Omega is perhaps one of the most important characters in Doctor Who lore, and was instrumental in the formation of Gallifreyan society. But who, exactly, is he?
By 1972, viewers were slowly learning more about the Doctor’s origins. In the 1969 story ‘The War Games,’ they had been introduced to the Doctor’s home planet, and they had met some of the other members of his own race, known the Time Lords. They were immensely powerful, godlike beings who had apparent mastery over the laws of time.
But it wasn’t clear how the Time Lords reached this point, and to an extent, these questions were never answered – not, at least, until the 2020 episode ‘The Timeless Children‘ which gave a great deal of information about the Time Lords and their origins.
One story that did provide some clarity, however, was the 1972 adventure ‘The Three Doctors,’ which saw the First, Second and Third Doctors come together to fight Omega – a renegade from their own race who was trapped in the universe of antimatter.
But how did Omega get there? Well, in ‘The Three Doctors’ it was revealed that he had been the solar engineer who created the necessary supernova (i.e. the explosive death of a dying star) to fuel Time Lord society – that is, their ability to travel through time. But Omega had been caught up in the explosion and was presumed dead – until, of course, the Doctors discovered him alive and well in the universe of antimatter.
And it’s a strange place. In ‘The Three Doctors,’ the universe of antimatter was one without structure; it was maintained by the power of Omega’s will, and this gave it form and substance and allowed the Doctors to pass through it. At the same time, Omega found himself trapped in this reality. He knew that it would quickly disintegrate if his mind was not there to maintain it.
It was for this reason that he lured the Doctors into this universe, hoping that they would take over its maintenance so that he could return home. Ultimately, however, Omega was tricked by the Doctor and destroyed, his entire domain being obliterated by the Second Doctor’s recorder. (It makes sense when you watch it.)
Of course, this was not the last time we saw Omega. He made a dramatic return during Doctor Who‘s 20th anniversary season in ‘Arc of Infinity.’ In the adventure, the Doctor was ordered to return to Gallifrey after becoming the victim of an interdimensional ‘bonding.’ Simply put, Omega (still trapped in the universe of antimatter) had tried to merge his body with the Doctor’s so that he could actualise in the matter universe.
Initially, he didn’t succeed – but the Time Lords were suspicious. Although they believed the Doctor to be innocent of any wrongdoing, they ordered that he be executed in case any trace of Omega still existed. They did this, but the Doctor survived; he was protected by Omega, who hid his body behind a forcefield on Gallifrey and transferred his mind to the Matrix, which is the Time Lords’ data repository.
The Doctor later escaped, but not before Omega (aided by another rogue Time Lord called Hedin) managed to cross over into the matter universe.
Alas, his new body was not stable. Although he had copied the Fifth Doctor’s form and actualised in contemporary Amsterdam, Omega quickly began to decay. As he lay quivering on the ground, the Doctor blasted him with a matter converter, and sent him back to the universe of antimatter.
So did Omega survive? It’s hard to say. He made a return in the Big Finish production Gallifrey: Intervention Earth, portrayed by the same actor who had played him in ‘The Three Doctors’ (although, inevitably, not everyone will see this story as canon.) In the adventure, Omega once again escaped from the antimatter universe by possessing the body of Tauras – a Time Lord who belonged to a Gallifreyan sect known as the Adherents of Ohm.
Ultimately, he was defeated by the Doctor’s former companion Romana, who sent another Time Lord known as Irvin Braxiatel back in time to prevent his escape from the antimatter universe.
So, technically, this was the last time we ‘saw’ Omega in the Whoniverse, although he did make a fleeting appearance in the 2020 episode ‘The Timeless Children,’ despite being unnamed on screen. This was during a flashback sequence narrated by the Master, which explained how Gallifreyan society was formed. However, there are still many lingering questions as to the true part he played in Gallifrey’s early days.
That being said, it was strongly implied during the Seventh Doctor‘s era that the Doctor, Omega and Rassilon (another prominent Gallifreyan) were part of a triumvirate that formed Time Lord society. This involved the development of time travel technology and the creation of a mysterious device known as the Hand of Omega – a stellar manipulator with the ability to blow up stars. This particular object featured in the 1988 story ‘Remembrance of the Daleks‘ when it fell into the possession of the Doctor’s deadliest enemies.
So could Omega make a return to Doctor Who in the future? It’s certainly possible. Indeed, we have already seen Rassilon in ‘The End of Time’ and ‘Hell Bent,’ so there is no reason why Omega couldn’t make an appearance as well.
Moreover, at the time of writing, the Doctor is battling a powerful entity from the dawn of time in Doctor Who: Flux. Known as Swarm, this man seems to know the Doctor of old, and has the ability to make matter disintegrate with just one touch – much like the collision of matter and antimatter.
So do you think that Swarm could be Omega in disguise? And how would you feel about the character returning to Doctor Who in the future? Let me know in the comments below.
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