The new cover for Doctor Who Magazine is here, and while it’s got a nice image of Jenna Coleman as a waitress (sporting some rather David Tennant-ish trainers) we’re a lot more interested in where she’s standing – because the Doctor and his companions have been there before, and it could mean doom for Clara.
There's a new issue of Doctor Who Magazine out this week! Issue 493 includes previews of this year's final episodes… pic.twitter.com/lLd7PI0WXN
Let us explain – the scenes of Clara waitressing in an upcoming episode (where the cover image comes from, even though it’s been slightly photoshopped on the page) were filmed in Eddie’s Diner in Cardiff Bay, a 1950s American-style diner that does a mean line in milkshakes.
However, this isn’t the first time the restaurant has featured in Doctor Who, having stood in for an American eatery in 2011 episode The Impossible Astronaut.
In case you’ve got a case of the pudding brains, that’s the episode that saw the Doctor call Amy, Rory and River Song to his side in Utah, USA to watch him get offed by a mysterious astronaut, only to appear as a younger man who had also been summoned by his older self.
Still following? Well, it turned out that the Doctor wasn’t really killed (he hid inside a life-size robot of himself, as you do) but the important diner scenes have stuck in our minds ever since. Now the location is apparently coming back.
So, is the Doctor revisiting his own death – or at least the place where it happened?
Firstly, the actual diner is pretty distinctive inside – we’re not sure how many Doctor Who locations have Elvis murals in them, and having been there recently RadioTimes.com can confirm that Eddie’s interior hasn’t changed notably in the interim.
So unless they’re just really hoping Doctor Who fans are unobservant and forgetful (or it’s a fun little homage), it seems reasonable to suggest it’s supposed to be the same place.
Secondly, there’s a significance to this diner: the reason the Doctor chose to invite his friends to it in The Impossible Astronaut was because it was close to Lake Silencio, Utah, a so-called “Still Point in Time”.
While we’re not exactly sure what that means, according to Dorian Maldovar in The Wedding of River Song it makes it much easier to create a FIXED Point in Time (i.e. something that can’t be changed, even by time travel – see video above).
Why does this matter? Well, in the time of the Eleventh Doctor this “Still Point” was used to try and make the Doctor’s death a fact that couldn’t be changed, even by him.
Is there anyone else’s departure from the current series that needs to be explained? Maybe a certain long-serving companion who filmed in the diner for one of her very last episodes?
Jenna Coleman filming in Eddie’s Diner, Cardiff, earlier this year
In other words, perhaps this is the writers’ way of ensuring Jenna Coleman’s departure from Doctor Who is permanent, making whatever happens to her at the end of this series a Fixed Point in Time so the Doctor can’t go back and undo it. Like Rose being trapped in a parallel universe, Amy and Rory getting tied up in a paradox or Donna having her memory wiped, it could be a way of explaining away Clara’s absence within the rules of the show.
Perhaps the Still Point in Time extends beyond when the Doctor was killed there; perhaps this is always a good place for temporal certainties to happen.
Or maybe series nine’s visit to the diner is supposed to be happening around the same time as his death, and it’s all a very complicated yet morbid farce of avoiding past selves.
Or, it could just be an American-looking diner that the production team liked the look of. But that’s less fun and not nearly as complicated, so let’s not dwell on that boring logic too much.