’ ‘Vespertine’ and ‘Previously, Next Time,’ which is told in two parts. The latter adventure deals with temporal anomalies within the TARDIS itself, and the villainous Daleks.
But of course, there is more than one way for a dead character to return in Doctor Who. A simpler explanation could be that the Eighth Doctor encounters a parallel universe version of Cass, much like the parallel universe versions of other characters we’ve seen such as Pete Tyler in ‘Rise of the Cybermen’ and the Brigade Leader in ‘Inferno.’
Or she could be a duplicate or ‘ganger’ of some sort. The Daleks, of course, have made use of duplicates in ‘The Chase’ and ‘Resurrection of the Daleks,’ and then there were the gunge-like gangers ‘The Rebel Flesh’ and ‘The Almost People.’ Although the idea that someone (or something) could make a clone of a character that the Eighth Doctor hasn’t even met yet is perhaps more timey-wimey than the alternatives.
And speaking of timey-wimey, we also have Clara Oswald‘s ‘resurrection’ in the Series Nine episode ‘Hell Bent,’ when the Doctor managed to extract her from her timestream seconds before she died. Clara then went on to have countless adventures in her own TARDIS, even if this was only a temporary resurrection. Perhaps the Eighth Doctor will find a way to extract Cass before she crashes in the space vessel – but again, this may demand some timey-wimey logic given that the Eighth Doctor doesn’t (or shouldn’t) know who she is at this point in the Time War.
Whatever the solution, it promises to be an exciting series of adventures. ‘Time War – Cass’ will also see the return of the Eighth Doctor’s great grandson Alex, and it is one of the first Big Finish offerings to include a version of the new Doctor Who branding – that is, the diamond-shaped logo that is being used to mark the programme’s 60th anniversary in 2023.
This first release will be available in January 2023, followed by a further box set in April 2024 – although it’s unclear whether the mysterious Cass will be returning for that one. You can pre-order both on the Big Finish website.
In the meantime, what do you think is the explanation for Cass’ return will be? Let us know in the comments below.
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