The first, proper taste for Doctor Who series 9 opener, The Magician's Apprentice, has arrived: a sombre, enigmatic prologue teasing the return of an old foe. (Watch it here.) As is Doctor Who's style, however, it raises more questions than it answers – questions like...
1. Why is the Doctor back on Karn?
The Sisterhood of Karn, of course, are the guys that helped the Eighth Doctor regenerate in the 50th anniversary special minisode The Night of the Doctor. Classic fans will also remember them from The Brain of Morbius, in which it's established that their elixir can extend life.
That elixir allows them to specialise in regenerations, which is obviously a big deal in Doctor Who. So why is the Twelfth Doctor there? Could we be setting up for a series 9 regeneration? Or – as he says – is he just visiting a friend for advice?
2. Who is after the Doctor?
Speaking of that advice, it seems that someone is after the Doctor. “He and I have known each other for a long time,” he says, suggesting that this could be a returning villain. Maybe even an iconic one. But what does he/she/they want from the Time Lord? It’s not like the Doctor’s villains to summon him for a chat, but then this one does seem to be a friend of some sort. Or, at least, an enemy he doesn't really know yet.
3. What is he giving to the sister?
“You know who to give that to,” says the Doctor, handing the Sister a device. But what is it? And who is it going to? Clara?
4. Is the Doctor going to die... again?
Once more, it looks like the Doctor is facing ‘certain’ doom. “Look after the universe for me,” he says, “I’ve put a lot of work into it.” Doctor, mate, you really need some life insurance.
5. Is this a prologue to a prologue?
This is not the only prologue for The Magician’s Apprentice. There’s also a US-exclusive one called The Doctor’s Meditation: a mini-episode currently due to be shown on BBC America (there’s no word yet if it’ll be shown here.) Given that the Doctor says that he’ll, “probably meditate on a rock somewhere, get myself ready,” it would be safe to assume that it’ll follow on from this. But just what is he preparing himself for?