With the Thirteenth Doctor’s era coming to a close, we look back at the five most memorable moments for Jodie Whittaker’s Time Lord.
5) The universe is a frog
The frog universe of Series 11 is definitely one of the Thirteenth Doctor’s most memorable moments. There was a twist at the end of the episode ‘It Takes You Away,’ in which the Doctor came into contact with a sentient universe that took the form of a frog. This was known as a Solitract that had gone into exile and had been desperately seeking companionship. In this episode, it was trying to find it by taking the form of Graham’s dead wife Grace, and other means.
But why did it take the form of a frog? Well, this was a creature that once “delighted Grace,” apparently. Whatever the reason, it’s certainly a striking moment, and one that quickly ‘leaps’ to mind when recalling the Thirteenth Doctor’s era.
4) The scene on the bus
“That moment on the bus” is another early scene from the Thirteenth Doctor’s era, and one that has stuck in the mind of many a Doctor Who fan. This was from the Series 11 episode ‘Rosa,’ which – as the episode suggests – revolved around the civil rights activist Rosa Parks. Although, at the time in which the episode was set (1955) Rosa Parks wasn’t the influential figure that she went on to be; she was a seamstress working in Montgomery, Alabama, and it was during a simple bus journey home that she was forced to give up her seat for a white passenger – an instruction which she defied, and was arrested for.
In the episode, Montgomery has been infiltrated by a rogue time traveller known as Krasko who is determined to stop that bus journey from happening, halting the subsequent Montgomery bus boycott and civil rights movement that transformed the United States, and other countries. Of course, the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends have to keep history in place and ensure that Rosa refuses to give up her seat.
But in order for this to happen, the bus has to be crowded, and therein lies the problem. The solution (painful as it is) is for the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends to crowd the bus so that Rosa is forced to move. It’s a powerful moment where the Doctor is forced to do something deeply uncomfortable, all the while keeping her eyes fixed on the greater good.
‘Rosa’ is also remembered as being one of the few episodes in the series’ history to finish without the traditional Doctor Who theme, opting for ‘Rise Up’ by Andra Day instead.
3) The Weeping Angel statue
The 2021 episode ‘Village of the Angels’ saw the dramatic return of one of the Doctor’s deadliest enemies, the Weeping Angels. And in a twist that no one saw coming, it was revealed that the Doctor was actually the “villain” being hunted, and was recalled to Division – a Gallifreyan secret society (of sorts) that the Doctor used to work for.
But as recalls go, this one was altogether different – and terrifying. The Thirteenth Doctor wasn’t simply beamed up to a space station, but transformed into a Weeping Angel, leaving the viewer with the frightening final shot of a stony-faced Time Lord.
Again, it’s not entirely clear why Division (or Tecteun – more on her later) chose this particular method to ensnare and transport the Thirteenth Doctor, but it’s hard to deny the impact of this cliffhanger, and it’s certainly one of the most memorable moments of Jodie Whittaker’s era.
2) Look for the Spy Master
When villains return to Doctor Who, it can often be difficult to keep their appearance under wraps. Indeed, rarely have production teams been able to keep such a tight lid on things; set reports and photos often leak onto the webosphere, and it can be hard to be truly surprised in the world of Who.
In the case of ‘Spyfall – Part One,’ however, the unmasking of Sacha Dhawan as the Master was something that few people saw coming. Throughout the episode, he’d been masquerading as the secret agent O, and was seemingly one of the good guys. But in the closing moments – on board a plane, of all things – he reveals that he is in fact a new incarnation of the Doctor’s arch enemy. The Thirteenth Doctor, of course, insists that he can’t be (the Master had previously been killed for good in 2017’s ‘The Doctor Falls’) but, as we all know, some enemies in the Whoniverse have a hard time staying dead.
The Master, as you might expect, is his usual villainous self in ‘Spyfall,’ but the scene on the plane is a truly memorable moment, with Dhawan giving an unnervingly eccentric and terrifying portrayal of the renegade Time Lord, complete with the shrinking capabilities that were first seen in 1971’s ‘Terror of the Autons.’
1) The Timeless Children
The number one spot on our list is taken up by an entire episode. Love it or hate it, ‘The Timeless Children‘ is by far the most memorable moment in the Thirteenth Doctor’s era. It left some viewers keen to know more, and other viewers keen for the whole idea to be retconned!
There is a lot we could say about ‘The Timeless Children’ (and indeed we have here) but, simply put, the episode contained a plot revelation that rewrote the Doctor’s entire backstory. It was revealed that the Thirteenth Doctor was never really from Gallifrey, but from a distant unnamed world which was discovered by the explorer Tecteun, who turned out to be one of the founding figures of Time Lord society.
Moreover, the episode attested that all Time Lords got their regenerative abilities from the Doctor, whilst the Doctor herself / himself had lived countless other lives prior to William Hartnell – possibly thousands – most of which had been forgotten.
All of this information was delivered via the Gallifreyan Matrix by none other than Sacha Dhawan’s Master, so there is still some debate as to whether the story can be trusted. One thing that can’t be denied, though, is the impact that ‘The Timeless Children’ had on fandom. To this date, Whovians are divided; depending on who you to speak to, ‘The Timeless Children’ is either a storytelling masterpiece or… something else!
For better or for worse, the episode is (probably) the defining moment of the Thirteenth Doctor’s era, and it is arguably a standout moment in the history of Doctor Who “whether you like or not,” as somebody once said.
But which Thirteenth Doctor moment do you think is the most memorable? And do you agree with the choices on this list? Let us know in the comments below.
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